Skip to main content


  • The Monday Verdict
Subscribe to newsfeed 

+The Monday Verdict

Posted on 21 March 2005  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Bathed in sunshine with the sprinklers on - White Hart Lane looked a picture. It was like a summer's day in March, short sleeves everywhere and smiling faces - the perfect setting to get back on Premiership track against Manchester City.

Martin Jol responded to the midweek defeat to Charlton by making six changes to his starting line-up. Jermain Defoe and Mido returned up top, Simon Davies in midfield, while Stephen Kelly, Noureddine Naybet and Thimothee Atouba completed a much changed back four along with Ledley King.

Tapping out a few early notes for the verdict, who should plonk himself down in front of your correspondent, but the one and only Ramon Vega. With his arrival, the chances of a peaceful working environment in the press box went west for the afternoon. The former Swiss international reported that he is now working in finance, although it is doubtful he is bank manager material... Ramon got particularly excited when our current Swiss player, Reto Ziegler, then parked himself in front of him.

Reto could well be a full Swiss international soon, as he revealed on Thursday that he has received the call to the senior squad for next week's World Cup qualifiers. Good luck to him.

The first bit of action came on 11 minutes and provided a little scare. Atouba launched a throw-in back to Robinson and, not being able to pick up the ball, the goalkeeper was quickly closed down and lost possession under pressure from Fowler and Sibierski's shot had to be nodded behind by King. You will not be surprised to learn that there was a sharp exchange of views between full back and keeper.

Three minutes later followed another curious passage of play - but this one saw us take the lead. Andy Reid seized on some City indecision down the left and fired over a low cross that was missed by Defoe before the ball fell to Davies, who made a hash of his shot at goal. However, his effort zipped up off the pitch and, even though going wide, Defoe was able to redirect it into the net with a clever header.

Finally a goal! Finally we take the lead! Not the best of beginnings for new City boss Stuart Pearce, who was prowling the technical area with the sort of stare he used to reserve for opposition right midfielders.

Robinson was forced into action on 35 minutes - after a period resembling something like pinball inbetween times - when Joey Barton glided into our area, shook off a couple of markers and drilled low to the left of the England No.1 - who was more than up to the test. Michael Brown then tested David James with a similar effort from further out that the former England goalkeeper was able to field.

Just when we were beginning to ponder taking a lead into the break after a pretty poor first half in terms of entertainment, City struck out of the blue, if you will pardon that one. Fowler pinged the ball into the area on 42 minutes and it landed in the path of the onrushing Claudio Reyna, whose first time effort went in off the inside of the post with Robinson helpless.

The second half began with a bit more zip about it and some neat interchange between Michael Brown and Davies led to the Welshman chipping the ball into the area for Kelly to run on to, but James was quickly off his line to avert danger - albeit at the second attempt.

The game was getting a little feisty - and it needed it - with Barton and Brown offering some snap in the middle of the park. You were grateful on a few occasions that City had no real attacking pace in their side as the opportunity for the swift counter-attack was not generally taken.

Musampa did have a chance though when he shook off Kelly to work and opening on 63 minutes but fired his shot into Robinson's right side netting. A minute later Fredi Kanoute replaced the struggling Mido.

Reid forced James into a spectacular save on 67 minutes from the Irishman's rising shot from just outside the area. The game was ambling somewhat and needed an injection of urgency - it was, like the second half at Charlton, becoming fragmented with constant stoppages.

Anthony Gardner replaced Naybet with 15 minutes remaining before - four minutes later - Robbie Keane was bought on for Reid. The pack was shuffled and all available cards used.

It worked! Kanoute glided down the right, played the ball cleverly into Davies in the area who stabbed the ball goalwards with Keane getting the crucial touch into the net before James could make contact with the ball.

A welcome win, coming from not the best performance - but good performances don't always go rewarded, as we well know.