Monday, April 30, 2007

Spurs in History - 30th April

30th April, 1910

Spurs 2 Chelsea 1 (1st Division)

Having won promotion to Division 1 in their first year in the Football League Spurs had found life very difficult in the top flight. This was a crucial last day of the season victory against fellow relegation threatened strugglers. The situation was clear, which ever team lost would be relegated.

Spurs won before a crowd of 35,000 with goals from Billy Minter and the all important second goal from centre forward Percy Humphreys who had previously played for Chelsea.

Spurs victory ensured their 1st Division survival and so close was it at the bottom that the two points enabled them to move up to 15th place, while condemning Chelsea to relegation.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Spurs in History - 29th April

29th April, 1978

Southampton 0 Spurs 0 (2nd Division)

The conclusion to the 2nd Division was very close. On the final Saturday both teams needed a point to ensure promotion at Brighton’s expense. The match was an extremely tense and nail-biting affair. There were many dramatic moments and Southampton could have scored on a number of occasions but Spurs held on for the point they needed.

Spurs finished two points behind Bolton, a point behind Southampton and level on points with Brighton. However, Spurs were promoted thanks to a superior goal difference. Spurs were top scorers in the division and their goal difference was nine goals better than Brighton’s, the exact score by which they had defeated Bristol Rovers, the previous October.


Spurs in History - 28th April

28th April, 1951


Spurs 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0 (1st Division)

Amazingly, when Spurs won the League in 1951 and 1961 Wednesday were the opponents against whom they clinched the victory.

In 1951 the title race had been very close and any slip up would have proved costly. With two games remaining, Spurs went into this game knowing that the outcome was in their own hands and duly won with a goal scored by Len Duquemin.

Following a poor start to the season, it was a remarkable turn round to become Champions for the first time in the club’s history, only a year after winning promotion from the 2nd Division. The ‘push and run’ team managed by Arthur Rowe had put Spurs in the spotlight.

Team: Ditchburn; Ramsey, Willis; Nicholson, Clarke, Burgess (Captain); Walters, Murphy, Duquemiin, Baily, Medley.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Spurs in History - 27th April

27th April, 1901

Non-League Spurs FA Cup Winners

Spurs 3 Sheffield United 1 F.A.CUP FINAL REPLAY at Bolton

Only 20,740 were present to see Spurs go a goal behind, five minutes before half-time. The goal had been against the run of play and Spurs continued to take the game to United and equalised after 55 minutes from John Cameron.

Spurs then went ahead when winger Smith scored and Sandy Brown ensured victory with a header from the third of three quick corners, with seven minutes remaining.

Brown had become the first player to score in every round of the Cup, scoring 15 goals. On the final whistle joyous Spurs fans invaded the pitch and when the team returned to London at 1.00am the next morning, the fans who had been waiting for three hours, gave them a tremendous reception.

Team: Clawley; Erentz, Tait; Morris, Hughes, Jones (Captain); Smith, Cameron, Brown, Copeland, Kirwan.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Spurs in History - 26th April

26th April, 1978

Spurs 1 Hull City 0 (2ndDivision)

The previous weekend, Spurs had increased the pressure on themselves in their promotion bid by losing at home to Sunderland. This time there could be no mistakes against Hull who were bottom of the Division.

They say that fortune favours the brave and this was the case as the only goal was scored by Captain, Steve Perryman. The game had reached the last ten minutes with the Hull goalkeeper standing firm to deny Spurs a goal. The goalkeeper caught a cross from a corner but when a Spurs forward challenged him he dropped the ball allowing Perryman to score.

The relief around White Hart Lane was unbelievable.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Spurs in History - 25th April

25th April, 1984

Spurs 1 Hadjuk Split 0 UEFA Cup Semi-Final (2nd Leg)

Having lost the first leg game by 1-2 with Split scoring twice in the second half Spurs were under pressure to regain the initiative. They scored after six minutes when at a free kick outside the penalty area, Micky Hazard managed to bend the ball round the wall and inside the post.

If the score line remained unchanged Spurs would progress on the away goals rule. Hadjuk attacked and Spurs survived a scare when Tony Parks parried the ball onto the bar which it rolled along before dropping to the ground where a flapping and relieved goalkeeper fell on it.

Earlier in the season manager, Keith Burkinshaw, had announced that he would be leaving at the end of the season and the players were determined to give him a leaving present, the UEFA Cup. At least, they had reached the Final.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spurs in History - 24th April

24th April, 1963

OFK Belgrade 1 Spurs 2 European Cup Winners’ Cup Semi-Final (1st Leg)

Spurs went into this important game without their captain Blanchflower who still hadn't recovered from a long term injury and Cliff Jones injured in the previous weekend's game against Everton. Tottenham took the lead in this tie after 25 minutes when John White volleyed home a shot after Bobby Smith had nodded down a Tony Marchi free kick. OFK equalised nine minutes before half time from the penalty spot.

Into the second half Spurs continued to attack but they lost Jimmy Greaves who was unluckily sent off after 55 minutes. Not deterred, Spurs continued to push forward and took the lead when Terry Dyson scored with twenty minutes left.

Greaves was the first Spurs player to be sent off in over 39 years. On the night, Greaves was consoled by the Spurs trainer, Cecil Poynton, who had been the last player dismissed all those years earlier.

Team: Brown; Baker, Henry, Marchi, Norman, Mackay; Greaves, Smith,J., Smith,R., White, Dyson.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Berbatov – A Player for a Season at Tottenham?

Dimitar Berbatov

I do hope I’m proved wrong but my over-riding impression after watching Spurs snatch a draw against Arsenal at White Hart Lane with Jermaine Jenas’ late equaliser is that Dimitar Berbatov will not be there next year. He has brought a class to Spurs that has been missing for some considerable time, he has lifted the team as Jurgen Klinsmann did all those years ago but ultimately the short-comings of those around him will lead to his departure.

Throughout the game and over the past number of matches there has been evidence for all to see that Berbatov is a player who is so frustrated.

Frustrated at the lack of support through the team’s style of play where he so often, even at home, is the lone striker.

Frustrated at the inability of the other players to provide a pass that will create a meaningful chance for him to strike on goal.

Frustrated at other players not reading the game and moving into space to receive a forward pass.

Frustrated at the lack of support as he chases across the field trying to close defenders down and then discovers that there’s no-one backing him up.

Frustrated with his own play that he hasn’t been able to get away from the three defenders marking him. When a defender takes the ball from him he does a jump of frustration or looks to the sky in annoyance. Opposition players know that Spurs play so deep that they can isolate Berbatov and limit his contribution.

Frustrated at refereeing decisions which go against him.

I’m not suggesting that Berbatov is playing to get away or that he’s not giving his all throughout a game. He created the opportunity for the first goal when winning the corner and he celebrated both goals with the same enthusiasm as everyone else but it’s been a long season and the lack of success and the disappointments of the last few weeks are clearly getting to him.

A telling image from the final moments of the game - with Spurs again looking unlikely to get any reward for their efforts - was Robinson wanting to take a free kick on the edge of his penalty area and desperately trying to attract Berbatov’s attention. Berbatov was just walking slowly forward, head down not looking to see what was happening - it was if he felt he had done all that he could on the day and had nothing left to give.

Of course, Berbatov can’t just announce that he’s going as Klinsmann did in 1995 but if a top club makes it known that they’re interested and offers a big transfer fee what chance have Spurs of keeping him? If an offer comes where the player will have the opportunity to play at the highest level in the Champions League, with the opportunity to play alongside other top class players, with the chance to win silverware and with a big salary on offer – he can’t be blamed for looking enviously in their direction.

What can Tottenham offer against that? Possible UEFA Cup competition and there’s no guarantee that that will be achieved and then more of the same just like this year. It was Spurs’ inability to provide European football that gave Klinsmann the opportunity to move on and it could happen again with Berbatov. The next four games will have such a significant bearing on Tottenham’s and Berbatov’s future.

As I said at the start I do hope I’m wrong – Spurs need Berbatov next season, not money in the bank or to spend on lesser players. Remember we replaced Jurgen Klinsmann with Chris Armstrong and Teddy Sheringham was unimpressed. Berbatov would be equally difficult to replace. Spurs’ future depends on keeping their best players and adding to the quality in order to make improvements year on year. It will be another long summer in the transfer market.


Spurs in History - 23rd April

23rd April, 1921

Spurs 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 F.A.CUP FINAL at Stamford Bridge

The year ends in ‘1’ and Spurs have reached their second final against 2nd Division, Wolves. Just before kick off a torrential thunderstorm turned the pitch into a quagmire making it very difficult for both teams to play any football, the ball constantly sticking in the mud.

One piece of inspiration from 20 year old winger, Jimmy Dimmock, after 55 minutes was enough to win the trophy for Spurs. Picking up the ball on the left wing he made progress then cut in, ignoring other team members, he escaped the defenders and his shot from fifteen yards skidded off the greasy surface, under the body of the Wolves goalkeeper.

Team: Hunter; Clay, McDonald; Smith, Walters, Grimsdell (Captain); Banks, Seed, Cantrell, Bliss, Dimmock.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spurs in History - 22nd April

22nd April, 1978

Spurs 2 Sunderland 3 (2nd Division)

It was getting very close for the three promotion spots out of the 2nd Division. Earlier in the season, Spurs had been sitting quite comfortably but now four teams, Bolton, Southampton, Brighton and Spurs were in pursuit of promotion.

In their two previous games Spurs had overcome Bolton at home but lost away to Brighton and were sitting in second place. However, this result put another dent in the Spurs' promotion bid and created additional anxiety and uncertainty among the players and the supporters.

Spurs had taken the lead within 30 seconds through Peter Taylor but Sunderland equalised before half time and went 3-1 up midway through the second half. Spurs tried to retrieve the situation and scored through John Duncan who was returning from injury, but it wasn’t enough.

The pressure was on with two games remaining.


Spurs in History - 21st April

21st April, 1982

Barcelona 1 Spurs 0 European Cup Winners’ Cup Semi Final (2nd Leg)

Following the brutal game at White Hart Lane which ended in a 1-1 draw there were many concerns over this match and while it never reached the same level of hostility, Barcelona carried on in much the same vein. The tie was settled in the second half and although they pushed forward Spurs could not find a way through the Barcelona defence.

The trophy targets that Spurs had had earlier in the season were gradually slipping away and now they were left with the F.A.Cup as their only chance of silverware.

Could they overcome the weariness of an arduous season to have something to celebrate?


Friday, April 20, 2007

Spurs in History - 20th April

20th April, 1901

Spurs 2 Sheffield United 2 F.A.CUP FINAL at Crystal Palace

The non-League Giant Killers had reached the Final but no-one expected them to win again. An attendance of 114,815 watched as Spurs took on the experienced League team who took the lead after twelve minutes. Spurs equalised through Sandy Brown, thirteen minutes later and he put them ahead five minutes after half time.

However, a dubious refereeing decision gave United an equaliser one minute later. George Clawley, the Spurs goalkeeper, fumbled a shot but when challenged managed to scramble it clear for a corner as signalled by the linesman. However, the referee awarded the goal that never was. From this point the game drifted to a draw and a replay.

Two nights after the Replay, cinematic newsreel shots showed that the ball had not crossed the line and the United equaliser should not have counted.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Spurs in History - 19th April

19th April, 1972
A C Milan 1 Spurs 1 UEFA Cup Semi-Final (2nd Leg)

In the early stages of the 1st Leg at White Hart Lane AC Milan had given Spurs a footballing lesson in retaining possession and generally having them chasing shadows, taking the lead after 25 minutes.

However, as the game progressed, Spurs came more into it, particularly due to the leadership of Alan Mullery and the tenacity and determination of Steve Perryman who equalised after 33 minutes and scored the winner in the second half after an Italian player had been sent off. In a recent interview Perryman described this game as the match of his life - everything that he did in that game worked perfectly.
For the return, Milan were confident that the away goal would be vital to them. However, Spurs produced a most accomplished and assured performance to progress to the Final. Captain, Alan Mullery was the inspiration, giving Spurs an early lead (7th minute) to score the important away goal. With twenty minutes remaining Milan were awarded a penalty to equalise but Spurs held out to reach their second European Final.

Mullery had missed a portion of the season through injury but on regaining fitness was unable to get back into the team. He went to Fulham on loan and it was only due to an injury to John Pratt over the Easter games that Mullery was recalled to play in the 1st leg of the semi-final. He led from the front and was an inspiration to everyone around him.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Spurs in History - 18th April

18th April, 1998
Barnsley 1 Spurs 1 (Premiership)

From the excitement of League, Cup and European achievement to the anxiety of trying to avoid relegation. All season Spurs had been battling to avoid the drop and changing the manager from Gerry Francis to Christian Gross hadn’t seen any improvement.

It was now coming down to the wire – who could hold their nerve and scrap for points, not something that any Spurs team is famous for.

This was a real six pointer against another relegation candidate. Spurs had lost at Barnsley in the Cup and went a goal down after 19 minutes of the first half. They had chances to equalise but it wasn’t until the 47th minute that Colin Calderwood redirected an Allan Nielsen shot into the goal.

With 25 minutes remaining Ramon Vega was sent off for a professional foul but this seemed to further inspire Spurs who held out for their point which set them up for the final three games of the season.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spurs in History - 17th April

17th April, 1961


Danny Blanchflower receiving 1st Division trophy

Spurs 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1 (1st Division)

A Monday evening game at White Hart Lane against their closest rivals for the title, was the setting for this game. Wednesday had been the first team to beat them earlier in the season but Spurs had marched on and were now nearing the final glory.

In an exciting and tense match, considering all that was at stake, Wednesday went ahead after thirty minutes. With three minutes of the half remaining Spurs equalised through Bobby Smith. One minute later they were ahead when Les Allen scored.

The second half was a tough affair but when the final whistle blew, Spurs were Champions for the second time in their history.

Pandemonium broke out around White Hart Lane as the fans rushed onto the pitch. They chanted, “We want Danny!” and refused to leave until until the Captain led the players out to acknowledge their cheers.

Team: Brown; Baker, Henry; Blanchflower, Norman, Mackay; Jones, White, Smith, Allen, Dyson.

Receiving medals after the game v West Brom


Monday, April 16, 2007

Spurs’ Players ‘Bottled it’ in their ‘Big’ Games

Time for Spurs to Show their Worth against Arsenal

So near and yet so far could be the epitaph for Spurs’ season. It, like last season, will be remembered, if it is, for the ‘nearly’ achievements. Carling Cup semi-final defeat after extra time in the second leg, FA Cup quarter-final defeat after a replay and a single goal aggregate defeat in the UEFA Cup Quarter-final tie. Compared with Spurs’ record over the last number of seasons that is some progress but when it came to those ‘big’ games the players lost their nerve.

In both of the domestic Cups they held a two goal lead but against Arsenal the departure of Dimitar Berbatov early in the game through injury saw Spurs’ former confidence drain away and the Arsenal youngsters were able to impose themselves on the game and ultimately on the tie. ‘Disappointed,’ said the players, ‘we don’t want that to happen again, we’ve learned from that.’

And so for the FA Cup 6th Round game against Chelsea, the players were up for that game and took Chelsea by surprise. A lethargic Chelsea were trailing 1-3 at half-time and even in the second half as Jose Mourinho threw on striker after striker in an attempt to rescue the situation, Spurs had the chances to put the result beyond doubt. The substitution of Berbatov again proved costly as Spurs lost their threat in attack and Chelsea eventually scored the goal which gave them the hope of a comeback. Sure enough, having scored one the equaliser soon followed. Chelsea had rescued the situation and going to White Hart Lane wasn’t a problem to them. So it proved in the replay, Chelsea contained and two moments of magic secured the game. The Spurs’ players once again had failed to produce their best when it really mattered.

The UEFA Cup quarter-final draw produced another difficult game for Spurs. Sevilla, the Cup holders and the team challenging Barcelona for the Spanish Liga title would be the most difficult opponents that Tottenham would have to face in their European journey this season.

However, it would be different this time.

Jermaine Jenas commenting before the first leg game in Sevilla,

‘You get nothing for reaching quarter-finals or semi-finals. You go home, you are out and you have to watch others play in the final and lift the cup. It’s not a nice feeling and it’s not something we want to continue. If you look at the teams we lost to [in the cups], it has been Arsenal and Chelsea, two of the top three or four sides in England. It was devastating to lose those games. But now, it’s up to us to make that step and beat those sides so we are able to break through into finals and so on. We definitely have the talent.’

That was good to hear from a Tottenham perspective, the players realised that they had to raise their game for these important matches.

In Sevilla, Spurs were unfortunate that a refereeing decision preventing them from building on the excellent start given to them by Robbie Keane’s early goal. The penalty award set Spurs back and rejuvenated the home team and for the rest of the first half Spurs appeared to be in shock. The half-time interval allowed them to regain their composure and re-organise so that they finished the game well although unable to score a second goal.

A single goal deficit going into the second leg at home was acceptable. Tottenham knew exactly what was needed. However, within seven minutes that was shattered and Spurs’ European dream was over. The two quick goals midway through the second half didn’t alter the course of the game as Sevilla with Tottenham old boy, Fredi Kanoute, qualified comfortably.

In spite of Jenas’ words, once again the Spurs’ players failed to rise to the occasion and produce a performance worthy of the occasion. The Sevilla players were much quicker to the ball and prepared to battle together for the result. They started quicker and Spurs were caught cold and never recovered from it.

This has been the case for Tottenham over many seasons. Their record against the top four sides is abysmal – the only light in this darkness was the unexpected home win over Chelsea in the Premiership earlier this year. Every year Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool brush them aside as of little consequence. Other teams achieve unexpected wins over the top clubs. Bolton have been a regular thorn in the flesh for all the top sides for a number of seasons, Portsmouth have done it as well and West Ham United, this season fighting against relegation have achieved their second successive away win against Arsenal having already beaten them and Manchester United at Upton Park earlier in the season. So of their meagre total of twenty nine points, West Ham have earned nine of them with wins against two of the top four sides while Spurs have taken three points. The Spurs players have failed to raise their game for season after season – regardless of who is playing – there is an obvious lack of believe at the club and an acceptance of being second best.

Martin Jol talks of the players showing a ‘winning mentality’ but it is lacking when faced with the top sides. A lack of leadership and drive on the field is evident with Spurs needing the fighting qualities displayed over many years by former captains, Steve Perryman, Graham Roberts, Alan Mullery and Dave Mackay.

How would the Spurs players respond to the management style displayed by Sir Alex Ferguson or Roy Keane? Is life too easy at White Hart Lane? If Spurs are to get into the elite of the Premiership a few feathers may have to be ruffled at the club. The summer transfer market shopping list should include that aggressive, combative type of player who ill inspire those around him to greater effort and won’t accept excuses for missed opportunities. Such qualities don’t exist within the players currently at the club so someone is required who will set the example, set the standards and discipline that are necessary to make this forward step.

As Jamie Carragher said when questioned about Liverpool’s Cup defeats to Arsenal earlier in the season, ‘We need better players.’ That certainly is the case where Spurs are concerned with players who can take the pressure of the ‘big’ games and produce their best performances when they’re most needed and when faced with the highest level of opposition.

Spurs’ next game is against Arsenal at White Hart Lane. The supporters will be ready for the game but will the players? They know what a North London derby means to the supporters but will they produce a performance on the day or will it again be a case of almost but not quite good enough?


Klinsmann to Boss Spurs - No!

Jurgen Klinsmann as Spurs boss? Here's why it wouldn't work
It has been suggested that the former Spurs hero should return to White Hart Lane as manager. But the club has already been down that road with Ossie Ardiles and Glenn Hoddle - with little success.

White Hart Lane is NOT the place for Jurgen Klinsmann. Spurs have tried that before and with disastrous results. They've brought in former players to manage the club to please the fans and it hasn't worked. Indeed, it all ended in tears.

Alan Sugar brought Ossie Ardiles from West Bromwich Albion in the aftermath of his fall-out with Terry Venables. He knew that he had to find someone whom the fans would accept and Ardiles fitted the bill. Ardiles' first season was a disaster with the club only avoiding relegation with a game to spare.

The following summer was a great time for Spurs as Ardiles signed Jurgen Klinsmann, Ilie Dumitrescu and Gica Popescu and the season started with a flourish of exciting, attacking football. However, as autumn turned to winter, the attacking flair envisaged by Ardiles couldn't outscore the deficiencies of the defence, so club and manager parted company after 18 months. Ardiles as a player was a hero to all Spurs supporters, but as a manager he failed in the Premiership.

Move forward six years and the club’s new owners are looking to impress the supporters and get them on their side. They remove the unpopular George Graham and replace him with every Spurs fans' favourite - Glenn Hoddle. An encouraging start is followed by 12 months of misery before the board admit their mistake and remove Hoddle - it simply hasn't worked. Everyone at Tottenham Hotspur wanted Hoddle to succeed as manager but he failed to take the club forward. Similarly to Ardiles, he had little more than 18 months as manager.

Both Ardiles and Hoddle were worshipped by the supporters and such was their standing as players that the fans still remember them favourably, overlooking their management shortcomings. Klinsmann falls into the same category. He was a great favourite as a player, although he was only at White Hart Lane for a short time in comparison with the other two. But he could so easily fall short as a manager.

His reputation in management is high following his handling of the German team in the World Cup. However, he has no experience as a manager or coach at club level which demands day on day involvement with the players and officials. Would Klinsmann give the long-term commitment needed for such a position?

Klinsmann seems to enjoy the American lifestyle of California - would he be tempted to return to the grey skies of Tottenham? It would appear to be unlikely and a tremendous gamble to put all your faith in someone untried at this level.

In the World Cup, Klinsmann was working with the best players Germany had available to him. Would he have the patience and temperament to work with lesser players? Would he have the desire to cope with all the demands of the players on a daily basis? His man-management skills would be sorely tested.

Klinsmann achieved a great deal with Germany and was rightly praised for his innovation and the style with which his country played throughout the tournament. However, that was for a short period. Would he be able to continually motivate players through a long season and would his natuaral enthusiasm extend to a wet November night at Grimsby for a Cup game?

As a player, Klinsmann enjoyed new challenges - he played in different countries and then moved on in search of something new. As coach to the German team he has shown the same ideology, resigning at the end of the tournament and looking for a fresh challenge.

As manager or coach of a club side, there has to be that longer-term commitment and I'm uncertain that Klinsmann would be prepared to make it. His reputation at White Hart Lane is based on 18 months as a player. As a manager, he mightn't even last that long.

In the short-term, it would be a tremendous coup to recruit Jurgen as manager/coach. The move would be surrounded with fantastic media hype but I am uncertain that he would be a long-term solution to the club's managerial problems. Many international managers complain that they they miss the day-to-day involvement with the players that is part of club management. Klinsmann, on the other hand, seems ideally suited to that international management role as it allows him greater freedom to be involved in other projects.

I wouldn't want to see him come to Tottenham and suffer as both Ardiles and Hoddle did before him. Spurs supporters want to remember him as the player he was and not as a manager who has failed to achieve what he and the fans have been hoping for.


Spurs in History - 16th April

16th April, 1900

Spurs 3 Sheppey United 0

In their non-League days, Spurs played in the Southern League for twelve seasons. Season 1899 – 1900 was the only time that they finished as Champions. On two occasions they were runners-up and on two further years they finished third. The victory over Sheppey in the penultimate game of the season, ensured they had won the League. The goals were scored by Hyde, Pratt and Kirwan and the team contained six of the players who were to be part of the Cup winning team in the following season.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

'I'm A Tottenham Hotspur Reserve - Get me out of Here!'

When Will My Chance Come?
A number of years ago some lower League clubs did away with their reserve sides as a way of reducing their overall expenditure. They simply couldn’t afford the expense of running the team and so they reduced their squads to ensure their survival.

Over the years a reserve side provided a good grounding for young players hoping to break into the first team and they knew that if they progressed and an opportunity came because of an injury to a first team regular, they would get their chance to show what they could do in the team. At other times, if a regular first team player was out due to injury, he would have expected to play a number of reserve games to prove his match fitness before getting a recall to the senior team. Equally if a senior player lost form or fell out of favour with the manager, he could expect to be banished to the reserves to try and regain form or until he had made amends for his wrongs.

However, nowadays, none of those scenarios seem to come into play.

Everyone is aware of the format for the television programme, ‘I’m a Celebrity – Get me out of here’, where some lesser known celebrities endure tasks they would usually find beneath them. Being a reserve at Tottenham Hotspur must feel like being involved in that contrived television situation, not knowing if there will be any chance for promotion to the League side.

Take recent situations at the club and consider them from a reserve player’s point of view.

Injury has badly affected the defence. Last week in Sevilla during the second half, it was reported that both full-backs, Paul Stalteri and Young-Pyo Lee. As the only defender among the substitutes, Phil Ifil was told to warm up. Chris Hughton was seen giving him instructions as he prepared to come into the game. Time passed and Malbranque and Ghaly were put as the two full-backs soldiered on, apparently having recovered from their difficulties – Ifil never appeared.

Before the next game, it was reported that Lee would be out for the rest of the season with injury – obviously playing on for the good of the team didn’t do him any favours. With Rocha available, Chimbonda moved to left back with Stalteri who’s recovered from his problem fit to play and it was a matter of another afternoon sitting on the bench for Phil Ifil.

The real problems occurred for the UEFA Cup quarter-final game against Sevilla. Stalteri had finally succumbed with a hip injury and Rocha was cup-tied again but with Ledley King returning, Chimbonda was available at left back. That left one position to be filled – all the newspaper reports suggested young full back, Ifil, would be in the starting line-up but other informed opinion suggested that the manager was going to play Teemu Tainio out of position to fill the vacant right back spot. When the line-up was announced before kick-off, Tainio was at right back and Ifil one of the substitutes.

Phil Ifil (Pic:above) is twenty years of age and made his debut two seasons ago under Jacques Santini in the opening two games of the season. He made a favourable impression while the club waited for the signing of Pamarot to be completed. Since then he has made two further appearances in the League Cup, his last appearance being against Port Vale in November. From the outside it looks clear that the manager has little confidence in the player – he has been out on loan to gain experience, has played regularly for the reserves this season, but even when there’s a crisis, the manager won’t play him. Perhaps Sunday’s game against Wigan will see him get the opportunity he has been waiting for although Rocha is available again for the left side of the defence.

It looks like the time is coming when Phil Ifil is going to have to follow that well trodden route of Tottenham reserves to lower League clubs. Many have done it before – Dean Marney to Hull City, Rohan Ricketts to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Stephen Kelly to Birmingham and Johnnie Jackson to Colchester United. The ‘Life after the Lane’ section of the club handbook details all those who have gone before.

Similar thoughts must be entering 22 year-old Lee Barnard’s mind. As fifth striker his only appearances have been as substitute in three of the final four games of last season when Mido was injured. He put himself about a bit, which always endears a young player to the supporters. He has been the reserves leading goal scorer for the past two years, finishing last season with 19 goals. However, injury has prevented him from building on that this year. Clive Allen is reported to have worked with him to develop his scoring ability and in his first game back for the reserves last Monday against Aston Villa he scored the team’s second goal. He was described on the Villa web-site report as being 'Quick, full of energy and intent, he’s as good a forward as we’ve faced this season.'

However, on Thursday evening as he sat on the bench with Spurs needing four goals to progress to the next round, he saw, defender, Pascal Chimbonda being moved forward into attack as a fourth striker as the team sought a late flurry of goals. Chimbonda was playing in his fourth position in as many games as Spurs’ injuries and short-comings became more evident. Barnard’s self-confidence must have taken a blow as obviously the manager has little faith in his ability to deliver in such crucial circumstances.

Others have suffered a similar fate – Mark Yeates made his debut in 2004 in David Pleat’s last period in charge. Since then he has been restricted to a few appearances as a substitute and now for the second successive season he has gone out on loan, currently playing for Leicester. Wayne Routledge, Reto Ziegler have gone out on loan while the other reserve players are mostly youngsters. There seems little chance for them as most eventualities seemed to be covered through the squad system. Adel Taarabt, the young French player, has recently been projected into the squad, having only played a handful of reserve games.

Under such circumstances is there a need for a reserve team? It seems to serve little purpose and the number of young players/reserves who have made the transition to the Premiership in the past decade is very limited – Ledley King may well be the last one to successfully take that step. Only occasionally does a squad player make an appearance for the reserves – Danny Murphy being an example when he started the game to prove his fitness ahead of The UEFA clash with Sevilla. However, Ledley King didn’t play any games before returning to first team action in the same game, having been out injured since late December.

The players who move on from Tottenham without first team experience or limited opportunities usually find their level further down the League and can make a worthwhile career for themselves. Evidence of this was seen when Mark Gower (Pic: below) and Kevin Maher played against Spurs in both Cup competitions for Southend United earlier this year. Others who have cut out a League career after leaving White Hart Lane include goalkeeper Alan Marriott with over 300 games at Lincoln City, Ian Hendon, now at Barnet after serving various clubs over the years and midfielder Kevin Watson at Colchester United who captained Spurs’ successful reserve team. They have been provided with a grounding that has been of great benefit to them in their careers and although they were unable to make the breakthrough at Tottenham, they have found success elsewhere.

Looking at the reserve set-up at Tottenham it seems in recent years to have provided very little in the way of development of players who are going to appear in Spurs’ Premiership team. Under such circumstances if it is to be maintained, the structure of the youth academy and reserves need to be examined to ensure it can be more beneficial to Tottenham Hotspur.


Spurs in History - 15th April

Villa and Crooks(2) - Spurs' Goal scorers at Highbury against Wolves in FA Cup S/F Replay

15th April, 1981

Spurs 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 F.A.Cup Semi-Final Replay at Highbury.

The perfect place for Spurs to win an exciting replay. Determined not to be deprived of their place at Wembley as they had been the previous Saturday, Spurs were fired up for the game from the outset and took an early lead when Garth Crooks headed the opening goal.

Wolves came back strongly but couldn’t get an equaliser. Then just before half-time Crooks scored the second when taking a Glenn Hoddle pass, he finished with ease.

Spurs were celebrating and Ricky Villa sealed the victory with a great goal scored from thirty yards. A great victory and a stylish performance as ‘Spurs were on their way to Wembley’ again to meet Manchester City in the Centenary Final.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Spurs and the FA Cup Semi-Finals

Spurs and the FA Cup

Semi-Finals - 1901 – 2010
It is now over twenty years since Tottenham last enjoyed the celebrations of winning an FA Cup semi-final.  There have been many trials and tribulations in that time but Spurs have fallen short at that vital stage even when firm favourites as in 2010 against Portsmouth.  In their lengthy history Spurs have reached this stage of the competition on eighteen occasions, winning on nine occasions and for most of those successes the result was well deserved with Spurs winning comfortably. However, of the nine unsuccessful attempts to reach the Final, there has often been a sense of injustice as Spurs have been at the wrong end of some dubious decisions.

As a Southern League side Spurs had progressed to the 1901 FA Cup semi-final having disposed of the Cup holders, Bury, and the only other surviving non-League side, Reading, in previous rounds. First Division, West Bromwich Albion at Villa Park were Spurs next opponents while Sheffield United and Aston Villa contested the other semi-final. Although the game was like a home game for Albion, Spurs took thousands of spectators to the Birmingham venue.

The Spurs’ hero was Sandy Brown who scored all four goals as Spurs won comprehensively. Brown had scored in every round of the Cup and now had a total of twelve goals in the competition. Spurs were very much the under-dogs and all of the Spurs’ players deserved credit for this performance. Although the game was scoreless at half-time Spurs had more of the play and from the time that Brown headed the first goal just after the restart from a centre by John Kirwan, there was no doubting the result. He scored twice more in the next twenty minutes – his second from a corner, the third was a shot from thirty yards and the fourth, five minutes from the end, after a passing movement took Spurs the length of the pitch.

Following a replay Spurs discovered they would be meeting Sheffield United in the Final to be played at Crystal Palace.

Twenty years later, just back in the 1st Division, Spurs faced Preston North End at Hillsborough in their second semi-final. The two clubs had previously met in the Cup on two occasions, including the 1st Round tie in 1901 when Spurs went on to win the Cup for the first time. Now, the two clubs were opponents in the top flight and although Preston were in the bottom half of the League to Spurs sixth position, the northern club had been successful in both League games earlier in the season. Spurs had had moments of good fortune in their early progress in the Cup but on this occasion it seemed to desert them. It took two goals from Bert Bliss in the second half to ensure Spurs’ victory – scoring the first with a typical drive and then converting a pass from captain, Arthur Grimsdell. A mix-up in the Spurs’ defence allowed Preston to pull a goal back but Spurs were never under any threat. The game could and should have been wrapped long before Spurs scored their first goal. In the first half they had two goals disallowed – the first after Jimmy Banks scored but the referee gave Spurs a free-kick for a foul on Jimmy Seed and then a second following a scramble in the Preston area was disallowed for some unknown reason. Early in the second half Spurs should have had two penalties – firstly for a foul on Banks and then when a Preston defender handled but neither impressed the referee.

Spurs’ opponents in the Final at Stamford Bridge would be Second Division Wolverhampton Wanderers who had defeated another Second Division side, Cardiff City in a replay.

The following year and Spurs suffered their first semi-final defeat, Preston gaining revenge for the previous year’s defeat in controversial circumstances. Spurs were favourites to win and played in that manner throughout the first half and went a goal up through Jimmy Seed. Preston looked a beaten team at half-time but in the second half were re-vitalised and equalised. Spurs came back into the game and looked to have scored when a shot from Bert Bliss beat the goalkeeper and was on its way into the net. At this point the referee stopped the game to attend to an injured Preston player. He decreed that he had blown the whistle before the ball entered the net and disallowed the goal. To add insult to injury, the player wasn’t even injured. This decision demoralised the Spurs players and Preston went on to score the winning goal. In the Final Preston lost to a disputed penalty, awarded for a foul committed outside the area, but that is of little consolation to Spurs.

It was another twenty six years before Spurs were to grace a semi-final again and it was as a 2nd Division side that they met 1st Division Blackpool at Villa Park. They had defeated 1st Division Bolton and then 2nd Division clubs, West Brom, Leicester and Southampton to reach this stage. For over an hour Spurs were the equal of Blackpool who were the strong favourites with Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen in their side. However, it was Spurs who went ahead when Len Duquemin got the final touch in a goalmouth scramble for his eighth Cup goal of the season. Time ticked away and Spurs were within four minutes of their first Wembley final when a pass from Matthews found Mortensen. He set off on a thirty yard run, past four defenders and shot from a very acute angle near the goal line. The shot caught Ted Ditchburn unawares and Spurs were totally deflated. Into extra time and Mortensen scored twice more to ensure Spurs’ Cup dreams ended at Villa Park. That result so demoralised Spurs that they won only two of their final twelve League games and missed out on a possible promotion by finishing in eighth place.

Five seasons later, Spurs had an opportunity to gain revenge on Blackpool when they again met in the semi-final at Villa Park. This time both clubs were in the 1st Division and this was seen as a last opportunity for the ‘Push and Run’ side to achieve Cup success. It had been a long road to the semi-final for Spurs who had played eight games to reach this stage. They had needed replays to beat Tranmere and Preston, then one game saw off Halifax but the 6th Round tie with Birmingham City went to three games. This time Blackpool with Matthews and Mortensen still a force to be reckoned with, took an early lead but early in the second half Spurs levelled through Len Duquemin. Spurs were now in control and the game was heading for extra time when with seconds remaining Alf Ramsey attempted a back pass to Ted Ditchburn. As he did so he slipped and the ball fell short allowing the Blackpool forward to step in and put the ball past Ditchburn. Only time remained to kick off again and Spurs would have to wait a little longer for a final at Wembley.

Blackpool went on to win the Final against Bolton in the famous ‘Matthews’ final.

Villa Park was becoming a bogey ground for Spurs where FA Cup semi-final games were concerned. In 1955-56 they again had the misfortune to lose there at the penultimate stage – this time to Manchester City. It was a refereeing mistake that helped to prevent Spurs achieving that first Wembley final. Spurs were a goal down but in the final minutes were battling for an equaliser. The captain, Danny Blanchflower had moved centre half, Maurice Norman, forward into the attack as he had done successfully in the previous round against West Ham. In the dieing moments winger George Robb was through on goal and about to score when the Manchester City goalkeeper, Bert Trautmann, caught hold of his legs. A goal or a penalty, Spurs should have scored but somehow unbelievably the officials saw nothing and Spurs had once again fallen short. ‘What if’ Spurs had scored – they could have taken the game into extra time and gone on to win but the repercussions of the defeat went further than expected. Manager, Jimmy Anderson was unimpressed with Blanchflower’s decision to make changes to the team during the game and in the ensuing row Blanchflower resigned as captain and did not take on the role for another two seasons.

After such a period of disappointment, Spurs were about to embark on a sequence of seven successive semi-final victories stretching over thirty years. At the fourth attempt, it was the ‘Double’ team of 1960-61 that was to lay the ghost of Villa Park. Drawn to play defending League champions Burnley a tight game was expected as Burnley had recovered from a four goal deficit to earn a draw in the League game at White Hart Lane earlier in the season. The semi-final tie saw Spurs take the lead after half an hour and went further ahead when Bobby Smith scored his second in the second half. This deflated Burnley and Cliff Jones added the third before the end. Spurs were on their now way to Wembley for the very first time where they would find Leicester City trying to prevent them completing an historic ‘Double.’

A year later Spurs overcame Manchester United at Hillsborough at the semi-final stage of the competition as they endeavoured to retain the trophy. Goals from Jimmy Greaves, Terry Medwin and Cliff Jones ensured that Spurs won comfortably and returned to Wembley to meet the team they defeated in the previous year’s semi-final. Greaves and Jones gave Spurs a two goal half-time lead. United scored with seven minutes remaining but Medwin ensured Spurs’ victory, scoring three minutes later.

The 1967 semi-final saw Spurs return to Hillsborough to play Nottingham Forest. Both teams were in the top three of the League and Spurs were on an unbeaten run that stretched back to mid-January. In a very close game Forest started the better and Cyril Knowles cleared off the line early on but then after half an hour Jimmy Greaves scored with a great volley from twenty five yards that went in off the post. Just before half-time Forest almost equalised when a Knowles defensive header hit the post but Spurs held on. In the second half Forest continued to search for the equaliser but when Frank Saul caught a Forest defender in possession he took the ball to the edge of the penalty area to score with a great shot to put Spurs two up after sixty seven minutes. Forest weren’t down and out and scored with ten minutes left but although they searched for the equaliser, Spurs had further opportunities to increase their lead. In the following day’s papers the match was described as ‘pulsating’ and a game in which Spurs ‘earned the right to meet Chelsea in the first all London Final at Wembley on the strength of a highly skilled performance in a classic semi-final that had moments of magic and tragedy.’

Although Spurs enjoyed Cup success at home and in Europe over the next decade and a half, the FA Cup eluded them. It was in 1981 that they next reached an FA Cup semi-final, under the guidance of Keith Burkinshaw. Spurs’ progress to this stage had been steady and they were drawn to play Wolverhampton Wanderers at Hillsborough. Everyone’s memory of this game is the penalty that was awarded to Wolves in the dieing moments for a tackle by Glenn Hoddle. This gave Wolves the chance to equalise and take the game into extra time. The game remained level at 2-2 and a replay was required. The fury of the Spurs’ players and spectators at the penalty decision is understandable as it was wrong on two accounts – the tackle was outside the penalty area and Hoddle won the ball cleanly without touching the ‘diving’ Terry Hibbitt. Spurs had taken the lead through Steve Archibald after four minutes but Wolves equalised a minute later. Just before half-time, Hoddle put Spurs ahead from a free kick, that could justifiably have been a penalty. Spurs defended resolutely until the referee played his part but then we would have missed the excitement of the replay at Highbury.

For some unaccountable reason the FA decided that the replay would take place at Highbury which was of tremendous advantage to Spurs. It was the perfect place for Spurs to win an exciting replay. Determined not to be deprived of their place at Wembley as they had been the previous Saturday, Spurs were fired up for the game from the outset and took an early lead when Garth Crooks headed the opening goal. Wolves came back strongly but couldn’t get an equaliser. Then just before half-time Crooks scored the second when taking a pass from Hoddle, he finished with ease. Spurs were celebrating and Ricky Villa sealed the victory with a great goal scored from thirty yards. A great victory and a stylish performance as ‘Spurs were on their way to Wembley’ again.

The following season as Spurs fought to retain the trophy, the semi-final game took them to Villa Park where they met 2nd Division, Leicester City. It was a difficult game for everyone and Ossie Ardiles played his last game of the season for Spurs as he returned to Argentina to prepare for the World Cup. However, there was the additional problem of the Falklands War and Ardiles was constantly booed by the Leicester fans. Spurs eventually wore Leicester down in the second half when after 56 minutes Ardiles centred for Crooks to score. Leicester lost a player to injury and their ten men battled gamely but in the 76th minute conceded a soft own goal. The defender with many options to clear lifted his back pass over the goalkeeper’s head. This was a very comfortable semi-final victory for Spurs who returned to Wembley for a second successive year to meet Queens Park Rangers.

Spurs next semi-final game was one of the easiest they’ve ever played at this stage of the Cup. Watford went into the game at Villa Park with goalkeeping problems and had to call up an emergency keeper as their regular keepers were injured. A 4-1 victory did not flatter Spurs as David Pleat’s side continued their good form and won through goals from Steve Hodge(2), Clive Allen and Paul Allen. Coventry City were their unexpected opponents in the Final.

In all the years of the FA Cup, Spurs and Arsenal had only previously met in the competition on two occasions. Now, in 1991, they were to meet in the semi-final. Such was the demand the game was arranged for Wembley, the first occasion that a semi-final had taken place there. Spurs were under continuing financial pressure but their biggest problem prior to this game was the fitness of their talisman, Paul Gascoigne. He had undergone a hernia operation immediately after the 6th Round win over Notts County, in the hope that he would be fit for the semi-final. Four days before the game he successfully played for an hour in a League game at Norwich and was fit to play at Wembley. Spurs’ other difficulty was that Arsenal had only lost once in the League and were looking to win the ‘double’. The atmosphere at Wembley was electric and Gascoigne was at his most exuberant best. Spurs were not expected to win this game but Venables had them firing on all cylinders from the start. After five minutes Gascoigne scored from a 35 yard free kick that was hit with such power and accuracy that it left Seaman clutching at thin air. As Venables said afterwards, “Paul was probably the only player who could do anything like that.” Five minutes later Gary Lineker increased Spurs’ lead. Arsenal didn’t know what had hit them but they managed to score before half-time. Gazza played for only sixty minutes but left to an ovation – ‘Spurs Hero of Wembley.’ Shortly after Gascoigne’s departure, his replacement, Nayim set up Lineker to score the third to take Spurs to the Final.

All the players played their part in this memorable victory as Arsenal were humbled by an inspired Gazza who ensured Spurs had a fantastic victory. ‘St. Hotspur Day’- a day never to be forgotten by Spurs’ fans around the world.
"He's not going to have a go from there.... he is you know.... that is Schoolboy's Own stuff!" Barry Davies, commenting on the semi-final as Gascoigne lined up the free-kick and scored from 35 yards.

That was Spurs’ seventh successive FA Cup semi-final victory but since that very memorable and enjoyable day, Spurs have only had that sinking feeling where those games have been concerned. Although they have endured difficult times in the subsequent years Spurs have still managed to reach the semi-final on four occasions. Two years later another visit to Wembley was required when Spurs and Arsenal were again drawn together. Terry Venables’ team were left feeling hard done by in 1993 when a refereeing decision influenced the result. Spurs were denied a penalty when Darren Anderton was brought down in the penalty area in the first half. If Spurs had been awarded a penalty and Arsenal reduced to ten men with over an hour to play the complexion of the game would have changed. However, it wasn’t and then with ten minutes remaining the Arsenal goal was scored from a dubious free-kick although tighter marking by the Spurs’ defence could have eliminated the danger. The ‘might have beens’ could go on for ever but if Spurs had gone on to Wembley and won the Cup, the subsequent dramatic and traumatic end of season events with the fall-out between Alan Sugar and Terry Venables may never have occurred and Spurs mightn’t have gone into a decade of decline.

Defeat in the semi-final usually has some repercussions – in 1947 Spurs missed out on promotion, in 1957 Blnchflower resigned as captain, in 1993 Venables and Sugar fell out while following the 1995 defeat by Everton, Spurs lost Jurgen Klinsmann who along with Teddy Sheringham had been such a vital part of Spurs’ resurgence that season. The season had started with Spurs banned from the competition as punishment for the financial irregularities uncovered in the Sugar/Venables affair. It was only as the 3rd Round approached that the decision was overturned and Spurs were re-instated. Progress to the semi-finals had brought memorable performances at Southampton and Liverpool and now Spurs were faced with Everton at Elland Road as the final step back to Wembley. The media were predicting a Spurs/Manchester United final but unfortunately Everton hadn’t read the script. Spurs were troubled by injuries on the day and Stuart Nethercott had to play as emergency left back. Spurs simply did not perform, little resembling the side that had played so well in earlier rounds and produced such exciting football during the season. Everton started the better and took a two goal lead. Klinsmann scored a penalty for Spurs but two late goals sealed Spurs’ fate and added to their embarrassment.

The result was a shattering blow to the fans and the club but the further ramification was that Klinsmann later announced that he would be leaving at the end of the season. He had brought vitality to the club but with the team not being able to offer him European football the following season he decided to return to Germany. This was an even greater blow to the Club and one that they have been striving to recover from since that fateful day – only in the past two seasons have there been signs of some early shoots of recovery.

In 1999 Spurs under George Graham had already won the Worthington Cup and were looking for a Cup ‘double’ as they took on Newcastle United at Old Trafford. Progress to this stage had been seen a comfortable victory over Watford, replays were needed to see off Wimbledon and Leeds, the latter succumbing to two spectacular goals from Anderton and Ginola at White Hart Lane. Ginola produced another ‘special’ to win at Barnsley and Spurs were looking confident as they came to play Newcastle. However, Spurs weren’t at their best against the Tyneside club but the game turned on the hour when the referee missed a blatant handball by the Newcastle defender, Dabizas, as he struggled to head clear from a free-kick. The game remained scoreless and went into extra time when from a similar situation Campbell was penalised and Newcastle were awarded a penalty. Shearer scored and with Spurs deflated, added a second to end Spurs’ dreams of a second visit to Wembley.

In 2001, Spurs had another opportunity to reach the FA Cup Final but once again Arsenal stood in their way. In the entire history of the FA Cup, the two clubs have only met on two occasions in earlier rounds of the competition but of the four times they have both reached the semi-finals, they have been drawn together on three occasions. The background to the tie was Spurs’ change of manager. A week after Spurs’ thrilling victory over West Ham United at Upton Park in the 6th Round George Graham was sacked. David Pleat took temporary charge while the club waited for Glenn Hoddle whose first game in charge was the semi-final at Old Trafford. It started brightly for Spurs with Gary Doherty who had been the hero of earlier rounds with two important goals, giving Spurs the lead. However, Arsenal came more and more into the game and it was only an outstanding display by Neil Sullivan in the Spurs’ goal that kept the score to 2-1 for Spurs’ north London neighbours. While Hoddle’s return to Tottenham was welcome, the timing was not the most appropriate, before such an important game and especially as the players had come together as a team through the Cup run.

Spurs last reached the semi-final stage in 2010 when they faced Portsmouth.  The south coast club were in dire straits facing both relegation and financial problems.  Spurs had defeated Harry Redknapp's old club in both Premier League matches, the last game only a few weeks previously had been an extremely comfortable victory at White Hart Lane.  In the semi-final Portsmouth worked extremely hard throughout and Spurs simply couldn't respond or lift their game.  The game went into extra time and was looking destined for penalties when Portsmouth's goal came courtesy of a Michael Dawson slip on the much criticised new Wembley turf.  He slipped at a vital moment as he was about to clear the ball in the centre of the penalty area.  The ball fell invitingly for Portsmouth who accepted the gift and went on to secure a two goal victory and Spurs felt annoyed with the performance of their team and officials who ruled out both a goal and penalty claims in extra time.  Spurs showed remarkable powers of recovery from this very disappointing performance to produce a run to gain Champions League football for the first time.

Spurs haven't had a successful semi-final since 1991which is a very long period for a club with a Cup reputation but whether this year will be any different is hard to judge with the quest for Champions League football so often taking precedent over the glory of winning the Cup.

The story of the FA Cup, season after season brings dreams that ultimately go unfulfilled but on those few occasions when it all falls into place they are the greatest moments and create lasting memories that carry you through in hope for the seasons that lie ahead.

For the Record:
Tottenham's FA Cup Semi-Final Win and Loss Account:
1901 West Bromwich Albion (Villa Park) Won 4-0 Brown (4)
1921 Preston North End (Hillsborough) Won 2-1 Bliss (2)

 1922 Preston North End (Hillsborough) Lost 1-2 Seed
1948 Blackpool (Villa Park) Lost 1-3 (aet) Duquemin
1953 Blackpool (Villa Park) Lost 1-2 Duquemin
1956 Manchester City (Villa Park) Lost 0-1 
1961 Burnley (Villa Park) Won 3-0 Smith R (2), Jones
1962 Manchester United (Hillsborough) Won 3-1 Greaves, Medwin, Jones 

1967 Nottingham Forest (Hillsborough) Won 2-1 Greaves, Saul
1981 Wolverhampton Wanderers (Hillsborough) Draw 2-2 (aet) Archibald, Hoddle
Replay Wolverhampton Wanderers (Highbury) Won 3-0 Crooks (2), Villa

1982 Leicester City (Villa Park) Won 2-0 Crooks, Opp. o.g.
1987 Watford (Villa Park) won 4-1 Hodge (2), Allen P, Allen C 

1991 Arsenal (Wembley) Won 3-1 Gascoigne, Lineker (2) 
1993 Arsenal (Wembley) Lost 0-1
1995 Everton (Elland Road) Lost 1-4 Klinsmann (p)
1999 Newcastle United (Old Trafford) Lost 0-2 (aet)
 2001 Arsenal (Old Trafford) Lost 1-2 Doherty
2010 Portsmouth (Wembley) Lost 0 - 2 (aet)


Tottenham Hotspur v Sevilla Aftermath

‘Don’t Talk, Just Play’
(UEFA Cup - not this year Spurs)

Over the past week there have been sound-bites coming from White Hart Lane – very much in line with the thoughts of the ordinary supporter.

Prior to the game in Sevilla, Jermaine Jenas said, ’You get nothing for reaching quarter-finals or semi-finals. You go home, you are out and you have to watch others play in the final and lift the cup. It’s not a nice feeling and it’s not something we want to continue. If you look at the teams we lost to [in the cups], it has been Arsenal and Chelsea, two of the top three or four sides in England. It was devastating to lose those games. But now, it’s up to us to make that step and beat those sides so we are able to break through into finals and so on. We definitely have the talent.’

He repeated these sentiments in interviews on radio this morning.

Martin Jol was quoted in yesterday’s papers from his programme notes for the Sevilla game, ‘Be in no doubt that when we step out tonight we shall do so determined to get the result for you all.’

Unfortunately, neither has been able to get the views across to the team in a meaningful way as once again Spurs fell short at the business end of a Cup competition.

Tottenham is not somewhere you would include in the ‘Top 100 places to visit in London’ but last night on a beautiful early spring evening the supporters of Tottenham and Sevilla mingled outside White Hart Lane in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that was the complete opposite of the scenes and reports of events inside the stadium in Spain a week ago. Inside the stadium, both sets of supporters built up the atmosphere for a game that would determine which club would be looking forward to the semi-final games in the UEFA Cup – there was a lot at stake on the evening.

Unfortunately, the Tottenham players took this congenial atmosphere onto the pitch, enabling Sevilla to do what Robbie Keane did a week earlier and score an early goal. Not the start that Spurs’ fans had been looking for but nothing had really changed because with Spurs’ defensive difficulties, it was unlikely that they would keep a clean sheet and go through with a 1-0 win and the away goals rule. However, then within seven minutes, Fredi Kanoute did for Sevilla what the previous week’s referee prevented Spurs from doing – building on their good start and increasing their lead. Two goals down – White Hart Lane was stunned – Spurs would need four goals to win.

If ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and ‘every picture tells a story’ then the photograph on the back page of today’s Daily Express sums up how everyone was feeling – it shows Keane, Jenas and Berbatov waiting to kick off after Sevilla’s second goal, all with a look of total disbelief at what had happened.

The record books will show that Spurs’ earned a draw and lost 3-4 on aggregate and the statisticians will be able to note that Spurs have only lost one home game in all their European matches. Spurs have been given credit for coming back into the game but those facts don’t tell the real story - it was forty one minutes before they made a purposeful and meaningful attack when Didier Zakora burst forward at pace and released Berbatov who shot narrowly wide. Berbatov then hit the post with a shot in the final moments of the half – if only – but in truth Spurs could have been four or five behind by the interval, such was the pace and skill of the Spanish team.

Throughout, the fans kept up a continual chorus of support for the team and they were rewarded with two goals in a minute, half way through the second half. A late rally, an amazing comeback, nobody really expected it and throughout the Sevilla reserve goalkeeper hadn’t a save to make, while in the latter stages it was Paul Robinson who had to pull off one or two saves to prevent Sevilla regaining the lead.

Also in his programme notes, Martin Jol treated us to the views of Ernst Happel, a coach he has admired since his younger days – ‘I understand Happel was a man of few words,……… He had two favourite phrases. ‘Don’t talk, just play’ was what he would instil in his players, whilst his pre-match team-talks consisted of the rather prosaic,’Gentlemen, two points.’

There’s been plenty said over the last week but now the talking is over and we will just play…..’

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen – the concern is not that they failed to get past the team sitting second in the Spanish League and UEFA Cup holders, but the nature of their demise. Within seven minutes the war (qualification for the UEFA Cup semi-finals) was lost, although they later managed to draw the battle (the match). Once again the players had failed to deliver when it mattered most – those big, winner takes all games.

Spurs’ record in the Premiership against the top sides this year, apart from the Chelsea home game, has been appalling – even worse than some recent years when Spurs appeared to be starting to challenge those teams but without actually winning. However, this season they conceded three goals at both Anfield and the Emirates Stadium, lost at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge by a goal, without ever being a real threat to the home side, lost by four at home to United while Liverpool comfortably handled Spurs at White Hart Lane, with Arsenal to come in a week’s time. In both the Carling Cup and FA Cup, Spurs put themselves in a strong position against Arsenal and Chelsea when holding a two goal lead but ultimately failed.

Jenas is quoted as saying he is tired of losing at the late stages of Cup competitions but here again against Sevilla, he along with numerous others failed to make an impression or any meaningful contribution. In last night’s game he was anonymous as he has been in previous games against the top clubs. Steed Malbranque never recovered from the horror of gifting Sevilla the early goal. Aaron Lennon couldn’t escape the clutches of the defenders appointed to mark him throughout and so ineffectual was he as an attacking threat that in the final moments of the game he was consigned to left back while Pascal Chimbonda moved forward as an extra attacker. Robbie Keane had one of those ‘running round in circles games’ which he frequently reserves for the top teams. For an hour of the biggest game of the season the players could not raise themselves from the lethargy that was so restricting their play - their control, their passing, everything let them down. The winning mentality that Martin Jol talks about so often, simply is not there in this squad of players.

What is the answer to Spurs problems? Well to answer in the honest words of Jamie Carragher when questioned after Liverpool’s two Cup defeats to Arsenal in early January – ‘We need better players.’

Once again much will be written and speculated on as the summer transfer window opens and action will be taken in an effort to rectify the wrongs of this current season. However, the actions of last summer may be saying more than words, about the current owners’ view of Tottenham Hotspur’s place in the football hierarchy. They took the money for Michael Carrick and that transfer has certainly strengthened the northern club while Spurs, although they may have shown improvement in their style of play in recent weeks, have done little to suggest they are closing the gap on the top clubs in the Premiership.

Logan Holmes.