het zingen met de vijand

15.03.2008

"het zingen met de vijand" ... Which is easy to say before a few beers in Eindhoven ... ďsinging with the enemyĒ to the rest of us is bound to be easier.  Getting a business trip arranged to a site within thirty minutes of Tilburg is one thing.  Having your ticket for the match paid for by a colleague is another.  Meeting the Spurs Chairman and Sporting Director at the airport and blagging autographs was just an added benefit. 

They couldnít possibly have recalled my name from the snotty letter I sent them after the public execution of Martin Jol last year could they ?  They didnít reply then and were pleasant enough so probably not.  Going back to Martin Jol, I have to say that as one of his biggest fans and supporters as a team, we donít seem to miss him and things are moving along quite nicely, but then again Iím getting ahead of myself. 

I was sat level with the six yard line, opposite our travelling fans.  All credit to the noise in the stadium, the locals were nervous and not only because of the atmosphere in some areas outside the ground.  Wearing no ďcoloursĒ and walking in with a stream of PSV fans, I have to say that some of the Tottenham fans were a scary bunch and we walked through at least one ďambushĒ point or quickly selected area to ďF*******g stick it to ĎemĒ.  Let's not go there, nasty and scary, enough said.  As bad as anything Iíve seen at the Lane and while Dutch football can be as bad as or worse than English at its worst, it was not a good way to start the evening. 

What is it with chips and mayonnaise ?  I know that we Brits donít do foreign food well, but the wagons outside the ground were doing a roaring trade and I just donít get that.  Hang on, think back, us Brits love foreign food, what else would we eat after a night on the beer ?  Curry, Kebab, Chinese, Pizza Ė hang on, no, who fancies roast beef and Yorkshires or liver and onions ?  

Early in the ENIC reign, they travelled to PSV on a ďfact findingĒ mission to explore the structure, youth policy etc, which lead to the ill-fated and short term recruitment of Frank Arnesen.  One can only hope that the methods of building a stadium in a built up urban area were looked at as well.  While the travel links put our piece of North London to shame, a compact, well built, albeit somewhat soulless, concrete stadium is a noticeable difference to White Hart Lane.  Think the New Delhi that the South Coast Big Club built with steeper seating and you are there.  The PSV fans were quiet and nervous much the same as Iíve been at the Lane, they were being outplayed for vast parts of the game and they knew it.  Off the pitch, we were blessed with heating by the row of electric heaters above the seats. Well built or not, the place must have a carbon footprint the size of Staines.

Iím no linguist at all and to me, however it is spoken, Dutch sounds like a mouthful of wet barbed wire, but the pre match build up seemed on a par with anything in the UK.  Add the compact stadium, a pitch very close to the fans and we could well have been at home.  That thought makes it a little hard to understand the performance of some of the players.  Keane seems to be on a mission to moan at half the Western hemisphere before he is 30 and Jenas has the air of a superstar in his approach ... "Iíll keep doing it no matter how many times it goes wrong, it will work one time and Iíll dine out on it for years."  Decision making is a key weakness in his game, short pass or long, heíll make the wrong pick.  See four penalties blasted past a good shot stopper; "Iíll side foot it and place it at chest height."

Season over, the remaining games are auditions for Tottenham Hotspurís next season; the season, you know, the one weíve been promised for years.  Maybe Iím being cynical and we would have taken this last October, but it could have been oh so much more.  If the departure of Jol had been better managed a better UEFA placing would have eased this part of the season.  But spilt milk is spilt milk ... and chips should never be served with mayonnaise.  If weíre not having that, what will the special Juan serve up next season ? 

Second tier European football and a willingness to pay wages (note to Mr Levy, that £50 which I know you will add to my season ticket had better be better spent this summer than last ...) and the name of Ramos should attract a few names.  What are we looking at, Robinson seems to still be shell shocked and will at least see some serious competition; the shocking Cut-In-Lee; the loaned players have no way back and so another centre back, something in midfield and two strikers seems to be the order of the day.  Darren Bent sold for whatever we can get - rumour mill is that the full £16 million has yet to be paid and £6 million is left based on goals and appearances.  If the Berbatov stories start again, Iíll go with the "better to have loved and lost", so long as we lose him for £35 million and somebody helps our Sporting Director spend it. 

I canít help but feel a disappointment on the night; PSV were beaten and we blew it. 

As for the Phillips Stadium and PSV fans, I canít understand a bloody word they say, but prick them do they not bleed, score do they not cheer, and play well, do they not applaud, much the same as us. 

They just eat chips and mayonnaise.

What is that all about Ö ?

JON HAYDEN

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