Posts Tagged ‘Niko Kranjcar’

5 out of five

August 19, 2011

That was a surprise, right?

5 goals from 5 players. Hearts didn’t stand a chance against a lightning quick Tottenham squad. If that’s how we plan on playing footy this season, then all teams will need to take notice.

Now a very close friend of mine and an extremely loyal Spurs supporter said that I had to keep in mind that it was Hearts of “god knows where”. Agreed. However, I think it could have been any team on the opposite end yesterday that would have had to deal with the wrath of our pin-point one-touch passing side. Definitely a proud moment for the manager and his crew.

Niko Kranjcar played the full match and was honestly fantastic in Modric’s role. He actually showed that they have very similar characteristics in their playing style… must be a Croat thing. I don’t know if this will just create another problem for Kranjcar because if Modders sticks around, he will most probably get the starting nod.

At first, I thought it wasn’t going to work having Defoe and VDV paired up at the front, but it seemed to work out deliciously. But forget about all the experienced players. I would rather focus on how solid our younger ones performed last night.

Jake Livermore did a fantastic job, passing the ball very well under pressure while showcasing a few Hudd-esque looking passes himself. Andros Townsend came in for Bale and also put in a decent run. Kyle Walker looked like a seasoned pro! The boy definitely likes to go forward, but he showed that he could hold down the defencive side of his game as well. I hope we’ll get to see more of these kids throughout the season, Kyle Walker definitely looking like he could seal a 1st team position sooner than later.

So Harry and co. picked it right last night. Let’s see more of the same at Old Trafford please.

COYS!

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Some questions… Looking for answers

August 7, 2011

Pre-season’s over and we’re well on our way to kicking off our 2011/2012 campaign. The past few matches were nothing to swear our coming season by, but there were some positives along with some negatives. Nothing new really.

Bale looks to be in fine form. The downside to that is it will be a sure thing: no top 4 this season, we’ll be seeing the Welsh wizard on his way out the door. And since we’re discussing Bale, he and VDV have hooked up in recent occasions with some lovely 1-2 passes. Some more of that during the season please.

Kranjcar has been getting a lot of playing time. Does this mean we’ll be seeing more of him? In our shirt that is?

Europa League means we’ll be seeing a lot more of our younger players. It looks like Jake Livermore, Danny Rose, Andros Townsend and a few others will get a shot to impress Harry on select Thursdays. Who will make the most of it?

The transfer window is still open and we’re linked with way too many players, mostly those who have never even proven their potential at success in the Premier League. Most will argue we need strikers – which is very true – but I can’t help but think that we need defenders more than anything.

Which brings me to my next point; will our defence hold up this season? I have a feeling Bassong won’t be capable of delivering the goods. He’s still a bit too shaky in his decision making for me. Gallas has yet to be seen. I honestly have no idea what’s happening with that. This also leads me to wonder if Dawson is the right person to captain our side? His defencive unit have made some very odd mistakes in the last couple of pre-season matches which has me worried. Still, I do appreciate M. Daws a lot and I think he could potentially have a good season.

The very success of Dawson’s season could be dependent on the man behind him… the one between the sticks. Mr. Butterfingers = H. Gomes. He has a lot to prove to the team, the gaffer, and to the supporters this season. He has also has some stiff competition with Brad Friedel breathing down his neck. Let’s hope that triggers some sort of mojo in the Brazilian.

Last but not least, I have refrained from discussing Modric and the transfer to Chelsea. I’ve said all I had to with my previous posts. Whatever happens from here is out of our hands. Tottenham Hotspur is bigger than any one player. We have a tough start to the season since and we’ll need depth and all our players to tackle the challenge ahead.

Come on you Spurs!

Photo caption time! Make it good!

January 24, 2011

This was a pic I took during the Champions League match at White Hart Lane when Inter came to visit and got manhandled! Your captions are most welcome.

The curse of Champions League success

November 7, 2010

Will we ever leverage success in the Champions League as a catalyst for the Premier League? Okay, we did it once after beating FC Twente when we won against Aston Villa at home, but if past trends are anything to judge by, our chances look quite slim.

Hence the misery at Bolton. Many will argue that Harry’s squad selection was the main problem. 2 CDMs, Sandro and Palacios, got the nod for the start and it was the former who’s mistake handed them the opportunity to go up by 1. Message to Sandro: don’t worry kid, they were probably going to score anyways, especially Kevin Davies. Seems that’s always the case, doesn’t it?

So Harry was wrong. I was naive. We got nowhere. Had Hutton and Pav not scored those two goals, a 4-0 win for Bolton would have sounded just about right. They held us back in almost every way, and as our “triffic” manager said, we can’t always rely on Bale. How I wish that wasn’t true.

What did I learn from this match?

4-4-2 ain’t too bad of an option for Spurs. It’s not that I don’t believe that we’re not effective with a 5-man midfield, but I just think there are certain teams we would fare better against if we reverted to the system we know best. Pav had a cracker of a goal and it makes me wonder how different would the match have been had he been starting up front with Crouch.

Speaking of Crouch, he cannot play up front on his own in league matches. The only time we should ever risk it is when VDV or JD play off of him. That’s it.

It was nice to see Niko have a go, but the overall team performance will not do anything to instill some much needed confidence in the guy. He really needs to get some playing time under his belt; letting him rot is just a pure crime Harry.

5 teams are tied with 15 points. Last week, Liverpool was facing relegation but after tonight’s Chelsea-bashing-Torres-resurrection match, everything has changed. Arsenal lost to Newcastle (I want this Andy Carrol kid) and United’s win was a slimy effort as usual.

Sunderland visit the Lane on Tuesday (sheesh… another former Tottenham player seeking revenge) and if they win, they will jump us in the table. Not a sight I want to see as I’m sure you’re all thinking the same.

It’s all up for grabs and we need to pull it together quick! Otherwise, we’ll be left wondering what hit us and why we’re not in top 4 contention.

COYMFS!

 

Out of style or hopefully making a comeback?

October 6, 2010

The “fro”. Out of style or making a comeback? Niko Kranjcar. Out of form or out of favor? With the rise of one star, another must fall. In this particular circumstance, let’s hold hands and pray that’s not the case.

Van Der Vaart’s instant success (knocking on my wooden desk as I type) in the squad has been nothing short of brilliant for Spurs. And thankfully (sometimes not), history has a way of repeating itself at the Lane.

Around this same time last year, Levy and co. struck the mother of all transfer deals of the 2009 /2010 season:

Niko Kranjcar for approximately £2 million. A mouthwatering deal at the dying end of the summer transfer market.

Niko smoothly sailed into the hearts of Tottenham supporters and was rightfully greeted with open arms. At a time when we lost Modric to a terrible injury, his Croat compatriot came in and carried the duties on the left flank (a time before Bale was re-discovered). Cutting into the middle of the pitch with some of the sexiest ball control skills seen, Niko added another wild card to the mix: he could score.

In addition, Niko was able to gel with the team within weeks because he had tenure under Harry, played with Crouch and Defoe at Pompey, while also having experience playing with Modric and Corluka for the Croatian national team. It was a match made in heaven.

Kranjcar remained an integral part of the squad until he was injured in the FA Cup Semi-Final match against Portsmouth, which unfortunately ended his season. None of us honestly know how and if he has truly recovered from that setback.

The last second arrival of VDV is not something I would consider a major blow to Niko; however, the fact that the only sight we get of him is warming up on the side lines does ring a few alarms. Is he on his way out? Is he a part of Harry’s plans? January 2011 will tell all.

There’s still a long season ahead. God only knows what injuries await us. If recent trends are anything to live by, then our road to success is currently under construction. Niko will have his chance, I’m sure of that. Whatever factors result in that happening, I’m hoping are for the right reasons rather than out of necessity.

It’s hard to watch somebody as talented as Niko twiddling his thumbs on the bench. His hand in our Champions League qualification and Premier League success adds a bit of salt to the wound. But this is the game of football. You’re a hero one second… a Recaro seat-warmer the next.

This is also a different Tottenham. Qualification for the Champions League potentially signals a massive shift in momentum for our beloved Spurs, keeping in mind that we are also inching ever-so-close to a new stadium deal as well. My point being that the players we currently have who show a wealth of potential, promise and commitment, could eventually take the back seat with new exposure. New, bigger name players will be scouted and signed with hopes and promises of pushing us forward.

This does not mean that I want to see the backside of Niko. He has the exact qualities we need at Tottenham. If he’s the type of player I believe he is, he’ll put up a passionate fight until the very end. If he doesn’t, then maybe Harry has been right to keep him on the bench all this time. I’m praying for the former characteristic to shine.

There is no looking back. The pressure turned on once we tasted success. We should only want more… our players as well. Otherwise, lock the gates, remove the copper cockrel from the roof and call it quits.

[Photo Source: Tomislav Miletic/24sata]

No celebratory title here in the name of diplomacy

March 27, 2010

Unimpressive stuff off the bat. The initial point of interest was young Walker’s start in the squad, at the tender age of 19. Not to get ahead of this match review, somewhat, but I think the boy can go home tonight with his head held up high. I wonder if the supporters will get creative and prepare a cheer for him similar to Bale’s? Say it with me now… “Bale, Bale, Bale”. Gareth deserves better in my opinion.

The 1st half was looking to be a dull and disappointing affair, until a little gem appeared close to the half hour mark. Bale, Bale, Bale maturely crossed the ball, covered by 3 Pompey players mind you, to Crouch who gave us our first. A couple of cock-teasing crossbar moments and within minutes, another one of our former Pompey beloved, Kranjcar, gave us a cheeky, diplomatic and non-celebrated 2nd. A guy could really get used to this. Lovely stuff.

That must have really hurt the poor Pompey fans. To see two players you once dearly loved, kick you hard when you’re down. Enough of feeling sorry for our opponents, I was still hungry for more goal-scoring madness in the 2nd. Sadly, that wasn’t going to be on the menu for the evening.

Then the “Tottenham cliche” struck again. Another player subbed off to injury. Worst of all, it was our captain. By the looks of it, it didn’t look too good. Let’s hope its purely precautionary and he just needs to shake off the knock to come back and lead the boys next week.

One area of concern, and I thank the technical Windy for bringing this to my attention, is Modric’s laziness when returning to help defend. Lazy might be harsh, but what I really mean is that he needs to be reprogrammed to think like a true Premier League midfielder. It takes him quite a bit of crucial time to figure out that the ball is going the other way, it seems. This needs to be fixed if we are to use him in the middle against the likes of Man U and Chelsea.

As far as Crouchie’s celebration against his former club, I’m sure people will be moaning about how unsportsmanlike it was. I think the lad was just happy to finally score after 2 months of being in a rough patch. It’s a hurdle he has been waiting to get over, and he managed to effortlessly leap over it tonight. Some touches of class tonight in his performance.

So 4th place remains ours for another week. Villa received a 7-goal bashing at the hands of Chelsea; it worries me that we have to face that lot some time soon, but we are more confident than ever playing at home these days. Liverpool and City get their day out tomorrow, so the table will be much clearer come evening time after mañana.

As I said, a guy could really get used to this. COYS!

Should we be worried?

January 6, 2010

Should we?

Fresh injuries to Lennon and BAE will not make our voyage into the second half of the season any brighter. We will definitely be missing the sheer pace of both these players when we visit Liverpool. A team which we badly embarrassed on our home ground, bruised and battered, left limping not knowing what hit them.

Is it the end of our campaign? Last season’s Spurs: definitely. This season’s Spurs? Definitely not! It’s as simple as this. When Modric was injured, there was widespread panic that we were about to spiral down the league table. But everyone did their part, stepped up to the plate and, in the end, carried us through. We did lose Defoe to a three match ban where we lost to Stoke at the Lane and lost miserably to a very confident Arsenal squad at the Emirates. My explanation for that is at the time, the other strikers were simply not carrying their weight.

Missing one or two players should not and will not affect our performance. We have depth for once. Ask Martin Jol how he would have loved having that during his tenure.

So what exactly will we do?

The loss of BAE was bound to happen considering he was leaving at this exact time for the African Cup, representing Cameroon. Bale was going to get his chance regardless and the young boy is looking mighty fine these days (no I am not a pedophile), but how will he work on defence? Dominating and standing out against Peterborough is one thing. Liverpool is another. I am positive though. He needs to play in order to improve and fine tune his defencive skills. So let it be now. Defence is where we will make it or break it. We know we can score. Let’s capture last season’s brilliant clean sheet performances. This time around, we have the potential to accompany those clean sheets with more than just one goal.

The void left by Lennon, in a way, will give Redknapp less headaches when it comes to squad selection. At the moment, Kranjcar is on a high and constantly putting in top drawer performances. Little Modric is back and it’s only a matter of time before he gains match fitness and assaults anyone in his way (how do you bench Modric anyways?). The Croatian duo will be a nuisance. They will insult your intelligence. They will make you think twice as they constantly drop into the middle of the pitch and then back out onto the wings. As an opponent, who do you cover?

Well then, technically that means that our opponents should be worried, right?

UPDATE: Just thought I would add this little nugget in before Sunday’s match at ‘pool…

Why is it that right before this major away match, the media (and Spurs official site) has quotes from our players mouthing off and making it seem like the 3 points at Anfield are already in the bag? I’ve read quotes from Niko and Daws, but the one headline that almost made me choke was Bassong challenging Torres! Uh… boys… settle down… keep the trash talking for the pitch please. We all remember Robbie and Ledley’s pre-Arsenal match tattle. How did that turn out for us? Feel free to prove me wrong though.

COYS!

Finger lickin’ good!

December 17, 2009

Cheers and smiles all around the Lane last night in what started off as a murky, wet and dark evening. Normally, that would be a sign of the depression soon to follow but it was the complete opposite. Thankfully.

Defensively, we were in the greatest form I have seen all season. A mix-up or two here and there, but nothing that ever put us in real danger… well, besides a handball inside the box, which with all fairness to the referee, it was impossible to catch it from where he was standing. Even when watching the highlights, I initially couldn’t tell if it was a handball or not, except from a front view angle. Regardless, we were winning last night’s match come hell or high water.

Two players really stuck out in my mind last night. Kranjcar and Assou-Ekotto. The Croatian bagged himself two well deserved goals displaying a level of class well beyond what City defenders could handle on the evening. Assou-Ekotto was a pure delight to watch. The ball stuck to his feet no matter what he did, where he went, how quickly he moved… pure delight! Defensively, he was solid and seemed to have a higher IQ than most on the pitch for the full 90 minutes – focus of a superstar calibre.

Keane was once again benched in favor of Crouchie. It looks to me that this is probably the starting squad Harry is growing fond of. Obviously, Modric will be thrown into the mix at some point in the near future. He has too much footballing class to leave on the bench. The defense could remain the same if they consistently perform to yesterday’s standards, meaning Dawson could be the new captain of the squad for the remainder of the season. DAWSON ladies and gentlemen!

City fans will say that they were missing Wright-Phillips and Bellamy and that on any other day, we’re no match for them. I’m sorry, when you paid a gazillion quid for your squad oozing with superstars, that excuse won’t cut it. True, we have done the same in regards to spending, however, we won last night so I’m allowed to boast! We buckled down defensively, displayed a great balance of attacking and protection football and in the end we locked in the needed 3 points.

Disappointment or simply a relief?

December 1, 2009

I’m sure some fans will be divided whether the draw at Villa was disappointing or quite a relief. I personally side with the latter.

Villa was going to be a tough opponent simply because of how well-matched the squads are. I expected a high scoring game, however, I also believed Spurs would leave with nothing. 0 points.

I must say that I was disappointed after the match, specifically the 1st half. How does a team that just came off a monumental win play so inconsistently? I just don’t understand it. One game, we start off like title contenders playing poetic football. The next, we can’t even direct a single decent pass to Defoe or Crouch, a walking target for birds flying by.

The 2nd half was a total shift in momentum and something us fans would like to brag about. Why can’t we start off every match with that attitude? Asides from Kranjcar, the team seemed to be running on snooze. Palacios didn’t have the best of days; did show a lot of effort but it just wasn’t working, so I welcomed the Jenas substitution with open arms. And it paid off! The tempo changed and all of a sudden we showed promise. Dawson scored one hell of a goal – you would think he was a striker in his past life. Some might say it was controversial but the ball hit his shoulder / arm pit area so any evidence of it being a hand ball was rather inconclusive. Joy!

Bring on the Poo tonight for our Carling Cup draw!

It could have been Blunderland

November 8, 2009

A relief to see 3 points added to the column after yesterday’s near-blunder of a match. We scored early which was temporarily comforting, but never good enough. Sunderland were attacking hard and controlling play right from the start. So many defensive errors were committed that you felt it was only a matter of time before our opponents would score. Even worse, the uneasy feeling that Bent was going to score just wouldn’t go away. Payback.

The highlight of the match:

Defense caught off guard. Bent one-on-one with Gomes. Keeper goes for the ball. Bent dives (obvious but well-timed). Penalty kick awarded to the diver. Diver is a cheat. Keeper blocks his shot. Gomes a hero. What goes around comes around.

Harry once again threw us all off with his player selection for this one. I’ll leave it for other bloggers to analyze and over analyze why. I’ll stick to the basics. As always, once Sunderland began pressing, we looked uneasy. Our passing game was horrific at times. Palacios attempted the heel back-pass a few times with no success which was driving me mad. Jenas couldn’t put together a life-saving pass on 2 or 3 attempts which were both 95% goal-scoring opportunities. At the half, the fans were booing to let the squad know this isn’t how the game is played. Especially on our turf. 2nd half wasn’t any different until Kranjcar was subbed in. He really changed the pace of play. Bless him. He infused some creativity and “look at that”, we all of a sudden became a different team. A team creating problems for others and chances for ourselves. Aaaah… back to normal. Life is good.

Could have been a blunder but Gomes prevented that from ever happening. Lightning quick reflexes which kept us all on our toes while cleaning up numerous defensive errors and adding another clean sheet to our tally. Gomes, you’re a rock star!

I miss Steed. I hate the international break.