March 18, 2011
Another Biggest Game of the Season is coming up for Spurs. It’s been days since we had one of those. Nuzzling up against the edges of success is really tiring and stressful in that sense. By this stage we’re usually playing dead rubbers against Everton, having a few pints in the Bell & Hare beforehand, shovelling a pie down our necks at half-time and maybe even nipping off early to beat the rush for the bar. These days, however, West Ham at home has the potential to shape our season, maybe even next season, maybe beyond that. OK, basically, the entire future of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club should be decided by about quarter to three on Saturday. Probably by Demba bloody Ba.
The importance of the fixture is ratcheted up a notch or two by the fact that Chelsea play Man City the next day. If we win, any result in their game will give us encouragement. If we lose, any result will make it more likely that we will feature in Channel 5’s Thursday night schedule next season. â€¨â€¨
I don’t fancy our chances. FA Cup quarter-final aside, West Ham have found some form and confidence recently. Our last two league games have seen us lose to Blackpool and draw with Wolves – conceding six goals in the process. (I’m ignoring the Champions League – it’s good practice for when we’re not in it anymore.) They’ll come snarling out of the traps whereas we’ll try and take them to one side and calmly explain that, whilst we admire their gusto, they have to understand that by any objective measure, we have better players than they do. By which time they will have opened the scoring. â€¨â€¨
Perhaps we can bring out their softer side by convincing them that they’ve already won this season’s big prize: the Olympic Stadium. I remember playing Leicester in the league not long after we’d beaten them in the Worthington Cup final. They formed a guard of honour and clapped us out onto our own pitch and then promptly tanked us. It’ll be hard to offer our humble congratulations to West Ham without sniggering, however – and we don’t need to get them any more riled up than they already will be.â€¨â€¨
West Ham will get at least a point. They won’t get relegated and we won’t finish top four. We’ll be fifth. We were always going to be fifth. Over the season we’ll be quite a bit better than the teams below us and a tiny but irritatingly tangible bit worse than the teams above us. Prove me wrong, Spurs. Please, please prove me wrong.