Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tottenham V Shamrock Rovers Team News

Tottenham are expected to field a more experienced team for their first home match in the Europa League Group Stages.  To date, Harry Redknapp has used a combination of squad players and young players who have come through the youth system at Spurs.

Harry Redknapp has some senior players on their way back from injury and they may be used for the game against Shamrock Rovers.  Tottenham are looking to secure three points against the Dublin side to put pressure on Rubin Kazan who are the next visitors to White Hart Lane.

Aaron Lennon is now available after recovering from the injury sustained against Manchester City at the end of August.  He will some pace to the midfield and is always a handful for defenders.  The return of Danny Rose will also provide some options at left back while Steven Pieneer is also on his way back to fitness and may play some part in the game.

William Gallas has had a set-back and Tom Huddlestone requires an ankle operation.

Harry Redknapp who has used his younger players in the last two ties of the Europa League, to good effect, says that he will be fielding a stronger team tomorrow.  He will be wanting to avoid any slip-ups and ensure there's no 'giant-killing' act from Rovers.

Possible Team:                                                  Cudicini or Gomes
                                                               Corluka, Kaboul, Bassong, Rose
                                                           Lennon,        Carroll,     Livermore,   Townsend
                                                                       Pavlyuchenko     Kane
                  Subs:  Falque, Parrett, Fredericks, Pieneer, Giovani, 

I hope that Harry Kane gets an opportunity to start the game although Giovani dos Santos may start ahead of him.  If Roman Pavlychenko hasn't recovered from the injury which stopped him travelling to Wigan last weekend, I like to see Jermain Defoe play for an hour to support Kane.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tottenham's Joy of Winning the Cup 5 (1972)

Tottenham have enjoyed success in Europe and Bill Nicholson is quoted, "It's magnificent to be in Europe, and this club - a club like Tottenham Hotspur - if we're not in Europe, we're nothing." The UEFA Cup campaign of 1971-72 was a long and tiring road but ultimately successful.

Tottenham won the League Cup in 1971 by defeating Aston Villa at Wembley.  They qualified to play in the first UEFA Cup competition which replaced the old Inter Cities Fairs Cup.  This was Spurs' first appearance in a European competition for five years since a rather brief and disappointing foray in the European Cup Winners' Cup.

The UEFA Cup, like all European competitions of the time was knock-out tournament over two legs with the Final also played on a home and away basis.  Tottenham played twelve games, visiting four different countries en-route to the joy of winning the Cup.

1971-72 UEFA Cup Final
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2 (1st Leg)
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 (2nd Leg) 
                                                          [Tottenham Won 3 - 2 on aggregate]

Chivers the Inspiration for Tottenham

Martin Chivers
Martin Chivers showed all his power and goal scoring ability to give Tottenham the advantage in the first game at Molineux.  Captain, Alan Mullery, in what was to be his final match in a Spurs' shirt, scored the goal which ensured that Spurs became the first winners of the UEFA Cup and the first English team to win two European trophies.

Road to the Final:
1st Round (1st Leg) v Keflavik (Iceland) (a) Won 6 - 1 Mullery (2), Coates, Gilzean (3)
The anticipated routine win for Spurs with the main interest surrounding Ralph Coates who scored his first goal for Spurs since signing from Burnley during the summer.  The match was also significant as the only occasion when a young Graeme Souness played for Tottenham.  An exciting prospect in the mould of the great Dave Mackay, he came on as a substitute for Mullery.  Impatient for a place in the senior team Bill Nicholson reluctantly sold him to Middlesbrough in January, 1973.

1st Round (2nd Leg) v Keflavik (h) Won 9 - 0   
                                 Knowles, Coates, Perryman, Chivers (3), Holder, Gilzean (2)  (Agg. Won 15 - 1)
A full strength team played in the second game at White Hart Lane and gave Spurs an their highest ever aggregate success in European football.

2nd Round (1st Leg) v FC Nantes (France) (a) Draw 0 - 0
A much more difficult match saw Spurs relieved to return home with the tie in the balance but with home advantage in the next match making them slight favourites.

2nd Round (2nd Leg) v FC Nantes (h) Won 1 - 0 Peters  (Agg. Won 1 - 0)
In a close encounter Martin Peters scored the all important goal in what was a very tense, nervy evening for everyone at White Hart Lane.

3rd Round (1st Leg) v Rapid Bucharest (Romania) (h) Won 3 - 0 Chivers (2), Peters
An early goal set Spurs up to take a three goal advantage to Romania thanks to the two Martins whose understanding and link up play along with Alan Gilzean was a feature of the season. 

3rd Round (2nd Leg) v Rapid Bucharest (a) Won 2 - 0 Chivers, Pearce  (Agg. Won 5 - 0)
On paper, this result looks quite straightforward but Spurs had to deal with some of the most robust tackling and tactics that they had ever met in European football.  For the players, it was the survival of the fittest, many finishing the game with knocks and bruises, leaving Bill Nicholson so infuriated that he branded Rapid as the dirtiest team he had ever experienced.  Chivers and substitute, Jimmy Pearce scored.  Pearce replaced the injured Gilzean but was only on the pitch for  twelve minutes, just long enough to come on, score the first goal and get sent off.

4th Round (1st leg) v UT Arad (Romania) (a) Won 2 - 0 England, Morgan
After the previous round, the last thing Spurs wanted was a return trip to Romania but this time they recorded an uneventful but comfortable win with goals from Mike England and Roger Morgan who was trying to come back after being out through injury for eighteen months. 

4th Round (2nd Leg) v UT Arad (h) Draw 1 - 1 Gilzean  (Agg. Won 3 - 1)
The draw provided Spurs with a comfortable passage into the semi-finals - Gilzean getting the goal.

Semi-Final (1st Leg) v AC Milan (Italy) (h) Won 2 - 0 Perryman (2)
Alan Mullery and Steve Perryman were the names which made the headlines from this game.  Mullery had been out with injury earlier in the season and when fit had been unable to displace John Pratt.  Wanting to be playing he asked to go out on loan and joined Fulham.  However, an injury to Pratt just before the semi-final saw Nicholson unexpectedly recall his captain and instal him in the team.  

Steve Perryman produced a man of the match performance to give Spurs a slender advantage going into the second leg.  Spurs found themselves a goal down early on and being outplayed by the experienced Italian team.  Perryman showed industry and endeavour to drag Spurs back into the game, scoring from the edge of the box just before half-time and then repeated the exercise late in the second half.

Semi-Final (2nd Leg) v AC Milan (a) Draw 1 - 1 Mullery  (Agg. Won 3 - 2)
Spurs withstood Milan's expected early onslaught and on seven minutes mounted an attack from which Mullery scored.  Mullery was the inspiration as they then defended as if for their lives and although Milan scored with a penalty twenty minutes from time, they held out to reach the Final.

Final (1st Leg) v Wolverhampton Wanderers (a) Won 2 - 1 Chivers (2)
Tottenham's season started with a League game against Wolves and there was some disappointment that it was going to end there against an English team rather than in a glamorous European setting.  It was Martin Chivers and Pat Jennings who inspired Tottenham to grab the first leg initiative.  Jennings produced a series of outstanding saves to foil Wolves while Chivers scored two goals of amazing quality.  The first was a powerful header and although Wolves levelled, he then scored a late winner with a ferocious shot following a powerful run from halfway.

Final (2nd Leg) v Wolverhampton Wanderers (h) Draw 1 - 1 Mullery  (Agg. Won 3 - 2)
Alan Mullery played a captain's part in this game and led by example, putting Spurs ahead after half an hour, injuring himself as he dived to meet Peters' free-kick.  Wolves battled back to equalise before half-time but Spurs held on, exhausted after playing 68 matches during the season.  It was a night of triumph for Mullery - to score and lift the trophy in his last game for Tottenham.  During the summer he was transferred to Fulham.  Bill Nicholson was so disappointed with Tottenham's performance that he first went to commiserate with the Wolves players.

1972 UEFA Cup Winners - Tottenham Hotspur
At the end of a long, exhausting season Spurs had won a trophy - they missed out in returning to Wembley in the League Cup when Chelsea scored a very late equaliser, they lost in the 6th Round of the FA Cup to eventual winners Leeds United and finished 6th in the League.  A second European triumph was added to those 'Glory, Glory Nights' at White Hart Lane.


Tottenham v Shamrock Rovers Europa League Preview

A first meeting between Spurs and Shamrock Rovers at White Hart Lane on Thursday evening in the second Group stage match of the Europa League.  Tottenham will be looking for their first win in the competition following a draw in Greece two weeks ago.

Tottenham Look to Shatter the Rovers' Dream

On qualifying for the Group stages of the Europa League, the Shamrock Rovers' manager, Michael O'Neill, had only one team in mind for his ideal draw - Tottenham Hotspur.  This game at White Hart Lane and the return in Dublin in December will be 'living the dream' for everyone involved with Shamrock Rovers.  It is their opportunity to play on the big stage, in front of the television cameras and they will give it everything to make it a memorable evening for the 4,000 Rovers fans who are crossing the Irish Sea.  There will be considerable support in the ground for Rovers with many Irish people who now live in England being drawn to the game.

Michael O'Neill has done a remarkable job at Shamrock Rovers since taking over in 2008.  Both he and his assistant, Jim Magilton have considerable experience as players at the highest level and O'Neill has managed in Scotland while Magilton managed both Ipswich Town and Queen's Park Rangers.  The team will be well prepared and O'Neill has called for great concentration from his players to help then deal with the occasion.  He has also signed four players to strengthen his squad since reaching the group stages, including Jim Patterson who has experience in Scotland with Dundee United and has played for Plymouth Argyle.  Rohan Ricketts has also joined and since leaving Tottenham in 2005 for Wolverhampton Wanderers he has played for numerous clubs in a number of different countries.

European Competitions
On two previous occasions Spurs have faced opponents from the League of Ireland in European competition.  In 1981-82 in the Cup Winners' Cup, Tottenham overcame Dundalk 2 - 1 on aggregate.  They were relieved to leave Ireland with a 1 - 1 draw and won the home leg by a single goal from Garth Crooks who scored both Spurs goals in the tie.

Two years later it was so much easier as Spurs won the away game against Drogheda United by six goals, Gary Mabbutt (2), Mark Falco (2), Tony Galvin and Garth Crooks scoring.  The return game was a formality but a full strength team was fielded at White Hart Lane and scored eight without reply for a 14 - 0 aggregate win.  Chris Hughton, Graham Roberts (2), Steve Archibald, Mark Falco (2) and Alan Brazil (2) getting on the scoresheet.

Friendly Matches
Other meetings with teams from Ireland have usually been games played as part of preparations for a new season.  For a number of years Tottenham were regular visitors where they have a large following and in the late 1980s/early 1990s Terry Venables liked to take his team to Ireland to play their first couple of pre-season games.

Ardiles and Villa
Aug. 1978 v Bohemians Won 4 - 0  Hoddle, Armstrong, Moores, Taylor
This match was one of the early games in which Spurs two new signings played - Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa.  Their presence in the match added to the anticipation of the local supporters.
Aug. 1981 v Limerick Won 6 - 2  Archibald, Hoddle (4), Falco
FA Cup holders, Tottenham paraded the trophy around the ground prior to kick-off.
July, 1989 v Bohemians Won 2 - 0  Stewart, Walsh
                 v Cork City Won 3 - 0 Mabbutt, Gascoigne, Lineker
Aug. 1990 v Shelbourne Won 3 - 0 Gascoigne (2), Lineker
July, 1993 v Shelbourne XI Won 4 - 2 Barmby, Sheringham, Turner, Opp. o.g.
                 v Drogheda United Won 3 - 1 Anderton, Sheringham (2)
Oct. 1988 v Home Farm Won 4 - 0 Fenwick(p), Howells, Stewart, Opp.o.g.
Aug. 1994 v Shelbourne Won 1 - 0 Klinsmann
Having signed for Spurs, Jurgen Klinsmann made his debut a few days earlier at Watford and scored his first goal of a memorable season in Ireland.
Mar. 2002 v Bohemians Lost 1 - 3 Doherty

Rohan Ricketts
Rohan Ricketts
Rohan Ricketts is a former Tottenham player and probably the only 'known' name in the squad made up mainly of players who have played most of their football in Ireland.  O'Neill has brought in some experienced players from Scotland, using his knowledge of the Scottish game to good effect.  Ricketts started in the Arsenal youth system but moved to Tottenham in 2002 having made one appearance in the League Cup.

In season 2003-04, he became a regular member of the team under Glenn Hoddle.  He made 28 League and Cup appearances, scoring twice.  The following season he made only 6 appearances after the sacking of Hoddle and after a time out on loan he joined Wolves in 2005.  After two years there he went to Barnsley and moved on the following year to Toronto FC.  After a good first season he fell out of favour with the arrival of home-grown players so he left to play in Hungary, Moldova and Germany.  In his travels he has expereinced many difficulties but is hoping that his spell with Rovers will be an opportunity to show that he is still capable of playing in English football.

He has made an impressive start with Rovers, creating the two goals on his debut at the beginning of September and scoring his first goal last weekend against Bray Wanderers.

Tottenham will turn to their squad and young players for this game with the North London derby looming on Sunday.  The young players have shown excellent ability and application in the games they've played so far, the  one thing lacking has been goals - three scoreless draws against Hearts, PAOK Salonika and Stoke.  If Roman Pavlyuchenko doesn't recover from the injury which caused him to miss the game at Wigan, Jermain Defoe may be called upon to play alongside Harry Kane.  Otherwise the team will be made up of the players who didn't play at the weekend.

Harry Redknapp has put a lot of faith in the youngsters for the Europa League so that the senior players can sit out the mid-week games and be fully prepared for the Premier League challenges.  He needs them to find a goal scoring touch as he is relying on winning at home to ensure qualification for the knock-out stages in 2012.  Shamrock Rovers are the weakest team in the group so Tottenham will be looking for a commanding performance and goals to ease their passage to the next stage.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Shamrock Rovers Coming to White Hart Lane

Tottenham's second Europa League game in the Group stages pits them against League of Ireland Champions, Shamrock Rovers.  This will be the third time that Spurs have met opposition from the Republic of Ireland in a European competition but the first time that they have played against the Dublin side.

Europa League: Tottenham v  Shamrock Rovers

Shamrock Rovers are the first team from the Irish Republic to reach the Group stage in any European competition.  They reached this stage of the Europa League through qualification for the Champions League and defeated Flora of Estonia in the 2nd Qualifying Round.  a 1 - 0 win at their Tallaght Stadium in Dublin was followed by a scoreless draw in the away leg.  In the next round they faced Kobenhavn (Denmark) but lost both matches to be eliminated 0 - 3 on aggregate.  They lost by a single goal in the first leg in Copenhagen and were defeated by two goals at home.

They dropped into the Europa League and a tough draw against experienced side, Partizan Belgrade.  the first match ended 1 - 1 in Dublin but a magnificent performance in the second leg saw Rovers come from behind to qualify, after extra time, for the Group stages with a 3 - 2 aggregate win.  They were a goal down at half-time in Belgrade but full-back Pat Sullivan equalised early in the second half.  The game went to extra time and with seven minutes remaining Stephen O'Donnell scored the historic winner.

Their first Group A match was at home to Rubin Kazan.  A goal from Obafemi Martins after three minutes gave Rubin the initiative which they held throughout.  Ryan Thompson saved a first half penalty but Rubin scored twice inside the first fifteen minutes of the second half.  Immediately after the third goal, Rovers missed a penalty, the hero of the previous round, O'Donnell, being the culprit when his penalty was saved.  Rohan Ricketts, formerly of Spurs, who signed for Rovers at the end of the transfer window played in the match, having made his debut at the beginning of September in the away win at Dundalk.

The League of Ireland started in February and runs through to the end of October with Shamrock Rovers currently in second place, level with leaders, Sligo Rovers, but with one game in hand.  They won on Sunday, a convincing 5 - 2 home win over Bray Wanderers.  Coming from a goal down, Ricketts scored his first goal for the club with Gary McCabe scoring two and the others coming from Ronan Finn and Gary Twigg.

Shamrock Rovers are managed by Michael O'Neill who played for Newcastle United at the same time as Paul Gascoigne.  He also played for Dundee United, Hibernian and Wigan Athletic.  He was a Northern Ireland international winning 33 caps.  When he retired he turned to management at Brechin City and went to Shamrock Rovers in 2008.

The assistant manager is Jim Magilton who made 52 appearances for Northern Ireland and played for Oxford United, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town.  He has management experience at Ipswich and Q.P.R.

Most of the Shamrock Rovers squad are from the Airtricity League although some have had experience in both Scotland or England and some were juniors with English clubs.  Ricketts is one of four new signings made after qualifying for the Europa League group stages.

Goal keeper, Ryan Thompson is a Jamaican international who has played in America.
Jim Patterson is an experienced defender who has played for Dundee United and Plymouth Argyle.  Defender, Craig Sives has played for a number of Scottish clubs.
Striker, Gary Twigg joined O'Neill at Shamrock Rovers from his former club Brechin City.
Conor McCormick was an apprentice at Old  Trafford before going to Italy.
Stephen O'Donnell was at Arsenal before going to clubs in Scotland.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Alan Hutton Critical of Harry Redknapp

Alan Hutton has spoken out about his time at Tottenham and his sense of feeling unwanted.  His criticism is contrary to how the general public regard Harry Redknapp who is lauded for his man-management skills and his ability to bring out the best in his players.

Alan Hutton
Alan Hutton is a player for whom Tottenham made a number of approaches before finally signing him from Glasgow Rrangers in January, 2008 for £9 million.  The player had twiced turned down the opportunity to move to London but Juande Ramos was eager to sign him and he went into the team immediately and after two games was picking up a winners medal at Wembley as Spurs defeated Chelsea in the Carling Cup Final.

Hutton is a strong running, attacking full-back who has won 21 caps for Scotland.  His time at Spurs has been interrupted by injury but the arrival of Vedran Corluka provided competition for the right back position and Hutton became the back-up.  In February, 2010 he went on loan to Sunderland but returned to Spurs in the summer, although it was widely thought that he would leave the club.  However, during the early part of the next season, he had a time in the team and scored two goals but a poor performance in the FA Cup defeat at Fulham saw him dropped from the team.  He started only one more game in the final months of the season and at the end of August he joined Aston Villa where he was re-united with his former Rangers manager, Alex McLeish.

Competition for Places
There was much competition for the right back spot in the Tottenham team. As well as Hutton and Corluka, Spurs had Pascal Chimbonda, Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton, Chris Gunter and Younes Kaboul who could play there as well.

Hutton complained that Harry Redknapp didn't communicate with him, made him train with the youth players and of feeling unwanted.  He indicated that there were other players at the club who were in a similar position.  Hutton has been a player on the fringe of the club for some time and was obviously surplus to requirement.  This greatly affected his confidence and ability to play.

Hutton's opinion of Harry Redknapp is different from the widely held view of him as a manager who will encourage a player and put a caring arm around them in times of difficulty.  Redknapp is lauded for his man-management skills and is regarded as a manager who could lift and inspire the England team in a way that previous managers have been unable to do.  Fabio Capello is frequently criticised for not understanding the players and it is to Redknapp that many expect the Football Association to turn when the current manger's contract expires in next summer.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wigan Athletic 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2

Nine-man Wigan make Spurs Fight for Win

Going into this game Tottenham were looking for their third successive win in the Premier League while Wigan were trying to end their two game losing sequence.  The match at Wigan would be a test of Tottenham's new found resolve and if it would stand up to battling it out against a team in the lower regions of the League.

                             Wigan Athletic 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2
                    Scorers:    Diame                 Van der Vaart, Bale

Team: Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto; Modric, Parker, Sandro (Livermore), Bale; Van der Vaart (Giovani), Adebayor  Subs (unused): Cuducini, Carroll, Townsend, Bassong, Corluka

The Spurs' team showed two changes from the side which started against Liverpool - a late withdrawal by Jermaine Defoe due to a virus and the continued absence of Niko Kranjcar through injury saw Rafael Van der Vaart and Sandro return to starting line-up.

Spurs began brightly and were ahead after three minutes when Wigan gave the ball away to Emmanuel Adebayor who progressed into the penalty area and played the ball across to Van der Vaart who smashed the it into the roof of the net.  It was the perfect start for Spurs and they continued in a similar vein throughout the first half.

Bale scored and was a constant threat
The second goal came twenty minutes later when Gareth Bale met a Luka Modric corner and powerfully glanced the ball past the Wigan keeper.  It was all to easy for Spurs with Bale a constant threat with his pacy running.  He had a shot saved and then almost repeated his goal from another Modric corner.  In the final minutes of the half a Bale cross was powered over by Adebayor.  Tottenham's passing and movement in the first half had been excellent with both Adebayor and Van der Vaart creating space by dropping into midfield to collect the ball.

At half-time Wigan made changes to the shape of their team and were much more competitive and allowed Spurs less time on the ball.  This pressure worked in their favour and within five minutes they had pulled a goal back.  Poor defending by Spurs led to the goal as under pressure Benoit Assou-Ekotto had an attempted pass blocked, the ball went up into the air and was flicked back towards the goal by Ledley King and as it fell Younes Kaboul couldn't get a foot in to clear, allowing Mohamed Diame to score.

This encouraged Wigan and they increased the pressure on Spurs who were not as composed as in the first half and were stretched in their defensive work, just relieved to get the ball clear.  As it looked as if Wigan would get a second, a second yellow card for Steve Gohouri for another foul on Bale reduced them to ten men and eased the threat on Tottenham.

Against ten men Spurs were able to pass the ball around while Wigan looked to hit them on the break with the long ball which the Spurs defence didn't cope with comfortably.  Kaboul could have put the game beyond the home side on three occasions - he saw a header from a Van der Vaart corner go just over the bar, his shot from a free-kick was deflected onto the bar and from the resulting corner taken by Bale he headed wide.  Being only a goal behind gave Wigan hope and a long range shot almost caught Brad Friedel off his line but he recovered to collect easily.  The final minutes remained nervy for Tottenham as any slip would have let Wigan in but the home team's lack of control at the crucial pass saw them spurn opportunities to level.

At half-time, it looked as if Spurs would have a comfortable afternoon, but a revitalised Wigan made them work hard for the three points which have taken Spurs to sixth in the Premier League with a match in hand.  Next up in the Premier League are near neighbours, Arsenal, at White Hart Lane.  The squad players and youngsters will presumably have another game in the spotlight against Shamrock Rovers in the Europa League on Thursday evening.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Tottenham - A Winning Mentality

Do Spurs have that desire to win at any cost which the top clubs possess?  Those clubs have players who don't know what it is to be beaten and when they are, they don't like it.  That makes them stand out from all the other clubs around them but do the players at Tottenham have that same desire and winning mentality?

Is Scott Parker a Leader for Spurs?
Tottenham have always been regarded as a soft touch - a team who won't perform on a cold wet night in the north west.  Players will go missing and won't take responsibility when the going gets tough.  Do the current players have the desire to turn such opinions around?

Last year the team managed to gain 22 points from losing positions but they gained only 11 points out of a possible thirty from the bottom five teams in the Premier League which affected their final position dramatically.

The team has won their last two Premier League games but went out of the Carling Cup on penalties at Stoke.  The weakened team contained eight international players but they were unable to score in two hours of football and when it came to penalties their defeat was the sixth consecutive penalty shoot-out loss. When it came to the pressure of the shoot-out, it was an international striker, Roman Pavlyuchenko, who missed a crucial early strike so transferring the pressure to other less experienced players.  Similarly, the defeats in the Carling Cup Final and UEFA Cup match against PSV Eindhoven saw seasoned Premier League players with international experience miss vital kicks at a crucial time in the shoot-out, David Bentley and Jermaine Jenas.

Top teams regularly play under-strength sides in the early rounds of the domestic Cup competitions and have progressed to the latter stages, even going on to lift the Cup.  Tottenham's squad players aided by some talented youngsters weren't able to produce a similar result this week.

The victory at Wolves suggested greater application from the team against opposition who have proved difficult opponents since returning to the Premier League.  The win over Liverpool was pleasing in the energy that the players showed from the start taking the game to their visitors and not giving them a chance to control the game.  The four goal success was their largest win over Liverpool since 1963, so we shouldn't be too critical. However, the one question that has lingered in my mind since last Sunday is - should it have been more?

If things had been the other way round - Spurs at Anfield, reduced to nine men and three down with twenty five minutes remaining, would Liverpool have settled for four?  I suggest that they would have gone for the jugular and it would have been an even greater embarrassment than Liverpool felt last weekend.  Manchester United didn't settle for 5 - 1 or 6 - 2 against Arsenal they went for it and left the visitors totally shell-shocked.  Spurs, however, having gone three up and with Liverpool offering nothing, settled for playing 'keep ball' with pass after pass in midfield, not looking to create anything and Liverpool were content to let them do that as they weren't under any threat.  A team  with a winning mentality would have benn looking to create more chances, score more goals and make their opponents really suffer, as frequently happens to Spurs.  As it was Tottenham's fourth goal didn't come until the last kick of added time with Emmanuel Adebayor putting away Benoit Assou-Ekotto's cross.

Successful teams have players who lead by example and never know when they're beaten.  Steven Gerrard is the perfect example of that special type of player when he is wearing the 'red' of Liverpool.  He has pulled them through many 'lost' causes to success and they have an outstanding penalty-shoot record in vital European and Cup games.  Last season's defeat to Northampton Town at Anfield when Tottenham's Oscar Janssen was in goal for the visitors was an amazing 'blip' on an incredible record.  Manchester United had Roy Keane and Brian Robson who led by example, Livwerpool also had former Spur, Graeme Souness, but it is some time since Spurs had such a player in the team.

Graham Robers - a Leader
The most notable example is Dave Mackay from the 1960s with Graham Roberts and Paul Miller created from the same mould.  In Tottenham's UEFA Cup Final success in 1984, Roberts scored the equalising goal against Anderlecht and then led by example as captain on the night, by scoring the first penalty in the successful shoot-out.  Alan Mullery and Steve Perryman had similar qualities and were prepared to roll up their sleeves and get on with it when the going was difficult.  Who of recent Tottenham experience has had such a presence in the team?  William Gallas is certainly a 'winner' who doesn't take kindly to losing and on a number of occasions last year he showed that spirit when battling on with minor knocks and injuries bandaged or strapped up, rather than be substituted.

Harry Redknapp has often lamented the lack of a player with such character and qualities and the experience of Scott Parker was something that the manager felt would be of benefit to the current team.  A player prepared to fight for the right to play and not afraid to battle when things get tough.  He showed such leadership qualities while battling with West Ham last season.

The match against Wigan won't provide any conclusive answers but a defeat would further strengthen the argument that the Spurs players still lack a winning mentality while success would provide an indication that they might just be moving away from that 'soft' Londoners tag.


Wigan Athletic v Tottenham Hotspur Preview

Spurs Look to Improve on Last Season

Last season Tottenham's record against teams at the wrong end of the Premier League was disappointing and ultimately cost them the chance of securing a second Champions League campaign.  The opportunity to improve starts against Wigan and is essential if Tottenham are going to make any significant challenge this year.

With no disrespect to Wigan Athletic, it was results against teams like them that were the root cause of Tottenham failing to secure a Champions League place.  Last year the two matches yielded just one point.  In August, 2010 Wigan caused an upset by winning at White Hart Lane, their single goal victory coming just days after Spurs had secured their place in the group stages of the Champions League with a four goal success over Young Boys, Berne.  Wigan were the only team to take three points at White Hart Lane and the result was even more surprising as they had lost heavily in their opening two games of the season. The return game was a dour goal-less struggle in April when Spurs  had lost form and Wigan were battling relegation.  This struggle went on to the final day of the season but Wigan held on to their Premier League place for a sixth successive season.

Tottenham have recovered from a poor start with successive victories at Wolves and 4 - 0 over Liverpool last weekend.  Although losing in mid-week with a weakened team in the Carling Cup at Stoke, they will be looking to continue on the winning trail in the Premier League at Wigan and Harry Redknapp will turn to his strongest team for this match.  He will be hoping that Ledley King will be fit to play his third successive League game, while William Gallas is returning to fitness having played for the Spurs XI earlier in the week.  The decision of fitting Rafael Van der Vaart into the team will become an issue again if Niko Kranjcar is fit after going off at half-time against Liverpool.  Van der Vaart recovered from injury sooner than expected and was on the bench last weekend before replacing Kranjcar.  He then played at Stoke for over an hour and will be looking to start at Wigan.  Jermain Defoe has scored in the last two League games and Emmanuel Adebayor has three goals from his first two appearances for Spurs.  Fitting all of them into the team will be depend on the manager's decision on formation and whether he can play Van der Vaart as part of a midfield four - wide on the right but free to roam.

Wigan's season opened with three games against the promoted teams - they drew with Norwich and at Swansea before defeating QPR 2 - 0 at home.  They have now lost twice, away to both Manchester City (0 - 3) and Everton (1 - 3).  They went out of the Carling  Cup defeated 1 - 2 at Crystal Palace.  Last weekend's defeat at Everton also saw them lose their striker, Hugo Rodallega, through injury which will keep him out for three months.  Three of their four League goals have been scored by Franco Di Santo whom they signed from Chelsea for £2 million in August, 2010.  However, prior to this season, in over 50 League games the young Argentine striker had only managed two goals.

Previous Results:
Apr. 2011 PL (a) Draw 0 - 0
Aug. 2010 PL (h) Lost 0 - 1
Feb. 2010 PL (a) Won 3 - 0 Defoe, Pavlyuchenko (2)
Nov. 2009 PL (h) Won 9 - 1 Defoe (5), Crouch, Lennon, Kranjcar, Bentley
Jan. 2009 PL (a) Lost 0 - 1
Jan. 2009 FA Cup (3rdR) (h) Won 3 - 1 Pavlyuchenko (2, (1pen), Modric
Sept. 2008 PL (h) Draw 0 - 0
Apr. 2008 PL (a) Draw 1 - 1 Berbatov
Nov. 2007 PL (h) Won 4 - 0 Jenas (2), Lennon, Bent
Apr. 2007 PL (a) Draw 3 - 3 Keane (2, (1pen)) Berbatov
Nov. 2006 PL (h) Won 3 - 1 Berbatov, Defoe, Lennon
Feb. 2006 PL (h) Draw 2 - 2 Mido, Defoe
Nov. 2005 PL (a) Won 2 - 1 Keane, Davids

Memorable Matches:
The 9 - 1 mauling at White Hart Lane will never be forgotten, only a goal ahead at he interval through an early Crouch header, Wigan totally collapsed in the second half.  Two early second half goals set Spurs up but Wigan pulled one back although it should have been disallowed for handball.  Spurs seemed aggrieved at that decision and it seemed to spur them into action.  Defoe completed his hat-trick in seven minutes and went on to get five.  Aaron Lennon scored and Bentley and Kranjcar added two late strikes.

The first ever match between the two sides was the Premier League game in 2005.  It is notable for the first, and only, goal scored for Spurs by the Dutch master, Edgar Davids, which ensured the victory.

He Played for Both Clubs:
Wilson Palacios who joined Stoke in August for £6 million came from Wigan in January, 2009 for £12 million. 

Pascal Chimbonda also signed from Wigan for £4.5 million in the summer of 2006.  He was a member of the Carling Cup winning team in 2008.   He left for Sunderland in July, 2008 but returned to Spurs the following January.

Tottenham will be hoping to continue on their winning ways in League matches so as they don't continue to inhabit the lower regions of the table.  Having played one match less than everyone else and starting with defeats to the two Manchester sides means they are constantly lagging behind in the table and any further losses will damage their prospects of a top finish.  This situation will continue for some time as there is no imminent date available to play their outstanding game against Everton.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tottenham's Penalty Shoot-out Record

Spurs' poor record in penalty shoot-out deciders continued with their Carling Cup exit against Stoke City. They have now lost their last six attempts at this footballing lottery, not having won since overcoming Peterborough United in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup in 1994.  It was ten years earlier that the won their only other penalty decider, a memorable European night at White Hart Lane, against Anderlecht in the UEFA Cup Final. 

FA Cup and Carling Cup ties used to turn into marathon tests of endurance with replay after replay until one team came out on top.  In season 1952-53 it took three games in the FA Cup 6th Round for Spurs to overcome Birmingham City with a goal from Sonny Walters at the neutral venue of Villa Park.  In Spurs successful League Cup run in 1972-73 they had to play Middlesbrough three times before winning 2 - 1 after extra time in the 3rd Round.  Two days later they defeated Millwall in the next round.  It was a hectic schedule for players in those days.

Now to avoid fixture congestion, the Carling Cup ties are decided on the night with extra time and penalties if necessary while the FA Cup continues to have one replay before resorting to extra time and penalties.  European knock-out ties also go to penalties if the away goals rule doesn't produce a winner.

Tottenham's first two experiences of this nerve-wracking form of football torture were enjoyable because they came away victorious but the next six have produced deep disappointment due to defeat.

UEFA Cup Success - Tony Parks, the Super Hero
23rd May, 1984 v Anderlecht [UEFA Cup Final (2nd Leg)]  Draw 1 - 1 

1984 UEFA Cup Winners
Coming to the game all square at 1 - 1 after the away leg Spurs found themselves a goal down and it took an equaliser from stand-in captain Graham Robers to take the game to extra time and penalties.  Roberts led by example scoring the first penalty and Tony Parks saved the first Anderlecht penalty.  Mark Falco, Gary Stevens and Steve Archibald all scored as did the Anderlecht players.  At 4-3 in Spurs' favour, Danny Thomas saw his shot saved.  The next man for Anderlecht was Arnor Gudjohnsen, father of Eidur, who had replaced Frank Arnesen. Parks dived to his right to save and then set off in celebration around White Hart Lane.

In what was Keith Burkinshaw's last game as manager, Tottenham were without Captain, Steve Perryman, suspended, Glenn Hoddle, injured, while Ossie Ardiles was only able to play a bit part due to injury.
Team: Parks; Thomas, Roberts, Miller (Ardiles), Hughton; Hazard, Mabbutt (Dick), Stevens, Galvin; Falco, Archibald

Jan. 1994 FA Cup 3rd Round Replay
v Peterborough United (h) Draw 1 - 1 (aet)  Barmby  (Won 5 - 4 on penalties)

Ian Walker
Having earned a replay with a late Jason Dozzell goal Spurs found Peterborough more difficult than expected.  Nicky Barmby put them ahead but United levelled and took the game to extra time and penalties.  Spurs scored all five penalties - Barmby, Darren Caskey, David Kerslake, Darren Anderton and Steve Sedgley being successful.  Ian Walker proved the hero by saving the fourth Peterborough penalty.

Mar. 1996 FA Cup 5th Round Replay
v Nottingham Forest (h) Draw 1 - 1 aet Sheringham  (Lost 1 - 3 on penalties)

This was the third match in this contest, the first in Nottingham having to be abandoned after fourteen minutes due to snow.  At the second time of asking the teams drew 2 - 2 with Chris Armstrong scoring twice.  The replay then had to be played on 6th Round day and Forest took the lead inside ten minutes. Teddy Sheringham equalised direct from a free-kick before half-time.  In extra time Spurs had a shot cleared off the line and also hit a post so penalties were required to decide the tie.  Ruel Fox was the only successful taker for Spurs while Forest goalkeeper, Mark Crossley who had saved a penalty from Gary Lineker in the 1991 FA Cup Final, saved three from Clive Wilson, Ronny Rosenthal and finally Sheringham.  Forest scored three from four to progress.

Dec. 2003 Carling Cup 5th Round
v Middlesbrough (h) Draw 1 - 1 aet Anderton  (Lost 4 - 5 on penalties)

Darren Anderton put Spurs ahead after two minutes but what had looked to be a sweet evening for Tottenham turned sour four minutes from the end with a Boro equaliser.  It was to become even more bitter when penalties were taken.  Both teams scored their first three penalties, Robbie Keane, Stephen Carr and Paul Konchesky for Spurs.  Gus Poyet missed and Boro took the lead.  Freddie Kanoute scored but Kasey Keller denied Boro.  At 4 - 4 Mauricio Taricco sent the goalkeeper the wrong way but saw his shot hit the post.  Middlesbrough scored from their next penalty.  Even more annoying for Tottenham supporters was the news that they had missed out on a two-legged semi-final against Arsenal.
Full Match Report

Dec. 2004 Carling Cup 5th Round
v Liverpool (h) Draw 1 - 1 aet Defoe (Lost 3 - 4 on penalties)

Scoreless after ninety minutes, Jermain Defoe scored for Spurs twelve with minutes remaining in extra time.  A semi-final spot seemed secure until three minutes fro the end Kanoute needlessly handled from a Liverpool corner to concede a penalty.  Liverpool equalised and the game went to penalties.  Defoe and Michael Carrick scored the first two penalties for Spurs and Liverpool matched them.  Kanote's night got worse as his penalty was saved.  Paul Robinson pulled off a save to deny Liverpool but Michael Brown shot over the bar.  Liverpool went ahead but Reto Ziegler levelled but Liverpool their fourth to deny Spurs.
Full Match Report

Mar. 2008 UEFA Cup Round of 16 (2nd Leg)
v PSV Eindhoven (a) Won 1 - 0 aet Berbatov (Lost 5 - 6 on penalties)

Gomes - PSV's hero
Having lost the first leg at home by a single goal Spurs did well to turn the tie round and win in Holland with a Dimitar Berbatov goal.  Heurelho Gomes was in goal for PSV and it was his performance that denied Spurs an outright victory by tipping over a header from Darren Bent to take the game to extra time and ensuring penalties with a save from Steed Malbranque in the dying minutes of extra time.

The opening penalties were scored by both sides, Berbatov dispatching his for Spurs.  Robinson then gave Tottenham the advantage saving the next PSV penalty and Jamie O'Hara, Tom Huddlestone and Darren Bent all scored. With one shot to win, Jermaine Jenas hit his penalty to the goalkeeper's left but at a comfortable height allowing Gomes to make the save.  PSV levelled, Didier Zokora's penalty was matched by PSV but Pascal Chimbonda put his wide giving the home the scent of victory which they took.
Full Match Report

Mar. 2009 Carling Cup Final
v Manchester United (Wembley) Draw 0 - 0 aet (Lost 1 - 4 on penalties)

Looking to retain the Carling Cup Harry Redknapp's team found themselves under early pressure but gradually came into the game and United had their goalkeeper, Ben Foster, to thank for keeping them in the game.  Both teams had chances to win the game but didn't take them and the game ended in stalemate with penalties required.  United went ahead but substitute Jamie O'Hara's shot was saved, United added another while Vedran Corluka got Spurs first.  United scored but David Bentley put his wide and United put their fourth away to claim the trophy and compound Tottenham's misery.
Full Match Report

Sept. 2011 Carling Cup 3rd Round
v Stoke City (a) Draw 0 - 0 aet (Lost 6 - 7 on penalties)

Both clubs fielded weakened teams as the Carling Cup was not as high a priority as either the Premier League or European competition.  In a dull match neither side could score, Tottenham's best period coming either side of half-time, so the match was resolved with penalties.  Stoke went ahead and Defoe levelled only for Stoke to hit the bar but Roman Pavlyuchenko missed the target, denying Spurs the chance to snatch the advantage.  The next five penalties were all scored by both sides - Andros Townsend, Corluka, Younes Kaboul, Jake Livermore and Tom Carroll all finding the net to make it 6 - 6 (Stoke's scorers included former Spurs, Peter Crouch and Matthew Etherington). Stoke took the lead and Spurs were beaten when eighteen year old debutant, Massimo Luongo had his shot saved.  A difficult experience for a young player as Spurs' pain of penalty shoot-outs continues.
Match Report

Research for this article was aided by the excellent match reports on the Spurs Odyssey web-site.


Stoke 0 Tottenham 0 (aet) (Spurs Lost 6-7 on pens)

Carling Cup Exit on Penalties for Spurs

Stoke and Tottenham made numerous changes for this game but neither side could find a goal so at the end of 120 minutes it went to penalties.  Both sides missed early on but then it progressed to 6-6 until Tottenham debutant had his shot saved and Tottenham were out.  The harsh reality of Cup football for a young player.

Team: Gomes; Corluka, Kaboul, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Carroll, Sandro (Luongo), Livermore, Giovani (Townsend); Van der Vaart (Defoe), Pavlyuchenko. Subs: Cudicini, Kane, Cabalios, Falque

Gomes returned for Carling Cup
The Tottenham team contained only two of Sunday's starting line-up - Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, while Heurelho Gomes returned for his first game since playing at Hearts in the Europa League.  Sandro made his first appearance following his return from injury and Tom Carroll had the opportunity of further experience with another full game.  Stoke had former players, Wilson Palacios and Matthew Etherington in their starting line-up, while Peter Crouch was among the substitutes.

This match between two sides who have had a busy opening schedule this season, never reached any great heights but was an opportunity for some of the squad players to get match practice.  Stoke started the better and Crouch made an early appearance following an injury to Jones.  Tottenham withstood Stoke's high approach and came more into the game before and after half-time.  However, neither side created many goal scoring opportunities.

Gomes had a few difficult moments but the game went into extra time and then penalties.  Tottenham have a poor record in this and so it proved again as they exited the competition at the 3rd Round stage for the second consecutive season.

Penalty Shoot-Out
Stoke 1 - 0
1 - 1 Defoe
Stoke miss - hit bar
Tottenham miss - Pavlyuchenko (missed target)
Stoke 2 - 1
2 - 2 Townsend
Stoke 3 - 1
3 - 3 Corluka
Stoke 4 - 3 (Crouch)
4 - 4 Kaboul
Stoke 5 - 4 (Etherington)
5 - 5 Livermore
Stoke 6 - 5
6 - 6 Carroll
Stoke 7 - 6
Tottenham miss - Luongo (saved)

The penalty kick shoot out was the usual lottery and no blame can be laid at the young player who missed the final penalty.  Massimo Luongo making his first appearance replaced Sandro after seventy minutes.  With the penalty shoot-out progressing so far, neither goalkeeper getting a chance to pull off a save, it was a high pressured situation for such a young player who saw Stoke keeper, Sorensen save his shot.  He is th esecond young player to discover the harsh realities of senior football with a penalty kick saved - Harry Kane suffering the same fate in his debut against Hearts at White Hart Lane.  The other penalty miss was by Roman Pavlyuchenko who shot high and wide - described by the Talksport radio commentator as, 'The worst penalty kick he had seen.'

Massimo Luongo is an eighteen year old who has been playing for the Academy team.  He was signed last January and is half-Australian/half-Indonesian and has been very impressive for the U-18s and especially in the Next-Gen series match against Inter Milan which Spurs won 7 - 1.

Tottenham's record in the penalty shoot-out is poor.  They have only won by this method on two occasions - 1984 UEFA Cup Final and an FA Cup 3rd Round replay against Peterborough in 1994. .  Since then it has been disappointment every time including the 2009 Carling Cup Final at Wembley against Manchester United.

An early exit from the Carling Cup will give the Spurs squad a break in their hectic pre-Christmas fixture list to allow for recovery from injuries and knocks which occur during games.  At least this defeat wasn't as humiliating as the exit from last season's two Cup competitions.  However, the Carling Cup always represents a competition that a team like Tottenham might just be able to win.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Scott Parker - Born to Play for Tottenham

Parker Joins Tottenham for £5 million

Throughout every transfer period players are linked with Tottenham Hotspur.  There are a number of players who are constantly connected with the club and are expected to sign for Spurs 'any day now'.  In most cases none of these players join the club but on this occasion one of them has finally been transferred to Spurs.  That player is Scott Parker - it has taken a long time for him to get to White Hart Lane but he has finally made it.

Scott Parker
Scott Parker has become a Tottenham Hotspur player at last.  On Tuesday, 31st August, 2011 after months of speculation and newspaper stories that he would be leaving West Ham United following their relegation and that he was more than likely going to sign for Spurs, it was confirmed by the club at 14.10, less than nine hours before the end of the summer transfer period, that a deal had been concluded.

This is not the first occasion that rumours were rife about Parker coming to White Hart Lane.  It has happened every time that he has moved club.  In January, 2004, after speculation over some years that he would leave Charlton Athletic, he signed for Chelsea.  Eighteen months later, having had little playing time at Stamford Bridge, he moved to Newcastle United.  After two years on Tyneside, he returned to London but not to Tottenham, instead, he signed for West Ham United.  On each occasion that he was transferred during that three and a half year period, the Tottenham manager at the time, Martin Jol, was very keen to get the signature of Scott Parker but to no avail.

Tottenham Hotspur have history for this - trying to sign the same player, transfer window after window.  In the past it has not always been successful.  In the mid-1990s, Gerry Francis pursued the transfer of Ramon Vega who clearly stated he didn't want to come to Tottenham.  However, in January, 1997, less than eight months later he was signed from Cagliari for £3.75million.  Vega wasn't the greatest player to pull on the white shirt of Tottenham although he did appear in the 1999 Worthington Cup Final.

Stewart Downing is another player who has often been linked with Spurs but has never signed.  While at Middlesbrough, there was such speculation of a transfer that when he played at White Hart Lane in an early season fixture, it was widely regarded by fans and media that that game would be his last for Boro before he signed for Tottenham during the final days of the August transfer period.  It didn't happen but the speculation was accurate enough because in an interview in the Sunday Times ahead of the match against Liverpool, he confirmed that there had been discussions that August, the following January and again the next summer, although by that time he was injured and Tottenham were reluctant to conclude a deal under such circumstances so he joined Aston Villa.

During recent transfer periods the names of many strikers have been in Tottenham's sights with reported offers having been made and rejected - the same names over and over again - Diego Forlan, Klass-Jan Huntelaar, Giuseppe Rossi - but none of them have signed.  At least this summer's deal for Scott Parker was completed  and on the evidence of his first two games for the club, he seems to be exactly what the team needs in midfield. 

Parker - the Midfield General

Scott Parker is very much the type of player Harry Redknapp likes to sign - a player he knows, someone with experience, a reliable player who will fit into the team, a player of character, a leader on the field and one who is combative but skilful as well.  Parker fits all of those categories and on the evidence of his first two matches for Spurs he looks as if he has been playing in the team for a lifetime.  He has linked very well with Luka Modric and has brought composure to central midfield where previous occupants have on occasions tended towards the 'headless chicken' approach - here, there and everywhere but not very effective or productive.  Didier Zakora brought a great deal of energy to midfield but much of it was wasted and while Wilson Palacios was combative, too often he gave away free-kicks or lost the ball with a poor pass.  Others, like Jermaine Jenas could on occasions go missing and the game passed him by and while Tom Huddlestone's great strength is his array of passing but his lack of pace and mobility were a handicap.

Parker appears to read the game well and can intercept passes before they reach their destination, he is combative without being over committed in the tackle which can lead to unnecessary tackles in dangerous positions and conceding unwanted free-kicks.  Parker's passing is controlled and while not the fastest player he is quite mobile around the pitch and links up well with the players around him.  Modric and he have have developed a good understanding of their combined role in the team and worked well together, giving Modric the freedom to go forward and be more creative in hi slink up play.

John White
Watching Parker in his first two games, his style of running reminds me of seeing football played in the mid-1960s and someone else suggested that he reminded them of the late, great John White who graced the 'Double' winning team before his tragic loss in 1964.  If Parker were to contribute half of what White brought to Tottenham, he would indeed be a great signing.  It is still early days in Parker's Spurs' career and only time will tell.

Captain Material?
Danny Blanchflower
It is many years since Tottenham have been captained by a player in midfield.  Many of the best Spurs teams have had midfield players as their captain - Ron Burgess, Danny Blanchflower, Dave Mackay, Alan Mullery, Martin Peters and Steve Perryman in his early days.  The more recent captains have been defenders or strikers and the great Bill Nicholson always thought that it was best to have a side with a captain in midfield where they were in contact with all the players and could lead by example.

Gary Mabbutt and Ledley king have been two captains who have led by example and set very high standards for themselves but King, in particular, is a quiet, undemonstrative player who is an excellent example of total commitment for the team in defence but he is isolated from the rest of the team by nature of his position.  In a similar way, strikers tend to be greedy looking for the scoring chance for themselves and have quite enough to focus and can't be so involved when the team is under pressure.

In midfield, Parker would look to be an ideal candidate to replace King if he is absent through injury.  he has fulfilled that role previously to good effect, leading by example in a weak West Ham team who were struggling in their battle against relegation.  He has the experience to take on such a role and command the respect of the players around him.  Although in a struggling side last year he maintained his own standards to win the Football Writers' Player of the Year award - a rarity as the winner of such awards usually comes from one of the more successful teams.

Scott Parker has settled in the Spurs team with ease and as someone suggested, if only he had come sooner he might have become a Spurs' legend. 


Monday, September 19, 2011

Tottenham's Joy of Winning the Cup 4 (2008)

Tottenham's last Cup winning performance in 2008 came in unusual circumstances as Martin Jol was replaced as manager by Juande Ramos in late October after his team had reached the 4th Round of the Carling Cup which was Ramos' first game in charge.  Victories over Arsenal and Chelsea made it a very special Cup campaign. 

2008 Carling Cup Final
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Chelsea 1 (aet)

Woodgate's Header Wins Cup for Spurs 
Woodgate Celebrates Win
Tottenham recorded their fourth success in the League Cup (Carling Cup) in a season that saw them appoint a new manager in late October and with new players who had only joined the club during the January transfer window.  Victories over 'top-4' London rivals in the semi-finals and Final helped to create a positive feel at the club that Spurs had at last started to close the gap on the the clubs at the head of the Premier League.  It was their first trophy since winning the Worthington Cup in 1999 and fans were over-joyed at the opportunity of another trip to Wembley and another European 'Tour'. 

Road to Wembley:
3rd Round v Middlesbrough (h) Won 2 - 0 Bale, Huddlestone
As they had qualified for the UEFA Cup by finishing 5th in the Premier League the previous season, Spurs were exempt from the competition until the 3rd Round.  It took two goals in three minutes late in the second half to see Spurs into the next round.  The introduction of Robbie Keane with twenty minutes remaining livened up Spurs' attacking options and within three minutes he had set up Gareth Bale for the first.  Three minutes later Tom Huddlestone scored the second and Spurs had overcome Middlesbrough's stubborn resistance.

4th Round: v Blackpool (h) Won 2 - 0 Keane, Chimbonda
The first match for Ramos as manager and an early goal from Keane set Spurs off against Blackpool, newly promoted to the Championship.  It required a hard-working performance from Tottenham and the second goal was scored by Pascal Chimbonda with just under an hour played.

5th Round: v Manchester City (a) Won 2 - 0 Defoe, Malbranque   
Jermain Defoe gave Spurs the lead on five minutes but Didier Zokora was dismissed after twenty minutes putting the team under added pressure.  However, they reorganised well and held City at bay and eight minutes from time Steed Malbranque secured victory.

Semi-Final (1st Leg): v Arsenal (a) Draw 1 - 1 Jenas
For the second successive season these two teams were drawn to meet at this stage of the competition.  Ramos decided to omit Paul Robinson for the first time, Radek Cerny taking his placeSpurs started well and went ahead through Jermaine Jenas eight minutes before the interval.  They should have added to their lead in the second half but with ten minutes left Arsenal levelled.

Semi-Final (2nd Leg): v Arsenal Won 5 - 1 Jenas, Keane, Lennon, Malbranque, Opp. o.g.
What a way to reach Wembley!  Jenas started Spurs off with a goal after three minutes.  The second came courtesy of an own goal from a corner after half an hour.  Arsenal were losing it.  Keane scored early in the second half, Lennon added the fourth on the hour.  With twenty minutes left Arsenal pulled one back (Adebayor) but Malbranque added extra salt in the wounds with the fifth in the final minute. 

Final: v Chelsea (Wembley) Won 2 - 1 (aet)  Berbatov (p), Woodgate 
Ramos restored Robinson to the team and new signings Alan Hutton and Jonathan Woodgate, replacing the injured Michael Dawson, made their first appearances in the competition.  Tottenham started with a purpose taking the game to Chelsea and surprising their opponents.  Slowly Chelsea came more into the game and following a number of free-kicks around the Spurs box, Didier Drogba gave Chelsea an undeserved lead late in the first half.  Spurs continued to create chances and on seventy minutes were awarded a penalty for a handling offence.  Dimitar Berbatov remained calm and slotted home.  Chances continued to be created but missed until in the fourth minute of extra-time Woodgate scored with a header from Jenas' free-kick.  It was then all hands to the board as Tottenham held out to win their first trophy in nine years.

Team: Robinson; Hutton, King, Woodgate, Chimbonda (Huddlestone); Lennon, Jenas, Zakora, Malbranque (Tainio); Berbatov, Keane (Kaboul) Subs: (unused): Cerny, Bent

Tottenham looked to this win under their new manager as a stepping stone to breaking into the top four having overcome both Chelsea and Arsenal to win the trophy.  However, it didn't work out like that - their form dropped off alarmingly after the Final and they finished in mid-table, in the summer they lost both of their Cup winning strikers, Berbatov to Manchester United and Keane to Liverpool and by the following October Ramos was gone and Harry Redknapp had been recruited to ensure the team avoided relegation after taking only 'two points from eight games'.