By Matt Rowson
I had laser treatment to my eyes today. Twenty minutes contorted in a most unnatural position whilst the Doc fires beams of light into my head. Each flash of the laser sends a tremor through my body, and after the first couple I am blinded to everything except the beam. My head is not clamped in place, but it might as well be...I am frozen solid by the suspicion that an unexpected movement on my part probably isn't the best idea. In my blindness I am desperately hoping that I am still "looking" in the direction the Doc specified five minutes ago. The steady hum of the ventilation system peppered with a "click...click...click..." comes back in my nightmares. This is as close to hell as I have experienced. But through it all, through each one of these dreaded sessions, one thought can still brighten my mood...
Ironic, isn't it? We're bottom of the league, five wins all season. Should be us that's the laughing stock really. And yet.... Tottenham. Ha ha bloody ha.
What a pitiful institution. A "big" club. A "proud" tradition. A club that has come about as close to winning the top division in the twenty years that I've been watching football as the Watford Internet Football Team. Who you sort of feel are making a more convincing fist of it. Verily, Tottenham are the Wolverhampton Wanderers of the Premiership.
Burnley, Preston and Blackpool have proud traditions as well of course, fat lot of good it's done them over the past twenty years either. The difference is that their long-since conceded top-flight status has shattered any delusions of grandeur. Tottenham, as every week's "606" betrays, are in a never-ending purgatory of self-deception. My laser sessions are equally hypnotic, but at least they're over in half an hour.
To quote an example, albeit one I wasn't privileged enough to witness myself, the Spurs fan on the radio this weekend, allegedly a visitor at Vicarage Road on Saturday, criticising the lack of atmosphere generated by the home support. Now granted, Saturday was a poor game, and the Vic has certainly been noisier this season. But it wasn't in remotely the same league as White Hart Lane on Boxing Day, where tumbleweed trundled across the pitch and the ranks of zombies in the home stands emitted a tortured moan which only rarely rose above a murmur (okay, four times...).
This Spurs fan's observations seem particularly ill placed in the light of plans for the development of White Hart Lane (recently awarded planning permission). Leaked copies of these controversial plans have, you will be interested to learn, arrived with us at BSaD. Attracting much comment will be the scheme to build a large crypt behind the East Stand. With a capacity of 5000, the crypt will enable season-ticket holders to retreat into the darkness and replenish their stocks of bile at half time, before re-emerging to bitch at their own team with renewed vigour in the second period. In true Premiership style, this facility will only be available to those willing to stump up a premium of £750, with eternal damnation of the soul naturally a prerequisite.
As for the team, of chief concern seems to be the lack of options up front. Number one target for abuse is the unfortunate Chris Armstrong, who is clearly not of the required standard. Consensus amongst the support seems to be the sooner he leaves the better, and judging from the ferociously steely glare in Armstrong's eyes following his two well-taken goals against Southampton recently, the feeling is mutual.
Slightly more surprising is that the relatively dependable Steffan Iversen is also attracting some flak.... Stupid Spurs Fan Comment #2: "All he wants to do is score goals!". A third option is Les Ferdinand, recently responsible for rearranging Johnno's face in a reserve game, for whom Spurs recently rejected a loan bid from Portsmouth.
As for players coming in (and it's an unavoidable facet of writing a preview this week that Spurs may have signed someone new by Saturday), the vast list of linked players has included Sergei Rebrov, Chris Sutton, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Carl Cort, John Hartson, John Carew, Marcus Bent, Jürgen Klinsmann, Gary Lineker and Mick Quinn. Probably. However one man definitely not arriving is Stan Collymore, who was quoted before his Leicester move as saying "Tottenham? No thanks, I may have criminally frittered my talent, stuffed up my international career and blown any number of last chances but I still have some pride". (NB: Teamtalk, he didn't really say that, I made it up...).
In midfield, the ever-tumbling and still annoyingly good David Ginola is on the left, with Darren Anderton's fitness a considerable bonus on the right. In the middle, Steffen Freund's presence is particularly important in the absence of hernia op Tim Sherwood...the official site speaks of his "typically Teutonic determination". Sigh.
Alongside him will probably be Oyvind Leonhardsen, with Allan Nielsen and Ruel Fox having departed on loan to Wolves (a home from home) and Norwich respectively. Other options will be Willem Korsten, Stephen Clemence, subject of an approach from Huddersfield, and youngsters Matthew Etherington and Simon Davies, both recruited from Peterborough.
At the back, Sol Campbell and Chris Perry form as reliable a central pairing as Spurs have had for a while, although Campbell limped out of Sunday's derby. He has recently been linked with the Gunners, as his contract expires at the end of next season...stupid Spurs Fan Comment #3 "Ha! They're even after our players now!" (Yeah, like you're really chuffed). Cover is Luke Young and John Scales.
Fullbacks will be Stephen Carr and Mauricio Tarricco; the latter now unchallenged on the left following Justin Edinburgh's sale to Portsmouth. In goal is Ian Walker, ably deputised by Espen Baardsen.
The last four competitive games with Spurs have yielded twenty-five goals, which all but guarantees us a nil-nil draw at the weekend. Two clean sheets in a row though...hmm. At any rate, moral dilemma over whether hoping for a win whilst listening out for Wednesday, Bradford and Derby is woefully wishful thinking can be put on the back burner for at least a week.
We need to beat Tottenham because they are Tottenham. That's as complicated as it gets.