THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

15 April ~ This was going to be our year, the time when the balance of power in London and beyond finally shifted in Spurs' favour. Here was the team everyone wanted to see, the one strangers would sit and talk to me about. Wonderful players at last fulfilling their potential with performances of thrilling attacking swagger that took the breath away. Instead we are fast in danger of conforming to type – fancydan poseurs choking when the pressure is on, unable to sustain a challenge over an entire season. Chelsea and Newcastle are poised to overtake. Arsenal and third place having long since disappeared into the far distance. If I cover my ears I can barely hear the laughter.

The pressure is apparently unsettling our manager too. In a disconcertingly surreal post-match interview after Monday’s wretched incompetence against Norwich, Harry Redknapp attributed his selection to mysterious voices telling him we play better with two men wide in a 4-4-2.

He acknowledged that is wrong but appeared powerless to resist. "Miles too open," he said. Sure, but Harry, you picked the team. What catches the eye does not necessarily win matches. Spurs are better all round with a 4-2-3-1 that provides a solid platform for our hugely talented front players to cast their spell.

Scott Parker and Sandro can protect the back four and thwart Frank Lampard and Juan Mata in their search for space and time around the edge of our box. Fearless covering in his own area and with the drive and momentum to turn defence into attack, a fit Sandro could make all the difference. But unfortunately he is struggling for form following a leg injury.

Increasingly Jake Livermore has become Harry's go-to man when we need energy and stability in centre midfield. A good technique, quick feet and an appetite beyond his years for taking responsibility have led to a fine season. This young unsung hero could yet have part to play in the season's climax.

This set-up enables a midfield three of Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale to interchange and unsettle Chelsea’s redoubtable defence. Van der Vaart's ability to play his best football when the heat is on could turn the game but we have to get more men into the box to take full advantage.

The width comes from pacey full-backs Benoît Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Walker, who likes to sneak up at the far post. Bale is a constant threat and is dangerously unpredictable coming inside but he should make that the exception rather than the rule. This can leave Spurs exposed out wide, which Salomon Kalou, Daniel Sturridge and Mata will be itching to exploit. The match may hinge on the way this fine balance tips.

Centre-back selection is easy – whoever can stand up and kick a ball will play for Spurs. Michael Dawson is out, Younès Kaboul was injured on Monday and the mighty Ledley King has finally been rendered mortal by his dodgy knee. Such vulnerability is enough to make Didier Drogba feel young again. Still, William Gallas is so bloody minded, he always does well against his former clubs. Ryan Nelsen fills a shirt the size of a two-man tent but his experience is invaluable. We are back to that midfield protection again.

The thrill and expectation of a Cup semi-final is slightly tempered by the unpleasant, bitter edge to this rivalry that has developed in recent years on and off the field. The ludicrous 6pm kick-off will only make things worse. Part of the Spurs stereotype is that we are formidable in the Cup. Thoughts of a trophy plus the impetus for the season’s finale should be incentive enough. Redemption awaits. Alan Fisher TottenhamOnMyMind

Comments (9)
Comment by donedmundo 2012-04-15 11:29:13

Funny how the cry of, 'Harry for England' seems to have died away.

Comment by hugogreen 2012-04-15 12:40:48

Spurs have always had delusions of grandeur

Comment by Coral 2012-04-16 11:40:47

Strangely the media have lft 'arry off the hook in a way they would let no other manager who has just blown another chance of salvaging something from a season that promised so much.

The ball never crossed the line therefore the 5-1 scoreline is null and void and really Spurs won, despite being behind and after the goal that wasn't getting back to just being behind before wilting.

Comment by Paul Rowland 2012-04-16 14:27:01

Tottenham eh? Dear oh dear oh dear. I bet Arry wishes he was somewhere else right now.

And I think it's fair to say he would indeed have been somewhere else right now, had he not been quite so economical with the truth during his recent court case....

Comment by geobra 2012-04-16 17:32:15

Another underwhelming display from Ancelotti's faltering PSG in their 1-1 draw at bottom of the table Auxerre. And to prove that no country has a monopoly on cretinous fans, some of them ruined the silent tribute for Piermario Morosini as some Chelsea fans ruined the minute's silence at Wembley. How would they react if it was the memory of one of their players that was being desecrated? Why is it that when football has a chance to redeem its image, it so often shoots itself in the foot?

Comment by Coral 2012-04-16 17:43:34

Because football is grouped as one. Takes a few idiots for football to been as a disgrace and those who can keep their mouths shut for a minute get tagged into it. It is the problem with judging the collective by the extreme views held by a minority.

Comment by geobra 2012-04-16 22:14:25

@ coral

You're right, of course. But is there any other sport where a minute's silence would be desecrated even by a minority of one? If there isn't, then football still has some questions to ask itself, and cannot just fall back on the 'it's only a tiny minority' argument.

Comment by Coral 2012-04-17 10:10:58

Flip reverse. Do any other sports have such a level of travelling away support as football? Does any other sport have the level of interest on phone ins and domination of the back pages? Football grips the nation because people really really care about their clubs. For some people that passion for the club involves hating another, Sheff Utd and Wednesday, Man City v Utd etc. Sadly for a minority this will project itself with horrific things as happened at Wembley. The Everton fans would be unlikely to chant anything or disturb the silence, do you think this is because they are better people man for man than Chelsea?

I think you make a good point, but sadly as Football covers such a broad spectrum of people that idiots fall into that catchment.

Comment by trickydicky 2012-04-17 13:25:32

This Spurs team remind me of my beloved 'Spice Boys' era Liverpool. They were entertaining, technically excellent and had attacking flair in abundance but had a defence prone to moments of slap stick and would always buckle under pressure at the end of the season. Its better than winning playing dull football with dull footballers I have since found.

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