Always on top but never entirely comfortable. Our main goalscorer notches two but has a mare. The pressure’s on for the top four but we’re not morning people. Just mere Monday meanderings on my mind…
That’s not a completely accurate summary of Spurs against Blackburn but it was a bit of an odd one. We played some decent football without ever displaying a sense of urgency that should have accompanied this crucial home game. Every match is crucial from now until the end of the season but with a difficult run of games fast approaching on the horizon, if we can’t put Blackburn away then we are nothing and nowhere. I thought we would come out with all guns blazing but we never stamped our authority on the game. Partly this was down to our opponents’ organisation but we could have been more pro-active and better teams would have made us pay by taking one of those first chances, or indeed a better ref could have given a penalty when Dunn went over. The lethargy with which we began crept back into our play as the second half went on, and after Samba scored I feared that we would not be able to lift ourselves out of that torpor, but Bale and Pav came to the rescue after a few unnecessary scares. At least that bit was completely normal – for a Spurs performance that is.
Palacios had another excellent game, curbing his instincts to fly in and to get forward on behalf of the team. By staying back he allows Modric the freedom he requires. Also, his ability to make good choices has been improved by the pressure of the nine bookings. Remaining on his feet is more of an imperative now and he looks all the better for it. Our tally of free kicks near our box has dropped too. You could see the anxiety, though – at one point he fouled and Webb thought about it but Daws dashed up to wag a single finger in the ref’s face, reminding him that this was his first foul (which it wasn’t but Daws’ problems with maths suited us at that moment). A few wayward passes when he lost concentration during the middle of the second half, but WP pulled his game together again and he is back to his best.
Kranjcar should have come in from the wing more frequently, as Modric does when he plays on the left. He did more of this in the second half, presumably under instructions, but although he did reasonably well, in a tight midfield he could have looked for the ball more assertively, as well as getting into shooting positions in and around the box.
No matter – who needs tactics when we have Gareth Bale. Just give to him, lads, so runs the pre-match team talk. He’s fast becoming a magnificent sight, flying down the wing. He’s a big bloke – the coaches have put some muscle on him – and a fearsome prospect for any defender as he gets into his stride. Salgado is experienced but, um, past his best shall we say. On the Spanish football as a pundit, I swear he was still twitching. As Daws found him with a series of sizzling balls that Bale brought down with the nonchalance of a Sunday morning park kick about, Bale repeatedly rampaged down the wing, causing mayhem. Given Sam’s reputation for organisation, I don’t understand why he didn’t put two men on Bale, especially as the right midfielder, Emerton, often plays at full back. Perhaps he didn’t want to stretch the rest of the team.Who cares – we have a world class prospect on our hands. Keep hanging around at the end of the game, Gareth my son, you’re a big ham to milk the applause but you deserve it, down to the last clap.
I’m tempted to ask if any Spurs player has ever scored so many goals and played so poorly, but that is a little unfair. I also know the real answer, having seen Clive Allen play a first half (against Norwich I think…) when he had about as much co-ordination as Bambi on drugs, then he scored a hat-rick. Pav’s technique deserted him on Saturday. He completely shanked two left footers as they came to him, one in each half which could have been crucial misses, and the ball largely refused to stay close to his body when it was pushed to him. However, even off form his running creates space up front and he often made room for himself, whereas Crouch is either too static or easy to pick up as he lumbers around, bless him. No technique required with his first, as rather than take it on he blasted it straight at Blackburns’ ‘fat Tim Howard’, or rather straight under him. I would like to see Pav, JD and at least one midfielder hammer into the area towards the 6 yard box when the ball comes over. One or two hanging back is fine but too many take the easy option. Bale’s crossing would become even more dangerous with bodies at front and back post, as well as in the centre.
Dawson had another good game. Tightening up the back after those early chances, he’s mighty in the box, tackles and blocks in an old-style ‘they shall not pass’ kind of centre half, the days when men were men and centre halves were centre halves because they were big, slow and couldn’t pass. Those were the days. Etc.
Howard Webb, he’s not keen on us, is he? The Bale pen was one where you think that FIFA must have changed the rules overnight and you didn’t hear about it. He’s not biased against us, he’s just a poor ref now. It gives me no pleasure to say this. Last year he seemed to get many of the big games and it was a relief to see that we had a ref who was up to the job. English football is worse off because of his failings. He seems to be suffering from an inflated sense of his own self-importance. He’s the big man on the spot to take the big decisions – in his own mind. Instead he should calmly rely on the evidence of his own eyes and just let it flow from there. It’s not about who he is or the occasion. It’s about a ball.
Reading this back, don’t want it to come over as too much of a whinge. We deserved to win and were the better team. Things should have been easier towards the end but that’s not our way. Harry should have brought Kaboul on as DM, dropping back into the box to combat those long balls that Blackburn regularly launched in search of an equaliser, but that would have been too easy. Despite not being at our best, we were too good for our opponents.