Tag Archives: Tottenham Hotspur FC

Tottenham as Champions? Even Leeds United Would be More Authentic – by Rob Atkinson

Spuds

Spuds – boiled twice until soft and mushy

If Tottenham Hotspur finish this season in a Champions League qualification place and – more importantly, in the eyes of many of their fans – above loathed North London rivals Arsenal, then this season will be deemed by the vast majority of those fans to have been a resounding success. This, despite the fact that, having failed last year to take their most realistic chance in over half a century to finish as Champions of England, they are about to repeat that failure. And that is why Spurs, despite their superficial glamour and appeal, cannot be regarded as a big club.

This might sound strange coming from a fan of 21st Century also-rans Leeds United. But, for all their recent woes and the chaos that characterises life at Elland Road under Bates, GFH and Cellino, Leeds remains a big club. The expectations are still there, the voracious hunger and imperious demand to be up there with the best. At some point, those demands will be met – because the expectations and desire of the fans are what, ultimately, define the size and potential of a football club. Leeds have all that – Tottenham simply don’t. A cursory scan of their Twitter feed, when Spurs capitulated last season, was ample illustration of this.

I was really expecting to find anger, dismay and deep, deep hurt among the Spurs Twitteratti, at the careless throwing away of a once in a lifetime chance. It wasn’t there. I thought too – equally erroneously – that there would be angst and an abiding sense of betrayal. I based this on an empathetic knowledge of how I or most other Leeds supporters would feel – how it would leave us bereft and fuming to see such a rare opportunity passed up. But then – we’re Leeds, and these people were merely Spurs. There’s a big difference.

Last time Leeds joined the big time, back in 1990 – and the time before that, in 1964 – the Whites wasted no time merely admiring their surroundings or being overawed by their new peers. They took a brief, almost scornful look around, allowed themselves the barest of minimum settling-in periods, won their opening fixture back at this new, rarefied level – and proceeded to dominate proceedings thenceforth. Don Revie’s wonders went within a whisker of the double first time out, and were the best team in Europe within five years. Sergeant Wilko’s Warriors were Champions inside twenty months. This is the mettle and appetite of a big club. “Keep Fighting” was and remains the motto. There is no fear and mighty little respect in the staff and players. There is an abounding self-belief and naked ambition among the fans. So it was with Leeds United. So it will be again.

There is none of this with Spurs, not last season and not this one either. Despite the excellence of their squad, they lack the inner conviction and the aspirations of Champions. At its heart, the club is effete and decadent, content to play pretty football while perceived lesser mortals – the Leicester City of last season being an excellent example – scrap and fight, working hard, giving no quarter, exerting every fibre of their being in the pursuit of victory. In a game of fine margins, it is this muck and bullets approach that can close the quality gap and make the difference when the prizes are handed out.

On the evidence of social media reaction, the Spurs fans are as much to blame as the soft centre of their club. It’ll be nice to finish second, they trilled last season (they actually finished third in a two-horse race, surrendering runners-up spot meekly to Arsenal with a thrashing at relegated Newcastle). We’d have snatched your hands off for the chance of finishing higher than Arsenal, they simpered (maybe this season then, lads). We’ll be favourites next year, they crooned, hopefully. But next year never comes – not when the real big boys can be counted on to wake up from their one season slumber.

Thinking back to the early nineties, when Leeds were the hungry new kids on the block – we hoped and craved for a chance to be the best again. Whether we really expected it to come along so soon is a moot point. But we were raucously demanding of it. And when that chance presented itself – especially at the expense of our most hated foes – there was no suggestion of “well, it’d be nice, but second wouldn’t be too bad either”. We’d have been gutted to the depths of our very souls, if our heroes in White hadn’t seized the day. It would have been impossible to express the wretchedness we would have felt.

The Spurs fans by contrast, with their mealy-mouthed acceptance of failure and honeyed words of congratulations to conquerors Leicester, betrayed their club and showed themselves, as well as their beloved club, unworthy of being regarded as champion material. It was a sickening sight to see, a betrayal of that competitive spirit that gives a vital edge to proper contenders.

In the end, any league gets the champions it deserves and, barring last-gasp miracles or Chelsea calamity, it’ll be no different this year. Spurs will have shown again why they haven’t been The Best since 1961, when JFK was president, the Beatles were playing beery dives in Hamburg and I was only just seeing the light of day. Chelsea, with their juggernaut self-belief and determination to make the most of every opportunity under the brilliant guidance of Antonio Conte, will thoroughly have deserved their Premier League Title. They will be deserving Champions, by far the best team in the land.

Leicester City, Chelsea, Leeds United – Champions of England. Each has a ring of authenticity to it that’s been hard fought for and deeply merited when it’s come about. Whereas “Champions Spurs”? – well, it just doesn’t sound right. It sounds instead faintly ridiculous, like cheap fiction; and, as long as the club and the fans retain their current losers’ mindset, that’s just how it will remain.

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Leeds, Liverpool Fans: Demand New Contract for Man Utd Hero van Gaal   –   by Rob Atkinson

 
Times are hard for Man United and their beleaguered Dutch genius of a manager Louis van Gaal. Following their latest defeat, at old rivals Liverpool, rumours persist that the axe is poised to terminate the former Holland coach’s tenure at Old Trafford. This would be a tragic turn of events for fans of some of England’s premier clubs, who are united in their conviction that Louis van Gaal is doing a fantastic job at Manchester United.

Fans of some of the country’s foremost clubs, as well as Newcastle United, West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur, have been invited to sign and share a petition calling upon Malcolm Glazer, the Man U CEO, to recognise the folly of a managerial change at this point, and immediately award van Gaal a new and improved five year contract, during in which he would hopefully be able to see through the job he’s started so promisingly to a conclusion that most football fans would wholeheartedly welcome. 

Fans of Liverpool, Manchester City, Leeds United and Arsenal, among others, are invited to sign and share the Change.org petition in support of van Gaal’s retention with the Premier League also-rans.

We at Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything are so impressed with the job van Gaal is doing, that we have no hesitation in endorsing this petition. We would urge our readers to sign it at once and share it as widely as possible. 

For the good of the game and the contentment of millions of people outside of Devon, Cornwall and the Home Counties, the success of this campaign is vital. 

Louis van Gaal must stay at Man U!

Top Ten Most Embarrassing “Celebrity” Spurs Fans – by Rob Atkinson

An Embarrassment of Spuds

An Embarrassment of Spuds

With undeniably cool fans such as Newsnight’s Grand Inquisitor Jeremy Paxman and Ralph Ineson (Finchy in “The Office“) behind the mighty Leeds United, it can fairly be said that we don’t suffer from an “embarrassing celebrity fans” problem. But, as I wrote just the other day, Man U certainly do – and on the evidence below, so do those other mid-table EPL also-rans, Tottenham Hotspur.

Celebrity fanship is a real phenomenon nowadays – much more so than back in the Eighties when being a football supporter was apt to have you marked down as a dangerous psychotic, fit only for a back-to-front jacket and the padded cell. But football is just so respectable these days – the social cachet is such that no decently self-promoting celeb can afford to be without his or her “lifelong love affair” with (insert name of club here). And whoever that club may be will come to be linked in the public mind with the celeb in question – so it’s a choice not to be taken lightly, and there’s some pressure to get it right first time or lay yourself open to charges of opportunism and infidelity – as with Zoe Ball who was a Liverpool fan but brazenly jumped ship to “support” Man U. Here are ten ‘celeb’ Spurs fans who, after another under-achieving season, might now wish they’d chosen more wisely.  Swift change to Arsenal, anybody…?

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10. Warren Mitchell

Warren MitchellMitchell isn’t all that intrinsically embarrassing as he’s a pretty good actor both on screen and in the theatre, so he only just sneaks onto this list in the least-cringeworthy tenth position.  The point is, of course, that he is most famous by far for his portrayal of a West Ham fan as Johnny Speight’s brilliant satirical creation Alf Garnett.  Many of his legion of fans – or Alf’s legion of fans – think he’s a genuine loud-mouthed, bigoted, ignorant ‘Ammer. And all the time, he’s actually a loud-mouthed, bigoted, ignorant Spurs fan! Not that there’s any other kind of Spurs fan, of course – as we shall go on to see…but still.  How ironic is that?

9. Michael Fish MBE

Michael-FishMichael’s claim to fame is embodied in the letters following his name – which do not, as might be supposed, denote some anachronistic patrician honour. They actually stand for “Major Bloody Error”, and refer to the most outstanding meteorological cock-up of our times.

On 15 October 1987, Michael was quietly going about his business, guessing whether dark clouds might mean rain, when he mentioned that a woman had called in to the BBC, saying she’d heard a hurricane was on its way.  “… well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t!”, smiled Fishy, reassuringly.

A few short hours later, the hurricane that Michael had failed to see coming hit South East England with a ferocity unparalleled in three centuries. Most embarrassing, of course, for Michael Fish – in fact he hadn’t been quite as embarrassed from that day till the times when “Hurricane Manchester City” and “Hurricane Arsenal” hit his favourite team Spurs and blew them away completely.

In later years, Fish fishily tried to excuse himself by claiming he’d been referring to a hurricane in Florida. Hmmm. It’s a shame Spurs couldn’t come up with so creative an excuse after that famous 0-6 debacle at the Etihad really – isn’t it?

8. Peter Purves

PurvesThese names are starting to get a bit cringier now, as we move away from the more mildly embarrassing end of the list. Peter Purves was of course one of the famous “Val, John & Pete” trio, still remembered by those of my generation as the quintessential, definitive Blue Peter team.  Sadly, Peter was best known for being neither John nor Val, inhabiting a sort of vague hinterland of anonymity as the other two made their names with sticky-back plastic or sky-diving. Poor Peter Purves was the least popular of the three by a distance, and indeed it is claimed that even Petra and Patch, the Blue Peter dogs, and Freda, the programme’s tortoise, got more fan-mail than he did. Purves is also reasonably well-known as an early Dr. Who sidekick, as well as for having a surname that sounds comically like “pervs”.

Speaking of which, in 2008, co-presenter on Blue Peter Val Singleton revealed that she’d had “a brief fling” with ‘Pervs’. Blue Peter indeed.  I’ll let you insert (fnarr) your own “Val’s knickers” jokes here.

7. Egil Olsen

Egil OlsenEgil Olsen is a man about whom quirky and diverse facts abound. He famously wears wellies to work, and was once sacked, partly for his scruffy appearance.  He is a fanatical adherent of zonal marking, and was seen after one match, head in hands, deeply despairing that his beloved system had been so ineffective – with atrocious marking leading to two out of three goals conceded by Wimbledon at Bradford.

He was sacked on another occasion, this time by mail, for being “too nice” – by the Iraqi national team, forsooth.  He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of geographical trivia, his nickname as a player was “Drillo”, and he was a player once and manager four times for a team called Frigg.  But most bizarrely of all, Egil is a Spurs fan.  Now explain THAT, if you possibly can.

6. Sid “RickAAAAAYYY” Owen

sid owenIt’s confusing about Sid. Some sources have him as a Spurs fan, others – like the ever-reliable Wikipedia, for instance – claim that he’s actually much more enlightened than that, following Arsenal.

I prefer to go with a gut feeling, and base my verdict on the verifiable facts. He’s a bit of a one-hit wonder as an actor, serving a long stint on “Eastenders” as “RickAAAAYYYY”, his character being mostly engaged in slinking away round corners as a foghorn-voiced ginger actress bellowed his name repeatedly. Such is the stuff of stardom, but Sid gave it all up in 2012 after 24 years, citing heavily traumatised eardrums. It is rumoured that Eastenders writers are still trying to come up with another line that Patsy Palmer can say convincingly.

All may not be lost for Patsy though, as RickAAAAYYYY may well be back – Eastenders seeming to be his refuge of choice after failed ventures, such as Strictly Come Dancing, elsewhere.  Looking judiciously at this record of poor decisions and embarrassing situations, the answer to Sid’s football-supporting conundrum appears fairly obvious: Spurs. As Jimmy Nail once said of suspected Tottenham fan Wayne on “Auf Wiedersehen, Pet” – you can just tell.

5. Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton

BuntonEmma, the product of an unlikely union between a karate instructor and a milkman, has had a chequered life and career. She was making a reasonable impression as a wannabe actress, but showed signs of the direction she wanted to take when she turned down the role of a habitual drug-user, saying that she wanted to maintain a wholesome image – presumably she felt that the drug role on top of supporting Spurs would be just too much.

Emma then joined a pop group named Touch, becoming one of five girls united by a common determination not to let a total lack of singing ability prevent them from ending up as stars.  A swift name-change to The Spice Girls, and they were on their way.  Bunton was dubbed “Baby Spice” due to her pigtails, her babydoll dresses and her “girly girl” image.

As someone who has made a little talent, some freckles and a great deal of window-dressing go a mighty long way, Bunton may be seen as possibly the most outstanding example of the archetypal Spurs fan – but she’s a fair old way from being the most embarrassing out there.  Read on…

4. Rupert Grint

Rupert-Grint-139019As an outstanding success in the Harry Potter franchise, playing schoolboy wizard Ron Weasley in all of the films, Grint’s embarrassment coefficient really depends mainly upon his being ginger, and of course a Spurs fan – a lethally-shameful combination. Grint had landed the role of Ron Weasley at the age of 11 by sending in a video of himself, rapping about his reasons for wanting the part. Despite his previous experience amounting only to local theatre groups and school plays, the casting team asked to see him – and the rest is history.

As with the other two of the three main characters, Grint grew up with his role, and became closely identified with Ron Weasley. Rarely can an accident of hair colour – though the ginger gene is extremely dominant – have led to such a successful and unheralded career.

Rumours abound, and what is known as “fan fiction” too, about Ron’s supposed romantic entanglement with the disconcertingly cute Hermione Granger.  All of this would not normally cause too much interest in the world outside Hogwarts – but in the context of Spurs’ pallid performances since they sold their only half-decent player, it’s positively riveting.  And, let’s face it – we had to have at least one ginger in an embarrassing celebs article.

3. Bruce Forsyth

brucieWe’re getting to the really queasy end of the list now. It’s time to contemplate Brucie, so clamp your jaws tight to stave off the inevitable nausea – and have a sick-bag handy, just in case.

The stance of this article could be summed up in Orwellian style, thus: “Arsenal fan good, Spurs fan bad”.  But Bruce has gone way beyond the pale, claiming to be a fan of both clubs.  This heinous position is comparable to that of a solider who claims to support both Confederate and Unionist sides, or someone who claims to be – and I shudder to even write these words – both Leeds United and Man U.  Grooogh. It’s THAT bad.

Apparently, Brucie – known as “Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom” at the start of his 75-year (and counting) showbiz career – originally supported Arsenal, but when the Gunners’ ground was requisitioned in World War II for air-defence searchlights, their home games were played at Spurs’ White Hart Lane – and this apparently led the then youngish Forsyth to support both teams – the act, we may agree, of an unnatural freak.

In a lifetime’s career as an old-style vaudeville entertainer, Brucie has never been anything other than in demand, proving that, for the type of people who like Bruce, Bruce is just the kind of performer they like. Latterly, his act has been mainly about catch-phrases, speculation around the health of his various toupees, and the increasing prominence of his chin. He will still eagerly essay the odd dance step here and there, even at the age of 106 – before tottering off to his bath chair with his latest blonde nymphet.

Bruce may claim to live on both sides of the Arsenal Spurs divide – but with a CV like his – he’s just GOT to be Tottenham.

2. Richard Littlejohn

LittlejohnWhat we have here is a real-life Alf Garnett, and not the cosy, satirical creation designed to heap ridicule upon an ignorant, racist bigot – but the genuine article; a man whose views are so disgusting that it is a national disgrace he has a platform of any sort to expound them.

Should anyone doubt the depth of Littlejohn’s prejudice and hate, there’s a clue in the fact that he writes a twice-weekly column for the Daily Heila publication that depends heavily for material upon the British Government’s many hate crusades, which they then faithfully preach as fact to their readership of nasty little suburban fascisti.  He previously contributed similar garbage to the Sun.

A count of the number of references Littlejohn makes to homosexuality in his columns has been recorded, in the Guardian‘s annual “Littlejohn Audit”. This stated: “In the past year’s Sun columns, Richard has referred 42 times to gays, 16 times to lesbians, 15 to homosexuals, eight to bisexuals, twice to ‘homophobia’ and six to being “homophobic” (note his scornful inverted commas), five times to cottaging, four to “gay sex in public toilets”, three to poofs, twice to lesbianism, and once each to buggery, dykery, and poovery. This amounts to 104 references in 90-odd columns – an impressive increase on his 2003 total of 82 mentions. There is, alas, no space for us to revisit the scientific study which found obsessive homophobes more responsive to gay porn. But Richard, we’re begging you: talk to someone.”

Littlejohn was forced to adopt a temporarily lower profile when, in December 2012, he wrote an article criticising teacher Nathan Upton for returning to the same school – after announcing gender reassignment surgery to become Lucy Meadows – instead of going for a different post somewhere else.  In March 2013, Lucy Meadows was found dead, apparently a case of suicide.  A subsequent inquest found press coverage of her sex change to have been “ill-informed bigotry” and that Richard Littlejohn (a nom de plume intended to deflect attention from his embarrassing real-life name of John Littledick) had “…carried out what can only be described as a character assassination, having sought to ridicule and humiliate Lucy Meadows and bring into question her right to pursue her career as a teacher”.  Petitions calling for Littlejohn to be sacked gained 240,000 signatures.

Richard Littlejohn: hack writer, bigot, homophobic bully, racist, pedlar of hatred and, last and least, Spurs fan.  Not a pleasant creature, is he?

1. Iain Duncan-Smith

IDSAnd now we have one of the very few candidates for a person who plumbs even greater depths of depravity and loathsomeness than Littlejohn. Iain Duncan-Smith is the discredited Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in Cameron’s government. He is also a failed former Tory leader.

In his current role he, too, has blood on his hands, with his hated and widely-criticised “Bedroom Tax” driving many to the brink of despair – and at least one person allegedly to suicide. IDS is not a man to take disagreement or contradiction at all well. He tends to dismiss criticism of his policies with an airy “I feel I am right”, despite anecdotal evidence mounting up in support of the contrary view. If pressed on any point where he feels some difficulty in defending his position, he tends to resort to snapping curtly at the questioner, having a tantrum and stomping off. He has, however, been caught bang to rights in misrepresenting official statistics with a view to supporting his claims that the policies he has pursued have been effective. In this, he has been shown to be, at best, incompetent and deluded; at worst, a barefaced liar without any scruples at all.

Famously, when Duncan-Smith was asked if he would be able to live on state benefits of £53 a week, he responded “If I had to, I could”. Immediately, a petition was launched by Dom Aversano, a musician, challenging IDS to do just that. After the petition went viral and collected thousands of signatures, IDS beat an undignified retreat, calling the petition a “stunt” and insisting he had nothing to prove, having subsisted on benefits earlier in his life. It later transpired that, in at least one of the periods when IDS claimed he was living on the breadline, he was knocking off an heiress and living rent-free in her flat. Mr Aversano’s petition eventually closed with 482,756 signatures, which is certainly quite a well-supported “stunt”.

Iain Duncan-Smith is a testy former Tory leader, who appears to relish the misery he is currently inflicting on thousands of people who can neither hit back, nor defend themselves. He is a bully, a cheat, pathologically fanatical about punishing the poor and succouring the rich, and a proven liar. He is also a Spurs fan – which, contrary to my usual views, might just be the nicest thing about him. Since the overdue demise of Thatcher, (the Iron Chicken or ‘Attila the Hen’) IDS has risen to the very top of many people’s “Party at my place when so-and-so carks it” list. Needless to say, he’s top of mine. Speed that glorious day.

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Tottenham-Hotspur-logoEvery truly big club has its share of celebrity fans.  And, as you’ve seen above, so has Spurs. But some are just embarrassing and – as the more reprehensible end of this list has shown – some are truly appalling. I’ve had the odd go at Spurs in the past, largely because – even though I’m Leeds through and through – I have a great regard and respect for Arsenal. But writing this article has given me a surprising feeling of sympathy for Tottenham.  Any club with Richard Littlejohn AND Iain Duncan-Smith among its aficionados merits our empathy, our understanding, even our pity. No-one deserves to be tarred with that brush – not even Tottenham Hotspur.

Theo Secures Arsenal Legend Status With Two Fingers Up at Spurs – by Rob Atkinson

Two nil, chaps...

Two nil, chaps…

Another day, another North London derby win for Good Old Arsenal, who didn’t have to exert themselves unduly to knock pallid Spurs out of the Cup.

In the end, the difference between the teams was the quality of the finishing. Two sublime strikes saw off Spurs, one in each half. First Cazorla lashed a first time effort past Lloris from Gnabry’s perfectly-weighted pass. Then in the second half, Rosicky mugged Rose in the Spurs half before running on to execute a beautiful chipped effort – job done.

The remaining highlight of the game came out of a worrying moment as Walcott seemed to jar his left knee. A stretcher was called for, and it may well be that young Theo has sustained some damage. The incident took place right in front of the sullen mass of away fans, and they naturally proceeded to give the stricken Arsenal player dogs’ abuse. Encouragingly though, Theo felt well enough to sit up on his stretcher and, by means of hand signals, remind the Spurs contingent of the score.

It was a brave, possibly foolhardy thing to do. The stretcher bearers may not have thanked their patient for inviting a hail of missiles, but the Gooners clearly loved it. Theo left the arena in triumph, festooned with Arsenal scarves thrown in tribute by his adoring fans. In adding insult to Spurs’ two-goal injury, the likeable Walcott had put the seal on Arsenal’s joy as well as the misery of Spurs.

A good day for the Gunners, who march onwards and upwards. For Sherwood’s hapless troops, it was an unwelcome reminder of just how far they remain behind the Kings of North London.

Man U’s “Olympic Diving Trio” Fail to Deny Spurs – by Rob Atkinson

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That Moyes half-time team talk in full

It seemed as though the selection of referee for today’s Man U v Spurs match at the Theatre of Hollow Myths was spot on and just right for the job in hand.  Howard Webb is a man who has proved time and time again that he’s one referee who knows exactly how to deal with the acknowledged divers of the best Man U tradition. Howard does not shirk his responsibility, Howard acts decisively. Howard doesn’t even hesitate; he gets the whistle to the lips and blows shrilly for the statutory penalty.  We’ve seen it repeatedly down the years.  The man is Mr Consistent, and his collection of Premier League title winners medals have been due reward for this.

But clearly, something went badly wrong today.  A goal down at half time, and needing their main man on form in the second half, Man U increased their divers complement, using all three specialists at the club with Ashley Young joining Welbeck and the promising young triple-salko expert Januzaj.  Between them, these three gave Webb every opportunity to award penalties, with brilliant build-up play leading to immaculate finishes, landing on the face in the box in the approved fashion. Webb, though, appeared to have forgotten his lines completely, refusing to give even one penalty and actually booking the latest “New George Best”! His performance was disgraceful, and he is expected to be carpeted at Carrington later this week. On this performance, Webb’s place in Moyes’ matchday squad must be in doubt.

Looking at the displays of the three-man dive squad against Spurs, any and all of them could have had success on the day were it not for the official deciding to come over all impartial, in blatant breach of the standard contract.  Let’s take Danny Welbeck first:

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Welbeck’s matchday scorecard

Danny tried hard, but possibly a little too hard.  One of the tabloids, the Metro, has chosen to be a little treacherous and highlight one of the lad’s less subtle dives – and oh dear, it does look bad (see here). Overall, not one of Danny’s better displays. But, at the risk of straying into irrelevant areas, at least he scored.

Moving on, let’s check out the promising young Adnan Januzaj’s form:

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The Januzaj scores.

Young Adnan again is a trier and he shows real potential.  The fact is though that he’s been booked at least twice now, for “simulation” as they prefer to call it these days (cheating is such a nasty word). This may indicate that he’s perhaps not yet a true Man U class diver.  It’s a part of his game he’ll obviously be encouraged to work on – Moyes is on record as saying he’ll be having a chat with the lad, and there are good, solid examples of effective diving already at the club, from whom he can learn a great deal.  But for the moment, he’s flattering to deceive, and there are even suggestions that the blatant nature of some of his “precipitate descents to ground level” are threatening to blow the gaff on the very fabric of the club’s entire diving policy. This is something that should put all concerned on notice; the quality of diving needs to be addressed just as much as does the inexplicable form of the normally-reliable Webb.

Last, but by no means least, we have Man U’s main diver, usually benched until his particular gifts are needed – the one and only Ashley “Nautilus” Young:

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Ashley’s impeccable style and artistic interpretation

If there is one man who should shoulder no blame whatsoever for today’s defeat, it’s that man Young.  Always available to come on when required, his single-minded approach warms the hearts of every fan from Torquay to Milton Keynes and back again.  Such dedication deserves some reward; on days like this, Ashley could be forgiven for thinking he might as well go back to playing football.  But such a devoted practitioner of his art will not long be cast down.  You can guarantee that Ashley will be back, arms and legs akimbo, nose ploughing a furrow inside the eighteen yard box and that lovely, fluid motion as the dive turns seamlessly into a loudly-squealed appeal to the normally willing ref.  Looking at today’s match, Moyes was livid that one dive of utter quality didn’t result in a penalty. Unlucky, Ashley – don’t give up.

As for the rest of the match – Spurs even had the cheek to claim a penalty of their own.  But goals either side of half-time, both inexplicably allowed, were enough in the end to see them take the three points.  Sadly, it will have been an uncomfortable journey back south for the bulk of the Man U support, having to share trains with gloating Spurs fans.  It’s at times like these that the mettle of such faithful and dedicated gloryhunters is truly put to the test.

These are worrying times though for Man U.  Spurs have been nothing special this term, and the fact that they have been able to face Man U’s triple threat and not concede even ONE penalty is a matter of grave concern.  Some MPs in Home Counties constituencies are being asked to table questions in the House.  It’s that serious.  The problem, clearly, is with Webb – and you’d almost wonder on today’s performance if someone’s got at him? The Premier League Referee’s Panel, perhaps – though they’re normally very good at keeping their nose out of Man U’s private affairs.  Whatever has happened, something has to be sorted out, and soon – or it will be hard to see how personnel changes are to be avoided.  Several younger refs have put in promising performances for Man U lately, one even pulling a muscle in his eagerness to point to the spot.  It may even be time to think the unthinkable and act to replace Howard – even though there’s little doubt that he will go down as one of the true greats in the club’s history.

It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall when Webb is summoned to meet an irate David Moyes in the next few days. He’s likely to have to do some hard, fast talking to have any hope of retaining his squad number, and even then it’s likely that beady eyes will be watching him from the stand.  Yes, even his old mentor S’ralex is rumoured to be bitterly disappointed with Webb’s lamentable display today.  Things are getting serious – for sound marketing reasons, Man U simply must finish in the top four at the very, very least.  So could we really be about to see the end of a glorious Man U career?  The next few days way well decide that.

“Proud” Spurs Dad Gets Daughter to Thumb Nose at Suarez – But Luis Has Last Laugh – by Rob Atkinson

Luis Suarez - last laugh

Luis Suarez – last laugh

What does it take to make a Spurs fan’s day when you see your favourites getting thrashed 5-0 at home by Liverpool?  Arsenal’s defeat at Man City might have helped – but the Gunners only conceded as many as a hapless Spurs side at the Etihad, and at least they managed to score three where Tottenham managed a grand total of zero – so that’s a non-starter.  Fortunately, some Spurs fans have such low expectations of life at a post-Bale White Hart Lane – they can get an amazing amount of enjoyment from a jape you’d have thought was more to the taste of someone in his early teens.  Still, these are gloomy times around N17, and a chap has to get his laughs where he can.

So it was that long-suffering Spurs fan Des Brown – on hearing that his daughter Olivia was to be the home team mascot when Liverpool visited – persuaded her to pull a childish stunt on Suarez by thumbing her nose at the Uruguayan when he offered to shake hands.  It’s a thing that even the likes of Patrice Evra might have scorned as too embarrassing for words, but clearly it was all meat and drink to Mr Brown who was transparently thrilled.  To anyone who might wonder what’s missing in his life that he should take such delight in a trick worthy of a seven-year old, he observed: “Suarez isn’t the nicest character so I just wanted her to do it……..It’s made my day – it’s just hilarious.”

Perhaps it’s as well that the incident occurred so that something could make Mr Brown’s day – as clearly the football match that ensued wouldn’t have been palatable for him or for any other Spurs fan, Liverpool strolling to an easy 5-0 win with Suarez having the last laugh as he scored two of the goals.  Sadly though, even the consolation of his daughter agreeing to pull a playground stunt on her Dad’s behalf failed to be fully appreciated by Dismal Des, as he didn’t even see it happen.  “I said I’d give her £20 to give him the thumb to the nose and the twiddly fingers,” admitted the not-all-that-mature Dad. “Afterwards she came back to our seats and said ‘dad I’ve done it’ and I told her I didn’t see it and she said he just laughed and then she asked for her £20.”

It seems that young Olivia’s head is screwed on that bit more tightly than her silly-billy pop’s – at least she’s 20 quid up on the deal, after all – and she got a laugh out of a superstar.  Des meanwhile is £20 down, a 5-0 defeat sadder and wiser – well, sadder anyway – well, perhaps not even that given his pre-existing degree of sadness – and he didn’t even see his daughter’s fulfilment of his wishes.  Oh well, never mind.  Spurs have Southampton away next – maybe they could bust the form book and get a draw, or at least keep it down to less than five or six.  Then, even Mr Brown might be able to think about football again, instead of nursery games.

Suarez, meanwhile, goes from strength to strength despite the crushing blow of having a child thumb her nose at him because “he’s not the nicest character”.  Perhaps his season will survive such a mortal insult, perhaps, even, he might reflect that an alleged adult who bribes his child to act thus in front of millions on live TV isn’t actually the nicest character either – or the cleverest.  But Suarez has a 5-0 win to keep him smiling.  How do you like them cockerels, Mr Brown?

Leeds Remain “The Damned United” for Jimmy Greaves and the BBC – by Rob Atkinson

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Super Leeds – simply the best

A couple of weeks ago, I came not to bury Greavsie but to praise him.  The article I wrote was a thrilled response to the fact that Jimmy “Jimbo” Greaves – a known Leeds-hater from way back – seemed to have seen the light, acknowledging United legend John Charles as the greatest British footballer of all time, ahead of George Best, Bobby Moore and – well, everyone else on a list of fifty.  It was such a surprise, such a welcome oddity coming from Greaves’ usually poisoned pen where the Whites are concerned, that I failed to look beyond the headline. Silly me.

When I finally did read the rest, I was less surprised – but I was utterly disgusted and amazed that somebody who had the honour to share a pitch with (and be heavily defeated by) Don Revie‘s Super Leeds could be so bitter, such a small-minded little man. For genial Greavsie, that impish cockney bundle of fun, had included in his Top 50 British Greats not one member of that fabulous Super Leeds side which dominated football for a decade and which regularly finished above the teams for which so many of Greaves’ Chosen Ones had played.  And there I was, just a few short weeks ago, saying nice things about the little bugger.  Well, I take it all back. Today I come, not to praise Greavsie, but to bury the sod.

It simply makes the mind boggle.  Not one Leeds player from that Glory era of Bremner, Giles, Gray, Clarke, Lorimer et al.  Not a single, solitary one. John Charles, of course, the Jimmy Greaves choice for number one, played at Elland Road in his first spell with Leeds before the Revie years, making a brief but only moderately successful comeback in the early part of the Don’s reign, before heading back off to la dolce vita.   King John’s honours were won on foreign fields; he was not part of the Leeds success story.  Did this exempt him in Greaves’ tiny and still semi-pickled mind from the hatred and disrespect with which he has always referred to the great Leeds side?  Was there some envy there?

Greaves, let us not forget, for all the praise heaped on him as a natural finisher, didn’t win all that much in his career.  You could fairly say he bottled it.  No League Titles, just a cup or two.  He missed out on the World Cup Final in 1966 due to injury, making way for one Geoff Hurst, who fortunately had a fair old game that day. You have to admit that Leeds, for all their talent, were underachievers (largely due to some corrupt refereeing) – but Greavsie out-shone them in that. Perhaps this explains some of that elderly bile and bitterness?

It’s not an unknown phenomenon, this steely determination to ignore Leeds United when the plaudits are being handed out.  It’s sadly quite common and, despite the fact that it reflects ill on those who perpetrate the omissions, exposing them for the petty, shallow revisionists that they are, still they queue up to overlook that great side, and to be seen doing so.  It’s as if there are brownie points to be collected somewhere for the person or persons who can show that they possess the biggest pair of anti-Leeds blinkers in the whole media.  What a sad indictment of supposedly impartial coverage – and the ostensibly most impartial of them all, the good old BBC, are among the worst offenders.

A little while ago, I wrote – well, ranted – about the BBC’s determined stance on ignoring Don Revie when they put together a montage of legendary managers.  It was laughable.  There were managers in there who’d hardly won a bean – good sound men, but not in the same class as the Don, a man who built a European superpower from a provincial nonentity of a football club, scorned by many in a city devoted to Rugby League.  The worldwide fanatical following that United have, even today, have their roots in the miracle wrought by Revie, the greatest manager of all time.  So, I complained to Auntie Beeb, and got the standard fob-off response, naturally. The complacent pillars of the media don’t like being challenged in their cosy little ivory tower funk-holes, they would rather you just concentrate on what they’re saying and not try thinking for yourself too much.

There’s no need for me to start in on correcting Greaves’ list, or indeed the BBC’s laboriously-constructed montage of managers – either would be an exercise in the bleedin’ obvious.  I’m simply happy to get this off my chest, to point out what smug, self-satisfied hypocrites and charlatans these people are, who feel that they really can reinvent history and expunge a whole, massively-significant part of it from the public consciousness.  It’ll never happen, too many of us out here remember all too well who the top dogs were back in the day – and more and more of us are stomping our way into print, the better to emphasise exactly what was what.  So you may take your heavily-edited version of history, Messrs Greaves, Lineker, Hansen and Shearer, and you may stick it where the monkey stuck its nuts.

The truth after all is out there, the evidence is easy to find, and even though some of the men so cruelly overlooked – Bremner and Revie for very obvious examples – are no longer around to defend themselves, there are plenty out here only too eager to do it for them.  Say what you like, Greavsie, but we were there too, we remember and we know better.

Spurs Pay the Usual Penalty for Failing to Finish Off Man U – by Rob Atkinson

Look ref - here's what you do...

Look ref – here’s what you do…

Yesterday’s entertaining draw at White Hart Lane featured a Spurs team trying to recover from their six-goal hiding at Man City last time out, and a Man U team which featured Wayne Rooney, who should have been absent suspended after his wild kick at Cardiff last week, the type of foul for which only a Man U shirt will exempt the offender from a richly-deserved red card.  Rooney, let us not forget, scored twice at Cardiff when he should by rights have been wallowing in self-pity and an early bath.  And he scored twice again at Spurs, one of them a traditionally dodgy penalty as Welbeck somehow managed to hit the arm of keeper Lloris with his trailing leg and collapse like a house of cards – as per the kind of training drills they’ve provided at Carrington and the Cliff for years now.

The four goals Rooney has scored, when he shouldn’t have been on the pitch at all, have garnered the Pride of Devon 2 points that might well otherwise have been none.  David Moyes therefore has the nervousness of referees to thank for there not being a great deal more pressure on him this morning.  It was a factor that had often come to the aid of his curmudgeonly predecessor.  Plus ça change…

Spurs had taken the lead twice, firstly from a zippy Kyle Walker free-kick blasted along the ground under the defensive wall.  The Man U defenders had jumped in anticipation of something quite different, ending up politely letting Walker’s effort through to beat an unsighted de Gea.  The second Tottenham goal was a real beauty, Sandro looking up and striking a violent shot which soared into the net under the angle of post and crossbar, leaving the keeper rooted to the spot.

In between the two Tottenham strikes, Walker had gone from hero to zero when a cross ball into the Spurs area hit him too briskly for him to control it and bounced fortuitously into the path of Rooney (who shouldn’t have been playing).  Sandro’s goal was worthy of deciding any match, any time, anywhere. It was so good that Man U should really have put their hands up and said, ok – fair enough.  Instead, spoilsports that they are, they waited only three minutes before playing their penalty joker.  As Welbeck hit the ground, referee Dean had already sprung eagerly into life, risking muscle injury in his haste to sprint towards the penalty spot where he stood, quivering with virtue and resolution as he pointed for the award that was a foregone conclusion.  And Rooney – who should have been back home in Manchester – blasted his penalty down the middle to deny Spurs the win they probably deserved.

After the match, AVB – a man who has been under the cosh all week – was a mixture of defiant and philosophical.  He dismissed the rantings of the gutter rags with admirable contempt, not being drawn into any discussion of the scorn heaped upon his head since the disaster at the Etihad.  As for the Man U penalty, he simply shrugged and pointed out that he’s seen their players hang a leg out to win penalties before.  He knows, as we all do, that these are the penalties refs will always give at the end Man U are attacking, just as the ones they give in the area they’re defending are as common as hens’ teeth.  It’s the way of the world – and you could empathise with the Spurs manager’s wearily resigned acceptance of it. But rival managers must surely be heartily sick of this ridiculous quirk of the game by now. It’s been over twenty years, and the wonder is that, even with such a helpful wind at their backs, Man U have somehow contrived not to be champions on several occasions. That’s like tossing a double-headed coin and calling “tails”.

For all that it could have been worse for Man U, had Rooney been dismissed last week as he should have been, and had Welbeck been booked for deliberately tripping over the keeper’s hapless arm yesterday, as he should have been – still, two points from two away games is not vintage stuff.  But it’s two more than they should have had, and those nicked points might just count at the end of the season – even if it’s only to get Man U into the Europa League ahead of the likes of Newcastle.

Managers come and go, but some things never change, it seems – and so the fading champions are “only” nine points behind Arsenal, who looked irresistible at Cardiff.  There’s a long way to go yet – and surely there won’t be a defender’s gift and a soft penalty for Man U every week?  Watch this space.