Fan's Eye View: NO 230; Tottenham

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The Independent Online
Abject despondency was passed long ago; self-pity is habitually wallowed in and envy is a raging bull close to exploding. As an anaesthetic to painful trips to White Hart Lane these days, I consciously slip into day-dream and reminisce about the early 80s rather than get despairingly upset about a club and stadium ravaged of its soul and honour. I am sick of moaning and need consoling. I survive thanks to my very own fantasy football.

Using all the powers of my imagination, I take myself back to the first Tottenham side I can remember of that time. White Hart Lane, with a new West Stand, was brimming with excitement watching a team wearing those Le Coq Sportif shirts, dripping in grandeur and playing, undisputedly, the most glorious football in Europe at the time. I thought there would be no end to the good times.

For style and entertainment Spurs were unassailable, with the Argentine World Cup pair Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa showing off their exotic flicks and skills.

Via a fruitful youth system and some shrewd acquisitions the team, in a five-year period, won two FA Cups, reached a League Cup final when it was respectable to do so, challenged for the Championship, competed in Europe - including a Uefa Cup triumph - and it should have been more.

In the sombre atmosphere of White Hart Lane, 1997, I frequently recall the goals of Steve Archibald, Mark Falco, Garth Crooks and the under-used talent of Micky Hazard to help me endure today's shoddy impostors. There was also Tony Galvin with his rolled-down socks, the slalom runs of Villa and the presence of Steve Perryman and Graham Roberts.

The most unforgettable feature of the era was the bewitching midfield skills of Ardiles and Glenn Hoddle. The perception and dainty touch of Ossie was perfectly complimented by the genius of 'Oddle, together conducting a sophisticated display of football.

Like countless others, I was mesmerised by the ease and grace with which 'Oddle moved and dissected an opposition with a debilitating ball. 'Oddle's vision and thought were sharper than any other and were greeted by sighs of admiration and wonder from thousands at a raucous White Hart Lane.

I am certainly not brought back to the present by excited noise reverberating around a doleful White Hart Lane. Tottenham have lost all the attractive playing style that their reputation was forged on and, moreover, are passively surrendering their prestige as lesser clubs leave us behind.

There have been unwise and modest moves in the transfer market, leaving Spurs fans disillusioned and frustrated with little to cling to for pride or hope. Ginola fleetingly appears like 'Oddle in his untucked shirt, spraying 40-yard balls, but in a side short on imagination and with Darren Anderton breaking down more times than Long John Silver doing the hokey- cokey, inspiration often comes through aerial bombardment, the deadly disease which Spurs seemed to have caught from a previous Arsenal side.

Alan Sugar recently expressed a determination to repeat our illustrious past "to achieve greatness once again in the not-so distant future". However, before that can happen a major clean-out is essential.

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