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.