Category Archives: Champions League

Those Glory Glory Nights

I had tears in my eyes today. Nothing to do with the away tie of the 2012/13 campaign against Lazio but a picture of a disconsolate Danny Thomas, head in hands after missing his penalty at White Hart Lane against Anderlecht in the 1984 UEFA Cup final. That was one massive crowd at White Hart Lane that night and at that moment the tie turned once more to Anderlecht before Tony Parks rescued it and won us the trophy. Certainly a Glory Glory Night. 

Then there was the disgraceful tie against Barcelona in the Cup Winners Cup Semi Final where a full blooded Graham Roberts performance got us a 1-1 draw against a team that looked so unlike the current Barca side that’s its untrue. Never were so many angry fans leaving White Hart Lane over the performance of the opposition. Not a Glory Glory Night but a poignant memeory nonetheless!

Then there was Glenn’s demolition of Johann Cruyff in a 4-2 home victory where we were 4 up by half time and the man we liked to take more care of knocking in 2 goals. A Glory Glory Night if ever there was one.

I have to say that the latest offering from Martin Cloake and Adam Powley “The Glory Glory Nights The official story of Tottenham Hotspur in Europe” is if not the best, one of the best books I have ever read about our famous club.

From the moment you open the front cover to see the first page map of Europe setting out the campaigns between 1961 and 2012 and a list of the matches in each you can tell this is going to be something special. This is a book that ouses style as it charts our history in all the white kit.

I was born days after the Benfica tie and can remember every game after Keflavik. Growing loving football I always looked forward to reading the programmes over breakfast the Dad brought home from those UEFA Cup ties. Teams with unusual foreign names from far away places and players with unpronouncable names. All the programme covers are here matching up with the reports of the games which includes a team sheet and scorers.  

And then there are the interviews with stars from every era, the wonderful Cliff Jones and Terry Dyson, Paul Miller and Mickey Hazard, the great Phil Beal and Martin Chivers and a foreward from Gareth Bale.

There are problems. Anyone receiving this on Christmas morning will find it difficult to put down and is likely to get into serious trouble but that’s not a reason for not adding it to the Christmas list! If you’re still not convinced that you want this book on your coffee table take a look at how it looks by visiting  The Glory Glory Nights book page and clicking on the book cover to reveal extracts of the pages inside.

Thanks for the Memories Spurs 0 Real Madrid 1

I’ve had some time to reflect after the Madrid defeat before sitting down to write a review. In truth the moment has passed to reflect on the match as normal so I thought that I would think as much about the campaign as the game. 

We’ve a long and hard battle to try and qualify once again for next year’s competition and if we fail to do that when might our next opportunity be? Spurs have been nothing less than sensational in this year’s competition setting a standard for open play and attractive football throughout. The trouble is that Manchester City could do the same next year and with Liverpool once more coming back to life if we slip up we might have to wait a long time.

But then we could just as easily put a decent run together and qualify once more. That makes attracting the striker we need much easier to convert the chances created and keep us competing not just for the top 4 but maybe the top spot. Harry Redknapp talked this way when we were playing well before Christmas and if we make are able to buy well in the summer and keep the squad together that has to be the aim for next season. 

Had our current strikers been more on the money we could have worked Casillas harder and maybe won the tie. It would have been fitting. After being a little sloppy at the start we got going and put Madrid under some pressure. We were unlucky not to be awarded at least one penalty but based on current penalty form could we be trusted to convert it? Pav did his best but was a little wasteful with a decent chance in front of goal and headed just over in the second half and we were extremely unlucky that the official flagged for offside when Bale despatched a shot into the net.

Most disappointing was the way in which we conceded with Gomes allowing a shot from Ronaldo (of all people) to slip through his fingers and into the net. Like Hercules he slips from hero to zero and back again quite rapidly. We love him we hate him but we don’t. He is a great keeper but error prone at the wrong moment. The trouble is, as Arsenal have shown, you can’t win things with a dodgy keeper. 

We had it with Robinson before and Gomes is better and I can recall Ray Clemence letting in a goal like this latest mistake – maybe at the same end – in an important game which maybe also finished 0-1. Yet look around the league and the number of excellent goalkeepers who may want to move are not that many. 

For me a great striker might mean we can stick with Gomes for at least another season in the hope that we score enough to make the odd mishap less painful. Yet throughout the campaign he has performed well. It was our defensive display at Young Boys that put us 3 behind and a disastrous start at Inter that saw us 4 down at half time. Our only other disappointment was away at Twente where we got caught in typical Spurs fashion. 

In the last three CL games Dawson has been immense at the back and the partnership with Gallas rocks. Even though I thought him out of position for away goals at Madrid his performance was outstanding and Rio must be starting to look over his shoulder. 

So to Harry the man many like to criticise for his tactical naivety. Having got us into the competition I don’t feel it is my place to criticise him though I must confess to being a little surprised by Lennon’s substitution. He has improved a lot this season in my opinion and I can only presume that he was withdrawn for maximum rest before Arsenal once we had no chance of getting back into the tie. 

Harry has some difficult decisions to make come the summer and none more so than deciding if we can continue to support Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate through their injuries when others like Kaboul and Bassong might want away for a lack of games. Bassong is certainly one for the future and Bassong does a useful job when called upon but if fit Ledley and Woody would probably get priority. But for how long before their injuries return? 

This is certainly the most capable squad of players that Spurs have had since the days of the Clive Allen team and before and we need to keep them together. Bale and Modric are deemed to be the prime targets but the public speak from both is they are happy and want to stay together. Hopefully Harry will join them either turning down England or escaping from his tax evasion charges as he is more suited to working with players on a daily basis. 

So a disappointing exit to the campaign but achieving the last 8 and after defeating the cream of Italy we played well in the second leg against Madrid. I believe we’ve learnt a lot from this and sincerely hope that we can secure the necessary number of points by the season’s end to get us back into the competition next year.                        

Let’s take it to them: Tottenham V Real Madrid preview

I’m afraid that our Champions League campaign will come to an end tomorrow night but that’s not to say that I don’t believe we can win the game. My problem is that I cannot see us scoring 5 and if we do we will have to go at it so hard that a goal or two on the break are likely to be conceded. 

With Chelsea and Arsenal also eliminated it is no great disaster. We’ve played and overcome the two most famous clubs in Italy over two legs and been, if not the, one of the most entertaining sides in this year’s competition. As Spurs fans we have to be really proud of our achievement in getting to the last 8 and look towards our opportunity to get back into the competition. 

Unfortunately it looks like it might not be next season and therefore our transfer dealings in the close season will see how we can improve ourselves to mount a stronger challenge away from home next season so that our goal difference improves against our fellow challengers.

But that is for another day. Tomorrow I want to see an up tempo performance from our team like we put on in the first half on Saturday. Granted I don’t want to see the casual moments that allowed Stoke to get 2 back but if we exhibit the same quick thinking and interplay I am hopeful that we can give Madrid a really hard time and make them feel like they’ve been in a game at 9.45 as it comes to a close.

With Rafa playing 90 minutes on Saturday hopefully he will be properly rested and ready for the role he can play. Modric too needs to stamp his mark on an opponent who snuffed him out 8 days ago. Whilst Sandro will be unlucky not to play I think I would continue with Huddlestone particularly if Lennon and Bale are both in the side. 

Tommy’s presence allows Rafa to stick further up the field rather than leaving his partner stranded alone. And who should that partner be? Pav had a good game on Saturday but does drop deep and Defoe is an all out striker so might not bring Rafa in when he is better placed. I fancy both will get a look in and I might start with Pav to reward him for his performance against Stoke.

Hopefully Ekotto will not be carrying a knock and can continue alongside Dawson and Gallas with Charlie at right back. That is our best back line at the present time and I hope that all are ready to take the correct man at the first defensive set piece. This will not be a quiet night for Gomes but I hope that he can keep a clean sheet aiding our chances of a victory – however slim.

Two seasons ago the thought of playing Real Madrid at home in any European Competition would be a mere dream as would have games against either Milan side so this has been a terrific experience. Even a failure to secure tickets for each of these games has not diminished the enjoyment. 

A team for the game would therefore be:

                         Gomes

     Corluka    Gallas    Dawson    Ekotto

Lennon    Huddlestone       Modric       Bale

           Van Der Vaart              Pav

Prediction: Come on You Spurs hold them out and a 2-0 whilst seeing us out would be a tremendous result. Two early goals though…….