With discontent growing at White Hart Lane, James Dutton believes Tottenham fans should take a step back from glorifying the club’s recent past…
January 22, 2012: Harry Redknapp’s third-placed Tottenham Hotspur are level with table-topping Manchester City at the Etihad. It’s 2-2; five points separate the two sides as the second half enters five minutes of season-shaping stoppage time.
Stefan Savic miscontrols the ball on the half-way line in the 91st minute, and Spurs are ready to counter; it’s two against one. Gareth Bale sprints past Joleon Lescott and into the penalty area with Jermain Defoe square. The Welshman passes ahead of Defoe, who was expecting a cutback, and the ball rolls along the six-yard box and beyond Hart. Defoe sprawls. He reaches out with his right leg out and arrows it inches wide.
Bale is on his hunches, hands on his head. Defoe clatters into the post in disbelief.
Minutes later, Ledley King clumsily brings down Mario Balotelli who was angling to take a shot on goal; Howard Webb points to the spot. The Italian is lucky to still be on the pitch after stamping on Scott Parker but calmly slides the ball into the bottom corner past Brad Friedel; arms outstretched, the match-winner receives the adulation of his teammates and the roar of the home fans.
Tottenham, so close to a such an unlikely comeback victory, fall eight points behind the champions-elect. Their title challenge turns to ashes. A month later they let a two-goal lead at Arsenal slip. The capitulation continues; their North London neighbours beat them into third by a single point. Spurs’ Champions League plans are cast asunder by a Didier Drogba inspired Chelsea in Munich. Having stuttered to fourth, Spurs’ right to enter Europe’s premier competition next year is revoked by Roberto Di Matteo’s new, sixth-placed European champions.
Harry Redknapp is sacked, Luka Modric is sold and Tottenham go back to square one. Continue reading