Woodgate eager to avoid symptoms of 'Charlton syndrome'

For fans of Tottenham and West Ham who are concerned that the season is fast sliding towards a premature end, there is consolation of a sort to be found in today's London derby at White Hart Lane: they cannot both lose.

Even if Spurs do so, they will at least have one more oppor-tunity to resurrect the campaign, when attempting to retrieve a 1-0 deficit in the Uefa Cup against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday. For today's visitors, sitting only one place but eight points ahead of their neighbours in the middle of the table, a defeat would only increase the feeling of having nothing left to play for.

The latter outcome would also create serious concern that the phenomenon known as "Charlton syndrome" – whereby a team stop performing at the start of March, if not sooner – has spread north across the Thames to Upton Park.

West Ham followers at Liverpool last Wednesday will have had that in mind, as well as their side's negative tactics, when chanting, "It's just like watching Charlton"; a knowing dig at their increasingly unpopular manager, Alan Curbishley, who did of course preside over several such collapses to a season while in charge at The Valley.

The Anfield débâcle was West Ham's second straight 4-0 drubbing and followed unconvincing performances against three of the many relegation strugglers, Fulham, Birmingham and Wigan. "I've had to do what I think is right for the club," Curbishley has maintained. "We're sitting 10th and there are a few other clubs would like to be there."

Tottenham are one of them, although the eight-point gap between the two halves of the table is an extraordinary one for this time of year, and their results since Christmas point to greater interest in the cup competitions. In the League, the only teams they have beaten this year are Sunderland and Derby. The danger is that failing to emulate PSV's deserved success in London last Thursday will spread the outbreak of Charlton syndrome to north London too.

Defeat by the accomplished Dutch champions came as a shower of rain on the Carling Cup parade, and afterwards Jonathan Woodgate, goalscoring hero of the Wembley final, had to face the accusation that the rest of the season could easily fade into anticlimax. "We can't let it happen, I'm sure the manager won't let it happen," Woodgate said. "Professional footballers want to win as many games as they can. The Carling Cup's in the past now. I didn't come here just to win one trophy but as many as I could."

The England defender will need to do some homework, apparently believing that the second leg in Holland takes place on Wednesday week and that Spurs need to win 2-0 (a 2-1 victory will take them through). He was on safer ground with the old cliché that "it's only half-time". At half-time at Wembley, Tottenham were a goal down, but Juande Ramos, the Uefa Cup specialist, has his work cut out to turn things round this time.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003