We have one Chelsea fan who recognises the job done by Rafa Benitez while there's maths from Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester. And Shawcross to Arsenal? Nah...
You might notice that we haven't included a single mail about teams in pubs, because most of them were terrible. Instead we have a disgruntled Fulham fan and Scouse maths...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Praise The Lord
Gareth Bale; And The Good Lord took his beauty from his face and placed it in his feet.
Amen to that. COYS!
David Clarke, Cambridge
Remember when Spurs used to lose when Bale started. Seems so long ago...
It's Going To Be Fun
I'm really rather looking forward to how tortuous Levy will make the purchase of Bale for somebody else this summer.
Savour It, Spurs Fans
When Henry was at Arsenal he was so consistent it was a shock to us fans when he didn't produce the goods and rescue us late on, you almost took him for granted as we were so spoilt. I imagine Man U fans have similarly fond memories of Ronaldo.
Spurs fans, appreciate Bale while you've got him (not a back-handed insult, for the sake of the league I hope he stays with you for a long time), having a good team is nice but having someone truly brilliant and so consistent is an awesome time.
Will Bale Ever Be As Big As Rooney?
After watching Gareth Bale's goal last night and having to change my underpants as well, it got me pondering a big question about Gareth Bale. Will he ever be looked upon as bigger player as say Wayne Rooney? As I'm not sure he ever will be. Admittedly this season he has over shadowed Rooney massively with his match-winning performances but I don't think he will be looked upon in the same bracket by the press and the like.
My reasons for this (without any any racism intended!), is that he is Welsh. As an Englishman although I can admire his breathtaking, defence arse-tearing apart runs and thunderbolts of strikes I can't help but just not get that excited about him. I think the main reason behind this is the fact that I know he won't ever grace the pitch for England and will never feel the full benefit of his talent. As a Welshman/Spurs fan I imagine this doesn't apply but there just doesn't seem to be the excitement surrounding him as say a young Michael Owen or Wayne Rooney.
If he were English he would be so bigged up everyone would probably have imagined this was the second coming of christ! Maybe then, this is in fact his biggest blessing as he doesn't have the full weight of a delirious/deluded nation on his shoulders at a World Cup we aren't realistically going to win. It wouldn't surprise me if he went on to be one of the finest players these shores have ever produced. Which would go to show our press are our biggest hurdle in not winning a major tournament. Two fingers up to Fleet Street!
So to sum up, I'm basically saying Gareth Bale is going to be one of the world's best players, because he was born a nationality who have as much chance of qualifying for the World Cup as a team of cub scouts playing crab football. I know I come across as massively bitter and jealous and I'm not going to try and deny I'm not!
Fergie stump up the cash.
Phill (Praying for RVP's fast return to fitness) Thomas
An Optimistic Spurs Fan Writes...
I really hope we don't see a multitude of mails about Spurs being a 'one man team' today.
The performances as a team have been solid if unspectacular, but what you would expect from a manager with a distinct way of playing coupled with a chairman who expressly refuses to buy the players the manager actually wants. I just think Spurs are far more solid, gutsy, strong, quick and dare I say it, more physical than we have been since I've been a supporter. We can really mix it with aggressive teams. Gareth Bale for me is just the icing on the cake, he makes things happen when we need him to. It is now impossible to prepare for him due to his free role...you can't plan to double up as he drifts everywhere and will ruin the opponents shape.
As far as the squad goes, we can afford to leave good players out, have only got one striker, who isn't even playing well, yet we're unbeaten since December 9th, which in itself was a freak result given the nature of the defeat. The most pleasing thing for me is AVB's pragmatism. He played Gallas and Vertonghen at CB and Benoit at left-back away at Lyon, as Gallas reads movement better than our other defenders...and then brings in the big boys against West Ham. The team is playing for AVB. No sign of the 'turmoil' that some of the tabloids were peddling earlier in the season. There is a real camaraderie in the squad and undeniable spirit. Last night was almost United-like in how we executed the game plan and snatched the three points. I'm very excited.
On a side note, I think Peter Coates and Tony Pulis may be in contact with their lawyers this morning, as West Ham committed the most blatant copyright theft of a style of play that I have ever seen. West Ham's tactics really were horrendous, and Allardyce trying to make out that West Ham didn't get the rub of the green from Webb last night is absolutely laughable. I don't think he gave Spurs a 50/50 all night.
A Pessimistic Spurs Fan Writes...
I wrote in after Spurs' first leg against Lyon a couple of weeks ago to point out that we were a trudging team without Sandro providing that dynamism through the middle and that if we kept relying on Bale to dig us out of holes we would very quickly see our season collapse.
I know I'm going to be called a whinger for saying this but nothing has improved. Sure, Bale is on a fine run of form and has improved significantly under a manager who actually wants players to develop, we're in third and still in the UEFA Cup (I'm not calling it by its crappy name) but we've still got huge problems with the way we're playing.
West Ham exposed us on a number of occasions last night and if it hadn't been for the early injuries to their central midfield pairing (interesting to see Parker's 128-point turn being turned into a weapon by standing on someone's foot), we would have lost; Bale would have been closed down before taking his outrageous shot.
I'm scared as hell for the Arsenal match on Sunday; For all the talk of crisis, there's not been a whole lot wrong with their season and they have some very bright players in Podolski and enough pace up front to really expose our back line, if we play a similar line-up.
Yours sulkingly, ever the pessimist...
Matt L, Spurs
What Might Have Been...
Whilst I am aware that this will be filed in the drawer labelled 'if my auntie had a pair...' I think that some consideration should be taken as to what spurs could achieve were AVB able to raise performances across the squad.
The one-man team label is clearly not true - Lloris has been incredible. Vertonghen has made as smooth a transition as could have hoped. Lennon and Dawson have both arguably had their most consistent seasons with special mentions to BAE and Sandro who when present have both been immense.
However, beyond that it is hard to think of players who have contributed towards the successful form we find ourselves in. Most worrying is the form of Adebayor, Parker, Walker, Caulker and Sigurdson. Players such as Huddlestone and Livermore who pushed for first-team places also look to have stagnated. Holtby and Dembele are both yet to come good - although both will rightly be given ample time.
So, what could we have achieved with last yea'rs Adebayor and Parker with this year's Lennon and Bale? The question is significant as there is still time for these players to come good. An upturn in form from those currently lacking could be the difference between second/third and a possible Europa League Cup win or just a scrappy end and finish fifth.
One last thing regarding the game. It was special to be part of the Bobby Moore remembrance - and both fans contributed well, only for it to be ruined by allowing Emanuel Pogatetz onto the same hallowed turf.
Steffen (I called on the magic of St. Stalteri) Trousers
Staying On Your Feet = World Class
It's fair to say like most denizens of N17 I have a massive man crush on one Gareth Bale right now. Clearly there's nothing I can add to the level of hyperbole, justified or otherwise. What is clear is that his phenomenal talent is immense as AVB might say. I might say it is as immense as Adebayor's is presently (or permanently) non-existent.
The point I wish to make is this. Mr. Bale's performances have improved exponentially since he received the ban for accumulating too many simulation-related bookings. In effect, now that he's realised just how strong, skilful and quick he is and stopped diving he is truly hurting teams. The comparisons with Ronaldo may be a little premature but as I recall the winker also ramped up his level of football performance when his level of acting performance decreased.
And to all the Gooners telling us we're a one-man team - like Arsenal's of last season - I'd rather have a one-man than a sh*te one.
Catalist (I've never known what the brackets are for really)
West Ham v Spurs Conclusions
* That was a proper English game. Low on quality at times but two local(ish) rivals battling out in an incredibly entertaining match.
* Saying that, when the quality was there you just had to sit back and admire it. Bale becomes more impressive each game. It was interesting to see that the winner came just after one of the West Ham players had tried to take him out. The old Bale may have rolled around on the floor complaining but he now knows how to really hurt teams.
* West Ham will be safe this year and they work hard for their manager but you can see why a sizeable number of fans want rid of Allardyce. The football is atrocious and completely one-dimensional. Swansea and Laudrup must be hated by the likes of Allardyce and Pulis, no longer can they use their budgets and positions as an excuse to serve up such dire, predictable football.
* Talking of the West Ham fans. Why the booing of Scott Parker? He served them well and as far as I remember left without any animosity. Oddly, the boos seem to increase after he had gifted them the equaliser with a ridiculous challenge.
* The turning point for me was the substitution of Demel. West Ham looked solid and a defensive change didn't seem required. As he looked rather unhappy at being withdrawn then I take it Demel's removal was tactically based. Based on what, I don't know. Making a defensive change at 2-1 up is always a risk but swapping both full-backs just seemed foolish. Lennon had been anonymous all game but as soon as Pogatetz came on he was a danger and the equaliser came from that side, a clumsy foul by the substitute on Bale.
* I thought Carroll did his job well, he's a great target man but would you want him in your team? Despite his ability on the ball, like Crouch he encourages long ball after long ball. It will be interesting to see where he ends up next year.
* Jaaskelainen got a lot of love off the commentators and he pulled off some good saves, good but not great. The issue was the quality of the finishing. Caulker was guilty a few times but Adebayor's miss was a howler (which incidentally came from a Jaaskelainen error). Tottenham need to work on hitting the corners.
* On the other hand. Loris looks top class. He didn't have to make too many saves and he was unlucky the bounce took Cole's finish over his leg but he does everything well. Having a 'keeper like Loris sweeping up behind you has to be comforting for defenders.
* That was a massive three points for Tottenham and you could tell from AVB's reaction how much it meant. A draw or loss and Arsenal could go to Spurs next week happy to come back with a draw. Keeping that four-point gap puts more pressure on Arsenal to get the win.
* Saying that, for a while it has looked like a Spurs/Arsenal shoot-out for fourth place but Chelsea have made it two from three. From a neutral's point of view I'd be delighted to see the two North London clubs bag the Champions League spots and Chelsea to miss out.
* I don't get to see a lot of Sky Sports game these days and I know it has been said several times but Neville is excellent as an analysis. I know other pundits may have less time to prepare but they could all learn a lot from him.
* Spurs are on an impressive run and should be able to cement themselves in third spot, leaving Chelsea and Arsenal to worry about forth. I'd be surprised if they threaten second place now the pressure's off City. They're not as exciting to watch as the they were under Redknapp (most of that's down to the personnel) but they're definitely more functional and are winning games you'd have expected them to have won but didn't under 'Arry.
* It's de rigueur to mention Ronaldo/Messi when talking about Bale and, although he's got a lot to do before he can reach their heights, his first goal was very similar to a type of goal Messi scored often a couple of seasons back where he'd dribble it in front of the defence until he found an angle. The second was also very similar to a free-kick Messi scored against Atlético Madrid last season (in trajectory and the fact that they were both late winners). The pundits went mad for it (and it was excellenté) but Bale's was better; it was in open play when surrounded by other players and it was in the dying minutes to win the game.
* West Ham aren't always as bad to watch as some might think; they've still got some hoofers (and Andy Carroll did his best impression of that bloke that fills in one week at five-a-side that clearly hasn't played football since they were 11) but they do have some players that like to play football properly.
* Why did no one mention Adebayor's Mohican/Jheri curl combo on MNF? Unusually I watched the whole program and it really wasn't something you could see and not talk about. Like an eclipse. (Gary Neville's analysis is a blessed relief from the banal nonsense to which the viewing public are often subjected - do you know what I was doing when the fireworks launched on New Year's Eve? Watching Gary Neville's half-season review, that's what!)
* If Allardyce The Hutt is going to manage a professional football team that appear on television, could someone at the club please ask him to wipe his nose when he's on the touchline? Filthy slime.
...* Bale is obviously just phenomenal. In the last few weeks we've seen him score goals where he's run from his own half, free-kicks, belters like last night's winner, and delicate placed ones like last night's opener.
* Bale's value now is academic - there can only be at most six clubs that could realistically sign him - Chelsea, Man City, Barca, Real, PSG and Bayern. I imagine Bayern and PSG wouldn't appeal and I can't believe he would go to such hated rivals as Chelsea. So Man City, Barca or Real. Discuss.
* Whilst there are no prizes for guesing who our key player is, there was one other man on the pitch who made a massive contribution last night - Hugo Lloris. He made an outstanding same when we were 2-1 down. Second name on the team sheet after Bale?
* Dare I say Lewis Holtby may be a tad overrated? Yes he's young, good-looking, hardworking and (half) German which seems to be very trendy at the moment, and he could go on to be an excellent player, but he is flattering to deceive a little at the moment. He did little of any significance last night.
* For a team whose most potent attacking weapon is their arial ability, how bad were West Ham at defending set-pieces? Caulker could have had a hat-trick.
* Speaking of West Ham, have they no idea how to defend a lead? The amount of space the likes of Vertonghen and Walker got when we were 2-1 down was embarrassing. There were always going to be more goals in it.
* Nice to see Spurs finish with Carroll and Livermore in central midfield. Neither is currently at the level of Dembele or Sandro (or even Parker) but it's good to see AVB give them a chance.
* Scott Parker was better tonight, penalty aside. Maybe it was the boos spurring him on, but there were fewer 10-point turns and more forward runs.
* After spending the first half of the season conceding late goal after late goal, we seem to have become the late goal kings ourselves lately. That's three games in a row we've scored decisive last-minute goals. AVB deserves a lot of credit for the way he has turned that around.
* Bale is just phenomenal. What can we do to get him to sign a new contract?
Chelsea And The Stinky Kipper
I've suspected there's something rotten in Denmark (well, Stamford Bridge) for a while now and it was only whilst watching West Ham v Tottenham last night that I think I've found the offending kipper. I know fatigue has been cited as a cause for Chelsea's countless listless performances this season and generally I'm inclined to agree. But having read an article in the consistently terrible Evening Standard last night I was surprised to read that Benitez has only fielded the the same XI in consecutive games once since taking charge. So how is that a team that is clearly rotating and has invested so heavily in its midfield so often looks bereft of purpose?
Say what you want about each team's playing style (last proving there is definitely more than one way to skin a football-shaped cat) you have to admit that West Ham and Tottenham are two teams whose midfield, to a man, knows its job. They're disciplined and they know what's expected of them - Tottenham especially. Let's say Sandro was fit: Tottenham's strongest midfield would likely have Sandro-Dembele sitting in the middle; Holtby in front and Lennon/Bale out wide. On its day that's one of the top midfields in the league. In terms of talent though is that so much better than Lampard-Ramires; Hazard-Mata-Oscar? I'm not so sure.
Chelsea's problem is that these players don't really fit this system as well as Tottenham's and the supreme irony is that this system only persists because we've amassed all these players in the first place! Mata is the only one who has made his home in this formation (although I have high hopes for Moses on the right). Ramires is probably my favourite player after Lampard but despite his speed with the ball at his feet he gets lost when played out wide and I think it's fair to say he doesn't so much 'screen the back four' as 'jump on people's metatarsals' when he's played alongside Lampard.
Speaking of Frank, can we all agree that despite his best efforts he simply has not 'matured' in to the deep-lying playmaker that we all hoped he would? Sure his legs have gone to a certain extent but watching Dembele and Diame harry the opposition, nick it, turn and play it in one smooth motion time after time made me realise that we're just shoe-horning Lampard in there for his goals. That might sound trite given his contributions this season but surely at 34 we should not be relying on these much longer? Mikel is too ordinary for the demands of the role and the only player we have who's looked close to being fit for purpose in the centre is David Luiz (whom I'd to see him get more of a go there). The optimist in me reckons Romeu and Luiz could forge a decent partnership one day but not for a long while yet and based on very scant evidence indeed.
Oscar's yet another perfect example: a joy to watch whenever he plays but if Mata's on the pitch at the same time he goes walkabout too often and tries to do too much. Unless he's playing through the middle he runs in to a lot of corridors (not as many as Hazard) and his technical ability on the ball often masks his reading of the game off it. He was bought for a healthy sum before someone else did and I'm delighted he's here but someone needs to work out how to play him and Mata at the same time without unbalancing the team.
I guess what I'm saying is that whilst I can see why our last three managers have tried a 4-2-3-1 formation I just don't think it's working. It looks like it should but it doesn't and the really worrying thing is that no one's trying to find an alternative. You can't say that we've improved under Benitez (even though I prematurely wrote in that we had, ahem) and I think a reason is that the players we have aren't playing to their strengths. Obviously some blame has to be aimed at the manager(s) - after all shouldn't they be tasked with moulding the players at their disposal - but with the vestiges of each manager comes another selection head ache for the next. Whoever we appoint after the inevitable discarding of poor Rafa needs to be someone who has a plan for this team and knows how he'll enforce it. Buying Fellaini or Falcao come summer will probably yield a higher league finish than this year but it won't yield the league itself. This team needs an identity far more than it needs more footballers.
I don't want to sound ungrateful - I'm over the moon my club has the resources to create this kind of problem for itself but I don't see the point in pretending that #RafaOut is the answer.
Simon (Gareth Bale really is getting closer to Ronaldo's level...one shanked free-kick at a time!) CFC
Just When I Thought I Was Out...
I've been reading the mailbox for a long time and I thought I'd seen it all.
However, I've just come in this morning and read yesterday afternoon's mailbox (I was cheating on you by reading the Fiver - shoot me) and, whilst the contributor in question doesn't explicitly state the fact, it would appear from his ignorance that he is the only grown man in the Western World who hasn't watched 'The Sopranos'. Silvio Dante is, in my opinion, one of the best characters from the show. Who can forget the immortal line, "She's so fat, her blood type is Ragu"?
The bonus for Simon Skelton is that he's waited so long that he can pick up the box set for practically nothing!
It's Up For Grabs Now...
Ok so it might seem churlish to complain about a top ten that already includes two Arsenal commentaries as well as the legendary Bergkamp - Argentina goal, but dammit, how could you possible overlook the greatest moment of footballing commentary and the greatest league finish ever: "A good ball by Dixon, finding Smith...for Thomas, charging through the midfield...Thomas...It's Up For Grabs NOWWWWWWWWWWWW!...THOMAS!
David (shove your "Aguerrrooooooo" where the some doesn't shine), AFC
Introducing A Whole New Phrase
Further to the cracking top ten of commentary moments this morning, and inspired by Mark Renton likening ejaculation to how he felt when Archie Gemmill scored against Holland in 1978, if there aren't at least 100 Dutchmen who holler 'Dennis Bergkamp, Dennis Bergkamp, Dennis Bergkamp, DENNIS BERGKAMP, aaaaaaaawwwwwuuuuuuuhhhhhhh!!!' when they 'approach Billy Mill roundabout' there is no God.
But there will always be Dennis.
Just Say It, Gary
Was it just me or did anyone else think that Gary Neville really wanted to describe Gareth Bale's second goal last night as a 'thunderbastard' but got half-way through, thought better of it and went with 'thunderbolt'?
Andy (morning Gary, if you are reading) Danson