Tag Archives: Mike England

Hail the Spurs clean sheet record makers

I read with interest on the Spurs website last night about the clean sheet record which came under threat until our visit to Liverpool. It was set in the 1970/71 season and ended by an Alan Hinton penalty in the 83rd minute at White Hart Lane it suggested.

Cue reference to the Spurs “A Complete Record” book to see if that was the first game – or one of the first games – I saw at White Hart Lane. It turns out it was not; that was the next season when he scored another, courtesy of a clumsy challenge from Mike England, late penalty to seal a 0-1 win for Cloughie’s men. I remember the referee lecturing Terry Hennessy for stealing extra yards at every throw in all afternoon. Sounds familiar – well to Phil Brown and Hull or Tony Pulis and Stoke anyway!

What was different were the A-Z boards around the ground which helped inform us speccies what was going on elsewhere in the First Division and the men selling “peanuts, peanuts get your roasted peanuts” or chocolate and delivered it by throwing it with the money going the other way. Tell that to the youngsters today and they won’t believe ya!

The defence setting the record Kinnear, Knowles, England and Beal. Who else? Big Pat was in goal for most of the games but Ken Hancock mande one of his rare appearances during the run.

Where is Alan Gilzean?

GillyIs he alive or is he dead? Nobody seems to know. I saw Chivers and Mullery at a dinner at Enfield Golf Club and they told some great stories about him but said they don’t know where he is. I’d love to know for no other reason that he was a truly great player that served our club for 10 years with distinction and who should really be honoured by the Club. These hall of fame dinners seem ok but sometimes you have to really think Hall of Fame? Really?

I’m led to ask this question because I went to the Spurs shop yesterday to get my 10% discount on the item I bought. They were doing good business so I picked up the Charles Buchan book of Spurs articles whilst queuing and immediately added it to the Christmas list in my head. There were pictures of players such as Gillie Greavsie, Chiv, Mullers, Big Pat, Little Joe and the double winners before them.  My first teams the ones you remember forever, the ones you said over and over in your head to get to sleep when Ramon Vega and the ginger Pele were keeping us awake and giving us nightmares at the same time!

So where is Alan Gilzean? If he is still around and in reasonable health let’s get him out on the pitch at half time. Surely he deserves that? How about the Man City game, for a night match would add to the mystique of it.

Whilst writing of that team there was a great article on Mike England in the Burnley programme as the focus was on the number 5 shirt. He’s another who deserves a day out at the cost of the club – or am I just an old romantic at heart?

What is the future for Project Ledley?

ledleyIt’s pleasing to see Ledley King pledging his future to the Club and saying he will be playing for us after 2012. Having said that is this what the club needs? Having read Harry Hotspur for a period of time he has quite often asked this question “How long can project Ledley carry on for?” and whilst this appears quite harsh and disloyal to one of our best players the Birmingham and Chelsea games have shown that the lack of proper training leads to a succession of muscle pulls and strains.

As a Spurs fan its difficult to think of a time when we had a better centre back corp.? It’s easy to think of times when we didn’t and certain players come to mind quite quickly that leave a chill down the spine – in fact it’s quite an endless list if you think about it! So to have players of the ability of Woodgate, Dawson King and Bassong on our squad competing for two places is a fantastic problem for the manager to have.

WoodyThis season injury has played a major part to our defensive selections. When we signed Jonathan Woodgate there were those who thought “not another sicknote” only to find him a near ever present in the side. Then there was Dawson. In his early Spurs career a fantastic prospThere's only 1 Michael Dawsonect that ran out of gas, made errors missed Ledley and became a bag of nerves. Since Harry has been manager most of these problems have been put right and his attitude has future captain written all over it.

So are these two going to be happy sitting on the bench when we are not in Europe and do not have two games a week? Both are English and will want to press claims for the World Cup squad in South Africa, as is Ledley who is offering himself to Fabio in a role to be determined.

BassongWe have not yet mentioned Bassong who after looking a liability at Newcastle has looked good on the ball, attacked the aerial ball well in both boxes but with areas to work upon to stop him getting turned etc.

So a team of cultured defenders but all prone to the one error in a game that can be costly. Yes even Ledley. His lack of real training tells me it is difficult to man mark and often when he plays we are vulnerable to an opposition substitution in the striker department and this can lead to a goal being conceded. Sunderland last year was a prime example when Cisse came on and got space, a free header and scored. My thought was Ledley you lost your man.

I was willing to forgive this understanding what a good clubman Ledley was and then we played Everton away. Knowing that your knee swells up really badly after a game would indicate that you’d elevate it and give it rest once the Spurs team got back to North London. But these days you fly not take a coach, so back to Stansted and out in London on the beer is one choice against rest and relaxation. Ledley picked the former and ended up in a cell. Apart from the cell he might always have picked the former – his book will tell us when he writes it – and this was a crucial moment in my thinking. I hate players mouthing about how much they earn a week and quiet cultured Ledley was the last person I expected it from. I was shocked as he was the last player I thought this might happen to. From that moment I’m maybe not as forgiving of the slack marking.

I’m not a man from the Rafa Benitez School of management. I think you have to know your best team and in certain areas keep playing it rather than rotate to build up understanding, confidence and a style of play. For me central defence is the most important pairing and if you get it right at worst you draw at best a win. I therefore believe that you pick a pairing and stick to it week in week out. If Ledley had great knees he’d be part of that and a first choice on the team sheet but as it is we are really playing with only 2 subs because there is likelihood that he won’t make it to the end of the game.

If Spurs want to break into the top 4 can we do it on this basis? I’m not sure we can and concerned that we get offers on the others that the players want to explore for regular first team football only for Ledley to unfortunately reach the end of his career a couple of months later.  You might think I don’t like Ledley King but that’s not true at all. I enjoy watching him play and play he certainly can. Mike EnglandHe’s up there with Mike England, the ex Notts County player and Richard Gough as the best centre backs I’ve seen play at the club. He was giving Drogba a great tussle on Sunday but couldn’t last the game to help deliver maybe a draw. Sometimes for the long term you have to look at the luxury a player provides and decide whether we can cope with it or not. It’s a question we’ll be asking about other positions in our team before the seasons end but that will be called healthy competition.

And that’s our problem. To date this season it has not existed. On Saturday it won’t either as Dawson will no doubt play 90 minutes alongside Bassong if he is recovered from his concussion. Woodgate may need further surgery so our problem may not present itself until after Christmas when the decision will be pick two from the four. Crickey it’s a toughie and Harry is going to have to put his mind to it but making tough decisions is what he is paid to do.

No knee problem I’d go Woodgate King but with the knee Dawson Woodgate. But you tell me – what do you think our best permutation is going forward.