Back to Tottenham. By the time we make it back into White Hart Lane, who knows, we may have even calmed down from THAT penalty decision.
Okay, we won’t labour the point. Tottenham were obviously the better side on Sunday, as they damn well ought to have been given the respective resources of the two clubs and a debilitating injury crisis as City. It just still rankles. Steve Bruce’s job is to use that as motiviation for whatever XI he sends out this evening. Alf Ramsey reputedly told his shattered England players after 90 minutes of the 1966 World Cup final “You’ve won it once. Now you’ll have to go out there and win it again.” Perhaps Bruce should paraphrase thus: “you’ve drawn with ’em once. Now go draw with ’em again”. Except that sounds a bit shit. And there’s extra time anyway. No, forget that. This is probably why Steve Bruce is a well-paid and successful football manager, and we write ill-conceived bollocks on the internet.
Anyway. The manager has one hell of a task on his hands with team selection. Having had to play a League Cup style XI on Sunday, what does he do now? Play it again? Weaken the side further by calling on serious fringe players or youth team players? All well and good if Sunderland on Saturday is the only thing in his mind, but there’s a match to be played and a massacre is no good for anyone. Especially those of us who’ve paid £20 to see it. But it’s tough, and whatever he decides to do, we don’t envy him the decision.
At the other end of the Premier League food chain, Andre Villas-Boas has to decide which multi-million pound internationals to pick. It all depends on their priorities. In the last couple of years winning a Cup may have vied with qualification for the European Cup in Tottenham’s ambitions. But Spurs’ improvement in recent years has coincided with a drop in quality at the very top of the table, meaning they actually do have an outside chance of nicking the title this season. It isn’t a huge chance, but if they DO think it’s on, the League Cup will recede in importance. Hopefully, anyway.
They seem likely to be without Younes Kaboul and Danny Rose, though Argentine international Erik Lamela – who cost more than our entire squad – is a far from shabby replacement. Gylfi Sigurðsson, Nacer Chadli and Brad Friedel may also come into the side. Of course, there’s a little more attention on the Spurs manager than you may expect at the moment, given his intemperate comments about the White Hart Lane atmosphere during Sunday’s game. Charging people too much money them making them sit down is the obvious problem, but really, did he expect a cauldron of noise for the visit of Hull City and a tight game? Do any fans really get up for a game they’re expected to win?
This is our first ever meeting in the League Cup. Then again, it’s only our 26th meeting in total, given the somewhat divergent paths the clubs took since the first encounter in 1907. Our record in North London is far from stellar, with just one victory in 106 years – that splendid 1-0 success five years ago. It’d be fair to say the bookies aren’t anticipating a repeat of that, with Tottenham just 4/11 to win in normal time and 1/5 to qualify by any means. The draw in 90 minutes is 4/1, while City are as long as 10/1 to win inside the 90 or 5/1 to qualify. A daunting task awaits.