Should you need any further proof that friendlies mean nothing, run an eye down our pre-season ﬁxtures.
Not a single defeat in eight games – admittedly one was against Stevenage Borough, and I reckon (misguidedly) that I could give them a run for their money accompanied by a team of popular characters from children’s ﬁction – including victories over Inter Milan and Real Sociedad. Then what? First Premiership result: a 2-0 loss at Bolton, both goals netted within the opening 15 minutes. We turned that around with a 2-0 at home to Shefﬁeld United. (Don’t scoff – they managed a draw against Liverpool.) Then I wangled a ticket for my 11-year-old son, for Everton at the Lane. As a treat. We didn’t score in the ﬁrst half but were by some distance the better team, admittedly while creating too few chances. Not long before the whistle they had a bloke sent off. The game was in the bag. (Just as we thought against Manchesters United and City.)
What Martin Jol, not a man I am given to complain about, said to them at half time, I have no idea, but it was possibly along the lines of, ‘You’ve won this one already. Just go out there lacking any sort of passion, amble about a bit and wonder whether it’s pie and chips or couscous for tea.’ Because that’s what they did, roughly. Two bloody nil. At ‘fortress’ Lane. When the boy said to me afterwards, between our dark mutterings, ‘I’ll still support Spurs until I die’, I didn’t know whether to swell with pride or book him into therapy.
We lost only nine games last season. Already that’s two down. But, as Clive Dunn’s Lance Corporal Jones used to say in Dad’s Army, ‘You know, when I was in the Sudan…’ At least it’s been a funny old start to the season for a few of the toppermost teams. Liverpool had that draw against Warnock’s mob, Chelsea lost to Middlesbrough (gutted) and, at the time of writing, we’re above Arsenal (one point from two games), though 14th to the Gunners’ 17th isn’t quite what Spurs fans had in mind. And we did some good business in the transfer window, while not getting rid of Lee to Roma. Our new left-back, Benoit Assou-Ekottu, was my star of that Everton ﬁrst-half. The man cleared up everywhere and his control was awesome. Berbatov looks a better bet than Mido as The Tall One, while the jury’s out on Didier Zokora, who was
signed as a replacement for Carrick (how much?!) though spends much of the time on the bench. Chimbonda can score goals and is far preferable to error-prone Lee, and Malbranque scores more goals than that, when he doesn’t have a hernia.