Sunday 11th August 2002

Tottenham  2   Lazio  2   (Half time: 2-1)
Sunday 11th Aug 2002
Venue :  White Hart Lane
Kick off : 3.00 p.m. 
Weather : Sunny with some cloud
Crowd : -  21,185
Referee : -  Mr. A. D'Urso (Essex)

Tottenham  -   Richards 2, Redknapp 18
Lazio  -   Lopez 28, Crespo 58


Tottenham  -   None
Lazio  - None

Tottenham : Keller; Taricco, Perry (Gardner 65), Richards, Carr; Bunjevcevic, Redknapp (Bortolozzo 76), Acimovic (Blondel 76), Etherington; Rebrov, Sheringham (Iversen 66)
Unused subs : - Sullivan, Thatcher, Davies, Doherty

Lazio :  Marchegiani; Oddo, Nesta, Stam (Couto 45), Pancaro; Fiore (Inzaghi 66), Stankovic, Liverani (Giannichedda 76), Cesar (Simeone 45); Crespo, Lopez. Unused subs: Concetti, Baggio, Gottardi, Negro.


Tottenham  -  Blue and black shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks with blue turnover
Lazio  -  All white


How do more people look like less ?  Must be an optical illusion or they did it with mirrors.  More people were at WHL on Wednesday for the friendly against Celtic than were there today according to the official attendance, but there were less bits of blue plastic visible this afternoon.  Maybe people were more spread out ?

There was more of a feeling of a game being on as I walked up to the ground.  People were filling the streets and it felt more of an event than Wednesday's visit of Celtic, as the weather was better and there were more familiar faces to be seen.  The season is only six days away and I am starting to get the feeling that there is something to look forward to.  There would be more to look forward to with a new striker, but hey, that's for another page in the fanzine !!

Entering the ground, the buzz is about Qu Bo.  What's he like ?  Will he be playing ?  What about the work permit ?  If we are getting this excited about a young striker, what would it be like if we did sign a top goal-scorer ?  The sun shone down as the team took the field with 11 mascots (Ker-ching go the Spurs cash registers).  The side are wearing the new away kit, which looks good.  Lazio sport an all white ensemble with a bit of a 80's pinstripe in the shirt.  Retro must be stylish in Italy this year.

So, the Spurs attack kicks into action straight away.  A move down the right involving Etherington and Sheringham finds Acimovic, who tries to flick it back from the bye-line to Rebrov, but it is put behind for a corner.  Milo takes the corner from the left wing; the ball being cleared high into the air.  As it falls, Acimovic plays the ball on the volley a couple of yards into the area, where Rebrov waits.  His looks up, crosses to the far post and coming in, behind his marker was Deano. His stooping header gave Spurs the lead after just 74 seconds !!  It was a good cross by Sergei, who looked a lot more involved today ... maybe Hod had told him this was his opportunity for people to see how good he is ?

Everything was going so well, until Redknapp's short back-pass that made Keller rush to clear.  A bit too close for comfort.  Not that it mattered, as Jamie's next action was at the other end, when he pounced on a blocked Bunjy attempt and he hit a textbook volley from 25 yards out to nearly rip the net as it went in.  His technique was excellent and it reminded me of the Mabbutt and Hoddle volleys of yesteryear.  Unfortunately, a later attempt direct from an Acimovic corner ended in the shot slicing off his boot and wide of the goal.

Before that Lazio could have been level.  Lopez seized on a ball in from the left from Cesar, slipped his marker and then shot across Keller for the visitors first goal in the 28th minute.  Where the marking was seven minutes later, when a right wing cross found Crespo unmarked, I don't know.  Luckily, his glancing header went wide of the far post, while Stankovic, the crosser, ended up in the crowd.

The only other notable action of the first half involved the aforementioned Cesar, who got laid out by a Stephen Carr challenge.  He seemed to take it badly, as he attempted to flatten Carr in the very next incident and for the rest of the match, it was left to Liverani to take up the vendetta, with Cesar leaving the pitch at half-time and not returning.  Liverani was also the recipient of a sarcastic round of applause from Rebrov, when he took the most dramatic dive imaginable.  It was a gesture the crowd warmed to.

At half-time, the Lazio subs warmed up on the pitch for the latest match in their English tour that had taken in Liverpool, Blackburn and Derby.  Unfortunately, this limbering up was all we saw of Concetti, who has the squad number 99.  He was easy to pick out, as he was the one with a chocolate flake sticking out of his head !!

When the second half started, Lazio obviously had the intention to step up the pace of the game and pressed onto the Spurs back four.  Shots from Crespo and Fiore made Kasey dive to save, while the American did well in the 52nd minute, when Lopez stole in on the left and hit a powerful shot that Kasey blocked, but it fell to Crespo and he blazed the ball over the bar and into the South Stand.

There was a little retaliation, when Jamie hit a free kick a foot or two over the Lazio crossbar, before the quick break saw Steve Carr hacking the ball away from Stankovic in the six yard box.  However, from the resulting throw-in, Lopez lobs the ball into the six yard box from the right wing,  finding Crespo free in front of goal and he put his header past Keller to bring the score all square.  I was going to say that if you leave him with that much space he will punish you, but, in the 75th minute, Lopez bent the ball in with the outside of his left foot, Crespo is just in front of the penalty spot and heads powerfully downwards.  It had 2-3 written all over it, but Keller managed to get his legs in the way and gathered the ball before anyone else could get there.

Following the Lazio equaliser, Etherington, who roasted his marker in the first half, got away again and pulled the ball square for Redknapp to hit a shot along the ground that went wide by about eighteen inches.  The game was moving from end to end so quickly and Taz nearly got the arm of his shirt ripped off, before Oddo fired in a low shot.  Iversen had a golden chance, when put in by Redknapp and looking in a good position, hits the shot well over the bar.  It was an escape that nearly cost Spurs, as it was just after this that KK saved from Crespo.  

The substitutions started and Anthony Gardner looked very good when he entered the action.  His defensive partner was having a hectic match, as when a Lazio cross came in from the left, Richards tried to head to behind, but it caused Keller some consternation, as it narrowly cleared the bar.  From the corner, Carr tries to head the ball back to the keeper, but Lopez is alert to it and forces Keller to block with his body.  Etherington put in a good cross that Carr headed over, then the winger set up Bunjy for a low shot straight at the keeper from 25 yards.  There was one last effort, when Richards laid the ball out to Bortolozzo, but his shot warmed only the hands of the North Stand crowd as time ran out.

Altogether a better game than Wednesday, with Lazio competitive to the point of nastiness once Diego Simeone had come on.  Many Spurs players did themselves proud.  Matty ran down the wing away from Oddo and Pancaro in the first half, but the Italians soon sussed this and cut out most of his supply in the remaining 45.  Rebrov looked more lively than he had and linked better with Sheringham, with Iversen showing he still needs to hit the target more regularly, even if he doesn't score.  Taz had a good game, while Perry was looking better - intercepting passes and getting close to his man.  Both Bortolozzo and Blondel both looked comfortable on the ball when they had it and didn't seem phased by the fact they were playing against Lazio.

More benefits than drawbacks, but the team must learn that going two up and letting the other side back into the game, is not the way that they will move up the Premier League.  Seeing as how we do it too often, there needs to be some training ground work on concentration.






So, the preamble is now over and we await the main course.  A nine month one, but let's hope, for once, we gorge ourselves on the fare in the Premier League.

With the Italians being a way off being match honed for their League programme, the result was perhaps less important than the way we played and in the first half, it was very well.  The second saw Lazio take the game by the scruff of the next and Lopez got behind Taricco on more than a few occasions.  Worrying for Spurs, as was the freedom of the box allowed to Crespo for his equaliser, while only some edge of the box tackles stopped further damage.

It is unusual for Tottenham to have home pre-season friendlies, but this one was a chance to see some of the stars of the World Cup, but the less than full house must mean that 30 is too much even for the players who were on show.  The first glimpse of Blondel and a home debut for Redknapp shaped the Spurs side, but it was Etherington who gave them the most worries on the left wing, with his pace being more than enough to take him past his opponents.

The draw was a result that Spurs were lucky to get away with in the end, but they did have about the same number of chances as Lazio.  It was just that most of the visitors were on target.  So, here's to next Saturday and I leave you with the individual reports on our players, which have been so favoured this pre-season ...

Keller :  Did what he had to do well.  Punched and caught when he needed to, good blocking and used his whole body.  Unlucky with both goals, as left exposed, but should be first choice for the Everton game on this showing.

Taricco : Solid, but Lopez managed to get behind him.  Won't face many players of that quality in the Premier League, but needs to pay attention to his defending.

Perry : Looked surprisingly good. Quick, read the game well and was strong in the tackle.  Gets pulled out of position sometimes, but the zonal system allows that.  Better as a man marker and did well on the day.

Gardner : Looked classy on the ball and good in nicking the ball away from his opponent.  Uses the ball, when bringing it out of the back four and looks more comfortable on it than Deano.  Would be my preference over Richards.

Richards :  Not as slow as previously seen during pre-season and looked strong in the air.  Another who might not be able to cope with a zonal system, but got in some good tackles when needed.  Did get round the back of their defence at the start to give us the lead, but needs to dominate in the opposition's box at set-pieces.

Carr :  Back to his usual feisty self, having a running battle with a couple of Lazio players.  Used the ball well, but looked exasperated when he didn't get a good pass from colleagues.  If he can stay fit, will be a real asset on the right flank.

Bunjevcevic :  Looks cool on the ball and his distribution is very good.  However, if he gets half the time on the ball in the Premiership, he will be very lucky.  Needs to be more urgent in his actions and not to get caught out, as he doesn't look the quickest.

Redknapp :  Class.  A cracking goal.  Good passing and a neat turn that takes him away from his marker.  Is not yet fit enough to chase back quickly, but he did get behind the ball and his box-to-box work wasn't bad.  Makes the ball keep rolling and that is useful for the team.

Bortolozzo :  Short time on the pitch, but made his mark with some wickedly bent in crosses ... if only we had someone to get on the end of them !!  Looks silky in possession and not afraid to get stuck into a tackle. Could be worth bringing in on a  permanent deal, especially if he is cheap and the work permit is not a problem.

Acimovic :  Has a repertoire of drag-backs, "lollipops" and step-overs that will have Spurs fans drooling.  Has a range of falls in his bag as well, which might not endear him to many.  Needs to focus on the good stuff and cut out the rest.  Might get knocked about a fair bit in the League, but he could be the supply line we have been looking for.  bet he can land the ball on a five pence piece.

Blondel :  Looked like one of Hoddle's "happy on the ball" boys.  Nice touch and good vision, he could be useful in opening up defences.

Etherington :  Pace left his markers pulling at his shirt and bringing him down.  Used the ball well when he got into a crossing position and although he was not as effective in the second half, as they changed their style, he worked hard and linked well with Blondel.

Rebrov :  Started well, but rarely got good service in good positions.  Played better with Ted up front than he has before, but excelled when filling in for the Spurs captain, when he was substituted.  Looked keen and eager as perhaps he was in the shop window.  

Sheringham :  Quiet game really.  Linked things and didn't get a lot of change out of his old mate Jaap Stam.  Looked comfortable with the laid back pace of the game, with his touch making things look easy.

Iversen :  Has the look of a rabbit in the headlights when he gets the ball near goal.  His first effort was skied, when he should have made the keeper work.  He got the ball later in the game near the box and where any other striker would think, "I've got a yard of space and a clear shot on goal, let's let one go", he immediately laid the ball back ... to a Lazio player.  Needs to be built up in his head by the management to take more accurate shots and not be afraid to take them on.

East Stan




Tottenham Hotspur v Lazio
Sunday 11th August 2002.

The sell: Come see Crespo and Lopez and an array of talent from the World Cup in the shape of Lazio.
Roll up Roll up. Welcome to the Tottenham "We'll look after our punters."
Friendly match ticket giveaway.
Do you think we'll give half price tickets to kids ?
Do you think we'll give half price tickets to OAPS or season ticket holders ?
Or maybe even a large deduction for Members ? Noooooooooooooooooo.
That's it. We'll slice a huge and whopping great 5 off the tickets. Yeah that's will do it.

This gob-smacking reason was why just in excess of 21,000 of us, tortured by the lack of football since the World Cup ended, decided to roll into WHL on a humid Sunday afternoon to watch our final friendly before the real stuff starts. 

Looking forward to seeing us turn it on after "real friendlies" such as Colchester & Watford, I was pleased to see that Lazio had a completely full strength (although not truly match fit) team out.
This will be a test, I thought and here's my feeling on the boys in general and how they played:-

Kasey Keller : -  He's actually not a bad keeper. Great shot stopper (Crespo's close range header for example) and very agile.  A little susceptible to crosses, but then don't know any keepers who aren't these days.
Really only playing for the Spurs due to Sully's incredible fall from grace after his incredible 2000/01 season.  Seems to be commanding at the back which I like to see and doesn't waste many goal kicks, nearly always finding a white shirt.

Mauricio Taricco : -  Not actually a fan, but have to say that the past two games he has impressed.  Linked well with Matty yesterday going forward and did his share of defensive duties with aplomb.  Worry about his attention span.  Gives away too many needless free-kicks.

Stevie Carr : -  A quality player, but one who gives the ball away as regularly as the next man and always finds someone to moan at.  He's our very own Roy Keane.  Didn't have one of his best games yesterday, but still  showed he's one of the best right backs around.  Was waiting for another of those special cross field balls which were played in abundance on Wednesday ... none came.  Sometimes I wonder whether he now feels he's above playing for us.

Goran Bunje : -  Confidence seeps out of him when he's on the ball. It's nice to see someone bringing it out of defence.  Played a cool calm and efficient game yesterday.  Hodd obviously loves him and I can see why.

Chris Perry : -  Say what you like about this man, but he is currently my number 1.  He was brilliant yesterday.  Strong in the tackle, determined and got some great last ditch tackles and headers in.  If it wasn't for the fact that his passing is sometimes at best atrocious, he'd be in there with Ledley and Goran as first choices.  It will be a travesty if others get in before him. 

Dean Richards : -  Hmmmmmm.  Deano can't work out whether he's Guy Butters or Allesandro Nesta.  One minute he looks like an 8m defender, the next, he doesn't.  
Great finish for his goal (could teach the front boys a thing or two).
I'd have him as a bench warmer or to combat the threat of aerial teams such as Everton (with Ferguson) or Sunderland (Quinn).

Jamie Redknapp : -  Well, what can you say.  A goal like that hasn't been scored like since the Long haired God left the club.  Awesome finish with technical ability and passing to match.  The ability to turn a marker and hit passes short and long is also something we have  missed.  Can he stay fit?

Milo Acimovic : -  We got a two in one yesterday, getting both JR and Milo on the same pitch.  He's got more tricks than David Blaine and is sure to be a star at the Lane.  Goes over easier than a giraffe on rollerskates, so I'm hoping that God has a word in his shell-like.
His touch to Rebrov for the opening goal was (almost) worth the admission fee alone.

Matty Etherington : -  Cracking game and made the  Lazio right back look a mug on many occasions with his pace.  Some devastating crosses were stuck in the mixer and unsurprisingly not taken advantage of, but it is still an area of his game that he needs to work on.  On this form a Premiership winger, but more often than not drifts out of the game.

Teddy Sheringham : -  Thought Teddy did well against Big Jaap.  Won many headers considering the height disadvantage, but didn't have anyone around to help him.  Don't really remember him misplacing any passes, but once again never looked like getting on the scoresheet.

Sergei Rebrov : -  Am I the only fan in WHL who doesn't want this man to start in our team ? The fella showed me delightful touches yesterday, but these were interspersed with such bile that it is hard to see him ever getting a real go.  His confidence is shot to pieces and he isn't even a 10th of the player who terrorised the Gooners many moons ago.

Tony Gardner really is a boy for the future.
Diego Bortollozo has yet to impress me enough for him to get on the bench.  Nice touches, but still early.
Jon Blondel looked to have good feet and an eye for a pass. Only time will tell.
Steffen Iversen is an enigma. Hat-trick up at Sunderland a couple of years ago demonstrates what a cracking striker he can be. Yesterday he showed why he has us pulling our hair out. Shoot on sight man for crying out loud.

I thought it was a great workout for the boys and the first half yesterday was like the first half of last season.  Great movement, great passing and lovely goals.  Sadly the second half was like last year's second half.  
Backs against the walls, bad finishing, woeful passing. 
It's going to be a tough time getting into Europe this season, but if we can keep enough players fit, then I'm sure that 6th place and a good cup run is well within our reach.


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