Playing The Game

Originally featured in MEHSTG
Vol. 2 Issue 17 - November 2000

" It's not about winning, but doing it in style " or is it all about winning and grinding out results?  At the moment there are two schools of thought at the Lane.

   The great Danny Blanchflower wanted to play the beautiful game the way he saw it.  A passing game to feet with a certain style.  A flick here, a trick there.  That was ideal if your team had the players and the ball to do those things.

   The Italians during the 60's would bore to tears the fans and opposition with the ball being played back to the 'keeper and then the 'keeper playing the ball back out to the full-back.  Sometimes, the fullback would give the ball to the centre-half so that he then could give it back to the 'keeper.

   So, however good you are with or without flair, skill or players with vision you have in your side, there isn't a lot you can do if you haven't got the ball!  Obliviously the opposition does not always have the ball, then it is up to your side to " punish " this boring side, by scoring lots of goals against them.  But we forget, that during this time the Italians were the masters in this playing style.  Lose the ball, and your team faces eleven players behind the ball, making it very difficult to score goals.  Serie A suffered a goal drought. 1-0 would be the norm with an occasional 1-1

   Remember, a team consists of defence, mid-field and strikers.  The object of the game is to score goals to win the game. Don Howe had the idea that at 3 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon at kick- off, his team already had a point in the bag!  He had formulated this idea when he was Bertie Mee's right hand man at Arse*al, and took it on when he worked for England as well.  It worked, but for many this was the start of boring, boring Arse*al.  By having a point at the kick off and nicking a goal early on, then to lose the game the opposition had to score two goals for his team to lose.  However way you play, you do need quality players in your team.

   At the lane, we liked our football to be played the Blanchflower way.  " I saw a great game of football, but we lost" How many times have spurs fans said that?  Cup runs and cup wins is that all we are good for?  To win a cup you have to win (usually) six games.  To win the league you have to be more consistent and that is something we are not.

   Today, we can look back and say that in the last ten years we have won the F.A. Cup in '91, the Worthington Cup in '99 and we have flirted with relegation.  Do you really want me to tell you what the Gooners have won in the last ten years?  No, it doesn't make pretty reading.  Both teams and style of playing have changed to a degree.  They still have a defence but that is coming to an end. Believe me when I tell you that to get them to play, is to score first, otherwise they sit behind the ball and hit you on the break.  Is that entertaining (re: Spurs vs. Man. City)?  No. Gooners moan about GGs reign now, but then it resulted in championships and cups.

   The real game is the Champions League.  The holy grail of European football.  To get there we must play more consistent and be a team.  European football is exciting and to get there we have to do well in our league.  What we do not want is mid-table. We need to be knocking on the door of the Champions League.

  The game has changed and we are (Spurs) changing as well. In the last two years, we have spirit, are not that easy to beat and we are not looking over our shoulders at the trap door of relegation

   So there we have it.  We can either play football or be mid-table (10-6) with the odd cup run, or we can be consistent and grind out results and be top of the table (5-1), have cup runs and play European football.  I hear you say that Man U are having their cake and eating it.  Well it didn't happen over night.  We are a long way from that.  We do have a manager who can get us to the Promised Land, but he needs time and some help from the fans, players and the board.



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