and with a flourish, about going out and beating the lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.
So said the great Danny Blanchflower and he was right. How many European games of late have bored you to tears? Don’t know how many games I’ve just binned because they were so boring recently. Two teams set up with one aim not to lose and maybe nick something, not much entertainment on show.
So Spurs get labelled lucky and beating FC Twente 4-1 is classed as flattering and yet a team of experienced Champions League campaigners go out to bore everyone to death – “keep it tight” – and nick an undeserved victory and are hailed masters.
No Spurs weren’t lucky, they went out there set up by ‘Arry to win play attacking, entertaining football – and with that I don’t mean fannying about “to me” “to you” aimless passing for passing’s sake of certain other sides. No this was two strikers, a flying left winger in Bale, a forward thinking, nominally right sided, attacker in van der Vaart, a playmaker in Modric and a so called holding player in Huddlestone making up the midfield. Adding to that you have another flyer coming from rightback and Assou-Ekotto can get forward a bit, hell even Bassong got forward once.
Luck with the penalties then? First one the defender gets right under Crouch’s armpit and levers him over, kind of move a defensive lineman in the NFL gets praised for, so no place on a football pitch. Right decision by the ref. If you don’t think the second one, when Bale is blatantly taken out then you are a moron – I was never in doubt about John Collins status as a twat. Second decision, correct. Third one, well touch and go thing about it is the movement of the Twente players arm, in a split second it can look like the arm moved before it was hit. Yes his back was turned but did the arm move out so the elbow blocked the ball or did the ball hitting the elbow push it out. If any official thinks the former then they have to tell the ref they think it’s a penalty. They obviously didn’t think Crouch had done much to merit giving away a penalty earlier.
Was there a bit of luck about Huddlestone escaping with a flying elbow? But then who isn’t fed up of players being pulled back by the shirt by scummy cynical sides, who are also falling over and milking every situation? If you give the ref reason to think that you fall over and ponce it at every opportunity it’s no wonder they don’t believe you when you have actually been on the end of one. Not luck, just a lack of education along the lines of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”.
Twente had their chances, great save by Gomes when he had almost landed on his arm and stretched out one of those extendible arms to palm the ball, plenty of shots on and off target but the goal apart their chances you felt weren’t that threatening.
Game did turn out to be the van der Vaart show, along with the help of Bale he was providing the main focus for the first half, during which he had the penalty saved – biased ref didn’t ask for that to be retaken – then got himself stupidly booked. Second half he carried it on with a great finish for the opener and following that up with his second yellow for a ridiculously needless challenge.
Bale showed that he pretty much is a winger now and shouldn’t be wasted at fullback, nicely taken fourth on the night. Modric seemed to have one of those quiet nights but if you watched him, he made a lot of space for others and was open for little give-and-goes all night. Will have to do a bit more against Inter in the next game with van der Vaart suspended. One thing that will be missed about the Dutchman is him getting into the box, other Spurs midfielders don’t get in there for knock-downs and such as he does.
The front pairing wasn’t, didn’t really click at all. Pavlyuchenko took both of his penalties exceptionally well and did a bit of running about but you still feel there’s something small and nippy missing up front.
We’ve got Ledley at the back, watching the way Samuel Eto’o watlzed his way through the Bremen defence in the other group game last night, we need to save Ledley at the back for this competition.
So not luck but going out there to entertain and to win…Audere est Facere.
One thing I didn’t like – the low camera angle for the telly. Makes the ground look like any other ground, even like a certain old library. It’s a better view from up on high, also the ball and players don’t get lost in the crowd and stupid electric advertising hoardings – oh I see, will UEFA have stipulated where the cameras have to be?