Tottenham 2010: The Year That Was For Spurs
As it’s Christmas time I thought it would be an opportune time to take a look back at the calendar year that was 2010. I guess really I should schedule this to publish after Christmas but if we’re lucky enough to get any football in that time there will be other things to talk about so here goes. I should warn those of you that are naturally pessimistic like I am that the following may shock you. It’s advisable to sit with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. Make sure your glass is half full and not half empty.
Lets start with the league and what a year it’s been for us at the bread and butter. With 2 games to come, Villa on Boxing Day, followed by Newcastle, we’ve played 35 games, winning 17 and drawing 9. That’s 60 points so we’ve managed to keep a consistent form throughout the year and in effect the two seasons. We’ve continued to perform in a traditional Spurs way too, losing to the likes of Wolves, Burnley, Wigan, West Ham and Bolton but those have been blips on a year that’s seen us record back to back north London derby victories, beating the eventual Champions Chelsea and one glorious night at Eastlands that gave us that all important Champions League place.
Favourite victories will always be different and I expect the majority would say one of the two NLD games as their favourite league game of 2010, especially the away one. However, mine is probably a little bit out there and many won’t agree but my favourite victory of 2010 was our 2-1 win at Stoke on March 20th. A strange one to choose I know but hear me out. Stoke away is never easy, especially last season where very few teams had come away with the 3 points. As I stood in what was a freezing breeze that day and applauded the players off it was the first time I genuinely thought we had a chance of the top 4. Until that point I’d be waiting for the wheels to come off or just thought we weren’t quite good enough. As Harry Redknapp walked into their canvas tunnel he turned to the fans and gave a fist pump, something I’d not seen him do before. I wonder if that game was the one when he realised it too?
So, on the night on May 05th 2010 we travelled to Manchester City to play our rearranged league game with 4th spot resting on the result for both teams. Strange how these things turn out isn’t it? The cynic in me would think that game was scheduled for the end of the season hoping it would attract a large television audience. Anyway, with one bustling run from Younes Kaboul and a salmon leaping Peter Crouch we made our way into the Champions League for the first time. I’m not ashamed to say I had a little tear roll down my cheek that night.
Onto the Champions League. The best club competition in the world. Some say it’s better than the World Cup and judging by last summers exploits in South Africa it’s hard to argue with them. We all watched the draw for the qualifying stages in anticipation and were fairly pleased when we got Young Boys of Bern. Easy peasy lemon squeezey. As fate would have it our opening game of this season would be against City again, only 3 days before “the biggest game in our history” as it was billed by some. Not ideal but something we would have to get used to now we were sitting at the top table of European football. After keeping Joe Hart in action for an entire 90 minutes we travelled to Switzerland for what we hoped would be a fairly routine first leg only to get a nasty Champions League fright. All the hard work of the previous season and that magical night at Eastlands was being destroyed when we found ourselves 3-0 down after only 28 minutes. Thankfully we did what we’ve done best in 2010 and that’s make a comeback. The game finished 3-2 and we destroyed them 4-0 in the return leg to get into the group stages.
The group stages where we got the “Group of Death”. The hardest group of any of the English teams. We weren’t given much of a chance against the reigning champions, Inter Milan, seasoned champions league veterans Werder Bremen and Dutch champions FC Twente. Third at best we were told and Europa League football come 2011. Foolish press.
We don’t do things easily though do we? I made my first European trip with the team for the Bremen game. I had to be at our first Champions League game proper and what a game. 2-0 up after 18 minutes and most of us didn’t know what to do. We decided on jumping up and down with Cheshire Cat grins on our faces, saying to complete strangers, “what’s going on? We’re 2-0 up”. Of course, this wouldn’t be Spurs if we didn’t end the game 2-2 but like Stoke away that game made me realise we could qualify for the knock out stages if we played the way we all know we can.
What followed were two easy wins at home against FC Twente and Bremen but sandwiched between were the glamour ties of the group. Inter Milan v Tottenham Hotspur. As I write this I’m chuckling because it’s only when you look back you realise just how naive but also how brilliant this team we watch every week (snow permitting) is. 4-0 down at half time and down to 10 men wasn’t quite what we all had in mind, but we won the second half 3-0 and aplayer we knew already introduced himself onto the world stage. Arise the beast that is Gareth Bale. More on him later, but his second half hat trick might’ve papered over the cracks of the first half but more importantly it gave the team and fans belief that Inter weren’t the Inter of old and they could be beaten. I guess the award for best defeat of 2010 goes to Inter away.
Then the Champions League sex really started to kick in. On November 02nd we welcomed Rafa Benitez and his Inter team to fortress White Hart Lane. The atmosphere was building, anticipation for what could be a glory night ahead and tension was in the air. Bang, Bang, Bang. Gareth Bale did it again. This time creator but a 3-1 home win made Europe not only take a look at the Welshman but also our small area of north London that many hadn’t travelled to before and Inter don’t want to come to again. We’d done it. Qualified from the group most didn’t think we could. We went on to draw away to FC Twente in another up and down game with goals galore to finish top of the group and draw Inter’s rivals AC Milan in the first knock out stage. Could 2011 see more glorious european nights? Fingers and toes crossed.
As great as the Champions League has been, the domestic cups haven’t been so kind to us. The FA Cup started off quite well, although with 3 replays out of 4 it provided more games than we wouldn’t liked. Having beaten Fulham knowing we’d meet an almost relegated Portsmouth many of us were working out how we’d get cup final tickets. Unfortunately we hadn’t read the script this time and somehow and far inferior team managed to beat us 2-0 after extra time. One slip by Awesome Dawson and we were done. The trip home fromWembley that day was probably the worse football feeling I had in 2010.
A close second or maybe worse or the same! I can’t make up my mind on this one but the 4-1 defeat to “them” in the Carling Cup on 21st September at home wasn’t a pleasant experience. Maybe it’s only the Carling Cup but it’s a trophy that’s been kind to us over the years and frustratingly it’s a trophy that looks like they’ll win this season, ending their baron run. It’s clear we sacrificed this competition for the Champions League and when I look back on it now I’m ok with that to a certain degree. I just wish we’d beaten them first.
As I write this we’ve scored 92 goals in the last 357 days. Strange stat I know but a stats a stat. We’ve enjoyed regulars like Michael Dawson playing out of his skin, rightly becoming captain and getting England recognition. Tommy Huddlestone start to develop more as an all round footballer in the centre ofthe park. We’ve seen the highs and lows of Gomes, who goes from match winning performance to crying like a little girl when the ball hits him in the knee and then back to match winning performance again. The resurgence of Alan Hutton, the fifty-four different hair styles of Benny Ekotto, the sixteen different injuries of Ledley King and eleven counts of drunk and disorderly. We’ve seen one of the finest players, while injury prone, to wear the lilywhite shirt join the club in Rafael van der Vaart. A joy to watch and a will to win that we haven’t had since the days of Gazza.
However, the year of 2010 belongs to one man. At the end of 2009 he was being lined up for a move to Nottingham Forest and then fate struck. Injury to Ekotto opened the door for a 20 year old from Cardiff, with bad hair, simian like features and bits of tape stuck to his legs. In all fairness he’s sorted out his hair now!! I’m not one of the many fans who think he has a brilliant game every week or chant his name because he got on the end of a goodthrough ball by Ekotto but he’s learning the game and when playing well he’s what you pay your money to see.
In a vote, best goal of 2010 is probably Danny Rose’s against them but for me it was (so far) Bale’s volley against Stoke. As the youngsters say nowadays, it was perfect tekkers. Even at the other end of the ground, everyone knew we’d just witnessed a cracker. I’m sure I’m not different to most of you reading this when I say I have never been able to even get my leg that high let alone kick a ball into the top corner at the same time. His displays against Inter Milan will be remembered for years to come by all Spurs fans.
It’s been a massively entertaining year. Ups and downs as always, but for a change it’s been mostly positive. With young players like Bale, Modric, Dawson, Huddlestone, Lennon, Ekotto getting better all the time, and the experience of vdV and hopefully a couple of new signings 2011 isn’t looking too bad either.
What will it bring us? Another top 4 maybe? I hope so. A decision on the new stadium most definitely. News on whether Redknapp will be with us or England in 2012? Will ENIC still own the club? Will we still be linked with Scott Parker and Steven Pienaar? One things for certain, being a Spurs fan is never boring and that’s just the way I like it.
We shouldn’t forget that 2010 has also been a year in which we’ve lost many of our heros from yesteryear, in particular Bobby Smith, Eddie Baily and Ralph Coates. All have been a part of what makes this club the one we love and they shall never be forgotten.
Hope you all have a great Christmas, New Year and 6 points would be the perfect present.
Submitted by THFC1882.
***NOTE: This post was written before the victory over Aston Villa last night***
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