Are we over-reacting here?

The revolution continues

In the last four weeks, Spurs have continued their good form, beating and drawing with Man Utd, beating Liverpool and Nottm Forest and losing out narrowly to West Ham despite a good performance. The fans are hailing George Graham’s side as one that is destined for big things.

But not all fans agree. Some of them still possess anti-George Graham sentiments and are doing their best to water down the Scotsman influence on White Hart Lane. They claim that the improvement is not particularly great and that victories have come against weakened sides and teams that are just downright poor. Are they right? Let’s analyse.

Before George

It was a sorry sight before George Graham arrived. Spurs claimed just 3 out of 9 points at the start of the season but Christian Gross’ last game in charge was an impressive battling victory at Everton. David Pleat took temporary charge and the talk was that he fancied the job himself. The former Luton and Sheffield Wednesday manager managed 2 wins and 2 draws in 5 league games and also guided Spurs into the third round of the Worthington Cup with two narrow wins over Brentford. But it was clear that the team was fragile and confidence was rock bottom.

By George!

The George Graham reign began at Filbert Street, Leicester – not an easy place to start. And so it turned out. In a disappointing match, Spurs lost 2-1 to a late goal from Muzzie Izzet. One might say that Spurs were unlucky to lose as they battled well enough and lost out to two stunning strikes. Signs of improvement were minimal but it was early days.

Then came back-to-back wins in two very different scenarios. A 2-0 home win over struggling Newcastle was a solid result and this was followed by an impressive 3-1 win in a tricky League Cup tie at Northampton. There was definitely a more formidable look to the team and the structures implemented by Christian Gross, which were sadly lacking in the Gerry Francis regime, were being built on by George Graham.

But banana skins was just around the corner. A 2-2 home draw with Charlton was disappointing after Spurs had come from behind to go ahead. Proceeding this was a 3-2 reverse at Villa Park. The league leaders stormed ahead 3-0, and an embarrassing scoreline of ‘Newcastle 1996’ proportions looked on the cards. But the new fighting spirit that Graham had instilled brought Spurs back to within inches of snatching an amazing point.

A comfortable Worthington Cup win at Liverpool was heralded as one of the best results in seasons and an excellent point at Highbury further emphasised how far Spurs had come. They then went on to beat troubled Nottingham Forest 2-0, lose at West Ham, beat Liverpool at home and come from 2-0 behind to draw with Manchester United. In the middle of all this was a Worthington Cup win over the Mancs as well.

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

‘No not really,’ they say

‘So we beat the Scousers a few times. So what. Everyone is beating Liverpool at the moment. They haven’t been any good for about 4 years. And then we turned over Manchester United’s second string side in the Fizzy Pop Cup. Big deal. In addition, when we played them in the league they were without Scholes, Yorke and Cole. I mean, they’d walk into any team in the Premier League so United were considerably poorer than usual.

We lost to West Ham. Within two weeks of beating us, they got humiliated by Leeds and then lost to Middlesborough. And then of course there were the superb wins over Newcastle and Nottingham Forest. Two of the big guns, eh? So much for the great fightback at Villa – they’ve started to fall apart now.

George Graham hasn’t made any difference. Any manager would have got similar results.’

And so on.

Do I agree?

I certainly don’t agree. George Graham has revitalised Tottenham and any impartial Spurs fan should be able to observe that. There is still a will amongst some fans to devalue anything that George Graham achieves, and it is my guess that they will be drinking their champagne through pursed lips, if not at the end of this season, then by the end of the next one.

Liverpool may not be going through their best patch, but our team of 12 months ago would have struggled to beat them in either game. As for Manchester United only playing a reserve team in the League Cup game, they still had 8 internationals on the pitch, many of which would be Premiership regulars elsewhere. The league game a few weeks later proved that Spurs had come a long way since the previous few league encounters against Manchester United at White Hart Lane. In those games, United strolled around like it was a practice match. That certainly wasn’t the case in the frenetic 2-2 draw last Saturday.

It’s easier to lose games than win them, and Spurs clearly been superior to teams like Newcastle and Nottingham Forest – teams we would have been on a par with, if not below, last year.

We got goals

Twelve games, twenty three goals. This is the most exciting statistic for me. Okay so we’ve been letting in goals too, but we’re scoring a lot more than we’re conceding. When you consider that our injury prone strike force has barely been the same for two games running, the indications are that goals are coming from elsewhere, most notably Sol Campbell and Allan Nielsen.

The improvement under George Graham has been very obvious. The detractors say that the improvements were obvious when Gerry Francis first started out too and that quickly degenerated into a farce within two seasons. My answer is that if you can’t tell the difference between Gerry Francis and George Graham, then you clearly know little about football.

The future is bright, the future is Graham.

And finally…

Good old Manchester United. They came, they kicked out, they left in a huff. The 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane on the 12th December was an amazing game. Gary Neville was sent off for 2 bookable offences (he could have been sent off twice with the number of dodgy tackles he put in, including an ugly two-footed assault on Allan Nielsen), while honorable thug Roy Keane and petulant brat David Beckham remained on the pitch. Of course they have a good teacher as the worst of them all, Alex Ferguson, stormed off at the end of the game without acknowledging fellow Scot, George Graham.

Man United really are a footballing paradox – they are the pinnacle of British football, yet the pit of British football also. Everything that is bad about attitude and sportsmanship can be found in a Sharp-emblazoned red shirt. And their fans wonder why everyone hates them? Jealousy? Don’t make me laugh.

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