Friday, September 29, 2006

A night of Purgatory at the Lane

It was a tough evening to be a Spurs fan last night, as the team made heavy work of light opposition; missing chance after chance along with some defending that would have been comical if it wasn’t so serious. That probably isn’t a new occurrence but it was a wasted opportunity to kick start the season and instil some much needed confidence into the side. As Martin Jol said in his program notes, Spurs needed to score and do it early. That they didn’t was down to some woeful finishing, and the result was that as the game wore on, the team got more nervous, so did the crowd, and more passes were miss-placed, tackles lost and chances spurned. The downward spiral was evident for all to see, and one wag sitting near The Waddler likened it to Purgatory, which is the sort of intellectual comment often found in the West Stand, in between mouthfuls of prawn sandwich. Although what transgressions Spurs fans have not paid for wasn’t clarified, maybe the simile will be completed for those in earshot on Sunday.

The night had started reasonably well, despite UEFA’s draconian rules of no beer sold in the ground, and even worse no Jumbotron, which denied the crowd the opportunities to see just how bad some of the finishing really was. The atmosphere was good though; the team were gleaming in the all white strip, and with the floodlights on coupled with the rain driving down it was a proper evening match at the Lane, and it felt good to be back in Europe. There were some good performances around too if you looked hard enough. Jermaine Jenas, whom The Waddler could fill countless pages on such are the emotions that the man creates in a Spurs fan, certainly worked very hard. The dichotomy of Jenas is that he has all the ability in the world and can do something superb, but which is then often followed by something truly awful. One run last night summed him up perfectly; picking the ball up in his own half, he ran two thirds of the length of the pitch, leaving Slavia defenders in his wake, only to pass the ball to one of them on the edge of the box, rather than having a go himself. That said he never stopped going, always looking for the ball and all the while playing out of position on the right wing. Honourable mentions should also go to Hossam Ghaly who looked useful when he came on, and the mighty Pascal Chimbonda, who looks a steal for the £3.5m allegedly paid for him.

The left side continues to cause problems, with Reto Ziegler looking rusty with his positional sense and link up play. Some of his set piece deliveries were decent though, and maybe he should be given a run to see if he improves. Teemu Tainio seems to be eating whatever Edger Davids has, as he has lost it since last season. The ball doesn’t stick to his feet, his tackling lets him down, and he gets nowhere near the opposition box. Spurs could do worse than leave Lee at left back and try BAE on the left side of midfield, or even vice versa. Either way, Comolli needs to be generating some serious air miles looking for someone with a left foot, as the status quo is not good.

At least the name of Tottenham Hotspur is in the draw for the group stage, West Ham’s is not, and Robbie Keane finally scored his first goal since April. The Waddler dreams of a team of Robbie Keane’s as much as the next Spurs fan, but a Robbie lacking in confidence is not a pretty sight, so hopefully this will be the first of a hot streak. Adding King, Berbatov, Lennon and Malbranque to this team would certainly improve matters, and could even be enough to win the UEFA Cup so long as the luck holds.

The Waddler.

Now at !