Jan Vertonghen is an absolute beast of a player. Drop him blindfolded in a Siberian forest and he would probably report for training on Tuesday wearing a tiger-skin, shrugging off a mild case of the blisters.
Wrestling a feral tiger protecting its territory, Jan’s salon perfect hair would undoubtedly remain flawless and unruffled. I dare any Spurs fan to recreate the Belgian’s rock-like side-parting with a small rake and two tubs of Studio Line’s Indestructible hair glue. It’s virtually impossible to emulate and god knows I’ve put in the mirror hours.
The transformation of Vertonghen from overworked centre-half to buccaneering left-back proved a pivotal moment as Spurs overcame a sticky first half against a lively QPR to flip a 0-1 deficit into a welcome first home win of the season.
Andre Villas-Boas’ bold but ultimately misguided decision to start Gareth Bale, Tottenham’s most feared and effective attacking player, at left back spectacularly backfired. In the first half, Spurs looked impotent with Bale in a retreated position and the Welshman laboured with the additional defensive responsibility. Meanwhile, fellow speed merchant Aaron Lennon was bogged down with extra defensive coverage and QPR effectively swamped the midfield with Sandro uncharacteristically careless in possession.
Spurs should have been trailing by at least two goals headed into the break but for Brad Friedel’s ageless limbs and West London profligacy. At half-time, the now customary boos rang out, but despite the pointless protests a listless display had been relatively unpunished and I felt optimistic that Spurs could turn the tables with minor tactical tinkering.
And so it came to pass. AVB switched Vertonghen to left back, sacrificing the ineffectual Gylfi Sigurdsson to bring in Stephen Caulker at centre-half and unleash Welsh wonder Bale where he could finally damage the opposition. Clint Dempsey moved to a more advanced role and began to cause QPR problems with his intelligent forward play. Suddenly, a sluggish Spurs were reborn.
Overdue karma (see the previous blog) gifted the home side an own goal equaliser before a surging Vertonghen run from defence released Bale whose rasping shot cannoned off the bar and dropped to a gleeful jermain Defoe who buried the rebound. And in that moment boo-ers and supporters were, again, united as one.
Spurs dictated the majority of the second half, but QPR always remained dangerous on the counter and had a wonderful opportunity to equalise in the 72nd minute when the ball fell kindly for the effervescent Junior Hoilett only for Vertonghen to slide in heroically with a perfect, goal-saving tackle.
Three points secured and not a hair out of place. Spurs bounce to eighth, one point behind 'title contenders' Arsenal, and AVB’s job is safe for another week at least.