A Response To The Tottenham Bashing

From The Terraces publishes UNEDITED submissions we receive from you, the readers. It’s your chance to show us how this football blogging is done right, or to embarrass yourself and your ancestors.Simply write to: editor[at]caughtoffside[dot]com.This time, the recent glut of Tottenham-articles continues as COS reader Chi Tern Hoon responds to an article by Soccernet’s Insider.

Admittedly, I was one of the ‘delusional few who dared to dream’ going into Thursday’s second leg against FC Sevilla at White Hart Lane. A largely indifferent season in the league, two disappointing cup exits against our fiercest rivals in Arsenal and Chelsea underlined the importance of a result against Sevilla on Thursday.

We may have failed with a ‘sickening thud’, but the mere fact that Tottenham have
reached the latter stages of the cup competitions this season speaks volumes about
the progress the club has made. Spurs played a mere 40 competitive games last
season, falling to Grimsby Town and Leicester City in the Carling Cup and the FA Cup
respectively at the very first hurdle. While fatigue and injuries may have played a
part in Thursday’s exit, the 53rd game of this season, I am not here to make
excuses. Indeed, it is one of the demands of European football to have a squad
capable of withstanding the sheer number of games to be played.

Speaking of which, I find it outrageous that Soccernet’s Insider has suggested that Jermain Defoe should be ‘the first heading for the exit door’, in a group that included Hossam Ghaly and Mido. While many were happy to see a lean Mido back at the Lane at the start of the season, he seems to be a different player to the one he was last season. His weight problem seems apparent again, and there appears to be a lack of commitment on his part.

When Spurs signed Hossam Ghaly from Feyenoord in the January transfer window last season, many were excited by the news. While he has taken longer than expected to settle in, he has been more consistent this season. If he is the player we thought him to be when we bought him, then perhaps the wait might be worth it. The same can be said of Steed Malbranque, who is not one bit the player he was at Fulham.

On the other hand, Jermain Defoe has been one of our most consistent performers this
season, with 16 goals to his name. Arguably, Defoe should find the net more with the
number of chances he has in front of goal, but he has been ever present this season
when Robbie Keane has been injured. Of late, his appearances have been limited by
the return of Keane from injury, and he hasn’t looked as sharp from the bench as he
was in December and January. While Keane is a firm favourite at the Lane, many have questioned his form and performances this season. Although he has scored a number of important goals in Europe especially, his frequent attempts at the extravagant in rather straightforward situations have been frustrating. Defoe, meanwhile, takes the simpler approach of pulling the trigger whenever he can. I am sure I won’t be alone in saying that many of the faithful at the Lane would rather see Defoe playing with Berbatov. The Insider’s views of Defoe are misplaced and unfounded.

The Insider also suggested that Spurs may lack the winning mentality that Jose
Mourinho has so successfully instilled in his Chelsea side. He puts this down to
Martin Jol and perhaps the need for another manager to take us to the next level. I
will not argue that Jol’s tactics have on occasion been questionable, but perhaps
what the club lacks is a true captain in the mould of Spurs legend Steve Perryman,
someone who can inspire both on and off the field. On Thursday, Sevilla had that in
the form of hardman Javi Navarro, while Spurs were sorely lacking in that respect.
The oldest player who took the field for Spurs on Thursday night was Pascal
Chimbonda, at the ripe old age of 28. This only goes to show the youth of the
Tottenham squad. But, youth and exuberance alone are not enough. A right mixture of
youth and experience is desperately needed at the Lane, experience that could have
settled the nerves on a tense European night. The great teams of recent years all
have had the right mix. Take Manchester United of the 90s for example, there were
the experienced old heads of Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce and Denis Irwin amongst
others to guide the likes of the Nevilles, Beckham, Giggs and Scholes.

While some dodgy refereeing in the first leg may have helped Sevilla’s defence of their UEFA Cup title, in the end, there was no doubt that Tottenham lost to a better team. Sevilla were worthy winners despite the fact that several of their players constantly displayed the uglier side of football. Dani Alves may be talented and high on the wanted list of many a top European side, his theatrics are certainly a part of his game that he can work on. Still, I’d like to congratulate Sevilla and Juande Ramos for their approach to their game, playing with the mentality that attack is the best form of defence. They are a club that Tottenham can learn from, in terms of being able to break the dominance of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia in the Spanish La Liga.

Sevilla’s fans also deserve a special mention. They contributed to a special European night at the Lane with their relentless singing and cheering. Those who stayed long enough after the final whistle would have witnessed both sets of fans applauding each other. The camaraderie between the fans was particularly heart warming, especially after last week’s troubling scenes in Europe. The mutual respect between Tottenham and Sevilla showed what football should be about.

It wasn’t the result that Spurs would have liked, but we still left with our heads held high, in the knowledge that this is one of many special European nights at the Lane to come.

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