A win against the Italian champions sounds impressive until you realise
that they were only taking the Serie A title by default and they only
had half a team out to face Spurs, who were themselves under-strength.
However, the win keeps the pre-season series of wins going and while the
game was played at a walking pace for much of the time, there were
elements which show there are good things to come.
Although you wouldn't have thought so going
home, listening to Spurs fans on the radio. It's not even the end
of July and the moans are starting already. Not that I should be
surprised, because from my seat, I was surrounded by non-regulars, who
took a pop at most players while they could. Murphy had only
touched the ball once before the whingers got into him and Defoe and
Davids were also targets. It really disappoints me that people
can't go to support their team.
It wasn't as thought they played badly
considering they are still three weeks from the start of the Premiership
campaign. The touch will improve and the team will gel better and
when they play the first choice eleven, it will probably look a lot
better anyway. Some high points included the two goals that Teemu
Tainio scored - one from midfield and the other from right back.
The fact that Martin Jol played three different formations in the match
and they worked well. The form of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who put in
another solid performance at left back.
The downside, which not many others
seemed to comment on - a row between Tainio and Davids that the ref had
to step in to defuse; the lack of precision in the passing that lead to
possession being given to Inter and the lack of chances created for
Berbatov and Defoe.
As the game started in hot sun, there was
not going to be a great deal of Premiership style football played.
Spurs seemed content to try and keep the ball, while Inter picked it off
when they could and made quick breaks to try and catch Spurs out.
Playing from the start in an advanced
Carrick-like position, although Huddlestone was the one sitting in front
of the back four, Tainio pushed forward from the start. He had two
efforts in the first ten minutes and was unlucky when his volley was
deflected wide of the goal. Also going for goal was Huddlestone,
who flung himself at Keano's cross, but he put the glancing header well
off target. Hud slipped an astute pass through to Berbatov on 20
minutes, leaving him to drag two players towards him and spinning away
to the right of the goal and hitting a low shot that Samuel had to slide
in to put out for a corner. As the dead ball kick came in, Toldo
rose to punch away and then punched again, spectacularly, as Robbie
fired in a volley from the clearance.
As play switched to Inter's players, they
moved the ball well, but Tottenham allowed them too much time on the
ball and a cross from Stankovic was met by Obafemi Martins' head and
Cerny had to scramble along his line to palm the ball round the post.
Inter had a little spell where they pushed Spurs back and this
experience will be useful once our UEFA Cup campaign begins.
Crosses came in and Davenport and Dawson dealt with them well, while
Dacourt tried to catch Cerny out with a snap-shot from the right corner
of the box, but was way too high.
Spurs played a completely different game
to the one they came out with in last season's pre-season friendlies.
Keeping the bal at the back, without an over-powering desire to hit the
long ball and using Berbatov as a runner after the ball over the defence
rather than as an out and out target man. However, he showed that
he can play that role, as Davids picked out his head and the ball
dropped into the path of Keane to strike a looping volley that Toldo did
well to dive and push aside once more. The next time we attacked,
Defoe was dragged down and a free-kick was awarded by Mike Dean.
He was involved straight away, when Davids and Tainio were having a spat
and the ref had to move between them to keep the peace. Whatever
it was about, the two players kept a distance for the rest of the game.
With the free-kick hit at the keeper by
Keane, it looked like a goal might not be forthcoming. However,
when Assou-Ekotto took the ball from Cerny's throw out, he passed to
Davids inside him and he put aside his differences to lay a pass square
to Tainio and his 30 yard shot grubbed along the floor and might well
have been saved had not Marino got a touch on it that left Toldo
stranded, going the wrong way. It was not quite the goal Spurs had
been looking for, but one they accepted just the same.
The Inter defender had a chance to atone
soon after, but when a corner fell to him, his shot cleared the bar by
some considerable meterage. It was a hint of things to come, as a
good spell of possession saw Tottenham let Maicon stride forward from
right back and when he fired in a low shot from outside the area, Cerny
could only parry the ball to his right, where Martins had lost his
marker to put the bal into the net before the Czech keeper could recover
his ground. It was a soft goal and one that could not have been
conceded at such a poor time, coming just two minutes before the
With Fulop coming on for Cerny and Solari
replacing the unfortunate Marino, the second half kicked off in strong
sunlight. Defoe hit the first effort of the second period, without
causing Toldo to fret, but his involvement was limited due to the
service he failed to receive. He looked keen and made some good
runs off the ball, but it did not arrive and his contribution appeared
poor, but when Lennon and a left winger are installed, he might fare
Davenport leapt highest to meet Keane's
free-kick, but could not fire his header on target and the second half
settled into a pattern of the teams making good progress up the pitch
before producing a misplaced pass and the other team doing the same.
To say the match had gone flat was an understatement. The crowd
was quiet and when some of the occupiers of the Director's Box left with
fifteen minutes to go, you thought that perhaps they might have got it
Just before they went, they saw Martins
strike a 35-yarder which dipped but not enough to trouble Fulop, who I
can't remember having to make a save. Ghaly came on for
Huddlestone, making Tainio drop back to right back and Routledge moving
into midfield and Ziegler for Defoe, but the width that you would have
expected from the moves failed to materialise, as Jol shape-shifted the
team into a 4-3-3 and then a 4-5-1 formation.
But perhaps the width to the team is not
the be-all and end-all of the side's success. As the team
struggled to find a decent tempo, Tainio slid in on the touchline in
front of the East Stand ten yards inside his own half to take possession
of the ball. He moved up the line and with players moving away
from him and taking markers with them, the Finn kept on going.
When he got 20 yards from goal, Berbatov made a move to take a player
away from Tainio and created the space for him to line up a curling
left-foot shot around a defender and out of Toldo's reach that left the
ball nestling in the bottom corner of the net.
It was an especially well taken goal,
particularly after the long run and at that stage of the game and showed
what Teemu is capable of producing. Lots of people were saying
that Stalteri might struggle to get back into the side now, but I think
Tainio's best position is in midfield and although there is more
competition there, I think MJ will be looking to bring in a new
right-back to challenge the Canadian, although Phil Ifil is pushing to
come into that position.
There was still time left for Ziegler to
fire in a shot, when set up by Ghaly, who had a better shooting
opportunity himself. While the crowd rose to celebrate number
three, the ball had hit the side-netting and the game ended soon after
to bring to a close a useful work-out without it being too physical.
Having lost Ledley King already through a training ground injury, the
win without any further mishaps is as important as anything else at this
point in the team's preparation.
Without Zokora, Lennon, Jenas, Lee and
the soon-to-be departing Carrick, the team did well without excelling
and whatever the opposition, you still have to beat them and Spurs
achieved that. After last season's winning run through the Peace
Cup and in the lead up to the first league game, it set the confidence
for the long league programme ahead. That earned Spurs fifth place
in the final table.
If this keeps going, who knows ?