|The furore over David Ginolaís
diving in the first game of the marathon against Wimbledon nicely let
Fat Joeís boys off the hook. It neatly deflected the glare of
attention from John Hartsonís studding of Andy Sintonís shin within
minutes of the start of the game. The tackle received only a yellow
card, when you see lesser offences earn their perpetrators a red. In one
way, we made it easy for them to gloss over that misdemeanour. The falls
that Ginola took were all, I believe, the result of contact. The fourth
was clearly outside the area, while the other three were for the referee
to decide what action should be taken. No, it doesnít make it easy for
the officials, but there were things going on that neither the referee
or his assistants spotted and the fact that all the appeals were knocked
back was no surprise.
The whole saga was littered with Kinnearís amateur mind games, which if he had half a mind would have been dangerous. Unfortunately, Tottenham didnít rise to the bait and played their own game and let the Dons worry about where the problems would arise. It seemed to me to smack of the smell of sour grapes. The fact that he was not a serious contender for the Tottenham job when Gross was shown the door must really be eating away at him. Although there has never been any love lost between Tottenham and Wimbledon, going back to their first game in the top flight, it appears that there is still the large chip on the shoulder of the South London club. Being a club who have a "crazy gang" spirit, they certainly appear to take that attitude onto the pitch with them. There have been a list of injured Tottenham players littering the encounters with them down the years, with most of the refereeís attention being paid to their players. It is unfortunate that a club who have done so well on limited finances (and one our chairman has held up as an example to our own), still have such an inferiority complex that they have to play in such an aggressive manner. I am not inferring that Tottenham expect them to lay down and roll over, as Kinnear expounded, but playing within the laws of the game might be a start. Other teams have the grace to pay them respect, but they appear to want to carry the suit-burning mentality onto the pitch with them. Even Robbie Earle went down in my estimation after trying to wind up Ginola in the WHL League match and then linking the series of matches to a boxing contest. In fact, I loved it, really loved it when we knocked them out of the League Cup !!
There has also been much said about their change of style, but throughout the five games there was hardly any evidence that they have any other tactic than to hit the long ball ... and hope. The fact that they have someone like Carl Leaburn in the side indicates that they are the same old Wimbledon. Heís hardly there for his ball skills is he ? And what is the idea behind John Hartson being brought in up front ? He said after the League match at White Hart Lane that the boss had told him to "go out and knock a few people over". Oh, yeah. Lots of skill involved in that isnít there. Would we pay £7.5 million for someone to do that ? Me thinks not. As far as the ginger Welshman goes (and the further he goes the better), he has made a downwards move each time he has left a club. Now he has to achieve something with Wimbledon, otherwise there is nowhere to go. And frankly, I, for one, canít see him replicating his form that saw him score a few goals for West Ham last season.
In a radio interview the day after the second leg, I heard Efan Ekoku bemoaning the fact that the state of the Selhurst Park pitch had prevented the Dons from progressing into the Worthington Cup final. He made noises about it not being fit for Premiership football. He was right of course, it certainly didnít suit our game and like the long grass at the start of the season, it had stopped our flowing, passing game. However, when it comes to the home side, their is little to commend about their play on the ground. In fact, it should be one of the best pitches in the Premier League, because Wimbledon hardly ever play any football on it.
One interesting development that came after the second leg, was a female Wimbledon fan in a carriage packed with singing Tottenham fans on the train home. She proceeded to shriek at the top of her voice in a high pitched, hysterical scream that she hated Tottenham, wanted Leicester to win at Wembley and that we could all go forth and multiply. Well, it was nice of her to give her permission, but Iím sure there werenít many there who would have touched her with a bargepole. We certainly had to pardon Madame Choletís French !! I suppose itís admirable that someone can get so worked up about a team like Wimbledon, but frankly, if I was her, Iíd have more to worry about what with having to watch the rubbish served up at Selhurst every other week.
For all footballís admiration of the small club, perhaps they should be seen as they really are. At the end of all the "psychological mumbo jumbo" (to quote David Pleat), the scuffles in the tunnel and the row about diving by Ginola, in the end it was nice to put them out of both cups. We might have more games to fit in now, but frankly, as long as they are not against this South London side, Iíll be happy.
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