For shame sir, we spit upon your cards.
Our determination to do things the hard way continues. Following the reckless leap by Defoe against Villa we now have the loss of composure by Kaboul against Newcastle. Both resulted in red cards and three match bans. Neither affected our ability to win the game, in fact we only scored the second goal to make the game safe after the sending off. Curiouser and curiouser.
But imagine the scene in opposition team meetings or strategic pre-match operational logistics seminars as they are known these days.
'Lets outplay them, quick passsing, pressure them in midfield, double mark Bale, deny Modric space, oh and double mark Van der Vaart, and Lennon too just to be on the safe side, take the game to them, grab the first goal'
'You mean like Arsenal?
' Oh wait'
'Nah boss lets rough em up, kick 'em off the park, get Palacios or some hot head sent off, stop Modric playing, oh and double mark Bale, Van der Vaart and Lennon.'
'Like Newcastle you mean?
Solutions on a postcard to Tactical Logistic Solutions ASAP. Please.
The loss of Defoe could be seen as a one off moment of recklessness. It further reduces our striking options at a crucial time and seriously interrupts his return to match fitness after injury. It might force Levy's hand in providing funds for a striker in January.
At least the match provided vital evidence that Carroll is probably not that man. He has some raw energy but lacks the experience and skill to contribute a great deal to our line-up, although the presence of Lennon and Bale might offer him better service than he got yesterday. Without Nolan and with Barton too direct it made Dawson's job easier. He stood up to the rugged play of Carroll well and looked as if he was enjoying himself. Bassong was again an able stand-in for Kaboul after his red card.
Newcastle came to spoil and upset our game and they nearly succeeded. Palacios who has played so well recently, reverted to type and was determined to prove that he was as hard as the next man. He lost his composure and focus as a result of the aggressive tactics of Tiote, Smith and Barton. He was replaced at half time, to save him from himself, by Jenas who again linked well with Modric and didn't get distracted from his role.
Kaboul was a victim of the same tactics and in trying to assert his tough guy credentials was sent off for a meaningless, slow motion, head butt gesture. But he should know better. Moments before he had showed his footballing credentials with a fine run into midfield and the wide ball to Lennon that led to the goal. Harry was correctly scathing after the game about the lack of discipline and the failure to remain focused on the job in hand. Younis has at least had the grace to apologise.
We went further ahead with a copycat goal by Bale from the left. He too turned his fullback inside out before finding the corner of the net in a goal reminiscent of his hat-trick against Inter. Newcastle had little to show up front and there was little creativity from their midfield. They parked their tanks in an attempt to prevent the inevitable. A welcome clean sheet and our tenth game unbeaten saw us go into the top four at the expense of Chelsea: for 24hrs anyway.
We controlled the game although we went in scoreless at half time. Pavlyuchenko watched in disbelief when his header at the end of the first half was pushed onto the post and then rolled from post to post without crossing the line. It took us until 56 minutes to score but we did not allow the sending off to unsettle us. The real footballers stood up and treated Newcastle's rugged tactics with disdain. Modric continued to sparkle and our wingers showed that we had the skill and pace to outplay them.
On wider matters, there are no points to be gained in my view from pressurising the referee, though many fans believe that there is. Their belief is based on a common fallacy: all cats are animals: all dogs are animals; therefore all dogs are cats. Manchester United are a successful team: Manchester United confront the ref. Therefore confronting the ref makes you a successful team.
Manchester United are a successful team because they have world class players, under possibly the most experienced and canny manager in the world and play as if they expect to win and never give up.. Tottenham have achieved their current status by playing good football and have a fine squad under a manager who suits the Tottenham mind set. A manager whose instincts are for open, attacking football. Aggression can be counter productive as we saw against Newcastle.
Referee baiting is no part of this approach either and can have a small marginal effect at best, contrary to popular myth. It is not the right way to play and if some people would have us play this way in order to be successful then success is not worth having. Our success over the past 4/5 years has not been achieved by such tactics.
We are in the Champions' league final stages this year and challenging for the top four again this season. We have not compromised our values. What's to be gained? Very little. What's to be lost? The whole joy of supporting Spurs, by common consent the most entertaining team in the Premiership and at the moment one of the most successful. It's the football stupid.