From friendly to the start of the League season

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

After the Cup Final, a break and now back to the start of a new league challenge… but first, there was a matter of a friendly against Inter Milan.

Hanna and I arrived at the ground at 10.30 am (it was only her second match at N17), parked up and then I made my way to the shop. Stayed for about half an hour (nothing caught my eye, apart from the programme) and then went to have a gander around the stadium. Spotted John – who was the attendant at the school (St Francis) when people parked there to watch Spurs play (before the new stadium was built). I had been going there for about 40 odd years; now the school has been taken over by the club (at least for match days), so I had to find other parking facilities. But it was nice to see John (he has recently had a heart attack). Many Spurs fans will remember him. I am sure we all wish him well.

The kick-off for the friendly was a few minutes late, but then all was full steam ahead, at least the first 3 minutes, that was when Lucas Moura fired us ahead. At this stage we looked incredibly sharp (ready to challenge for anything), but the tempo we were playing at dropped, and it allowed our opponents to equalise. Substitutions that were made interrupted the flow, and we went down a few notches, and it stayed that way for the rest of the game.

Finally, penalties came after full time. We were denied twice. Eventually losing 4-3. Eriksen missed his second penalty in a matter of days (you could hear a few boos around the stadium as he walked back to the centre spot).

But to be fair, all this was academic. Nobody was going to kill themselves for a friendly match. A crowd of over 58,000 turned up, impressive for a friendly.

Basically, that was it.

But the real meat on the bone was the beginning of the season, and before you could say anything, Aston Villa was looming over us.

I arrived at the stadium, as always, 5 hours earlier. A quick shifty in the shop, purchased some clothes and into the stadium. Met up with the regular group of friends (Terry, Ian, Jeff, Mel and Steve, no Beverley and a new edition to our group, Ken). Had drinks, food and into the stadium.

The fans were in a cheerful mood and raring to go. Finally, the whistle was blown and we were off, sluggish, but off. For long periods we looked dire and it looked like we were heading for defeat. The whistle went to put us out of our misery. The talk was of defeat, my thoughts were that Pochettino had to give a stiff talking to his players if they were going to turn this around. Then the players came out (not before I made my way to the food area to get a couple of bottles of diet coke and a tea and then back to my seat).

Whatever Pochettino said it must have worked… well, it worked, I should say, when Eriksen was brought on, and he injected some much-needed energy and vigour.

Even though we didn’t sign Dybala, we had strengthened significantly in the summer in an effort to improve on our last season’s performance. We had started in a similar fashion to our lacklustre form at the end of the 2018-19 season, when we won just one of our last five domestic games.

On the subject of Dybala; even though he is a striker, and some were saying that we needed a cover for Kane, my thoughts were that we had Son, Moura and the young Parratt. I thought we were covered ok. And remember that last season and the season before, when Kane was injured, we did exceptionally well. So much so that I thought that Kane should have been on the bench when we played Liverpool in the final. Why the heck change a team that did so well from the previous Ajax game (anyway, don’t get me started on that one). Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved Dybala at this club, but it wasn’t to be and what we’ve got is – hopefully – adequate.

Also, to complicate things, for the Villa game, we were missing several talented players because of injury and fitness (including suspension), Dele Alli, Son Heung-min, Foyth, plus the new additions; Ryan Sessegnon and Giovani lo Celso.

Our club record signing Tanguy Ndombele cancelled out John McGinn’s opener after Villa failed to clear their lines following Tom Heaton’s save to keep out Davinson Sanchez. From there we transformed ourselves and showed confidence and momentum and of course Kane, who had never scored in August, well, until last season, that is, made sure of the points with a quick-fire double in the final four minutes.

So, that was the easy part, next week we will show our mettle by taking on those that thrashed the Hammers 5-0, yes, Manchester City, and they are on their own ground to-boot. Our new signings will get a baptism of fire.

We walked away from the stadium with relief. Actually, I stayed an extra hour, then got my car and drove home, eventually getting home after 11 pm. Overall, a good day (a good few days). I had spent the last couple of days in London and the previous day went to see the play Equus and also a trip to the Tower of London (it was my birthday). Before that, I was visiting my mum in Lowestoft.

I am sure all Spurs fans who were there or watched it on the box are happy that we ended positively. We are serious challengers to the Premier League. After next weeks match, we should have a clearer picture.

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In the 90's, I was a writer for many of the top Spurs Fanzines (The Spurs, Spur of the Moment, MEHSTG and many others). A Spurs loyalist since the 60/61 season and now a season ticket holder (Premium). I run a Spurs Facebook page (“Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ voice” and co-run another one with Don Scully called “Tottenham Hotspur FC: Inside Track”). There is also a Spurs Twitter account (@HotspurVoice). I travel with Spurs to away games (including Europe). I have my a Blog (My blogging travels with Tottenham Hotspur Premium). The articles that appear on the blog also appear on SpursWeb and other applications.

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