Befuddledstone, More Like…Oh Dear

Spurs v Bolton – we could have lost, should have won, and we’ll win the replay.

I doubt very much if there is a team in the League that is more frustrating to watch at the moment than our beloved Spurs. Capable of so much, we deliver so little at times. Used to asking the question pre-match, ‘which Tottenham team is going to turn up?’, after yesterday we now have to pose the same query at half-time as well because who knows what they are going to come up with? Problem is, I suspect they don’t have any idea either.

Players make mistakes and teams go through bad spells. Intensely irritating but after all these years I’m used to it. What really grates, what digs around deep down inside and contorts my innards into a tight aching throbbing mass of bile-filled fury that bubbles and froths until it is fit to burst open the lining of my stomach, shatter the rib cage and spew into the light drenching the room with rancorous acid, is when we don’t learn. And round about now, it feels like we never learn. Nine days ago our performance against Aston Villa was arguably the best of the season, albeit with a few too many long balls. We dominated the match by imposing ourselves on a quality team and by sustaining our effort and application for 90 minutes. Our centre midfield of Wilson Palacios and Tom Huddlestone ran the show. A few days later, we don’t bother to get off the coach at Wolves. Redknapp was severely at fault with a team selection that unnecessarily disrupted our continuity but no such excuses yesterday. Watching from the high television position at the Reebok, at times our team looked like Subbuteo figures on a giant pitch, spread out far and wide and just as mobile. I would have given them more than a flick to wake them, I can tell you. Memo to HR- at the next team talk make sure they understand that when you talk about making space, it’s not supposed to be space for the other team.

And while I’m at it – Wolves, remember, no graft, concentration or application and the pain of defeat. This all meant nothing as they carried on from where they left off up there. Maybe there is no pain in defeat after all, but there is for us fans.

Freed from the evil clutches of the ogre Megson, Bolton skipped and gamboled in the wide open meadows of our midfield. Hud and WP clearly enjoyed their pleasant passing game, watching from afar as they made several chances. Mind you, marking Elmander, sitting back was a perfectly reasonable option, just wait for him to blaze it wide. And high. Into touch. Goal kick or throw in, it was all the same to him, and we defended well enough in the box under the Bolton set-piece bombardment.

Then came their goal, well-worked and very well taken by Davies. We failed to put any pressure on the ball in the centre of the pitch. Then, Dawson chose to go with his man across the box. He could have passed him on to a left sided defender but his choice not to should not have been fatal. However, not one of the midfield opted to drop back and cover, so we had only our back four in or near the box when Elmander (oh the irony) crossed it.

Still we did not get the hint. Hud and WP consistently failed to come back to cover their back four, and as absolutely nothing was going on up front, I really don’t know how they accounted for their time. The TV angle means you can’t see so much off the ball and of course ITV kept it especially tight for fear of revealing the sparsely populated Reebok stands and thus giving the game away that actually the Cup was not quite the attraction that every commentator stated it was, every 5 minutes. However, there were two other occasions where these two were ambling back in the face of a Bolton attack, whereas they should have been hammering back at full speed and with total dedication. Wolves would have, Villa would have, so why can’t we?

Enough of the first half. It was a stinking measly effort on our part, reeking of apathy. Harry’s half time team talk had no effect whatsoever as the pattern continued as if the break had not happened. Then Crouch beat the keeper to a cross, hit the bar and everything changed. Without playing especially well we were on top for the rest of the game. Not much of a plan was apparent but at least we had a spring in our step. Kranjcar replaced the sorry-looking Modric, a player upon whom the future success of the club depends but who left the pitch looking forlorn and unloved, reflecting on what was a poor effort on his part. The ease with which we took over said much about the standard of the opposition. They are a decent team, much improved under Coyle but they were stretched under pressure, especially from Bale, our man of the match with his determination, pace and direct running from left back. His advances not only provided chances but also cut off the lingering threat from Lee Chung Yong on the Bolton right as he had to firstly drop back to cover then was substituted in favour of a defender.

Defoe’s goal when it came was a fine move out of place with the rest of our display. He’s been wasting chances of late but this time it was one touch, a perfect touch, one goal. Sadly we didn’t give him much else as the rest of the afternoon was spent in frustration as Crouch’s touches went, well, nowhere near him. More long balls and, from Bentley, poor crosses – it’s not the way forward and Crouch’s good performance against Villa became a distant memory.

Penalties are all in the mind and most Spurs fans winced when Big Tom stepped into the role abdicated by Defoe. He hasn’t got the head for this sort of pressure. For a moment or two I was optimistic as he calmly kept his eyes firmly on the ball while the referee sorted the rest out. Having seen JD miss several penalties after doing a cocky little oh-so-clever Strictly Come Dancing run-up, what else is the lad going to do but his own version of the poxy paso doble.  How could it have conceivably crossed his mind that he should take a penalty in this way, especially as Tevez converted a spot kick on TV only a few days before. Didn’t someone tell him? Doesn’t he know he strikes a ball superbly? JUST HIT IT! And Harry’s quote this morning about how in training he just hits them is frankly not at this point reassuring in any way.

I don’t know why I’m making light of this – it was pathetic. More self-inflicted harm from the Marshmallow Men. So it’s back to the Lane where we will win the replay. It’s the long way round but we are two games from a semi-final and if we play to our potential then the Cup is still on. However, the attitude and effort from the players needs to be massively improved before we can think of scoring a goal, never mind win a trophy. Redknapp’s managerial skills are being seriously tested for the first time since we climbed clear of the relegation zone about this time last year.

Finally, thanks and good wishes to the Spurs fans up there, who could be heard loud and clear on TV. I’m not sure the club deserve you.

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21 thoughts on “Befuddledstone, More Like…Oh Dear

  1. Well written report. I hope to have the same optimism as you about the replay. On paper we should win and I really hope we do. The ‘on paper’ feeling this season though suggests that the phrase means nothing – I give you Stoke, Wolves, Hull, Villa. I rest my case

    COYS

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  2. Good article especially the graffic description of our frustrations! I am sure if you asked 100,000 Spurs fans who should have taken that penalty surely none would have said Hud. Some would have given Jermain another go but what about Krancjar? Bentley or anyone else we use to take free kicks outside the box? My thoughts were that it was more likely the ball was going to be seen flying over White Hart Lane than hit the back of the net. It was a shit penalty and he should have been nowhere near it. So bloody frustrating.

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  3. “So it’s back to the Lane where we will win the reply”…Yes, of course. Does losing to both Wolves and Stoke at home not create any sort of doubts in your mind? Clearly not. This sort of arrogance is the reason why 99% of fans love watching Spurs’ season unfold. It always seems to end the same way doesn’t it? Good day.

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    • Thanks for commenting, Ryan.

      For the record, I think we will win the replay. And this blog stinks of doubt. About the team, and in the ‘Always On My Mind’ category, self-doubt too. It’s all laid bare…

      Cheers, Al

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  4. I’ve said all season that Huddlestone, improved as he has been in some Lane performances, just isn’t good enough to play in our mid-field. Forget the penalty (if only we could) he just doesn’t control the game when the other team press.

    I feel sorry for DeFoe who gets absolutely no service whatever from CM or from his strike partner Crouch. We all saw what he can do when given the opportunity by Bale.

    I think if Harry put Krankjar in CM with Palacios, moved Bale to LM and put Ekotto at LB we would have a much more balanced team with some bite as well as skill in the centre and a great attacking option on the left. When Lennon returns this could prove very exciting, especially if Pav gets a few games instead of Crouch.

    Modric, for me, has been a disappointment…lots of running but no end product.

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    • It would be great to see Harry change the team as much as you’ve suggested, Bale in a more attacking role is mouth watering, and would be fantastic when BAE is back. I think Modric is a great player just dont think he’s performed to his potential since his injury, give him time and he will improve I’m sure of it. In the mean time we have Nico is a great asset and made some good chances when he came on yesterday.

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  5. I’ve been watching Spurs from South Africa for almost 30 years now and I couldn’t agree more with this article. I’ve been thinking that perhaps I’ve been missing something being on the other side of the world. Too many times now in the recent past have we seen our boys playing the game as if it were a practice match, with no heart or conviction. Now I am aware that this game has become very much a business, so I don’t expect every player to kiss the badge at the start of every game and after every goal scored and have the passion like all us fans do, but at least fight for the money part of it. Imagine the extra money they could get for winning the FA Cup or getting into Champions League. Dare I say, it almost looks like the players don’t really care if they win or lose. I hate to use this example, but have a look at Wayne Rooney when Man Utd lose or even when he makes a mistake. He looks miserable and really p’d off!

    We have the talent, but we need more of that aggression and heart and I think that is down to the Manager and the Captain to instill that in the players.

    If only they had half the passion of the Spurs fans!

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    • Good to hear from you Sam.

      I watch them from close up every other week, 14 rows from the front in fact, but it’s obviously the same from 6000 miles away. There are several posts on the blog about resilience and mental toughness. You don’t have to care about the club as much as we fans do, but you have to hate losing.

      Regards,

      Al

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  6. Good post indeed. Poor performance except Gareth Bale.Performances without heart are unacceptable, but we’ve also been playing really well, including both games against Vlla, and we haven’t won. A myriad of chances but no goals. There’s summat wrong up front! I really don’t understand why Harry doesn’t play Pav. He looked incisive and effective against Leeds and that with hardly any time on the pitch. It’s not just about effort, scoring is also about timing and skill.

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  7. Since Tom is erratic with his shots, I would have chosen Kranjcar to take that penalty. One person I think who would be a good penalty taker but he has to be on the pitch, is PAV simply because he is cool, clever, calculated and a really skillful striker.

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  8. Since a penalty can decide the outcome of a match as it would have done yesterday if Tom had succeeded, it is terribly important for Harry to start selecting at least three of his players and get them to practise taking penalties regularly and intensively. Just think of the number of matches we would have won if only we had scored on penalties. I understand missing the odd one but not that many and not by a team of our calibre. Something must be wrong..

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  9. Did you see ohara against southampton, why is he there and Jenas here?.He was brilliant,that is what we are lacking at the moment,fighting spirit,Harry you are a muppet, for sure.

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  10. There is something fundamentally wrong with out setup when Gareth Bale comes out and says that the team don’t even practise pens much in training. Has redknapp and the coaching staff ever asked themselves ‘What if we get to the end of a replay plus extra time of a cup game and it goes to pens?’ Then we’re screwed basically.

    It astounds me that this goes on at a premier league club. Have we learnt nothing from the shambles that was our pen shootout in the Carling cup final last season?! We matched united all over the pitch that day. And if it werent for some shocking pens, we could have another trophy in the cabinet. As John says in an earlier post, we could have won matches this season like everton with players that can actually take a pen. We need 3 or so regular 1st team players who practise week in, week out are good solid pen takers. They also need to have the ability to deal with this high pressure situation. For all his faults, at least we could rely on keane to take a decent pen!! Get Modders or Krankjar next on pens I say, whoevers on the pitch at the time. Otherwise, even though he may be a bit young for that kinda pressure, its not as if Bale is short on confidence. Hes got a sweet left foot.

    No doubt we will make a meal of the replay at White hart Lane. Remember guys, no games are easy ones and nothing can be taken for granted, esp when you support spurs! What happened to the football we were playing before the turn of the year? Even when we drew or lost against teams like Stoke, I still thought to myself afterwards that we played some good attacking, entertaining football. Most importantly, we were consistantly good week in, week out. I dont understand whats happened of late.

    Why Redknapp had to go and change the lineup for wolves is beyond me. If players are fit, they should play. Just because they have got another game in 3/4 days, so what? They can hack it. They are pro footballers! Redknapp says there were other players who needed games. If they arent good enough to be a first 11 starter, then they bide their time and sit it out on the bench! Im sure if we’d played any of the top 4, he would have played his strongest team. Why should this game have been treated any differently? Just because they are Wolves? Well thats a team thats done the double over us now. Look at Birmingham, theyve had the same team every game for the last 13 years now. Dont get me wrong, I think redknapp has worked wonders for us and we owe him a lot. he’s a legend. But Kaboul, a left sided centre back being played at RB? How can he justify tactics like this?

    We cant just rely on Lennon once he’s back and sweep these probs under the carpet. These need to be addressed. What if he gets injured again?

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  11. We need to get Pav playing with Defoe. At least try something new?! Theyd be good together as we’ve seen on the odd occasion. Clearly theres something up with Pav or he’d have been tested by now, prob his attitude as he wants out. Shame. Also need Ohara back, he could do a great job for us in Midfield, at least we’d have a bit of variety for Redknapp to play with. Plus he is a hard worker and always trying, most of the squad could learn a lot from his attitude. Jenas should never touch a spurs shirt again! Sorry for my long-ass rant. Had so much to get off my chest!

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  12. i cant belive what im reading here we went up to a ground where we havent won in god knows how long we take over the place in vast numbers we played them off the park in the second half and we get another crack at them back at the lane lennon will be back to scare the crap out of them fulham waitimg the winners i think we should look at the positives of our team instead of looking for negitaves we are two games from wembley we have as good a chance as anybody left in the cup we are still in the running for forth spot can somebody tell me what is wrong last season we would have killed for a run like this wisr up get behind the team and dont become like arsenal supporters yapping about what might have been we are there on merit and we are looking like a good team for the first time in years

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  13. My boss called to talk business just as we won the penalty. There I am, trying to talk in a voice of calm and professional authority on weighty topics … and then Hud trickles the ball into the goalie’s arms. I burst, utter frustration and fury, am laying into Hud with every expletive, every foul and filthy noun and adjective in my (limited) vocabulary. A long silence. “Ehem …. everything OK???” Hard to explain really. The pathetic penalty, I mean, not the reaction.

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  14. “What really grates, what digs around deep down inside and contorts my innards into a tight aching throbbing mass of bile-filled fury that bubbles and froths until it is fit to burst open the lining of my stomach, shatter the rib cage and spew into the light drenching the room with rancorous acid, is when we don’t learn.”

    Classic. Good write up. Thanks.

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