The Meek Shall Inherit Tenth Place

Now I’m angry. I had no issue in being generous after the let-down against Bolton. Not going to read too much into a single game and anyway I was clutching on to Inter glory for as long as is humanly possible. Not so this wretched, feeble effort versus a decidedly average Sunderland team. We’ve played a lot worse in the past, the recent past for that matter. The matter at hand is that faced with a great opportunity to win two home games against teams we should not fear, we capitulated as meekly as a kitten facing a rotweiler.  These opportunities are fast running out.

Same old classic signs of my utter exasperation. Drab resignation at the final whistle gathering momentum as I trudge back to the car. Nearly there and I’m spluttering incoherently to my son who, bless him, has heard it all before. Open the door and it’s transformed into a few moments of bitter complaints plus a few slaps of the innocent dashboard. It’s a sure sign things have not gone well when I start shouting at the radio. Last night I turned on 5Live to hear Steve Claridge ajudge Sunderland as worthy of a point. Now this blog has a history of kind comments from opposition fans who pick this up on newsnow and I don’t mean to offend the loyal band who midweek fill their allocation of seats, but our rivals did nothing. They didn’t have to, and that’s why I’m furious. This was a game where Spurs failed rather than where the opposition succeeded.

Over the last couple of years many teams have closed us down with ruthless efficiency. Hull, Stoke, Wolves, hard work and well-drilled 11 man defence for which we had no answer. Last night Sunderland worked hard and their back four were strong but at no point did they stop us from playing football. Time and again, especially in the first half, we created space with ease, passing the ball around or through their midfield, good interchange between Modric, Huddlestone and VDV plus plenty of support from Hutton, Bale and Bentley on the flanks. Even when we were off colour in the second period, there was room to move. At the back we were sound throughout, bar two moments, and I honestly cannot recall a game when I felt less threatened. Sunderland showed not a flicker of creativity and at times we pushed them back so far, they joined the queue for the Colonel’s burgers in the Paxton Road.

Back to the radio and a shouty man in the backstreets of N17. Claridge then solemnly opines that in the second half, when we attacked down our left, Sunderland let Benny have the ball and dropped two men on Bale, thus nullifying his efforts. Yes, but that didn’t stop him. Repeatedly he bore down on the defence, what went wrong was his use of the ball. He crossed too early too often but he had loads of room. For some reason he didn’t cut into the box, a potent weapon as our opponents tired, they couldn’t risk tackles for fear of a penalty but he never took them on in the danger areas.

Same on the other flank, where we were victims of our own weak-minded failings. Bentley’s Hollywood flicks and long range shooting is evidence of a man keen to impress as an individual, at the expense of team play. He never learns. However his real problem was his robotic preprogrammed compulsion to overlap when he and Hutton advanced. Acres of room inside but every time he goes wide. Just where Sunderland want him and the ball. The full-backs’ thighs were red-raw by the end where all his attempted crosses thwacked into their flesh, and they loved every second of the pain, because he was in their pocket.

Crosses. Teams score lots of goals from crosses. We got one. But they are easier to defend for English teams. Some of the most talented midfielders in the league stood and watched as the ball sailed over, or not as in many cases. Time and again. What is the point of having Luka, Tom, VDV if all we do is cross the ball? We may or may not score a few goals in this way, but that’s where teams want us to be, they’ll take their chances with the cross, thank you very much. To repeat, we had plenty of space in the middle because we were seldom closed down effectively. A mindless waste.

Titus Bramble. Let’s fathom a cunning plan to get at him. Lithe, mobile, lightening quick in the tackle, sees the first yard in his head and anticipates uncannily well. Oh hang on, that’s Bobby Moore, I got a bit mixed up. With Bramble, let’s bring on a big bloke and wang the ball aimlessly into the box for 45 minutes. Crouch comes on, first ball into the box is a good one but he decides that the best approach is a Pythonesque goose-step. That comedy walk gets them every time, eh Pete? I wasn’t laughing.

The crosses, the Crouch, it’s tactics and they are Redknapp’s responsibility. On the evidence of his movement, dropping deep and linking front and back in the first half, Redknapp decides to push VDV to the edge of the box in the second half, where he waits for the good ball that never came and Bramble and Turner can head them away all night. At half-time, we had played well without having much of a cutting edge. Gallas and Kaboul were untroubled at the back and Hud was supreme in midfield, the pick of the players. Luka was busy and creative, whilst Pav’s movement and committment was good. We were comfortable and on top with the 4-4-1-1. Some tweaking was required and the goals would surely come. Cut down on the crosses and we’d get one or two. Crouch’s arrival ended all that. Whilst Sunderland’s two up front pressured Hud, it left others with room to move, yet we criminally failed to exploit it. If there are two on Bale, there’s room somewhere else. VDV couldn’t fill it, he was told to stick to the edge of the box. Luka can’t do it on his own. Anyway, the ball’s in the air, and Turner and Bramble are heading it away….

We get one, no danger from them, we should be fine. Then a moment when…I’ve not seen a replay so I can only go on the night – how on earth did that happen? Our fault again, letting a team back into a game under no pressure. We nearly did the same at the end when Gomes fouled at the edge of the box.

That wise sage jimmyG2 summed it up perfectly in the comments section of Bolton – ‘I give Harry credit when it’s due and the blame when its not’. I’m conscious that I’ve been banging on about this problem for a bit. I genuinely have no axe to grind but this is plain wrong. Granted we have scored three goals from a far post crosses, Crouch knockdown and VDV a yard out. This is but one tactic, not the only one. This is about potential – we have the players to do so much more. If this is how we’re going to play, buy Kenwynne Jones or any bruiser and go the whole hog. This about the best team we’ve seen at the Lane for ages, and what they could do. This is about finishing in the top four. The other top contenders don’t play like this, because it doesn’t work.  Brainless.

24 thoughts on “The Meek Shall Inherit Tenth Place

  1. Agreed. Sunderland were weak but defended well. Should have been a cakewalk however. God help us if we keep dropping home games like this. The Gallas / Kaboul howler proves that French comedy is alive and kicking.

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  2. you moron. Have a look on newsnow today and you’ll see article after article of spurs fans speaking up against the unrealistic idiot minority. “This is about finishing in the top four” ….. why is it?? what right do we have of waltzing into 4th again when its twice as difficult as last year?? Why is 5th or 6th a bad season all of a sudden ??
    You sir, are what is wrong with our club. Harry is right to have a pop at our fans. We are brilliant when all is good like way back last week, but when its indifferent our fans let us down badly. The effort last night couldnt be faulted and yes we are all dispointed with a draw but moaning, blaming the manager and booing. Pathetic.

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  3. I didn’t boo. Never have, never will.

    I don’t criticise Harry or any player as a reflex. Never have, never will.

    There’s a problem with our team that has been evident this season. The top four thing is because we are capable of finishing in the top four. Nothing wrong with seeing that.

    The effort last night could be faulted. It’s in the mind, not in the legs.

    Regards,

    Al

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  4. I always like to think that the ungracious fans of rival teams are a minority. However, from what I have heard this last night makes me thinks that it is the majority of spurs fans that do not know how to give credit where it is due, and accept they were not playing against a weak or average team. Our results since the beginning of the season speak for themselves.

    1-1 vs Arsenal
    0-0 vs Man U
    1-0 Vs Man C
    2-2 vs Liverpool
    1-0 vs Villa
    1-1 vs you

    If we get a point against Chelsea, none of the top 6 teams will have taken 3 points from us.

    Did you expect us to roll over and let you score as many as you liked? Pathetic.

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  5. I am a Sunderland supporter and had to write to say I really enjoyed your comments. I don’t know what you do for a living but you have a writing talent that is much much better than any I have ever read. The so called proffessional football reporters/critics do not have the ability to write with the passion you have. Now don’t worry about your team you will come good and be thankfull you are not a Sunderland supporter. I have suffered 55 years of failure and many broken dashboards. I now am homeless and just wander the world and I am actually typing this in the mountains of Colombia. True!! But no matter where I am in the world my heart is always
    with my team. My wife who is Mexican is just as crazy about Sunderland. My only failing in life is my son who says he is a Man U supporter. I look forward to you next article. Best regards from a very warm
    Colombia. Steve

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    • Dan :
      I always like to think that the ungracious fans of rival teams are a minority. However, from what I have heard this last night makes me thinks that it is the majority of spurs fans that do not know how to give credit where it is due, and accept they were not playing against a weak or average team. Our results since the beginning of the season speak for themselves.
      1-1 vs Arsenal
      0-0 vs Man U
      1-0 Vs Man C
      2-2 vs Liverpool
      1-0 vs Villa
      1-1 vs you
      If we get a point against Chelsea, none of the top 6 teams will have taken 3 points from us.
      Did you expect us to roll over and let you score as many as you liked? Pathetic.

      At the time Liverpool were not top 6, Bolton were and did take 3 points of you.
      Average team, typical we think we are better than everyone else attitude.

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  6. Jim why fans want to finish fifth is one very good reason if we don’t the vultures will circle and our good work will be undone and we will be back to years of waiting for the glory years. We have got our Tottenham back and it felt good and then our reputation sent fear ahead of our games and out came the energy ,saves blocks bad refereeing and shocks. We had Managers praising our team then filling Harry’s head full of the England job then beating us or drawing. I have watched football for a long time Spurs for forty eight years of my fifty eight years and in all that time the last three seasons and this period is the hardest for one very bad reason what i stumbled on shocked me and still is and the instead of the problem getting better its getting worse and with government cuts to UK sport who fund Ukad the drug testing agency it will get even worse. I wont go in to details or name teams but trust me its real and if you look at the table and see how its turning over and the bottom teams are flying these teams work on desperation and this is when the Tempo the bad tackles and shocks happen. Our fans look at the opposing teams sheet and think 3-0-4-1 and so on then we get beat or draw and then anger sets in and we start the calling Harry this Crouchie that 4511 424 we argue about everything then we manage a win and all is forgotten till the next desperate team come calling with a shocks that send us all into despair. Yo see Jim this is more than finishing in the top four this is taking football away from teams who are desperate to stay in the Money laden Premiership by hook or crook methods and the biggest used word for shocks is work rate and Tempo this my fellow cockerels is called by me the three sss system, Shocks strokes sudden deaths (Ephedrine). This is the real reason Managers can change a winning team play a man who has not played for six months and he can do brilliant saves without getting tired. This is not just Spurs who suffer shocks but because its spreading fuelled by fear of the sack and relegation wiped up by media sites and Papers. And unless its stopped we will be struggling in the wrong half of the table and with there not being a weak team Blackpool have spent two million on players yet are shocking teams and beat Newcastle who hammered Sunderland so if you go on results we are in the shit and sinking with one of the so called best Squads and Managers praises ringing in our ears before they then shock us with on paper a weaker team Head scratching Heart Breaking and Shocking Football.

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  7. I don’t as a rule like to intrude on another clubs webspace but having picked up your comments felt I wanted to respond. Having made a rare visit to see my team Sunderland last night I must agree that we lacked something in the creativity department. However despite all of the pissesipn and pressure you guys had I never really felt we were in a lot of danger throughout the game Gordon’s cracking saves aside.

    As my friend from Columbia says above I have experienced a world of pain following my team for forty years and I’m generally of a nervous disposition when watching them. But yesterday –
    completely relaxed.

    I think maybe you should give other teams a little more credit. We are after all occupying the sort of territory you were in but 2 seasons ago.

    Good luck for the rest of the season. I’m enjoying your Champions League heroics

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    • Steve and other Sunderland fans, always welcome. It’s not a balanced match report, it’s a Spurs blog. I did not think Sunderland played well on the night, especially in the first half, and Spurs could still have plenty of the ball even after the tactical changes. Good luck for the rest of the season

      Al

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  8. Overall we dominated but lacked a cutting edge in front of goal.

    A dozen quality balls into the box first half but Pav nowhere near any of them. VDV created openings but nobody on his wavelength.

    Second half Crouch did a little, made a goal for VDV who you could see was very happy with that service. An improvement on the first half in front of goal as Crouch drew defenders away from VDV. But still not taking our chances.

    Good performance but proof that you have to put teams away with goals when you are on top.

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  9. I think we have to accept that the Champions League is a good thing and a bad thing. Its great to be in it but it seems to sap energy and attention. Ok … we should not be too bi-polar about all this. We have been lack luster in the Prem. so far but on historical record we should hit a run of good form/results at some point. We are sixth still because our rivals for 4th have also been inconsistent – although if City win tonight that might change. Liverpool are coming back but I think the Newcastle thing won’t last (but all respect to Mr. Hughton) so if we hang in there up till Xmas we could still be in with a chance of a good finish.

    Yours hopeless optimist Spurs fan,

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  10. Personally I get a little weary of Harry telling us we have never had it so good, at least in recent times. He’s done a super job overall, but I reckon he should be doing so much more with the talent we have in the side. Moreover, the lack of a reserve side means that when players come in they are not always up to speed.

    Mind, managers get too much of the credit for winning and too much of the blame for losing or drawing. The last two games have not been good enough. The booing so was brief I am regularly surprised at how thin skinned our manager is. I think a Europa league place and 2nd rd CL would be a decent season, but we have the promise to do more.

    I thought Sunderland occupied us and played well second half; the intro of Welbeck in a more left sided advanced position stemmed Hutton’s advances. In the first half we worked ourselves into good opositions but the crossing and final ball were poor.

    No need to panic, but no need for complacency and In Harry we Trust nonsense either.

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  11. hi
    it’s simples!!! p*** poor defending week in week out (this time by what, without injuries, would probably be our fourth and sixth choice centre backs) and a powder puff strike force (i honestly think crouchie closes his eyes when he heads the ball. i certainly put my hands over mine when i watch him fluff those sitters). and those chances are the fine margin in games like the everton one that is often the difference between one point and three points.

    as soon as dawson is back, find a regular partner for him (oh how i wish it could be ledley, but tbh its time we looked elsewhere, along with the seemingly terminal absence of woodgate too). get defoe back (the best of a bad bunch but at least he looks like scoring in those occasional moments when he’s not offside). and things will get better, they need to cos we’ve got a tough old run up to christmas.

    in the window, go buy a big, ugly nasty striker who does the basics ie actually wants to put himself about, attack the ball and stick it in the net at all costs. we’re oozing with class in bale, modric, vdv, thudd and lennon. a kevin davies, andy carroll or kenwyne jones type would score a bucketload of goals for us.

    you’re right. it’s just so frustrating. been going to whl since 1965 and this is on the verge of being as good, if not even better than, than greaves, gillie and jenning 67, the hoddle, ardiles, ricky villa cup winning teams and the clive allen team that threatened to win the lot and in the end lost everything.

    we’re so close to being a great side and real contenders, yet you just get that feeling that we’re not quite going to finish the job off again. sad, cos that night with inter was up with the very best.

    by the way, great blog as always. i’ve been reading for a while now and most weeks you pretty much sum up the way i feel about it all.

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    • Top post smileysmile67. A good striker would have buried plenty of those balls into the box. We have to cross our fingers a little for the injured defenders and Defoe to return. It is very odd for Spurs but for the first time in years we have a good defence (when fit) a great midfield (if a little lightweight) but dodgy strikers. We always used to have it the other way round.

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  12. “20 minutes to go,it aint happening.
    Switch Bale to the right, so that he comes inside on his stronger foot,play Kranjcar or Jenas or both on the left.
    Mix it up a bit, unsettle their formation, confuse the enemy with ssmoke bombs.
    Its called Managership.
    Crossing your fingers and hoping is not a game plan.

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    • “He gives us all such confidence. He’s one of the lads but knows when to be the boss, too. He gives you a belief and we all feel as one.

      “When we cross that white line, we all know exactly what we have to do and what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are and that’s why we work so well as a unit. That’s all down to the manager.”

      Gareth Bale on Harry Redknapp

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  13. I akways take what players say about the manager with a large packet of salt.

    At work some creep always stands up and says at the staff meeting.
    ‘And I think the boss is doing a damn fine job and I don’t care who knows it’

    Football clubs are a bit like North Korean politics.

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    • Bit OTT innit? Can’t believe a word anyone says because they are all grovelling brown nosers 🙂

      It is clear to me that with a pinch of salt here and there you can use what people say and do to form a view on them.

      Don’t see what else there is to use to judge someone anyway. Otherwise all you have left is your own preconceived ideas.

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    • Sunderland played much better against Chelsea than they did with us, especially coming forward. I’m only going on those two performances – I’ve not seen them play a full match this season other than these two games so I can’t comment on their development as a team. If they had been more attack-minded at the Lane, we could have come a cropper. Tuesday was still primarily about self-inflicted wounds.

      Regards,

      Al

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