You Make Your Own Luck

Back down to earth with not so much a bump, more like an avalanche. Wile. E. Coyote, maybe, poised atop some improbably sheer mountain range, on the pinnacle of success, then his cunning plan fails, inevitably. He doesn’t just fall to earth. Rather, it’s a slow descent, each painful moment of impact freeze-framed with a resigned look to the camera. Close your eyes and in those moments, see Pav stupefied, JD glowering, Bassong vacant.

Although my mind has been overflowing with all things Tottenham Hotspur since the San Siro, I realised yesterday morning, vaguely, that I haven’t written anything since then. In my head I had, hundreds of pieces stimulated by that great day, but the week has simply flown past. No complacency – it was a feeling that I didn’t want to end and I had fallen under its spell.

wile-e-coyote

Seb Bassong - Latest Picture

It’s tempting to view Spurs’ performance in the same way but I don’t believe they were suffering from a love hangover, or for that matter were up themselves, what with Europe and that. Tempting also to put this one down to familiar failings: on a bad run? Play Spurs, soon put you right! They won’t turn up. This one wasn’t quite like that. In fact, granted we were two down, unnecessarily, but in the face of ferociously determined opponents, we picked ourselves up and attacked consistently hard in the second half, until the third when we faded away to nothing. It was by know means wonderful but past teams would have buckled totally and spent that period looking at their watches and wishing they were in the warmth of the dressing room.

What we did see were a few chickens from this season coming home to roost. Our strikers were awful. Below our best, we nevertheless made more than enough opportunities to win this match, despite Blackpool’s massed ranks. Pav unerringly found the keeper every time, when presented with a few classic striker’s crosses. He moved well onto the ball, great contact and smack – at the keeper. Defoe on the other hand was unable to control his body shape at the moment of impact, falling away in a wild spiral. Predictably the ball behaved in the same manner, flying hihg and wide. Both wanted that extra touch, JD in particular that extra fraction. Yet this implacable Blackpool defence were never going to allow him that.

The strikers haven’t been scoring all season but the midfield have got us out of trouble. That’s fine – in the modern game it’s often easier for them to find space with late runs. No saving screamers this time, however. Forced to shoot from deep and never for a second allowed to settle on the ball, they queued up to sky it.

The signs were there from the start. Jordan, donning his glasses and wiping a touch of old man’s drip from his nose, looked more like granddad from the Werther’s advert than Braveheart, scourge of Milan. More significantly, in the first couple of minutes, Bassong made an error when under no pressure and presented Blackpool with the ball. Nothing came of it but the message rang out loud and clear – Spurs were vulnerable, and our excellent opponents scented blood. Conceding the penalty was needless, absurd and turned the match. From that moment we were always chasing the game.

Bassong is a good player, quick and tackles well, whose weakness is letting players get in behind him. I thought he had turned a corner after a coupe of sound displays, against Chelsea in particular when coming on as sub. However, he likes a run of a few matches to get settled and he was never comfortable last night. The writing may be on the wall. Harry has publicly criticised him this morning: history says this is the sound of the exit door opening. With Kaboul doing so well this season, Bassong is up against it. Having said this, I would have kept Gallas and Dawson together in the centre with Palacios at right back.

It’s the first time I’ve seen Blackpool for 90 minutes this season. There’s more to their success than devotion to the cause and hard work. They move the ball forward and wide, usually through Adam (don’t suppose it occurred to anyone to mark him?). It then often comes back across the other way then is switched once more. Defence suitably stretched, in comes the cross and people coming in late (they have the time to do so because of the movement of the ball in front of them) on the end of it. Campbell for example. Probably offside but our defence had been shredded by then, not for the first or last time.

Two differences from Milan – one, we allowed Dawson and Bassong to be pulled out of their comfort zone. Unprotected by the midfield and with Gallas unsure, they were all over the place. Two, runners didn’t track back. For Campbell’s goal, three Spurs men stop running as they reach the edge of our box, Campbell unchallenged. Basic, avoidable and, again, a problem we have seen before this season. That’s inexcusable.

Without going overboard here, we did well after the break with 20 minutes at least of sustained attacking effort. We kept a high tempo and worked hard. Lennon deserves credit for supplying enough crosses to pull us back. He works best in tandem with a full back. Last night he was isolated and facing two defenders, yet he contributed a good performance. So not so much about a lack of leadership, more about the unforgiveable missing of chances, mental fragility and an inability to deal with Blackpool’s tactics.

One thing I have noticed about our opponents is the number of managers who say that they have never known a game like it, where they have had so much of the ball and so many chances without winning. Even allowing for the post-match paranoid managerial myopia, this is not a coincidence. Blackpool pack their area, lining up as deep as the penalty spot or even the 6 yard area, massed ranks of drilled defiance. We had 3 off the line, I think, but this is no accident. Blocks in the area or on the line, it’s all the same. No room and no time for our passing and touches on the edge of the box. We made it easier for them because they were defending a two goal lead. They did have some good fortune, the ball that went along the line, right to left then back again, but that’s not the point. Truly, you make your own luck. We would do well to remember that.

In the first half, Arsenalesque, we wanted too many touches in the box. In the second, we missed the ones that came our way, then Benny lost concentration and another mad mad moment. Pav scored, and to be honest, I was disappointed because he should take no credit away from that performance.  Gallas shooting left-footed, 25 yards out, several men well positioned inside him, which sums up our night. Absurd and uncontrolled.

35 thoughts on “You Make Your Own Luck

  1. “You make your own luck” is such a terrible saying.

    We deserved to win but were pickpocketed by ‘plucky’ Blackpool.

    To say you were disappointed that Pav scored is also ridiculous. He never gets a sustained run in the side – because he isn’t either of Harry’s sons, Peter and Jermain – so you can hardly blame him for being rusty.

    Essentially we have to blame Levy and Harry for not signing the striker we all knew we needed.

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    • I used that cliche because so many people say Blackpool are lucky. They aren’t – it’s the way they play.

      And I never said we deserved to win.

      And I am massively hacked off with Pav this morning, especially as I have been advocating all season that he gets a run in the team. But I will get over it.

      Regards,

      Al

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      • But they were lucky, all you have to do is look at the stats.

        We did deserve to win by chances created, we just don’t have the finisher to put them away.

        Be more hacked off at Defoe, who is proving to be utterly useless. At least Pav scores even when he gets the odd game here or there. When did Defoe last score? He has ZERO league goals this season, Pav has 6. Heck, even Crouch has 2!

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        • Give me a break. We did not deserve to win. We were unlucky numerous times, but ultimately giving away that needless penalty started the collapse. We were controlling the game – whilst 2-0 DOWN. That is not even close to deserving to win. I believe that yesterday’s formation was an attempt to get Defoe scoring plus some match fitness for Modric. If was a game we could afford to lose. Defoe failed, but Modric showed some glimpses of what he was doing whilst his appendix was in his body.

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    • Pav doesn’t get a sustained run in the side because he doesn’t take the opportunity when picked, he plays 1 in 5 at best. He’s 29, has a bad attitude, and won’t improve. Get rid. Crouch does offer something different, we should keep him as a squad player but nothing else. Defoe has been hopeless in front of goal for 12 months, has he even scored in the league since 2009? I can’t remember. Amazing really. Confidence player. Pray for him to score one and I believe he’ll start banging them in. All we can hope for now. If we don’t buy a proper striker in the summer though, I’ll be having a Michael Douglas “falling down” episode down Tottenham High road..

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      • Deep breaths now. I hated ‘Falling Down’, horrible film.

        JD is a confidence player indeed. I thought everything would be OK after the two against Charlton but he’s not come on from there. We don’t make a hatful of chances per game, usually, so the focus is on the strikers to pull the trigger when the moment comes. Defoe’s wastefulness is really shown up.

        I should have said in the blog that to his credit, he didn’t give up and worked very hard. However, sometimes hard work is the refuge for a striker who is not doing the business where it matters.

        Regards,

        Al

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      • Defoe has scored a whopping 4 league goals since 2010 began: Birmingam (A), Wigan (A), Blackburn (H), Chelsea (H). Pav still has a great goals per minute rate this season – 6 goals in 1001 mins. That is one goal per 166 mins on the field in the League. If you play him, he will score many, but he is not a “winner” mentality. I am 100% certain that we will buy a striker in summer – mainly because Keane wants out, the other 3 are late twenties – aside from the fact that they are scoring less than they normally do (barring Pav).

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        • Yep and the Chelsea one was a penalty and he has missed one against Liverpool in that time, the biggest problem with Defoe is if he isnt scoring he isnt doing much, his all round game is poor and is the reason why we shipped him out to Portsmouth in the first place.

          The chances he misses are amazing 7 out of 11 penaltys missed, one on ones, he deserves to rot on the bench and not play until the summer, Alan Hutton has 2 league goals and he has won a penalty and he is a partially used Right Back, it surprises me the lack of stick Defoe gets sometimes

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  2. Overall, we played ok. Our strikers and some bad luck was the main reasons we lost. Defoe is starting to look like a championship player. Without bale ir vdv to score, we paid the price.

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  4. Maybe its time to look at our striking coach, Big Les, it dont seem to be working, what exactly are we teaching them, our strikers must have the worst stats in the premiership and its going to cost us BIG..
    We will lose Millions of pounds in revenue if we dont make the Champions League again, suddenly not getting a Striker LAST SUMMER let alone in the January transfer window, is looking like a massive error.

    Speculate to Accumilate Daniel.

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  5. Redknapp got it wrong last night, biggest game of our season so far and he dropped the two players who have come in and done so well over the last couple of games, Sandro and Kranjcar.
    The back 4 looked out of shape from the start, where is Hutton? he’s not injured as far as I know and if he is why not recall the 2 Kyle’s instead of playing a center back at right back and a numpty in the center? Pienaar looked lost, Palacios is utter shite and Defoe is short of confidence. Saying all that I thought the penalty was soft and the 2nd a clear yard offside but fair play to Blackpool when they got their chances they took them. Yes, we had enough chances to win the game, but for Arry to blame the team?…….a bad workman blames his tools!

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    • Redknapp got it wrong? I think yes, but that is expected. NO ONE gets it right every time. Biggest game of the season so far? Well there is an overstatement – if there was a game we could lose, this was it. I’d rather lose to a non-rival, than lose to Liverpool, Chelsea, City etc… We did not lose much ground and are still 4th. I assume Hutton is injured – he has been absent for too long for it to be anything else – I guess. A bad workman blames his tools? Harry has proven to be a good workman in the last 2 years – plus What tools? Can a workman blame missing tools? Vdv, Bale, Hudd, Corluka, Hutton, all missing – not to mention King and Woody. We had half a team out there. Take Fabregas, Nasri, Sagna, Clichy and Wilshere out of Arsenal and see where they get.

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      • Redknapp blamed the players for the performance, therefore the ‘tools’ were the players that played and not the players that didn’t play…..that wouldn’t make sense?? As for Hutton, rumours are that he isn’t injured but has done something to get up Arry’s nose…..nice one Arry, pay a player £40k a week and don’t play him, in fact send out your side without a RB just to spite him….F*ck the fans who travelled up to Blackpool….

        As for the statement ‘ this was a game we could lose’ is that you trying to convince yourself that we didn’t mess up last night? the only such games are very rare indeed in fact the only one I can remember in recent times was Burnley away last season, after we had qualified for the CL……

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    • Wholeheartedly agree Danny. Why wasn’t Sandro in the team I wonder and Pienaar was awful, just went from bad to worse…I was so relieved when Kranjcar came on for him, but by then the game was virtually lost. Can’t help thinking if those two had started we would have won it easily.

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  6. Pav couldnt hit a cows arse with a shovel, if les ferdinand is the coach then no wonder, ‘sir’ les is an arsehole who if true is still taking Tottenham for a ride.

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  7. What a load of crap about Pav.
    Pav played an excellent match. Every touch he had on the ball was good. He took the ball down, played good passes, got a couple of shots, layed the ball back to defoe, threaded through to defoe twice + once to Modric.
    The only thing he didn`t do, was to get his hat trick, but then again, why blaim him. No one else managed to get the ball in the net.

    For me Pav was our best player, and he showed that we do not need Crouch.
    We lost because Harry changed from 442 to 433. When losing a 4th midfielder we lost the match.
    We were playing very well. Creating chances every second minuite.

    Why change a team playing so well.
    It was just a matter of time before the goals would start running in……. until we introduced Crouch

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    • Ahhh, good reasonable analysis…fairer than mine, I grant you. I did feel uncharacteristically bitter at the end of the game and decided to share that with my loyal readers, so ta for putting up with that. And I have advocated all season that he has a run in the team.

      I wouldn’t say every touch was good, but this was very much a game about small margins because a defender was always there, and he and JD just wanted too much.

      Regards

      Al

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  8. I don’t think any of our strikers are performing well enough, so I’m not singling out one of the three to say they are crap and I’m not singing the praises of any of them either.

    Pav – He scores the odd wonder goal which tricks people into thinking he’s a good player. But the reality is that he’s far too lazy, never makes runs, doesn’t get into space, consistently loses the ball, makes the wrong passes, squanders too many chances, has an appalling first touch, has no pace, limited technique, can not hold the ball up and he rarely (if ever) beats a player one on one.

    Crouch – In terms of goals provided, he brings more to the team than the other two, but does not personally score enough goals. He squanders quite a few good chances, and gives the ball away with poor touches and by running into trouble. In Crouchy’s defence, it’s not his fault he’s tall. When he’s on the pitch, the rest of the team just sees his head as a beacon to ping balls at in the hope he can do something with them. He is reasonably good at providing knock-downs for other players to score in and around the area as his 9 assists are testament to. But not when Dawson blasts the ball into his face from behind the half way line. If only Defoe were to be in good form, these two might recapture the goal scoring form they had at Portsmouth.

    Defoe – Defoe had a good season last year, scoring 24 league goals and he’s been a bit unfortunate this year with injuries, an unnecessary red card and the resulting ban. But in the last three years he has only scored 4 goals in 27 games against the 6 teams to finish in the top 7 of the league. While he has scored heavily against the worse 6 teams, scoring 16 in 17 against those at the bottom. Defoe is ruthless against poor opposition but does not have the ability to lead the strike force of a club aspiring to be top 4.

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    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for such a detailed, considered response. Over here on TOMM I try to be consistent, so I have been saying for the season that none of our strikers are of the quality I would like. However, we could make better use of them. I would have given Pav a run in the team – I’d give him more credit for his movement and his style would make the most of what’s around him, i.e. Rafa and Luka in particular. Agree re his touch. The problem is, he is often told that he has to play with his back to the goal but that’s not his style, you’re right, he’s poor at that. I would alter the shape to have us coming from deeper with him being used to move across the line and create space for balls into channels.

      Harry doesn’t like him and he will go in the summer when we get a replacement. But Harry could have made more of his talents.

      Regards,

      Al

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      • I don’t think a run in the side would help pav. Sure he’d get a bit better given he’s playing games, but he’d just as easily get worse again as he gets lazy and doesn’t fight for his place. But I do agree that Defoe has more than had his chance this season.

        All of our strikers are crap and most of our goals are coming from our midfield, I’d have Crouch up there on his own (alongside VDV) providing assists for the midfield. Crouch has the same amount of goals plus assists (16) as Defoe (6) and Pav’s (10) goals and assists put together!

        Sure Crouch could score more, but he has provided (be it a goal or an assist) the same amount of goals to the team that our other two strikers have put together.

        To be honest, I wouldnt be bothered if any of them left us in the summer.

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  9. You can look at states you can look at the misses the offside the stupid penalty that had more to do with sand and crap pitch than the startled Bassong you can look at Modric getting wiped out by the over zealous Kingston or the offside rule not being implemented . But the most telling facts are we where beat before a ball was kicked and the real reason we beat Sunderland Bolton Blackburn was they was not near enough to the bottom three and Lady luck and Kranjcar was on our side. Three seasons ago my love of watching Football was damaged and unless the FA and Ukad plus the Premiership tackle the problem that ruined my love for Spurs and Football . I first came across this form of cheating like i stated above but it took me another few years before i plucked up courage to report this team i discovered by accident and through a mutual friend of using the well known drug but not by me . When i rang Uk Sport at the time i thought they would dismiss my evidence but they staggered me by saying its rife and we cant seem to catch anyone so i said why and she said they are keeping under the radar. This phone call shocked me and two seasons later its shocking me more the team i discovered have lost there medical staff two managers changed there board sold there best player bought two more players and are chasing us for fourth. With my constant texts to radio stations they slowed down and we benefited now along with them and a long line of desperate teams its back with a vengeance this year and along with rising shocks sudden deaths and my dread of playing teams in the dreaded drop zone has just bean vindicated by another shock the only consolation is every teams is getting shocked and the dreaded drop is getting longer by the shocking week. The bad news we are playing Wolves and West ham next , oh my nerves no wonder Harry said it would be a miracle if we get fourth again he is wrong about that it would be a monumental miracle

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  10. Pavlyuchenko had a good game and, for a change, held the ball up reasonably well, but one of those close range headers (forgotten which one) had to result in a goal. Even though he’s been mistreated by Redknapp, I hope he’s replaced asap.

    Defoe should be dropped immediately. He’s usually infuriatingly offside or easily dealt with. When he does shoot, he tries to hit the ball through defenders or break the back of the net. He’s desperate, and it shows.

    The defence was our downfall last night. You can’t keep gifting goals and then expect to pick up points, and that’s what happened last night. Blackpool weren’t lucky, we weren’t unlucky. Our defence was a complete shambles. Having a ‘strike force’ that are the worst in the PL obviously doesn’t help.

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    • Exactly. Everyone keeps jumping on the striker bandwagon, but at the end of the day we shipped 3 goals. Do you expect our strikers to get 4 every match? It was probably the wierdest game that I have ever seen, and that is why I am going to excuse it. The good thing is that it was against Blackpool and not a rival. Freak game, but yes some things to work on. Bale come back will give us that extra zip that Pienaar fails to provide. He showed some decent runs, but he needs to go up the wing a bit more often.

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  11. Its been obvious all season our strikers are not good enough. The fans don’t help, even now many of them seem to think Defoe is a quality striker and not a flat track bully who can only score against weak opposition. You also get fans who will moan about not having a striker who can score tap ins and then turn around and defend selling Bent because “he’s not a Spurs type of player” – you mean a striker who scores goals ? When you compare our strikers efforts to the clinical finishing of Bale and Van de Vaart the gulf in class is massive. Harry has got a lot of things right, but his management of our striking options has been very poor and left us badly exposed.

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    • Selling Bent was necessary – we need a striker that can be rotated. Bent cannot be rotated. The moment that Wellbeck and Gyan started to muscle in on his territory, he hated it – and wanted to leave. You could see it. When Wellbeck scored, Bent did not celebrate with him. I do not want that sort of player in my team. You look for the right attitude – look at Messi: a million goals later and each time he scores he firstly congratulates the guy who set him up. Also when Bent arrived at Sunderland he scored lots of goals, but Sunderland’s goal total did not go up by much – so he takes away from others. I MUCH prefer a scenario like ours where we are not reliant on one man to provide goals – like City are and Liverpool were. But having said that we do need to freshen up the front line – no doubt. And yes, Defoe IS a flat track bully. I count only 2 goals against top opposition – vs Chelsea (pen) and Man U (we lost) – both last season.

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      • This is exactly what I’m talking about. How exactly would Bent being in the team prevent Bale charging down the wing and shooting into the net ? The job of a striker is to score goals, Bent does that, our strikers don’t. Trying to pretend a goalscorer up front somehow prevents other players scoring is ridiculous. We actually rely on two players to score goals, take away Bale and VdV’s contribution and we would be well down the league and out of Europe.

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  12. TMWNN This is the team that is wowing the Champions league with some of the best defences in Europe getting pierced yet we have suffered defeats by five teams all weakened by injury’s all in trouble near or in the long relegation battle. You are right to have a go at our defenders and attackers but where we differ is why we got beat Bolton West Ham Wigan Bolton Everton Blackpool have all beaten Spurs most of the shocks have one word fuelling there shocks D for Desperation and its this word that beat Spurs in everyone one of these teams. The six teams who have beaten Spurs five of them are teams are from my area the North West where i discovered teams using Top up energy to enhance there performances. You will find five mins in my company will shock you who i reported using this drug and the tell-tale sines of abuse would convince you along with weigh loss red faces and sudden deaths will make you think twice about calling our players and Harry because its not just Spurs who are suffering. We have had weekends with record Goals record shocks record comebacks surley it must have crossed your mind is the Premieship creating excitement for Sky by ignoring deaths shocks and combacks to gain more viewers i would give you the answer but you would rather call our team. One last point Ufa are tackling the energy abusers and we get tested by them even when we are not playing. Both Blackpool Bolton and the rest are tested by the people who told me they no its happening but they cant or are stopped from naming and shaming offenders unless you play outside the Premiership like Paddy Kenny he got caught in the play off semi final . You will all have to get used to it like i have and believe me my nerves start when i see the D before the team like our next games two games Wolves and West Ham both have the dreaded D word lets hope they both beat there next opponents and it becomes a smaller d. Coys

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  13. Davspurs, I admire your perseverance in trying to blow the whistle on the illegal usage of Ephedrine in football (what is it now, 3 years?), but no one appears to be taking any notice whatsoever. Have you taken this campaign further than internet message boards?

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  14. I thought Pav’s general play was good. I like the way he come off the top into midfield and I felt he knitted things together pretty well. Modric and Lennon were other plusses. The defence as a unit was disturbed again this season and they were shaky early on. bassong’s a good young defender, but as as said he does seem to need time to settle down in the side.

    Poor finishing and defending from out point of view, a good start exploited to the full by Blackpool. They seemed to score at good times (when is it not a good time to score), in that as soon as we seemed to be getting a foothold and on top they scored the 2nd and 3rd goals.

    I have seen most reviews talk up Blackpool’s top defending, though strangely we created many many chances close in, with Lennon particularly impressive.

    Bonkers match.

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