Spurs and the League – They Weren’t Bothered and Frankly Neither Am I

I know it is really just some knockabout fun on a Saturday night but sometimes the X-Factor really gets to me. It’s not so much the lousy acts or the fact that the World’s Most Revolting Man leers out of the screen – I can and do turn away until it’s gone. It’s not even the fact that millions of people take part in a process that exists for one major purpose – to make Simon Cowell very, very rich.

The X-Factor distorts our perceptions about what is good and what is bad, where people win a tumultuous standing ovation apparently for their use of hair gel, where one of the last eight (mercifully I don’t know his name) was recently described as a ‘genius’. The currency of talent has been devalued to such an extent by this and other reality shows that we struggle to know what truly matters. Can we tell the difference these days?

Soul music, pure true, soul music is just that, from deep down inside, pure and fundamental. Several years ago on one reality show, a contestant was struggling with the singing teacher to grasp the plea to ‘put more soul into it.’ Suddenly the penny dropped: bright eyed she gasped, ‘I’ll sing louder then!’ It’s my metaphor for the times in which we live.

The League Cup is hardly the football equivalent of Jedward but it does require the application of a sense of proper perspective. It can be good fun in the later stages but in the end it does not matter that much. Certainly it is no benchmark by which to judge Spurs progress and development.

Against Manchester United we saw plenty of the new Tottenham but unfortunately traces of the old regime. In the first half some lovely confident, bouncy passing movements buoyed by enthusiastic overlapping full backs in Bale and Hutton saw us breach their defence on several occasions, to be thwarted by good goalkeeping and Keane’s dilly dallying.

For both goals, however, the old failings of a midfield not protecting the back four – they were there in body but not mind or spirit. A one-two and in the absence of cover, a centre back has to leave the safety of their box to close down, leaving space behind them. Then, our strikers became increasingly detached and any late challenge predictably was not forthcoming.

Over the last few games we have become used to better as the full potential of men like Lennon, Huddlestone, Defoe and Kranjcar has been unleashed. However, nothing significant is to be read into this performance and there’s little to be learned that we did not already know. The flowing passing game is fast becoming ingrained but we remain vulnerable defensively, although as a whole the team is moving forward. Everton is a much truer test, partly because they will be well organised and hard to break down, partly because the Premier League matters.

The prospect of a trip to Wembley is incentive even for this grizzled sceptic and with a fair degree of hypocrisy I take an illicit pleasure in the semi-finals and finals, a little like going up to bed as a young man then listening to Radio Luxembourg under the covers. Like the League Cup it wasn’t so good but pop music seemed so much more important then, so you put up with the signal fading in and out just to be part of something special and mysterious. Our triumph against Chelsea was undoubtedly a great day, the tension stretched to breaking point because of our lack of success in recent years and the London rivalry. But Sky’s frantic hype about a Wembley final and the prospect of Europe cannot compensate for this trophy’s fading appeal. Even the carrot of a place in the Europa league means little given the contempt with which that competition is treated.

So if we have a trophy that the big clubs don’t want to bother with, then why should the players? I know one answer – they should give 100% in every game and that’s what they are paid shedloads to do. But the human psyche is phenomenally powerful. It works in mysterious ways, functioning on levels way below the conscious. The doubts about the competition may be securely hidden from the individual players themselves, immune to the most rousing of motivational team talks.

Not even Henry V could have got through to Bentley, Palacios and Jenas the other night, let alone our own King Harry. However, HR chooses to share his priorities with ‘arry’s ‘acks a day or two before the game, and the League Cup is pretty low down the list. He should have kept his mouth shut; the players cannot fail to absorb some of that. What we are talking about here is that extra 2 or 3 per cent that makes the difference between winning and losing. The team played some decent football in the first half – it’s rare that teams playing United have a greater share of the possession. However, after the two goals we did not possess the wit, wisdom or desire to claw our way back into the match. It felt like, if it happens, it happens, if not then, well…
Those vague performances by Basson, Palacios, Hud and JJ were about the missing 2%.

If we are questioning the wisdom of this tournament, we English fans who delight in our payers running themselves into the ground week in week out, for whom the never-ending fixture list is a merely a test of true manhood, then what on earth does a Honduran make of it? Wilson does care, of course he does, but that extra yard or two, one further lung busting sprint back…. A week’s rest would have done him good.

It was not a good performance and in many ways a missed opportunity, but there are no meaningful judgements to be made about players or the team. HR must enable them to focus on Sunday and the true test of a tough but winnable away match at Everton.

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18 thoughts on “Spurs and the League – They Weren’t Bothered and Frankly Neither Am I

  1. Arry got this all wrong. Talking down the importance of the game was an own goal. We’re not too good for this competition and its a route to europe. This habit of regarding ourselves as a sort of honorary champions league side is not the way to become one. We’ll be ready for the champions league when we’ve shown we can mount a serious euroean campaign in the europa cup.

    Not bothered? I am.

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  2. True, the Carling Cup is treated by the bigger sides as little more than a chance to give some of the less experienced players some competitive experience.

    You’re also right that Redknapp ought to have kept his trap shut before the game. Only a fool doesn’t already know that, this season, the league is everything. It doesn’t have to be broadcast nationally.

    What troubles me though is the mentality of some of the ‘fringe’ players out there on Tuesday night, and I include Jenas in that. What a perfect opportunity missed for them to let Redknapp know that they want to, and indeed can, play a bigger part in the grand scheme. Where was the fight? Only Bale and to a lesser extent, Dawson, can come away from that game with any positives.

    History has proven that to beat them on their own patch, even against a ‘weaker’ side, nothing less than a full strength side along with a ref who has eyes will do. So if the plan was to give some of the fringe players match time, why not go the whole hog? Why not rest Lennon, Palacios and Defoe and any others that are to be deployed this coming Sunday.

    The team selection was neither here nor there, a mish mash of the mediocre along with players that would have benefited more by not playing at all. I’m having a gripe now, but it was the same tepid display and muddled tactics against them last year in the FA cup.

    Against any Manure side, either full strength or don’t bother at all.

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  3. Alan some of your comments where spot on but there is one glaring problem if you have heard my rantings on various bloggs you would would no what’s coming. Apart from the two goals UTD so called kids where full of energy especially in the second half and was the main different in the first half with the blocks and saves. We had players with no future at Spurs but UTD had players desperate to save there’s Fergie is the best media manipulator in the premiership and when he defended is kids for the defeat in Europe and UTDS proud record lost he was telling them same players win or your out by praising them he was making sure they did whatever it took to win. And this is a big problem amongst clubs in financial le trouble and the amount of games that are baffling pundits bookmakers and fans is staggering .Here is a few examples Barca beat everybody this year and got beat by a team from Russia at home.Stoke beat us and then the same goalkeeper conceded four in the cup and has not played since .Real Madrid got beat in the Spanish cup by a third division team.The list goes on and with these teams it don’t make a difference if there best players are missing because its all energy closing down chasing the ball and snatching goals if you watched every game you would see the same thing players in mesmeric hypnotic looks all chasing the ball and this is what UTD and STOKE did to win and what another club will do on Sunday no matter who they put on the field this energy is what we need to achieve if we are going to get in to the top four or it will be the same top five again unless the FA and UK sport act on energy cheats .

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    • Thanks for commenting. Don’t think drugs play a part. Anyway, motivation is the most powerful force in the game.

      I read today that Harry was so furious with the performance, he wouldn’t speak to the media. If it matters so much, he should have played a better team and kept quiet.

      Regards,

      Al

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  4. You’re persistent if nothing else Davspurs, and for that you deserve credit, but do you honestly believe ol’ Red nose would risk illegally ‘energising’ his kids to play an understrength Tottenham that have failed to beat them at OT for over 20 years?

    If drug abuse is to blame in this sorry little episode, I’d be more inclined to believe that it was our boys that were under the influence of some kind of opiate, such was the lethargy.

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  5. TMWNN The answer to you would Fergie allow is team to cheat is no he would not but is medical staff or some of his players on there own could the answer is yes on both counts and i ask you if you found out like i did and you could tell by watching teams then would you keep quite .When i see a prem player banned for taking this enrgy drug then i will stop because its getting me down watching cheats week in and week out running with no panting and looking like there starving .Who told Kenny to take Ephedrine’well he said it was a chemist mistake giving him cough mixture .When i discovered a whole team in the top four last year 2 year ago and that was the man who helps them fix injurys.the end

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  6. DavSpurs maybe a little grammar and proper punctuation in your countless rants (on nearly every Spurs blog) would actually help people understand your point. And not make them consider that you in fact are the one under the influence of drugs. Take a deep breath and think your thoughts out before you type.
    Also to the author – is Wilson not Costa Rican? Pedantic I know but agreed with rest of the sentiment, no desire or interest shown by anyone past 60 minutes the other night. It was like they just accepted they were out and could (dangerous assumption) fall back on their league games and form.

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  7. I agree with most of what you say – in sentiment I can’t confirm the X-Factor’s precise role in the devalueing of any of concept of talent or genius, as I have never found the mental strength to watch it, whilst there are objects with which I could self-harm in the house (and, given my understanding of what the X-Factor is, is just about anything, including fridge/freezer doors slammed on self’s head), but my gut says you are right.
    Unfortunately, yeah the CC can be fun when you get to the latter stages, and that is precisely wherre we were. No matter that there were some second string players in, the attitude was too blasé, and the surrender after their goals was abject, gutless and quite frankly embarrassing. I was literally enraged. They – commentators, United fans – were laughing at us. Fergie takes every opportunity to give us a patronising pat onthe head and he was true to form on Tuesday night – and I, for one, am pretty sure that that helps create the clear psychological inferiority the players feel when playing them.
    ‘Arry was angry and so should we all be. Hopefully it will just be a one off – but it was a one off I would have preferred against any other club (bar one – and we know who that is), for stated reason.

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    • Thanks Sean, you’re right, there was an opportunity but Fergie’s mind games (love that phrase, don’t quite know why) are less important than the seeds of doubt sowed by HR.

      And keep away from the fridge tonight, mate.

      Regards, Al

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  8. Alan, all I know is we started off on the right foot. Applying pressure in the all the right places but there just seemed to be a lack of creativity once again. If Defoe had some proper chances against their young keeper, I believe he would have given him hell! Why is it that we seem to always lose when we don’t have any Croatian creativity on the pitch?

    COYS!

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  9. WHY OH WHY does Harry not give Kyle a chance to show his worth, surely this game would have been ideal for him.Hutton and DB had a poor game, could Harry have played him in either role?

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