7 April ~ Spurs charged at the Champions League like a drunk in a fight. We went in swinging and seemed blissfully unaware of any possible damage coming the other way, or, perhaps, were simply unable to defend ourselves. And Peter Crouch's sending off shouldn't mask the fact that we'd have been all but knocked out anyway. What we need to do is clear our heads and somehow get back in the race for fourth. This time last year we lost an FA Cup semi-final to Portsmouth – a defeat that, in a very different way, was as traumatic as this week's. After that, however, we went on a bit of a run and then won at Eastlands.

The same again would be nice, starting on Saturday with Stoke. It's a decent fixture to face. If any team will bring you down to earth it's Stoke – ironic, really, considering how much time the ball spends in the air. The trouble is, Tuesday night wasn't just a tonking by a great side, it was also part of Spurs' ongoing malaise. We took the form that's brought us three points against Blackpool, Wolves, West Ham and Wigan into the Bernabéu. That was never going to end well.

Our striking problems are well documented and, statistically, scarcely credible. Our defence has been weakened through injury (apart from in Alan Hutton's case, where it's been strengthened through injury). Even our usually excellent midfield is jaded and misfiring. Gareth Bale looks caught in the headlights of his own fame, Aaron Lennon is ill or unfit and clearly pissed off with how his withdrawal from Tuesday's game was handled. Rafael van der Vaart is a shadow of the player that everyone initially regarded as the transfer coup of the year. Even our little genius, Luka Modric, is struggling to sparkle.

So unless we pick ourselves off the floor in the sort of comeback that would look far-fetched in a Rocky movie, we won't finish fourth. Which will make this summer and next season the most important period in our recent history. We are currently caught in a strange limbo between mediocrity and success. Too good for one, not quite able to grasp the other. And what we do in that time, from May 2011 to May 2012, will determine whether we fall back down to where we were, or somehow haul ourselves up to the next level.

Which, in turn, means that after next week's limp-looking second leg we will either never play Real Madrid again or next time we meet them it will be on (more) even terms. There will be no patronising from them and grateful excitement from us. We may even give them a bloody nose. Dave Roberts

Comments (7)
Comment by Paul Rowland 2011-04-07 15:17:17

Spurs at a crossroads, Dave? Are you sure? I don't think so.

Here's my thinking. If Spurs were indeed at a crossroads, they would have three options to choose from:
(a) turn left,
(b) turn right, or
(c) keep straight on.

But, according to you, Dave, they've only got two options to choose from:
(a) the road to success or
(b) the road to mediocrity.

So, Dave, what I'm saying is, to be absolutely precise, the road junction that Spurs are approaching here is NOT a crossroads. NO WAY! It is a fork in the road, that's all. A simple, common-or-garden, bog-standard fork in the road. A fork in the road is nothing like as exciting and unpredictable as a crossroads. Only two options instead of three, you see? Success, or mediocrity.

And the more you think about it, its not even two options, because - let's face it, Dave - in your heart of hearts you already know which turn Spurs are going to take anyway.

(I bet you're wondering why you bothered writing this article now eh?)


Comment by Admin5 2011-04-07 16:41:55

The author didn't headline the piece, we did. And it's metaphorical, as you well know

Comment by Dalef65 2011-04-07 17:27:26

Here`s my thinking;

The author of this piece sounds a bit like an Arsenal fan to be honest...........

And Paul Rowland IS an Arsenal fan......

Comment by martinjferguson 2011-04-08 06:44:14

Dear Paul Rowland

Can please send a picture of a garden fork that has only two prongs?

Alternatively, can you send a photo of a common fork with only two prongs?

Those big forks used to hold down a turkey when you're carving it have two prongs, but we would not put that utensil in the "common" category, given it is only taken out and used a few times every year (much like Robbie Keane was at White Hart Lane).

So, I guess what I'm trying to say, pedantic Paul, is that while a fork in the road has two prongs, "common or garden" forks do not.

M Ferguson
President of the Leatherhead Silver Cutlery Society

Comment by bearlion 2011-04-08 10:30:43

My nan had a special fork for getting pickled onions out of the jar. It had 2 (two) prongs and a spring device, almost like a syringe, that would enable you to push the onion on to your plate.

Comment by Riverman 2011-04-08 11:42:28

We have some old cake forks that have two prongs. They were part of a job lot of cutlery that came in a nice wooden box. We've got rid of most of it now but have kept the cake forks because the kids think they're good for eating pasta (though not spaghetti).

Anyway, I think the 'road junction' analogy is not quite right for Spurs. I would have described it more in terms of Spurs are driving in a modern hybrid car. They were going quite fast but some of the players have been messing around with the electric windows and the CD player and now the rather sensitive battery is flat. Spurs are trying to find the number of the nearest car dealership on their mobile phones but the coverage isn't very good.

Comment by Paul Rowland 2011-04-08 15:00:55

While we're on the subject of crossroads, forks in the road, and Tottenham's inevitable slide back into mediocrity - I'd like to add two further words to the debate:

Uri, and Geller.

He was famous for bending spoons using the power of thought, but to my knowledge he never bent any forks. Not in public, anyway. This begs the question - why didn't Uri bend any forks? Are forks more difficult to bend than spoons? It seems unlikely. I would have thought you can use the same technique to bend a fork OR a spoon.

(Mind you, I'm no expert on this subject...)

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