shaun livingston writes ...

    Previous Shaun

    10.9.2001  -  Welsh Wizard, Les TV debut & Iversen in pieces
    20.9.2001    -  Torquay, Sunderland and a Sherwood tribute
    5.10.2001    -  Games Without Frontiers
    15.10.2001  -  League Cup progress and Rebrov hopes
    25.10.2001  -  It's All Going So Well
    2.11.2001    -  The Livingston Marbles
    2.12.2001    -  A month's a long time in football
    23.12.2001  -  Terra Firmer ??
    14.1.2002    -   Simply Having A Miserable Christmas Time
    24.1.2002    -   Cup Fever
        

10.9.2001

Welsh Wizard, Les TV debut & Iversen in pieces 

             I hate eating my words, so I really shouldn't make predictions about Spurs beating any other teams. I forecasted a comfortable win at Ewood Park, and we comfortably lost 2-1. Disappointing, to say the least. It seems that we always crumble away from home and the result left us with a rather mediocre trio of games played.

             The 2-0 win over Southampton was a relief. It is no wonder that Deano is annoyed at being forced to remain at such a mediocre club, who have yet to score this season. Although initially, Rupert the Bear slapped a 10m price on his head, killing off any interest we had in him, Deano has had clear the air talks with Rupert and has expressed a desire to leave.  I think it is a case of watch this space.  After all, Richards left his former club, Wolves, for Premiership football, something that could very possibly escape from the magnificent St. Mary's Stadium this season.

              And while we're getting Richards, it might well be worth trying to pinch Pahars as well, an excellent forward.

              It's nice to see Simon Davies on form as well.  He's a brilliant prospect, and he seems to be maturing at an astonishingly speedy rate.  Soon, people will have to sit up and take noticed of this superb attacking midfielder, quite possibly the Welsh answer to Paul Scholes.               

              Iversen's injured as usual, but not for the whole season.  When he's injured, unfortunately, we cannot offload him, which we should really always be looking to do.  The former Rosenborg striker is really beginning to get on my nerves.  When he's not playing rubbish, he's getting injured.  It is unbelievable.  Are other Spurs fans not tiring of this awful footballer?  Will no one rid us of him?  What is he doing at the Lane, when he is obviously out of his depth and should be at a club where he should be able to put up a decent fight for a starting berth, like Bournemouth. 

              This win bonus affair is ludicrous.  Before the players start squabbling about how much they should be paid for winning, they should actually focus on trying to win first.  We have had a poor start to the season and I just cannot believe that our highly paid, pampered "stars" are considering boycotting commercial affairs to do with the club.  They should remember, before deciding to starve us fans of interviews in magazines and programmes, just who pays their inflated wages.  The whole saga is incredible. How much more petty are footballers going to get?  Will they start asking for "touches of the ball" bonuses, even though half the time, when they touch the ball, it goes to the opposition. 

              Then there's David Buchler's instruction to Hoddle to forget about Cups this season and concentrate on the League.  Hopefully, Hoddle will take little notice of this advice and strive to win both the Worthington and FA Cups, which both promise the opportunity to play in Europe at the end of of the road.  Not only that, but Spurs are traditionally a cup team and I'd like to think that we are proud of our fantastic cup exploits.  Of course, the league is important, but we hardly have a side of the calibre to win the league and that sixth spot, our realistic aim in the League, will be keenly contested by the likes of Sunderland, Newcastle, Aston Villa and Fulham.   We must have a real go at the Cups this year, and any 3-1 losses at home to some Nationwide team should be greeted with derision and anger by Spurs fans.  We must not capitulate so pathetically as we did against the Brummies in the League Cup last season and we should perhaps try and keep the ball at least 20% of the time, something we failed to do against the Scum in the FA Cup. 

               Finally, I noted with interest that Les Ferdinand is co hosting a football show on Sundays.  It's nice to see that he is committed to getting fit and sharp for Spurs.  Perhaps it is time for him to give up football, while he can still remember his prolific years at Newcastle and QPR.  He's not even a good presenter, dammit!!  Has anyone seen him on it? He might as well have a sign on his head saying, in huge white letters, "I AM READING FROM AN AUTOCUE ... AND NOT VERY WELL EITHER."  Obviously you couldn't fit all that on his head, so its not an actually feasible suggestion, but I have made my point.  Richard and Judy, you can breathe easily.

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

20.9.2001

Welsh Wizard, Les TV debut & Iversen in pieces      

First of all, I would like to praise our midfielder Tim Sherwood.
 
No, he hasn't been on fire lately, producing the sort of form that will make him player of the year and propel us to the top of the league, with 22m bids flying in from all areas as the top European clubs watch agape the brilliance of the former Blackburn man.
 
No. What he has done is something more special than that. Tim Sherwood has announced that he is going to give his win bonuses to the families of the victims of the tragic events in the U.S.A. In an new age of football where most people's SOLitary concern is money, Sherwood's gesture is all the more admirable. Perhaps the horrific attacks in America have shown Sherwood, in light of the petty win bonus squabbles, the things that really matter in life. Money is not one of those things. I hope that the rest of the players will follow suit, and put the greedy win bonus episode behind them. 
 
Anyway, back to football, and Torquay United. Its just lucky that results are what matter at the end of the day, because our first half performance was simply awful and we were lucky to be on level terms with the team that finished 23rd in Division 3 last season; a team whose Third Division future  was decided on the very last day, when they beat fellow strugglers Barnet to ensure another season of Division 3 football, whilst the Bees must settle for the Conference. At least we picked up a little in the second half and won 2-0, with King and Ferdinand booking our place in the next round of a Cup we should be aiming to win. At the moment, we cannot afford the luxury of mucking about in the Worthington Cup, like Man United and Arsenal and so we must have a real go at it. Produce another performance like this, against a team in Division 2 or above and we will be torn apart.
 
              Chelsea was disappointing, to say the least. An indifferent first half for both sides ended in Chelsea leading 1-0, the goal from Hasselbaink coming in the last minute, after Taricco had given a Chelsea player too much space to get a cross in.
               Both sides played better in the second half and Sheringham equalised to get a quiet Spurs crowd roaring again. However, we went behind again to a grossly unfair penalty, after Jimmy Hasselbaink clearly dived and was probably pleasantly surprised, judging by his wooden theatrics, to be awarded a spot kick. Sullivan pushed it onto a post, but it still went in off that post, summing up Tottenham's luck, not just for this game, but for the last decade or so!  The inspirational Sheringham looked to have secured us at least a point with his second of the match, but a last minute corner was headed in by Desailly to break Spurs hearts, and deny us anything out of the match.
               To be honest, we tried hard, but Chelsea overall, are a superior outfit. We did go behind to a grossly unfair penalty, but at the same  time, Chelsea did outplay us a lot of the time. We certainly had our moments, but if the Jimmy Hasselbaink incident had never occurred, Chelsea would probably have still been unhappy with a 2-2 draw. We are getting closer to them, but we are not at their level just yet. 
             Finally, on this match, why did so many people's mobile phones go off during the minute's silence? A minute is not a long time. Could these  people not have turned their phones off just for one minute, literally, to pay their respects to the thousands of people whose lives were taken so unjustly in America? I think that people who do this should be fined, because it really is not acceptable.

           The Sunderland match was very pleasing. Fine performances from  Perry, Ziege, Anderton, Davies and Ferdinand were a joy to watch, as Tottenham just gelled. The first half is the kind of football that GH wants. Flowing movements, excellent passing, and fantastic movement off the ball should have seen us with a two or three goal advantage. We totally outplayed the Mackems in the first 45 minutes, but only a spectacular freak goal from Ziege separated us from the Black Cats. The German defender has now scored three goals and is proving to be an excellent signing. Although the match was more even in the second half, we still managed a second goal, with some great teamwork from Ferdinand, Davies and Sheringham. Ferdinand showed why he still warrants a place in the squad, winning the ball in the air in the area, and heading out to the left, putting Davies in a great position to cross, which he did so magnificently, giving Teddy a great chance to put away, which of course, he did. 

             The win was made even more special by the fact that we had 10 first teamers out. Chris Perry is no longer guaranteed a place in the squad, but took a step towards establishing himself again with a fine defensive performance to thwart Phillips a lot of the time. Ziege always looks so dangerous when he has the ball and is always liable to put a good ball into the box for the likes of Ferdinand and Sheringham to attack. One "cross", even went in! Anderton looks like he is slowly getting  back to his best and his intelligent passing and all round play contributed much to our win. Davies just gets better with every match and he is really a marvellous prospect. The Welshman plays like he is a Premiership veteran (except with extra pace) and is turning into a key player, with his excellent running and crossing. I know I criticised Ferdinand in my last article, but perhaps he does warrant a place in the squad, if he keeps trying this hard. He won virtually every ball in the air and it was his aerial ability that contributed to our second goal. My only criticism was that his shooting was not really up to scratch, but if he can improve on that, then Hoddle will find it hard to leave him out.
               In red and white, I thought Phillips was magnificent. He really is the type of player that I would love to have at Spurs. It is not just his goals that make him a superb player, but his all round play. His passes are so intelligent and incisive. He is so good at keeping possession of the ball and running with it. He is very agile, which he showed with a difficult to perform overhead kick which did go wide, but the fact that he managed to do it speaks volumes about his ability. He can cross as well, which is useful, when you have Niall Quinn/Lillian Laslandes/Les Ferdinand (optimistic to suggest Kev's coming to Spurs, but you never know), in your side. He can hold up the ball and wait for other people to get upfield if required. He is just so alert, which led to him gobbling up the half chance presented to him in the second half and he also has an abundance of skill on the ball. In fact, he seems to me pretty much the complete striker and it cannot be for footballing reasons that Phillips is continually omitted from the England squad by S.G.E.  Perhaps Kev slept with his wife or something, I dunno, but it can't be because he's not good enough.
         

                 The Richards transfer appears imminent now and although 8m might seem a bit steep, we need someone like him to finally banish the aura of S.Cumball which still haunts us. Ledley King is really coming on, but is not the finished article yet. Richards is, and really I don't know why, he is not considered to be just as good as S.Cumball. Perhaps it is because he plays for a HUGE South Coast side, whilst the other one used to play for little us. I would welcome his arrival, and he could propel us to Europe, by virtue of league form.

                   A huge blow is the fact that Carr is out for 4 months. Carr is the best right back in Britain by a long shot and is improving all the time, so it really is a devastating loss to us. Taricco is certainly not a bad little player, but the Irish international is just world class and any side in the world, perhaps with the exception of Juventus (they have Lillian Thuram), would miss his talents. I cannot wait for him to begin playing again. His return to full fitness would be to us, more than Shearer's return to full fitness was for Newcastle. Carr's influence on the side is immense and it is just so frustrating to be denied the services of such a great player.

                  Rebrov is demanding talks with GH now, about the limited amount of opportunities he is getting at Tottenham, having been ditched in favour of Ferdinand and Sheringham lately. This is worrying, because although he never shows much of his potential, he is, unfortunately one of very few potential match winners we have at the club. He showed this with his superb goal against West Ham last year in the FA Cup Quarter Final and also scored a beauty of a goal with the outside of his foot against Newcastle. Basically, we cannot afford to lose his creative influence without replacing it, despite the fact that he very rarely shows his talents. We cannot consider selling him until we have an available replacement in mind, such as Pahars, (that would please the Bear at St Marys!), Izzet, or Solano.
                 Also, we need an out and out striker who will get 20 goals a season. Sheringham's streak of goals is pleasing, but the amount of times he can play this season are limited and his game is not concentrated so much on the scoring side of things.  Really, we need someone like Bridges, Gudjohnsen, Solskjaer or Jansen. 

            

                 Whilst Steffen Freund and Matt Oakley (Southampton) have a fight in the White Hart Lane tunnel, I can see light at the end of Glenn Hoddle's tunnel. We keep improving, and things are looking up. 

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

5.10.2001

Games Without Frontiers


        
3 matches against 3 title contenders and we end up with nul points. Goals for 6, Goals against 9. (Chelsea, Liverpool and United).  Well, at least we know that we're nowhere near those 3 teams, although, it has to be said, there were times when we looked on top in all three games.  But its points that count and we amassed 0 out of a total of 9, conceding 3 goals per game on average along the way.

         The Liverpool match was unlucky.  However, the goal came from giving Litmanen too much space, which the brilliant Finn made us pay for.  It was a superb goal, but no one seemed to want to close him down and you can't allow the likes of Litmanen any space, or they will punish you. 

          The United match was just unbelievable.  At half time, we were so on top, losing just never crossed my mind.  It was an absolutely magnificent first half performance, as we blew the champions away.  Deano looked superb, scoring a goal and making important tackles.  He looked worth every penny of the 8.1m he cost.  The second half, we just stopped playing.  To be fair, when United play like that I defy any team to stop them from scoring at least a couple of goals.  But, we seemed to simply give up when the first goal went in for United, accepting that United's superior side was going to win.  And they did.  They were the magnificent side this time and they crushed us, leaving, at the end, a scoreline that made me wonder if Hoddle had been asking for tips from former gaffer Osvaldo Ardiles.

            3-0 up, 5-3 down.  Unbelievable.  However, we can take some  positives from this.  First of all, Deano, and the rest of the side, for that matter, proved that they can play.  Every player was superb in the first half.  If we had played like that in the first half against someone like Leicester, a comeback would just not have been an option.  But, this was the champions we were dealing with.  You can never under-estimate United.

           At one point, we were 3-0 up against the best team in the country, and no one can deny us that. Sure, we then capitulated in the second, but at least we proved we can play well sometimes.  We just need to keep it up for 90 minutes next time. 

            One player who won't be helping us sustain a decent performance for the full hour and a half is Dutch winger Willem Korsten.  The 26 year old has been forced to retire because of persistent injury.  As GH said this is a huge blow for Korsten and (perhaps to a lesser extent) the club.  I always thought that Korsten had quality and that this season would be his chance to show the WHL faithful just what he could do.  He had played well against, you guessed it, Manchester United, in the last game last season and I thought that perhaps he could have carried that form into this season.  He has not been able to do that because of injury and now he has to retire.  Korsten impressed greatly when he was at Leeds on loan and they were falling over themselves to sign him on a permanent basis, only for us to snatch him from right under their noses.  It is a shame that Korsten has had to retire, having never really fulfilled his potential in England.  I wish him all the best for the future. 

             Sheringham's in the England squad for their crucial match against Greece.  Frankly, I don't care about the England team (having a foreign manager is just wrong) anymore, but I do hope Teddy plays.  He has been in fine form all this season and deserves a chance to show the Swede what he can do.  He has one of the finest football brains in Europe and that is why he has never needed pace.  He should start, because he is just such a clever player.  But, I'll be supporting Ted, not England. 

             Finally, Chris Armstrong is hoping to be back by Christmas, not the  present most Spurs fans were hoping for, but I think we should give him a chance.  First of all, it is a relief just to discover that he has not vanished from the face of the Earth.  Second of all, he is arguably the best finisher we have and the most likely to get 20 goals.  Difficult as it may be to believe, he has already done it for us once, a good few years back, but then injury struck and he has never been the same again.  But, is a determined lad who works his socks off when he plays football and we should put him back in the squad, I think, when he comes back.  Who knows, he may rediscover the form that he found about midway through his debut season at Spurs. 

              Get behind Chris and he can be the Christmas present Spurs fans have wanted for a long time.

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

15.10.2001

League Cup progress and Rebrov hopes
                          It was a great result against Tranmere.  Obviously, the team was desperate to prove its worth after a shocking last 45 minutes in our last match.  They did so in style, sweeping Southampton and Everton's conquerers last year, away like banana skins should be swept away.  4-0 away is a superb result and hopefully it will give the side much confidence for tonight's home match to Derby.  Although even if we had lost the Tranmere game, a win against the Rams would still have been the minimum requirement, the team is much more likely to continue the smooth, fluid movements which they displayed against the Merseysiders because of the extra confidence instilled in them.

                           The only blot in our copybook was the perhaps harsh sending off of Sherwood, only on for around 15 minutes.  Sherwood's impending suspension will not be the most devastating of blows, but it's never nice to end a match with less than 11 players on the pitch. 

                           Also, Sheringham was accused of diving by Tranmere boss Dave Watson, not speaking at all out of sour grapes, to win Tottenham's penalty.  You could say that, given the Chelsea match, we deserved a little luck, but I don't think that Sheringham would ever have dived.  He is just not that type of player.  It may have been a dubious spot kick, but even if it had not been given, we would still have comfortably beaten Tranmere.  We totally outclassed them and really, by complaining about Sheringham, Watson is just avoiding the fact that his team was soundly beaten.

                           Anyway, with Rovers out, and holders Liverpool, we now have a good chance of winning the trophy.  However, we must first overcome a potentially tricky away tie at Craven Cottage.  Although Fulham have made a less than spectacular start to the season, so have we and they still have some great players.  Saha is very skilful, although he can't finish.  Sean Davis may be a future star, and... wait a second, that's about it.  They're not a great side, and we are a better side than them.  Still, with home advantage, they will pose a threat, and we'll have to play well to see them off.

               Rebrov did well.  I just hope I'll see him do well in a Spurs shirt many times again.  It seems that he is getting closer and closer to leaving the club, but we really can't afford to let him go.  I think that he is a wonderful talent.  If we do sell him, we must find another creative influence like him to replace him, like Marian Pahars.  Selling Rebrov to fund a bid for Fowler is not good enough.  Although Fowler would be much appreciated, we also need a bit of creativity and Rebrov is one of very few players who can provide it at Tottenham.

                     I have heard rumours that Martin Jorgensen may be about to  sign for Spurs.  I have not seen him play, but have heard that he is a very tricky winger.  If he can play on the left, he would be ideal, because Korsten has retired, leaving very few options on the left.  Then again, very rarely does anything come out of rumours like these.  If we signed half the players we get linked with, we'd go bankrupt in a second with all those wages... and win bonuses.

              Tottenham 2-0 Derby? I reckon so. Come on Spurs.

 

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

25.10.2001
 

It's All Going So Well

         Anything less than a win against the lowly Rams would have been unacceptable, but the manner in which we ripped them apart was very pleasing.  Poyet's goal was class, and it just shows what a fantastic signing Hoddle has made.  He's been on fire lately, defying his 33 years of age to produce some absolutely stunning performances.  What makes things even better is that he is not unique in this. 

          This was  shown in the brilliant 2-0 win at Newcastle.  Before the match, I would have taken a draw against the high flying Magpies, but we certainly shot them down back to Earth, in style.  The whole team performed very well, especially King, Anderton, Poyet, Richards and Ferdinand. 

                I was particularly impressed with the young Ledley King.  He looked so composed partnering Richards in the heart of the Spurs defence.  He tackled tigerishly, and brought the ball out of defence stylishly.  With King and Richards at the back, it looks like the loss of that one who went to Arsenal was a blessing in disguise.  And when you consider that we also had Bunjevcevic injured, the defence looks very strong at the moment.  If we play a 5-3-2 formation when everyone is fit, King, Richards and Bunjy and Carr and Ziege as wingbacks, we will have a very good defence, something that is normally associated with Arsenal.  But that's all appeared to change ever since they signed that defender for free in the summer.  Strange that. 

                     Richards has really impressed on arriving.  I think that now,  the only fans who should be moaning about the 8m fee are Southampton fans.  Because on this form, Richards is going to give us back much more than we paid for him.  He seems to have stuck up a good understanding with King, and the two together along with Bunjy can frighten attackers all over the country. 

                  Darren Anderton is back on form now.  The more cynical football fans may bring up the fact that a World Cup looms on the horizon, but Anderton already stuffed that silly argument up backsides when he missed Euro 2000 in order to get fit for Spurs.  It didn't work, of course, but at least it showed where his priorities lay.  If Anderton does make the World Cup, good luck to him.  If he keeps playing this well, it is a distinct possibility.  I'm not really one to gloat, but you'll notice that never once have I criticised his playing abilities on my pages, only his outburst over the S.Cumball affair.  I have always maintained that he is a great player and that we should make sure we keep him.  I think I may have just been proved right. 

                Poyet was great as usual.  He has to be contender for one of the best bargains of the season so far.  We paid less than 1.5m for him, and although he is 33, he has played like an eager 18 yr old, except with experience to boot.  It would be silly to suggest that Chelsea are kicking themselves for letting him go, since they are still higher in the table and have an abundance of talent in midfield, but Gus has certainly proved a point to Claudio Ranieri.  He can do a job in midfield, and he is a talented attacking midfielder.

          Ferdinand's all round link-up play was very good as usual.  It is a shame that he is not as good a goalscorer as he was at Newcastle and Q.P.R, but Les certainly caused his former side all sorts of problems as he linked up well with Sheringham.  It is a testament to Ferdinand's career that when he was substituted, he was sent off with a standing ovation from both sections of the crowd.  The Toon Army still love him from his prolific days at St James, and the Spurs fans realise his determination and willingness to die for our cause. 

           These five players were magnificent in the game, but it was a whole team effort that got us the win.  We contained their attacks very well, which was pleasing.  The only player to really cause us any sorts of problems was Laurent Robert.  His runs and dribbles were sublime, and it probably reminds both sets of fans of another certain French winger.  Speaking of him, he's not doing very well at Villa, and with the retirement of Korsten, we need a left winger.  Why don't we sign Ginola?  He wouldn't cost much, because John Gregory probably cannot wait to offload him and he would feel at home at Spurs, where he probably had his most successful years, as an individual, anyway.  He also won the Worthington Cup with us, his only cup ever won in England, I believe.

             We should still have a fair amount of money left.  The only big  money signing we have made under Glenn Hoddle is Dean Richards, and he certainly appears to be worth it.  Ginola would probably not cost more than 1m.  He would be perfect, because we never really replaced him after he left and we don't have very many options on the left any more, certainly none that measure up to the skill of David. 

             Problems also seem to be mounting on the right side of defence.  Mauricio Taricco, a player who had been deputising admirably for the classy Stephen Carr, is now also injured.  Normally, we would have resorted to Luke Young, but obviously he's gone, although I'm not going to look ruefully at the day that we sold him.  Realistically, he was never going to get more than a handful of appearances at Spurs, and 4m was a great price for a player who had never really broken into our side.  Perhaps Anderton can move into a right wing back role, and we could draft in someone like Leonhardsen to play in the midfield, just until we get Carr or Taricco back.  

            At the moment, Anderton is on top form, and would probably  level in any position.  His passing is amongst the best in the country.  It is such a shame that he missed all those years being injured.  Before all those problems, he was a vital component in the England side, before anyone had ever heard of David Beckham.  If Anderton has never been injured, perhaps Beckham would never have become the superstar that he is.  Perhaps Anderton would have become the player that Beckham is today.  Who knows?  What is for certain is that Anderton still has class and that he is a key player in the team. 

                Now, let us go South of the border, South of the league table, and South in the genuinety of club chairmen, to the Saints.  It has now emerged that Rupert Lowe had been talking to Gordon Strachan about the manager's job at Southampton whilst Stuart Gray was still in charge!  This is the same guy moaning about loyalty when Hoddle left in a perfectly legitimate way, due to a clause in his contract.  This is the same guy who sacked Dave Jones as soon as he heard the rumours  about his "crimes", which have now been found to be completely untrue.  What natural justice it will be if Jones leads his current club, Wolves to the Premiership and on his way up, meets Lowe's hapless club coming down.  How Lowe can you go? 

            Anyway, back to Spurs, and  Sergei Rebrov.  For a long time I have defended him in spite of his toothless performances, giving him the benefit of the doubt on the basis that he is our only creative spark, and is the only one who can provide a touch of magic to win a match single handedly.  Rebrov came on, and the only astounding things he did were to miss two absolute sitters.  How I would love to wave my magic wand and get rid of him.  The Ferdinand and Sheringham combination is working fine now and if Rebrov doesn't like it, he should leave.  I have heard that Milan are interested.  We must snap up an offer from them, and offload him as soon as possible.  He has had so much time to prove himself and has consistently underachieved.  Perhaps he will fare better in Italy, alongside his mate, and infinitely superior Ukraine international, Shevchenko.  However, we should be looking to recoup at least 8m of the 11m we shelled out for him, to avoid him being a total embarrassment.

                     It appears that Arsenal have fared much better than us with their foreign imports recently.  However, Wenger's suggestion that Henry is the best striker in Europe is absolutely ridiculous.  I had the(mis)fortune to be at Arsenal's European match against Mallorca on Wednesday (a friend invited me and he has a tasty sister, I couldn't refuse) and although I concede that he has a lot of skill on the ball, his finishing is laughable.  Yes, he scored a goal, but he missed at least 3 sitters.  The goal of a striker is to.. score goals, and Henry's finishing is amongst the poorest  in Britain.  The nature of the chances he missed were reminiscent of a certain Ade Akinbiyi and he's not enjoying the best of times at Leicester.  Van Nistelrooy is infinitely better than him, because he can actually put the ball in the net, something that Henry is still learning. 

        Also, at that Arsenal match, when Arsenal scored, I looked at their new defender, saw him throwing his hands up into the air with glee and I almost felt like running onto the pitch to strangle him.  Luckily for me, I didn't, because, although he is a traitor, he is still much bigger than me and I dread to think what he could have done to me had I started on him, but the enormity of his betrayal really hit home as I watched him smiling and jumping about when Arsenal scored.  All I can say is, let's really make him understand what he has done when they visit us in November.  Not for the faint hearted. 

          Anyway, moving on, I have heard that we have taken someone called Jean-Louis Montero on trial.  Although he hasn't even been a first team player with Sedan, he is still a right sided defender, which is something that we do need, now that both Carr and Taricco are out.  We should probably try and get him on loan.  He doesn't sound like someone who would get a regular game at Spurs, but for now, we just need someone. 

            Also, I must express my surprise at releasing Etherington on loan to Bradford.  With the retirement of Korsten, I would have thought we'd be keen to keep, probably our most experienced left sided midfielder on our books.  Perhaps Hoddle is eyeing up another left midfielder.  Ginola?  I certainly hope so.  Gin could really be our tonic.  But, at least Etherington will get some regular first team experience.  He hasn't progressed as fast as hoped, so hopefully, Bradford will give him some valuable experience and he will come back to Spurs a much better player.

             Finally, I couldn't be more pleased to see that our next match is against Middlesbrough.  Not just because they're crap, but also, at the moment, I cannot get enough of the North East.  2-1 at Sunderland, 2-0 at Newcastle. I love you, North East!  

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

Reaction  -  30.10.2001

Having just read Shaun Livingstone's latest column, I have to question where his marbles are located.   Daveed was an excellent player for the Spurs but it's about time we stopped living in the past  - he is not the future for Tottenham and I would suggest that he is now looking forward to making a few bob in films and commercials. 

Can you imagine him fitting into a 3-5-2 formation....urrr I think not.  Ziege can be a lazy git at times, but let's be honest and admit that the last thing we need it Daveed going on a surging run down the wing, delivering an unconverted cross to the far post, and then standing with his hands on his hips and shaking his head for the next 10 minutes.  

For too long it has been the temptation for Spurs fans to trip over themselves because they are too busy looking over their shoulders at the past.  The future is King, Doherty, Bunjy, Davies, Richards etc.  We need to look forward to playing as a team, not back to those dark days when we consistently relied on one outstanding player such as a Klinsmann, Gascoigne, Sheringham or Ginola to lighten some pretty dreadful Saturday afternoons. 

The Future is bright, The Future is Hoddle (nothing I know rhymes with Orange).

The Dazzler

 

2.11.2001
 

Thank you very much, Dazzler, for your interesting feedback. My "marbles", I believe, are located at the back of a musty cupboard in my room, along with a few model cars, a "jack-in-the-box" and other childhood toys which serve no physical purpose, but only remain there for nostalgia.

                    "Living in the past, eh?" No, we wouldn't want any of that at Spurs. We wouldn't have wanted Klinsmann coming back for his second spell at Spurs and virtually single-handedly rescuing us from relegation. That would be living in the past. We wouldn't have wanted to be living in the past by appointing someone from the past to become our manager, and give the fans hope and optimism that had not been experienced for years. Perish the thought of living in the past by re-signing Teddy Sheringham, who has been banging in the goals for us this season. No, we don't like living in the past here.
        Dazzler, I appreciate that you want us to look to the future, but your appraisal of Ginola does not sound like a player who won both the PFA and Football Writer's Award in one season when he was playing for us.
                   However, at least it shows that people are actually reading my humble column, and I welcome any more Dazzling comments from anyone in the future.
        The Middlesbrough win was standard. We weren't great but we got the three points, something we should always be doing in games like this. It completed our North East hat-trick, which is something we can gloat about for a while.
             However, our run of good form is in serious danger in our next match at Leeds. They have a world class side, which is capable of pushing Manchester United all the way. So far, we have played 3 of the big 5, (United, Leeds, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal), and amassed a total of 0 points, which tells us that we have a fair way to go before we can break into that elite group, so lets not get carried away. However, we should be very confident after winning four games on the trot, and it is the best time to play Leeds because they will probably be tired from a UEFA Cup tie in France against Troyes, and they still have a bit to do to secure it. They are only 4-2 up, and are away. Also, Rio Ferdinand will probably be out, which is a bonus, but not for  people who like interesting quirks in games, who will be disappointed to miss out on "the battle of the Ferdinands", but luckily, these sad cases are in the minority. 
                  I'm glad to see Doherty is well on his way to recovery now. The lad never had a bad game for us, and is a talented youngster with a big future, although now I cannot see a way back into the side, with Bunjevcevic, King and Richards all on form. But there is no doubt that Doherty is a great asset to us. He is a very determined defender, and can also play in attack. I see a glittering career ahead of him, although he may have to bide his time for now.
        I hear that we are lining up a bid for Aston Villa defender Gareth Barry. Why? He was quite good at one point, but right now he's not even in the Villa side, and he's definitely not as good as Ledley King. I don't think he's much better than Gary Doherty either. Right now, I wouldn't value him at much higher than 4 or 3 million pounds. We simply do not need a centre half. We are blessed with quality centre backs at the moment. Bunjevcevic, Richards, King, Gardner and Doherty can all do a job at the back. I would feel safe with any of those five at the heart of my defence, and I just can't see the point of going for a player who is no better than our current crop of talented defenders. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
             Now, Scott Parker is a different proposition altogether. The Charlton midfielder looks like a very exciting young prospect, and could be destined for future full England honours. He is already an U21 regular, and all the signs point to a big future in the game for the tenacious midfielder. He would be a great buy. He has a lot of potential, and I think if he came to Spurs, Hoddle would get the best out of him, and we'd have a great young talent on our hands. I'm all in favour of making quality additions to the side, but only if we actually need them. Parker could improve our squad, whereas Barry, in a word, wouldn't.
                   We have the nucleus of a very good squad, and Hoddle just needs four or five additions to give us extra strength in depth, and in a couple of years we could be realistically challenging for Champions League spots. Bunjy is very excited at Tottenham's bright future, and has voiced his approval of the amount of talented youngsters that we have at the club. Bunjy's optimistic, and so should you be. In "Dazzler's" words, "The future's bright, the future's Hoddle (nothing I know rhymes with Orange)"
                      On no account should we be living in the past!   

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

2.12.2001
Since I last wrote, a fair few things have happened. I'll start with Leeds. We were probably a little unlucky at Leeds, but we cannot keep hiding behind this every time we lost to a big club. For now, it seems that we will have to accept that we cannot contend with the big five. We have played all five of them once this season, and have only one point to show for it. If we had got a decent number of points from those games, we would probably be up there challenging for the title. But we're not, because we're not as good as these teams yet. That said, at least we were the first side to score at Elland Road, and we played some good football. Its good to see Poyet scoring, because we haven't had a decent goalscoring midfielder for ages. The last one I can remember was David Howells. I remember him scoring a few for us at his peak, although he was meant to be more of a defensive player.

                 My brother met Les Ferdinand. His friend's father is Les's financial advisor. Now, as you read this, I can see you shouting out "We don't care about your brother!" Don't worry, don't worry, nor do I. (Joking, Jacob!)

                  Anyway, the point is,  when my brother met Les, with the best intentions, of course, he told Les all about MEHSTG, and that his brother had a column on it. Apparently, Les wrote down the address. Now, you may recall that in a previous article, I was, well, a little unkind to Les regarding his TV presenting abilities.  You know, I must have been drunk or something when I wrote that. Because, since my brother met him and told me he told Les about the website, I had another look at him presenting Soccer Sunday, and my views have totally changed! I now have the following to say about Les: 

                       Les Ferdinand is a superb presenter. I watch his show every Sunday, and I am bowled over by his infectious enthusiasm, ability not to look like he is reading from an autocue, and general amazing presenting. He is the reason that I get up on Sunday. Richard and Judy, eat your hearts out. Especially Richard. He's really annoying. Les, you are probably the best presenter in the world. 

            Yes... Moving on, I have heard rumours that we are signing Wayne Bridge from Southampton. On hearing this, I knew it was pure speculation, we already have a brilliant left wing-back, 7m is a bit much for a 21 yr old, and all that, but just imagine how amazing it would be if we signed him from that annoying South Coast club, after having taken their two previous assets, when they had said they did not want to let them go. Rupert has said he is not for sail, so to undermine him for a third time would just be hilarious! Never mind the fact that we don't need to pay 7m for a hopeful, who would probably not get into the team anyway, lets just buy him for laughs. The amount of piss taking we could direct at Southampton and their fans would be worth it! 

                          But at the moment, for laughs, I'll have to settle for Arsenal's absolutely crap display against Deportivo. They were useless, and Sol Campbell was so ineffective, poor Arsene must be tearing his hair out. Who would have thought that them taking that overweight, sluggish defender off our hands would turn out to be a favour? Its no wonder Campbell wanted to leave. It would have been a tad humiliating for him to have stayed at Spurs, and then have been ousted from his place by a raw 21 year old. It is obvious that Campbell does love Spurs after all. He's made a plan to go to the enemy, and pose as their friend, but his ulterior motive is to sabotage the team, and play absolutely awfully. So far so good, Sol! 

                 Grudgingly, I'll accept that he had a good game against us. Overall, against Arsenal, a draw was probably a fair result, although we edged it slightly. I'm surprised that we had to rely on a Richard Wright mistake to give us the goal we needed though. It would have been nice to win, but Arsenal didn't play too badly, and at the moment, they are better than us overall. 

           I didn't get to the match, but did the minute of contempt go ahead? I didn't hear much about it, even though I watched it on the Premiership. To be honest, I was never that keen on the idea, and I didn't think it would really have the desired effect on Sol, but it was an interesting idea. 

                       Moving on, apparently Watford aren't interested in buying Tim Sherwood. Vialli flattered the midfielder, saying that if he was offered for free, he would take him. I think we should seriously consider it. The man is absolutely useless. We cannot realistically expect a fee for him. He is just taking up space in the squad, and getting wages for doing nothing. We need to off-load him, and if Vialli wants him free of charge, we should give him what he wants. We need to get rid of the guy. 

                 At the moment, our team is looking  reasonably strong, particularly our defence. With Ziege, King and Richards, we have three superb defenders, and when Carr and Bunjevcevic return, we will have one of the meanest defences around. Not only that, but they are all capable of bringing the ball out of defence, something that a rusty Arsenal back four never quite mastered.  We also have the capable Gary Doherty, the reliable Chris Perry (he's been playing very well this season. Very solid, I take back previous unflattering comments about him), and Mauricio Taricco, who has also stuffed comments I have made about him (mainly, that he's deadwood), down my throat. I am sure that was his motivation for playing well this season, he was thinking, "I'll prove that Shaun Livingston bloke from MEHSTG that I'm good!" Yep. 

              King, in particular, let nothing past him against West Ham last weekend. This guy is an absolute rock. I have no doubt that if he continues his form that he can clinch a place in the England World Cup squad. I mean, who's blocking his path? Sol Campbell? King was on the fringes of the squad last season, but this season, he's been an absolute revelation. 

            The whole team played well against West Ham. The amount of away wins we've had this season is very pleasing, considering our abysmal away from last season. I was genuinely glad to see Ferdinand to get a goal, and not just because the of the brother incident, all you cynics out there! 

               We appear to be rising to the challenge of collecting points against lesser teams. No disrespect to West Ham.. well, actually, loads of disrespect to them, but they're not exactly one of the Premiership forces. To become a good team though, we need to start giving the big five a better run for their money. I am confident that under Hoddle we are making steady progress and should be able to give them a challenge.

                    However, the injury of Poyet marred the win. It was typical of his anticipation and bravery to get in such a good position, and his header deserved to go in. In the end, Ferdinand got the rebound, but the big man's celebrations halted abruptly when he realised his Uruguayan teammate was concussed. Poyet did wake up, but was significantly out of it, arguing that we should have won a corner, when we had just been given a goal! Hopefully, Gus will recover quickly, because he has been a key part of our recent revitalisation, and passing game. His goalscoring instincts, experience and vision have become a vital component of our team, and I really hope he recovers soon. 

          Especially in light of Poyet's injury, and due to the fact that we have Anderton in our first team, Hoddle needs to sign a couple more midfielders to give the squad more depth. We will get injuries over the season, and I certainly think we need more midfielders to cope. At the moment, we only have Poyet, Anderton, Davies, Freund (he's started playing OK recently), and, I suppose, Leonhardsen, (well, he did have a good shot against West Ham). Apart from this quintet, we only have reserve team players. I think Redknapp, if possible, would be a superb addition to the squad, and Butt would be useful too. I think Hoddle will probably address this problem soon, because he will have seen we are a little thin in the midfield front.

                      But not, by any account, should we let King go to raise funds for any new players. I have heard rumours that O'Leary was planning to launch a 10m bit for Deadly Ledley. This is a joke. This is the same bloke that bought Rio Ferdinand for almost twice that amount. Whilst Rio can bring the ball out of defence admirably, he's not that good defensively, and gets caught out a lot by tricky strikers. King is a much better prospect than Les's cousin, and is probably our most indispensable player, along with Sullivan. We lost our best centre-half (I was going to say defender, but Carr was much more consistent than the other SC) last year, but there is no way we're going to lose a much better, younger, fitter player this year. King is staying. O'Leary can spend his money on a lesser player elsewhere, and I don't care if that's put his nose out of joint. (If you don't get the subtle little joke there, have look at his hooter next time you see him).  

                As I have said, King is probably on his way to the World Cup if he continues his form. He may be joined by quite a few Spurs players. Sheringham, Anderton, Ziege, Carr, Doherty and Poyet are all likely to be making their ways to South Korea and Japan to represent England, Germany, Eire and Uruguay respectively. Eire and Germany, incidentally, will come up against each other in the World Cup, so we may witness an intriguing head to head between our two best full-backs. Personally, I'll be backing Stevie, sorry Christian, but when you're playing for the Krauts, you'll always be the Auld Enemy! 

                  By the way, I heard that Roeder could have been working with Hoddle had Glenn R not been offered the West Ham job. See? The rivalry between the Hammers and Spurs doesn't really exist. They love us really! They put their own Premiership status on the line, just so we don't have a useless coach on our ranks! Thanks, Hammers, and no hard feelings about beating you all the time, eh? 

                    Moving on, I think we are in with a great chance of winning the Worthington Cup. Our only real rival will be the winner of Newcastle-Chelsea. Here's hoping that Newcastle will win, a win-win situation for us if we end up playing them in the semis, (call me arrogant, but I'm taking the Bolton match as a forgone conclusion). If its at Newcastle, then that's great. We love the North East! Sunderland and Newcastle will both tell you how much we like going up there. If it's at Spurs, that's great too. Newcastle will tell you just how much they love London! 

              Of the Fulham match, it was good to see Rebrov given a chance. He's not fulfilled expectations at Spurs, but we all know he has talent. His finish to score our opener was brilliant, and he had a good all round game. It was nice to see Davies score as well. The young Welshman is doing very well, and I think he should be given an extended run in the first team. He is a very exciting prospect 

             The team is really on a roll at the moment, and I'm sure we'll continue our good form against Bolton, who should realise their true form pretty soon, and start looking like relegation candidates. Credit must be given to Allardyce for the work he's done with Bolton, but his players are crap! Players like Dean Holdsworth and Rod Wallace are washed up Premiership has-beens, and, despite the Trotter's good start to the season, I still wouldn't be surprised if Bolton could also be called a Premiership has-been by next season. 

                   We must win the match, not least so that we go above Manchester United in the table! I don't think it will last for too long, but being 3 points ahead of them having played only one more game than them will be very sweet. If United do not win their next game, then we will stay above them. Their problem is their defence. However, we can't empathise with them! Maybe they should speak to a team that can. Woolwich Wanderers, step forward! 

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

23.12.2001

After being comprehensively outplayed against Charlton, it was hoped that the team would bounce back and go on a winning streak similar to the one started immediately after the Man United defeat.  We did so in style.  We absolutely wiped the floor with a Bolton side, who were supposedly weakened, but I don't think that anyone could have coped with us, the way we were that night. 
Our counter attacking was absolutely superb, whenever Bolton managed to get the ball back into our half, we swiftly and purposefully got it back into the Bolton danger area and caused them no end of problems with some brilliant passing and crossing. 

Under Glenn Hoddle, it seems that no player is afraid to try things and this confidence played a key part in our demolition of the Trotters.  Simon Davies and Ledley King, in particular, appear to have flourished under Hoddle's careful guidance, with both turning in impressive displays in the Worthington Cup quarter final. 

Everyone had a good game that night.  Ferdinand got his hat-trick, Davies looked menacing throughout and Sheringham was inspirational, but I think the best player on the pitch was Darren Anderton.  As well as showing off his brilliant creativity, splitting the Bolton defence with ease with some of his passing, he also tackled back tigerishly and, perhaps, uncharacteristically.  Hoddle must take a lot of the credit here, because he has got everyone fighting valiantly for the cause.  When you've got a supposedly fragile thing like Anderton tackling like a centre-back, you know your team wants to win.

You could also see just how much the team was up for it in their faces.  I remember, we were cruising along at three or four goals to nil and Poyet narrowly missed a shot.  The look of anguish on his face really impressed me.  It didn't matter to him that we had already wrapped up the match, he badly wanted that shot to go in.  His passion was written all over his face and given that he came from Chelsea (you can see pansies either at the flower show, or the football club), it is all the more impressive! 

Speaking of Petit and co, we've got them next in the semi.  They are sure to field a strong side, minus players who want to go shopping instead, and so we will have a tough battle on our hands.  We have not beaten them for... well, a long time, but this would be a perfect opportunity to break our Chelsea hoodoo.  The winner of the semi gets a relatively easy opponent in the final in Sheffield Wednesday or Blackburn, so this really is a golden chance for us to get an easy route into Europe.  I think that we can beat Chelsea, but we have to be on top form. 

Following our crushing win over Bolton, it was back to the bread and butter of the league, but we certainly weren't brought down to Earth.  A convincing 4-0 win over Fulham, who have one of the meanest defences in the League was a fantastic achievement.  Les got the 10,000th goal of the Premiership and I'm sure he's got a few more left in him.  This season, he has stuffed my advice that it is maybe time to hang up his boots down my throat, which I'm happy to receive it if he keeps playing like he is. 

Even Rebrov had an OK game against Fulham.  He is starting to show his worth a little bit, although he is nowhere near justifying the 11m we shelled out for him.  I am not sure that he is strong enough for the Premiership, so his future may lie in Italy.  However, he is certainly useful.  He's very skilful and intelligent.  It is just a shame that he has not really developed the physical side of his game.  He gets shouldered off the ball far too much and reports that we will sell him and buy Phillips, hopefully, will come true.  We need a finisher like Phillips more than we need Rebrov.  I had previously thought that Rebrov was our only creative spark, but recently, Poyet, Anderton and Davies have proved me wrong.  What we really need is someone like Phillips, who can put the finishing touch to our creative moves by simply sticking them away. 

We were brought down to Earth by the Ipswich game.  I had not even contemplated losing against the Premiership's bottom club and when Davies had scored yet again, on 12 minutes, I could not see Ipswich getting into the game at all. 

How wrong I was (I seem to be saying that quite a lot lately).  We were outplayed by the Tractor Boys, who showed that they're not going out of the top flight without a fight.  Sheringham's dismissal seemed a little harsh, but to moan about that would be to ignore the main issue of the game and that is that we were well beaten by an amnesia-struck Ipswich who seemed to forget that they were 20th in the League, for just 90 minutes, thinking that that they were still playing in last season, where they kept up a sustained Champions League bid for the whole campaign. 

I think we may have missed Les Ferdinand.  I'm hoping that he comes back fairly soon, because he has been excellent recently, and is a key part of our side at the moment. 

At least Davies had another good game, and scored his fourth goal in six games.  As he says, himself, he is not a defender, but we have Freund for that and he's doing a surprisingly good job at the moment.  Davies is getting better and better and more confident with each game, and I think he is a great prospect who will develop into one of the best midfielders in the Premiership.  Although Poyet is a short term solution to out creative problems, luckily we have Davies who has at least 10 years of top flight football left in him, providing he stays clear of injury, and he is a very exciting prospect.  Finally, Wales have a player who can play on the same team as Giggs and not look stupid.  

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

14.1.2002

Simply having a miserable Christmas time.

 

         It is with a sigh of relief that we enter the New Year and move away from a miserable festive period, in which we played terribly, got a key player suspended and put a smile on the face of Rupert the Bear.

          Santa obviously felt the need to bypass the Lane when he was handing out his gifts.  I'm surprised.  Which of our players had not been a good boy this year?  Timmy Sherwood has donated his win bonuses to America, Darren Anderton hardly moved from his wheelchair and the rest of the players have kept their noses relatively clean throughout the season.

          Perhaps it was Taricco's tackle on Gravesen, Freund's fight with Oakley or Iversen's crime to football by playing it professionally, but whatever it was, it's obvious that Father Christmas had a grudge against us.  A tad unfair when you consider how Leeds are top (Lee and Johnny haven't exactly been model Christians), although at least Chelsea (John and Jody's halos went a little awry this season) got what they deserved against Southampton.

           Just like we did.  Nothing.  A lacklustre performance was rewarded with no points and failure to catch up with the top five, who are slowly drifting away from the rest of the league.  Worst of all, it came against Southampton, who will have loved beating us, given the history between us.  Oh well, something to smile about in a year or two, when they're travelling to Stockport and Norwich.

            Annoyingly, we then drew with Aston Villa after outplaying them for the whole game.  Whenever we get outplayed, we end up with the nil points that the performances deserves, yet whenever we outplay anyone, they still manage to nick something out of the game, far too often.  It may well be a question of concentration.  A very brief lapse gifted the Villains a goal and ruined our hard work for the full hour and a half.

            At least we beat Blackburn, although it was none too convincing a display.  Still, we got a valuable three points so that we can at least see the dust that the top five have left behind them in the title race.  Luckily for us, Andy Cole was playing for Rovers and he showed his true talent as he missed every chance he got.  Sir Alex must be laughing all the way to the bank!

            Our most crucial game of the season so far was against Chelsea at the Bridge in the semi.  We lost, but 2-1 is a respectable result and we're certainly in with a chance for the return leg.  I think it is better to play at home in the second leg, because if it goes to penalties, you've got your fans rooting for you and whistling at the opposing penalty takers.

              Hasselbaink and Gudjohnsen were a real handful, especially Jimmy.  He is a very good player and we found it hard to control his link up play with Gudjohnsen.  His free kick was brilliant, and I must admit that he is probably the best striker in the Premiership.  He has struck up a great partnership with the Iceland international and we must be wary of them in the return leg at the Lane.

              On our team, Ledley King looked to be our best player again.  He wasn't embarrassed by Hasselbaink, even though the Dutchman was superb and he got a lot of valuable tackles and clearances in.  The man just keeps getting better and he may well be on his way to Japan and South Korea.  He stopped at least three dangerous goalscoring opportunities for Chelsea and it was another very solid defensive display overall for Deadly Ledley.

            Taricco also worked hard, although his crosses weren't always brilliant.  His positioning was very good and he was always in a decent position to cross the ball.  He has been a very effective replacement for Carr, as I have said and even though I will welcome Carr back, it will almost be a shame to consign the Argie to the bench.  He has proved his worth this season and should still be a part of our plans after Carr has come back.

             Ziege made a few telling crosses, although a tackle on Hasselbaink was reckless and we were very lucky not to concede a free kick.  However, given that Hasselbaink's goal from the free kick minutes earlier looked to be a very dodgy decision, the very least that the ref could have done was say play on.

              Sherwood was a great replacement for Freund.  I winced when I saw that he was going to come on, but he actually played quite well.  I was impressed with him and perhaps there is a future for him at Spurs.  He made a few important tackles and interceptions and it was his intelligent pass that gave Ferdinand his goal.

                Ferdinand himself was largely ineffective, except for his goal of course.  I think the problem was the absence of a partner to play with.  Chelsea were very astute defensively and Ferdinand could not cope on his own.  He needed another striker to link up with.  It surprised me that Rebrov hadn't started and it surprised me even more that he wasn't brought on at half time, since Hoddle had seen Ferdinand was struggling as a lone striker.  Hoddle evidently does not rate the striker and I can't really say that I blame him.  However, given the situation, we had Sheringham out and Ferdinand was in desperate need of a partner (a certain duo wearing blue was showing that two heads are better than one at the other end the whole time as well), I really thought Hoddle could have given him at least half a game.

               All the transfer rumours I have heard about Rebrov leaving say he's going to Lazio, Milan, Barcelona, Fulham.... Fulham !??  My mouth dropped open as I listened to the commentators saying that Rebrov wanted to stay in England and was waiting for Fulham to make a bid for him !!  Sergei Rebrov at Fulham ??  Supposedly one of the best strikers in Europe at Fulham ???  As they struggle to stay in the top half of the Premiership ??  Well, if he wants to mess up his career which has been stalling badly already for the last two years, he is welcome to go to Craven Cottage, providing they come up with the goods ... 11m at least.  I wouldn't be surprised if we got a 15m bid from them though, they always pay over the odds for overrated foreigners.  So, maybe Rebrov would be happy there, joining up with the likes of Saha, Marlet and Van Der Saar. 

                A less high profile departure has been that of Dave Beasant's.  The 42 year old has now gone back to Portsmouth, complaining of getting a sore backside from sitting on the Spurs bench.  I find his comments about  the  bench rather offensive and worrying too.  The Portsmouth bench (which Beasant left to join Tottenham after Pompey had purchased a Japanese international goalie), must obviously have cushions on it and things to make the sub's rumps feel more comfortable. I hope we are not driving our subs away from the club by making the bench that they sit on too hard, and unwelcoming to their bottoms.  I hope we address this problem soon.

              Even more worrying is that Freund is out for the rest of the season.  Tim Sherwood is not as good as him and Freund, although having been useless for a while, has started to play out of his skin with Hoddle in charge.  The fact that he is winning by some margin in the votes for Tottenham's player of the year on the official website is probably due more to the effort he puts in than the talent he has, but this is not a bad thing.  Freund has worked very hard this season and has done his job quietly and effectively.  I hope that Sherwood can rise to the challenge of replacing him, but I am not filled with confidence.  He had a good game against Chelsea, but has had too many terrible games in the past for that to convince me.

                 Against Chelsea, I don't think, as Ron Atkinson kept saying, he ran the game, but he did play quite well.  By the way, on the subject of Ron Atkinson, so many people slate him for his comments, but I find him quite funny sometimes.  For example, when Zola was injured, clutching his groinal area, the other commentator said "Zola's hurt, and I'm not sure exactly where", cue the camera zooming in on Zola's crotch.  Diplomatically, and amusingly, Atkinson replied, "Just behind the halfway line, I think".  Little gems like this are rare among commentators, who normally come up with boring facts and stats when play has stopped.

                     Moving on, our defeat against Ipswich was fully deserved.  King, especially performed below par and Ipswich punished us to complete a humiliating double over us.  We have charitably lifted them from the bottom, almost single-handedly and we have sacrificed a recent image of a steely, but classy side, which is fast being replaced with a lightweight, ageing image.

                    We must stop the rot which has seen us lose so much ground on the big five.  We now sit in 8th position, dangerously close to the likes of Fulham and Charlton.  8th is not a satisfactory finish.  Hoddle has a lot of work to do to make sure we beat Chelsea in the semi in a couple of weeks and improve our league position too.

                 It is not going to be easy, but Hoddle is a clever tacticican and good motivator.  He will cope with our problems and meet them head on. I have confidence that Hoddle will emerge triumphant, and that we will overcome Chelsea to reach the Worthington Cup Final.  The league is more difficult and Hoddle is going to have to work hard to halt our losing streak and get back to the Tottenham which demolished Fulham, Derby and Newcastle.

 

                 Come on you Spurs.

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

 

24.1.2002

Cup Fever

Coventry are a mediocre side, so it was a job well done when we showed the Sky Blues up for the poor outfit that they are.  They never really looked like threatening as we dominated and won comfortably.  Poyet and Ferdinand got the goals we needed and we gave a polished performance to see off the Midlands side and book ourselves a tie against Bolton.  It should be a nice easy ride again against the Premiership strugglers, but we should be wary.  I can't see us slipping up against a side that we beat 6-0.  Allardyce has his work cut out to keep Bolton afloat and he could well field another weakened side.  If he does, he should be aware that they are likely to suffer another morale sapping defeat.  When presented with a particularly bad side, we normally see them off with relative ease.  There are exceptions, of course.

We kept Walter Smith in his job for at least a few more days with a weak performance at home to the Toffees.  It was a pretty dull match and a disappointing result.  Obviously, we should be looking to do to teams like Everton what we did to Coventry.  They are not really one of the better teams in the Premiership, but we are all allowed to slip up sometimes, although we do it far too much to be considered Champions League contenders.

Not brilliant training for a crucial cup tie against Chelsea, a side we had not beaten for, is it 12 years?  Chelsea themselves warmed up with a crushing 5-1 win over West Ham. That's 5-1.

Yep, 5-1.  What a result! As soon as the first goal went in, the game was never in doubt.  Suddenly, all our fretting about Ferdinand not playing looked ridiculously trivial.  Spurs were on fire, with almost every player playing to the best of their ability.  Iversen had a very good first half.  I must admit that I was horrified to see that he was starting.  Any regular readers of my column will know exactly what I think of the Norwegian, but on Wednesday night, he was part of an excellent Tottenham team that wiped the floor with a full strength Chelsea side.

Everyone was fantastic.  Not one player had a bad game, but if I had to single out a player, I would say that Simon Davies was my man of the match.  Cross after cross after cross after cross came sailing in from the right.  Some may say that Melchiot was not doing his job properly, but I think a lot of credit has to go to Davies for his positional play.  He got so many crosses in and most of them were very dangerous.  He also cut inside a few times and even got a goal when he did this.  His link-up play was superb and every time he had the ball, he did something useful with it.  

This man is fast becoming one of our most important players, and I don't think it would be exaggerating to say that he could become a contender for the young player of the year and certainly the Spurs player of the year if he keeps turning in the brilliant displays that he has been recently.  He just keeps getting better and better.  I know I rave about him in almost every article, but his performances are just so mature and intelligent.  He has now made himself indispensable and I am very, very excited about this player ... can you tell?  If he keeps his feet on the ground, he will be one of our best signings.. ever.  This guy has so much potential.  He was our best player when every player had a great game.  The Premiership had better watch out.  Davies is going to be huge, I reckon.

However, although you could be forgiven for thinking that I have eyes only for Davies, I don't.  For those who think he's my favourite player, Anderton always has been and always will be ... until he's retired, obviously.  Then, maybe Davies will inherit his throne.  But at the moment, he is the young pretender, in terms of being my favourite player!

Ledley King was very close to his Welsh team mate.  He also had a great game, snuffing out the most dangerous strike force in Britain almost effortlessly.  He is very intelligent, and makes great passes from the defence.  He knows what to do with the ball when he's got it.  If needed, he'll kick it out to row Z (John Terry, you may be captain of England U21, but take note of Ledley, and maybe you won't give away goals like the first one we scored) and when to weight a wonderful pass to a team mate.  He is also an excellent young player.  He looks well on course for the World Cup.  At this moment in time, I simply cannot see how Sven can take Sol Campbell and not Ledley, who has been head and shoulders above him for the whole season so far.  The only thing Sol has over Ledley is experience and even that did not stop him naively moving to Arsenal and expecting Spurs fans to smile and say good luck.

Moving on to the older heads, Tim Sherwood was highly effective too and deserved his stunning goal, as did Sheringham.  The two veterans pulled the strings for us on Wednesday and both scored great goals during this glorious night.  Sheringham had been superb for us since signing.  He has to be one of the shrewdest signings of the summer.  Sherwood has not been in the team recently, but since coming in, he has been an able deputy for Freund.  I know the German is very popular, but for god's sake, when is the man going to score?  Sherwood, for all his faults, knows where the back of the net is, as he showed.  He had a great all round game and a move to Rangers must be put on hold now.  If he keeps on playing like this, Freund is going to find it hard to get back in the side.

Taricco was great, as he has been, consistently this season.  The fact that he has made us almost forget about our player of the year is a wonderful testament to the way he has played this season.  Once again, he was good defensively and attacking.  It was his shot that created our first goal, as Cudicini parried and Iversen robbed the dithering Terry of the ball to poke it in.

We didn't have either Ziege or Carr playing and we didn't miss them.  We had a lot of width and Davies and Taricco were both fantastic.  Carr must be getting worried about the form of old Mauricio!  He previously posed no threat at all to Carr's position, but his sharp rise in form has been very, very impressive.

Even Rebrov got a slice of the action, even though he came on quite late, sticking home another immaculate cross from Davies.  When he's off to Italy in the summer, maybe he'll remember that he scored our 5th goal against a team that we had not beaten for 12 years and that maybe he wasn't such a flop at Spurs.  Of course, he'd be wrong to think that.  He has been an absolute flop, make no mistake about it, but anyway...

On the other side, Petit and Desailly were blissfully ineffective.  Perhaps Emanuel was affected by the constant booing of him by the Spurs fans, although towards the end, you would have forgiven the Chelsea fans for booing him as well.  Perhaps it was the rain, or the booing of him, or maybe the fact that he just couldn't be arsed, but "Le grand bebe" was absolutely "merde".

Desailly was also terrible. Did these men really win the World Cup?  It was a laugh to see Desailly give the performance of a frightened 17 yr old making his debut.  However, he wasn't alone.  All of the Chelsea team, except, perhaps for Gallas were completely and comprehensively ouptlayed by us. 

So now, after a stunning end to our Chelsea hoodoo, we're well on our way to Cardiff.  Blackburn should be a doddle.  I say should, I see no reason why we can't see the dull Rovers off, but there is no room for complacency in a cup final.

Finally, whoever wrote an article in one of the recent fanzines about Tottenham's fortunes mirroring England's, I must say, very true!

England can't beat another side for toffee and then, in one of the most important matches against them, stuff them 5-1.  Tottenham can't beat Chelsea for toffee and then, in one of the most important matches against them, well you know the rest.

Well  done boys. You did us proud. Absolutely stunning.  Now, finish of the Rovers at Cardiff.  Come on Spurs!          

If you agree or disagree with anything I have touched upon in this article, you can email me at Just_shaun@hotmail.com

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