Monday, November 27, 2006

Dimi Does The Business

Quality told at White Hart Lane yesterday as Spurs ran out 3-1 winners against a distinctly average Wigan side. Spurs started the game incredibly poorly, with some very sloppy passing, marking that was all over the place and a distinct lack of desire, perhaps due to tiredness from the mid-week trip to Germany, or due to simply not being able to motivate themselves to play Wigan. Who knows? What ever it was it took the inevitable Wigan goal to motivate them, and two splendid goals in a minute turned the game on its head.

Dimitar Berbatov was the star of the show, scoring one and setting up the other two, and for the first time in the league this season showed how he is head and shoulders above everyone else at the club in terms of ability. It was a lovely through ball for Defoe to score the equalizer, and the little man’s turn and pivot to beat the defender was exquisite, and something he tried a couple more times during the game. Being free on a Saturday evening so much this season has obviously done Jermain some good, as he seems to have picked that one up straight from BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Berbs’ goal a minute later was right from the top draw as well, and one for a future Greatest Spurs Goals DVD without question, as the Bulgarian nutmegged Jackson, took the ball on and blasted it over Kirkland and into the top corner. Great stuff, and hopefully just one of many that we will now see from him as he finds his feet in the league. Another good run from Dimi nearly forced Jackson into an own goal, before a break away at the death where the steadily improving Malbranque found Berbs on the wing, who sailed into the box before laying on to Lennon to slide home Spurs’ third.

Between the second and third goals was the entire second half, and as usual when Spurs are winning these days it was more about defending than trying to score the third. Its something that needs to be sorted out as the fans pay good money to be entertained and whilst this is a results business, being 2-1 up against Wigan at home in the league in November is not holding onto a lead in the UEFA or FA Cup final. So why when Chimbonda won a corner late in the second half were we tapping it to each other and trying to run down the clock by the corner flag? That is a small team mentality, the sort of thing a League One club does when beating a Premiership Team in the Carling Cup. It is not what Tottenham Hostpur should be doing when beating lowly Wigan at the Lane. We should be piling forward looking for the third or the fourth, scoring goals, getting players’ confidence up, entertaining. When the third went in at the death it was clear that the game was over – so why not try to score it earlier and take it easy? Why not sling the corner in the box and let King, Dawson, Chimbonda et al attack it and try to score? What’s the harm in that? Maybe the power brokers at the club have forgotten the old ethos summed up by two great quotes from Bill Nicholson and Danny Blanchflower:

“It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory.” Bill Nicholson.

“The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It's nothing of the kind. The game is about glory. It's about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.” - Danny Blanchflower

This is a good Spurs team, and Jol is a good manager, but there is an attitude coming from somewhere that is distinctly small time and needs to be eradicated. Running the clock down by the corner flag at home to Wigan is small time, so is grimly holding onto one-nil leads at home against teams like West Ham, or not going for the win against 10-man Blackburn. So is releasing commemorative DVDs and T-Shirts of a 2-1 league victory against Chelsea. These things are not what big teams do, and if Spurs want to be a big team again then they need to start acting like it down to every little detail.

Again this may come over as being harsh after a win, but we are so close as a club and a team of breaking into that upper echelon that it is frustrating to see the things that are holding us back. As Jol quite rightly said after the game, things are going OK at the moment:

"We are in the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup, have nine points in our group in the UEFA Cup, had a good win against Wigan and now it's one defeat in 14 matches. So we can be pretty satisfied."

Next Saturday’s game will be the true test of how far this team has come and how much they want Glory, as it’s the first North London Derby at The Emirates and just how good would it be to do them over at their new home? Spurs have the quality these days, that lot are going backwards and it is a great time to play them. Spurs can do all the clock running down they like if they’re beating the Goons away with a minute left next weekend. We’ll have to wait and see.

The Waddler.