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Van der Vaart's the perfect present

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Phil McNulty | 22:39 UK time, Sunday, 26 December 2010

Villa Park

Whatever Harry Redknapp received in his stocking on Christmas Day, it is unlikely to have brought him as much pleasure as the gift Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy delivered to him on the last day of August.

"I've got a present for you," is the line Levy reportedly used when he telephoned Redknapp at 4pm on deadline day to reveal he might be able to wrap up a deal with Real Madrid for Rafael van der Vaart.

After a mad dash through red tape and technical problems the move was completed for a bargain £8m - and Van der Vaart's match-winning display at Aston Villa on Boxing Day confirms that this is the gift that just keeps giving.

Villa manager Gerard Houllier, who faces a mountainous task to reconstruct a squad heavy on potential and endeavour but light on real class, revealed how his own love of the Netherlands star's style had sadly, for him, been unrequited. Painful too, as Van der Vaart's brilliant double demonstrated what might have been.

Houllier said: "He is a fantastic player. He can play different positions up front. He can play off the striker but he is disciplined now to play right or left.

Rafael van der Vaart

Van der Vaart was straight back into top form after a month out through injury. Photo: Press Association

"People who know me from when I was at Liverpool will know I tried to sign him but he was too expensive, then I tried to sign him for Lyon when he was at Hamburg. When we meet now it is funny - we nearly hug each other."

Houllier must have felt like administering a firm kick to the shins rather than a hug on this freezing Birmingham night, but he would have had as much trouble catching the elusive Van der Vaart as his Villa defence.

Van der Vaart's goals either side of the interval were things of footballing beauty and precision. The first was a 23rd-minute side-foot finish from Alan Hutton's cross after Luka Modric's wonderful pass took out a large portion of Aston Villa's rearguard.

The second after 67 minutes, with Spurs down to 10 men after Jermain Defoe's red card for elbowing James Collins just after Van der Vaart's opener, could figure on any dvd of perfect counter-punches.

Van der Vaart started the move near his own area with a flick to Gareth Bale. The Welshman surged away from Villa's defence before finding Aaron Lennon, who looked up to see Van der Vaart still full of energy despite an injury lay-off and ready to beat Brad Friedel with a low effort.

Marc Albrighton's fortunate late goal set up a grandstand finish of sorts, but Spurs survived in a show of character that sits comfortably alongside the quality Redknapp has assembled in his squad.

And for all of Redknapp's attacking riches, Van der Vaart is now ranking alongside Bale as a talisman for a season that holds such rich promise as 2010 turns into 2011.

Van der Vaart has long been regarded as one of Europe's outstanding talents, but under Redknapp he has found a perfect fit, a manager who admires him almost like a fan and relishes having him under his control.

And credit chairman Levy to for concluding a deal that will be the secret envy of pretty much every club in the Premier League, including those with serious trophy aspirations at home and abroad.

Villa's own attacking inspiration Ashley Young, who was missing with a knee injury, is linked with a £13m move to Manchester United and touted as the next big money exit from Villa Park. The fee being bandied around for Young, a player inferior to Van der Vaart in pretty much every respect, puts the wisdom of Spurs' deal into context.

I asked Redknapp whether he was surprised at the ease, and indeed the price, at which Spurs were able to prise Van der Vaart away from the Bernabeu and he told me: "It just shows you there are some good players at places like Real Madrid who don't get in their team that you can pick up if you get the right one."

Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben to name but two, but Spurs are more than happy with the one Levy and Redknapp snatched out of The Bernabeu's reject basket.

He added: "He's been fantastic for us. He's a 15/20 goals a year man who has got everything. He is a great lad to work with."

Redknapp was in understandably buoyant mood as Spurs added weight to his argument, one that raised eyebrows in certain quarters, that they can emerge as serious players in the Premier League title story this season.

He made the bold claim in the aftermath of a spectacular victory at Arsenal and provoked some mockery - but no-one should be in any doubt that he has a squad capable of inflicting real damage in and around them at the sharp end of the table.

Outsiders yes, but Redknapp should not be blamed for repeating his optimism after a performance that underlined Spurs' growing maturity as he said: "I think we're massive outsiders - someone said about 33-1 - and that's probably about right, but it is open this year and you have got to believe you can achieve something.

"It is there for someone to have a real crack at it. There isn't a lot between the top five or six and we are playing as well as anybody. We have got players like Van der Vaart and Bale who could get in any side. We have got some quality players throughout the team and we have got a good squad."

The manner in which Spurs coped with a numerical disadvantage for more than an hour confirmed that this is a side with inner steel, resilience and self-belief. And in those closing moments, with Villa buoyed by the prospect of an unlikely equaliser, Spurs could count on the towering figures of Michael Dawson, Younes Kaboul and auxiliary defender Peter Crouch to repel a series of desperate attacks.

For Villa and Houllier these are trying times. No-one could question the effort and application, but the class and composure provided by Van der Vaart in front of goal was too much for this under-strength side.

Houllier is struggling to win over Villa fans understandably unimpressed by results after Martin O'Neill's reign and he is faced with a squad in need of a major overhaul. Early evidence suggests Richard Dunne, Stephen Ireland and John Carew will soon be on their way, but much depends on how much owner Randy Lerner is willing to lavish on a rebuilding programme.

The Villa boss remains confident, although he may be erring on the side of optimism when he claims: "There is nothing much different from the first year at Liverpool."

Houllier will need to work the markets as he did then, but there may not be the underlying raw material he had to work with at Anfield. Villa have promising young talent, but there is no emerging Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher, no established Michael Owen or naturally gifted Robbie Fowler.

It is a reign that will require patience, but it is already in short supply at Villa Park as Houllier's new charges settle uncomfortably near the foot of the Premier League.

No such problems for Redknapp and Spurs as they set their sights on success at home and abroad, and perhaps going in search of more presents like Van der Vaart when the transfer window opens imminently.

How Houllier will hope Lerner can produce similar gifts to ignite his reign at Villa Park.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    There have been quite a few players who leave Madrid from the shadow of the galacticos and begin to shine. Snijder, VDV, Makalele, Robben, Morientes for Monaco a while back, er Karambeu. Serves them right for not giving players a chance and having a philosophy that they have

  • Comment number 4.

    I believe that Tottenham have a problem with the professionalism (or lack off)professionalism of Jermain Defoe. That's twice he has been sent off now for silly fouls, just when his team is strong and he is getting fit enough to be a team asset and push on to that next level. What does he do. He acts like an idiot and gets himself sent off. I'm fed up with his selfish play which is as a result of his non-belief n his ability. Why isin't he contributing to that team instead of thinking about himself all the time. He contributes so little to team mates. Harry should definately look at offloading him in the summer.

  • Comment number 5.

    Agree that VDV is a bargain at the price the Spuds got him for and the did show some resilence 'unfairly' after going down to 1o men (and i/m an Arsenal fan fyi).

    I can understand that they are high on confidence from their exploits at home and abroad but yesterday they played a very poor Villa side with neither spine nor thrust. I don't understad the rational of Houllier in the side he picked and his beef with established plyers like Dunne, Carew, Young, Petrov and co. He needs to bloody young players slowly and not expose them to psychologically damaging matches. I guess the days of MON when the big 4/5 teams dread playing Villa are over for now. They may yet face relegation battles.

    Positive for Spuds but imo not title contenders this year. They are overachieving thie season due to the success of a few players and next season we will see exactly where they fall. With the emergence of MANC they will find it difficult to play chamions league every year.

  • Comment number 6.

    As a United fan I still cant believe the amount of depth Spurs have all over the pitch, whats even more unbelievable is their inconsistency with this squad.
    I'm hoping Spurs come 3rd behind United and Arsenal and City get 4th and go on to lose the Champions League play off. That would make my year

  • Comment number 7.

    "Young, a player inferior to Van der Vaart in pretty much every respect"

    Is this the same Ashley Young that Martin O'Neill said was as good as Messi? Puh-leese.

  • Comment number 8.

    VAMOS:

    There have been quite a few players who leave Madrid from the shadow of the galacticos and begin to shine. Snijder, VDV, Makalele, Robben, Morientes for Monaco a while back, er Karambeu. Serves them right for not giving players a chance and having a philosophy that they have

    ________________________

    I agree with your point in principle, but Morientes and Karambeu were rubbish and Makalele wanted to go despite offers for him to stay. Sneijder had a reputation for partying and Robben was so injury prone.
    But you're spot on about VDV. Nobody at Madrid wanted him to go, apart from the president and Valdano, that is. He was a grafter and didn't fit in with the football glam image of the club.
    His wife did, though.

  • Comment number 9.

    Villa have promising young talent, but there is no emerging Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher

    -------------------

    i'd say albrighton, bannan and delfouneso are potentially nearly that good, albrighton has been good all season and played excellently yesterday, something you've overlooked.

    this one's my favourite though:

    "Van der Vaart is now ranking alongside Bale as a talisman" - as though people are actually starting to dare compare van der vaart with the mighty gareth bale.

    you know - the player who came from madrid at what we all knew was a bargain and a stunning coup for a side like spurs. van der vaart, alongside nasri, has been the standout player in the premier league this season

  • Comment number 10.

    Following MON was always going to be tough even without an owner who seems unwilling to dig deep, perhaps Lerner could, erm, learn from Sp**s' transfer market activity over the last couple of seasons.

  • Comment number 11.

    Some perspective a second, it's Christmas, Spurs are 5th 7 points behind, and game more played. United have hit terrific form in their last 3 games...Bale had a couple of good games and was a national hero and now has had a couple of bad runs. As for Villa Martin O Neill has to be the most over rated Manager next to Fat Sams opinion of himself. Villa are a poor team, were a poor team, and look like staying a poor team. They faded badly the last two seasons under MON, and are not shining at all this season. Yeah the league is wide open, except for the fact that Fergie found how to get Berba scoring, Grabbed Hernandez, inspired Anderson,and shackeled Rooney. I know it's early doors, but I have feeling United could run away with it now. Van der Vart is the deal of the season, but typically, it's not down to Harry that he is at Spurs but Levy... I still think Harry is just lucky.. But they do have an amazing squad, in fact they SHOULD do a lot better than just a top 4 finish with that squad...

  • Comment number 12.

    As collie points out above, I think it's a little odd that certain journalists are ignoring the large gap between Man Utd and Spurs. Before last night's match, Spurs were 10 points behind United having played the same number of games. United are just showing signs of finding form having been poor in the first half of the season, Spurs in contrast have produced several excellent fightbacks and yet are already well adrift.

    Harry may talk up the title in public but his main aim has to be to finish in the top four again, no team outside United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal have made the Champions League in consecutive seasons and Spurs currently sit fifth despite having played a game more than all the teams above them other than Man City. You cannot make mistakes of the type Gomes has against your main rivals and expect to win the league whether or not you show resilience at other times.

  • Comment number 13.

    @ number 5 - dunne has been awful this season hence why he has been dropped. carew is a fans favourite but he isn't as good as he's made out to be. very lazy player who relies on other players to supply him. as for young he play every week and petrov is out injured.

    @ number 11 - please stop talking s***e - berbatov has scored it about 3 games all season, hernandez is good but not great (unlike van der vaart) and rooney looks awful should have took the 30-40mil. also chelsea were like 9 points ahead of you but look at table now. the league is wide open but im pretty sure come the end of it man utd wont be champions

  • Comment number 14.

    Good article Phil. Your assessment of Villa and in particular, Young, who has failed to reach the heights which he promised earlier in his career, is spot on. Yes, Villa are a team in transition and struggling for consistency, but let's not forget, this was a Spurs victory away from home and, for the vast majority of the match, down to ten men.

  • Comment number 15.

    Villa are a team in transition? What do you expect them to turn in to?

  • Comment number 16.

    cookiebunsankle wrote:
    I believe that Tottenham have a problem with the professionalism (or lack off)professionalism of Jermain Defoe. That's twice he has been sent off now for silly fouls, just when his team is strong and he is getting fit enough to be a team asset and push on to that next level. What does he do. He acts like an idiot and gets himself sent off. I'm fed up with his selfish play which is as a result of his non-belief n his ability. Why isin't he contributing to that team instead of thinking about himself all the time. He contributes so little to team mates. Harry should definately look at offloading him in the summer.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    You are right, but I feel the problem is self confidence and this could be righted with some choice words from harry...He needs to relax more and do what comes naturally instead of trying so hard...

  • Comment number 17.

    Watching yesterdays game, there was a period at the end of the first half where Spurs just played keep ball which was a real joy to watch, almost Barcelona-esque.

    They have certainly got a very good squad, but i disagree they are title challengers - when they hit the bigger boys in the league they more often than not fold - that said though, i bet the Spurs fans are loving visiting the Lane at the moment, they play exciting, edge of the seat football there again reminscent of the 80s. VDV is indeed a great buy, i think he will be the transfer of the season to be fair, great piece of business.

    Villa look very shaky indeed, and are in desperate need of some reinforcements in January to avoid getting dragged in to a relegation dogfight. While people rave about some of the young talent, i dont actually see it myself.

    Agbonlahor is not the player he was, Albrighton has occasional moments (but contrary to an earlier poster, is no Steven Gerrard), same for Hogg and Delfounso. However, that said it is nice to see a team that is trying to bring through English talent, which will hopefully set up the national team in the future....the worry i have is, they are just not good enough.

  • Comment number 18.

    collie21 wrote:
    Some perspective a second, it's Christmas, Spurs are 5th 7 points behind, and game more played. United have hit terrific form in their last 3 games...Bale had a couple of good games and was a national hero and now has had a couple of bad runs. As for Villa Martin O Neill has to be the most over rated Manager next to Fat Sams opinion of himself. Villa are a poor team, were a poor team, and look like staying a poor team. They faded badly the last two seasons under MON, and are not shining at all this season. Yeah the league is wide open, except for the fact that Fergie found how to get Berba scoring, Grabbed Hernandez, inspired Anderson,and shackeled Rooney. I know it's early doors, but I have feeling United could run away with it now. Van der Vart is the deal of the season, but typically, it's not down to Harry that he is at Spurs but Levy... I still think Harry is just lucky.. But they do have an amazing squad, in fact they SHOULD do a lot better than just a top 4 finish with that squad...
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    What do you mean Bale has a bad run? Just cos' he hasn't scored...and Harry lucky, how come. He took them from doom and gloom in one season!!
    All other teams that have been in that position talk of rebuilding and a long term plan...leave Manchester United out of this conversation...this is not about them...we are doing great things this season, carrying on from last season...scoring lots of goals and bringing nice passing football back to White Hart Lane...that's the perspective!!!

  • Comment number 19.

    For Houllier to undertake a 'rebuilding programme' half way through the season with the apparent paucity of quality available will require him to find inexpensive, high-quality French players either unhappy at or unable to get a game at their current clubs, or both, which will take some doing, especially as the press tell us that he is going to be offloading some reasonable players from the existing Villa squad. If he manages to keep Villa up, his chairman should happy.


    Serious Football

  • Comment number 20.

    Vav Der Vaart will be remembered as the bargain of the 2010-11 season in the premiership. He has added quality to an already very good squad Spurs have at the moment and can solve a number of problems for them, along with scoring a nice annual tally.

    In England, people tend to use the 'best in the world' so easily, though. It's so easy to write in a blog that he's far superior to Ashley Young, without taking into consideration what Ashley Young could to in a better team than Aston Villa. I would welcome Ashley Young to Manchester United any day, to see him complement Valencia and Nani.

    Spurs are in a tricky situation, lying 5th, with the strongest squad in depth in the premiership. It's still early to call the 'top four teams' in the premier league - perhaps we should be talking about the top five.
    Spurs are having an excellent season but if they don't qualify for Champions League for next season they'll have a financial problem. If they do qualify, it will mean serious trouble in someone else's door. What an incredible, uncertain footballing season! Nice. :)

  • Comment number 21.

    As long as 'arry can keep this team together there's no reason why spurs shouldn't develop into title contenders in the next few years. Having said that, keeping players such as bale, vdv, n modric around could prove to be more difficult then actually winning the title.
    The key to any of this happening is a place in the champions league next year. Once a player gets a taste of playing in the CL, anything less than that won't be good enough and that's the task that 'arry is faced with- keeping his top players happy.
    As much as the spurs have been fun to watch this year, part of me wants to see (in a shameless and greedy manner) spurs miss out. I can't think of any red that wouldn't want bale to be giggsy's replacement. Both welsh, both world class(just a matter of time for bale if he's not there already) and both fit in to uniteds style of play perfectly.

    You lot can have carrick as part of the deal,lol.

  • Comment number 22.

    Football UK, it shows how little you pay attention to other aspects of football than what goes on off the pitch. Spurs and Arsenal are pretty much the only teams in the PL who posted healthy financial figures and are probably the best run clubs in the league operating season in season out with a profit. Spurs success and venture in the champions league is not because of overspending and our current squad etc are not financially dependant on further qualification. CL or not the only financial difficulty we will have is the fact we will have less profit next year, it will not hinder us in the slightest. VDV was our only summer signing this year for 8m..... how have you worked out that his single signing and our brokering of 2 shirt sponsor deals at an increase in previous years will leave us in any financial difficulty?

  • Comment number 23.

    This is the most unusual season in Premiership history, there are five teams playing well enough to beat any of the others. Man City keep winning and Spurs are having a very good run so there is a possibility both might end up in the top four.

    In previous seasons apart from the last one, only Everton have managed to make it all the way. This season there is no reason why City or Spurs should fade away. Spurs have been without many key players this season, players that are now beginning to return. In City you have a team that can continue to buy and obviously have a future in the top four, the question does City's innevitable success have to be at the expense of Spurs?

  • Comment number 24.

    VDV for £8m, Ozil for £12m.....all this at a time when there was no value in the market apparently. Whatever next, Joleen lescott, a snip at £24m........oh wait

  • Comment number 25.

    3. At 07:52am on 27 Dec 2010, VAMOS wrote:
    There have been quite a few players who leave Madrid from the shadow of the galacticos and begin to shine. Snijder, VDV, Makalele, Robben, Morientes for Monaco a while back, er Karambeu. Serves them right for not giving players a chance and having a philosophy that they have
    ------------------

    Makalele and Morientes were extremely successful at Madrid, certainly Morientes has been a shadow of himself since leaving.

    Others who did decently there have gone on to be useless afterwards, Robinho, Portillo and Salgado are prime examples.

    It works both ways.

  • Comment number 26.

    I wonder how many Spurs fans actually believe that we can challenge for the title this season. I certainly don't believe we can, but we can certainly challenge for a CL position and possibly even the top 3.

    Whilst we have arguably the greatest strength in depth, injury problems and inconsistencies as well as an inability to keep clean sheets (in the last season and a half, we've won 13/54 games 2-1) will prevent us from really pushing for the title this season. Granted we have been more consistent than in previous seasons, but if we lose to West Ham and Wigan 1-0 when in the previous season, we got the double over both by a healthy margin, then it clearly shows that we can still display performances of the Tottenham of the last decade.

    In January I think we only really need two players; a top class striker and possibly a defender. I still think Gomes is top class but he needs to iron out his mistakes. I don't blame him whatsoever for Villa's goal yesterday. If he doesn't iron out those mistakes by the end of the season, then we may have to look elsewhere.

  • Comment number 27.

    @ 22, asl9791,

    I've never talked negatively for Spurs since Harry Redknapp arrived at your club. I also understand the Spurs fans' thirst for success. I used to like Gareth Bale as a footballer when many of Spurs fans were talking about a silly statistic that was saying that whenever Bale was playing Spurs were losing the match. Still, to call him irreplaceble world class is pure nonsense.

    Spurs are having the best season in years. And I am glad for you because I like the kind of football you're playing. I wish you keep Bale, Modric and others and help in making uncertain who the top four clubs will be in the end of the season.

    Talking about the debt in regard to the Spurs and Arsenal financial situation is somewhat tiring. Manchester United are buying themselves for the Glaziers, paying 14.5% interest in the process and this is some misfortune that could happen to very few clubs and still having them winning titles. If those rumours about a Qatar family wanting to buy Manchester United become true, Manchester United will become one of the two-three most profiltable sports clubs in the world, in one single day. Ain't you tired of talking about Man Utd's debt? Why don't you talk, instead, about securing that this misfortune will become impossible to happen to someone else? :)

  • Comment number 28.

    villa are playing with one managers team and another managers tatics.
    it is good that the manager has started to stamp authority on these maurdasses if they don't want to play for the manager say goodbye.

    Houllier needs to be rated on the next two transfer window's.lets just hope he can still find diamonds.

  • Comment number 29.

    Good stuff Phil.
    Even as an Arsenal fan I find Spurs quite irresistable. I was convinced Van der Vaart was a perfect Arsenal transfer option, but he looks the part down the Lane. Lucky for us that Nasri has shown up this season.
    Redknapp's acquisition of Gallas as well should not be underrated. Yes he's a muppet but he's also a footballer of the top calibre. The games he was absent for Arsenal were games I'd dread.
    I just hope we can keep the power in the Red half of Norf' Landan.
    I've read some good stuff about the Title on www.upper90magazine.wordpress.com I recommend it if you like to read football.

  • Comment number 30.

    @22- football uk has it just about right. With success, i.e. cl qualification, a deep squad is needed. A deep squad that holds class players
    also carries a higher wage bill. Players like modric, bale and the lot are going to eventually want similar wages in comparison to other top players in the PL. In order to facilitate those wages, a constant presence in the CL is a must. With success comes higher wages. That's a given.
    Any club that wants to compete in the CL is going to spend more money in order to stay at that level. Hence football_uk's point- spurs will struggle to keep players happy whilst staying out of the red without the money that is generated by a place in the top four.
    Seems to me he's got it spot on.

  • Comment number 31.

    2. At 07:49am on 27 Dec 2010, U14538189 wrote:
    I'm a Man Utd fan and I still can't believe we paid the same amount of
    money for Bebe as Spurs paid for VDV. A top proven international or an untried ex vagrant. A strange decision by Fergie but a great purchase by Admiral Akbar.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To be fair, Ferguson never said that Bebe would walk straight into the Man Utd team. He bought Bebe as a future prospect. Bebe is only 20, whereas Van der Vaart is in his late 20s.

    Van der Vaart has been an excellent buy for Spurs but just because a player comes on the market does not mean that you should buy him even when you don't need him. Why would Man Utd have bought Van der Vaart? An established international like Van der Vaart expects to play all the time. Man Utd have Berbatov, Rooney, Anderson, Giggs and Scholes who all operate in the positions, wide deep and further forward, that van der Vaart plays. At Man Utd he would have had to accept rotation and a player like Van der Vaart would not accept that. It's easier for young players and veterans to accept rotation. It's the same principle with Tevez being a key player for Man City while he was rotated at Man Utd with equally talented players.

  • Comment number 32.

    Spurs are not a bad side but their position in close proximity to the top tells you more about United and Chelsea than anything else. A closer season only by virtue of the fact that United have reached one of those points where the balance has gone for the time being and Chelsea's lack of strength in depth and commitment at times has allowed other teams to flatter.
    I still think there are unhappy players at Spurs who can't get a game and if their wage structure is tight then they won't want to play reserve football on a 'small' salary. Big squad has it's problems.
    If Spurs are still up there in two or three years then we may well have a five to six team challenge for the PL consistently.
    Even with VDV though I think Spurs have the most to prove with the best chance of failing. Cannot see them finishing above United, Arsenal or City or even Chelsea if they win today. If not season over for them.

  • Comment number 33.

    It's a somewhat curious irony that, as a neutral, my game to watch of the boxing day extravaganza was Spurs-Villa. Not sure, in previous seasons, that it was always the case.

    A great game for the neutral last night, exciting, some wonderful skills on display, and a credit to the EPL. Spurs seem to making a case as the EPL poster boys for the speed of play, and excitement, that the English game is allegedly known for, and is surely a marketing dream for the Spurs and EPL corporate promotion teams.

    I also think it could only be a rampantly hidebound club flag waving supporter of "some other club", that would seek to belittle the enjoyment that the Spurs team, along with Blackpool and on occasion, West Brom and Bolton, have brought to the beautiful game this season. Only speaking for myself, i'm more inclined to search for Tottenham and Blackpool games than any other this season, and as used to be the case in earlier years, the movement, pace and skill of a lively English game makes for great viewing. Spurs have undoubtably produced the goods for neutrals this season, and where ever they end up in the table at the end of the season, they're already winners, imho. This season in the EPL, i've had the most viewing enjoyment i've had for some years, and it's made the time taken watching Spurs-someotherclub worth it.

    Well done Spurs from a neutral fan of the beautiful game.

  • Comment number 34.

    I think that for Spurs to still be near the top of the Premiership with the injuries they have had is quite an achievement. Despite supporters of other clubs cursing their injury list, no team has been hit anywhere near as hard as Spurs. Tottenham have played most of the season with fourth or fifth choice centre backs. With Dawson back, King not too far away and Gallas finding top form I'm convinced that Spurs can only get stronger.

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    At 33. I've always found the english game exciting and there are always teams which get promotion and surprise in their first season: Hull City a couple of years back, Reading, Ipswich Town so if you've been paying attention I don't think anything has changed in that respect.

  • Comment number 37.

    32. At 12:27pm I still think there are unhappy players at Spurs who can't get a game



    imo this is good for spurs did you see how happy the spurs players were at the end! looks like tremendous team spirit and honest respect for each other ! sure a couple of "unhappy players " may leave in jan - but you will get "unhappy players " at every team in the league - as long as the ones on the pitch look united as ours do then theres no problems! coys

  • Comment number 38.

    This post is largely aimed at 21. but i'm sure it applys to others..
    Firstly congratulations for grinding my gears. Yes I am a Spurs fan and therefore bringing up the key players to our then squad does hurt. ouch.
    The fundamental difference between the club we are to what we were (besides stronger) is that players want to be at the club.
    Gareth Bale does not appear to be the stereotyped footballer. He is grounded, inteligent and does not live the party boy, money grabbing lifestyle. I truely believe Tottenham are on a pleasent road leading towards sucess, and I'm a firm believer in the depth of the squad- not just the excelling members of it. It's about time united went and found the next superstar-please don't think i'm calling carrick a superstar- rather than waiting for them to come to the premiership then offering them a red shirt.
    I admire united and ferguson; the guy knows how to win a trophy. But I think you need to clamber down off your high horse. You're boring.

  • Comment number 39.

    great deserved result yesterday after all the injustices given to us by ref atkinson! tut tut . just hope VDV can stay fit! . Kaboul was man of the match ahead of rafa thou for me he is nearly a world class defender - just needs to get rid of the mistakes and he will be there COYS

  • Comment number 40.

    A few weeks ago he said they could win the league.

  • Comment number 41.

    Anyone who has watched football for the past 10 years knew all about VdV, he was a star at 18 when he first started playing for Ajax.

    He just made a terrible mistake going to Real Madrid.

  • Comment number 42.

    Van der Vaart and Bale. Say No More.

  • Comment number 43.

    As a Liverpool supporter, I congratulate Tottenham and their fans. Harry has done a great job, and although he has spent a good deal of money, he has built a deep and strong squad. Their football is refreshing. At a time when the champions league , excepting Barca, has become boring, predictable, and often mundane, Tottenham have lit it up. In a Premiership that also lacks quality, style, and excitement, only Tottenham and Arsenal play a brand of football to get the blood moving in this cold winter. It won't happen, but a premiership / champions league double for Tottenham would be great for football. Good luck to them.

  • Comment number 44.

    There have been quite a few players who leave Madrid from the shadow of the galacticos and begin to shine.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------Which Madrid players have shon against Barcelona in the last two seasons. Thats the problen they've got Sneijder, Van der vart may look great in other leagues but in La Liga they are compared with Barcelona, and their value drops.

  • Comment number 45.

    Spurs have heart. That will count for much this season (in all competitions) and the victory away at Villa reduced to ten men for over an hour proves the backbone and intent in the squad. There is discontent at City, Chelsea and Arsenal and a real opportunity for Tottenham to cement a position in the top four. Couple that with the way they are setting the champions league alight and you have a recipe for a season of real success. I wouldnt write them off from becoming Champions of Europe with this form. Inter who?

  • Comment number 46.

    "He's just as good as Hoddle! He's better than Chris Waddle! His missus is model! He's Rafael Van Der Vaart!"

  • Comment number 47.

    "Van der vart may look great in other leagues but in La Liga they are compared with Barcelona, and their value drops"
    We'll see. We'll see. Spurs have already smashed the champions. Who the f*$%K are barcalona?????

  • Comment number 48.

    To the posters stating we could potentially have financial problems should we miss out on the champs league - you are clueless. I can't believe that all football fans don't know this yet as it has been stated numerously - Spurs have a wage structure, Robbie keane, Ledley king, Luka Modric are our top earners on £70k. There was a league in a national newspaper, printed in the summer which placed spurs 11th for wages paid. Seeing as wages are the number 1 cost to a club, you'll forgive us for not being worried about our financial situation.

  • Comment number 49.

    Every EPL season one or two long-shot buys, bought in the Summer transfer window, turn out to be real gems.
    VdV is certainly the one this season and he hit the ground running from match one and, injuries apart, has maintained the the high levels of form and stamina which is a great tribute to the player.
    The way Spurs play, and Harry manages the team, seems to suit VdV and whilst many thought that they should buy a big name striker in the Summer to add to the front line strike force it looks like VdV has become that player.
    The team is littered with talent and besides Bale and Modric BAE has become of the best left backs seen at The Lane for some time (and would also challenge to be one of the best left backs in the EPL).
    There is however fragility in defence and the lack of two regular centre backs playing week in week out is an issue.
    Gallas was an inspired buy, Kaboul is playing well as is Bassong and now that Dawson is back perhaps Harry will pick the best pairing and be able to stick with it.
    They still have the habit of losing to teams who they should beat like Wigan which a title winning side just wouldn't do.
    However it's still too close to call and although Spurs might be outsiders there is still a slim chance they could pull it off.
    The real tragedy would be to miss out on finishing in the Top 4 and therefore not qualify to play in the CL next season given how well they have performed thus far.
    If Spurs can see off AC Milan (which I believe they can) and get a kind draw for the next round who knows what's possible.

  • Comment number 50.

    I was at Villa park yesterday, and other than the our (spurs) fans the atmosphere was terrible. Houllier can't have too many more games left to get it right, before all the Villa fans turn against him. His decision to bring on Petrov instead of reo coker was idiocy of the highest order, Delph was understandably tiring (first game back) and another dynamic midfielder was needed to run at us. Instead Petrov and Pires came on and continued to pass sideways.

  • Comment number 51.

    We'll see. We'll see. Spurs have already smashed the champions. Who the f*$%K are barcalona?????
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basically since signing Villa the team that won the World Cup plus the Worlds greatest player Messi. Van Der Vart will not get any joy against them. Personally I would like to see Barca beaten but I do not think anyone is capable.

  • Comment number 52.

    43. At 1:45pm on 27 Dec 2010, philip0705 wrote:
    In a Premiership that also lacks quality, style, and excitement, only Tottenham and Arsenal play a brand of football to get the blood moving in this cold winter
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Nonsense.

    At home Tottenham have scored 14 goals.

    That's the same number as Wolves, and there are seven teams in the Premiership that have scored more goals at home than Spurs.

    Away from home, two teams have scored more than Spurs, and three other teams have scored the same number of goals that Tottenham have.

    I don't know what this view of Spurs playing the most exciting attacking football in the Prem is based on, but it's certainly not fact.

  • Comment number 53.

    @43,

    "Their football is refreshing. At a time when the champions league , excepting Barca, has become boring, predictable, and often mundane, Tottenham have lit it up. In a Premiership that also lacks quality, style, and excitement, only Tottenham and Arsenal play a brand of football to get the blood moving in this cold winter. It won't happen, but a premiership / champions league double for Tottenham would be great for football."

    Allow me to disagree, my friend.
    Spurs topped their group in the group stages of Champions League, having a seriously and rapidly declining Inter Milan as top dogs. Well done for Spurs! But Rafa got the sack only after 5 months there, for the progress that he achieved.
    Man Utd faced Inter Milan on the knock out stage, 2 years ago and it was Murinho's choice to play a tired United after the Christmas period. We beat them fair, square and with comfort. For Spurs it's great success to top a Champions League group and I'll be the first to acknowledge that. But for United it would be the minimal standard.

    It's not bad for entertainment either when Chelsea beat teams by 6-7-8 goals, when opponents lose the ball. It's neither bad for entertainment when Man Utd play their usual, flowing game. Arsenal are nice to watch when they play lesser teams but do they have it when they play top opposition? Tonight they might prove me wrong. And then again, they might not. :)

    The thing is Liverpool have gone downhill and you better sort yourselves out before you see the gap with top four widening.

    I don't mean to belittle Spurs success. Harry Redknapp has done wonders for them in a very short time which is credit to him. Also, Levy is managing the club better than well, as a chairman. What I want to see is Spurs challenging for Champions League while being a secure top four club and they do have some distance to reach that level - currently they're 1 point ahead of Bolton and 3 points ahead of Sunderland, occupying 5th position.

  • Comment number 54.

    U14538189

    Bebe was brought for 4 million,not 7million.

  • Comment number 55.

    There have been quite a few players who leave Madrid from the shadow of the galacticos and begin to shine.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Dont forget that his wife was suffering from and receiving treatment for breast cancer whilst he was in Madrid. He stayed there after the arrival of Kaka and Ronaldo, so that his wife could finish her treatment. I´m sure the last thing on his mind was football! He is a class act and a good addition to the Premier League.

  • Comment number 56.

    I think that if Spurs are going to be successful this season it won't be down to VDV. He is undoubtedly a great talent but has always had fitness issues and can't be relied upon to be there everygame. Luka Modric is the real talisman in that team without a shadow of a doubt. He oozes class and his skill level is unmatched by any other central midfielder in the PL. He keeps that team ticking over and his consistency is fantastic. If he gets injured for any length of time Tottenham will find it hard to replace him, far harder than losing Bale or VDV.

  • Comment number 57.

    Jackovasaurus, sorry to point out you are very wrong he was signed for 7 million

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/m/man_utd/8906798.stm

  • Comment number 58.

    @ 56,

    I quite agree. VDV is an excellent player for Spurs. Bale with a second season like this will belong to the elite of quality players of the world. Modric though is a small Messi like player who, when on song, can make you buy a match ticket just to go and watch him. Don't forget he broke a leg and is still going through mind games fighting the fears every player has to fight when experiencing such a misfortune.

    The positive for Spurs is that they can take pride of having all of the trio in their team. Personally, I would like them to keep them all, because it's a breath of fresh air seeing them performing like this in the premiership.

  • Comment number 59.

    57. At 2:30pm on 27 Dec 2010, asl9791 wrote:
    Jackovasaurus, sorry to point out you are very wrong he was signed for 7 million

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/m/man_utd/8906798.stm

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It does say 'reported fee'. I am often very sceptical about 'reported fees' because often media include the salary package for the duration of the player's contract as part of the transfer fee, to inflate the price in reports. I don't believe Bebe's actual transfer fee was disclosed by Manchester Utd and apart from journalists who are estimating, there are no reliable exact reports.

    With Van der Vaart, I am sure that he would have received a 'signing on fee' as an established international in addition to his £8m reported fee, which is actually higher than the reported fee for Bebe anyway if you want to quibble about a million here or there.

  • Comment number 60.

    VDV is a brilliant player, I can't wait to see how he gets on against Milan in the last 16!

    This blog post looks at how he might fair in the last 16

    http://upper90magazine.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/the-champions-league-last-16/

  • Comment number 61.

    VDV is certainly a fine player, as is Modric, but i've been impressed with the Spurs team ethic as a whole. Players make mistakes, some of those have greater consequences than others, and it's a part of the game. I think Hutton, BEK, Kaboul, Dawson, Gomes, Palaccio, etc all had a good game, but showed a fierce determination to win, even when the odd mistake crept in. as a team, Spurs are exciting to watch, and whether they win,draw, or lose, they provide much entertainment, and work for each other. I think Hutton has been a worthwhile addition to the team, for example, and even if he does make a mistake, he works and chases to fix it. There's plenty of "renowned" players in the EPL who have a better skill set who are frankly lazy, and their teams suffer as a result, for their lack of effort and interest in working for the team for the entire duration of the match.

    One thing that can't be levelled at the Spurs team at the moment is the "mercenary" tag so ably and rightfully applied to players in other teams. They seem eager to play, for each other, and that makes for enjoyable football to watch.

    I'll probably get slaughtered for this, but i'd prefer watching attack football based on getting a result, not the politics of a hopeful draw, or lucky chance so commonly found in the ethic of other teams. I don't care about club flags, or even results, as long as the footy is exciting.

  • Comment number 62.

    Where's the "Rafa Benitez getting sacked" blog gone? :-(

    I was enjoying the deluded opinions of Liverpool fans.

  • Comment number 63.

    And the British media's love affair with Harry Rednapp continues...

  • Comment number 64.

    @63,

    when we have a british media love affair with a Murinho and with a Rafa Benitez, why not?

    After all, Murinho, Rafa and Wenger parade world XI in the premiership, while poor old 'arry Rednapp has a lot of British talent playing good, mouth watering football for an english club. Don't forget he got Spurs second from the bottom of the table and he took them where they are in a very short of time, having succeeded another Spaniard who destroyed Spurs in record time.

    Long live Harry Redknapp.

  • Comment number 65.

    What is with all the Man Utd Fanboys putting Spurs and VDV down?

    This is a piece about how good VDV is and how he's helped Spurs become a potentially Top 4 Team. (Alongside others)

    We all know how Man Utd well are doing, please allow a different team to grab some of the headlines besides you, Chelsea and Arsenal.

    FFS!!

  • Comment number 66.

    @65,

    yes, I agree: the headlines are yours. Go ahead :)
    Merry Christmas.

  • Comment number 67.

    @66

    Not my team personally as I don't support a Premier League Team but I'm tired of seeing Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal grab the headlines. Then when the focus is shifted to another PL Team, people still make it all about Chelsea, Man Utd or Arsenal.

    It'll be a long time before Rotherham are ever in the Premier League.

  • Comment number 68.

    Van Der Vaart is up there as buy of the season, but Redknapp's consistent gassing could undermine the team later on in the season. Whilst you do have to big your team up, the pressure could begin to weigh on the players and then we will see what they are made of...

    The fact that he started switching on Pires for an inocuous challenge on the half way line showed the pressure was getting to him. Maybe he didn't fully believe that they could hold out...

    The big problem for Spurs could be that if they do not get Champions League this year, then it will be even harder to get it next year and will Van der Vaart, who will be getting into his prime years, be willing to play UEFA Cup football 2 years in a row, i think not.

  • Comment number 69.

    Man Utd did not pay the same for Bébé! Can't believe people are still getting it wrong...

  • Comment number 70.

    Van Der Vaart has been a revelation this year, i'm not 2 surprised 2 b honest as i saw both him and sneijder at ajax when they wer tipped 2 b the "next big thing" but poor transfer decisions to hamburg and real madrid haulted his progress, he has been immense this season with his goals and general play but not enough credit i feel has been given to modric, while van der vaart and bale hav grabbed the headlines (and rightly so) modric has contributed with delightful build up play and passing ability, i feel that having van der vaart, bale and lennon on form this seasonnhas helped him immensley as previously alot of pressure was put on his soldiers but his pass 2 hutton 4 spurs' 1st goal showed the ability and vision which he has, and i hav 2 say spurs ar not too far away at all, if they tighten the defense up then they will win the premier league very very soon, and this is cuming from an arsenal fan

  • Comment number 71.

    Some of the comments here demonstrate a real lack of understanding of the ever changing Premier League.

    1) Of course we won't win the league but in the words of the great Bill Nicholson "It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory." Our young squad need to start thinking about winning titles at Spurs. If they aim for 1st, no-one will be disappointed with a top 4 spot. Many make a point about our spending but it's nothing compared to those above us when you include wages so top 4 this time round would be a fine achievement.

    2) We are incredibly well run. Levy won't throw money away on players so even if we fail to keep hold of the Bale, Modric, VdV etc. we'll be doubling our money on them at least.

    3) Defoe lacking confidence is ridiculous. Few believe his challenge was worthy of a red card but he earned it for competing in the air against Collins, about a foot taller than him. It's obvious that Defoe is desperate to join the fun at the Lane after an extended injury picked up for England. He'll be banging them in before long with the service we have on offer so I advise any doubters to hold off your judgement until he's played more than a handful of games.

    4) To make the point that we're a long way behind Utd is a half truth. So is everyone else!

    5) For those who keep banging on about Bale being overrated please pass the word on, maybe he'll stop being double or treble marked! It only takes one burst for him to change the game and he had a big hand in winning the match yesterday, despite some poor refereeing in my biased opinion.

    There's a lot of sniping from the established top clubs at the little up starts from WHL. The neutrals are enjoying watching Spurs, we enjoy the ups and downs, the rest of you sound aloof. Fine by me, you won't see us coming!

  • Comment number 72.

    Pool fan here. Love Harry Redknapp to death and would chop off my arm to get him to Anfield. Would not be surprised if VDV and Baleare not on the most wanted list around Europe just now as they are on fire...Congrats to Spurs and Harry.

  • Comment number 73.

    Dear No. 52,
    Your 'facts', ie. goals-scored statistics, which are obviously important, nontheless do not devalue the opinion that Spurs are playing the most attractive attacking football in the PL at the moment. There is a gusto and a flair about them when they really get hold of a game, that is unmatched by other teams, with the exception of an in-the-mood Man Utd.

  • Comment number 74.

    I wouldn't be surprised at all if both city and spurs grabbed 3rd and 4th behind utd and arsenal with chelsea dropping into the europa league. there's a lot of debate possible but one thing I think that is certain the EPL needs to be rewarded a 5th CL place. many of us, myself included as utd fan, biased or unfair but, if we were all being honest all of utd, city, chelsea, arsenal and spurs could compete and do well in the CL. arguably maybe even all those team even win the competition soon. as a utd fan though, I wish liverpool could come back 'big' again 'cause I have to admit that I miss the big west midlands derby and the hype to the games 'cause with the downfall of the club, i really don't consider playing liverpool as a major match in the league at the moment.

  • Comment number 75.

    VDV AND Gallas were great additions in the summer, but we need a bit more consistency in the PL and a quality striker sometime soon to add to Defoe, Crouch and Pav. Strangely, Crouchy and Bale are more players for Europe and the CL than the Premiership. Gallas should be prioritised for Premier League games as that's our key priority. However, I think if we really have a strong challenge for anything, it's the CL.

  • Comment number 76.

    Long may we have the ups and downs, by the way. If we play it with style, we'll lose a few, but what memories things like the Arsenal 4-4, the Reading 6-4, the Chelsea 4-4, the Inter 3-1 and even the Inter 3-4 bring ... For me, it's the staff and stuff of life. The great thing about Harry is that he plays to win. The only team we really find difficult to beat, it seems, is United, but then good referees seem to have an off day when we play them - strangely - especially at Old Trafford .... Mendes stuffs one in that the referee says didn't cross the line after the goalie practically disentangled it from the very back of the net and the controversial Gomes penalty when we were 2-0 away to them a short while back was 'unfortunate' ...

  • Comment number 77.

    @20 Financially, we don't need CL qualification, unless we go contract and transfer crazy in the January window, which I very seriously doubt will happen. One of the best parts about how well we have been doing over the last few seasons is that we have done so by being financially sound, and some very astute transfer activity.

    Van Der Vaart - bargain of the season contender
    Berbatov - cost a bit, but we sold at a real premium price
    Carrick - again a bargain purchase sold for a real profit
    Defoe - admittedly having to buy him back for a premium wasn't ideal but he guarantees goals

    If you want to see the real achievement, just look at the quality and depth of our squad, put together under a wage structure, and compare to the likes of Man City, Chelsea and to an extent Man Utd whose top players are on crushingly expensive salaries, without necessarily showing the difference in quality and achievements to justify the massive difference. Spurs have spent big, but not without trimming the fat and selling wisely first

  • Comment number 78.

    The difference between Tottenham based McNulty blogs and Arsenal based McNulty blogs Is quite simply staggering...

    I guess its down to the media (so McNulty being led by the nose) and its current love-in with Redknapp.

    It will all go pear shaped both at Spurs when Redknapp takes the England job and at England when Redknapp succumbs to the same media pressure that brought him to the England job in the first place.

    As for Van Der Vaart, why is everyone so startled? he was a very good player before coming to Tottenham..and he still is after they bought him...WHATS THE FUSS ABOUT?

  • Comment number 79.

    68. At 4:26pm on 27 Dec 2010, ordiokid:

    I don't think we have to think about the possible woes of next season yet, ordiokid. Let's see what becomes. When Spurs were playing Berne in the CL and went 3-0 down on their plastic pitch, there were so many Gooner doom-mongers on 606 and then as 6 went in at the other end over the next game and a half, 'it all went quiet over there'. There were Arsenal rants of 'you won't get into the CL proper', 'you'll go out in the first phase', 'welcome and goodbye to the CL' when we were 4-0 down to Inter and loads of other bits of negative. As long as we're getting better and better, which we evidently are, I think we should see what becomes - predictions are for those who are either no hopers or see not quite hacking it

  • Comment number 80.

    78. At 6:05pm on 27 Dec 2010, RVP1968 wrote:

    It will all go pear shaped both at Spurs when Redknapp takes the England job ...

    _______________________

    See what I mean at 79. Not doing well .. start making predictions about the competition. Sad ....

  • Comment number 81.

    Van de Vaart is thebuy of the season .... so far. However, there is still a long way to go and things could change. But there is no doubt , IMO, that he has brought something different to Spurs and English football. On the other issue about whether Spurs can be serious title challengers, of course they can. The only reason Spurs are not up with the Mancs is the higher number of draws they've played out.

    Spurs are every bit as good as any team in the Premier League, and although I'm obviously biased , I would say they are better than pretty much all of them. Just a bit more self-belief is required for them to finish as Champions.

    No doubt fans of our rivals will argue about this but one thing beyond dispute is that Spurs play the best football. Whilst teams like Man U and Chelea plod along and grind out results (with in some cases the help of dubious refereeing) Spurs glide along playing the style of football that purists crave.

  • Comment number 82.

    @ No 5. At 08:31am on 27 Dec 2010, Olumide Fagbeja wrote:

    Positive for Spuds but imo not title contenders this year. They are overachieving thie season due to the success of a few players and next season we will see exactly where they fall. With the emergence of MANC they will find it difficult to play chamions league every year.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    why is is that arsenal fans still seem to think that tottenham are overachieving...?
    lets take a look at the previous 5 seasons final epl standings and see if tottenham are overachieving or,if arseanl are underachieving!

    05/06 arsenal 67 pts
    spurs 65 pts
    06/07 arsenal 68 pts
    spurs 60 pts
    07/08 arsenal 83pts
    spurs 46 pts !!!! (league cup winners)
    08/09 arsenal 72pts
    spurs 51 pts
    09/10 arsenal 75pts
    spurs 70pts
    10/11 arsenal 32 (based on current standings)
    spurs 30 pts

    so this clearly demonstrates that to overacheieve would be a one-off,but being as we have finished so close to arsenal or more than 1 occasion-why can the arsenal fans not accept that spurs are on the up and that you lot are on the way down. arseanl claim to be a big team-so then we also must be a big team cos we are breathing right down your necks...
    i am an honest fan and will say that we are rank outsiders for the title and that i do not think we will win the epl this season.i do honestly believe that we are capable of a top 3 finish and that arsenal have been and possibly are still the better team-however time will tell if the power surge is going to happen. until then,arsenal fans please be dignified and acknowledge that we are super spurs from then lane and that we are not over acheiving but merly returning to where we belong....

  • Comment number 83.

    tottenham4life: good analytical comment. i was surprised to see how well tottenham had done relative to the top 4 in the last 6 years. having said that i think some of the arsenal fans are right in pointing to a pretty critical metric which is that man city plus the top 3 are still daunting rivals and i just cannot see spurs finishing in the top 4 consistently enough without further investment. i fear that they will finish 5th and end up losing bale / van der vaart as well as the millions that come with champions league action and drift away into mediocrity again in a year or two. not wumming, just my read of how things will evolve

  • Comment number 84.

    Sorry, but i dont even rate Spurs as rank outsiders for the league - they are as likely to win the Premier League this year as Nuneaton Town are. However, just because you dont win the league does not make the season a failure at all.

    Spurs have lit up the League this season on several occasions, and are fast becoming a team that the neutral wants to watch (even moreso that Arsenal). This is probably down to the fact that yuou are not sure what you are going to get with them. One minute they are defensively inept and going 4-0 down at the San Siro, the next minute they are looking unplayable and clawing that back to 4-3. Or perhaps a more apposite example for the Spurs fans on here, you were comprehensively outplayed in the first half at the Emirates, and yet in the second half stormed back and won the game.

    Any neutral would enjoy this sort of football (i know i certainly do!). This is what makes football exciting, not sitting and watcihng a team win the league with 38 1-0 wins, which becomes a masterclass in parking the bus and stifling football skills.

    Sorry, but a mini rant

    Can i just say to Spurs fans who blame refereeing decisions for not beating United, that is complete rubbish - we completely outplayed Spurs at OT, and silenced the wunderkind Gareth Bale to boot. There is no way you can deny that, you have to accept Gomez messed up and Nani took advantage, it was not refereeing bias at all.

    As for the Roy Carroll "goal that never was" - get over it, it was 5 years ago. All teams have injustices they can reflect back on, it still won't change the fact that they were injustices and who is to say that might not have encouraged United on to go and score 2 goals and beat you 2-1? it is all ifs and buts, and ultimately pointless.

  • Comment number 85.

    "He's just as good as Hoddle! He's better than Chris Waddle! His missus is model! He's Rafael Van Der Vaart!"

    --------------------------

    Don't be silly, Hoddle is the best English player for the last 30 years. At least a generation ahead of his time. The stuff that Beckham was good at-he invented!

  • Comment number 86.

    Your lauding of Van der Vaart contrasts very interestingly with your earlier rubbishing of Mario Balotelli. As a BBC chief sports reporter surely you have some responsibility to write intelligently and fairly.
    Your Southern agenda is crystal clear though.

    Balotelli does go down a bit easily, but this is disappearing from his game every week. 'Soft' however is laughable; when you've been kicked as hard and as often as he has, I don't think that you can even be called soft any more. Remember how Zab got targeted by Everton? This is what happened to Balo EVERY GAME in Italy.

    Balo has never been inconsistent, in fact he's probably one of the most consistent players you will see over the course of a season.
    In terms of distance covered, Balo was in the top few City players against Everton, but I guessed you missed him charging up and down the wing for most of the game?
    Balo has played in far colder temperatures in Italy, and always done fine, this winter things is ridiculous. How many times have you seen him in summer?
    The "not a team player" thing is rubbish too. Tevez isn't a team player, he never passes even when running down dark alleys, Balo is really unselfish in his play, either by making runs to create space, or laying it on for other players. Him and Silva especially do this well together.

    Again if you actually watch the games, focusing on him. I very rarely call an opinion wrong, but most of what you said is utter fabricated ordure.

    The thing that absolutely infuriates me, is tools like you who watch 7 games of a young kid in a brand new country and think they know his character, relying on tired stereotypes of 'arrogant' players. Balotelli is unlike anything that has been in the English game before. I've watched every match he has ever played in, instead of watching a few games and deciding that you have got the guy pegged, why don't you think for yourselves for a change? (with full credit to Damocles)

  • Comment number 87.

    Spurs are going broke.

    They'll be the next Portsmouth.

  • Comment number 88.

    I Love this blog it is written really well , kudos to you Phil,
    Van De Vaart is an amazing addition to our squad and I think we have plenty more to see from him in the coming years, yes I think that Lennon has lost his confidence this year but im not worried as I know how good he is and it will take time and maybe van de vaart can bring out his full potential. No doubt that VdV was the bargain of the century and he is worht than some players who were sold for 25mill! I am scared that he wont be playing as good as he is now in the coming months and that 1 small bad run can ruin his career he is also very injury prone and gets injured a lot also he has a dodgy knee which is part of the reason he has a cheap price tag, I actually saw the funniest van de vaart video on this webpage lets hope he doesnt do something like that with us its a video on this page scoring a crazy own goal Van De Vaart Video
    Anyway after tonights result (arsenal vs chelsea)I cant see anyone but UTD winning the premier league title.

  • Comment number 89.

    I'm a Spurs fan so straight off the bat I am obviously delighted with the signing of VdV.

    I must admit though, that although there is no doubting his quality, I had heard previous murmerings about his temperament and he looked more than a little "lardy" during the first part of the season. Harry in fact commented on that himself and mentioned that he was not in good shape, (partly due to not having a proper pre-season after World Cup exploits, and partly because of not featuring much before that in Spain).

    What I liked though was that he has a bit of nastyness in him, (and everyone has known that Spurs were a soft touch for a long time). He's not the only one who can "battle" now though and after decades of watching decent Spurs teams be bullied, it is refreshing to see that we no longer fall away when push literally comes to shove.

    £8M is absolutely a snip for VdV, there is no doubt about that, but it's not a case of being lucky at all. I think it is decent planning by Levy and Spurs' strategy in the transfer market since the current owners took over has been nothing short of life-changing when you think back to the ageing has-beens and fancy flair players that Spurs were so often accustomed to signing.

    I'm really not a fan of Gallas for example, but at £0.00 he is an amazing bit of business and where that French chip was prominantly seen on his shoulder at Arsenal, we have hardly heard a peep out of him at Spurs, (and I would suggest that the first time we do see the chip then Harry might teach him what Wenger never managed).

    I look at the Spurs team and I see coached improvement all over the pitch.

    The back-room team of Joe Jordan, Kevin Bond, Clive Allen, Tim Sherwood, Sir Les,(and sorry I can't remember who the GK coach is), have improved players all over the pitch.

    Look at the full-backs Assou-Ekotto and Hutton. A-E still gives me kittens on occasion with his cross-firld passing but when he is hot he is VERY hot and is a vastly improved player compared to say 2 seasons ago where we seemed very weak on the left.

    Hutton has beena revelation this season after coming in for Corluka. To see him suddenly willing to just attack with such poise and determination was a bit of a shock to the system for me, (as I though he was little more than a bit-part player).

    Ignoring Bale for a moment, (because I think everyone knew he was always going to be good), and it remains to be seen whether his recent form (and significantly fitness), is something that he can continue longer term.

    Corluka is a very steady right back, (better at defending than going forward), but in a position that i might suggest is the weakest across the voard in the Premiership, I wouldn't swap our 2 for anyone else's, (and don't even joke about Glen Johnson please).

    Kaboul was sold to Portsmouth as a player who seemed to have the technical skills, but would play too much football in the wrong areas and would too often go AWOL at just the wrong time. While he can certainly still be a threat going forward, he is FAR more consistant and has filled in across the back 4 and even holding in midfield, (at a push). He is unrecognisable from the player that we sold to Portsmouth.

    Bassong seems to be a decent squad player and more than adequate, (just as long as he has a dominant partner, (read King or Dawson or Galas), beside him to lead. Although he was one of few bright sparks in a Newcastle team that got relegated, he still did get relegated. That's not the player that I see playing for Spurs this year and last.

    Lennon has always had potential, but while I liked him, he was too inconsistant and too often anonymous away from home. Well know he works his socks off when not in posession and seems gradually to be getting over his confidence and fitness issues. I think he is a vastly improved player, (certainly playing with good players helps), but I really think he is being coached better now.

    Huddlestone looks leaner than I have ever seen him, (I never thought he would make the grade at the top level but now I see him developing very nicely). There is no foubt that THud was always going to be good, but I think he is going to be a better player than I expected.

    Jenas.... Jenas Jenas Jenas. I honestly hoped that I would never see him in a Spurs shirt again. When he is good he is absolute quality, but you have to wait another 6 weeks for his next good one and when he wasn;t good he was very bad. He seems to have a renewed hunger and a completely differnt mind-set and just a phenomenal attitude now. Whatever has gone on at Spurs behind the scenes has worked wonders with JJ. He looks unrecognisable from the selfish, flash, "look at me player", that I had come to really not enjoy watching at all. Now seemingly, in a team with other players to fill the creative, flair roles, he has been able to get back to basics and just graft, graft and graft some more to become once again an important member of the squad, (especially in the absence of Thud).

    These are the lesser-lights in the squad. They are not the big names but they are names that have played many games and important roles all the same. I think the credit for this has to go to the back-room team at Spurs and also for the likes of Comoli and Levy and whoever has been doing the recruiting over the last 5 or so years. It has been a clear and distinct change in direction in terms of signing players and we are really starting to reap the benefits now.

    Are we gonna win the Premiership of the Champions League? Probably not.

    But that fact that we are even in with a shout and that it is being discussed shows the measure of our progress under Harry.

    Man Utd have hardly broken sweat so far and are still unbeaten with Rooney still to find 3rd gear and having coped with injury issues at the back. I think that Utd will go on to win the league by a coinsiderable margin.

    Arsenal seem to have upped it a little in terms of physical ability to compete with the likes of Chelsea, (tonights game I think was significant in that respect), and any calls by unhappy Gooners for Wengers head just made me laugh. Just give him some money to buy Given, (or another decent GK), a bik hulking centre-back, and a top powerful striker and I think they will run anyone close, (as they are already almost doing).

    Chelsea are struggling. Abramovic seems to have had his eye turned by the Russki 2016 bid and getting rid of Butch has been an big blunder. Drogba seems to have fitness issues, JT has long had them, (lost of injuries possibly linked to back problems), and Fat Frank a real loss for the first time in what seems like his career, (did he never get injured before?) Far too few centre-backs in that squad, Ferreira must be among the poorest players in the Premierhsip and how many games must Kalou and Mikel play before someone just decides that they are not good enough and never will be?

    Man City will give us more of the same, (more excellent performances, more losing 1-0 and drawing 0-0 in games that they completely dominated and a fair bit of mud-slinging and in-fighting to boot). Completely over-reliant on Tevez and as he doesn't often get injured that isn't really a but if you stop him then generally speaking you stop Man City.

    Despite the money, I see Man Utd and Arsenal dominating and Spurs being the most likely to kick on of the other 3, (with Man City possibly losing out).

    It's good fun being a Spurs fan at the moment.

    :)

  • Comment number 90.

    @84 seeing the world through a man united fan there. Everyone knows that the big decisions are given to man u at OT it's a fact of life. I'm not sure what game you were watching but you certainly didnt outplay tottenham and we were looking good up untill that ridiculous piece of refereeing.

    @86 your idea of him being biased towards the southern team is a bit silly mate. Ballotelli has had a poor season considering he cost 3 times more than VDV and is probably on twice the wages. Of course he's going to say more positive things about VDV than Balotelli because the fact is VDV has had a much better season no arguments.

    All these different clubs bashing spurs just shows that we're now rivals that actually worry them. A few years ago there would have been nowhere near the amount of comments there are now. However as spurs get closer to clubs like united and catch up with teams like arsenal they go all defensive because they're scared another genuine title contender has entered the mix. COYS!!

  • Comment number 91.

    3. At 07:52am on 27 Dec 2010, VAMOS wrote:
    There have been quite a few players who leave Madrid from the shadow of the galacticos and begin to shine. Snijder, VDV, Makalele, Robben, Morientes for Monaco a while back, er Karambeu. Serves them right for not giving players a chance and having a philosophy that they have

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Eto'o, Seedorf, Ze Roberto, Mata, Cambiasso, Samuel, Saviola, Negredo, Heinze, Huntelaar...

    ....Kaka

  • Comment number 92.

    ***I was enjoying the deluded opinions of Liverpool fans***

    You should worry about the deluded opinions of Chelsea fans, such as the opinion of actually winning a European Cup

  • Comment number 93.

    I have read through these posts and have been shocked by the absence of English players being praised. Is the reason is there aren't (m?)any to be praised?

    Next time people on this blog complain about the England Football team, have a think how you have encouraged young England players. Bringing in established imports does two things. One, it limits the experience that our younger home grown players have in getting into the team. Two, if they do get into the team they are often against more experienced players who outplay them. The pressure of Premier League success or even survival is such that younger players do not get the opportunity to develop.

  • Comment number 94.

    #88 is right to say dodgy knee - VDV's brilliant, but had a menisectomy in one of his knees in 2002 which will certainly bring his playing career to an early end. £8m is cheap for such a superb player (especially if the £8m makes the difference between a good side and a very good side) but he's unlikely have much resale value past next season.

  • Comment number 95.

    Onchocinco I bet you were saying those words last year too until we outplayed city at their gaff. What did you learn? Nothing by the sounds of it!

  • Comment number 96.

    to no 6 deadgoat

    you have no knowledge or understanding of football
    that your year depends on your team finshing in a particular order

    how about your team playing attractive entertaining football
    as spurs are playing and where you finish is where you finish

    as per man utd there run of the last 20 year ie a cycle is coming to end
    as we see with the emergence of spurs man city and arsenal

    as they say the guard at the palace is changing

    now that will probally upset you but it delights me as the quality and competition is better now than for many a year

  • Comment number 97.

    oh due to man utd and liverpools lack of available funds at the bank
    it may soon become apparent that finshing in the top 5 will be no certainty for them either

    for me thats a good thing

    maybe in a year or 2 we will see

    1.spurs
    2.manc sity
    3.arsenal
    4.chelsea
    5.man utd
    6.liverpool

    a change for the good

  • Comment number 98.

    After seeing him play as a kid for Ajax I said for years that Liverpool should sign him. Tottenham got him and are reaping the rewards. Wished someone at Anfield would have listened as the lad is showing now just how great he is.

  • Comment number 99.

    He has always had talent but unfortunately at Madrid he went missing!

    This blog looks at 'Rafael Van der Vaart: the Big Fish Little Pond Effect'...have a read Tottenham fans!

    http://tinyurl.com/3yxe22y

  • Comment number 100.

    Van der Vaart is class no denying that.

    I don't understand why you can't criticize Houllier, he has been terrible at villa, completely lacking ideas.

    And also I've often said that the bbc, with hansen, lawro and some very strange articles from mcnulty (strange because they are so one eyed they would even be laughed at on a liverpool site), are very biased towards liverpool, but the league table on the premierleague page is showing liverpool above everton, every other table I've seen shows it the other way round.

 

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