Saturday, February 04, 2006

Earning Our Spurs

In the midst of the furore about the Murphy transfer, it was easy to forget there is a vital game between the clubs this Sunday. I don't detect any special 'edge' however because a) Murphy isn't playing, and b) you can't really fault Tottenham's approach. However it is clearly vital for both clubs, not least Spurs whose Champions League hopes will disappear quicker than Sol Campbell unless they re-find their form.

It is also an important game for us too with us now down to 14th place. Admittedly we are still a tidy ten points clear of relegation but we are only five points above hapless 'Boro in 17th, not a position I would want us to take up in the final weeks of the season with 'Brum and Pompey fighting for their lives.

Our record at White Hart Lane is exceptional, and we have not lost there since March 1990. It is hard to explain why we should have such a good record there, yet we always struggle say at Villa a club with a similar history, similar form in recent years and a similarly lukewarm atmosphere. I had always assumed it was just down to random factors and not a trend to read too much into, but maybe there is more to it than that? Either way, as a North-East Londoner I would rather have bragging rights over Spurs than any other side.

Clearly Spurs have improved markedly this season and I admire their attempts to monopolise any available young English talent. However the key word is 'available' because I suspect they didn't face much competition in the 'race' for Jermaine Jenas' signature for example. Moreover, although it's hard to deny they are stronger than us right now, I don't really envy many of their players, perhaps only Robinson, King, Defoe and Davids aside. Let's recall also that Charlton sat in 4th place at a similar juncture just two seasons ago and we not only faded then, but have gone backwards ever since.

When Curbs mentioned that our average final League position had been higher than Tottenham's over recent seasons, I went to double-check his accuracy. However here it is in clear terms:

2004/5 Charlton: 11th Spurs: 9th
2003/4 Charlton: 7th Spurs: 14th
2002/3 Charlton: 12th Spurs: 10th
2001/2 Charlton: 14th Spurs: 9th
2000/1 Charlton: 9th Spurs: 12th
TOTAL Charlton: 53 Spurs: 54

Nice one Curbs (not that I didn't trust you of course). I am not going to claim that Charlton are a 'bigger club' because the facts don't back it up, nor that we have more 'potential', but if crowds and away support was all that counted (Murphy's words, not mine) then players would be leaving the likes of Charlton, Wigan and Blackburn in droves to join Leeds. Spurs may have found some near-term stability (albeit by accident after the Santini debacle), but they have put their fans through over a decade of humiliating underachievement whilst watching their neighbours Arsenal go from strength-to-strength.

I rather like Martin Jol however, much to my chagrin, and I naturally admire his decision to continually drop Jermaine Defoe which is not only amusing in of itself, but it should by rights open the way for Darren Bent to take his seat on the plane to Germany. Jol will be concerned at his side's recent form, namely a failure to score in their last three League games punctuated by an embarrassing Cup defeat at Leicester. He will rightly see us as providing a good opportunity to get back on track, and that is what concerns me.

When the fixture-planners decided to opt for 1.30pm kick-offs on Sundays this season, I suspect they didn't think of the US-based fans who have to crawl out of bed at some ungodly hour to find a suitably dingy pub to watch it in. At least I have an hour's advantage over Chicago Addick. If we play to our strengths, avoid the silly individual errors and believe in ourselves, it might be a chance to see us win away for the first time since Oct 22 which feels like an awfully long time ago (because it was).


At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone think we were a bit unlucky today?

I thought we looked very comfortable in the first half and with a bit more luck could have gone in 1 up at the break instead of 2-0 down.

Thought we also had a very good shout for a penalty early in the second half.

Also a special word for our support today which was as loud as I can remember them. Well done to our travelling army.

At 5:07 PM, Anonymous NewYorkAddick said...

Thanks Stan

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