July 99 - September 99
FC Zimbru Chisinau 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0
(Aggregate 0-3) - Thursday 30 September 1999 (UEFA Cup 1st Round 2nd
Attendance : 7,000
Tottenham Hotspur - Walker, Carr, Perry, Young,
Taricco (Edinburgh 86), Leonhardsen, Freund, Nielsen, Clemence,
Iversen, Armstrong (Dominguez 76)
George Graham brought Spurs to Chisinau in Moldova with a job to do. That job was to ensure there were no slip-ups in moving into the next round of the UEFA Cup. The mission was accomplished efficiently and with few thrills. Anyone expecting to see a lively attacking performance from Tottenham was naive to the extreme. The Spurs side played within themselves and for most of the game strolled around in complete control. They did not pick up any yellow cards or noticeable injuries.
The Republican Stadium is certainly in need of some refurbishment. Only the sides of the ground were open to supporters with the ends closed to all except the massive police force presence. The 300 or so Spurs fans were located on the players tunnel side of the ground towards the corner. The Spurs support was completely surrounded by police who in the main seemed good natured and patient. The Zimbru fans sat close to the Spurs fans and one particular local sporting a Manchester United scarf was far from popular. Another local in a brightly coloured 60's style shirt walk in front of the Spurs fans and was greeted with ' Who, Who, Who let the shirt out? ' As far as facilities were concerned there was a table selling pastries and drinks. There were no Ladies toilets and the Gents consisted of a trough under the concrete stand and a smell which suggested regular cleaning was not a priority. The floodlights were efficient until late in the second half when a number of bulbs on one pylon went out at the same time.
A couple of local entrepreneurs cashed in on the hunger for programmes by producing at least SIX varieties only one of which resembled anything like an official programme. One of these guys was also at the airport and had produced some poor quality but very collectable badges for the match. With local wages averaging $30 per month this chap probably earned a couple of years salary from the visiting fans.
Clemence came into the team for Sherwood, while Perry was made captain for the night. There was again no Ginola and the anticipated return of Vega was delayed. Spurs started the match with some good possession and created a few chances. The best was from an overhead kick by Perry which was blocked by a defender. Chris Armstrong was unlucky when an Iversen shot was parried by the Zimbru goalkeeper and the rebound was just too far away from him. Throughout the game Zimbru had few opportunities and looked as if they were relying on a quick break. With Spurs taking few risks in getting numbers forward the stalemate was inevitable. Walker made a couple of reasonable saves to earn his clean sheet. As usual Dominguez replaced Armstrong and as usual Jose made no impact whatsoever. It was sad to hear some of the Spurs following giving stick to certain players especially having made such a trip. What was extremely disappointing was at the end of the game only five players (Walker, Perry, Freund, Iversen and Clemence) came across to properly acknowledge the Tottenham fans. This was subject to much comment on the return journey. Come on George sort them out.
This was a most enjoyable day out made even better by the excellent weather and good nature of the Moldovans. The lasting memory of the day in Chisinau is of the absolutely gorgeous local girls. They were everywhere in the city centre in their mini skirts displaying their stunning figures and sultry good looks. Oh and there was the football match.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - CHRIS PERRY
Eric The Viking
Wimbledon 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - Sunday 26th September 1999
Goalscorers: Wimbledon - Hartson 57
Tottenham - Carr 76
Attendance : 17,368
Weather : Warm & Showers
Wimbledon- Sullivan, Cunningham, Andersen (Kimble 87), Blackwell, Thatcher, Roberts, Euell, Badir, Gayle, Hartson, Cort.
Subs not used : Earle, Leaburn, Jupp, Davis
Tottenham Hotspur - Walker, Carr, Perry, Young, Taricco, Leonhardsen, Freund, Sherwood, Nielsen, Iversen, Armstrong (Dominguez 79)
Substitutes not used : Baardsen, Fox, King
This was a dreadful match. Spurs lined up with Nielsen replacing Ginola on the left side of midfield. Apparently Ginola had a slight calf strain (allegedly), but I think it was more to do with stopping the flow of crosses to the numerous six footers bombing forward from the Dons midfield. What it meant was that Spurs lacked the ingenuity to open up Wimbledon.
In a drab first half the highlights saw Walker make an excellent save from a Gayle free kick. Carr came closest for Tottenham when he charged through and hit a rasping shot which Sullivan was just able to touch away for a corner. Hartson was booked for a stupid challenge on Taricco as he allowed Walker to collect the ball.
Half Time 0-0
Early in the second half Perry came close when his header from a corner was just over. Luke Young then conceded a needless handball on the edge of the penalty area. From the free kick Wimbledon won a corner. Hartson lost Perry as the corner was swung over and headed firmly into the net. It took Spurs a while to recover from the goal but they gradually gained momentum. Nielsen picked up a ball wide on the left and tracked inside looking for options. Carr made an excellent run and burst into the penalty area. He chested down Nielsen's pass and hit an absolute screamer into the roof of the net. The game was at last becoming interesting. Hartson made two consecutive challenges in the air on Young which left Luke in a heap on the ground. The eagle eyed assistant referee attracted the attention of the referee Graham Poll to point out the illegal challenges. Mr. Poll produced a second yellow card followed by a red. Hartson departed much to the delight of the Spurs fans.
Spurs then went chasing the winner and should have had it. There were a number of chances the best of which fell to Sherwood's left foot after excellent work by Carr. Sherwood blasted over. In the end a draw was a fair result from a game which took an hour to come alive.
For some reason Dominguez was introduced for Armstrong late in the second half. Jose made no impression at all. Leonhardsen started energetically but again ran out of steam. Excellent player though he is he does seem to tire early in the second half of most games. And for once Freund was not booked!
MEHSTG TOP MAN - STEPHEN CARR
Eric the Viking
|Tottenham Hotspur 3 Coventry
City 2 - Sunday 19th
It's not just the fact that my memory isn't what it was, but I can't think of a time when Tottenham have so dominated three consecutive matches. This one went much the same way as the Bradford match, but luckily, Spurs were able to hang on for the win in the end.
Early on Spurs had threatened, but Chippo had a shot from distance which went under Walker's arm and inched wide of the post. In the next attack, Spurs scored. Seven minutes had elapsed when a long cross from Taricco on the left found Iversen stealing in to volley home on the stretch for a much needed goal. His pre-season form had started to desert him and the confidence the goal brought showed in his play, but he could have had a fistful of goals today to steal the headlines from five goal Shearer. It was mainly all one way traffic, apart from a long range McAllister effort and a dropped cross by Ian, which the ref gave a foul for. Sherwood latched onto a blocked Leonhardsen shot and put it over the bar; Freund had a shot blocked; Ginola had a shot fizz wide and another trouble the police in the control room suspended from the West Stand roof !!; Armstrong couldn't convert a parry from another Leo shot; Iversen twice was in on the keeper, but was foiled by Hedman and then shot agonisingly just wide of the post; Armstrong slid a ball across the face of goal that Steffen couldn't quite reach; Leonhardsen hit a Sherwood free-kick on the volley at the far post that forced the keeper to push it into the side-netting. It would have been a fair reflection of the first half had Tottenham gone in about 6-0 up. But they didn't and that was where the trouble lies.
At the start of the second half, Spurs again took the game to Coventry and following a corner, a goal-bound header by Iversen hit Armstrong, just in front of the keeper and the returning striker returned it into the net to make it two. His "cupped hand around ear" celebration a reaction to the boos that rang out whenever he touched the ball on Thursday night. Very shortly after, Iversen's flick over the defence onto Oyvind saw him unleash a vicious volley past Hedman to make it 3-0. It was at this point that things went wrong. Almost immediately, a ball in from the right wing towards Robbie Keane in the box saw him let it run across him and he turned Perry to shoot past Walker from ten yards out. Tottenham seemed to let Coventry dictate the pace of the game and let them come onto the defence. It was no surprise that in the 74th minute, the Sky Blues started to cast clouds over Spurs fans with their second goal. They had knocked the ball about for a minute or so in their own half, before a long ball to our far post from the left got to Chippo, who played a one-two with Hadji. Although his first shot was well blocked by Walker, the Moroccan was quick enough to react and slide the ball home to get them back into the game. Spurs suddenly started to panic and hoof the ball away, to nobody in particular since Ginola had made way for Jose. Now, Dominguez had drawn a few fouls, but does not hold the ball in the same way as David or indeed take two markers out of the game. It was pretty desperate stuff for the last fifteen minutes towards the end of the match, but Nielsen's introduction for Armstrong (another echo of Bradford, which luckily didn't rebound on this occasion) helped steady things a little. At the end it was Spurs who were going forward again as Iversen was denied by a last ditch tackle, but it should have been all so much easier. Full credit to Cov in coming back after seemingly dead and buried, but McAllister made himself look an old fool, by mouthing off at Taricco and then proceeding to spray passes to almost every member of the crowd in his anger to impose himself on Spurs !! The boos that greeted his every touch haven't been heard from a Tottenham crowd since Le Homme Savage last appeared here.
All in all, it was a game that should have been wrapped up at half-time and Spurs could have shared the eight goal headlines with Newcastle, but once again the lack of a ruthless goal-poacher nearly cost Tottenham two points. Thankfully this time, they just had enough to overcome their opponents.
MAN : OYVIND LEONHARDSEN
|Tottenham Hotspur 3 FC Zimbru
(Moldova) 0 - (UEFA Cup 1st Round, 1st Leg)
Thursday 16th September 1999
A rainy day in London was followed by the return of the Glory Glory European nights to White Hart Lane. However, the opposition was less than glamorous and the crowd was less than capacity, even though there was a fifteen minute delay to let those collecting their tickets get into the ground. And most damning of all was the lack of the infamous all-white European strip. Tradition obviously counts for little in these money mad days - the new away strip being launched on the same day spoke volumes for the decisions of the merchandising men.
Starting the game after having failed to bag a hatful against Bradford City on Sunday, I thought the crack Eastern European side would be a tough cookie to crack, but the Moldovan champions managed to keep their sheet clean for less than 3 minutes. A sharply taken free-kick by Iversen put Leonhardsen in and he took on a couple of players before ramming home a shot from the edge of the box. The early goal settled Spurs, who then went on to have 48 shots at goal throughout the game. The return was a little better than at the Bradford and Bingley stadium, but there were goals to be had. Only an inspired performance by Romanenco, in typical continental goalkeeping style, kept the score down. He punched away an Armstrong drive, kept out Sherwood's looping header and denied Iversen too. Iversen was unlucky to have a goal wiped out because Armo had baulked the goalie, but Steffen should have done better with a free header that he put over the bar, with the goal gaping. The second goal came from a long Oyvind free-kick in from the right that found Chris Perry leaping to head home amongst the crowded penalty area. The visitors then put the ball to good use and moved it around the pitch nicely, but apart from a couple of long range shots which fizzed wide of the goal, they rarely troubled Walker.
The second half was much of the same really. They had already gone close twice before adding to the lead. Firstly, Freund hit a shot destined for his first goal in our colours, but it was deflected just wide. Then Ginola embarked on a typical mazy run leaving three Zimbru players in his wake, before unleashing a powerful drive, which the keeper punched away behind the goal. The long corner found Perry at the back post and he managed to steer the ball back into the danger area. After coming through a forest of legs, Tim Sherwood was there to stab home a close shot to notch Spurs' last goal of the night. But Tottenham eased off a bit after getting the third. That's not to say that the chances stopped being created, but they were not as urgent as they had been. Iversen was in on goal and carelessly dragged his shot well wide, Young fired over and Sherwood drove wide when well placed. Leo had other chances during the match and might have finished with a hat-trick if his finishing had been better. Unfortunately, Armstrong was never really at the races (or might well have been for all some sections of the crowd cared) - his lack of match fitness and the lack of back-up in the forward department being clearly evident. Walker was eventually forced to make a smart save at his near post towards the end, but he will have to use these sort of matches to test his powers of concentration. The whole team should have made the most of the opportunity to play against a European side, making the most of the chance to keep the ball patiently, make an opening and produce a killer pass to finish a move off.
So, three goals and a clean sheet. Not a bad European night's work, but having been there, you can't help thinking that the more goals Tottenham had scored, the better it would have been for the UEFA Cup campaign and also for the League programme.
MAN : OYVIND LEONHARDSEN
|Bradford City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - Sunday 12th
Goalscorers: Bradford - McCall 92 Tottenham - Perry 76
Attendance : 18,143
Weather : Warm & Dry
Teams : Bradford City - Walsh, Halle, Wetherall, O'Brien, Jacobs (Myers 66), Windass (Blake 46), McCall, Whalley, Beagrie, Saunders (Rodriguez 78), Mills.
Subs not used :Clarke, Redfearn
Tottenham Hotspur - Walker, Carr, Perry, Young, Taricco, Leonhardsen, Freund, Sherwood, Ginola, (Nielsen 90) Iversen, Ferdinand, (Armstrong 72)
Subs not used : Baardsen, Fox, King
Bradford is not a particularly attractive city and I would not recommend visiting on a Sunday even if Sky cameras are in town. The Valley Parade ground is built on a hill and with a massive stand at one end seems strangely unbalanced. The trip was reminiscent of trips to Barnsley and like Barnsley , Bradford will go straight back down. They have even signed Neil Redfearn just to make sure. They are a poor side with a Nationwide setup, but they did not know when they were beaten and unfortunately Spurs did not know how to beat them! Tottenham dominated the game for 90 minutes. The first half started with a flurry of Tottenham corners and Spurs continued to attack with only the occasional let up for 45 minutes. Leonhardsen had an outstanding first half until he was in sight of goal, then he panicked and smashed two easy chances over the bar. Ferdinand and Iversen were guilty of delaying attempts on goal and allowed Bradford defenders to get tackles in. Ginola had an excellent effort well saved by Walsh but should have had further efforts as he clearly had the beating of City's defence. When he was fouled on the edge of the area we contrived to mess up one free kick after another. Come on George let's do some work on these in training. Freund received his customary yellow card early in the game and must become the target of spread betting enthusiasts. He is guaranteed a card, the only question is how soon?
Half Time 0-0 (Incredibly)
The second half was more of the same . Constant Spurs pressure. Wave on wave of attacks. Taricco ventured forward and had an excellent effort well saved by Walsh. Leonhardsen missed another and Ginola had the odd shot which flew high or wide. Eventually Spurs best player on the day Chris Perry headed in from yet another Ginola corner. Perry's first goal for Spurs and indeed his first goal for two years! Armstrong came off the bench for Ferdinand. Chris proved he has lost none of his striking prowess as he burst through and shot wide. With two minutes of the four added on by the referee Bradford scored. A corner saw Wetherall rise unchallenged by a casual Armstrong at the far post. The ball was headed back across the goal to an area by the near post which Spurs had amazingly left Stuart McCall to occupy by himself. He stooped headed in an equaliser and Valley Parade went crazy. They might as well enjoy it because they won't get many points this year. So Spurs surrendered two points through their own inability to put away chances after dominating. It is vital that we get Campbell / Scales / Vega back as soon as possible because as good as Perry is, he is receiving little help from Luke Young who is beginning to look out of his depth. Spurs also failed to hold on to a one goal lead. Come on George sort it out.
MEHSTG TOP MAN - CHRIS PERRY
|Tottenham Hotspur 1 Leeds United 2 - Saturday 28 August 1999
When Sky TV's Soccer AM christened our visitors "Dirty Leeds" many months ago, it was with a tinge of humour. However, it appears that they are seriously trying to live up to this tag and emulate their 1970's counter-parts who were purveyors of the "professional" approach (read as "cynical win-at-all-costs" approach). Last season I compared some of their current players to those of yesteryear, but I got those wrong. Bowyer is a thug - Bremner without the skill; Alan Smith is Allan Clarke - niggly, off the ball, late challenges; Kewell is Giles - skilful, but with a penchant for shirt-pulling and a nasty streak when he thinks no-one is looking; Woodgate is Charlton - a commanding centre-half, but with a "they shall not pass - one way or the other" mentality; Batty is Hunter - not just your legs, he'll "bite" any part of your anatomy he can get too; Mills is Trevor Cherry - just crap. The loss of Les Ferdinand at half-time upset Spurs' balance and took away the aerial threat to Leeds' defence. For a tall back line, they seemed easily beaten in the air, with Duberry distinctly uncomfortable against Stef or Les. Having bossed the first half, the second was a defeat just waiting to happen.
The first quarter of an hour saw both sides pinging in long-shots which caused little trouble, but Tottenham made the first serious in-roads and Leeds were struggling to keep up. Although Walker had flapped at one cross and saved a weak long -range drive from Bridges (who looked every inch of a £4 million waste of money), he had a relatively easy first half, as Spurs tore into the Leeds side. Taricco and Ginola were turning Mills and Bowyer with ease and both those were booked for late tackles borne of frustration and malice. There was plenty going on off the ball, but the linesmen offered little help to the ref in this respect early in the game. Mills trampled back onto to Taricco, but the lino said nothing happened, so why wasn't Taricco booked for acting ? Bowyer got away with a forearm smash into Sherwood's face right in front of the ref, but after Vieira's let-off last week, I suppose we should expect them to get booked for the heinous crime of kicking the ball away, while leg-breaking tackles go unpunished.
Spurs had chances before they took the lead. Freund got a shot on target (I was there), Iversen's header from 12 yards forced Martyn to scramble and stretch to turn it round for a corner and twice Iversen shot wide of the mark when he could have forced the Leeds keeper into action. The goal itself started with a long-throw from Freund which Les jumped for but missed, although he took two Leeds defenders out doing so. It bounced into the area and Steffen Iversen chested the ball back for Tim Sherwood to bury a volley low into the net from 10 yards out. It was about the right score at half-time, but Tottenham could have been two goals to the good as a Ginola cross fizzed across the face of the goal with Ferdinand just unable to make ground to get a touch which would surely have taken it in.
The concussion that Les suffered in the first half, meant Jose came on for him at the break. Leeds also made two subs and it was these three substitutions which changed the game, especially as Hopkin came on and ran the midfield for them like he did in the league match at The Lane last season. With Dominguez upfront with Iversen, there was little chance that the ball would be held up there and it kept coming back, with Spurs seemingly unable to break out of their own half. With a few minutes gone, the ball pinged about the edge of the Spurs area until it fell to Smith, who turned and shot in one move, the ball going across Walker and into the far corner. Hopkin had a run down the left of our side, where nobody could get a decent tackle in and he set up Bowyer, but he could only sky his attempt over the bar and took his frustration out on an advertising hoarding for McDonald's (not the first time he has put the boot into the Golden Arches !!). Spurs did liven up and Sherwood's header went wide, although the ball was slightly behind him; Iversen had a free header a few yards out and headed down, but too much and it ended up bouncing over the bar; another penalty box scramble saw the ball loop up to the edge of the area, where Jose hit a ferocious volley, that hit Martyn more than he saved it. Even when David decided to take on the whole Leeds defence (a la the FA Cup replay) after Bowyer had kicked him in the face, he was foiled by another fine save by the keeper. The failings of last season came back to haunt us, by not taking these half-chances, we forfeited the match as the longer it went on the more there was only going to be one winner. The way it came about was annoying though. Bowyer's fall on the edge of the box will be a regular feature of Leeds' play throughout the season.
Having Huckerby, Harte and Kewell, it is as good as a penalty, if not better, because you can put your players in front of the keeper and drag opponents by their shirt to obscure the goalie's view (sour grapes, me??). Harte's shot was fairly unstoppable, but sometimes I wonder as in MEHSTG Vol. 1, whether it would be better to do without a wall. At least then there would be a clear line of sight. All that remained was to wait for one of the Leeds players to be dismissed. My money was on the brainless Bowyer, but it was Alan Smith who with his first header of the match connected with Taricco's stomach and the linesman did spot it and the young striker was on his way, childishly barging into Mauricio on the way off. It was strange, because throughout the game he had constantly tried to win headers with his elbow !!
This game proved that we can compete with the better sides in the Premiership, but without Campbell and decent back up for our forwards, we still have a way to go.
MEHSTG TOP MAN: STEPHEN CARR
|Sheffield Wednesday 1 Tottenham
Hotspur 2 - Saturday 21 August 1999
Sheffield Wednesday - Pressman, Atherton, Thome, Walker,
Nolan, Alexandersson, Jonk (Scott 56), Haslam, Rudi
(Booth 56), DeBilde, Carbone. Substitutes not used :
Srnicek, Donnelly, Newsome.
Wednesday - Carbone 23 (pen)
Hillsborough was bathed in sunshine for this encounter with under pressure Wednesday. In the warm up John Scales apparently strained his calf and was not able to start the game, so Spurs lined up with a frighteningly short back four of Carr, Perry, Taricco & Luke Young. Fortunately Wednesday started with a couple of small front men although Booth caused some problems in the air as a second half substitute.
The Spurs defence seemed able to cope easily with the early Wednesday attacks with Perry in complete control. Then in the 19th minute Taricco took a throw in on the left and the ball was returned to him by Ginola. Taricco's early cross found the head of Ferdinand who rose to head a classic centre forward's goal into the net in front of the travelling Spurs fans. The lead was however short lived. Ginola had drifted into central midfield and with Spurs moving forward David conceded possession. With the defenders on the back foot Luke Young gave away a penalty from which Carbone equalised. Ginola was clearly embarrassed as they lined up for the restart and Perry seemed to be suggesting Ginola should stay wide on the left where he can do damage to the opposition's defence and not our own.
Spurs continued to probe and on 40 minutes should have been awarded a penalty. Some excellent movement eventually saw Ferdinand felled by Pressman as Les moved away from the goal with the ball. New Premier referee Mr. D'Urso turned a blind eye. Within a couple of minutes however Spurs were back in front. A quickly taken free kick by Ginola was swung across field. Iversen did extremely well in rescuing the situation, holding the ball up, and then delivering a timely pass to Leonhardsen. Oyvind cut inside and beat Pressman with a spectacular shot to the far top corner of the net. Rather than a chorus of 'There's only one Oyvind Leonhardsen' Spurs fans opted for a simple 'Yiddo, Yiddo'.
Half Time 1-2
David did not appear for the second half and was replaced by Freund. A wise move by George in the circumstances and given Ginola's patchy performance on the day. Further chances came Spurs way. Ferdinand was unlucky to see his shot whistle past the far post after he had hustled Des Walker. Close to the end of the game Iversen also went close with a lob which cleared Pressman and again went just wide. Between those two efforts came Wednesday's best chance of an equalizer. The towering (amongst our defence) Booth won a header which looped over Walker and was dropping into the Spurs goal when Sherwood arrived from nowhere to clear off the line. It has to be said that Carbone was instrumental in every Sheffield Wednesday move and looked a star in a very poor side. Thome who has been linked to Spurs looks poor and regularly made errors. No wonder Wednesday don't want to increase his pay.
For Spurs Perry was excellent at the back. He looks a very good player. He is cool, calm, efficient and effective. A good buy who will probably now go on and play for England. Leonhardsen also looks a good signing. His energy and enthusiasm are great assets, and he's scoring goals from midfield.
A welcome win from a mediocre performance but 3 points and 3 consecutive league wins. The first time since 1995 I believe. Another first was that Spurs sat proudly at the top of the Premier League on Saturday night. Yes I know it's early days and it's a marathon not a sprint but at least the fans enjoyed a quick burst of: 'WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE SAID WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE'. How many times will we sing that this season?
Man of the match : Tim Sherwood ( A captain's, battling, never say die performance )
Eric the Viking
|THFC 3 EVERTON 2 - Saturday
14 August 1999
Another game that started at a frenetic pace, but which saw Spurs have the better start. Only the agility of Gerrard in the Everton goal kept out Anderton (who neatly weaved past two defenders on the edge of the box to get in a thumping right foot shot), Ginola's powerful drive and Iversen's flicked header. Between these Tottenham efforts, the Toffees had their best spell of the match with Campbell looping a lob onto the top of the bar and Jeffers staying on his feet for once to have a drive deflected over after a neat piece of footwork. It was from this corner that a shot ricocheted to him on the edge of the six yard box (looking suspiciously offside like Shearer on Monday night) and as he took the ball away from goal Walker went to ground behind him. Jeffers was hit by the sniper on the grassy knoll and the ref fell for the conspiracy, pointing to the spot. Unsworth, feeling at home with the responsibility, rifled the penalty just out of Ian's reach. He also joined the attack later in the half to drill in a low shot that Walker gathered comfortably. In similar fashion to Everton's goal, it came following the reflex save from Iversen's header. Anderton swung in the corner and Sherwood got to it first and glanced home the Spurs equaliser. The first half ended all square, but the visitor's goal had been against the run of play.
The second half saw Tottenham strangely subdued and they let Everton get a foothold back into the match. Spurs did have chances when Les powerfully headed downwards, but Gerrard got his body behind the ball; Anderton was fed in by Leo and his left foot shot flew wide of the target and Stephen Carr popped up in the box and unleashed a stinging shot that the keeper pushed over. Once more, Everton scored against the run of play and once more it was Walker who brought down Jeffers when he was through on goal. The interpretation by the referee to give a yellow card to Walker was strange, but then Alcock lived up to his name with his overall performance during the afternoon. Unsworth went the same way - so did Ian, but the ball shot underneath him to give the Toffees the lead. However, Walter Smith then substituted Jeffers and with no further fear of conceding a penalty Tottenham took the ball by the horns and propelled it toward the Everton goal at every opportunity. The lead only lasted for five minutes, when Ginola went down the line and got a deep cross in (as he should do more often) that caused Gerrard problems, only being able to palm it out. It evaded the two defenders behind him and Leonhardsen was there to shoot high into the roof of the net. At 2-2, you may have thought that Everton would tighten up, but their play let Spurs in for the winner. Carr had time on the right wing to put in a cross with pace and Steffen got in front of his marker to power a header low into the corner of the net. This was not the end of it as even Steffen Freund (on as a sub for Dazza, who faded and got a knock) had a shot that went close and at the end Tottenham were just playing keep-ball as the crowd cheered every pass with Everton looking unable or unwilling to get the ball off us.
The result was probably about right although Spurs should have wrapped the game up in the first half. The two penalties let Everton into the match, when in truth, they never looked like scoring and it will be a worry when we play the better sides, because they won't allow us back into the game like today. Anderton played well again and Leonhardsen was all over the pitch adding effort to craft in the midfield. Walker was lucky not to be sent off, but if the ref had displayed any consistency, Ward and Hutchinson may well have also gone off. Sherwood was strong and lead by example, while both Les and Iversen toiled away against the four centre-halves played in Everton's back line. In the end it was like taking candy from a baby, but the Toffees will be wondering how they let the three points be taken from them.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : TIM SHERWOOD
|THFC 3 NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 - Monday
9 August 1999
This match started at 100 mph and seemed to get faster and faster. The home debut of Leonhardsen must have flown by, but he did contribute greatly to the proceedings. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The home season started in it's usual fashion, by conceding the early goal after 16 minutes. Route One must be sexy where Ruud Gullitt comes from, because the keeper launched the ball forward and Alan "Elbows" Shearer managed to connect (with Chris Perry) and the ball dropped to Norberto Solano. He did well to manufacture a yard of space and let fly with a shot that went between Scales' legs and low into the net past an unsighted Walker. This had come shortly after Walks had dropped a long cross and Shearer (again all over Perry at the far stick) swivelled and scooped the ball over the bar. It was a let off for Spurs, who had started reasonably without worrying the Geordies defence. The best chance coming when Les didn't have the legs to latch onto a lobbed through ball from Dazza. It looked like another one of those evenings when Ferdinand again failed to capitalise on a ball into the box and clashed with Harper in goal, leaving the Spurs man needing treatment (so soon). This all changed when Steffen Iversen started his scoring season with a unimpeded headed goal from an Anderton corner on 29. It was rank bad defending and it had a seriously adverse effect on those in black and white, because they went to pieces. Where they had been knocking the ball about with assurance, they suddenly became individuals who did not link up together. This was further emphasised when Taricco and Iversen linked down the left to set up Les at the near post with a low cross, which he deftly diverted past Harper in first half injury time. To think Tottenham would have been ahead after going a goal down was hard to comprehend, but they had probably deserved it after showing more determination than the visitors.
Jose replaced Les at the start of the second half and Oyvind's passing on the break was a constant thorn in Newcastle's side. Jose often found space, but frustrated his partners in the side by delaying the cross or putting it where they weren't. Ginola was also guilty of this and Sherwood wasn't slow to let him know that he should have had a pass. When Taricco went off for treatment, Leonhardsen covered at left back and then within a minute found himself bursting into the Toon box to be denied by the keeper as he tried to lob him. David had a volley from the edge of the box, which he sliced across and the shot went wide of the post. Sherwood and Iversen were denied by Harper and it was left until the 61st minute for Sherwood, again unmarked in the six yard box, to head home after a free-kick from Anderton. Shearer's disallowed goal for offside rounded off a miserable day for the England captain.
Like the FA Cup semi-final, this match had a blatant penalty for Spurs turned down, when Goma punched away a corner and the same lack-lustre Newcastle, who this time got their just desserts. I didn't think I would see a team lacking a strike force more than Tottenham this season, but even with the England captain and their expensive new signings, Newcastle, surprisingly, were that team.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : STEFFEN IVERSEN
|WEST HAM UNITED 1 THFC 0 -
Saturday 7 August 1999
Another first game of the season and another away match. What have the fixture panel at the Premier League got against Tottenham ?? At least it was in London this time, but at the very expensive (£31) and very down-market (Green Street market, that is) home of The Irons. The friendly East Enders welcome was as warm as ever, as you can imagine. Having not been beaten by Spurs for a couple of matches they were full of themselves, what with their "European Tour" already underway with a couple of victories over non-entities of the continental scene.
It didn't take long for the season to start looking grim, when after 45 seconds, Foe headed against the bar. The home side looked sharper having had some competitive games under their belt, while we had been strolling through our Swedish tour and some tame English friendlies. For all that, the players should have been up for it, but some looked unready (Ginola), while others didn't last the ninety minutes (Sol and Justin). To counter that, Perry did look sound in the centre of defence and Scales, who came on for Campbell, looked OK. Steffen made some headway in the second half, with Les coming on to add some strength. In fact, he had the best opportunity with a long-range volley that fizzed just wide and also set up Sherwood with a nod down, but Tim could only put his stretching header over the top. In the first period, West Ham tested Walker with a shot from Sinclair from distance and a Lampard effort that lacked a little power. He was at full stretch to turn a header from over the top and when they did score, it was the case of him being left to face Lampard as he burst into the box with nobody going with him. The loss of Sol unbalanced the defence, but they stuck at it and did well, even managing with ten men for the last 20 minutes when Edinburgh left the field (on his own) with a bad hamstring injury.
For all their enthusiasm, West Ham produced few efforts which seriously troubled Tottenham and the need for a good start was just a little beyond us. With a few matches under our belt, we could have matched them and possibly won a point at least. The problems experienced early on last season should have been made obvious to the side to ensure the mistakes were not repeated. Let's hope that Monday night's match brings a better performance.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : IAN WALKER
|WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1 THFC 1 -
Saturday 31 July 1999
Tottenham: Walker, Carr, Campbell, Taricco (Edinburgh), Sherwood, Ginola (Korsten), Nielsen, Perry, Anderton, Gower (Fox), Iversen.
Sunny Molineux and for me, Tottenham's first away day of the season (QPR doesn't count and I couldn't make it to Hearts). Straight back in the familiar routine, meeting other Spurs in service stations and fielding abuse from football fans with less taste than us Yids.
Whilst the Tottenham away support filled the whole allocation, Wolves struggled to fill half of their impressive ground. This did not stop the warm folk of the Black Country carrying on last season's tradition of booing David Ginola's every touch of the ball. The Frenchman for his part continued last season's tradition of providing most of the flair in a rather lifeless midfield and forward line (that is apart from Nielsen's fetching top of the head pony tail). When Korsten replaced Ginola at the start of the second half, he continued in the same vein. Despite an obvious lack of fitness Korsten looks to be a very promising buy.
Both sides had decent chances in the first half. Sherwood's innovative free-kick, through Anderton's legs for Carr to run onto, produced a lightening shot that rebounded off the bar to the feet of Steffen Iversen, who's shot was well saved by the Wolves keeper. On the half hour, Iversen had another clear shot from a Shaggy cross and should really have scored. This was closely followed by a Sherwood header that went over the bar when it looked as though he too should have done better.
Ten minutes into the second half, Korsten made an impressive run from his own half to set up Iversen, who continued his goal-scoring pre-season form with a fine lob over Stowell, the Wolves goalkeeper. He should have made the game safe two minutes later, but put an easy shot wide. It was interesting to see Keane come on after an hour after all the talk about us buying him. He didn't stand out, but to be fair given the situation, he was unlikely to. The only time he looked like making an impression was when Perry's mistake let him in for a shot that went wide of the far post. Other than this mistake, Perry performed impressively and looks like forming a formidable partnership with the ever-amazing King Campbell.
Wolves' goal came with just over ten minutes to go as a result of a mix-up in the middle between Campbell and Edinburgh (unfortunate as Campbell, until that point was faultless as ever and Edinburgh was looking far sharper than Taricco had in the first half). Both missed the ball and it fell to Darren Bazeley to smash it past Walker. GG had obviously not heard the rumours of Wolves' interest in Ruel Fox or he would not have risked bringing him on for the final ten minutes. Fox did more than enough to ensure he'll be staying at Tottenham, tripping over the ball with one of his first touches. For me, the disappointment of the game was Tottenham old boy, Steve Sedgley not making it off the bench. Not only is he one of life's true Yids, but I was intrigued at the prospect of Sedge coming face to face with his twin Tim Sherwood (don't tell me no-one else has noticed, have you ever seen them together ??).
all, a nice gentle introduction into the world of
Tottenham away 1999-2000. Not a great game, but lots of
positives that will hopefully come to light further once
we play our first competitive match of the season. Same
faces, same songs, same anticipation.
|HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN 2 THFC 2 - Saturday
24 July 1999
Team : Walker, Carr, Taricco (Edinburgh),
Campbell (King), Perry, Gower (Fox), Young, Anderton,
Ginola, Dominguez, Iversen.
Crowd : - 9,710
I decided that I had to go Hearts this year, even though I should be saving up for our European Tour ! I couldnít see how I could miss our first proper game of the season and any regret I may have had in going, went away when the team ran out and I realised just how much I had missed football and Tottenham. It didnít matter how far I had travelled, I just had to be there. I wasnít the only one anyway; the usual faces were around (you know who you are !) along with a lot of Scottish supporters. I couldnít believe it - not because there were Scottish Spurs fans, but that we had sold practically all our allocation. When I went to Rangers and Celtic for pre-season friendlies, it was a case of sit where you like.
The weather wasnít great and I had hoped it was going to be sunny (fat
chance), but it was just very cloudy. The sun appeared for a total of
about 5 minutes, so I had to wear a jacket and not show off my new home
shirt, which annoyed me as it is really nice. It was good to see the
players getting on so well and enjoying themselves during the warm-up;
that looks good for the future. there were a number of players missing -
Tim Sherwood, Steffen Freund, Ramon Vega, Willem Korsten and Chris
Armstrong. Les was there, but only to sit on the bench wearing a suit.
Nielsen was in the squad and it was nice to see him back, although his
warm-up injury stopped him taking part and let in Fox (!?)
We had looked relatively good in the first half, but obviously we made
changes to give players a run out. GG took Sol and Taricco off, with
King and Justin coming on as straight swaps. Foxy came on later for
Gower and was greeted by a few boos. I donít think thereís a way
back for him ! Hearts came back into the game with first a deflected
free-kick from Lee Makel and then a second, which came from a good move which seemed to
evade our midfield and most of the defence to allow Colin Cameron to
score. This didnít leave last man
Justin much of a chance to do anything about the goal. Mind you, 2-2 is
better than I would have expected. I thought weíd lose like last
season at Celtic. However, I donít think weíll do a lot better next
season if we donít buy a striker - we canít expect Stef to do it on
his own when Chris and Les arenít fit (or when they are come to that
!). Midfield and defence are OK, but upfront is where we are lacking.
So, apart from realising that nothing much is going to change next year
(we arenít going to set the world alight) - it was a laugh. It was
good to see everyone again - players and supporters - and get back into
the swing of things. Scotland won me too; couldnít live there though -
the weatherís crap and itís too far to travel to see us at home !
THE QUEEN OF HEARTS
And now another view from our East of Scotland correspondent, who saw the Challenge match this way ...
The afternoon got off to a bad start with the news that the Spurs end was all ticket and I'd have to spend £14 for the privilege of sitting with the Hearts fans. I've always found Jam Tarts to be the most whingeing of supporters and they lived up to my expectation in this match. 'Let's get in to the these Cockney bastards!' yelled the Jambo behind me, although no-one had the heart to tell him his accent was far more Enfield than Edinburgh.
during one of these collective mega moans that Spurs
scored their first goal. Sol innocuously brushed off
Jenkinson who fell down clutching his face as if he'd
been in the way of a Roberto Carlos cannonball. This was
met with little concern by those around me until Spurs
broke quickly upfield and Iversen touched a beautiful
reverse pass to Shaggy who inelegantly trundled it into
the net off a Hearts defender. When this happened a
collective feeling of indignation swept the ground that
Spurs had been unsporting in not kicking the ball out of
play while Jenkinson lay on the ground in supposed agony.
Whoever made up this 'sporting' nonsense has a lot to
answer for and I'm sure we'll get a lot more incidents
like that in the Arse v Sheffield Utd match.
Half time saw the worst mascot in British football parading around the pitch worrying the kids. Hearty Harry has none of the attributes of the truly legendary mascots (step forward Dunfermline's Sammy the Tammy) being neither funny nor loveable and instead looks like the kind of sadistic maniac you would want to keep well away from your kids. Even the Raith Rovers lion mascot who once gave me the finger for giving him abuse as he walked around the pitch is more appealing than this pathetic creature.
As I had just arrived back from a fortnight's holiday I
was under the impression that Spurs had signed Michael
Bridges (one of the tabloids said he'd virtually put pen
to paper before I left) and I was looking forward to
seeing him. Unfortunately, it was not to be but there was
at least Perry's performance to examine. While he looked
quick and strong in tackling and heading his distribution
was woeful. I lost count of the times he gave the ball
away although he was not alone in this respect. Luke
Young was also guilty of this and both Hearts goals came
directly from his carelessness. The first led to a free
kick right on the edge of the box which was dutifully
dispatched by one of the best players on the park, Lee
Makel. This was just after half time and from then on
Hearts put the Spurs defence, missing Campbell and
Taricco from half time, under periods of pressure with
Spurs not looking that interested and threatening only on
So a draw was about the fairest result with Hearts much more up for it and Spurs never really getting out of second gear. Granted, there was no Ferdinand, Armstrong or Sherwood but if progress is to be made next year - is anyone's target higher than top six with a couple of decent Cup runs? - then there is still work to be done and signings to be made. Seeing Edinburgh and Fox come on as substitutes shows the real lack of quality in depth in the squad and it looks highly unlikely Man U will be worrying just yet. Still a nice day out in the Capital for the sizeable travelling support and I'm sure the liberal licensing laws were exploited to the full.
THE SCOTTISH SPUR
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