Match of The Doy – The 100th post

Well here we are, the 100th post in the blog that is known as Match of The Doy. It started three years ago though as Strictly 442, playing on the popular tv show and the old school formation. The name change in fact came via a couple of work colleagues. I’d have liked to have reached 100 posts sooner, but external issues such as my depression often got in the way of my writing.

The game of football is something that I have always enjoyed and knowing that I’d never get to be a footballer or a journalist, blogging would be the best alternative. I could write about what I wanted regarding the game however long or however short and at my own pace. I haven’t though written every post in the blog. I have been fortunate to have guest bloggers in the form of Dan Raywood on a number of occasions and Victoria Sharkey on a lesser note. Dan has more often shared his thoughts on Spurs related stuff together with the post reflecting on matters elsewhere.

Not only guest posts, but I have had the pleasure to have some Q&A posts with the Portsmouth CEO Mark Catlin, thanks to Liam Earley and Gay Gooners and Pride In Football’s Joe White. This came through another good friend and the previously mentioned Victoria Sharkey. The idea of the Q&A session posts were to find out more about the off the pitch stuff that happens in the game. I look forward to adding more as and when I can.

This season has seen me take on the predictions game for the Premier League. It has to say the least been an interesting path. Not so many accurate scores as I would have liked but the end results have often been chalked up more. Given that Watford and Burnley have been giving as good as they have got, they are hot on the heels on a top ten spot.

This year I had the idea of the Flashback 40 which was to share posts relating to my growing up over the years. It hasn’t always gone to plan, but you should look out for the France 98 retro review. This was one of my favourite World Cups and I have made slow progress but almost completed the group stage review. I thought it would be a good idea to look at each group….I do like giving myself a challenge. Thankfully though it will be completed for this year especially as I will be finishing work on the 14th December for the year, so no excuses.

So what does Match of The Doy look like for the next 100 posts? Well more of what you have seen already and other stuff, more from Dan Raywood and hopefully other guest bloggers joining the fray. Whatever happens though, it will be fun and interesting, so thanks for reading and keep on following.

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They All Count

After a fantastic performance against Real Madrid in mid week, the next game was always going to be a challenge to meet the same excitement.
As it turned out, the early Sunday kick off against Crystal Palace was my first Spurs game of the season and one that found me initially surprised to find that it was an early kick off, but ultimately delighted that I got my afternoon back.

At the time of writing, I’m heading back home from the game and it’s about an hour and 10 minutes since full time. That’s why I don’t go to many games in truth; it’s great that Spurs stayed in London but the journey home is a chore.

As for the game, well Spurs made several changes from the team that conquered the European Champions and saw a debut for goalkeeper Paolo Gazzaniga as well as continued presence of Aurier, Winks, Son and Rose – who you may seem to be from the second string of the first team squad.

All in all, the game was relatively uninspiring and not full of incident. Palace have had their challenges on and off the pitch so far this season, and with a vocal traveling support and the strength of Zaha, Cabaye and ex Spur Andros Townsend, they have the potential to succeed and stay up this season.

For Spurs, it was a laboured performance that didn’t see Harry Kane at his best, saw Son miss an absolute sitter and generally saw good performances from Sissokho and Vertonghen. Man of the match for me was the impressive Davison Sanchez, but that is an example of how well distributed the ball was and how cool he was under pressure.

This won’t be my last visit to Wembley, but I’ll be delighted when the team return to Tottenham as while Wembley does suffice, every fan knows that this is a temporary situation and while Spurs can produce some classy performances, there are games they will have to scrap for and as the headline says, sometimes you have to do that as all of the points count.

Changing Lanes – Dan Raywood Spurs blog

It’s been a few weeks since the end of the football season, and add a week since the last Spurs game of the season at its home – White Hart Lane. I was not able to attend the victory over Manchester United, but the scenes were incredible both during and after the match.

Since then, work has commenced in full on the new stadium, and today 19 June, I took a first walk past the building site that is the switch from old to new stadium. What was surprising to me as a visitor to the area and a local resident was the increase in development of the new site. The old Shelf side/east and west stands are all but gone, while all that remains of the north stand/Paxton Road is the scaffold feature that runs across it’s roof.

On the south stand, or Park Lane end which housed the most vocal supporters and away fans, most of the stand remains, although from what I could see most of the seats had been removed. Also gone was the Spurs Shop, so up the road in Enfield would likely be the nearest point of call for merchandise.

There are many ways to keep up with the development, but what surprised me was the speed at which the new development had stepped up. There were many words written about the last game at the Lane and how many were over-reacting to the last game. Yes there was a ‘Trigger’ factor as each stand has been rebuilt in the last few decades, including the Paxton Road stand since I first visited in the mid 1990s, but this doesn’t take away fans’ memories of attending the stadium and what they had seen, and who they attended with.

Around two years ago, I did a stadium tour of Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. In there, many sections of seats date back decades to its original construction. The reason? Well nostalgia for one, but also because there was a desire from supporters to keep these old seats. After all, wouldn’t you want the opportunity to sit in the same seats that your parents or even grandparents sat in?

Sadly the rush to get a world class quality stadium is apparent in top level football and Spurs feel the need to follow what Manchester City, Arsenal, Reading, Leicester City, Bolton, Middlesbrough and others have done. It’s a shame, but a need that must be met to keep up financially, and a fantastic stadium will be waiting in a year’s time.

As for Spurs, last week I attended the showing of a film about the history of Tottenham Hotspur and the area of N17, and how the ground grew and changed around the club’s development. It had raised over £6,000 by last weekend for charities supporting young people in North London, and was a fantastic presentation narrated by Flav from Spurs podcast The Fighting Cock, with plenty of history that even this Spurs history junkie could devour! It’s well worth a view if you are a Spurs fan, or just interested in how a club grew up in a community, and became one of its focal points.

Love the One You’re With – Dan Raywood blog


That Giggs goal and Dan’s top 5 – Dan Raywood blog post

Today marks 17 years since that Ryan Giggs goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup semi final. It’s a goal that has been analysed over and over since.

As a Spurs fan, I should take some pleasure in the goal, but part of me feels it lacks some of the magic of other “long and winding goals”. So I decided to present my top five similar efforts, including one by Giggs himself.

Number 5 – Ryan Giggs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quI_LkMj4HI

Let’s start with this, as Giggs picks it up in his own half, is mostly unchallenged until Patrick Viera makes an effort, pushes past Dixon and Keown and scores a nice finish with a shot over Seaman.

Number 4 – George Weah https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDuZpma_Oxs

Slightly better as it does involve a longer run having collected it in his own penalty box, and he gets past two paltry Verona challenges before rolling it in.

Number 3 – Saeed Al-Owaira https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8w89sl7Grc

A legendary goal from an excellent tournament. He gets the ball in his own half, is generally unchallenged by the Belgian running alongside him, gets past one dizzy defender on the 18 yard line and executes a very nice finish.

Number 2 – Roberto Baggio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGUeRn5c3Tc

Often forgotten, but still excellent. The divine ponytail exchanges passes in the Czech half before he is given incredible amounts of space (for a player of his ability) and the finish is excellent. The Charlie George-esque celebration makes it extra special.

Number 1 – Diego Maradona https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY40__rBvSk

“You have to say that’s magnificent” declared Barry Davies. He gets past 3 England defenders, takes it around Shilton whilst under pressure. One of the greatest of all time.

The Deciding Month – Dan Raywood

Now comes the month of uncertainty for Spurs, as February has typically been the month where the 20 something games played already goes to waste.

Memories will be cast back to those who chose to remind our not-so-noisy neighbours to “mind the gap”, while in 2011/2012 Spurs backed up an impressive five goal win over Newcastle with another collapse and failure to qualify for the Champions League. This season does look like things could go right. At the time of writing Spurs are third in the league and have a capability to grind out results – recent games against Norwich City and Colchester United are a great example of that.

Yes the stories about the price of the starting 11, Delle Alli’s emergence and Harry Kane’s goal scoring have all been told and are crucial to the tale of this season. Crucial also is the lack of any new players to arrive in January, while Andros Townsend, Federico Fazio and Alex Pritchard all left the club for the rest of the season. I did see an analogy that said when Chicago Bulls had Michael Jordan in prime form they didn’t go out and get another Jordan, instead they put full faith in the playing squad that they had. Same here I guess, Kane, Eriksen, Alli, Alderweireld and Lloris have all remained fit, and the squad has so far only been set back by the injury to Jan Vertonghen.

Many will point to the failure to boost the defence and striker positions in January if the season collapses, but a collapse now would mean a failure to qualify for the Champions League. Some are whispering about the league championship, others on the FA Cup and Europa league, the truly ambitious on all three. What I know is this is the strongest team we have seen in years and week after week Spurs are getting the results they need to ensure strength in the finish.

Whether the unspeakable (be it positive or negative) should happen, the club will never satisfy everyone, but in a season where so much is possible, this dark February could be the month that sits in history books and is talked about for generations. Again, whether it is positive or negative remains to be seen.

Judging after 11 – Dan Raywood blog

Steve McLaren started his tenure as Newcastle United manager with a declaration to the toon fans to “judge me after ten games”. Now more than ten games into this season, we have one of the most open and scintilating seasons upon us in years.

Let’s face the truth – I’m a pretty smug Spurs fan with our place in fifth after 11 games and only one defeat (on the opening day, away at Manchester United, courtesy of an own goal) and signs of a pretty good first third of the season attributed to us. The ambition of Pochettino to play a high-line pressing game has paid off so far and with laptop touching wood, this has not seen the team caught out too many times – the Mahrez goal for Leicester the main exception.

The danger with playing a fast-paced pressing game is stamina, and while our team is relatively young there is not a huge amount of strength in depth and Spurs are an injury to Jan Vertonghen, Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen away from a major problem.

The change in management at Liverpool has seen new German boss Jurgen Klopp try a similar tactic and arguably, Liverpool have not adapted to this and this could cause changes to be made at Anfield in the January transfer window. At Spurs, the lack of strength in depth is evident in the centre of defence and in attack, and I would expect to see the end of Federico Fazio’s tenure with Spurs and a new face in attack to aid Harry Kane.

Another reason to love Spurs this season has been in the development and use of young players. Following the addition of Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason, Eric Dier and Kane to the starting 11, along with opportunities for Joshua Onomah, Harry Winks and Tom Carroll, this is something to be excited about. However these mostly fill the already-crowded midfield and many Spurs fans are excited about the introduction of defender Cameron Carter-Vickers in the coming seasons.

For now, this (and a new striker, although I expect the addition of Saido Berahino to be completed in January) remains the biggest concern. Not being at the wrong end of the table, not a bad run of form and not a looming visit to Arsenal. No, the biggest concerns are four days at the end of month, containing a trip to Azerbaijan to play Qarabag in the Europa League, and a game against out of form Chelsea. Let’s hope everyone plays safe.