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Month: August 2016

In a World Full of City’s and United’s, There’s Only One Hotspur

In a World Full of City’s and United’s, There’s Only One Hotspur

A guest post from Mark Ede, life-long Spurs fan and writer of The Focus of my Attention

It was summer 1990, when I was seven years old, when I first fell in love. I fell in love with a game. I fell in love with football. There were two players in particular who held my affection that summer. Star striker Gary Lineker and the man the rest of the nation fell in love with – the supremely talented – Paul Gascoigne.

Unbeknown to me at the time, both players played for the same English club side – Tottenham Hotspur. Upon finding out this information, my seven year old mind was made up, I was to become a fan of Tottenham Hotspur Football club.

In a world full of City’s, Uniteds and Rover’s… There is only one Hotspur..

Living in South London, I should have been a fan of Millwall, Charlton or Crystal Palace, but Lineker and Gascoigne were at Tottenham, and therefore it was in North London that my allegiance belonged, and White Hart Lane where I wanted to go more than anything.

This season marks the last year that Tottenham will play at White Hart Lane, before we leave for a year to allow for our futuristic new stadium to be built on the site of the existing stadium. Although the prospect of moving into our new stadium is extremley exciting, it is also tinged with some sadness. It made me think of my first experience of the place we have called home.

In December 1990, my Dad took me to my first game at White Hart Lane. Despite not being a football fan himself, he had secretly managed to obtain two tickets to the upcoming Tottenham vs Sunderland match. I remember the day that my mum collected me from school, and during the walk home, told me that my Dad had bought us tickets. I don’t think I had ever been so excited.

I was up early, and we headed to Tottenham in the car. Dad parked around the corner from the ground, we were there early and we headed towards the stadium. I remember the feeling I felt as I saw White Hart Lane for the first time, and remember being scared of the turnstile as I handed my ticket across. Then that was it. I was in, and was part of it. I was in White Hart Lane and ready to cheer as loud as I could. As we took our seats in the second row of the East Stand Upper, I couldn’t believe it. There was Gary Lineker, Paul Gascoigne and the rest of the first team warming up below us on the pitch.

I still remember the sound of the crowd, the feel of the ticket in my hands, the smell of the stadium, and the buzz that I received from being among the 30,000 crowd. The game didn’t start well; we were two down within twenty minutes or so. We scored two in the second half, but going into the last minute we were losing 2-3, until my idol Gary Lineker popped up with a last gasp equalizer. The fans around us went crazy and I was picked up by someone who wasn’t my dad in the euphoria. Quickly back down to my feet, Dad decided it would be time to go to beat the crowd. 3-3! What a game! I was hooked.

Despite finishing mid table in the league, Tottenham ended that season with a trophy, after a great run in the FA Cup, beating Arsenal at Wembley en route to the final. Both of my heroes scored in that semi-final, Gazza with one of the best free kicks in the history of Wembley, and Lineker netting twice. The final against Nottingham Forest will be remembered for Gazza being stretchered off, but for me it was much more than that. It was the launch of our new Umbro kit, which led to ridicule for the long shorts, (which would soon become the norm) which would be the first Tottenham kit I would own, and it would be for our courageous captain Gary Mabbutt lifting the trophy, next to the late Princess Diana in her green jacket.

I had been spoilt with my first year of being a Spurs fan. But things were going to change. Little did I know that with I wouldn’t get close to the elation of that season again until some twenty five years on. Within twelve months of the FA Cup glory, we had finished 15th, Gazza had been out injured all year, and Lineker was on his way to finish his career in Japan. Soon Gascoigne signed for Lazio, and my heroes were no longer Spurs players.

Despite seeing my heroes depart, I was hooked on Spurs, and in the coming years Teddy Sheringham and Darren Anderton quickly became firm favourites of mine. Those years that followed the ’91 success were tough for Spurs fans. The new Premier League era had arrived, and Sky dishes became more popular, which meant I was able to watch more live football than ever before. But there wasn’t too much to get excited about. I occasionally got to go to White Hart Lane, usually during pre season where tickets were cheaper.

Since then Spurs fans had to endure years of disappointment, aside from two League cup victories, there hasn’t been too much to cheer. There was a brief resurgence under Harry Redknapp, who led us into the Champions League with a great team and style of football, Gareth Bale emerged as a superstar, and rose to prominence throughout Europe in a team that included stars such as Ledley King, Luka Modric and Rafael Van der Vaart.

It is not until last season, where Spurs had a run at the title before falling away in the last few weeks of the season, that fans felt a huge connection with the club in all aspects. With the new season in its infancy, Tottenham fans are once again optimistic, we are a young exciting team, who are working for eachother and it seems all involved including fans are pulling in the same direction. The young generation have new heroes, with Dele Alli and Harry Kane being at the forefront.

My dad and I didn’t attend many matches together over the years, and if we did go to watch football, we would go to the sporadic game or two at The Den or The Valley, due to the local proximity. I think we only went to one more match together at White Hart Lane in the intervening years, which was David Howells’ testimonial in 1997.

I doubt that I will get another chance to attend a match at White Hart Lane with my Dad, with this year being the final year at the ground and at a reduced capacity, and Dad’s lack of interest in the game. He only went to games in order to put a smile on my face as a child. As I grew older I was able to go on my own or with friends, so there wasn’t a need for him to attend with me. It is a shame, but he still went out of his way to ensure that I experienced something that i loved. Even if he wasn’t particularly interested himself. He enabled me to have that special day, which has lead to a lifetime memory. I will certainly do that for my son. As we prepare to say goodbye to White Hart Lane, I will do so thanking my dad for allowing me to be in that number!

With the new season, we are delighting to see Spurs returning to the Champions League, and returning to Wembley. For a minimum of three games, we will play at Wembley against elite level opposition. We can see the new and improved White Hart Lane starting to be built, and its completion is coming in the next few seasons, I am optimistic that I will be able to provide my son with the excitement and anticipation of taking him to see Spurs in action as he gets older.

Are The Odds Stacked Against Us?

Are The Odds Stacked Against Us?

The 2016/17 Premier League season gets underway in just three days time, and there are some very interesting prices available on a variety of markets involving Tottenham Hotspur over the course of the upcoming season. Although Spurs were involved in the title race for the bulk of last term and ultimately finished in third place in the Premier League, the bookies only rate Tottenham as the joint 5th favourites for the upcoming EPL crown.

With Arsenal having snatched 2nd spot from Tottenham at the death last season, the rivalry between both teams is likely to be at an all time high this term. The odds compilers at bet365 have put Spurs in at odds of 5/4 to finish above the Gunners, while Mauricio Pochettino’s men can be backed at the 2/1 mark to end the season as top London club.

Harry Kane to be top Spurs scorer would appear to be a no-brainer at 2/7, but top Premier League goalscorer at 7/1 could well be a bit of value. Having taken the Golden boot last season, there is no reason why Harry Kane won’t have every chance of being the top striker in the land once again. Harry is going to be keen to put the disappointment of Euro 2016 behind him, and I can see the Tottenham number ten really hitting the ground running.

Here are a selection of Tottenham Hotspur special from bet365 for the upcoming premier League season.

Spurs to win the Premier League @ 9/1
Harry Kane Top Scorer @ 7/1
Kane Top Spurs Scorer @ 2/7
Kane Over 18.5 Premier League Goals @ 4/5
Spurs-Arsenal Premier League Forecast @ 50/1
Spurs to finish Top 4 @ 11/10
Spurs Top at Xmas @ 9/1
Spurs to win a major trophy @ 2/1
Spurs to go unbeaten in the Premier League @ 200/1
Spurs Top London Club @ 2/1
Spurs to finish above Arsenal @ 5/4

Spurs fans can get a deposit bonus of up to £200 by joining bet365 via the banner below.

Click here to visit bet365 and take advantage of this great offer!

The Inexperience of Youth

The Inexperience of Youth

Ask the majority of Tottenham Hotspur fans prior to the start of last season, and they would have no doubt bitten your hand off for a 3rd place finish in the Premier League. Unfortunately, Spurs capitulated at the very end of the campaign, ultimately finishing a point behind bitter foes Arsenal. The rivalry between the two clubs is such that ending up below the Gunners will have hurt some of the Tottenham faithful more than missing out on the title itself. While it was a bitter pill to swallow at the time, I think we really need to be looking at the bigger picture and the fact that the club is now capable of being competitive at the upper echelon of the division. While the players clearly found it difficult to get motivated once Leicester City had secured the title, I feel the main reason why Spurs were unable to hang on to second spot is obvious.

Since the departure of Harry Redknapp, Tottenham have embraced a philosophy of buying younger players. While this has largely been a decision taken by the board so the personnel retain a sell on value, Mauricio Pochettino has used the same approach as he has reshaped the Spurs squad over the past couple of years. His motivation is not monetary however, but the Argentine manager does believe that youth is the way forward, with the Spurs squad now having an average age of just under 25 years. Clearly, Pochettino’s style of play requires men who are willing to run themselves into the ground, and who are capable of doing this on a regular basis. It makes sense therefore, that the bulk of the Tottenham Hotspur squad is made up of under 25’s.

I am happy with Mauricio Pochettino’s methodology, but a lack of an older head or two in the Spurs dressing room definitely had a negative effect at the end of last term. A leader or someone with a wealth of experience could well have given the rest of the team a much needed motivational speech, or just a kick up the backside to encourage them to keep going until the bitter end. As it was, the 2015/16 campaign ended on an unnecessary downer, and took a little of the shine off what should have been regarded as a remarkable achievement for Tottenham Hotspur. While I regard Hugo Lloris as a fantastic captain, I still feel that Tottenham are lacking slightly in the experience department, and another leader should certainly be on the Pochettino’s want list.

Mauricio’s Final Signing of the Summer Transfer Window

Mauricio’s Final Signing of the Summer Transfer Window

As is always the case at this time of year, Tottenham Hotspur are being linked with a number of players as the build up to the new Premier League season begins in earnest. Just the two new faces have come into the club thus far this summer, but both are high profile and definitely improve Mauricio Pochettino’s already healthy squad. Marseille’s Georges-Kevin Nkoudou is set to bring that number up to three in the coming days, and he also appears an exciting prospect. Pochettino is one of the smoothest operators around when it comes to bringing players into the football club. It is rare for the Spurs gaffer to sign a dud, and he always ensures that anyone coming in is a hard worker, adds quality, and that they will not upset the harmony in the Tottenham dressing room. As players meeting these criteria are few and far between, I don’t see more than one or two more additions before the end of the month. Let’s have a look at the potential targets.

Danny Drinkwater
One of the star men during Leicester City’s Premier League title success last season, Danny Drinkwater has been strongly linked with Spurs over the last few days. While there is no doubt that Drinkwater was instrumental in the Leicester City story, I’m not sure Tottenham are really in need of another centre midfielder. While he is more of a playmaker than Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier, his return of just two goals in the last two Premier League campaigns is not a great return and I just don’t know if Drinkwater is any better than what Tottenham already have available in the middle of the park. He was a player that will have been popular with punters that had Leicester City among their football accumulator tips last term.

Mattias Ginter
The Borussia Dortmund centre-half is another possible target for Spurs, but like the centre of midfield, I’m just not convinced that the club need more reinforcements in this position. Admittedly, Jan Vertonghen is currently out with ankle ligament damage sustained during training for Belgium prior to Euro 2016 but he should be back shortly after the start of the season. Mauricio Pochettino also has the likes of Today Alderweireld, Kevin Wimmer and even Eric Dier who can all play at the heart of the defence. While I rate Mattias Ginter highly, I don’t envisage us parting with £25m for the German’s services.

Rafa Silva
This looks like a better fit for Tottenham as far as I’m concerned. Portugal international Rafa Silva is reportedly very keen on a move to England, and at just 23 years of age, he has the sell on potential that Daniel Levy craves. Coming off the back of some impressive performances at the recent European Championships, Silva is a versatile player and proven goalscorer who would add something different to that which Mauricio Pochettino currently has at his disposal. Silva has been linked with a number of sides over the past few months including Porto, Everton and Leicester, but it could well be Tottenham who land the exciting young playmaker. Silva would definitely be an interesting addition, especially with Tottenham’s Champions League campaign on the horizon.