Perhaps it is our cross to bear that many of the good things we do are not appreciated in life. This was rarely more true than in the case of Tottenham captain William Gallas.
The 35-year-old veteran has been an absolute steal for Spurs since moving on a free transfer from North London’s second best team two-and-a-half years ago. The Gallas goal line clearance is now a standard feature in games, but his last ditch inventions too often remain uncredited by Spurs fans. Yet when ‘Mad Bill’ made several uncharacteristic mistakes against Chelsea (he was not alone in this regard) these were widely highlighted by his detractors.
Emerging star Steven Caulker has paid tribute to the po-faced veteran, affectionately known as ‘Mad Bill’ on this blog (Read William’s 2010 open letter here), and told of how the Frenchman calms his nerves and talks him through games. There is little doubt that the experience and nous of Gallas has played a significant part in the maturing Caulker’s fine displays this season.
Gallas was at his absolute best in Tottenham’s 2-1 win at Southampton on Sunday. It was a classic Spurs performance; dominating the first half and holding on for grim death in the second. I’ve lost count of how many comfortable two nil leads we've surrendered in second halves over the years. That’s just how we roll.
Tom Huddlestone’s clever dink created Gareth Bale’s headed opener, but after the hairy behemoth was replaced by Jake Livermore in the second half the midfield floodgates opened alarmingly and Southampton took the game by the scruff of the neck. It was suddenly backs-to-the-wall stuff. Jay Rodriguez’s reply had seemed virtually inconceivable when Clint Dempsey put Spurs 2-0 up on 39 minutes.
Despite his adroit header, Bale was quieter than an Arsenal fan on Tottenham High Road and Spurs leaned heavily on the fizz of Aaron Lennon on the flanks. Defoe’s shooting was painfully awry and, given Emmanuel Adebayor’s injury and eventual departure for the African Nations Cup, our lack of striker options remain a valid concern. Nothing changes.
Sandro was his usual bestial self in midfield, but his tireless tackling could not compensate for the large Dembele-sized hole in the centre of the park. The Belgian is a big miss, as if you didn’t know that already. Heartbeats quickened and collective blood pressures rose, but Spurs withstood Southampton’s late barrage, thanks to the desperate blocks of Gallas and co. Cue widespread homo-eroticism as the Spurs team stripped off and threw their shirts into the crowd, sparking a surreal and comical tug-of-war between two old geezers for Brad Friedel’s bright yellow jersey.
Wrapped up in the moment, I started peeling off my five layers of clothing, hurling them into the air in a celebratory tornado of designer garments. They fell harmlessly to the ground. No-one fought for them. Not even the cold people or women with limited dating options. Shrugging off the autumn chill, I picked up my clothing as uncomfortably as Spurs had picked up the points. But I was smiling. Three points on the road always warms the soul.
*The game marked my dad’s 50th anniversary of attending Spurs games. Somehow his vintage heart has withstood half a century of this madness. The old man’s first match was way back on November 1962, a 4-0 win over Leicester City at White Hart Lane. Apparently, the game was played in ‘black and white’ and the fans were still applauding a Jimmy Greaves goal long after Leicester kicked off again. Congratulations on the milestone, dad!