Ipswich Town 2 Tottenham H 1
Not the best we’ve played all season, but in many ways the most exciting
game. And in the same way, not the most comprehensive victory, but in many
ways the most important. Because it could have gone either way, and at 1-1
you felt we *had* to finish this one off – we wouldn’t have done, earlier in
the season, but if we were really on the road to recovery, this was the sort
of game we had to kill off. The great news was not so much that we did so,
but that it was clear we believed we could do it – and by that I mean both
the team and the crowd. The confidence and the enthusiasm is tangibly coming
It was a fascinating tactical game of chess. We completely surrendered the
midfield for 15 minutes (Tottenham could do whatever they wanted really) and
although things started to improve a little, by the half hour it was still
pretty desperate there. So George made an interesting change. From having
Reuser, Holland, Magilton and Jermaininho (who’s playing in more positions
than Micky Stockwell) strung out across the middle, George brought
Jermaininho into the middle, to give us the three man midfield which was so
effective against Inter. At the same time the right midfield was effectively
abandoned, but Marcus Bent was moved out wide almost into a Finidi position
to cover. Things looked better immediately.
The other problem was the way Treacle was being allowed to roam up and down
the wing at will (thank goodness his crossing was ineffective, or else the
unimpressive Anderton came and took it off him). In terms of covering,
Reuser was a complete waste of time. To counteract this, at half time George
took off Reuser and brought on Clapham. So imagine his surprise when Treacle
came out in the second half …on the other side, making the substitution
In fact, Clapham had nothing to do, nothing was happening down that side,
and as a final tactical change towards the end, rather than wasting a player
there, George brought Hermann into the centre of defence, leaving us playing
a 4-4-2 with each line skewed to one side or the other. But what the heck,
it seemed to work!
Some ratings (1-5 for effort, 1-5 for achievement):
MARSHALL 7 (4/3) was a revelation. Did he not have much to do, or did he
make it seem easy? I don’t know. But what was clear was how much more
comfortable he made the defence feel. Both McGreal and Venus seemed to get a
huge confidence kick from the fact that they knew where the guy behind them
would be, not just because he tended to be in the right place, but because
he was telling them so. Absolutely no question he should stay in the team on
this form. I knocked a mark off because he admitted a misjudgement for the
goal, otherwise, a great performance.
MAKIN 6 (3/3) put in another fairly steady performance, with a couple of
misplaced passes but a couple of unusually decent crosses too. MCGREAL 8
(4/4) had his best game of the season. At half-time I had him joint MotM for
us, and that was before the goal. He looked relaxed, his reading of the game
was immaculate, and he made several crucial interceptions. VENUS 7 (4/3)
also looked really confident, and let little get past him – he also picked
out Bent gloriously for the first goal. HREIDARSSON 6 (3/3) was solid but
had his work cut out with only Reuser for support against Treacle and
usually two other Tottenham players.
WRIGHT 6 (3/3) was as pointless out on the right as he has been on the left.
Once in the centre, he brought some stability to things. HOLLAND 6 (3/3) got
through a lot of work as usual, but Tottenham’s passing did put him into
headless-chicken-resemblance at times. MAGILTON 4 (2/2) was back to the
negative, play-stopping stuff which we’d just begun to think he’d got out
of, which was the biggest disappointment of the whole match for me.
Substituted for PERALTA 7 (4/3) in the second half, from which point things
got far more positive. REUSER 4 (2/2) showed he could get stuck in, and
could also get back and cover …but on far too few occasions. Allowed
Tottenham to really make Hermann’s life hard in the first half, and only
created a couple of decent chances. Substituted for CLAPHAM 5 (3/2) who was
so anonymous for 45 minutes, every time he got the ball I realised I’d
forgotten he was playing.
Marcus BENT 8 (4/4) was tremendous. Speed, power, control …he’s got it
all, and he’s starting to show it. So he missed three good chances, but he
created them all himself, and Johnno-style, that makes it allowable. Has
George produced another gem? It doesn’t sound like he was ever putting in
performances like this at Blackburn. I also suspect he was well short of
fitness when he arrived, and now we’re seeing the real thing. And I like it.
A lot. ARMSTRONG 5 (3/2) had a quiet game and paled in comparison with Bent.
Substituted by STEWART 6 (3/3) – well, the cavalry might have arrived, but
it needs to get itself sorted and ready for action before things start in
earnest. Looked keen, but it might be a few matches before we see if there’s
going to be a partnership with Bent. I think there could well be.
The REF was irritatingly picky in giving free kicks in what was a very clean
game. Then he limped off injured.
The CROWD started off really quietly, but it was the sort of match which
gets everyone going, and by the time we scored there was a pretty good
atmosphere, although the “split” North Stand seems to make it difficult to
start off songs easily.
TREACLE got a good reception, and quite right too.
Oh, and we’re 11 points off a European place. Are any bookies giving odds,
do you think?