“As long as we’re still in it going to Amsterdam” was a common refrain before the game and that’s what we are, still in it.
Ajax are a young fit team and they played as such but they certainly weren’t the vibrant exciting total football experience we were led to believe was about to land on us and don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. The tired and bruised side we put out had the visitors under the cosh and panicking for most of the second half and with more cutting edge would’ve got their reward.
There’s no doubt in my mind that a Spurs eleven with Winks, Son, Kane, Aurier and a fully fit Sissoko and Dele would have seen us take a good lead in to the second leg.
It is though, halftime, and we’re one-nil down.
The new stadium was a cauldron of Spurs noise for much of the game, especially before van de Beek took advantage of some defensive woefulness to get Ajax’s goal.
Along Tottenham High Rd the Dutch fans were beered up, loud and loathsome, leaving their detritus of rubbish, bottles, stickers and piss in a trail behind them, like a tramps’ coach trip. Inside the ground though they were outsung and outeverythinged and were barely audible in the South stand. It’s a great new home built for games, if not performances and results, like this.
We have a week to gather ourselves, now minus Vertonghen, and then see where we are.
Son will be back of course and if he’s not feeling overwhelming responsibility yet, he will do. Sissoko stood up and was counted yesterday, I’m not so sure many of our other big players did quite the same. Dele, Eriksen, Trippier, Rose – we need more from all of them.
I’ll end pretentiously by quoting John Dryden’s translation of Horace –
Happy the man, and happy he alone,
he who can call today his own:
he who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Not tomorrow, next Wednesday.
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