I Suffered. But Not Enough

Ten days ago I took what for me was a highly significant decision but in the great scheme of things means diddly. I decided not to go to the Arsenal game. The logic was sound enough: the sale of the ticket subsidises one of the forthcoming Champions League matches, for family reasons my evening time is precious so I carefully ration my leisure time, and it was the League Cup 3rd Round, a competition and a stage that does not set the pulse racing regardless of European involvement.

I actually felt guilty, as if I were letting myself and the team down. 40 and more years of anticipating the derby, get behind the lads. Absurdly stupid – the club have had enough of my money over the years, as if they care. But being a Spurs fan, logic has no place as my mind contorts out of shape. So rationally it’s one match in a devalued competition in an expensive season. The sofa was the right place to be. But when the goals went in, heart ruled head. I couldn’t pretend any more – it hurt.

Harry obviously doesn’t think much of the League Cup either. Nobody expects to see a full strength side and we have serious injury problems at the back but the match was effectively decided when the team sheets were handed in. Wenger outmanoeuvred us by playing a strong side, especially in midfield. However, given our squad we could have fielded a better team and still achieved the aim of resting key players and giving much needed experience to others.

Our right side was the major, and avoidable, weakness. It’s asking a lot for a young man to step up to the first team, let alone in a derby, let alone to play with defensive partners for the first time ever. Two of them in one go is too much. Caulker did well for the most part. I liked the look of him, confident, unafraid, well-balanced and alert, always on the look-out for the clever forward runs of the Arsenal players. Tiredness took its toll, however. As the legs and lungs fail, so does the mind. In extra time the mask of concentration slipped and panic took over. Just for the one moment, and that was enough.

Naughton had a bad one. He isolated himself too often and discovered a harsh lesson that at this level his blistering recovery acceleration was not always enough to get him and his team out of trouble.

Redknapp provided no protection. Gio worked up a sweat but wandered aimlessly in search of the ball before apparently disappearing altogether. He’s not really a right-sided midfielder but the rumour that a Spurs coach sees him as ‘a pre-season star’ seems about right.

So that whole side was unbalanced. Gio didn’t help Naughton, Naughton over-compensated and left Caulker exposed. With the excellent Gibbs over there, and Nasri moved to that side, we were always vulnerable. The cross for their opener took out 4 or 5 of our defenders in the box. Bentley had the best angle, in fact he enjoyed it so much he stopped to admire the view.

Perhaps he wished it was something he could have emulated. On the night, Box-office Bentley played to the crowd, going for the blockbuster option wherever possible. A shot where a pass might be on, long range if at all possible, sweeping killer passes that were ripe for interception. He would have been better advised to play the straight man on the right, shuttling up and down, going the simple things well, the rest is bonus. He must think more about his game. We talk about young players taking time to learn their lessons, but when is he going to start?

Hutton and Krancjar would have given the team a much better shape. JJ has energy to spare. After Saturday’s cameo, I’m surprised Hutton did not appear. Maybe Harry sees him as first choice now and is resting him for Saturday then the CL. What’s happened to Niko? Word is that he had a verrrrrrry relaxing summer – he looks big to me. If he had played in midfield or maybe behind the striker he could have offered something. , or has Harry had words with him? Pav was isolated in the first half.

The long-awaited appearance of the Brazilian was bound to be an anti-climax but he was impressive. He looks a genuine defensive midfielder, for the most part naturally moving into the right position. Despite his size he’s mobile and alert, and certainly fitter than the comically biased Alan Smith was prepared to give him credit for. Hardly a fresh-faced youngster, more battle-hardened veteran by the look of him. How old? More please.

In the second half we looked better with 4-4-2. Keane’s goal should have been saved but hopefully it will give him the confidence boost he sorely needs. He then missed from 4 feet. Oh well.

Arsenal were undoubtedly the better team but our cave-in was disappointing. Both were penalties, but at the risk of sounding like the old fogey that I’m turning into, they were modern penalties – I just have that feeling that 10 years ago, the first one would not have been given and the player would not have gone down so rapidly for the second.

League Cup and sofa, who am I kidding? it was a deflating experience. 4-1 at home is 4-1 at home and no amount of philosophising will change the score. I’ve survived, despite my guilt. I wasn’t present to share the pain and I don’t feel that bad today, so I’m feeling bad about not feeling bad. Hopeless.

What does it tell us? Nothing new. Arsenal play to a system, therefore it’s easier for different personnel to slot into comfortable surroundings. We rely more on each player doing their own jobs – we’re fine when everyone does it well and the jigsaw fits together but are left frustrated and bereft when it doesn’t work out. We need several regulars on parade to do well and cannot cope with wholesale changes.

Our squad is strong but we did not make full use of it last night. Our young players are promising – I have high hopes for Caulker and Sandro – so let’s nurture that promise carefully. Nothing’s changed after last night.

Cheer yourselves up.  The excellent new book In Search of Alan Gilzean by James Morgan is out now, available at all good bookstores and a few bad ones.  I’m halfway through – it’s great look out for a review this weekend. More info here: http://insearchofalangilzean.backpagepress.co.uk/

Also, check out Spurs fan and journalist Jeff Maysh’s forthcoming book, a loving look at Spurs kit over the years: http://jeffmayshbooks.wordpress.com/lilywhite-blue/ Out next month, the photos look sumptuous. Look forward to the signed Jimmy Walker keeper’s jersey.

26 thoughts on “I Suffered. But Not Enough

  1. “Wenger outmanoeuvred us by playing a strong side, especially in midfield.”

    This was “our” line-up:

    FABIANSKI, 27.EBOUE, 20.DJOUROU, 6.KOSCIELNY, 28.GIBBS, 15.DENILSON, 19.WILSHERE, 7.ROSICKY, 46.LANSBURY, 8.NASRI, 11.VELA

    Fabianski = shittest keeper in league. Eboue = B-team. Djourou = barely B-team, hasn’t played for a year. Gibbs = new talent, but great player. Denilson = B-team. Wilshere = new player but great. Rosicky = A-team. Lansbury = C-team!. Nasri = A-team. Vela = B-team.

    We clearly fielded a second-string side. Yes, Arse Shavings and Chamakh came on, but so did Mallet-head etc for you.

    But your starting line up was very second-string I will admit.

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    • Spot on…. Nasri has also just come back from injury and Rosicky is just getting back to his best after a tough time of it over the last couple of years.

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  2. Arsenal fan – the result means nothing. You are what we are, a team challenging for top 4 (and
    the title if we want to dream!!). League cup means nothing. The only significant thing in the evening is you played a reserve team just highlighting how improved the spurs team is and that you have bigger fish to fry. Obviously I’m happy to beat the rivals, but it should mean nothing to you

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    • another arsenal fan here and i would just like to say that i disagree with all these other arsenal fans that say the league cup means nothing. arrogant nonsense. wenger has been responsible for instilling this nonsense into the minds these people who worship wenger like a god and who think he can do no wrong. that 5:1 at your place a couple of years ago was a disgrace and a mistake that wenger could not afford to make again. it seems now that your 4th place finish has gone to the head of twitch and he is starting to get ideas above his station. i would nip that in the bud real quick if i were you because last night was your best chance of a cup gone. not that i care that is! 😉

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  3. wow! and sorry. you made the right choice i felt for those who actually paid to see us run rings around you for so long , but the thought struck me that there must be people like you who support tottenham and have learned to be rational and that is stoicism. as you can imagine for us across the road we are patiiently waiting for you lot implode under the debt and harry. you know it is going to happen, west ham allover again.

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  4. Well naturally we the AFC do not see last night as an important match as you lot do. Our first team would but for injuries be; Almunia.Sagna.Vermaelen.Squillacci.Clichy. Song.Diaby.Cesc. Theo.Van Percie. and anyone from Nasri/Rosicky/Arsharvin/ etc etc. Now how many of them were in Arsene’s “super strong team” being talked about?

    It is sad for you to admit it but if the officials had not been swayed by the home crowd not only would the lads have been 3-0 up at half time because of Gibbs walk in goal and of course the penalty not talked about when Lansbury was flattened in the box. but the so called recovery goal of Keanes would have been disallowed for a mile offside.
    If that had been the case AW would almost certainly have brought JET who would have run riot. Just be thankfull that Arsene told the reserves (for that is what they were last night, 5 cost nothing and 3 cost £1-£2 mill ) to not play for the final 15 minutes as we may need them at the weekened.

    Advice you do not want but here goes……I am 68 and used to go with my mates (Totts) to watch the gret 1951 & 61 sides. We stood mixed together and had the odd punch up but mainly a laugh. When Arsenal took over London 1970 until now…we were very happy to see teams built from very small funds…Spurs were hardly on our minds. It seems that Arsenal is ALL you lot think of??? I think that is sad and all the amazing spending in the world will not change your attitude will it.

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  5. Interesting piece. As an Arsenal fan I have a similar ‘hurt’ weirdly because I didn’t go as I was expecting a bad result. I thought it would be close, but that ultimately Redknapp at some point would bring on the likes of Lennon, Crouch and VanDV and turn the game. I’m gutted that I didn’t fully trust the likes of Wilshere who was outstanding, and Gibbs who frankly made Lennon look as poor as many begin to think he is. A stronger team selection by Wenger than other years, but merely because they have grown up. It was still a B-team with 9 1st team changes to go with the injuries to Vermaelen, Walcott, Fabregas and Ramsey. And when you have Fabianski in goal how can you allow the likes of Bentley to have no shots on target. I doubt Redknapp will ever pick him again.

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  6. How we laughed last night. We spanked your arses. Rafael van der Pikey says spurz is da better team? what a fucking joke. we spanked you biatches big time.

    1961 and never again.

    FOREVER in our shadow.

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  7. All i’ve got say is Harry ruined for you dude. Going on about all that ”people do not come to see young stars” n Wenger probably said, hey, he’s asking for the bullet, why not hand it to him? I expected to see our reserves but i guess Harry ruined it.

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  8. Alan

    Have you become a secret bucket of shit in the living room? Why on erath are all these pederastic, hermaphroeditic, arse-licking, little-Frenchmen-kissing sons of no-one in particular so interested in your comments?

    Fuck ’em, I say. Last night was a let down but not a disaster. Let’s keep it sensible and you keep telling it the way we see it and the way you write it.

    Love and Kisses – Arsene’s wife (tee-hee)

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  9. Love this we put out a stronger team rubbish. Think back you totts 2008 you beat an arsenal side 5-1 you played your first team against our kids ,reason, simple we were in the champions league you weren’t. Now your having to juggle something we’ve been doing for the past 14 years of champs league qualification. One other thing perhaps you can let arry know that the kids he rubbished for playing carling cup were still there last night but as players with lots of experience.

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  10. Good insightful piece as ever, Alan. Caulker, Sandro, Bassong were big positives for me, overall, on a very bad night.

    Come on Alan, you invented Gunner Pete, the stringy one and Ugandan goon up didn’t you. Priceless.

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  11. all more or less classy unlike the tottenham ones eh
    i also like the fact that although you were soundly beaten what stood out to the discerning is that we were in control of the game and ourselves , the same cannot be said about your players or your fans. and you are yet to modernise the stadium and balance the books, so czrko you sick dick, go chase yourself!

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  12. Yes, I think you must exist UG; let’s face it there’s no need to be making-up Arsenal fans like you, two a penny.

    Arsenal are still ahead of us, and were much the better team last night but way too much is being made of it in terms of what is really impt this season. I think the 2-1 defeat at the Lane last April and the 5-1 got under their skin much more than they want to admit.

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  13. Blimey. Pop out for a couple of house with my wife and you lot haven’t been behaving yourselves. And all provoked by praise for Wenger for outthinking us, plus a comment about a strong midfield. Goodness knows what mayhem is taking place on the blogs that slag the Arsenal off…

    Czyrko and Jamie, yes, I’ve popped up on Arsenal newsnow and another Arsenal site, even though I deliberately avoided including their name in the title.

    Alan G – forgot Bassong who had a decent second half.

    And in the spirit of love, peace and fraternity, donovan feels the same angst about his team as we do about ours. Nicely said, sir.

    Regards,

    Al

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  14. “Both were penalties, but at the risk of sounding like the old fogey that I’m turning into, they were modern penalties”

    Sadly I couldnt agree more fella. And thats me as a gooner.

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  15. Interesting piece and rational take on the game. I’m an Arsenal fan and obviously happy with the win but I wouldn’t be overly worried if I were for Spurs. Arsenal didn’t field the first team but it was a good bit stronger than what the opposition put out and stronger than I expected. Not sure what to make of that and with the injuries that have hit the gunners I’m not sure Chamack, Rosicky, and Nasri should have been risked.

    I’d have to respectfully disagree on Sandro. He’s willing but seemed to me me more interested in fouling than playing. However, Caulker and Bassong were impressive. They had to do a lot of defending and handled it well until the legs began to tire. In particular Bassong showed a lot of pace and really had the best of Nasri on several occaisions.

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  16. Always in our shadow rubbish from the arsenal… Yes maybe the last 15 years. But we are not talking about Man U & Man City here.. City not winning anything for something like 30 years and only a few things ever.

    Up until the last 15 years the Spurs vs Arsenal results record was fairly even. (Football did not begin at the start of the PL or CL, i know this and am only 26). Arsenal have won a lot of things, had periods of being very strong, but spurs have done also, at times having some of the best players in the world and winning many trophies.

    So in conclusion, Arsenal have won more, are probably still better, yet we are as close as we have been since Wenger took over down there, so we should all be happy, as that will produce some great NLDs over the coming seasons.

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  17. I would agree with Matt that this is the closest Spurs and Arsenal have been in terms of quality since Wenger took over. The difference in the match was, for me, in Wenger’s youth policy. The fact is that Arsenal’s side cost less than half and had a younger average age (by six months) than the Spurs side. Yet, we all agree that Arsenal played a “stronger” lineup. I realize that clubs like Spurs and Man City are playing a game of “catch-up,” and this isn’t something Harry can mimic in a season or two, but it should show the way forward for all clubs not just Spurs. Arsenal have achieved depth not simply through buying more players but by playing the young kids they have.hence the spending and bringing in lots of new players. It was always going to be hard for Redknapp to play any kind of experience on Tuesday with the injuries they have and the added stress of the CL. Though, let’s be honest, it wasn’t a worthless Cup when Spurs were in the Final in ’08 and ’09. Perhaps now, Spurs fans will realize how hard and how taxing it is on your squad to pursue four trophies and realize that Arsene’s playing of youngsters in the CC never meant he was disregarding the competition.

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  18. @Alan: Could the signing of VDV possibly have hurt Niko mentally?? He was 2nd in the creative department; now 3rd in the pecking order. To the point that Harry had to come out and reassure him that he’s part of his plans.

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