Spurs: Progress From Lamela & Friedel's Match-Winning Save Avoided Disaster
I wasn’t going to go to this one. It wasn’t a season ticket game and I hadn’t got round to buying my usual seat in time. But on Tuesday night I found myself glancing at the ticket availability and a solitary green dot in the South Stand Lower seemed to be calling my name. I clicked.
Compared to the Upper West, my regular haunt, the South Lower is a hotbed of loud and raucous home support although Andre Villas Boas may beg to differ. Where better to assess the big Tottenham Hotspur issues of the day, specifically the perceived lack of support from the fans, the attacking impotence of the team, the Y-word controversy, the poor form of record buy Erik Lamela and the widespread uncertainty as to what constitutes our ‘best eleven’?
As luck would have it, I was joined just before kick off by an enthusiastic German holidaymaker called Tobias to provide an outsider’s view. The first thing he did was light up a cig and English reserve enabled him to chain smoke merrily into the second half before anyone informed him that it wasn’t allowed.
Tobias’s judgements were as pithy as they were unsolicited. ‘It is quiet’ he said after ten minutes. I didn’t respond so he repeated it much louder ‘It is quiet! Do you not think so?’
I nodded weakly. It wasn’t that quiet, not by recent standards. At one point there was a chorus of ‘AVB, is this loud enough for you?’ and over in block J, the 1882 group - formed specifically to raise noise levels at the Lane long before the manager’s weekend outburst - were actually boisterous.
‘Your team is not attacking well’ was Tobias’s next observation, which wasn’t unreasonable. There’s been a lot of moaning about Spurs knocking the ball about for long stretches without actually getting anywhere and I found that, from behind the opposition’s goal, this is particularly frustrating to watch. Tellingly, it wasn’t a well-crafted chance that led to Tottenham’s opener but a Bale-esque wonder-strike from the mercurial Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Halfway though the half, Tobias got to his feet and left. Christ, I thought, it’s not that bad.
At half time I went to get a drink and bumped into him. ‘I came to get a beer but it was very difficult’ he said having found that it isn’t for sale during the game. ‘I don’t understand, in Dortmund we can have beer while we watch. Beer and football go together, no? And why is it so quiet?’
I explained we were playing a small team in a smallish competition but he wasn’t having it. ‘In Dortmund we support the team always!’
I told him that the Dortmund fans were famous throughout Europe for their support which made him very happy and I added that we were especially well disposed towards them following their victory at Arsenal last week which also made him beam. But our blossoming friendship hit a snag when he said that if Lewis Holtby were to come on he would sing a song that, when translated, suggested his parentage consisted of his sister and his brother. This was because he had worn the shirt of Dortmund’s sworn rivals Schalke.
Meanwhile, members of the Yid Army were playfully shouting ‘Yid Army!’ at the police who had special warning forms with them to issue to anyone guilty of using the Y-word. Their hearts clearly weren’t in it though and I didn’t see them get cross with anyone beyond a quiet word and a roll of the eyes.
Following Hull’s comedic equaliser I found my mood was souring. ‘Your team could lose this game!’ said Tobias helpfully. As Spurs laboured on through extra time, I looked for positives. Kaboul’s latest comeback was assured, Chiriches continues to impress and Harry Kane was excellent when he replaced the unfortunate Chadli who had only been on ten minutes before he had to limp off again.
As for Lamela, there was progress - flashes of class even. Just before he missed his penalty in the shootout I thought to myself ‘very big moment this for Erik’ but hopefully the net effect of the night on his confidence will be positive.
Following Friedel’s match winning save I turned to Tobias, shook his hand and told him it had been a pleasure to meet him. Sadly, he couldn’t hear me above the din.
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