• Tottenham Hotspur
  • Premiership
  • St James’ Park
  • 6pm, Wednesday 15th July 2020
  • Live on BT Sports

 

Following the desperate ‘self harm’ show in Hertfordshire, United are back on home turf this Wednesday evening as we welcome the Lilywhites of North London to our uninhabited Cathedral on the hill.

 

Following a recent clutch of years in which Spurs (almost) grappled their way to the summit of English and European football with passion, verve and many swashbuckling displays; this has been a desperately tepid campaign.

 

Whilst we frequently lament our own successful attempts at shooting ourselves in the foot, our visitors possibly took this to a whole new level when replacing the excellent (and likeable) Mauricio Pochettino with the curmudgeonly, faded glory of Jose Mourinho.

 

Quite evidently, Tottenham have enjoyed more success (who hasn’t?) than us in recent decades. I still, however believe that there are certain similarities between the two clubs. Firstly, the aforementioned use of ‘almost’ appears to seep into the psyche of both sporting institutions. Whilst we rarely get a sniff of a ‘final hurdle’ these days, both Tottenham and ourselves have form at fucking it up when arriving at this trickiest of football barriers.

For another potential parallel, we need to firstly go back to the last days of ‘96 / beginning of ‘97. Still suffering the awful hangover of nearly winning the Premiership, Newcastle’s out of sorts Pied Piper, Kevin Keegan mysteriously fell on his own sword. The club then opted for (perceived) Glaswegian pragmatism over all out attack and dreams. Fast forward twenty three years, and Tottenham’s choice of heir appears to be sending Spurs down a similar path.

 

KK and Poch had both come agonisingly close to massive prizes, were adored and provided the most expansive football that both sets of fans had seen in years. They were each replaced by men, both previously (hugely) successful, but showing signs of reaching their ‘sell by’ dates. Dalglish and Mourinho, if not exactly two peas in a pod, both gravitate towards a more mechanical style of play and share latterly formed brittle senses of humour (persecution complexes?). For Newcastle United, this sea change turned out to be a disaster. For Tottenham; well, it’s possibly a little early to judge properly, but it’s been a somewhat bumpy ride, thus far.

 

After Sunday’s slightly flattering North London derby win, they head north boasting only three more wins from 35 played than United. I find this a remarkable stat, given the yawning chasm between us over recent seasons. Almost as surprising is that we turned them over at their new home, back in August. Another head scratcher from a strange NUFC season.

 

However, you’d imagine that beating their old enemy will give them a massive shot in the arm prior to facing our tread water troops this week.

 

What of Newcastle? Do I have to? Having largely taken the game to Watford, and well worthy of a 1-0 half time lead, the second period was a complete dog’s dinner. Too many in orange decided not to turn up and our manager maintained his worrying policy of making substitutions too late and too wrong to help in any tangible way. The penalties conceded would’ve made a schoolboy blush, and frankly; it’s just not good enough.

 

Where we go from here is anyone’s guess. This season, United have on a semi regular basis made an ass of my predictions by pulling some amazingly unexpected wins out of the fire. However, if you check with the bookies and look at the two team sheets, it’s hard to make a case for a home win. Add to that, a suddenly debilitating looking injury list and a decent number of our playing staff dreaming of tequilas on the beach instead of points in the Prem, and it all adds up to a regulation away win. I’m going for Jose to break his SJP duck, 0-2.

 

Finally, R I P Wor Jackie & Christopher Aurier.

 

Nick Clark

@Clark5Nick