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BIRMINGHAM CITY (Home) 

Worthington Cup Round 3

Tuesday 31st October 2000

For the main hope of winning anything this season, Spurs will have to show more endeavour and urgency in this tie than they did against Brentford.  Whilst Birmingham have failed to make the leap to the Premier League, Trevor Francis will seek to test his team against Tottenham to see how much work still needs to be done.

They have nothing to lose with a chance to make a name for themselves in the process.  They have a big front line with Paul Furlong and Dele Odebola, but also Andrew Johnson, the blond striker who has impressed with dynamic performances in the First Division.  He could pose problems with his tenacious style.  Former Coventry winger, Peter Ndlovu can still unlock defences on his day and needs to be carefully watched.  The tormentor at Fulham in this competition last year - Geoff Horsfield - has been out injured, so might not be ready to repeat that feat.  This might give Spurs fans the opportunity to see Celtic's Mark Burchill in action as he is currently on loan at St. Andrews after turning down a chance to come to Tottenham.  That means he is odds on to score !!  Marcelo is another option they have up front.

In midfield, Brum have some familiar names in former Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday man Danny Sonner and ex-Iron Stan Lazaridis.  Bryan Hughes is the dynamo in midfield and likes to get forward too.  Former Port Vale wingman, John McCarthy can also play in midfield and acts a supply line to the big men ahead of him.  Tenacious Martin O'Connor is getting on a bit now, but he is still capable of putting it about a bit in midfield.

The defence features the former Liverpool and Everton central defender Gary Ablett, determined captain Michael Johnson, ex-Barnsley man Nicky Eaden and free-kick specialist Martin Grainger.  David Holdsworth and Darren Purse are the regular partnership in the centre and lend height to defensive and attacking set-pieces.  Even David Burrows is on their books !!  Behind them, Ian Bennett has been highly regarded for some years now, but he is prone to problems caused by high balls as he is not the tallest keeper around.

There is a need for Tottenham to get their game together for games like this, but there is also a need to progress in this competition.  The winner of Newcastle United vs. Bradford City awaits ... !!

PREDICTION : - Tottenham 2  Birmingham 1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.

 

 

 

Tottenham Hotspur  1   Birmingham City  3 -  Tuesday 31st October 2000  Worthington Cup 3rd Round.

As far as crap performances go, this rates right up there with our League cup exits at the hands of Fulham (1999), Notts. County (1994), Burnley (1983) and Swansea (1978).  Two down in 20 mins., 0-3 at 45 mins. and lucky not to be losing by six at half-time.  This is as bad as it gets, especially when all Birmingham did was play football simply and for each other ... something Tottenham seem incapable of doing these days.

I exempt Stephen Carr from this as he was our best defender, midfielder and attacker.  I am sure if he had decided to use his hands, he would have been a more than adequate keeper too.  Clemence also tried, but the rest of the side were poor.  Ramon Vega being almost inexplicably so.  The first goal saw the Swiss defender let Adebola come inside onto his favoured left foot, nip between him and Thatcher and shoot past Sullivan.  The second was the result of a long cross from the left to the far post where Adebola was unmarked, with Vega moving towards the goalpost (?).  Third, a low cross into the box which Vega left at the near post, neither going to the ball or the man, leaving Burchill the easy task of popping in number three.  Another flashed across the goal, with a Brummie head just failing to get to it, Burchill had one disallowed and another couple of chances flew wide of the mark.  All Spurs had to show was a Perry header bouncing over off the bar.

Shambles is not quite the word for it.  And it is not all because Sol and Sergei were missing,  It goes deeper than that.  Second half, Tottenham came more into it, but not that much.  Les missed a couple of golden chances, Anderton put away the penalty when Clem had his  legs whipped from under him and there was a Stephen Carr header which went just over.

Something needs to be done.  Players are needed to raise the quality of the squad.  Money needs to be released and we need to identify players who will improve the team.  It doesn't matter where they come from, just get them.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - STEPHEN CARR.

Fred Upp.

 

Trick or Treat ?

 

Birmingham are no more than an average run of the mill First Division side.  And Tottenham could not live with them tonight.  How embarrassing.  No excuses though, Birmingham were the best side on the pitch.

So, where does it al go wrong ?  The tactics ?  Playing our normal formation with a couple of players out, there was no cohesiveness between any of the players for most of the match.  No defensive strength, which lead to the mountain of three goals to claw back after half-time.  The players ?  They must take a fair share of the blame, as they were all over the place in a first half that must be one of the worst performances over 45 minutes I have ever seen from a Tottenham side.  The ability of the players ?  Not sure how they can fail so regularly to pass the bal to a white shirt, control it or move off the ball.  All basics of the game that City showed they had mastered, but we had not.  The manager ?  Well, he is responsible for the outcome as much as the players and when Ossie lost his job on the back of the 0-3 defeat at Notts. County, you wonder how long that vote of confidence will stave off the inevitable.  The chairman ?  Well, the lack of money that has been evident since the summer is hindering any progress, as there is no strength in depth.  Scratch the surface and there is nothing underneath.

You can't help but think that there is something going wrong somewhere, but where and how do you put your finger on it ?  It can't be all of one thing, it will be a combination of them all and throw David Pleat into the equation, because we have long said that there are too many people making decisions and pulling in seemingly opposite directions.  The bland media comments the manager keeps making are not placating the fans, who can see through the gloss he puts on the situation.  Results are not the be all and end all, but they would keep the wolves from the door for a while and the one thing you used to be able to rely on with Graham's teams was a tight back line.  Now, we haven't even got that.

As for bringing Simon Davies on for the injured Freund and then substituting him at half time to leave a back five with the wing-backs pushing forward, well, that was quite astonishing.  Davies must wonder what this is all about.  Vega stays on and he is sacrificed.  And Dominguez is making the fans really get behind the team.  When Ronnie Rosenthal came on, you knew the cheers for him were ironic.  Unfortunately, the support for the little Portuguese winger is not.  And that is the saddest part about it.  He is what currently represents some of the crowd's impression of having "our Tottenham back".

For the management to say there is no quality out there is palpably untrue.  Quality is there if you look for it.  Quality is saying "Is this player better than what we have in the side already ?"  Looking at some of them, that sort of player can't be too hard to find.

With some investment and the players learning to dot he simple things, maybe they can get some results ... even away from home perhaps ?  But the passing game that started the season seems to have been a distant memory and one which might have been imagined from the way Spurs are playing now.

Saturday will come around to soon and if Birmingham can do this to Tottenham, what will Sunderland do ?

Barry Levington

                For more detail on the match, click here.

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