Mad Men Season 6 Episode 5: The Flood

MM_605_MY_1219_1202“By Monday, it will all be a dream” – Sylvia Rosen

Set on April 4th, 1968, the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee, tonight’s episode of Mad Men puts its characters into a moment of American history when everything was uncertain, while they simultaneously dealt with both knowns and unknowns in their own lives.  The death of the inspirational leader of the Civil Rights Movement was another reminder to a generation that the age of innocence, when they could feel safe and secure, had ended abruptly with the shooting of President Kennedy in 1963.  Less than five years later, the US was embroiled in a prolonged conflict that many of its citizens did not believe in and were in the midst of an election campaign that would ultimately see the incumbent in the White House not have enough support within his own party to seek a second full term.  This is alluded to in The Flood as Paul Newman speaks out in support of Eugene McCarthy – who later beat President Johnson in the New Hampshire Primary, forcing him to drop out of the race – at an advertising awards ceremony, only to be interrupted by news of the murder of Dr. King.  With the perspective of history on our side, we know that things will not get any better in the ensuing months – especially from a liberal’s perspective – as Robert Kennedy is assassinated two months and two days after MLK.  Nevertheless, while the real-life events form the backdrop to the storyline on Mad Men, it is the effect they have on the characters lives that continues to take centre stage.

The most pressing concern for all is that there will be full-scale riots as a reaction to the tragedy – which did happen across the country, but were averted in New York City, something that Henry Francis’s boss, Mayor John Lindsay was given credit for – but Don is particularly concerned about the well-being of Sylvia Rosen, the neighbor with whom he has been having an affair, as she and her Doctor husband were in Washington D.C. for the weekend (the assassination took place on a Thursday night).  As Draper tries to distract himself with both work and drink, he is forced to go upstate to pick up his kids at Betty’s insistence, despite the fact he will have to drive through Harlem, where there is tension and unrest, with the children.  Being a father is not something Don has shown much interest in at the best of times, but with his mind on Sylvia’s safety, he drinks and sleeps while Megan takes care of his offspring.  However, when his latest wife takes Sally and Gene to a vigil in the park, Draper is forced to look after his other son, Bobby, who had feigned illness to avoid going with his siblings and step-mother.

Rarely have we been given the chance to see Don form any sort of bond with his sons – he did connect to a small degree with Sally last season – and, as his ex-wife is always ready to tell him, he takes any opportunity he can to get out of seeing his kids.  In order to avoid doing any parenting – but not wanting to negate the television ban that was inflicted by Betty, due to his tearing of some misaligned wallpaper – Draper takes Bobby to the movies to see Planet of the Apes, which leads to a moment where Don finally has an amazing revelation – he loves his son!  Earlier, he had witnessed socially adept Joan give the most awkward hug in history to Dawn, his African-American secretary, in an attempt to comfort her; but now Don sees Bobby show much better empathy to a cleaner at the theatre, telling him that he should watch the movie as it’s what people do when they are sad.  Draper’s conversation with Megan, where he confesses that he had to pretend to have feelings for his children and feared that his own father felt the same way about him, was a brilliant performance by Jon Hamm and showed the anguish and internal strife that the character deals with, in a large part due to his own troubled youth.  To be fair to Don, I think every new parent worries about whether or not they will be able to love their child – though for most, myself included, this evaporates the moment you see and hold your newborn baby, whereas it has taken him more than a decade to figure out he should not need to fake it. Continue reading

This Week In: English Football – United Clinch 20th Title and Grown Man Bites Another Man

Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates his 13th title with Manchester United
Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates his 13th title with Manchester United

A fellow Spurs supporting friend and I were enjoying a post-match pint and a conversation about football – nothing unique about that – but in the course of our conversation, we discovered that we both find ourselves as de facto Manchester United fans, when they are not playing Tottenham of course.  To explain, back in the early 1990s, I could not stand the thought of United winning the league – they had not done so for 26 years prior to their title success in the 1992/3 campaign and it was much more familiar and acceptable to just see Liverpool win the Championship.  However, since the advent of the Premier League (which replaced the old Division One in August 1992), United have been the dominant force in English football and the only other teams to have won multiple titles since then are two of Tottenham’s biggest rivals – Arsenal and Chelsea (with Blackburn and Manchester City each claiming one).  The old adage of your enemy’s enemy becoming your friend has become the case with Manchester United – I cannot imagine Spurs finishing above the Old Trafford club, since they have not done so since 1990, so the best hope I have of Arsenal or Chelsea failing to win the league comes in the shape of the Red Devils triumphing instead.  Now, City have emerged as the main alternative to United, but have done so through a huge influx of money and are far from a likeable side – should they dominate the league for the next decade, I might become immune to their success also, in a way I never could for either Arsenal or Chelsea.

So, for 36 fixtures of their season, I actively root for United to beat whomever they are playing, then hope that they lose the two games against Spurs.  I wish that I could have a realistic expectation that my own team might actually challenge for the title but, until that happens, the lesser of two evils is Manchester United taking the Premier League Trophy, rather than anybody else.  Having said that, with their next two fixtures being Tottenham’s chief rivals for Champions League qualification, I was hoping that Sir Alex Ferguson’s men would come unstuck last Monday in their match with Aston Villa, delaying the confirmation of their 20th title win and meaning they would be more focused on beating Arsenal and Chelsea.  However, a first-half hat-trick from Robin Van Persie – who now has 24 in the Premiership and is sure to end the season with the Golden Boot, given the inactivity of a certain Uruguayan for the rest of the campaign – ensured that were no slip-ups and the supporters at Old Trafford were able to celebrate yet another League Championship success.

The reason that they had been able to clinch the title on Monday was that Tottenham had beaten second place City on Sunday, coming from 1-0 down to claim a 3-1 victory over the outgoing champions with three goals in seven second-half minutes.  For most of the match, Spurs had lacked ideas in the middle of the park and were showing no threat upfront, with Emmanuel Adebayor doing little more than occasionally holding the ball up.  To his credit, Andre Villas-Boas completely changed the course of the game with three substitutions – he removed Scott Parker and Gylfi Sigurdsson, to be replaced by Tom Huddlestone and Lewis Holtby, with the former in particular offering a new dimension of passing range; then brought on Jermain Defoe for Adebayor.  This immediately put City onto the back foot and before Roberto Mancini could respond, Gareth Bale had setup Clint Dempsey for the equaliser, Defoe scored a fantastic individual goal, and Bale sealed the points for the home side with a well-timed run and beautifully chipped finish.  Like a killer in a slasher movie, it appeared as though Tottenham’s season was dead and fans were taking stock of the carnage that had been wrecked, but suddenly they have sprung back to life – in all probability just to stab us supporters through the hearts once more – as they continue to have a top four finish in their own hands. Continue reading

Mad Men Season 6 Episode 4: To Have And To Hold

MM_604_JA_1210_0476In last week’s episode of Mad Men, we saw the apartment that Pete Campbell rents in Manhattan be used for one type of betrayal; this time , it was the setting for another form – as he and Don Draper held a clandestine meeting there with Timmy from Heinz in a bid to get the Ketchup business, going against the wishes of their current client, Raymond, who represents the company’s vinegar, sauces and beans department. This sets up the theme for the entire hour – the battle that people face between being loyal and their desire for more – be it love, money or admiration.

The mission to get the Ketchup account – cleverly codenamed “Project K”, which would hardly take an Enigma machine to crack – is supposed to be a secret one of which only Don, Pete and Stan are aware, but the latter’s indiscretion to Peggy in a phone conversation had clued Ted Chaough into the fact that the business might be up for grabs. Draper had believed strongly in showing loyalty to Raymond and his beans, as he had come to them at a time when the agency was on its knees and desperately needed the client, but he could not resist the extra prestige and money that would come from landing the premium product of Heinz. Ultimately, Don fails to land the account – and loses Raymond’s business as well – but does get to hear the work that his former protegé, Peggy, is now producing as he eavesdrops on Olson’s “Heinz: The Only Ketchup” pitch through the hotel room door – including her use of his line: “If they don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation”. While Draper is frustrated to hear that Heinz Ketchup has gone to the largest advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson, and has no interest in battling to be the most successful small firm with Chaough; the biggest hurt befalls Stan, who is upset that Peggy betrayed his confidence and exploited a private conversation between friends to attempt to land a big account for her new agency, which results in him flipping her off as he leaves the bar.

Outside of work, Don’s own infidelity continues with Sylvia, but he is forced to confront the image – if not the reality – of his wife having an affair, as she is given such a storyline for her pseudonym on the soap opera she works on. Wanting to be completely honest with her husband, Megan tells him all about the plot – despite knowing that he would never watch the show and thus she could have kept it as a secret. In what had been billed as an attempt to soften Don up, they have dinner with Mel and Arlene – a married couple who are the head writer and one of the stars of the show – but their true plan was to suggest to the Drapers that they all enjoy a night of smoking grass and swapping partners. While they are able to laugh off this offer of free love in the cab ride home, Don is unable to stop himself from going down to the set to watch Megan – for the first time – perform her love scenes and is angry when he believes that she enjoyed filming them. The complete hypocrisy of Draper is displayed when he admonishes his wife in her dressing room, suggesting that she might want to spend the night with Arlene and Mel who are more open-minded than him, then he is shown going to Sylvia’s apartment to continue his own, real affair.

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This Week In: English Football – United Falter, But Could Clinch Title Monday

Robin Van Persie celebrates his second goal in two matches - one a penalty, the other offside
Robin Van Persie celebrates his second goal in two matches – one a penalty, the other offside

Last weekend, Manchester United edged closer to their 20th league title with a 2-0 victory away at Stoke, thanks to goals from Michael Carrick and a penalty from Robin Van Persie, the first time the Dutchman had found the net in 11 matches.  However, on Wednesday they travelled to Upton Park, the ground on which they lost the championship on the final day of the 1994/5 season, when they were held to a draw by West Ham, gifting the Premiership trophy to Blackburn Rovers.  Once again, United struggled in East London and were twice behind to strikes by Ricardo Vaz Te and Mohamed Diame.  Nevertheless, United left with a point after equalisers from Antonio Valencia and Van Persie – though the latter’s goal should not have counted, as he was in an offside position when Shinji Kagawa struck a shot that hit both posts, before falling into the path of the Red Devils’ top scorer this season.  That draw, combined with Manchester City’s narrow – and scarcely deserved – 1-0 win against Wigan in midweek, cut the gap at the top to a mere thirteen points – with Mancini’s men only have 18 left to play for.  The title could be decided as early as Monday, should City lose away at Tottenham, then United beat Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

While the Premiership may have gotten away from them, Manchester City still have a great opportunity to claim a trophy for their third successive season, after a drought of 34 years before that, as they progressed to the FA Cup final with a 2-1 win over Chelsea last Sunday.  In the Wembley showpiece, City will face Wigan Athletic, who reached the final of the competition for the first time thanks to a 2-0 victory over Championship side Millwall.  Roberto Martinez’s side are also now guaranteed a place in the Europa League next season (because the Sky Blues will be in the Champions League even if they prevail in the FA Cup) alongside Swansea – who qualified by winning the League Cup – and the team that finishes fifth, one out of Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton or – most likely – Spurs.

In the battle to avoid the drop, Wigan remain in the bottom three following that loss at the Etihad on Wednesday, three points behind the trio of Aston Villa, who were held to a draw by Fulham at home; Stoke, following their loss against United; and Sunderland, who enjoyed an impressive North-East derby victory away at Newcastle last Sunday, winning 3-0 in Paolo DiCanio’s second match in charge.  Southampton and West Ham should both be safe as their shared the points at St. Mary’s last Saturday, but Queens Park Rangers and Reading moved ever closer to the Championship, after a 2-0 defeat against Everton and a 0-0 home draw with Reading respectively.  Norwich remain potential candidates for relegation after their 3-1 loss away at Arsenal, with all of the Gunners goals coming in the final five minutes to turn the match around, though their first was a very generous penalty given when Olivier Giroud was holding onto Kei Kamara’s shirt as much as the Sierra Leonean was grabbing the Frenchman’s.   Continue reading

The Boston Marathon Bombing

boston explosionMonday April 15th – Patriots Day in Massachusetts, a state holiday when most people are off work, had started brightly in the city of Boston. The Red Sox played a morning game at Fenway Park and won in the ninth inning – with all of the players wearing number 42 to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day – also today- in Major League Baseball. The marathon, run every year on this Monday, was in full swing and the elite runners crossed the finish line at around 1pm local time, while the pack continued to slog their way around one of the toughest courses over 26.2 miles. However, as the race clock was approaching 4 hours and 10 minutes, the priority of crossing the finish line suddenly became irrelevant, as two bombs exploded, killing at least 3 people – including an 8-year old boy – and injuring more than 130.

To say that running a marathon is hard is trite – of course dragging your body around 26.2 miles by foot is a feat of endurance, no matter how long it takes – but if your aim is just to complete the race, it is within most people’s capabilities. I have completed five of them, with times ranging from a respectable – but far from quick – 4hrs19 mins 57 seconds, to a struggle of 5hrs8mins around the New York course, a month after I suffered an ankle injury playing football. Something happens to me anywhere between miles 18 to 24 where I shut down mentally and/or physically and am unable to push myself to achieve the time goals I have set for myself, which from my first marathon in 2004 has been to break the four hour barrier. Nevertheless, on all five occasions I have gotten myself to the finish line, taken my medal and been disappointed by my time, while being pleased that it is over and money has been raised for charity.

What I have never experienced, is the exhiliration of achieving a different goal, one that many of my fellow running friends have managed – qualifying for Boston. There is something reverential about the way that distance runners talk about that marathon – just naming the city as your aim explains what your goal is – you are going to run 26.2 miles fast enough to get into the Boston Marathon – which has a graded time qualification entry system based on a person’s gender and age – for me, that would mean completing the distance in 3hrs 5 mins, a pace of 7 mins 4 seconds per mile. The point of all of this is to say that the very fact that although it measures the same distance as all of the others, the Boston Marathon – which also provides a challenging, hilly course for its competitors – has a special reverential place in the running community and those were competing in it today, were more than just your average marathoners. They were more than just your average people, too – reports came from local hospitals in the city that many who had completed the event, found their way to a place where they could then donate blood to aid those who had been injured, while many runners and officials at the scene were shown running into the area where one of the bombs had exploded to provide assistance.

Once again, a senseless act of violence has claimed the lives of innocent people – including a child – and we are forced to confront the reasons that our safety feels threatened. The biggest question that the news organisations have been raising is was this domestic of foreign terrorism and, depending on the answer, different narratives will immediately be played out. If it is discovered to be a group linked to Al Qaeda, then there will be calls for the United States to seek vengeance on whichever country the perpertrators are linked to, but if it was a far-right group who carried out the attack, they will be identified as an individual or small group of people who were lone wolves, without a wider cause – they will be captured and everybody will move on. This is exactly what happened after the Oklahoma City Bombing – Timothy McVeigh was labelled as the man outside of the system who had carried out the attack, he was tried, convicted and executed and the threat was eradicated. Right? As Jeff Bridge’s character – Michael Faraday – says in Arlington Road, our security is returned because we know the name of the man (domestic or foreign, I can guarantee it will have been a man or men who carried out this attack).

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Mad Men Season 6 Episode 3 – The Collaborators

Don sits with all of the people in his life he is honest with
Don sits with all of the people with whom he is honest

Tonight’s episode of Mad Men – which was directed by Jon Hamm – put two of its main characters – Don and Pete into awkward situations, where they were forced to act one way, when internally they feared the truth would be spoken and their charade exposed.  Both Draper and Campbell were reliant on the discretion of others – Sylvia and Brenda respectively – if they were to be able to maintain the illusion of the person they were pretending to be – only one of them was able to do so.

The hour opened with a dinner party hosted by Pete and Trudy Campbell, both of whom are having separate, flirtatious conversations with their guests from the neighborhood.  Pete sets up a rendezvous in his Manhattan apartment with one of the women, Brenda, but from the outset it is obvious that she is not used to doing this type of thing, as she ignores all of Campbell’s suggestive cues about drinks and whether the temperature was too hot as he attempts to get things moving.  Nevertheless, a direct approach works for the accounts man, but as they are getting dressed afterwards, Brenda has lots of “romantic” ideals about their triste, telling her lover that she will hang up the phone then call back so he knows it is her – prompting Pete to tell her “Don’t do that” – and will signal that she is thinking of him by the position of her car.  While Campbell was himself besotted with Beth, whom he had an affair with last season, this time around, he was clearly only interested in a one-time meeting, then moving on to the next woman.

However, this proves impossible when Brenda bangs on his door late one evening, bloodied at the hands of her husband after she had confessed to him her infidelity, putting Pete in a position where he has to act like he does not know what is going on, yet fearing inside that his complicity in the events will be discovered by his wife.  This concern proves to be well founded as Brenda tells Trudy the truth as she is being driven to a hotel, with Mrs. Campbell then informing her husband in the morning that she had tacitly granted permission to his philandering by allowing him to take an apartment in the city, but he had embarrassed her by sleeping with someone from their neighborhood.  Trudy insists that she will not be a failure by getting a divorce, but that they are over and Pete should only return to the house when she informs him to come and she will destroy him if he so much as urinates in a 50 mile radius of their home.

Don Draper has grown accustomed to pretending to be somebody he is not and his storyline in this episode was bracketed by flashbacks of his arrival to live at his Aunt and “Uncle’s” whorehouse with his foster-mother, a point in time when he was still known by the name of Dick Whitman.  In comparison to Pete, Don is much more adept at dealing with his affair with Dr. Rosen’s wife, Sylvia and dismisses her concern about how he can sit across from their spouses at dinner by telling her “I don’t even think about it” – the same claim he made to Ginsberg last season when the new recruit told Don he felt bad for him.  For much of the episode, as he did last week, Don is able to look his friend, Dr. Rosen in the face and not feel bad when he makes an excuse to go back up in the elevator, not for cigarettes as he claims, but to have sex with Sylvia.   Continue reading

This Week In: English Football – Tottenham Do It Again

We won the league, in black-and-white
We won the league, in black-and-white

Spurs are on their way to Wembley

Tottenham’s going to do it again

You can’t stop them

The boys from Tottenham

The boys from White Hart Lane

There was a time when that chant – adapted from a Chas and Dave song and which reverberates around the stadium any time Tottenham are leading in a domestic cup tie – made sense.  When Spurs lifted the F.A Cup in 1991, it was the eighth time they had triumphed in that competition – which was then the most of any club; they were the first British team to secure a European trophy, the Cup Winners Cup in 1963; and they had won either the League, FA Cup or a European competition in every decade since the 1950s.  Once, “Tottenham’s going to do it again” did mean a trip to Wembley and some silverware but, in the past two decades, it has acquired a whole new definition.

Since that victory over Nottingham Forest in 1991, Tottenham have managed to add just two League Cups (in 1999 and 2008) to their trophy cabinet and have never finished about fourth in the league – achieving that mark just twice.  Some Spurs fans may gloat about the number of seasons that Arsene Wenger has gone without bringing silverware to Arsenal (this current campaign brings the tally to 8); but in the 22 years that us Tottenham supporters have seen just two fizzy cup triumphs, the red half of North London have claimed four league championships and five FA Cups (bringing their total all time wins in that competition to ten).  Nowadays, when pundits or fans talk of “Tottenham doing it again”, it refers to the collapse that the club suffers at some point between February and May that undoes all of the good work and expectation that has been built up in the first half of the campaign.  This year, the sudden dip in form may have come later than many other seasons, but the end result will be exactly the same – disappointment and disillusionment for Spurs supporters; while Arsenal and Chelsea fans enjoy all of the bragging rights in London.

Adebayor puts his penalty exactly where every Spurs fan knew he would, row z
Adebayor puts his penalty exactly where every Spurs fan knew he would, row z

The pain of Thursday’s Europa League exit was not caused by the performance – though the team looked flat without Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe available – nor was it the result of drawing 2-2 and holding out for penalties away from home and playing with 10 men for all of extra-time.  What the worst part for Spurs fans was the crushing inevitability of the defeat.  They were hampered by injuries, but that only proved the point that having two first-team strikers in your squad is not enough, especially when one of them is Emmanuel Adebayor, who did not work hard enough leading the line and made it look like there was no “F’ in effort.  Team selection was once again questionable, in particular the absence of Hugo Lloris – I think Brad Friedel has been a great goalkeeper, but his time has past: he makes too many mistakes; the defenders clearly no longer trust him; and he looks every single one of his 41 years  The one thing that every living Tottenham fan knew though, was that when the match went to a penalty shootout, it was already all over for our team.  An approximation of my trail of thought during the sudden death contest: “well we know Friedel will not be able to get down quickly enough to save one, so they need to miss if we are to have any chance…who is up first for us?…Tom Huddlestone…but he has not put the ball in the net for two years, why would he be up first…and he misses…Sigurdsson will score, but this is already over as they will score all of there’s…goal…Adebayor next?…where’s the remote?”  That defeat makes it seven consecutive penalty shootout losses that Spurs have suffered – two of which (against Liverpool in 2004 and Middlesbrough in 2003) I had the misfortune of being in the stand behind the goal for – with their last success coming in 1994 against the mighty Peterborough.   All of which begs the questions – even with a man down for extra-time, why on earth did we play for penalties? Continue reading

Mad Men Season 6 Episodes 1 & 2 – The Doorway

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

Dante’s Inferno – Canto I

MM_MY_602_1031_0212.SizedMad Men returned on Sunday night to start it’s sixth season and – as was the case last year, which culminated in the suicide of Lane Pryce – the theme of death surrounded both the show and Don Draper. With the action returning at Christmastime in 1967, only eight months have passed since Draper found himself cutting down his colleague and drinking buddy, Lane, who hung himself in his own office, so that mortality would be on Don’s mind is not a surprise. He has a new friend, Dr. Rosen, who is a cardiac surgeon who lives in the same building as the Drapers, but Don is in awe of his work and questions him about what it feels like to have someone’s life in his hands; fears that when the doctor shows up early to the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices it means that his patient died. Draper also displays his obsession with mortality by questioning Jonesy, the doorman, what he witnessed when his heart stopped beating; and he unwittingly creates an ad campaign for Sheraton that makes people think of suicide.

Nevertheless, it is not just within the realms of the show’s anti-hero’s subconscious that the theme of death is present, rather it is omniscient throughout the premiere, with references from several characters (Bobby says he likes Sandy’s violin case as it reminds him of a coffin; Roger says that his mother’s requiem is “his funeral”) but there is a special focus on Don’s mortality. As Draper sits at the hotel bar on O’Ahu, he hears Private First Class Dinkins say that his passed out friend “is either dead or has great balance”; during the wedding ceremony on the beach, the brief part of the vows that are heard include “Till death us do part”; and the very opening of the episode focused on a man being resuscitated (by Dr. Rosen) while we hear Megan’s voice. While the person who had suffered the heart attack ended up being Jonesy, it still made the audience contemplate Don’s death and this happens again at the start of the second hour, which begins with a shot of Draper lying in bed, in a view that looked very much like he was in a casket. This was very reminiscent of the beginning of the final episode of The Sopranos (a show that Mad Men creator – and writer of last night’s episode – Matthew Weiner worked on and he scripted the penultimate hour of that series) with Tony appearing as he would in a coffin, while funereal tones play from the alarm clock and if you believe, as I do, that this was one of the clues to what ultimately happened at Holsten’s diner, then the fate of Don Draper is looking very ominous.

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This Week In: English Football – The Gallas Effect and the Irrelevant Manchester Derby

Gallas - the heat of Tottenham's defensive problems
Gallas – the heat of Tottenham’s defensive problems

Although Tottenham succeeding in stopping their run of defeats at three, with a 2-1 victory away at Swansea last Saturday, inept defending once again cost them in the first leg of their Europa League tie against Basel on Thursday, as they conceded two goals in four first-half minutes.  Spurs managed to claw their way back to earn a 2-2 draw, but the return match in Switzerland next week in all likelihood now requires them to come away with a victory, as a 0-0 or 1-1 scoreline would see them exit the competition on the away goals rule.  Some players in the back line can look fantastic one week, then awful in the next fixture – most notably Jan Vertonghen, who combined twice with Gareth Bale in the match against Swansea for a goal and an assist – but there is one squad member who has been very consistent – William Gallas.

As he had previous plied his trade for both Arsenal and Chelsea, Gallas was not a popular recruit amongst us Tottenham supporters when he was brought to the club in the summer of 2010, but his performances this season have spoken for themselves – he has been awful.  The former French international has played 22 matches* for the club in all competitions this campaign and in those fixtures, Spurs have conceded 32 goals – an average of 1.333 per game; whereas when Gallas has not been on the field, Tottenham have allowed the opponents to score just 22 in 24 games – a rate of 0.91.  Poor positioning, bad decision-making and a woeful lack of pace are the chief complaints that can be leveled against Gallas, but he also frustrates in the opponent’s penalty area, where he continues to believe he should be the target of every corner or free-kick, yet fails to convert even the easiest of chances – a far cry from the player who for Chelsea, ruined my one trip to Stamford Bridge with a 90th minute 25-yard screamer to send Spurs to a 2-1 defeat in 2006.  If Tottenham are to have any chance of finishing inside the top four and progressing further in the Europa League, the biggest factor that can help them achieve these goals is not the health of Gareth Bale – who is expected to miss at least a fortnight following a bad-looking ankle injury sustained in the final minute of last night’s game – rather that Andre Villas-Boas stops picking William Gallas in his side.

*Giving him credit for the away match against Fulham, in which he came on in the 17th minute to replace the injured Michael Dawson; but discounting his substitute appearance versus West Brom where he came on for the last 18 minutes only.

Guernsey's Fixtures in April
Guernsey’s Fixtures in April

Chelsea have played three games in the last seven days and came away with victories in both of the cup ties – against Manchester United in the FA Cup and Rubin Kazen in the Europa League – but lost 2-1 at Southampton in the Premiership last Saturday.  That defeat saw them slip below Tottenham into fourth place, just two points above Arsenal, who beat Reading 4-1 at the Emirates, with Everton a further two points back in sixth following their victory over Stoke.  Rafa Benitez’s men now face another three games inside seven days, but their congested fixture list is nothing compared with the one that Guernsey of the Combined Counties League must contend with in April.  Due to numerous postponements, Guernsey – an island in the English Channel – must now play 15 games inside 30 days this month, including three matches in 42 hours next weekend, but they did start that run with a 6-1 away victory against Windsor last Monday. Continue reading