On Sunday morning, the bomb was dropped. Dave Kidd (who in 1996 correctly predicted that robot human hybrids would inhabit Milton Keynes) exclusively revealed in the highly-respected ‘People’ newspaper that Andre Villas-Boas was a mere three games from the sack.
‘The People’, affectionately regarded as an ‘inky bible with tits’, is rarely wrong outside of speculative tittle-tattle and spurious tabloid chuff and suddenly a terrible scraping sound was audible in north London. Presumably, Alan Curbishley rising, zombie-like, from his managerial crypt. Meanwhile, Kevin Bond was wildly texting, ‘DO U NEED DRIVER?! PETROL & PRINGLES GRATIS.’ Inevitably to Curbishley’s old number.
But just as the former West Ham manager was pushing away the concrete slab, Villas-Boas shockingly WON a game and SAVED his career. The scenes at the Madejeski Stadium were joyous and wild. I swear I saw a group of exuberant ewoks bundling each other when Gareth Bale scored the pivotal second, but now accept that my reading of ‘The People’ had triggered dreadful hallucinations and a complete removal from reality.
As I departed the fog of Reading, via its dreaded stadium bus, memories and thought fragments slowly pieced together and I recalled a fantastic (yet ewok-free) Spurs performance. Jermain Defoe’s brace and intuitive play rightfully earned plaudits but Mousa Dembele’s mastery of midfield was, at times, jaw-dropping. Dembele kicks like Van Damme, wows like Hepburn and may prove to be Daniel Levy’s best business yet.
The Belgian drove forward in a way that Luka Modric never could, breaking up play, prompting and weaving together a previously unhinged midfield corps in tandem with hairy enforcer Sandro and freeing the fast-forward Bale and Aaron Lennon with destructive effect. Elsewhere, compatriot Jan Vertonghen marshalled the defence superbly alongside the unfairly maligned William ‘Mad Bill’ Gallas who provided his now standard goal line clearance among other key interventions.
And so AVB was granted a ‘stay of execution’ or Kidd’s story was shockingly exposed as conniving bollocks. Whatever took place, it delivered a welcome transfusion of enthusiasm to Spurs fans. And maybe, just maybe, we have a season on our hands.