[Banner by the genius chrissivad]
There are some things that Mums just have the knack of saying that just wind you up. As I stormed back home yesterday evening to spend some hard-earned Ryder Cup time, a voice came from the front room: "how was it?".
"Rubbish", I said.
"Oh well, at least you didn't lose."
Now, I didn't go into one as you would have expected. She is my Mum after all and more annoyingly she is right in a warped, female kinda way. But there are so many ways in which she is wrong.
For starters I'm glad we got at least a point, a loss would have been unbearable, and had it not been for my mate Luke supporting Pompey, I dare say my Sunday 5-a-side kick-around would have been a lot more banterly directed at me. We had two great 15 minute spells, and as others have noted those spells coincided with each other. By "we" I mean the team and the fans.
Whatever and whoever was behind the 10 minute "We Are Tottenham" it was nothing short of breathtakingly rousing. Myself and Mr Talkshowhost stood up in unison. Arms outstretched, encouraging block 44* to stand with us and demand that our team showed their colours as we were peacocking ours.
It felt good, and the roar that greeted Aaron Lennon as he tore down the right hand side, with virtually his first touch, made everyone stand up for the first time since kick off. It was the first time that any of our players had got in behind, and it had taken the little lion just seconds to fire up those rocket-propelled-gay-penguin-like legs.
In a flash we should have had a penalty, outdone by pace and trickery of the foot, Lennon landed on terra firma only for the less than competent ref (who was it, by the way?) to "dead-ball" his arms. The White Hart Lane faithful screamed in agony as another decision failed to fall our way.
Speaking of things falling our way: the second ball. Now, it can't surely be that we are that slow that we can't make at least one knock down from a goal kick or high ball? It just seemed like every time the ball had been knocked down by either attacker or defender, it fell to a Wigan player. Is this bad luck? Is this something in our control? I honestly can't tell you, but more often than not the ball fell to highlighter-pen-shirt rather than a Daz whiter-than-white one.
Jonathan Woodgate, to keep our focus at least mildly positive, cut an immense figure as the heartbeat of our defence. He won everything in the air, and having been given the job of baby-sitting an on-form (!?) England International in Emile Heskey, I thought he was immense and I thought Corluka was steady enough too - which again causes me to question why the hell he didn't play there against Villa if the club are still refusing to write-off Ledley as so many fans and media outlets have and are trying to do.
Didier Zokora put in a better performance as a full-back than Benoit Assou-Ekotto. OK maybe that isn't so hard to fathom as I first thought it was when I typed it! 'Benny' gave the ball away after 25 minutes (or so) after trying to dribble out of his own half with zero support left covering him. Before this point in time, he looked assured, on top of his game and willing to support Bale but not neglect his defensive duties. What followed this point in time, was madness. Hoofing long when the simple pass was on; passing short, when you just needed him to put his foot through the ball and deserting his post when he was needed the most. And I think if he keeps putting in these rollercoaster performances that just stink of unreliability, he doesn't have long left in our number 32 shirt.
I've decided that a few no-go areas for this write-up are: Bentley (both general play and set piece taking), Pavlyuchenko (he just needs time and a goal) and Darren Bent. There is far too much written about these things, so I've gone elsewhere in search of words, so I suppose inevitably I have to return to the other 70 minutes or so, when the fans - me included - were "dis-enchanted" to say the very least. I honestly don't know how to summarise it really, maybe I should just stick with my opening remark to my mother.
The very essence of Sunday's performance triggers a vey specific response within the Tottenham gene pool. The emotion that is created is one of absolute rage against absolute befuddlement with a drop of utter despair. The post match cathartic pint (of lemonade - £3!!) was spent surveying the pub, looking at blokes standing near each other in a group, staring anywhere but into the eyes of another Spurs fan, trying to deal with this bizarre apothecary of hormones. Very surreal.
Summing up and listening to various outposts both in-game and in-pub, it's just not a great time to be a Spurs fan. At least we're not in the papers every day in the same way we were with the Ramos affair. We've got Newcastle's ridiculous situation and Manchester City Dreem [sic] Teams popping up all over the place, thank the Lord Giant Floaty Teapot.
These are testing times, but I do know - I do know - it's going to get better. And it's a horrible thing to tell another anguished fan that he needs to give it time, that he needs to let them gel but that's exactly what I'll be doing, often through gritted teeth, trying to convince myself (as I type these reports or say the words in the pub) that I speak the truth.
So in a rather melancholic end to a bubbly start, I bid thee farewell until Pompey away.
NEXT WEEK IN STOOF'S SHOUT: Pavlyuchenkgoal? And some shouting.
*which we had entered through block 43 (yeah, durr, obviously you need to go through 43 to get to 44. Silly me, Mr Steward, how dare I go up the gangway that says block 44). :wink: