banner - Football

Spurs Armchair Diary

Year 2007/2008   (Phespirit supports Tottenham Hotspur F.C. from the comfort of his armchair)

Spurs Armchair Diary, season 2007/2008. Despite having achieved fifth place in successive Premiership seasons and strengthening the squad in all positions except the left of midfield during the summer, there is sadly no justification for predicting an improved position this year. The top four will remain a closed shop for some time yet. With several other clubs spending big this year, simply maintaining fifth place and enjoying a cup run or two may have to be the realistic target.
2007/2008 Final position:   F.A. Premiership - 11th

Sunnday 11 May 2008   [17:34 BST]

Spurs 0 - 2 Liverpool : Thank God that's all over. How can the season that has delivered a first trophy in nine years feel so lamentable? Sadly the answer is this: whilst the league cup has been won - a tremendous thing - the excitement of building a young English squad that might be capable of challenging for the highest honours over seasons to come has been utterly lost. Most regrettable.

A summer of wholesale rebuilding is inevitable. After that, who knows?

Monday 5 May 2008   [13:24 BST]

Reading 0 - 1 Spurs : A dominant performance against a struggling team who themselves desperately needed a win. Despite the gulf in class and possession, however, Spurs could still only manage the one goal, and as Reading managed a couple of shots late on this could easily have ended as yet another one-all. Nil-three would have been fair; one-one would have been bloody typical.

No Berbatov or Lennon. Pretend injuries were claimed, but it wouldn't be a shock if they were both on their way out of the club, along with a few others.

Sunday 27 April 2008   [19:08 BST]

Spurs 1 - 1 Bolton Wanderers : Another predictably uninspiring one-all draw, but at last something noteworthy to report: the £15.8m signing of Croatian 'Midfield Playmaker' Luka Modric. Midflied has been the problem. Berbatov and Keane are world-class strikers, the defence is well capable of defending if fit and well supported by the midfield, but the midfield is rotated with players who might raise their game if working alongside world-class midfielders, but who can't cut it consistently when working alongside each other.

Three more Modric-esque players should do the trick.

Saturday 19 April 2008   [17:07 BST]

Wigan Athletic 1 - 1 Spurs : And, predictably enough, yet another mediocre water-treading result as the league campaign dwindles to nothingness.

The sooner the whole sorry business is done with, the better.

Sunday 13 April 2008   [15:38 BST]

Spurs 1 - 1 Middlesbrough : The slow, tedious, grim death of Spurs' Premiership season continues unabated with yet another meaningless encounter at White Hart Lane. Both sides are capable of turning on big performances, but neither was ever likely to sustain it for the whole match. Yet another ill-advised late flirtation with a 4-3-3 formation ensured Spurs would be grateful to hear the final whistle. Roll on summer.

Sunday 6 April 2008   [15:35 BST]

Blackburn Rovers 1 - 1 Spurs : Some attractive football played on the way to an unremarkable point that could easily have been lost to a soft penalty near the end. It's hard to imagine anything from this match making any difference to the approach for next season.

Sunday 30 March 2008   [17:09 BST]

Spurs 1 - 4 Newcastle United : After a spirited 4-4 draw at home to Chelsea, followed by a solid 2-0 at home to Portsmouth, comes this. Leading 1-0, then fatally concede a comedy equaliser in first-half stoppage time, and fall apart in installments throughout the second-half. How can it be that poxy Newcastle, in the space of three years, have become a bogey team for Spurs? And this is now the fifth time that four goals have been conceded in a one match this season, albeit only the second of those matches to be lost. It just beggars belief. This Spurs squad is capable of playing much better but for some reason simply won't, unless it's a "big game".

On paper, the last six games of the season are all quite winnable, but not on this form. Not even close. It would appear that yet another long summer of rebuilding will be in order.

Sunday 16 March 2008   [17:54 GMT]

Manchester City 2 - 1 Spurs : Another disappointment. Winning at half-time, then let them back in, followed by the move that never ever works: taking off Keane. City's winner goes in five minutes later and the game is lost. Eleventh in the league looks as good as it's going to get, with a more than reasonable chance it could yet be worse.

There'll be changes in the summer.

Sunday 16 March 2008   [10:35 GMT]

UEFA Cup last 16: PSV Eindhoven 0 - 1 Spurs (Agg: 1 - 1, PSV win 6-5 on penalties) : That's a bit of a guts-acher. To do so well as to bounce back from the first leg home defeat against a team with a far better recent record in Europe, and to do so well as to be one penalty kick away from winning, it only increases the disappointment that the campaign ends here.

Looking at the quarter-final draw, there are not too many clubs left in it that Spurs, playing to their full potential, would have feared:

Bayer Leverkusen v Zenit St Petersburg
Bayern Munich v Getafe
Fiorentina v PSV Eindhoven
Rangers v Sporting Lisbon

Sunday 9 March 2008   [17:40 GMT]

Spurs 4 - 0 West Ham United : Ah, good old Hammers. All paranoid fears for Spurs can be set aside as West Ham pitch up and are more or less immediately rolled over. Two goals from Berbatov in the first eleven minutes, two more courtesy of Gilberto and Bent in the last five, give Spurs a fine league win that is as welcome and it is handsome.

That's West Ham's third successive 4-0 defeat in the league. It has been said that they are not having much luck at the moment, but it could equally be argued that they had more than their entitlement when it was decided to let them play in the Premiership this year. And anyway, things could be worse for them. Just look at the state of Newcastle.

Saturday 8 March 2008   [10:34 GMT]

UEFA Cup last 16: Spurs 0 - 1 PSV Eindhoven : It's a fair cop. PSV turned in a performance worthy of a side with many consecutive years' experience at the very highest level of European club football. The quality was good and the play measured; restraint when needed, pressure when it would most hurt. Spurs at their best would have had to work hard for a win. Disjointed, prone to mistakes, off the pace ..... was never going to be good enough.

Paranoid vision: Match of the Day, early May 2008, Gary Linekar says, "Spurs, who are struggling now, having failed to win a match since their League Cup triumph back in February ....."

Sunday 2 March 2008   [17:48 GMT]

Birmingham City 4 - 1 Spurs : If, during any given season, a team loses home and away to Manchester United it's a disappointment for the fans but not exactly a shock, and rarely decisive in terms of final position in the league. Conceding six points to Birmingham is another matter entirely, however. It's a repeat of last year's unfathomable gift of six points to Newcastle. This year's excuse is post-Cup Final come-down, but even if that were to excuse a defeat it shouldn't excuse a rout.

Wednesday 27 February 2008   [19:33 GMT]

League Cup Final: Spurs 2 - 1 Chelsea : Glory at last. Sweet, sweet victory. It's pleasing for Robbie Keane and Ledley King, and especially pleasing for Paul Robinson. Thoughts must be spared for Michael Dawson, who for eighteen months had more-or-less single-handedly marshalled the back four, yet was unable to be a part of Spurs' first trophy-winning team since 1999. Had he played, of course, Woodgate would not have done; and Woodgate it was who headed the winner in extra time .....

Spurs had dominated the first half-hour and had all the chances. Chelsea then took a share of the play and contrived to get themselves three soft free-kicks on the edge of Spurs' area. They took an undeserved 1-0 lead with the third of these. The second half was more evenly contested. Spurs equalised with a penalty for handball that was clearly a handball, but on a different day might not have been given. Berbatov's spot-kick was coolness personified. Then came extra-time. Woodgate scores early on, Spurs park the bus in front of goal and somehow weather a near-thirty minute battering. Victory secured.

Setting aside Chimbonda's dummy-spitting on being substituted it was an excellent team effort. From what had looked an inexplicably catastrophic season, Spurs are back among the silverware and back in Europe. Another thought must be spared for Martin Jol for all his excellent work; thanks and applause go to Juande Ramos and Gus Poyet for achieving what has been so elusive.

Winning the League Cup by thrashing Arsenal over two legs in the semis and turning it around against Chelsea in the final over one hundred and twenty minutes - it's not the grandest trophy in the world, but the winning and the manner of winning couldn't be much more satisfying.

Friday 22 February 2008   [19:14 GMT]

UEFA Cup last 32: Spurs 1 - 1 Slavia Prague : There seems never to be any such thing as a won match for Spurs so, even carrying a 2-1 lead from the away leg, there was always a possibility that this game would be anxious and painful. Even an early goal could not prevent the inevitable tense conclusion. Extra time would have been appalling, bearing in mind the League Cup final to be played against Chelsea on Sunday. Still, somehow got through it in the end. PSV Eindhoven will provide an even tougher examination in the next round.

Sunday 10 February 2008   [14:53 GMT]

Derby County 0 - 3 Spurs : A good win was needed here following two league draws. The nil-nil at Everton was a creditable result against an in-form side; the same could be said of the one-one at home to Man United, were it not that two points were sacrificed to yet another stoppage time equaliser.

Just five points from the top-half of the table now.

Sunday 27 January 2008   [16:22 GMT]

F.A. Cup Fourth Round: Manchester United 3 - 1 Spurs : As Jonathan Pearce said towards the end of the game, "the score is cruel". Having gone a goal up on 24 minutes (Robbie Keane finishing a well-worked move), and looking good value for it, Spurs' players were still looking reasonably unruffled past the hour mark with score at 1-1. Then Dawson handles the ball and gets sent off; Ronaldo (pen) 69. And then Cerny lets a crap one squirm under his body two minutes from time. But Spurs never stopped looking for opportunities, even finishing with just three at the back: O'Hara (playing in his debut season, midfielder by trade, played superbly against Ronaldo), Huddlestone (another midfielder by trade, single-handedly commanding the centre after Dawson walked), and Gunter (another novice youngster, thrown on for his debut).

All in all, this was an excellent attempt to overcome an horrendous cup draw, especially considering the exertions of Tuesday night. Keane and Jenas were outstanding, and Aaron Lennon is now starting to get back to the form with which he originally burst onto the scene; no coincidence that he's back where he belongs on the right wing.

Tuesday 22 January 2008   [22:21 GMT]

League Cup Semi-final: Spurs 5 - 1 Arsenal : ..... for a six-two win on aggregate. Just what the doctor ordered. Shurely it can be said, confidently and without exaggeration or fear of contradiction, that this result conclusively proves that the legendary Spurs are far, far superior than Arsenal, they always have been, they always will be, and this night heralds an era of undisputed domination of North London bragging rights for Spurs.

Very much a reminder of the way Spurs undid Chelsea 5-1 in the League Cup semi a few years back, thereby ending another diabolical winless run. The final, however, was an anti-clamactic, wretched 2-1 defeat to Blackburn. This year the final will be against Everton or ..... Chelsea. Bring on Chelsea.

Saturday 19 January 2008   [17:43 GMT]

Spurs 2 - 0 Sunderland : A must-win match that could quite easily have been not won. Robbie Keane's stoppage-time goal makes the result appear more comfortable than Sunderland's second half performance actually made it.

Next four opponents: Arsenal (League Cup), Man. Utd (F.A. Cup), Everton (league) and Man. Utd (league). Hence the vital importance of a win in this game.

Wednesday 16 January 2008   [19:23 GMT]

F.A. Cup Third Round Replay: Reading 0 - 1 Spurs : A good away win to put right the mistake of not winning this tie at home at the first time of asking. Squeezing two matches out of the Third Round will probably have to suffice as a cup run this year, however, as a grim away tie at Old Trafford awaits in the Fourth Round.

Not a prayer.

Saturday 12 January 2008   [19:38 GMT]

Chelsea 2 - 0 Spurs : Bog standard.

Saturday 5 January 2008   [17:28 GMT]

F.A. Cup Third Round: Spurs 2 - 2 Reading : A disappointing result. Not as disappointing as the 2-1 league defeat at Aston Villa on Tuesday (atrocious defending from set-pieces), and not the same level of disappointment that Everton and Blackburn fans would have felt, losing 0-1 and 1-4 at home to Oldham and Coventry respectively. But still disappointing. The replay is not likely to be any better.

Saturday 29 December 2007   [19:15 GMT]

Spurs 6 - 4 Reading : There haven't been scorelines like this one down the Lane since Ossie Ardilles played his 2-3-5 formation, with the five up front. No silly funtime formations this time, just sublime striking and sloppy defending in the standard 4-4-2 style and a brief goal-filled dalliance with 3-4-3. Coverage on Sky Sports News 'Soccer Saturday' was extraordinary to behold, especially during the ten-minute period in the middle of the second half when the score went 2-2, 2-3, 3-3, 3-4, 4-4, 5-4. Chris Karama almost straightened out his comedy perm in excitement. Of course, he's a neutral. The experienced Spurs watcher, however, always knew that no goal could confidently be reckoned as the last, no matter how unlikely the alternative might seem. And strangely enough, despite Reading thrice taking the lead and reportedly "dominating the ball", there remained a scarcely-justifiable yet quietly genuine belief that Spurs could turn it around. That alone must prove the club is making good progress. Twelfth place in the table shows that there is still some way to go.

Wednesday 26 December 2007   [18:00 GMT]

Spurs 5 - 1 Fulham : This is precisely what the occasion demanded in order to restore faith in the team's recent fine form, and to ensure that the predictable weekend blip will not be allowed to become anything more than a blip. And, of course, Ledley is back, saviour-like at Christmas. If he made it through the game O.K., and can remain fit through to May, then that fact alone could be much bigger than the 5-1 scoreline in the context of the whole season.

Sunday 23 December 2007   [13:30 GMT]

Arsenal 2 - 1 Spurs : Typical.

Sunday 16 December 2007   [15:48 GMT]

Portsmouth 0 - 1 Spurs : Immediately after the new nadir of defeat at home to Birmingham a fortnight ago, it was hard to imagine any remaining fixture from which Spurs might take three points. Certainly it was nigh impossible to imagine where the remaining twenty-eight points for a total of forty would come from (forty being the universally accepted psychological safety mark for avoiding relegation.) Since then, late wins against City and now - defying the form book - Portsmouth have provided great and unexpected relief. It's hard to see the run continuing at Arsenal next week, as sweet as it would be, but neither safety nor progress will be determined by that particular fixture. Similarly a midweek League Cup exit away to City would not be the end of the world in terms of what must be judged important for this season. This is a transition season now. Nothing more. All that matters is consolidation: unity and understanding within the squad; Premiership status for the club.

Sunday 9 December 2007   [17:45 GMT]

Spurs 2 - 1 Manchester City : Apparently lucky, especially with the first goal, but it's about time some of Spurs' luck was good. To survive or succeed, every team needs either good football or good fortune. Hopefully the former will return when the massed ranks of injured defenders return; a dose of the latter has been overdue in the meantime.

He'll deny it, of course, but Defoe will probably take great satisfaction from scoring the winner against the manager who left him out of last year's World Cup squad.

Saturday 8 December 2007   [10:38 GMT]

UEFA Cup: Anderlecht 1 - 1 Spurs : This point provides the mathematical minimal requirement for passage to the next round of the UEFA Cup. Once more, from a technical point of view, it was a poor performance with many stray passes, erratic shooting, little off-the-ball movement and hopelessly disjointed defending. Once more, the result was secured by virtue of Spurs ultimately being the least terrible team on the night. Once more, the only conclusion to be reached is that things have to get better, and sooner rather than later, for survival in the Premiership as this form simply won't stand.

Sunday 2 December 2007   [18:57 GMT]

Spurs 2 - 3 Birmingham City : Right back to square one. Kaboul is an absolute liability at the moment, and with King, Rocha and Gardner all still injured, the centre of defence continues to be a gaping tragedy. Dawson has been asked to do too much for too long and is naturally suffering as a result. Even so, 0-1 down at half-time, followed by a double substitution and a double-quick 2-1 turnaround, it looked like another Aalborg-type home win might be on the cards. But it's hard enough to succeed with eleven men at the moment, so the position was always going to be stretched when Keane was shown a straight red and sent off. And yet again the hammerblow is administered in stoppage time. Ramos gets his first taste of defeat, Spurs-style.

This was a seriously bad result.

Saturday 1st December 2007   [18:40 GMT]

UEFA Cup: Spurs 3 - 2 Aalborg BK : The customary wretched first forty-five minutes (0-2 down), followed by some shrewd half-time management, and then a greatly improved display in the second half. Net result: an important and ultimately comfortable Spurs victory, plus full marks to Ramos from his first leadership test. That said, of the two half-time substitutes - Bent for Lee (tactical) and Huddlestone for Jenas (forced by injury) - it was Huddlestone who made the most immediate impact, contributing to each of the first two goals. And then Bent weighs in with the winner. Even sullen Berbatov looked a happy man. Good stuff ..... eventually.

Tuesday 27 November 2007   [18:32 GMT]

West Ham United 1 - 1 Spurs : Things are still not right at the club and, with Defoe failing to score from a stoppage time penalty at Upton Park, the best that can be said is that at least it's now over a month since the last defeat. It's not much of a straw on which to cling, but there it is.

Sunday 11 November 2007   [17:11 GMT]

Spurs 4 - 0 Wigan Athletic : A big win is exactly what was required from this fixture. Nothing is guaranteed in football, however, so credit must go to all concerned that things worked out perfectly. As with the midweek match against Hapoel Tel Aviv, the comfort factor may have been more to do with the plight of the opposition then the freshly recovered might of Spurs, but who's complaining.

Ramos is yet to be faced with a tricky fixture, but with three wins and a draw from four matches, nine goals scored and only one conceded, this counts as a solid start for the manager compared with the abject start of the club.

Thursday 8 November 2007   [18:50 GMT]

UEFA Cup: Hapoel Tel Aviv 0 - 2 Spurs : Not the most electricifying night of European football ever but, with positive results at a premium, the result was by far the most important thing. In that regard, Spurs were fortunate to be up against one the few teams in Europe even more beleagured than themselves.

Next up: at home to Wigan in the league ..... a must-win.

Saturday 3 November 2007   [18:08 GMT]

Middlesbrough 1 - 1 Spurs : Ramos's first league game in charge ends in a draw. On the plus side it's not a defeat and, whilst a lead was customarily lost, the Middlebrough goal at least came midway through the second half as opposed to midway through stoppage time at the end. On the downside, the overall display appears to have been no more convincing than previous matches. No honeymoon period for Ramos, then.

The midweek win in his first game in charge - 2-0 at home to Blackpool in the League Cup - doesn't count as a honeymoon period. Having made it through to the quarter-finals, Spurs now find themselves the lowest ranked team left in it. What a shocking state of affairs.

Friday 26 October 2007   [19:22 BST]

UEFA Cup: Spurs 1 - 2 Getafe : So the Martin Jol era ends with the board of directors, finally, inevitably, disgracefully, slitting the club's throat by sacking its finest Premiership manager. How tellingly rare it is that football manager can leave a club these days with his dignity intact, his head held high, adored by the fans, respected by the players, by his fellow managers, pundits, and the media at large. And yet despite such near-universal support, the board decide some time between Monday night's 3-1 defeat at Newcastle and Thursday's 2-1 defeat against Getafe, that Jol must be sacked. A greater injustice is hard to imagine. The board have proven themselves grossly incompetent both in their judgement and their ability to manage the whole situation. The manner in which the lethal blow was dealt should be an embarrassment for everyone associated with the club. Farewell then, Martin. May you find the success and fulfilment you deserve.

And what future now awaits Spurs? Probably the arrival of Juande Ramos - a journeyman Spanish manager with innumerable previous clubs who has just happened to find a winning formula with his current club, Seville. He will be welcomed and supported and given a few games to settle in, but he will have a long way to go in order to fully emerge from the shadow of his predecessor.

As for the board, they should be dragged outside the ground and broken on the wheel. Starting with Paul Kelmsley.

The result against Getafe? Disappointing, but insignificant on the night.

Monday 8 October 2007   [19:10 BST]

Liverpool 2 - 2 Spurs : This would have looked like a good result had the win not been thrown away in stoppage time. So having dropped two points here in the ninetieth minute, but having picked up a point last Monday with the ninetieth minute comeback to 4-4 at home to Villa, Spurs find themselves on an undefeated, unvictorious, unhappy run, just crying out for a league win.

So how about it?

Thursday 27 September 2007   [20:03 BST]

League Cup: Spurs 2 - 0 Middlesbrough : Hoo-bloody-ray. A proper win in a banana-skin match, and a clean sheet to go with it. Given recent results, this rare combination is a treat. The weekend 1-1 at Bolton would ordinarily have been good, except this season Bolton are - or rather 'were' - bottom of the league. Similarly the 3-3 against Fulham is not the worst result ever at Craven Cottage, except Spurs were 3-1 up with less than quarter of an hour to play. A veil can be drawn over the 1-3 home reversal against Arsenal, whereas the 6-1 UEFA Cup win against Anorthosis Famagusta was good, but still no clean sheet.

What price back-to-back wins now, with a league victory at home to Villa on Monday night?

Monday 27 August 2007   [17:29 BST]

Manchester United 1 - 0 Spurs : In the context of the previous fortnight, this result is in equal parts predictable and inconsequential. But what exactly is the trigger for a football club board that has previously shown all signs of sensible, productive long-term planning and investment, both on and off the pitch, to suddenly be overcome with a madness that threatens to throw it all away? Martin Jol is very good man doing a very good job in trying to develop the first team from being a good team to being a very good team. Many of his predecessors arrived with bigger reputations yet failed to deliver. Martin Jol is delivering, so to consider replacing him is utter, utter folly.

There is no way back for the board now. Their credibility has suffered far more damage by their own hands than Jol's ever has by defeats on the pitch. They have been caught stabbing him in the back and have subsequently backed him 100% to his face, but with no trace of good faith or conviction. Now if he does well and they sack him they prove their own lies; if he does badly and they sack him it highlights their poor judgement; if he does badly and they keep him they will appear to be hoist by their own petard; if he does well and they keep him then their earlier actions will appear all the more shameful.

What an appalling shambles.

Saturday 18 August 2007   [18:46 BST]

Spurs 4 - 0 Derby County : This is just what was called for after the late loss at Sunderland and the unspeakable disappointment of a 3-1 defeat at home to Everton, which put Spurs rock-bottom of the Premiership. Probably nothing less than three goals in the first quarter of an hour would have fully restored a shaken confidence.

Much tougher fixtures than this are just around the corner with vital players still out injured or unfit, but at least the points total, the goal difference and the club's overall outlook are positive now.

Sunday 12 August 2007   [13:11 BST]

Sunderland 1 - 0 Spurs : Jol called it precisely right: this was boring game that Spurs should have controlled and won, but from which they would eventually have settled for a draw, and from which they ultimately got nothing by virtue of a goal conceded in the third minute of three minutes' stoppage time.

Aside from the nature of the defeat, there is a powerful whiff of déjà vu about the whole wretched business. Just like last year the pre-season programme was completed with an unblemished record of victories, but then the season itself kicks-off with an awkward fixture in the north, the strikers fail to score, the defenders fail to defend, and the first league table has Spurs languishing in the relegation places.

Is this what all the anticipation was for?