Our hearts naturally bleed when supporters of other clubs find an unexpected battle against relegation not to their taste. We’d hate to be in the same position. But then, all our relegation battles are thoroughly expected. Sunderland v Spurs on Saturday is a vital game for both clubs. The nerves may have got to Matt Anderson*, who makes up for thinking Spurs were “too big” a club for Malbranque by having been a mate of Chris Turner’ s son at school. He says we’ll both stay up comfortably, but cannot bring himself to predict Saturday’s outcome..
Another season of false promise, or the start of a Spurs revival? What did you expect before the season started?
To tell you the truth with so many changes in the pre-season I did not know what to expect but it’s safe to say I did not see a relegation battle coming! Having our most successful side in years literally ripped apart that way was a bitter pill to swallow, especially when the players we lost were not replaced properly. I hate to sound like a typical moaning Spurs fan because I know we spent more than most but it is the nature of how and where the money was spent that bothers me. I like Bentley and he offers us something different on the right but why buy another right winger when we already had Lennon and have been without a Left sided player for as long as I can remember! We also desperately needed a defensive midfielder which again (until recently) was not forthcoming. Instead we signed two ‘number tens’ in Modric and Dos Santos when we intended to play 4-4-2. It seems this has almost become the Spurs way now though – buying square pegs to put in round holes. What upsets me most though is that if we had signed a Palacios type player and a left winger a couple of seasons ago when we genuinely were challenging to break into the top four, rather than spending a needless £14m on Darren Bent we could have built on the success we were having and stood a better chance of holding on to our best players. Which, incidentally would
have saved us the money and time of trying to buy them all back now!
Tale of two Keanes. What do you make of Roy and Robbie?
Robbie Keane has always been a huge favourite of mine and I was devastated when he left. Not only he a great player but the spirit he showed each and every game was second to none. I hope he is as much of a success during his second spell although I think he will need a decent run of games and goals to get his confidence back after the Liverpool debacle. Roy Keane is a legend of the game of probably one of the best midfield players I have ever seen play. I always felt that his temperament may prove a problem as a top level manager and when things were not going his way earlier this season you just felt something had to give, which it of course did. I think he did a fantastic job for Sunderland though and attracted some top players. I do find it hard to see where his next job might be however.
Have you ever been to Sunderland? Any memories of games between us?
The closest I have been to Sunderland was last October when I did the Great North Run and as it was slightly closer to the finish I have fantastic memories of the place! As for the football team I have a few memories yes. Firstly my good friend at school was Chris Turner’s son and as a football obsessive loved speaking to Chris about his experiences and he always raved about Sunderland’s fans. The “Roker Roar” was a pretty special memory for him and having watched the FA cup game in 04 saw what he was on about, despite Spurs’ heavy victory thanks to some Klinsmann magic! I attended the game at the Lane in 2003 to see a thoroughly dominant Spurs beat what has to be said was a pretty poor Sunderland side 4-1. The game was not a classic but it’s always great to see your team score 4 goals and it was especially memorable to me as Teddy Sheringham scored his 300th league goal with 5 minutes left. I remember the goal especially well as he headed in at the end I was sitting and celebrated right in front of us which was a great moment. Since then we don’t have a great record against the Black Cats and after all the pre-season hype in 2007 the defeat thanks to Chopra’s late goal really hurt us and was the catalyst for a terrible start. Then of course the game from earlier this season where our boys did not seem to try and Cisse just proved too much to handle form the bench.
‘Arry. Short term fix or more than that?
He has had a mixed time of it since taking over although on the whole I remain optimistic. Some of his comments have worried me greatly and I think at one stage, in particular after making the ‘I’ll be fielding the weakest side I can find’ comment (a side which incidentally still didn’t include Darren Bent) he was seriously in danger of damaging moral and putting players off joining us, but he has admitted the short falls we have and is addressing the major issues which is what’s needed. I like the signings he has made and I think it would be unfair to judge him until next season after he has had the chance to shape the squad how he wants to in the summer. I expect Bentley and Bent to go and a whole new left side to come in.
Malbranque and Taino have been successes for us. Chimbonda showed good touches but was a liability on and off field. Predictable in each case?
I have to admit I was not sorry to see any of the three players go. I’m pleased Malbranque has done ok and not surprised really as I always thought that he was a decent player but Spurs was a bit too big a club for him. Tainio was to me a player who never really offered anything or had any particular strength to speak of. Players like that often get described as “neat” but the game is at such a level now that being neat is nowhere near enough. Not that he was ever that neat anyway but I can seldom remember seeing him put a tackle in, play a decent ball or drive us forward so I was surprised and pleased to see an offer come in for him. Chimbonda is not a popular player at Spurs after the comments he made and then the way he threw his toys out of his pram when he was substituted in the Carling Cup final last year so I am surprised to see him back at Spurs. He has some making up to do for most supporters including myself but I do feel he gives us a much greater attacking threat than Corluka at full back.
How do you the season panning out for each of us?
I think we’ll probably finish 12th and 13th respectively. Both sides have enough quality to avoid relegation but not much else at this stage. Again with Sunderland it will be very interesting to see who comes in during the summer and whether you can keep the best players in the squad. Especially Kenwyne Jones who I hear one or two clubs may be interested in!
Spurs greats? You’ve plenty to choose from.
I have seen or watched videos of all the greats down the years and we have had some fantastic players at Spurs, many of whom I’ve been lucky enough to see live. Gary Lineker and Gazza were playing during my first season of going to games regularly and I always remember being very boastful that England’s two best players played for Tottenham around the 1990 world cup era. Later on I remember going to watch Klinsmann train with the team straight after he joined and I have never seen a more natural athlete or better finisher. We then had a spell of incredibly un-impressive players at the club until David Ginola joined. Again, what a player! He may not have tackled, tracked back or built much of a sweat but he was a genius with the ball at his feet and players like him I feel are synonymous with the club and the way the fans like to see football played. For me though the greatest has to be Hoddle. His vision and rage of passing was sensational and some of the goals he scored were unbelievable. My all time favourite has to be his farewell goal against Oxford which was a masterpiece and the most fitting way to say goodbye to the club. Still brings a tear to the eye.
Tell us about Arsenal
I can honestly say I detest everything about them. I know its petty… but I would never own anything made by JVC, refused to have an O2 phone and if I can help it will not fly Emirates! I openly accept I am a bitter Spurs fan and have spent years being jealous of their success, but we have certainly had our moments against them and feel happy we can hold our heads up high to the fact that we have much better fans and a manager who can see further than three feet away if one of our players so much as fouls an opponent.
Club v country. Who wins for you and why?
That’s a tough one. In my younger days I would have always said country as watching England has produced some of the most dramatic moments of my football watching life – unfortunately all of them ending in penalty shoot-out defeats! Now though I find it difficult to support the England team as ardently as I used to because of my dislike for most of the players. It’s an easy thing to have a go at modern day players because they earn so much more but the passion of most of them now when pulling in the England shirt is just nowhere near that shown by the likes of Pearce, Lineker or even Tony Adams. I hope they prove me wrong next year though!
Score on Sat? How will you keep tabs?
I’ll be sitting in my local in Clapham with a pint of Guinness watching Gillette Soccer Saturday.
* Matt Anderson on Matt Anderson. I am 29, live in Clapham and work in London’s West End for an advertising agency, planning and buying marketing campaigns for a number of clients. I grew up in an area where you supported either Spurs or West Ham. I made the right decision and have stuck with it for as long as I can remember. My Dad supports Spurs and I never really saw any choice in the matter so I was amazed when I found out recently that he comes from a long line of Arsenal fans and chose to rebel against all of them. He took me as a boy (QPR at home on Ardiles return was my first ever match) and I have gone fairly regularly since. It’s not an easy ground to get to though which is frustrating!