It was March 1997. It was a wet, cold depressing day which even at the ripe age of 6 I was used to in this country. Today, however was not a normal day. Today was my first game at what was to become my place of worship and my temple; White Hart Lane.
Having got into football the previous summer with European Championships being in England I had been keen to get into my father’s passion of the club game and his first love Tottenham Hotspur. The opposition was Everton. It had been an ok season in context to the previous ones and a safe midtable position looked assured even at this stage of the season.
The second I stepped up into Gangway 5 in the West Upper I knew I was hooked. The smells of damp and sweat of the players warming up. The blue swarm of away fans to my right and the chit chat and banter around me about how the game will go.
The game finished 4-1 and Chris Armstrong scored a hattrick. It was our biggest home win of the season so I certainly picked a good game to go to.
17 years on, and as our manager said if you were to cut me in half my blood would be blue and white, my heart would be a cockerel proudly standing on a ball and my soul would be forever branded with Tottenham Hotspur and the love I have of the club.
However, in my life time I have witnessed two cup wins; both league cup wins. Therefore I am not used to the “glory glory” days of the 60s, 70s and 80s that my dad still speaks of to this day. He is 61 years old and grew up watching countless trophies, and players such as Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Smith, Cliff Jones and Danny Blanchflower light up the lane. I however grew up with Ramon Vega, Sergiy Rebrov, Oyvind Leonhardsen and Ben Thatcher; a little less glamourous!
However a few years ago a East London Wide boy called Harry Redknapp transformed this club. He brought back the mentality of the 60s: that we could beat anyone and play football that even the biggest teams in the world would often envy. We had players like Ledley King, Rafa Van der Vaart, Luka Modric, Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale who not only were good players but playing the best football of their career. There would be frustration such as a few home defeats and the fact this talented squad didn’t win a trophy despite a couple of semi finals. However the football we played was unlike any I have seen in my lifetime at Spurs; fluid movement, confidence to take on players, belief that we would win every game and a fantastic team spirit in the squad.
This year…has been a nightmare in my opinion. The signings have not worked. Capoue looked good to start but picked up a bad injury and has been unable to win over Sherwood; although slating the British game has done him no favours. Chiriches has been hot and cold. A great first touch and confident on the ball but off the ball looks suspect and is very small for a centre half. Soldado is dreadful. People saying he will come good or hasn’t had a fair chance are just scared to admit he looks half the player Pavlyuchenko was who cost half as much. Lamela I think will come good. Whether it is in a Spurs shirt I am not so sure but think he has bundles of potential and is worth sticking with. Eriksen is class; too class for the current crop and in 3 years time will be at a Champions League team that I hope is us! Chadli I think is a very good player but not for Spurs. He has no pace and doesn’t suit our system at all. A move to a team like Newcastle or Aston Villa would bring the best out of him. Paulinho I think has potential also but I think it is clear he wants a move to a bigger club and is using our club as a ladder to a greater step. If we could make a profit on him this summer I would let him go.
The other players are quite frankly the most boring, samey group I have known at the club. Lloris is class and could get into most teams. Adebayor and Vertonghen could also when they can be bothered. The rest are nothing. We have the worst left back we have had in years. The slowest centre backs going and midfielders who are all the same.
I know we don’t want another summer of huge change but if someone told me we could sell everyone except Eriksen, Lamela, Lloris and Adebayor I wouldn’t be bothered. We have been so boring this season our football has been woeful and I cannot wait for change. Benitez is the man for me but we will see what Mr Levy gives us is anyone’s guess but one thing is for sure, I am Tottenham till I die!
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