Monday, 25 November 2013

A weekend of sporting disaster...

As sporting weekends go, it doesnt get much worse than the one just passed...

I'll start with Spurs.  A 6-0 (yes, SIX - NIL) defeat to Champions-elect Manchester City.  I know we've been struggling recently but I never in a million years saw a hammering coming.  If anyone had seen our last PL game against Newcastle, where we had 31 attempts at goal and the Bar Codes Goalkeeper Tim Krul has single-handedly kept them in the game, most of us Spurs fans were left thinking it was only a matter of time before Spurs finally clicked in front of goal and handed out a good old-fashioned seeing to.

AVB looking just a little shell-shocked in his post-match interview...

Spurs started brightly.  95% possession for around 14 seconds then it all went drastically wrong.  I could write an essay in response to the defeat but I just want to touch on 4 specific points which AVB needs to sort out sooner rather than later...
  1. Assou-Ekotto MUST be called back from his loan spell at QPR.  Why is the best left-back on the club's books on-loan?  You may not like him AVB but the sooner you get over your stubborn streak, he needs to be back in the team pronto, so that our first choice centre-back Vertonghen, can marshall the defence.  A centre-back pairing of Dawson & Kaboul just doesnt work.  The last time they played together...Spurs lost 1-5 to Man City at home.  It doesnt take a genius to work that out, surely?
  2. Again, put your stubborness to one side and pick Adebayor.  Ok, he's had his issues but he's the only forward at Spurs capable of holding the ball up and bringing others into play.
  3. Soldado is struggling purely down to lack of service.  The inverted winger system needs to be trashed immediately.
  4. Paulinho needs to be dropped.  Spurs played well last season when Dembele and Sandro were starting games together in the middle.  Paulinho seems to be starting every PL game ahead of Dembele and I'm afraid his performances just dont warrant being picked.  Dembele is excellent at setting the tempo, something Spurs havent played with all season.

Next up in the PL, Spurs play Man United at home on Sunday.  Another mauling at home may see Levy's patience finally run out.

Worringly, Spurs have got problems on a par with the England cricket team.

The notoriously slow tour starters were smashed by the small matter of 381 runs.  It was an absolute mauling.  Restricting the Aussies to 295 in the first innings seemed like an excellent effort from the England bowlers on what looked very much like a pitch where 400 runs plus would have been about par.  England capitulated to 136 all out in the final session of day 2 and by the end of stumps at day 3, the Aussie's had piled on another 401 runs before they declared and took the early scalps of Carberry and Trott, leaving England a hopeless task of trying to bat out 6 sessions.

The Aussie's were able to call on the explosive bowling of the rejuvenated Johnson and he rightly took away the man of the match award for taking 9 wickets and scoring 103 runs.  It was a remarkable turnaround for the bowler who was made the scapegoat of the last Ashes series in Australia.

This morning, England were rocked by the announcement that Jonathan Trott, England's number three batsman, was returning home because of a stress-related illness, invoking memories of Marcus Trescothick on an earlier Ashes tour.

Jonathan Trott is heading home from the Ashes tour...

David Warner described Trott as "poor and weak" following the first test in Brisbane, where Trott managed a paltry 19 runs in the two innings.  Warner has since released a statement to say his comments went too far.  As did Michael Clarke's sledging in my opinion, where he told Jimmy Anderson to prepare for his arm to be broken by Mitchell Johnson's bowling.  There's no disguising the Aussies are up for this Ashes series like no other before but they've crossed the line.  I hope and pray that that the England boys respond like they should and really comes at the Aussie's all guns blazing now.

There will be some serious needle in the second test.  With Trott heading home, surely England must now consider fighting fire with fire and bring in Finn or Rankin, who are both capable of bowling in excess of 90mph.

Most importantly, I'm sure every cricket fan will wish Trotty all the best and wish him a very speedy recovery.  Whether he is able to continue at the very top echelons of test cricket again is another matter but whether he does or doesnt, it hardly matters when his long term health is at stake.  He can be very proud of what he has achieved for England.

Sandwiched in between the Ashes and the Tottenham debacle was an absolutely cracking World Championship fight between WBA and IBF title holder Carl Froch and Londoner George Groves.

The build up had been hyped.  Froch had been accusing Groves of a lack of disrespect and Groves was saying all the right things.  It appeared that Groves had got inside Froch's head and the result was going to be a real grudge match.  The pre-fight comparisons to Eubank v Benn were laughable but you could see Eddie Hearn and Matchroom desperately trying t sell the fight to the public and they certainly caught the public's imagination.  The experts couldnt decide what way the fight would go, most agreeing that Groves was more than capable of causing Froch problems with his speed and work rate but Froch's pure strength would show through in the later rounds...

Froch v Groves: A stunning fight but marred by controversy

Groves was booed into the ring.  A few minutes later, Groves had dumped Froch on the canvas in the first.  It was a stunning start to the fight.  Froch somehow survived to the end of the first and so it appeared on a number of unofficial scorecards, Groves won the first round 10-8 and the next 5 10-9, so he was well clear.  Rounds 7 & 8 went to Froch, so  there was at least 4-5 rounds between them.

Froch was getting stronger and one punch caught Groves.  He looked in trouble, there's no denying that but the referee jumped in so quickly to stop the fight, it made a mockery of the contest.  As is turns out, two of the so-called judges had scored the fight 75-76 in favour of Groves so you have to wonder what fight they were watching.

I've watched the fight again since Saturday night and I'm still convinced that Groves would have recovered but Froch was getting stronger and I dont doubt that Froch would have gone on to win the fight at it neared its end.  Groves' lack of experience saw him work so hard in the earlier rounds, it appeared he'd hit the wall by midway through the 8th.

Didnt get the result I particularly wanted but at least I got my prediction right...

Prediction = spot on - Round 9.

The post-fight analysis by McCrory, Khan and Haye in the studio was spot on.  All three were appalled that the contest was ended like it was.  However, you can sort of accept why the referee did jump in when he did.  Its the culture nowadays.  No referee wants to have a Eubank v Watson or Benn v McClellan fight on their hands.  Although the refereeing could almost be excused, there can be no excuses for judges who seem to be more bent than a FIFA voting process.

Post-fight, I dont think I can ever say I've seen a boxer who was booed into an arena be cheered out of it at the end, like Groves was on Saturday night.  That was remarkable.  Froch was his usual arrogant self and done himself no favours whatsoever with his post-fight interview.  I hope that Eddie Hearn can somehow make a rematch but I dont see it can be of any interest to Froch now.  Froch will be running scared.  He knows, like the rest of us that the best boxer on the night lost.  Groves will have learnt a great deal from that fight and I have no doubts that he will go on to be a World Champion in the next few years.  Froch may now be thinking about retirement.  He's had some real big fights in the last couple of years and his age and speed is beginning to hinder him.

Groves: the boos turned to cheers...

Here's hoping next weekend brings some better luck...

My sporting highlight of the weekend is reserved for the awesome guys and girls of Plumstead Runners who put on one hell of a special KFL cross country race at Oxleas Woods yesterday and a huge well done to the Plums that completed the course because it looked truly horrific.  The course is hard enough during the summer months, let alone when there's mud everywhere.  Am really sorry I couldnt run yesterday and I could only make a flying visit...but I did manage to get some video footage...

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