WEMBLEY COUNTDOWN: Fan's eye view with MIKE McKINLEY
A year ago I wrote about the joy of winning at Wembley. It was truly one of the great days to be a Spurs fan, even if the experience took years off my life. So looking forward to a return trip to defend our cup and a glamorous event against Manchester U
A year ago I wrote about the joy of winning at Wembley.
It was truly one of the great days to be a Spurs fan, even if the experience took years off my life.
So looking forward to a return trip to defend our cup and a glamorous event against Manchester United, the anticipation should be enormous. Right?
Er, no actually. It would be absurd to suggest that one trophy has left me jaded with success, but there's no doubt we were spoiled by last year's event.
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For example, in such a dire season a day out at Wembley should be cherished.
But last year we'd suffered plenty of dark times too, yet still in the optimistic infancy of Juande Ramos's ill-fated tenure Wembley felt like the dazzling sunrise in our latest new dawn, the serial cup collector opening his English account.We'd managed to get there with such a flourish too, with the 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal - a night that will live long in the memory.
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This time the semi-final was an embarrassment, and the neutrals probably resent us sneaking past Burnley where we barely managed 20 minutes of decent play in three and a half hours.
Last year's Wembley run-up was something we could savour.
This time around singing about Wembley sounds hollow against opposition taunts about relegation, the dark shadow over the season that we still haven't shaken, and which may yet render the final an irrelevance.
The final even creates issues within the team. Will Ledley King be gingerly ushered out of storage to the front ranks like a Cold War Russian premier? And if so, where does that leave Michael Dawson, robbed of Wembley last year and probably among the most deserving of a day in the sun this time? The Jermain Defoe cup final curse, coupled with Robbie Keane's three-minute cameo for Liverpool earlier in the competition, makes life easier up front, and will likely give Roman Pavlyuchenko the chance of entering the record books by scoring in each round.
If that seems like an incongruously optimistic note, it's immediately tempered by the thought of a player instrumental a year ago.
Even if Sir Alex Ferguson is true to his word and picks a similar side to that which managed to lose at Derby en-route to the final, you can bet that somewhere along the line we'll be seeing Mr Berbatov.
I defy any Spurs fan not to have concocted a Bulgarian-themed unhappy ending to our big day out.
Which I guess is why the build-up seems so low key. Only a Spurs fan could turn most supporters' dream into a mental nightmare, I suppose.
But all this anguish will just make it all the sweeter when we win, won't it?
Because our dear, contrary Tottenham are never more likely to surprise than when things look their grimmest. Come on you Spurs!