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Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Apparently a new series of Dr Who started on TV on Saturday. I didn’t see it, it’s not my sort of thing to be honest, but I really don’t think I missed out on much having spent Saturday afternoon travelling in the Tottenham Tardis.
There was a time, around about the turn of the year, when Spurs looked capable of becoming the next big thing.
Anyone who saw their dazzling performance at Carrow Road last December during which Gareth Bale showed what Lionel Messi might have been like if he had grown up in Wales.
Norwich did their best that night but it was one of very few occasions during the Canaries’ first season back up in which they met opposition that looked like it was from a different league.
It was a false dawn. Within months of apparently being contenders Tottenham missed out on qualifying for The Champions League altogether after limping over the line and many of the players who had promised to bring the glory, glory days back to White Hart Lane have gone.
No-one should be surprised because Spurs have not won a league title since 1961.
They have had some tremendous players in the intervening years but whether it be Ardiles and Villa, Hoddle and Waddle, Gascoigne and Lineker or Modric and Van der Vaart league success never seems to match the undoubted level of entertainment.
It is difficult not to have a soft spot for Spurs not only because of the brand of football some of those names above have brought to the club but also because it is a club which has produced a production line of talent for Norwich City.
Anybody who was underwhelmed by the arrival of the relatively unheralded striker Harry Kane would do well to ask “What have Spurs ever done for us?” Nineteen-year-old Kane is treading a path previously graced by Peters, Bowen, Crook, Culverhouse, Polston and McVeigh to name but a few. I had to mention that last one, Macca will be a regular co-commentator on BBC Radio Norfolk this season so anything to boost morale on those long away trips.
Kane’s arrival was so late on Friday night that City did not so much beat the transfer window as call out the transfer locksmith to help them get back in after accidentally locking themselves out.
He can only have been encouraged by the performance of his new team mates on Saturday.
Four points in as many months from two visits to White Hart Lane is a record to be proud of and if Spurs’s stars did not meet the high standards we know they can it was a lot to do with how Norwich played.
Bradley Johnson’s busy, bustling midfield display deserves particular mention.
Norwich’s response to the opening day debacle at Fulham has been very good. A 5-0 defeat can probably never be accurately described as a ‘blessing’ in disguise but it was at least a blessing on its way to a fancy dress party. Johnson admitted as much after the game when he told us that the Craven Cottage result had been a reality check. That was not actually the term he used, this is a family newspaper so let’s just say that he described it as a kick up the you-know-what.
The latest regeneration in the Spurs dugout will be interesting to watch. They’ve effectively got rid of football’s Tom Baker in Harry Redknapp.
A universally loved character who appears to be everyone’s favourite has been replaced by one of these sharply dressed younger models. But Andre Villas-Boas may struggle to become Tottenham’s David Tennant. The 34-year-old Portuguese has much to do to make role his own.
• FRIEDEL’S GOOD BETWEEN THE STICKS RATHER THAN ON THEM
Saturday’s game at White Hart Lane turned out to be a good one for Bradleys.
Having raved about Johnson’s dynamic efforts in the Norwich midfield it would be unfair not to mention the Tottenham ‘keeper.
Being American, Mr Friedel prefers to be known as Brad but the fact he was so impressive at the weekend underlines how well City played.
At 41, most Premier League players are sitting in TV studios telling these whipper snappers how it should be done, opening pubs or in some cases just counting their money. Not Friedel. He threw himself around like a young Clark Kent on Saturday to deny Norwich the win they deserved. Not bad for a man who is seven years older than his manager.
It’s one of football’s little delights, the veteran goalkeeper. I know the big 4-0 is nothing to be sniffed at in civvy street but in the football world anyone still playing at that age is spoken about as if they should be taking to the pitch with an ear trumpet and a pair of slippers.
Peter Shilton was starting his fifth decade when he kept goal for England in the iconic Italia ‘90 World Cup while Jens Lehman, John Burridge and Neville Southall are among the 40-plusses to appear in between the top-flight sticks.
Not many can hold a candle to Kevin Poole though.
The former Bolton and Leicester goalkeeper announced his retirement at the end of last season. He had been officially on the books of League Two Burton Albion at the ripe old age (again, in football terms) of 48. He even played as recently as October 2010 in a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie.
Footage of that game is hard to come by so reports that he made a brilliant save when he tipped a free kick over the bar with the handle of his walking stick cannot be confirmed.
Poole may be an extreme example but even if we use Brad Friedel as the yardstick, John Ruddy should be good for another 16 years as Norwich’s number one.