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Tottering Hotspur

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Robbo Robson | 14:25 UK time, Thursday, 11 February 2010

This Premier League season has been as predictable as a Steve Harmison delivery. Straight as a die one day, all over the place the next.

It's difficult to say whose fans should feel most aggrieved. Apart, obviously, from the Fratton Park regulars, whose club is being treated like some shabby mongrel taken in by Battersea Dogs Home: a football club is not just for Christmas (or indeed whichever religious festival you observe) it's for life.

Up the top end, you've got Chelsea artistically popping it around like Dutch masters one minute and making a right Jackson Pollocks of it the next.

Everton's tactic appeared to be to punt it long and high in the direction of JT and see how long it took for his mind to wander. A break would do him good - although I've been to Dubai and it's got about as much in common with reality as my grandson's favourite programme In The Night Garden.

The Man United manager is proving a genius once more - he doesn't dip into the transfer market for another attacker, he just lets the opposition score the goals for him. TEN own goals now this season!
NaniNani gets his marching orders
But the fans can't be pleased with the errant 'Nana. There's no point Hansen saying that 'wouldn't've been a foul in my day'. It wasn't in mine either, but I think bear-baiting was a harmless street entertainment back then too.

Nani's was a two-footed lunge right out of the Cantona Book of Kung Fu, and if Fergie and Phelan say the ref got it right then Mr Walton's set some sort of gold standard for correctness.

Still, if you're a Villa fan, you've got to be frustrated too. O'Neill plays a 4-5-1. They're a goal up, then a man up, and they virtually sit on a 1-1 and play on the break. Too frightened to win, by the look of it.

Wenger still thinks the title race is wide open. Maybe he's learnt summat. Arsenal were as pleasing on the eye as conjunctivitis against Liverpool but they muscled a win, somehow.

Still, can't see the Rosicky clones managing better than third - and Wenger's interest in the Premier League has a lot more to do with others' failings than the merits of his serial underachievers.

Liverpool's good run (of results, if not form) is over. Benitez has gone back to Plan A. A kind of dour grind and strong work ethic that might just see them into fourth. And Torres will be back soon - he is Liverpool's springtime.

The other two rivals for a Champions League spot are the clubs who have flashed most cash. The footballing equivalent of Private Walker, the spiv from Dad's Army, if you will. Man City fans can't be too frustrated as of yet. The ocean of cash on which they collectively float isn't going to run dry any time soon. They'll be content with needling the cash-strapped neighbours and sitting pretty while everyone else sinks.

But I'd be most frustrated if I supported Tottenham Hotspur.

I dunno whether it's the name - Hotspur! - but there's always been a sense of glamour about Spurs. Ardiles, Hoddle, Blanchflower, Gazza, Chivers, Archibald, Crooks (all right I'm stretching a point here). And yet no matter how much bling they decorate themselves in, here's a club that still sits in the long shadow of their near-neighbours.

There's been glimmers - Juande At A Time bagged them a Carling Cup the other year (but then McClaren won that with the Boro so let's not start cracking open the cava just yet). I'm feeling the pain this year as I tipped Spurs to break into the top four at the expense of Arsene's creche.

And yet, you can't escape the feeling that the players at Spurs are - what's the word? - slackers. In some cases slacker than Hannah Waterman's 2009 tights.
Sadly, a lot of the lads in question are English...

Jermaine Jenas - talented, elegant, and most of the time as pointless as a processed cheese slice on a roadside van burger.

Tom Huddlestone - big, with bazookas in his boots, and yet always looks a little behind the pace. If you were out on a pub crawl with him he'd be the one you had to go back for each time 'cos he was still on the fruit machine.

David Bentley - again bags of skill but he seems to have spent more time in front of a mirror than on the pitch in recent times. Admittedly, at the start of the season Lennon was waving ta-ta with that wafty hand at every left-back going, but it's still a mystery how someone of Bentley's ability can struggle to get into a team like Spurs.

This is also a club that started the season with four very expensive strikers in their midst (although the Benitez budgetary blip meant Keane became good value after all). And though Crouch and Defoe would be in my 2010 England squad, the fact is that Spurs create a lot of chances and score not nearly enough of them.
Jermain Defoe and Peter CrouchDefoe and Crouch rue another missed opportunity
Defoe's hat-trick against Leeds was praised but Redknapp said he could've had six or seven. He's not a cold-eyed assassin, Jermain. He's more your scatter-gun-and-see-if-one-hits type. And Crouch is still that strange anomaly of being useful in the air without actually being very good at heading the ball.

The impression of overpaid loungers isn't helped by stories of pre-Christmas knees-ups, despite telling the manager it was a golf trip (the Tiger defence, as it's now become known!)

'Arry looks as hacked off as the rest of us. Perhaps it's time he made their wages performance-related. Or at least impose a Robin Hood tax on them that seem too often to play the game in pipe and slippers.

Still, it must be of huge comfort to Gooners in these barren times - a bit like having a neighbour who is forever sticking extensions and annexes onto their property, and filling the place with expensive tat, only for the place to look more and more like a show home.

We at Boro have suffered the derision of near-neighbours too. But when they're Sunderland and Newcastle, they soon put a smile back on your face. I feel for you, Spurs.


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