Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Scott Parker to Captain England against Holland

Tottenham's Scott Parker has been selected by Stuart Pearce to captain England in the friendly international against Holland at Wembley.  He is the tenth Tottenham player to have led the England team, following in the footsteps of such payers as Alf Ramsey, Alan Mullery, Martin Peters, Gary Lineker and Ray Clemence.

Scott Parker, the new England Captain
Scott Parker has deservedly been selected by England's caretaker manager, Stuart Pearce, to captain the team in the international friendly against Holland at Wembley.  Parker who joined Spurs from West Ham United won last year's Sportswriters' Player of the Year award and he has carried on in similar fashion since joining Tottenham.  Parker who has won ten England caps is the tenth Tottenham Hotspur player to captain England.

His all action, robust style of play has been instrumental in Tottenham's rise to third place in the Premier League.  He was seen at his fully committed best against Liverpool at Anfield as an understrength Spurs held on in the final minutes to earn a scoreless draw.  He was everywhere in those closing minutes - blocking shots, putting in last minute tackles while withstanding the midfield rigours of playing against Suarez.  It is his total commitment which has given Luka Modric and Gareth Bale the freedom to play their more expressive, creative game knowing that Parker is there to cover in defence.

It has been a strange few days for Parker - sent off against Arsenal for a second bookable offence in the final minutes as Spurs unexpectedly let slip a two goal lead to their closest rivals, named as the Vauxhall England Player of the Year and now named captain of his country.

So, the naming of Parker as England captain has brought to an end a saga that commenced with the FA deposing John Terry of the position which led to the removal of Fabio Capello as England manager, leaving the way open for Harry Redknapp to manage his country in the near future.

Other articles about Scott Parker:
Parker Joins Spurs: Here
Parker - Born to Play for Tottenham: Here
Parker - the new 'Dave Mackay': Here
Parker - on his Time at Spurs: Here


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

They Scored for Spurs and Arsenal in the North London Derby

Jimmy Robertson
Who has scored for both Spurs and Arsenal in a North London derby?
Emmanuel Adebayo

Until Sunday this question had only one answer but Emmanuel Adebayor's penalty against Arsenal meant that he joined Jimmy Robertson as only the second player to score a goal for both Tottenham and Arsenal in a North London derby.

Through Spurs history there are only a small number of players who have played for both clubs and transfers between the two North London clubs are rare.

However, until Sunday, only one player has managed to score for both clubs in a North London derby and it was Jimmy Robertson.

He joined Spurs from St Mirren in 1963 and was a member of Spurs FA Cup winning team in 1967, scoring in the Final against Chelsea.

His goal for Spurs against Arsenal was in the 3-1 home win in October, 1964, the other goals scored by Jimmy Greaves and Frank Saul.

He was transferred to Arsenal in October, 1968, in exchange for David Jenkins - not one of manager Bill Nicholson's best transfer deals.   Jenkins made only a few appearances for Spurs while Robertson played for Arsenal for two seasons before moving on to Ipswich Town and Stoke City.

His goal for Arsenal against Spurs was at Highbury in September, 1969 when Spurs won 3-2 with goals from Alan Gilzean, John Pratt and Martin Chivers.

Last Sunday, Emmanuel Adebayor's goal, on his twenty eighth birthday, from the penalty spot after a foul on Gareth Bale gave Spurs a two goal lead after 34 minutes but unfortunately Arsenal were level before the interval and over ran Spurs in the second half to record a 5 - 2 victory.  Spurs remained in third position in the Premier League while Arsenal moved above Chelsea on goal difference into fourth spot, seven points behind Spurs.

Adebayor, with Tottenham on a season long loan deal from Manchester City had spent three years with Arsenal before joining Manchester City in 2009.  He made over 100 League appearances for the club, scoring 46 goals.  He spent the second half of last season in Spain at Real Madrid, on loan.

Adebayor made a habit of scoring against Spurs for Arsenal being their joint top scorer with eight goals.  He even scored twice against Spurs for Real Madrid in last season's Champions League quarter-final tie in Madrid which Spurs lost 0 - 4.

Available soon (Use Code LH1)


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Arsenal 5 Tottenham 2

Spurs picked the worst possible day to let slip a two goal lead.  After a bright opening and two goals inside thirty five minutes everything fell apart for Tottenham who were hoping to maintain parity with the top two teams while widening the gap on the teams challenging for third place.  A defining match in terms of the title race for Spurs and a readjustment of their focus to the FA Cup and finishing third in the League to be assured of Champions League football next season. 

Arsenal 5 Tottenham Hotspur 2
           Scorers: Sagna, Van Persie, Rosicky, Walcott (2)            Saha, Adebayor (pen)

Team:  Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King (Dawson), Assou-Ekotto; Kranjcar (Sandro), Parker, Modric, Bale; Saha (Van der Vaart), Adebayor  Subs: (unused) Cudicini, Rose, Lennon, Defoe
Harry Redknapp selected the formation and team which defeated Newcastle a fortnight ago but with Younes Kaboul replacing Michael Dawson in central defence.  

Spurs were ahead after three minutes when a pass from Emmanuel Adebayor found Louis Saha in acres of space and as he advanced into the penalty area his shot was deflected off the heel of the defender trying to close him down.  The ball looped into the air and over the goalkeeper.  Spurs couldn't have asked for a better start.

Gareth Bale then put in a good cross to the near post which Adebayor pushed wide.  Spurs had started much quicker and were well marshalled in defence and finding space as they broke at pace against a rather stretched Arsenal defence.  Spurs were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box for a foul on Nico Kranjcar which they took quickly before Arsenal had re-organised but it came to nothing.

Gradually, Arsenal started to put their game together and a Van Persie shot was deflected wide by Kaboul.  From the corner to the near post Brad Friedel reacted well to save a goal bound header.  This was a warning to Spurs that they couldn't relax or take anything for granted.

Spurs broke forward when Saha released Adebayor but his effort was blocked by the goalkeeper and rebounded to Kyle Walker who blazed over.  Walker was taking every opportunity to get forward on the right but on his next venture forward, he never had the ball fully under control.

Scott Parker and Luca Modric were both booked when Parker gave away a free-kick outside the box.  On thirty four minutes Modric played Bale in and as he took on the defenders he was brought down by Gibbs with a penalty awarded.  Adebayor coolly scored on his 28th birthday to give Spurs a two goal advantage and become only the second player, after Jimmy Robertson, to score for both clubs in a north London derby.

Almost immediately, Arsenal caught Spurs out on the halfway line and Walcott had the chance to break for goal.  He chose to pass to Van Persie but he was crowded out.  Next, Bale got away again but he chose to shoot when Saha was unmarked, and the goalkeeper saved easily.

Just as Spurs were looking to consolidate and get to half-time, Arsenal scored twice in three minutes.  Van Persie's shot hit the post but Arsenal collected the ball on the left and played it back in for Sagna to put in a header which gave Friedel no chance.  Three minutes later, after a poor clearance from Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Van Persie equalised from the edge of the box.  Such a turn around, from Arsenal looking in disarray, it was Spurs who were bewildered.

At half-time Redknapp replaced Kranjcar and Saha with Sando and Rafael Van der Vaart but it was Arsenal who were in the ascendancy.  They quickly got into their stride and Spurs simply didn't respond.  Friedel was called upon to save low to his left but after fifty minutes he could do nothing as Rosicky put Arsenal ahead.  He had created the goal with a penetrating run and kept going to meet the cross ahead of King and Friedel and poke the ball home at the near post.

Arsenal were playing with a desire  and a confidence which had been missing in the first half.  Spurs were floundering as Walcott shot past the post but a few minutes later he was set away as Arsenal counter attacked with Spurs defence spread-eagled to get number four.  Three minutes later he added number five, as Spurs stuttered not knowing what to do, having not scored at home for a year.

Sandro put in a shot which was saved but there was little threat from Spurs and at the end they were relieved to keep the score line as it was.  Parker was sent off in the final minutes for a second bookable offence.  

It was a bad day at the office but in typical Spurs fashion they had to have it against Arsenal.  The home team wanted the result more than Spurs who even though they had gone two up were never in control, there had been warning signs which they didn't heed.  The changes made at half-time didn't help the team as neither player got into the game and those around them seemed unsure of how they were to play.  No Spurs player takes credit from this game and unusually for him, Ledley King was not at his best.

Spurs now trail City and United by ten and eight points respectively.  They are seven points ahead of Arsenal who moved ahead of Chelsea, on goal difference, into fourth.  Spurs' outside dreams of the title have now faded so their focus has to be to retain third and Champions League football with a determined effort to win a trophy - the FA Cup.  Their next game, against United at home, is not the best way to get over their worst performance of the season but to avoid going into free-fall they need a positive result.

This match has been called a 'classic' by the media but I'm tired of Spurs being involved at the losing end of such matches.  Spurs have a problem when facing 'top' teams, they can't put together a performance or a result.  This season, apart from Liverpool at home, they have struggled in those matches.  They've lost three out of three against the Manchester clubs.  They beat Arsenal at home but the performance wasn't great.  They drew with Chelsea but after a good start allowed a poor Chelsea to dominate them.  They have a chance next weekend to rectify that issue when they meet a United side reliant on their experienced players to keep them on track.

Spurs missed the chance to complete the 'double' over Arsenal for the first time since 1992-93 and they haven't beaten United since May, 2001 so that will be a record to try to correct next week.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spurs Away Record Against Arsenal

Last season's recovery from a two goal deficit was Tottenham's first success at the Emirates and their first away win over Arsenal since May, 1993.  Having won at White Hart in October, Spurs are seeking their first 'double' over their north London rivals since that 1992-93 season.

Last season Spurs staged a remarkable recovery to win at the Emirates for the first time.  When Spurs went two goals down with less than thirty minutes played, it looked as if it was going to be a familiar story of disappointment and defeat.  At the interval, Harry Redknapp replaced Aaron Lennon with Jermain Defoe and switched to 4 - 4 - 2 formation as Spurs demonstrated their true ability.  Gareth Bale's goal after fifty minutes brought them back into the game.  Rafael Van der Vaart then coolly scored from the penalty spot with twenty three minutes remaining and Younes Kaboul completed the comeback by heading the winner from a Van der Vaart free-kick with five minutes left.

Nov. 2010 PL Won 3 - 2  Bale, Van der Vaart (pen), Kaboul
Team: Gomes; Hutton, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Defoe), Jenas, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart (Palacios); Pavlyuchenko (Crouch)

May, 1993 PL Won 3 - 1  Sheringham, Hendry (2)
Team: Walker; McDonald, Mabbutt, Ruddock, Van den Hauwe; Anderton, Hill, Sedgley, Allen, P.; Sheringham, Hendry (Hodges)
Arsenal, having beaten Spurs by a single goal at Wembley a few weeks earlier, were days away from the FA Cup Final against Sheffield Wednesday.  They fielded an understrength team for the final League game of the season.  Teddy Sheringham put Spurs ahead five minutes before half-time.  John Hendry, starting only his second game of the season, increased the lead a minute into the second half.  Arsenal pulled one back six minutes later but Hendry added his second with twelve minutes remaining.  This was Spurs last success at Highbury.  Spurs finished the season in 8th position while Arsenal were tenth.

Of greater significance, however, were the events off the pitch which were to come to light in the following days papers.  Unknown to the mass of Spurs supporters around the world, was the behind closed doors activities in the Board Room that was about to bring to light the great fall-out between Alan Sugar and Terry Venables and drag the club’s good name through the newspapers and the courts for some considerable time.  This would be Venables’ last game with any responsibility for Spurs and what had seemed to be a glimmer of hope for a brighter future was to be extinguished beyond repair.  

Away League Record against Arsenal:
P  70  W  17  D  19  L  34  For  79  Ag  112

Away Premier League Record against Arsenal:
P  19  W  2  D  7  L  10  For  18  Ag  33 

Memorable  Matches:
Oct. 2008  PL  Draw 4 - 4  Bentley, Bent, Jenas, Lennon
Officially, this was Harry Redknapp's first game as manager of Spurs although he had been present for the first win of the season against Bolton the previous Sunday.  Spurs got off to the perfect start when David Bentley scored with a wonder strike after thirteen minutes.  Arsenal equalised before half-time and William Gallas put them ahead in the first minute after the interval.  Emmanuel Adebayor got his customary goal to make it 3 - 1 but three minutes later substitute, Darren Bent, pulled a goal back, only two minutes after coming on.  A minute later Arsenal restored their two goal advantage.  Approaching the final minute they still maintained their lead but Jermaine Jenas scored in the 89th minute only for Lennon to complete the recovery a minute later. 

Apr. 2006  PL  Draw 1 - 1  Keane 
With only three games left in the season, this match was crucial in the battle for fourth place and Champions League qualification.  Spurs had held fourth for much of the season but Arsenal were making a final bid to deprive Spurs of their first Champions League outing.  Goalless at half-time Robbie Keane had given Spurs the lead after 66 minutes - advantage Spurs.  However, with six minutes remaining, Henry equalised having been set up by Adebayor.  In the final minutes Spurs had to hold on with ten men as Edgar Davids was sent off for two yellow card offences.  

Martin Jol's side won their final home game but Arsenal with a game in hand won their next two and so it went down to the final day when a sickly Spurs team were beaten at West Ham and Arsenal snatched fourth from their grasp.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stevenage 0 Tottenham 0 FA Cup 5th Round

After a fiercely competitive 5th Round tie at Stevenage, Tottenham are grateful to be returning to White Hart Lane for a replay with the winners going through to a home match against Bolton Wanderers.
Stevenage 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0

Team: Cudicini; Dawson, Kaboul, Nelsen; Walker (Kranjcar), Livermore, Parker, Bale, Rose (Lennon); Defoe, Saha  Subs (unused): Friedel, King, Khumalo, Luongo, Dawkins

Tottenham put out a strong team but with concerns over the prospect of facing a barrage of high balls and crosses from Stevenage, they opted for an unfamilar 3 - 5 - 2 formation with three centre backs, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose out wide and Gareth Bale having a roving role in central midfield.  Ryan Nelsen was starting his first match for the club.  Stevenage started with the same side as won at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek which contained both former Spurs reserves, Chris Day in goal and Ronnie Henry at right back.

Stevenage started with a purpose and quickly showed their intention with a series of high balls into the Spurs' box which brought an early challenge on Carlo Cudicini as he came to collect the ball.  Stevenage worked hard and were quicker to the ball, giving the Totttenham players little time to play their usual passing game.  This resulted in Tottenham playing long balls out of defence towards a forward pairing of Jermain Defoe and Louis Saha which saw the ball coming straight back at Spurs.

The first occasion that Spurs created any danger came after sixteen minutes from Rose on the left who put in a low cross to the near post which Defoe touched wide.  Stevenage continued to be first to the ball in midfield and their constant snapping at the heels of Spurs players unsettled them as their passing was poor.  While Stevenage were busy all round the pitch the Spurs central defence coped well and were strong when challenging for the high ball.

The Spurs play, and even the team formation, suggested that much of their focus in preparation had been to cope with the aerial threat that they expected, and received, from Stevenage but had not thought much about how they would use the ball as an attacking force.

On twenty six minutes Saha had a shot across goal but Day was untroubled.  For a short period Totttenham made greater use of their possession by playing it out to Rose on the left who was looking to cause danger but Henry was playing him well.  After thirty three minutes Bale put the ball out to Rose and his cross was headed just over by Walker.  Then Saha was challenged as he prepared to shoot and from a free-kick Defoe's shot was blocked for a corner.

Just as it looked as if Spurs were starting to be more dominant, Stevenage broke from the corner and Tottenham were relieved to get the ball out of their area.  Younes Kaboul had a shot from a free-kick go wide as Stevenage finished the stronger, having a shot blocked for a corner with Michael Dawson putting in a vital clearance from the resulting corner in the last few seconds of the half.

At the start of the second half it appeared that Spurs were going to be more purposeful with sharper passing in midfield and a run from halfway by Bale which ended with a low shot that Day pushed away for a corner, his only save of the game.  After 54 minutes, Spurs had the ball in the net after a cross from Rose caused confusion for the goalkeeper and a defender, allowing Saha to put in a shot which was goalbound but struck Scott Parker on the line before going into the net.  Parker was flagged for being offside.

As time wore on the pitch started to cut up which made passing more difficult and Stevenage had a period around the hour mark when they caused alarm with a number of long range shots.  Rose made a good interception from a dangerous move and tried to set up Defoe.  Walker then put in  a good block on a powerful goalbound shot from the edge of the box, another shot went wide from distance and then with Stevenage's increased industry and endeavour Joe Byrom had two shots in two minutes, shooting over from distance and then a shot straight at Cudicini which he blocked but couldn't hold and Nelsen completed the clearance.

After 65 minutes, Niko Kranjcar replaced Walker and Spurs reverted to 4 - 4 - 2 with Kaboul at right back.  On 74 minutes, after a good run by Defoe, a Bale cross found Saha but his shot was weak.  Aaron Lenon replaced Rose for the last ten minutes with Bale moving to left back.  A dangerous cross from Kranjcar reached to Saha but he was challenged by Henry and the ball was cleared.  There was a good run and cross by Lennon and then following another run a quick passing movement set up Defoe but his weak shot went wide.

Stevenage continued to show commitment and in the final minutes Spurs were very aware that a mistake could see them out of the Cup and were satisfied with a return to White Hart Lane for a 5th Round replay.  Stevenage were thoroughly deserving of that replay as they worked hard throughout and were never overawed by  playing a Premier League side.  They were well prepared and the players and manager deserve all the praise for their efforts and their performance which brought credit to League One. 


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ron Henry - a Tottenham Legend

It was sad to read in yesterday's newspapers that while Ronnie Henry is playing against Tottenham in the FA Cup 5th Round game at the Lamex Stadium, his grandfather, the legendary 'Double' winning full back, Ron Henry, is unable to attend as he is in a care home suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Ron Henry
Ron Henry was an ever-present member of the 1960-61 team which won the 1st Division title and the FA Cup.  Playing at left back he was an important part of the Tottenham successes of the early 1960s.  He developed a good understanding with his full back partner, Peter Baker and while others were making the headlines Henry was an unsung hero.

He had joined Spurs in 1953 as an amateur, turning professional two years later and making his debut against Huddersfield Town in April, 1955, playing at centre half.  In each of the next two seasons, he made just one appearance at his traditional left back position.  In the first half of season 1957-58 he again had only one solitary match but in February, 1958 he got his chance replacing the Welsh international, Mel Hopkins, who was injured playing for his country.  Henry held his place for the final fourteen games of the season.  At the start of the next season, Henry played in the opening two games but with Spurs losing heavily, Hopkins reclaimed the position and Henry played in only six more matches that year.

In November, 1959 Hopkins broke his nose on international duty and Henry came in as his replacement.  He played throughout that season and over the next three seasons missed only one game, through injury in April, 1962.  A reliable player, he was rarely injured and having bided his time became part of Tottenham's greatest ever team as they won the League title, two FA Cup Finals and the European Cup Winners' Cup trophy in 1963.

In season 1963-64 he made 29 League appearances and the folowing year he captained the side in place of the injured Dave Mackay, playing in all but one of the League matches.  That was his last season as a regular - he made just one further appearance, Cyril Knowles having established himself at left back.

In total, Ron Henry made 287 League and Cup appearances for Tottenham.  He scored only one goal but it was worth waiting for as it came in his final full season in February 1965, the only goal against Manchester United at White Hart Lane.

Troubled by injury he stepped down to the reserve team where he played for another four seasons, using his experience to help the development of the younger players and than on retiring from playing he assisted by coaching the junior teams at Spurs for many years.

Ron Henry was a loyal Spurs player.  He was a sound defender and had great positional sense.  He won just one England cap, in Alf Ramsey first match as manager.

Ron's grandson, Ronnie, was on Tottenham's books as a junior and progressed through the reserves to the verge of the first team but apart from a few appearances in friendlies didn't make it into the first team.  Having left Tottenham, he at first had difficulty finding a club but established himself with Stevenage in the Conference and has helped them to promotion to the Football League and into League One.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Tottenham - The Stevenage Connection

Tottenham travel north in the FA Cup 5th Round tie to play Stevenage in their first ever competitive match.  Although the two clubs are geographically only twenty two miles apart, historically in terms of football they are poles apart but there are a number if interesting connections between them.

Stevenage, formerly Stevenage Borough, was formed in 1976, Tottenham in 1882.  Spurs, members of the Football League since 1908, Stevenage gained promotion to the Football League for the first time in August, 2010.  In their first season they achieved promotion to League One, defeating Torquay United in the play-off Final at Old Trafford.  Stevenage are currently sixth, once again in a play-off position.  Their home is the Lamex Stadium, renamed in 2009 as previously it was called Broadhall Way.

Stevenage have a reputation as a Cup team, winning the FA Trophy in 2007 when they were the first team to win a trophy at the new Wembley Stadium and in 2009.  They also created a shock by defeating Newcastle United 3 - 1 in last season's FA Cup 3rd Round at their home ground.  This year's involvement in the 5th Round game with Spurs is the farthest they have progressed in the competition, having defeated Notts County 1 - 0 at their Lamex Stadium.  They have yet to concede a goal in the competition this year with three away wins against Hartlepool United (1 - 0) in the 1st Round, Stourbridge (3 - 0) and Reading (1 - 0) in the 3rd Round.

Tottenham-Stevenage Connection
  • Previous Meetings - Pre-season Friendlies: 
Although the clubs have never played competitively, the ground is not unfamiliar to Tottenham as the reserve team used to play their games there during the 2000s and presumably as part of that arrangement the Spurs first team visited Stevenage for a pre-season friendly each July over a number of years.  It would have been at that ground that a number of Spurs youth players would have had a taste of first team football alongside experienced internationals.

2001  Won 8 - 1  Poyet (3), Ferguson (2), Kamanan, Freund 
The one and only goal Steffen Freund scored during his time with Tottenham - some people have bought the t-shirt. 
2002  Won 4 - 0  Anderton (2), Jackson, Rebrov
2003  Won 2 - 0  Acimovic, Postiga
2004  Won 2 - 1  Keane (pen), Defoe
2005  Won 3 - 0  Kanoute, Mido, Defoe
2006  Won 3 - 0  Defoe (2) (1 pen), Berbatov (pen) 
2007  Won 3 - 1  Keane, Bent, Taarabt
  • Former Players
Two players who are regulars with Stevenage are goalkeeper, Chris Day and defender Ronnie Henry.  They both came through the Tottenham youth system without breaking into the League team but have furthered their careers away from the club. 

Now aged 36, Chris Day sat on the bench for Spurs on many occasions in League games as substitute goalkeeper but never got on to the pitch.  He came off the bench in a number of friendly matches in season 1994 - 95 and was in goal for the ill-fated 1995 Intertoto match against FC Cologne when a team of youth, reserves and loanees lost 0 - 8. 

He joined Crystal Palace for £225,000 in 1996 and has made over 300 appearances at eight League clubs including Queen's Park Rangers, Watford where he appeared in the Premier League, Lincoln City, Oldham, Millwall and Preston North End.  His greatest achievement was helping Stevenage gain League status and promotion to League 1.

Ronnie Henry is the grandson of Spurs 'Double' winning full back, Ron Henry.  Like Day, he also made a number of appearances in friendly games, including an appearance at Stevenage in 2002.  That pre-season he scored a goal in a defeat against QPR.  He made it into the League matchday squad but never progressed into the team.  He was released by Tottenham in November, 2003 but was unable to find a club.  He eventually signed for Dublin City but was released due to shortage of funds.  In January, 2004 he joined non-league Stevenage Borough, was made captain and led them into the Football League and further promotion.  He was the first player to raise a competitive trophy at the new Wembley, captaining Stevenage to FA Trophy success.

Terry Dixon was a young player with tremendous potential but serious injury problems resulted in him being released by Tottenham, aged nineteen.  He spent two years at West Ham trying to resurrect his career and in October, 2010 joined Stevenage on trial.  He made a number of appearances as a substitute as he tried to regain match fitness but the following January failed to agree terma with the club.  

Stuart Lewis was a youth team midfield player who started with Spurs but signed for Barnet in January, 2007.  After three mionths there he joined Stevenage and made 30 appearnces before joining Gillingham.

Steven Pitt, a winger, made one appearance for Tottenham in season 1965 - 66 at the age of seventeen, winning 4 - 0 against Blackpool.  He later played for Stevenage having spent time with Colchester United.
  • Stevenage Managers
Stevenage have recently appointed Gary Smith as their manager to replace Graham Westley who went to Preston.  Smith is the son of Roger Smith who was a prolific goalscoring left winger reserve player with Spurs in the early to mid-1960s.   Roger's family all came from Tottenham and Gary recalls playing at his grandparents' house, next to White Hart Lane, and being able to hear the roar of the crowd from their back garden.  Despite his family all supporting Spurs, Smith supports Arsenal, another good reason to beat Stevenage.

The managers prior to Westley had Spurs connections.  In 2006, Mark Stimson, a reserve defender who made two League appearances between 1987 and 1989.  He spent four years with Newcastle United and in 2003 joined Portsmouth.  He also played for Gillingham, Southend, Leyton Orient and Barnet before taking up the manager's role at Gray's Athletic.  After a season with Stevenage, when they won the FA trophy, he joined Gillingham in November, 2007

Peter Taylor replaced Stimson but resigned at the end of the season having failed to reach the play-offs.  Taylor played 140 League and Cup games for Spurs between 1976 and 1980.  He joined from Crystal Palace in the relegation season and scored on his debut at West Brom.  He scored 33 goals before joining Orient.

Tottenham will need to take this game seriously if they are to avoid an upset.  Stevenage are confident playing on their own ground and will be fully prepared and motivated for this match, intending to ad another scalp to their giant-killing list.  Spurs have the ability and skill but will also need the desire and application.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spurs and the FA Cup 5th Round

Progress through the FA Cup 5th Round game and supporters and players start to believe that an appearance in the Final is possible.  Defeat and another season can sometimes be consigned to history with little to play for through in the coming months.  Tottenham, this season, however, have their continued aspirations for Champions League football and a say in the outcome of the Premier League title race to look forward to with anticipation.  The prospect of a return to Wembley in May is an added incentive for Spurs to renew acquaintances with the ground that was like their second home for a period in the 1980s.

Spurs are on Their Way to Stevenage

Another Step towards the Final - Spurs and the FA Cup 5th Round
(Article first appeared in Topspurs)

As Spurs prepare for the game against Stevenage, a team from League One who have a recent record of Cup upsets, ask Newcastle United, they must realise that it will not be an easy task at Stevenage’s compact ground.

Success in the 5th Round game means that a club is only two wins from a Final appearance and three from the ultimate success of lifting the trophy.  It can all seem so easy on paper but there can be many a twist before the task’s completed.  Spurs history shows that FA Cup winners need a slice of good fortune along the way but that a 'special' win at this stage is just a win and is no guarantee of further success.
Road to Success
Spurs were drawn away to Reading, the only other non-League team left in the competition, in the 3rd Round game, the equivalent of today’s 5th Round.  Spurs had lost at Reading in the Southern League in November so although they had defeated League opposition in the previous rounds, this match was not going to be easy and so it proved.  Every Cup winning team has a moment when they could so easily have gone out of the competition and it happened for Spurs at Reading.  A goal down early on to a robust home team, Spurs were struggling to make any impact on the game. Early in the second half Spurs recovered for a brief period and equalised through winger John Kirwan but then Reading took control again.  Spurs were forced to hang on but when goalkeeper George Clawley failed to hold a shot, full-back Sandy Tait punched the ball clear – a certain penalty. Everyone saw what had happened except the referee the linesman and when a goal-kick was awarded the 3000 Spurs’ supporters gave a collective sigh of relief.  Spurs held on and in the replay the following Thursday Spurs were a completely different side.  David Copeland gave them an early lead and Sandy Brown scored two more to give Spurs a comfortable win.  Brown had kept up his record of scoring in every round of the Cup.  As Spurs looked forward to a semi-final tie against West Brom the question being asked was - Could this be Spurs’ year to win the Cup?

The 3rd Round game seems to have been more straight forward with a 4-1 win over Third Division, Southend United.  However, while the score suggested a comfortable win, Spurs’ performance was not as impressive and they again required that element of luck every Cup winning team experiences.  Spurs were lethargic and Southend went ahead after ten minutes.  Spurs rallied and equalised through Jimmy Cantrell, only to allow the home team to take control again and earn a penalty just before half-time.  The referee was not happy with the placing of the ball for the penalty and interfered on two occasions.  This angered the Southend penalty-taker who argued with the referee and when he stepped up to strike the penalty he sent it wide of the post.  After the interval Southend again took charge but in the last thirty minutes Spurs scored three times through Jimmy Banks, Jimmy Seed and Bert Bliss.

Spurs’ 5th Round opponents were Aston Villa at Villa Park.  A week earlier Spurs had won there in the League and recorded another victory in the Cup.  No matter what Villa attempted Spurs had an answer with a display of football at their very best.  Having constantly pulled the home defence apart, Spurs went ahead after seventeen minutes when a defender deflected a Cliff Jones’ shot into his own goal.  Just before the interval the game was effectively over when Jones scored and Spurs comfortably controlled the rest of the game.

Spurs travelled to The Hawthorns to play West Bromwich Albion.  In a typical Cup tie Bobby Smith gave Spurs an early lead but the game continued from end to end with both goalkeepers being kept busy.  Smith doubled Spurs lead just before half-time.  An injury to Cliff Jones restricted his movement and effectiveness and West Brom pulled a goal back at the start of the second half.  Jimmy Greaves restored Spurs two goal lead with fifteen minutes remaining only for West Brom to strike back again.  Spurs’ victory was secured by Greaves’ second with one minute remaining.

The Cup winning trail gave Spurs a home game against 2nd Division Bristol City and it was that man Greaves who again secured Spurs’ passage to the next round.  Greaves put Spurs ahead after ten minutes but then the good fortune of Cup winners was again evident in Spurs’ victory as City missed a number of goal scoring opportunities and Pat Jennings was required to save a Bristol penalty in the second half.  The penalty was retaken because Jennings moved too soon and the re-take was hit wide.  To add insult to injury Greaves scored Spurs’ second goal from the penalty spot in the final minute.  Captain Dave Mackay put the win in perspective, ‘We should have won more easily but few top teams manage to win convincingly against lesser opposition.’

It was less of a struggle against fellow 1st Division opponents, Coventry City at White Hart Lane.  Goals from Chris Hughton, Ossie Ardiles and Steve Archibald gave Spurs a 3-1 victory and dreams of Wembley were becoming less fanciful.

The 5th Round game was Spurs’ third home tie against 1st Division opponents and their third single goal victory.  Mark Falco provided the solitary strike that defeated Aston Villa.

Spurs’ hero was Paul Gascoigne but before the game at Portsmouth Spurs lost full-back Terry Fenwick who broke his ankle in the pre-match warm-up sessions.  Gazza required a hernia operation but was being nursed through the Cup games and he again proved the match winner with the two goals that took Spurs past the 2nd Division club.

Memorable Goals
The FA Cup 5th Round tie against Leeds United is memorable for the quality of the goals that Spurs scored in the replay at White Hart Lane.  A goal from Tim Sherwood had earned Spurs the replay but Darren Anderton and David Ginola scored two goals of outstanding quality to take Spurs into the quarter finals. Another amazing strike from Ginola which went narrowly past is equally remembered for the reaction of George Graham and the Spurs’ bench as they leapt to their feet in celebration, thinking that it was a goal.

Abandoned - Snow!
The  5th Round game at Nottingham Forest is remembered by travelling supporters for their lengthy journey home through thick snow after the game was abandoned after fifteen minutes due to the snow.  Spurs drew the re-arranged tie but lost the replay at Tottenham on penalties.

Unlikely Hero:
On 1st March, an unlikely hero stepped forward to rescue Spurs in a 5th Round Replay.  Spurs and Southampton had drawn 1-1 at White Hart Lane and when the Sheringham/Klinsmann team found themselves two goals down just before half-time at the Dell, their Cup dreams looked to be over.  Ronnie Rosenthal was brought on as sub just before the interval and in the second half he scored twice in two minutes to bring the scores level, the second from twenty five yards.  He outdid that goal in extra time with a shot from thirty yards to put Spurs ahead and then goals from Teddy Sheringham, Nick Barmby and Darren Anderton completed the 6-2 rout.  ‘Rocket’ Ronnie had made a name for himself in Spurs folklore.

Giant Killing - Cup Upsets:
Defeat to clubs from lower divisions was a feature of Spurs in the 1950s.  They lost  to Norwich City who were in the 3rd Division and had beaten Manchester United and Cardiff City to reach this stage of the competition.  Held 1-1 at home in the first game Spurs lost the 5th Round replay by a solitary goal as Norwich progressed to the semi-finals.

Two years earlier it had been Bournemouth who had knocked Spurs out at the 5th Round stage. Managed by former Spur Freddie Cox, the 3rd Division side took the lead only for Terry Medwin to equalise.  Bournemouth who had won at Wolves in the previous round did everything to unsettle Spurs and scored another two goals to win 3-1 and earn a home tie against Manchester United.

Another two years earlier and it was York City who removed Spurs from the Cup with a similar 1-3 score.  George Robb put Spurs ahead but the home side scored twice before half-time and then added a third in the second half.  York who were in the 3rd Division (North) reached the semi-finals where they lost in a replay to Newcastle United, the eventual Cup winners.

Cup 'Classic'
The 5th Round Replay against Everton was one of those games that Cup memories are founded on.  Spurs were a 2nd Division team and the match in Liverpool had seen Spurs score through Jimmy McCormick with five minutes remaining, only for their 1st Division opponents to equalise in the last minute.  The Replay on the following Monday, surpassed that for excitement as Spurs looked to be going out of the Cup until a dramatic comeback.  The pitch had been flooded and conditions were poor but Everton took control and went into a two goal lead.  Spurs scored through Johnny Morrison in the 27th minute but in the second half after a Morrison ‘goal’ was disallowed, Everton extended their lead.  With seven minutes remaining, Everton were awarded a penalty but the referee changed his decision as Everton had taken a throw-in incorrectly.  A minute later Morrison scored Spurs’ second, then with two minutes remaining Joe Meek equalised with a great solo goal and in the last minute Morrison scored the winner.  46,972 spectators witnessed a Cup ‘classic.’

Spurs’ fans would enjoy a Cup ‘classic’ that would see Spurs into the next round but they expect Spurs name to be in the draw for the 6th Round whatever team is selected by the manager.  Having defeated Cheltenham Town and Watford in the earlier rounds, the FA Cup could be the icing on the cake for a Tottenham team which has received many plaudits throughout the season for both their style of play and also their ability to fight for a result when their football is not flowing as well as they would like.  There may well be need for that fight and determination against Stevenage to ensure there are no FA Cup giant-killing stories to be recounted for years to come.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Ghost of White Hart Lane

The 'Ghost of White Hart Lane' is a fitting tribute to the late, great John White who died in such tragic circumstances in July, 1964.   Written by Rob White, John's son, and Julie Welch the acclaimed journalist and author, the book details John's early life, his major role in the Tottenham success story of the1960s and Rob's struggle to learn more about the father who was killed when he was only a few months old.

The date, 21st July, 1964 will always be remembered by Spurs supporters as the day when John White was so tragically struck down by lightning on a golf course as he took shelter from torrential rain.  I started to support Spurs a few months after that but my earliest piece of Tottenham memorabilia is a Spurs team photograph from August, which details how things had changed for the club in the previous year.  From the heady excitement of winning the European Cup Winners' Cup in May, 1963, they had lost players through loss of form, injury and retirement but the greatest loss was that of John White just a month earlier.  It was changing times for Spurs but everyone at the club was optimistic as they looked forward to the new season.

As always in football things move on quickly - a new season, or a new player and there's always another game but for the family of John White it was not so easy.  They would have to live and cope with this loss for the rest of their lives and this book is the culmination of Rob White's search for his father.  As a young boy, one of the most difficult aspects for Rob was everyone knowing who he was because of his father about whom he knew very little.  All of John's football memorabilia had been packed away and it was only as a curious eight year old that Rob searched the attic of his new house for an old cardboard box which he believed contained some of his father's possessions.  There he discovered the medals, boots and newspaper cuttings which shed some light on his father who was held in such high esteem and spoken of in revered terms.

As Rob grew up, his father's team mates provided support as friends of the family, himself, his mother and older sister, but it was Dave Mackay who later provided Rob with some of the experiences in football that he would surely have enjoyed with his father.  As manager of Derby County, Dave arranged for Rob to travel with the team to grounds around London and take in the whole match day atmosphere.

John White's early life tells of a hard-working family in Musselburgh in Scotland, typical of so many at the time.  He was the second of four children and the three boys all became professional footballers with Bill Nicholson, just prior to John's death, considering  signing Tom but a car accident had incapacitated him so nothing materialised on that front.  Tom did play for Spurs though, appearing in the Memorial match for John against a Scotland XI.

John came across as a quiet, shy lad in public but was a prankster and fun loving with family, friends and team-mates with whom he was most comfortable and relaxed.  Cliff Jones was regularly involved with John is such escapades.  John loved football and as a boy played and practised constantly and although lightly built he had great stamina and was a cross country runner which stood him in good stead for the rigours of playing in midfield.  As a young player he was frequently watched by Glasgow Rangers but they never made a move for him, concerned about his build.

John played for Alloa Athletic and Falkirk before joining Spurs in October, 1959 for £20,000.  He had already represented Scotland and after scoring on his Spurs debut he became a regular choice as Bill Nicholson struggled with the problem of fitting John and Tommy Harmer into the same team.  John found it difficult to settle in London and initially, he played on the right wing as he had done in his early football days.  There is a wonderful comparison between the two players in the book as the rivals for the number eight shirt.  The writers are generous in their praise of Harmer but in the end it was John who possessed the added qualities that the manager was looking for as he constructed the team that would soon go on to win the 'Double'.

There have been many books written about the Tottenham team who won the "Double', both collectively and as individuals, but none about John White.  'The Ghost of White Hart Lane' corrects that anomaly and as it trawls through the match reports of the time it becomes abundantly clear that John White played a very significant part in the success that the team enjoyed from 1960 to 1963.

When people name players from the "Double' team, those who first come to mind are Danny Blanchflower, Dave Mackay, Bobby Smith and Cliff Jones.  Then almost as an afterthought, they include John White but White was no afterthought to the 'Double' success - he was at the centre of everything that was good about that team.  From reading the match reports, it is clearly evident that when John White was playing well, so did Spurs.  If John White was in peak form so was Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Smith and everyone else.  If White was absent, or not at the top of his game, then the Spurs' path to success was not so smooth.

John White  was frequently the master creator behind many of the goals that Tottenham scored but having provided those 'assists' in a game, he quite often managed to get on the scoresheet himself.  In his time with Spurs he scored 45 League and Cup goals in 219 appearances.

Age quickly caught up with the 'Double' team but in the first half of season 1963 - 64 as Nicholson tried to introduce new players, it was John White who held it all together and although the team finished the season a disappointing, by their standards, fourth, they had been at the top of the table before Christmas.  It was clear that Bill Nocholson had decided to build his next team around John White when at the age of twenty seven he was struck down.

There is a very moving chapter concerning the people who had been with John in the hours prior to his death and the 'if onlys' that immediately came to mind which might have changed the circumstances and prevented John from going out onto the golf course on his own.  His team mates were devastated by the news and hardened, professional footballers were reduced to tears, including Bill Nicholson, as they came to terms with John's death.

The book provided a very poignant account of how Rob, a Tottenham season ticket holder, met team mates of his father, to discover more about the man they had known so well but who was taken from him before he had a chance to get to know him.  Rob finally had the opportunity to make journeys and visit places familiar to his father as he gained a deeper knowledge and understanding of John White.

A tremendous book and as Jimmy Greaves say, "This book deserves to be read."

'The Ghost of White Hart Lane' is a fitting tribute to a true Tottenham 'Legend', the father whom Amanda and Rob never knew.

 Book Review: In Search of Alan Gilzean by James Morgan Here


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For Harry Redknapp - It's Now or Never

A wave of emotion swept through White Hart Lane on Saturday evening as Spurs played Newcastle United with supporters giving Harry Redknapp their full support as they tried to influence his decision about taking over as England manager some time in the near future.

Harry Redknapp - Decision time

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Harry Redknapp is the nation's choice, the England players have given their support and the media are fully behind him for the vacant England manager's post.  In fact, if they all had their way Harry would already be crowned and fitted out in his England blazer and charming the press with his wit and charm about his plans for Euro 2012 in the summer.  The only discordant note comes from those of us who support Spurs and would rather that the Football Association would go knocking at someone else's door in their search for a manager to replace Fabio Capello.

In true Spurs fashion we wait for fifty years for a manager to put together a team to rival the 1960s masterclass of football that Bill Nicholson's side produced week after week and suddenly England require a new manager and in everyone's view there is only one candidate fit for the job, one Henry James Redknapp.

While the Spurs fans continually chanted, "We want you to stay Harry Redknapp, we want you to stay," on Saturday evening against Newcastle and their support for him during his court case demonstrated by their singing at the match against Wigan had an emotional affect of Redknapp, trying to keep him at Tottenham will be akin to the old history story of King Canute and his futile attempt to stop the tide coming in. 

While the Football Association draw up their shortlist, the best that Tottenham can expect is that Redknapp remains as manager of Spurs until the end of the present season before taking charge of England at the European championships.  

As Harry Redknapp enjoys a few days on holiday in Dubai, he is bound to be considering his options at the end of a very traumatic three week period for himself and his family.

If you were Harry:
For becoming England manager:
  • Harry Redknapp's standing in football is as high as it has ever been - he's managed an incredible turnaround in just over three years with Spurs - taking them from being a relegation threatened side in his first season and into the Champions League where they made a very positive contribution last season.  Spurs are currently playing the most attractive football in England and are receiving plaudits on all sides.  He is managing some world class players and doing so with ease.  He is the 'darling' of the media with his quips and headline producing comments.  The only way that Redknapp's stock could be higher would be if he were to take Spurs to an unexpected title win or an FA Cup triumph, that would be the icing on the cake for all concerned.
  • The court case has been settled and with the 'not guilty' verdict that potential 'cloud' has been removed.
  • He has frequently expressed a desire to manage England and even during the past five years while there was the uncertainty of the court case, it never ruled him out and he was always considered a possible candidate.
  • At sixty four years of age and with his birthday in two weeks, the chance to manage England is unlikely to come his way again - so it has to be 'now or never'.
  • Redknapp has always had the knack of working with top players and bringing out the best in them, something which past England managers have simply failed to do.  It would be a challenge for him but one he is quite capable of undertaking successfully.  As he said himself in court, "I'm a fantastic football manager."
  • The England manager's role would bring a reduction in the day to day stress levels that exist for a club manager.  He wouldn't have to drive on a daily basis from his home on the south coast to Tottenham and with his recent heart surgery, his heath must be a consideration.
  • Things can change very quickly in football.  If he were to remain at Spurs and in the worst casre senario, some of the 'star' players, Gareth Bale and Luksa Modric decided it was time to move on or the Chairman received an offer that he deemed to be too good to turn down, the team could be decimated.  A poor start to the new season and early elimination from the Champions League could make Daniel Levy nervous, especially with the need for funds to finance the new stadium, and the October international break has proved a time in the past when Spurs have been prepared to make a managerial change and it could be, "Goodbye Harry,"
  • Harry Redknapp enjoys his day to day involvement with football - the players, the media - and it would be difficult to become accustomed to less involvement as England manager.
  • He has a good relationship with the Tottenham players and he enjoys working with them and he knows that they are on the verge of something very exciting which could bring him greater success than he has ever experienced before in football.
  • The England manager's post is a 'poisoned chalice'.  Many have arrived to take on the role with great reputations and experience of footballing success around the world but have fallen short when faced with the expectations of England at a World Cup or Euro competition.
Setting aside all financial aspects, there can be only one conclusion that Harry Redknapp can come to and it is simply that it's 'now or never' for him as  far as the England manager's postion is concerned.  He could be available come the end of the season to manage England in Poland and Ukraine in Euro 2012 and then prepare for the World Cup campaign in the new season.  

Will such a situation spur the Tottenham players on to greater endeavours to bring success to the club this season or will it bring a premature end to the hopes that Spurs supporters have harboured for so long that the club would return to the glory days of previous eras?  

Will Harry Redknapp join the list of England managers with Tottenham connections - Alf Ramsey, Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle, only time will tell.


Benoit Assou-Ekotto - Pure Class

Benoit Assou-Ekotto has developed into one of the best left backs in the Premier League.  From an uncertain start in his early days with Spurs he has become very assured defensively and is an increasing threat going forward having scored two goals in his last four games.

Benny - Mr Cool - Class 
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Benoit Asou-Ekotto is a player who has over time grown on the hearts of Spurs supporters with varying hair styles, odd boots, trademark drag back and his growing list of outstanding goals.  He has developed an excellent understanding with Gareth Bale doing the defensive work as Bale rampages around the pitch causing havoc.

Benny is becoming a greater threat going forward looking for the opportunity to create but also aware that he can contribute to the team with goals as well.

He has now scored three league goals, all of them memorable.

The first was against Liverpool in  the opening fixture of season 2009-10.  A free-kick on the edge of the area rebounded off the wall and with a wonderful strike he powered a shot into the net.

The second came against Everton in January when he made progress on the left and cut in towards goal to unleash a shot from thirty yards which the goalkeeper at full stretch could only wave at as it hit the back of the net.

The most recent was against Newcastle in the 5 - 0 success.  It was the opening goal and Benoit was on hand at the edge of the six yard box to meet Emmanuel Adebayor's cross and hammer it into the roof of the net.  That must have been the first time he has ever ventured into the opponents' six yard box - but he made it worthwhile.

He displayed all his composure and confidence as he defended a cross late in that game, controlling the ball with his chest, flicking it up on his knee and heading the ball back to Brad Friedel - a super moment from a game with many good things to remember.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto has become a cult figure at White Hart Lane - heady days, indeed, which see him rival former player, Cyril Knowles, of 'Nice one Cyril' fame as the outstanding left back to have played for the club.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tottenham 5 Newcastle United 0

A perfect end to the week for Harry Redknapp as Spurs, inspired by a re-energised Emmanuel Adebayor, scored five goals against Newcastle at White Hart Lane as the fans continually showed their support for the manager.
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What an End to Redknapp's Perfect Week
Tottenham Hotspur 5 Newcastle United 0
Scorers: Assou-Ekotto, Saha (2), Kranjcar, Adebayor

Team: Friedel; Walker, Dawson, King (Nelsen), Assou-Ekotto; Kranjcar, Parker, Modric, Bale (Lennon); Saha (Defoe), Adebayor  Subs (unused): Cudicini, Khumalo, Rose, Livermore

White Hart Lane was buzzing with the Spurs supporters constantly singing and chanting the name of Harry Redknapp as they showed their support for the manager.  The fans were up for the game and so were the players as Newcastle discovered very early on as Tottenham scored twice in the opening six minutes with Emmanuel Adebayor the creator and inspiration for the team.
Louis Saha made his home debut in place of Jake Livermore, with Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe fit enough to return to the substitutes bench.  With Newcastle in search of a top four finish a difficult game was expected but they were restricted due to injuries in midfield.  Spurs started very brightly and Adeboyor had created the first goal within four minutes.  Looking lively and more energetic than in  previous matches, he took a ball from Gareth Bale and made a forceful run and cross to where Benoit Assou-Ekotto was waiting, unmarked at the the corner of the six yard box and he gleefully hammered the ball into the net.  It was a perfect start for Spurs and answered the question as to whether the media speculation about Harry Redknapp and the England manager's position had been a distraction at the club.  The answer was clearly in the negative and after another two minutes it became a resounding, "No!"

Adebayor, again, made another strong run on the right and crossed for Louis Saha to score on his home debut against the team with whom he started his career in English football.  Two minutes later, Saha turned provider and set up Adebayor but the shot went out for a goal kick.  Two minutes on and Bale turned creator and set up Adebayor but he was unable to control the through ball and it ran on to the goalkeeper.

From a Newcastle corner, Adebayor, in trying to put in a tackle, slipped and the ball ran over his arm but the referee turned down any penalty appeals.  A Bale run and cross came out to Kranjcar but he blasted over on fifteen minutes.  it was all Spurs and they struck again when a Modric cross was laid back by Adebayor for Saha to score through the defenders legs.

The ease with which Spurs were playing encouraged the supporters and there was a constant tide of support for Harry Redknapp.  Bale continued to be dangerous and he crossed to Saha who passed to Adebayor but the shot went wide.

Brad Friedel made a finger tip save from a free-kick when Scott Parker was booked for a foul on the edge of the area.

After thirty four minutes Spurs scored their fourth as Saha broke from halfway and put in Adebayor with a lovely cross/pass - Adebayor's shot was saved but it came back to him and as he tried to regain control it fell to Kranjcar who scored - his first goal in a year.

Spurs continued to play free flowing football with Newcastle chasing shadows although Ba had a shot straight at Friedel.  The visitors defenders were finding Adebayor unplayable and he put in another cross to Kranjcar who shot over.  Then in the final minute of the half, Spurs were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box which Adebayor touched to Assou-Ekotto but with a clesar sight on goal, he blasted it over.

After half-time Spurs were content to maintain possession for long periods with Newcastle unable to take the ball from them and when they did get it, they just gave it straight back to Spurs.  After sixty four minutes, Bale played in Adebayor but he just failed to control the ball.  Spurs appeared to be satisfied with four goals but then a good ball went from Bale out to Assou-Ekotto on the left and his centre was headed back by Saha to Adebayor who hooked it into the net for a deserved goal and his tenth of the season.  Adebayor and Saha were showing an excellent understanding in their first game together.

Bale shot over from twenty five yards.  Lennon and Defoe replaced Bale and Saha as Spurs continued to play at will with little threat from Newcastle.  Ryan Nelsen made his debut as a replacement for Ledley King.  Kyle Walker had an excellent run on the right but his cross was just too high for Adebayor.  Then Newcastle created their first danger of the evening when Ba got a header on target from close range but Friedel reacted instinctively to save and the rebound was hit over.

Spurs produced a quick passing movement from Defoe to Adebayor to Kranjcar and back to Adebayor but the final shot passed wide.  Luka Modric had a shot saved and Adebayor again shot over after Parker and Defoe had created the chance for him.

Newcastle have now lost on their last three visits to White Hart Lane and this match was the perfect end to a hectic week for Harry Redknapp.  He was cleared of all charges in his court case, he is top candidate for the England manager's post, the fans showed their desire for him to stay and the players responded by producing one of their best displays of the season.  The only thing which could have improved Redknapp's week would have been Bale scoring with the late chance on Monday evening at Anfield.

Emmanuel Adebayor was revitalised throughout, involved in every goal, with four assists and a goal.  He linked well with Saha who scored two goals in twenty minutes for Spurs, having only managed that number in twenty games this season with Everton.

Spurs are now ten points ahead of Arsenal and Chelsea, five behind Manchester United who beat Liverpool to go a point ahead of City who play Aston Villa later today.  Spurs did all they could today to persuade Harry Redknapp to stay at White Hart Lane and bide his time before accepting his ultimate job, the England manager's role.

Just as the fans chanted, "We want you to stay Harry Redknapp, we want you to stay," so I reiterate their words of yesterday but in all likelihood such sentiments won't be enough to keep Harry at White Hart Lane.