As the dust settled on the end of our Europa League adventure last Thursday in a rainy Basle, us Spurs fans were left to reflect on this season’s campaign in Europe.
Unfortunately, the cup run will ultimately be regarded as a big disappointment with a lot more lows along the way than highs. We’re left with a lot of “what if’s” and “could have beens” rather than looking back at an unbeaten group qualification and a resounding victory against Inter Milan at home in the knock out phase. The game in Switzerland will be remembered primarily for the penalty misses, especially Adebayor’s pathetic attempt which was last spotted somewhere near The Matterhorn!
But in the midst of all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over missed penalties, 1 thing stood out for me and that is the performance of Michael Dawson last Thursday night in Basle. To say that Daws led by example must be the understatement of the year, at times last Thursday night he was like a one-man brick well as wave after wave of Basle pressure was turned back. His task was all the more heroic given the loss of his partner in central defence, Vertonghen, as we approached extra time. Being an Irish Spurs fan, my mind wandered back to Richard Dunne’s colossal performance against Russia in the Republic’s qualifying campaign for the last European Championships. Without big Dunne that night Ireland could have been beaten by 3 or 4 but he was absolutely immense and kept them out on his own at times, Dawson’s performance last week was every bit as good.
It’s been a tough year for the Spurs skipper, back in August he was given the option of a move to QPR but in a move that typifies the big Yorkshire man, he opted instead to roll up sleeves and fight for his place. This looked to be a big gamble given that AVB seemed to be more in favour of playing Vertonghen and Gallas at the centre of defence, however when the chance presented itself Dawson grabbed it with both hands and has since found himself back where he belongs not to mention having the captain’s armband on his arm again. But let’s remember Dawson has never had things his own way, he was only signed from Notts Forest as part of the deal that brought Andy Reid to the Lane meaning he had to work hard to get a regular starting place and he suffered a serious knee injury on duty for England when it looked like his international career was about to take off. Each time Daws has dusted himself off, knuckled down and got right back to work.
Now, more than ever that attitude is needed both on the pitch and in the dressing room, the next few weeks could determine not only our Champions League fate but where the club goes in the immediate future, the players have to realise this fact and step up to the plate. With Michael Dawson leading from the front, the example is there….let’s just hope his team-mates follow.
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