Soapbox: shooting down Spurs (if not quite 6-1)


Pete Sixsmith was pulled up here by a Spurs fan (Telboy) for suggesting in his
Observer match verdict that it could have ended Sunderland 6 Tottenham 1. What Telboy couldn’t have realised was the Pete also said it might have been 3-3 (that less sexy bit being cut out). We shouldn’t be greedy, but there’s no denying 6-1 was strictly speaking feasible (two missed pens, one disallowed goal) and would have been very nice indeed …

It crossed my mind to use “Broken nose Bruce slaughters Flannel faced ‘Arry” as my seven-word summary, but I felt this might upset the sensitivities of any passing Spurs fans, so decided on the more prosaic words you can find elsewhere on this site .

It was a wonderfully exciting game of football and if Ellis Short and Niall Quinn wanted to present any wavering renewers with a good reason for parting with a wad of money for next season, then this game provided perfect ammunition.

The dire encounters against Portsmouth, Fulham, Stoke and Wigan were forgotten as both teams had a real go at each other – one because they owed the home fans something after the aforementioned and the other because neglecting to select a defence left them no choice.

The Brucester’s team selection was interesting and there was much discussion over the airwaves and in the concourse as to how it would work. It was equally noted, by metropolitan commentators, that Spurs were missing Woodgate (haven’t they all season?) and King (whose appearances are about as rare as Mike Ashley’s in the Bigg Market).

Instead they had Kaboul and Bassong, neither of whom had been dragged from the obscurity of the Football Combination but who had cost an awful lot of money.

I have been known to be critical of the tactics we have employed in certain games, but the Two Bs got it absolutely right for this one. If you want to play at a high tempo and hustle the opposition of the ball, then a midfield trio of Henderson, Meyler and Cattermole is ideal.

Collectively they never allowed the skilful Modric to settle, rattled the inept Assou-Ekotto at every available opportunity, put the fear of God up the great sissy known as Bentley and pushed the combative Palacios back whenever they could.

And they got forward. Meyler won a penalty, Henderson produced a series of crosses that must have had Nick Summerbee purring with delight from the directors’ box and Cattermole was his usual bundle of energy, darting runs and misplaced passes. We murdered them in that area.

As we went forward, their defence backed off and Bent and Campbell (both, perhaps with a teeny-weeny point to prove) always had the upper hand. Bassong and Kaboul both looked worried by them and often resorted to booting the ball away.

Now, there is nothing wrong with this. I applaud Turner and Ferdinand when they do this rather than get caught out. But, I expect more from Spurs. I am constantly being reminded of the Spurs Way – classy, cultured football, played with verve and vim.

Didn’t see much of that in the first half. Poor defenders who had no pace, a midfield squeezed out and two forwards who did little else but complain and look to the ref for “protection”. Gudjohnsen looked a little tubby, presumably after some high living in Monaco, while Pavlyuchenko was easily pocketed by Paolo Da Silva and the ever improving Turner.

Defoe brought some pace and was twice foiled by Gordon, while Kranj?ar brought some steel into the centre of the park. They had a good 20 minute spell, but we were able to hold on and wrestle control back. In January, we would have gone under – as we would have last season.

In the meantime, Darren Bent reacted as fast as lightning to a parry from Gomes and despatched a penalty with aplomb after Walker handled.

And those three penalties? Walker was unfortunate but it was a penalty. As was the next one when Modric left his leg out, inviting Campbell to fall over it – which he did. Gomes saved that one and he did equally well to save the next one after another brainless foul, this time on Meyler. All three looked penalties to me – but then they would, wouldn’t they?

There seems to be some comment on how Bent celebrated his goals. He’s not a Michael Turner/Julio Arca/Carlos Tevez who seeks not to celebrate against former clubs. Clearly he feels that being publicly ridiculed by ‘Arry Boy and hooted at by the massed ranks of North London’s second finest entitles him to let them know that he is enjoying life at Sunderland. Good for him.

Poor sensitive Spurs fans should learn to accept that some players thrive away from White Hart Lane. They could take a lesson from us and learn from the generous reception we always give returning players like Kevin Kilbane and Paul McShane.

It was a scintillating Saturday afternoon, with a good crowd (including a decent turnout from Spurs), and a feeling that we have overcome the miseries of winter and as we enter Spring. Yes, 6-1 would have been a reasonable result and I cannot understand why Ferdinand had his effort disallowed.

Lee Mason had a mixed bag of a game. His Cattermole booking was harsh, he got the penalties right, he disallowed a perfectly good goal, missed a huge shove on Turner by Crouch for their goal and ignored Spurs pinching three yards for every free kick.

The game ended with a wonderful goal by Zenden – better than the one from Torres last week – and a huge sigh of relief going up around the Stadium. Any lingering relegation fears have been banished and we can now relax and go into the last five games with a positive outlook, starting at Upton Park next week.

Wouldn’t it be nice to beat two self-flattering London clubs in successive weeks? I think it would.

21 thoughts on “Soapbox: shooting down Spurs (if not quite 6-1)”

  1. “This Spurs whinging about injuries is tedious”

    Yet you never hear about it in the press. We’re pushing for 4th and have had every single player out at least once this season.

    Bent simply didn’t suit us. When he played we had to change the team to fit him in to the detriment of our other (debatably) better players, rather than having him adapt to our play. Whereas, you’ve wholeheartedly changed your way of play to suit him – which is why he’s scored half of your goals this season.

    Villa don’t have the depth, just like last season. They’ve already dropped out of the running. It’s between Tottenham, City and ‘Pool. I fear City will take it, but we play them the penultimate game of the season, so it’s all up for grabs.

  2. Can’t resist an Easter rant….
    This Spurs whinging about injuries is tedious. We have hardly had a settled back 5 all season. That’s the way it is and it’s reflected in the table.
    Bent has scored 22 premier goals this season and scored at a rate of 1 in 3 for Spurs previously…despite coming off the bench in half those games. That any club would let him go in such a squad-dependent world is unbelievable. I suspect money (related to Pavyluchenko) had a lot to do with it.
    My grandad played for Spurs in the 20s and I have a soft spot for the club….but this season I’m all for Villa for 4th. A sound, well-managed club that has retained some 20th century footballing character.

  3. maybe if Harry had backed up his “Sandra” comment with something along the lines of “but all strikers miss chances” then it would have been better for all concerned, but that’s all in the past now. Whether Mr Dynamite misses 90% of his chances or not (he doesn’t, by the way) he’s scored 22 league goals and still has five games to play. Thanks to Spurs for contributing to a fantastically entertaining game of football.

    Also Spurs, can you please beat Portsmouth at the weekend so that the first part of my FA Cup bet pays off?

  4. Tottenham fans who would take Malbranque back are living in the past. Even you must know that he lasts about 60 minutes, then burns out. He was a good player for us, but we’ve since got better players.

    As for Bent, as I mentioned earlier, Tottenham fans supported him throughout his time at WHL, which is why his Twitter-commenting, chest-thumping, badge-kissing actions beggar belief. He never suited our style of play, but he suits your team because you play through him and play to his strengths. That’s football.

    Good luck for the rest of the system.

  5. Good point Keith. I have said in the recent past that Meyler is a good player. I have watched him in the Reserves and his move nto the first team has come as no surprise. Credit to Keane for picking him up.
    I have also neglected to mention the excellent contribution from Fraizer Campbell, who was outstanding. I said a while ago that he looked out of his depth at this level – I wish to publicly rescind that statement. He looks a good ‘un and I am looking forward to seeing even more progress next season.
    Hopefully he will score a bagfull against the Mags. Good to have them back – not!!!

  6. With three Spurs fans before and after the match. Contrary to most comments on the web three of the four liked Bent and all four would have Malbranque back tomorrow. Our win was well deserved they said and before anyone wonders these are supporters we meet up with home and away every season. Most comments about our players I would agree with. Two points. Gordon is now proving what a top class keeper he is and those that moaned just because he cost a lot of money are having to keep quiet. Second point. Meyler is going to be a good player and I am a little suprised at the lack of comment on his contribution – Portsmouth excluded of course. Cheers Peter.

  7. Telboy, I don’t think it was an asinine comment. The game could have been 6-1 or 3-3; football can be like that. A referee who didn’t give the penalties (and there are some who would not have done), a mistake by Gordon to let you back into the game, and bingo; 3-3.
    On the other hand, had Gomes not arms like an octopus ( a compliment, honest) and if Ferdinand’s goal had stood (which it should), then we would have won 6-1.
    It’s football. If Gascoigne had been sent off in the first minute of your Final against Forest (as he should have), Cloughie would have got his FA Cup and maybe Forest would not have gone down the next year, etc, etc, etc.
    As David Brent says, “If my auntie had b*******, she’d be my uncle”.
    For the record, I thought Spurs played in the spirit of the game. I thought we played well. I don’t think that we will be relegated and I don’t think Spurs will finish fourth.
    Unfortunately, I know that the riff-raff from up the road will be playing both of us next season. Shame!

  8. As a Tottenham fan, I was obviously gutted about the result. You played out of your skin, one Mr Bent in particular; I still don’t understand why he needs to celebrate like an idiot though, as fans we gave him a hell of a lot of support.

    But nevertheless, you fully deserved the win, even if we did force Gordon to make some good saves and threaten to grab a lucky point before Zenden’s wonder-strike.

    Our injuries were bound to take their toll. From the first team we were missing Corluka and Dawson in defence, Lennon and Huddlestone in midfield, whilst Defoe and Palacios weren’t match fit. Woody and King missing go without saying.

    But taking nothing away from, possibly, your best performance of the season.

  9. Yes you would claim all three were penalties. I would remind you however that a handball is supposed to be given for, hand to ball, not ball to hand, which was the case for Walker. The TV commentators were also under the impression that Modric was unfortnate as he was in the process ofpulling his leg away and the Sunderland player went down far too easily.
    Yes, Sunderland did deserve to win as Spurs were not up to snuff, but as may have happened to you in the past it is hard to lose to decisions from the official that perhaps on another day would not have been given

  10. Telboy:

    in fairness, it was my introduction – not Pete’s report – that referred to 6-1 as a feasible result. We have both acknowledged the possibility that it might also have ended 3-3, and Pete presumably felt he didn’t need to qualify his point again.

    See my comment in reply to your original post: I argue that extreme results are often misleading. I could even point to our 7-2 defeat at Chelsea, since 11-1 would have reflected the game more accurately!

    But like it ir not, feasible – my OED says “practicable, possible” – remains a fair word to use, whether applied to a hammering or a draw, neither of which happened.

  11. What you,Petesixsmith are not getting is that your argument in being a ” feasible result ” is a total contradiction of your own comment. We all know that what might have been has no bearing on the result, but you cannot have it both ways. If you are going to say that, but for this or that, it could have been a landslide for one team, then you have to give credit to what the other team might have done, which you did not do. Remember what I said,your goalkeeper had a blinder and got a 9/10 rating. Do you suppose he got that feeding the pidgeons ? Sunderland well deserved their win, and good luck to them and if I supported yoyr club I would be over the moon as well, but let’s not let understandable emotions evolve into assanine comments.

  12. no complaints about the result saturday , sunderland wanted that more than our players , i thought malbranque was excellent course we shot ourselves in the foot by giving them a goal start and never really recovered after that, mistakes a plenty on our part , including starting with ekotto at l/b instead of bale, great support from the home fans (a gift of a goal in 36 seconds does help ) and excellent turn out from our support, shame the players let us down ,hopefully its a kick up the backside we need for portsmouth on sunday, PLEASE NO COMPLACENCY just get us to the final it,s long overdue,

  13. Don’t forget Henderson, Malcolm. He’s missed a fair chunk of the season with his injuries, and the more serious ankle one he suffered at Wigan (I think?).

    Henderson, at 19 years young, was one of the best players on the park on Saturday and has demonstrated maturity beyond his years in the way he not only plays the game, but thinks about it and how it’s developing in front of him.

    We have every right to feel pleased with our deserved victory over a good side, and let us not forget that we were also missing players in the match but we managed to adapt and cope better. Injuries are part and parcel of the game, and in much the same way they hampered us during that 14-game barren spell – they may also hamper Spurs’ Champions League hopes. They’re part of the game, will always be used as an excuse when really they shouldn’t.

  14. I’m not sure what Bent’s complaining about with the Sandra rant. He missed an absolute sitter and Redknapp just spelled it out to him. He should be more of a man and learn to take criticism (every spurs supporter felt exactly the same about him after that ridiculous miss)instead of running to Yeah, Bent gets a lot of goals but he misses way too many to be classed as a top striker. His mind is not strong enough.
    At the weekend it looked after the first minute like he would show spurs why they should have kept him. He had every spurs supporter in the country cringing at the punishment he would dish out to them but ended up missing so many that the result didn’t seem all that bad, given that the game showed Bent up to be such a fragile minded individual. I’m sure, despite the goals, spurs are more than happy that Bent is scoring 1 out of 10 shots at Sunderland instead of at Tottenham

  15. LOL at Campbell having a point to prove


    Spurs > Sunderland

  16. Fair points John and the answer to the question how would we fare is, in all honestly, not well. It is well documented that our fine start crumbled when injuries deprived us of maybe not eight, but a sizeable chunk of our first choice XI. Mensah, Ferdinand, Cattermole, Reid, Richardson, Gordon, Cana, have all missed a fair amount of the season and results reflected that. Bruce has shipped out (permanently or on loan) squad players who weren’t up to the job, but it left us short of cover. We are still a bit thin in this department and need some decent fullbacks (Hutton is playing well for us) but we have the makings of a decent team with a full squad.

    Saturday’s match was a cracker and hopefully both our teams will be challenging for Europe next season.

  17. John and James make good points and no Sunderland fan can deny what life has generally been like for us in the Premier, two seventh top finishes under Peter Reid aside. I think you must excuse Pete for feeling equal measures of ecstasy and relief after we beat a top four side, and beat them well, for the first time since November. And probably secured our place again. As for Bent, what came first – the Twitter rant or the ‘Arry insult?

  18. Self-flattering? They’re still easily ahead of you in the league and still in the Cup. I don’t think it’s self-flattering when you are in the position they are in at this point of the season in spite of an incredible injury list that has left them unable to pick their first choice 11 in basically any game this season.

    Ultimately, Sunderland – playing at home – beat a Spurs team missing Woodgate, King, Lennon, Dawson (you failed to mention him in your article), Corluka, Huddlestone and Jenas, with Defoe just coming back from injury (hence he was on the bench) and with Palacios playing injured just because they were so short of players.

    Why did the Spurs fans boo Bent? Its not about him being an ex-player – they welcome many ex-players just as you do. Its about the way he left the club (with his Twitter rant), his comments and attitude since he left and his general arrogance. The way he celebrated shows you everything. Don’t forget the massive dive he took at White Hart Lane to win the penalty earlier this season: doing that against your former team doesn’t show much class, does it? Notice they did not attack Campbell in the same way, nor Steed who is still considered by many to be a legend at White Hart Lane and is the one player Spurs fans would love to have back.

    As much as I like Sunderland because they do things the right way and are generally modest (much more than those Geordie idiots – they really are self-flattering as they have nothing to be proud of), Sunderland are at best a middle table team, that in a good year with luck with injuries can aspire to threaten the Europa League places. But unfortunately, with bad luck, there will be a relegation dogfight in the next 2-3 years, mark my words. Probably after Bruce jumps ship for his next payday.

  19. Sunderland deserved their win Saturday. They wanted it more and we played as poorly as we have since Redknapp took over.
    One has to take into account the injuries we have suffered though.
    I wonder how Sunderland would fare with 8 first team players out, including your two best players.
    It’s amazing we have managed to keep up a challenge for 4th for as long as we have!

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