The Europa League group stage ended with Spurs grabbing four, Soldado a hat-trick and a breath taking 10 minute "Oh When The Spurs" echoing out under the lights at White Hart Lane. This is football.
According to the manager of the team squatting on a patch of north London real-estate the best way to prepare for a game is by winning the previous one. For Spurs unbeaten in the Europa League but having failed to win in three out of the five following Premier League games, that maxim hasn’t quite stood up. However, as Spurs showboated their way through a comfortable game with the former wannabe Galacticos, I couldn’t help but think this week it might be different.
Against Anzhi Makhachkala, Spurs for the first time in recent memory played with freedom. They looked to enjoy themselves, move the ball quickly, try a flick or something new without the fear of 36,000 people tutting or sighing. Our opposition may have been rather kind in allowing us to play with such freedom, but using that space and expressing ourselves within it has been a failing of AVB’s Spurs in recent months.
It would be nice to believe that this freedom came from 1882 who had gathered in Block 35, but more than likely it was a culmination of two good away wins and an opposition that could fill only five of its seven substitute berths.
During any 1882 game its always difficult to get a handle on what exactly is happening on the pitch. There is so much going on around you, chants popping up across the block, some stick others fade, the presence of police, stewards and customer liaison officers also grabs your attention. When Anzhi scored I was too busy watching their 15 fans as someone around me tried to get a funny chant going, it was only when they started to clap and jump that I realised they had found the net.
[authquoteleft text=” Spurs for the first time in recent memory played with freedom[/linequote]
When I was able to give my attention to what was happening on the pitch it was clear that one player stood out a mile, Lewis Holtby, who I believe is currently the best role model for Erik Lamela at the club.
Last season when Holtby arrived the hype was massive for a £1.6 million signing. In his first few cameos he showed glimpses of what he could do, then he faded badly.
The German became stuck in a never ending circle of trying to over impress. He felt it necessary that every time he touched the ball something had to happen, he needed to earn acclaim, this feeling as he has settled at Spurs has slowly dissipated. Holtby now plays his own game and as his confidence has grown, so has his performances. In the last week he has scored two sublime goals and became a serious contender for that attacking midfield berth.
Lamela like Holtby also shows flashes of brilliance, his assist for Roberto Soldado’s second goal a case in point, but as the second half wore on he forced it, he tried to dazzle but stuttered. He like us saw an opportunity to do something special, but as with anything in life, try too hard and it’s likely to fail.
What separates the best players from the average ones is understanding instantly what can and can’t be done in any given situation. Lamela needs time, he needs to learn his role within the club and the team and allow his natural God given ability to shine through.
Elsewhere on the pitch Etienne Capoue stood out again in a central defensive role and young Ryan Fredricks at right-back gave width, penetration and showed he can cross accurately on the run. It was also encouraging to see Danny Rose return to first team action. Within the first few minutes the ball was spread wide, he ran on to it and without taking a touch, cutting inside or thinking about where he was, or what he was doing, swung in a first time cross. Width, pace and quick crossing, it was a glorious moment.
It was also heart warming to see Soldado grab his first Spurs hat-trick. A header, a first time finish and a signature penalty will have given AVB plenty to ponder for the upcoming clash against Liverpool. The Spaniards talent, as far as I am concerned has never been in doubt, what has been though is the service. On Thursday night though he proved, give him the ball in those areas and he will score, it’s in his nature, it’s what he was born to do.
Holtby now plays his own game and as his confidence has grown, so has his performances
Back in Block 35, 1882 was also doing what it was born to do. The movement has recently come under some criticism from sections of the Spurs support, but last night I wondered if we hadn’t been there would there have been any singing or would the game have been the dead rubber it was penciled in for?
Many people have, in their own opinion, justifiable reasons for disliking, or belittling what 1882 attempts to do, but what they can’t deny is that it brings an atmosphere to certain games that without them would have been deathly quiet.
The Fighting Cock has done a lot to integrate 1882 with Spurs fans from outside the ethos. Either on the Front Page or on the Pod, time and space has been given to individuals to share their feelings and thoughts, but last night as a 10 minute “Oh When The Spurs” rang out across the ground, it dawned on me, that if they don’t get it now, they just have to be written off as collateral damage.
[authquoteleft text=”if you don’t understand what 10 minutes of “Oh When The Spurs” sang slowly means, then you are lost to not only Spurs but football[/linequote]
Wherever they sit, be it Shelf, west, Paxton Rd, corporate box, behind a keyboard or under a duvet, if you don’t understand what 10 minutes of “Oh When The Spurs” sang slowly means, then you are lost to not only Spurs but football. The songs which had been claimed created a division were kept to the minimum, instead the classics where given a good singing, 1882 as they have always done opened their arms to every Spurs fan against Anzhi.
If you are still sitting on the fence, its time to get down and try it. Put the keyboard away, move from your traditional area for one game and see what its all about.
[author name=”ARLombardi” avatar=”https://si0.twimg.com/profile_images/378800000190788876/b1d0a1120760e39338a815ea5827d7f8.jpeg” bio=”I read, I write, I edit for The Fighting Cock” twitter=”ARLombardi[/linequote]