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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
Juande Ramos said earlier this week that the clash with PSV Eindhoven would be a barometer of his team’s progress since he took the helm, but if that’s the case then there’s a grim storm on the horizon. Most people put Tottenham’s abysmal showing at St Andrews last weekend down to a hangover, quite literally in certain cases, from their League Cup triumph, but this dull performance had no such excuse. PSV arrived at White Hart Lane looking for nothing more than a draw, but they left with a deserved victory.

It was a night to forget for Tottenham’s new left-back Gilberto, who had such a disastrous debut that he was hauled off at half-time and replaced by Jamie O’Hara. The former Hertha Berlin defender was absolutely savaged by Jefferson Farfan, earning a yellow card for hauling him to the ground in the 26th minute and then, just seven minutes later, suffering the indignity of being robbed by the electric Peruvian outside his own area and having to watch him strike home the critical goal.

I was sat next to the tunnel for this one; perfect for my new hobby of Ramos-watching. The Spanish boss is the most animated, excitable manager in the league, with the exception of mad Martin O’Neill, and sometimes it’s more entertaining to watch him than the game.

Early on in the match, Didier Zokora was so deep that, for a moment, I wondered if Spurs had deployed five defenders. Ramos noticed it too and ran to the touchline.

“HEY!” he bellowed. Nothing.

“Oi!” he yelled again. Still nothing.

“Phweeeeep!” he whistled expertly with two fingers. Finally Zokora turned around and was met with the biggest shrug I’ve ever seen outside of the Orang-utan enclosure at London Zoo. Ramos shrugged so hard, and with so much passion that it seemed to scream out, “I don’t know why you’re standing there, and I bet you don’t either, do you?” Zokora got the message and trotted off to rejoin the midfield. This was only the third minute!

PSV had no problems with positioning, in fact, they could probably lecture on it at Cambridge University. Captain Timmy Simmons took up a position in between the defence and the midfield and prevented Spurs from running at the centre backs while Lennon and Malbranque were completely squeezed out of the game. Tottenham were reduced either to passing the ball in vain around their opponents, or lumping it long in the hope that something would happen. It was uninspiring stuff, but PSV didn’t care. Their attitude seemed to be, ‘go on then, see if you can get past this.’ They took advantage of Gilberto’s mistake, probed occasionally with through balls in front of Farfan, but for the most part they were happy to sit deep and absorb the pressure.

Despite the scoreline, PSV were not noticeably superior, just more organised. Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King made sure that highly-rated Danny Koevermans was heavily shackled, but no-one could seem to get to grips with Farfan and he threatened on numerous occasions.

Tottenham will now have to go to Holland and score, which isn’t an unachievable aim for a side that boasts such potent firepower. The only concern is that success has quenched the spark of urgency, the desire that they had before Wembley. The League Cup was paraded around White Hart Lane before the game to tumultuous applause, bit if I was Ramos, I’d get it hidden away in the trophy cabinet. Spurs need to move on.