Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United
So, on to Wembley.
Following an absolutely amazing night at St James’ v Manchester City, Rafa takes his buoyant troops to the Capital for an early afternoon TV showdown with Spurs, this Saturday.
The Lilywhites have been riding on the crest of a wave for a year or two, now. They have an excellent young manager in Pochettino, a playing staff that most would envy and an ever approaching move to a spanking new stadium on the horizon.
Everything in their world should be hunky dory, but there is a little bit of trouble in paradise. As a club, Tottenham have long borne a few alarming similarities to Newcastle United. The major one being a propensity to bottle it at important times.
Over the past couple of seasons they’ve been in with a decent shout for the Title but have run out of steam at the wrong times. Their crushingly disappointing, recent exits from both domestic cup competitions only underline the problem. In this, I see them as a more glamorous, posher version of ourselves.
Another issue is austerity. Again, it’s on a totally different level to us, but it’s definitely a factor. A decent proportion of the Spurs faithful have long been sceptical of their main man, Daniel Levy. Presumably, due to the huge cost involved in upping sticks, Tottenham kept their powder dry in the transfer market last Summer. After another upwardly mobile campaign in 17/18, whilst those around them went on orgiastic spending sprees, Spurs stood still. If you want to keep up with the Jones’s (or the Klopp’s) this simply cannot happen.
Mr Levy does have the decent excuse of having massive outlay elsewhere, which is all in his football club’s long term interest whilst our swine looks like he’s chucking our TV windfalls etc at struggling High Street chains. The common denominator however, is the same. That of stagnation on the pitch. They stand at a crossroads. The likes of Kane and that little weasel faced get, Alli want real success. If Spurs can’t match their ambition, they’ll no doubt look elsewhere for it.
So, onto this weekend. Rafa’s Mags head south still buzzing from the aforementioned match on Tuesday night. This type of performance was evocative of a number of games in the second half of last season, where despite the odds we overcame far superior opposition. There were quite a number of Rafa sceptics on social media after Watford, but once more our man demonstrated that he can get a tune out of this woefully underfunded squad. Since taking over at Newcastle, he has delivered an amazing return in unworkable conditions. I will always take the view that the bigger picture should constantly be appreciated before anyone doles out criticism.
The bookies have Tottenham as strong favourites. Fair enough. That’s what you’d expect. We will once more have to perform much greater than the sum of our collective parts to best Tottenham. However, it’s fair to describe their recent form as ‘patchy’ and they will of course be missing the influential Dele Alli and their talismanic number nine (with a nod to Alan Oliver), Harry Kane.
Therefore, my pals and I are heading to Wembley with the real hope of getting something. I expect us once more to line up with three centre backs, aiming to be compact and organised. They’ll have the lion’s share of possession with us hoping to draw their sting and hit on the break. I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself, this is NUFC after all, but I fancy us to nick a point. I’m going 1-1, and I fancy Lord Salomón to notch for us again.
HT effing L!! ✊️