|So, Middlesbrough have brought
in Terry Venables to coach the side to Premiership safety. How
will he be welcomed back at White Hart Lane I wonder ? By the fans
- pretty well. By Alan Sugar - a frosty reception is guaranteed
for this December meeting.
The Boro side come to Tottenham having had a
miserable time of it lately. Bryan Robson has presided over a
drastic slump in fortunes that even some recent Spurs bosses might have
been embarrassed by. The big money signings have once again failed
to do the business. Alan Boksic looks keen to leave after a bright
start; Ugo Ehiogu has suffered injury and suspension after transferring
to the Riverside; Karembeu has taken a while to come into form; Ziege
didn't last more than a month of the season before decamping to
Liverpool and other injuries have struck the club hard.
Schwartzer in goal has been letting some goals
slip past and the man he replaced, Mark Crossley was sent off for a foul
against Arsenal. In front of him, Pallister is likely to be out
until the New Year with a back injury and his former central defensive
partner, Gianluca Festa is seeking to get away from the North
East. Fleming and Gordon are back in tandem on the flanks, while
Cooper and Vickers have teamed up inside them.
Forwards Summerbell, Andy Campbell and
Desire-Job are all out until after Christmas with various injuries,
while Boksic has joined them in the treatment room, although news
reaches us that he might be ready to return to the side. Colombian
Hamilton Ricard will be suspended for this match, so the out of touch
Noel Whelan and Brian Deane could provide the strike force against
Tottenham, with Alan Armstrong having been sold to Ipswich Town.
The chances they get will have to be forged from the midfield of Ince,
O'Neill, Karembeu and Mustoe, in the absence of the suspended Marinelli.
Beyond these players, Robson and Venables have little in the way of
experienced playing staff. A win over Chelsea will have boosted
their fragile confidence.
For a club with Tottenham's home record, this
game should look reasonably easy on paper, but Middlesbrough have a
decent record at White Hart Lane of late. The fact remains that
Boro are leaking goals, even when they are playing well and Tottenham
must take every chance they get. More will come at home, so ...
- Tottenham 3 Middlesbrough 1
For more information on
the opponents and their history, including full result history of
matches between the two teams, click here.
|Tottenham 0 Middlesbrough 0
Saturday 23rd December 2000
Weather : Cold, dry.
Referee : Rob Styles (Waterlooville)
: Sullivan, Carr, Perry, Campbell, Thelwell, Clemence, Sherwood (Leonhardsen
85), Anderton, King, Rebrov, Ferdinand (Armstrong 45).
Subs Not Used: Walker, Korsten, Doherty.
: Schwarzer, Vickers, Cooper, Ehiogu, Mustoe, Ince, O'Neill (Gordon 90),
Okon, Karembeu, Whelan (Fleming 88), Boksic (Deane 76)
Subs Not Used: Festa, Crossley.
The much vaunted return of Terry Venables
went off without a peep from Spurs fans. Much like the match
really, which promised much, but found Tottenham lacking ingenuity to
break down Boro's stubborn defence. And the peep of Mr. Styles
whistle was about the most annoying thing about this match. New to
the Premier League, he stopped play at every opportunity and let Boro'
get away with time wasting that started just 20 minutes into the
match. When there was an advantage, he still managed to pull play
As a game of football, it was pretty
poor fare. Lots of attacking intent by Spurs, but little quality
in terms of the final ball and when that was the case, there were
usually enough Middlesbrough defenders on hand to block the Miami
Dolphins offense. And it was in Miami, that our out going chairman
was - on holiday. I am sure it had nothing to do with the return
Boro came for the point and anything
else they might get. In truth, they were sluggish going forward
and appeared intent on defending what they came with. There were a
couple of instances when they broke through - a Karembeu cross was
missed by all, then Campbell cleared from a low ball across the six yard
box and in the second half, Boksic broke clear, but his shot was off
As for Spurs, there were
a number of chances scattered throughout the match. Carr's early
shot was just a little away from the goal and another cross was close to
Clemence's head. Rebrov had a shot blocked, Anderton's drive was
palmed away by the Aussie keeper and Stephen Clemence's cross to the far
post was headed goal-ward by an in-rushing Carr, only for it to hit a
defender on the back and go off for a corner. Schwarzer also did
well to push a Tim Sherwood diving header around the post. Ledley
King showed his ability with a powerfully hit strike which warmed the
Boro keeper's fingers.
The second half looked
more promising, as Armstrong's pace coming on for head injured Ferdinand
(quelle suprise) seemed more likely to trouble the Boro defenders.
He had the ball in the net twice, but both were ruled out for offside,
obviously to the angst of George Graham. Clemence had a long range
effort plucked out of the air by the keeper and Anderton nearly repeated
his goal against Southampton last season, when Schwarzer kicked a
clearance straight to him, but managed to scramble back to stop the
effort. Perry had a scissors kick saved, Armstrong took the ball
past the keeper, but was going to fast to be able to pull the ball back
and he was involved again, when a free kick was hit his way and his
header cleared the impending danger for Boro' ! He was also
involved in chasing the ball down when a back-pass to Schwarzer was
spooned up in the air and Rebrov hit the ball back towards goal, only
for a deflection to take it up and onto the bar. Only Clemence's
mis-kick when slipped through by King spared Boro in the closing stages.
this showing, Middlesbrough will really struggle to stay up, but they
are obviously benefiting from Venables' tactical awareness. It is
not pretty, but someone said as we came out that he wished Spurs could
do that away from home ! On the day, it looked like Spurs wouldn't
have scored if they had played all night. There was some evidence
of good football from Spurs, but then what good is it playing with style
if you don't win ??
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - SOL
|Boro look like a side condemned. If
they play the rest of the season like this, it might achieve a target,
but the fans will suffer dreadfully. They were very poor and on a
day when Spurs looked unlikely to score, they could have got their usual
return from a visit to White Hart Lane. Some of their players
appear to be going through the motions for their money and I am sure
that Tel will want more from them as the campaign progresses.
Boksic showed a delightful control of the ball when it came to him like
a rocket, but his awareness and finishing for the one chance that came
his way was woeful. And all for £63,000 a week !! As for
Karembeu, he showed brief flashes of what he is capable of, but the
overall feeling was that he was not giving everything for the cause.
For all the hype and all the people who
tell me Tel should come back to manage Tottenham, this was a performance
out of character with a Venables side. It was undoubtedly born out
of the dire situation and need for points that they find themselves in,
but it hints that he might just be there to organise them and save them
from relegation, without any further involvement beyond that. It
is something that will probably come about as Tel is a Londoner and for
all the noises he is making, I can't imagine him staying North of
Watford for too long.
The best time of the match came at half
time. When Holsten's "new exciting" competition, hosted
by Martin Chivers, was premiered during the break the fans could hardly
contain their boredom. Two fans - one from each side - were
offered the chance to earn themselves £10,000 just by striking a ball
from the edge of the penalty area against the woodwork. When the
"Hit The Bar" competition was announced, it must have had
Bryan Robson and Noel Whelan dashing from the dressing room !! The
participants got £1,000 each just for taking part as they both narrowly
failed to strike wood, but when Rebrov's deflected shot went against the
crossbar in the second half, we all wondered if he would be taking home
an unexpected bonus !! It was the closest a Spurs player came to
scoring apart from the two efforts Armstrong got in, but had disallowed
by an assistant referee who was hell-bent on spoiling Tottenham's day in
everything he did. The one disappointing thing about the Spurs
side, apart form not scoring, was the lack of quality in crossing
today. Either they failed to beat the first man to allow the ball
to enter the box or they were plonked onto the head of Ugo Ehiogu, who
had a very good game, or into the hands of Schwarzer.
Sullivan had a relatively relaxing time
after his strenuous Monday night, while the defence did well against the
balls played up to the front two. Carr spent most of his time
bombing forward; Thelwell put in another no-nonsense performance and
seems very assured; Perry did well - even when asked to take the ball
forward and get it into the box and Campbell was in such good form that
I can't remember him doing anything wrong. His ability to
intercept kept the ball from reaching Boksic most of the time and he
gladly brought the ball out of defence to set up moves.
Anderton had an industrious game, always
on the look out for a goal and even slid around getting his foot
in. Clemence again did very well, with a very good cross to set up
Stephen Carr with a headed chance, while Ledley King showed the skill
and composure of a player with much more Premier League experience than
he has. He will be a Tottenham star for a long time to come.
The one low point was Tim Sherwood. It looks like something
happened to Tim last summer, as he appears to have lost a bit of pace
and his passing is very poor. His big strength was moving the ball
around - nothing flashy, but simply to keep the game moving. Now
he presents the ball to the opposition with a misplacement of a simple
short pass and has to resort to fouling as he cannot keep pace with
players running away from him. Today he did resurrect his ability
to get forward into the box like he used to, but in the end his
substitution came as a release from his performance. He didn't
look happy as he went towards the bench, but he shouldn't have been
In the forward line, Les didn't go too
long before getting his knock on the head and Sergei showed some lovely
touches and an eye for goal without any luck today. You get the
feeling that Spurs are still not playing to his strengths (if they know
how to do so). Armstrong looked more likely to benefit from
Rebrov's work, but his ability to be in the right place was just a few
feet out according to the trigger happy linesman. Still, on
another day ...
Still unbeaten at home, but still not
quite there if we want to be up amongst the leading pack. These
are the games which should be three points for Spurs, but until they
develop the know how to get around a stubborn defence, then they will
still be in mid-table.