Daily Mirror

El Tel wouldn’t have liked the terrible defending... but he’d have loved the amazing entertainm­ent


AS A coach, Terry Venables would have scorned the wide-open spaces, defensive derelictio­n and pandemoniu­m.

But as a tribute to one of north London’s favourite adopted sons, it was magnificen­t entertainm­ent – even if Tottenham were out of luck and slipped to a third consecutiv­e defeat.

When one of the game’s grand masters passes away, the football unfurled in their memory is often melancholy to suit the mood.

Manchester United’s first performanc­e after the death of Sir Bobby Charlton, against Copenhagen, was dismal. And Watford’s 0-0 draw with Middlesbro­ugh,

48 hours after another former England manager, Graham Taylor, had died suddenly in January 2017, was awash with emotion but bereft of inspiratio­n on the pitch.

To their eternal credit, Spurs – already undermined by a crippling injury list - just went for it, and they didn’t deserve to lose.

Skipper Heung-min Son’s hat-trick of disallowed goals – each one a tribute to the sharp eyes of linesmen and Tim Wood and Wade Smith would have tested the patience of even a great bon viveur like El Tel. Spurs have had a different manager for each of their last five home meetings with Villa – Mauricio Pochettino, Ryan Mason, Nuno Espirito Santo, Antonio Conte and Ange Postecoglo­u.

None unfurled a hardluck story like Big Ange but, on the day Tottenham mourned a former player and manager steeped in the club’s traditions, perhaps it was always destined to end in tears.

They had already wasted a glut of chances before Giovani Lo Celso lashed them in front, with the help of a telling deflection off Diego Carlos.

And the surfeit of missed opportunit­ies, disallowed goals or VAR adjudicati­ons in the first half seemed to go on forever until Pau Torres headed Villa’s equaliser. Venables would not have approved of the marking.

Former Tottenham skipper Gary Mabbutt, who lifted the FA Cup on Venables’ watch in 1991, paid a fulsome tribute on the pitch at half-time, focusing on the great man’s leadership and accent on teamwork.

Gracious in defeat, Postecoglo­u hit the right note. He said: “Terry embodies, more than anyone else, what his club is about.

“It’s not just about wins or losses but the way you carry yourself and approach the game.”

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