It’s So Bad, I Look Forward To Crouch Coming On

We’re all the same, football fans. Turn up every week, that familiar and engaging mix of optimism and dedication at kick-off, tinged with the total certainty that the wheels are going to fall off at the earliest opportunity. “Typical insert name of your team here, trust us to have it all go wrong” Really though, is there a team like Spurs? That has created an art-form out of the cock-up.

But really. Consider this a scientific endeavour. I want to know, because I’m determined to push back once more the frontiers of human knowledge, the secret must be shared. Because it’s there. Fans of other teams, compare and contrast. Especially fans of top teams, teams striving to do well in the Premier League, never mind Europe, teams who want to challenge for the untold riches and glory of the Champions League. Teams with pretensions, who want to be something.

Here’s the model to evaluate. You’re not playing well but are still on top. Although your energetic, well-organised and motivated opponents are making it hard for you and have to be carefully watched on the break, the match is yours for the taking. It’s a corner, against the run of play. two centre halves jump. Yours is the captain, a rock, who has inspired others, made himself a far better player than most expected him to ever be, who is now an international when the guy he came to the club with several years ago, the one we really wanted, is long gone and getting fat on your opponent’s bench. Yet at this crucial moment, 0-0, as he jumps he can’t resist sticking up his hand. Penalty.

Enough for most teams but oh no. Onto centre stage strolls our keeper. We like him but he has a secret power – a marshmallow body. Moreover, he has no control over when he transforms. Up steps the taker, not even much noise to put him off, such is the gloom that has descended over the ground. Ta-dah! He saves it, plunging low to his left, a proper save to a good shot, not a penalty miss.

He does a slightly scary celebratory dance in the box, reminiscent of tribal shamen high on peyote and summoning up the spirits. Maybe he was on something

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stronger than marshmallows, that would explain a hell of a lot. His joy lifts him to meet the resulting corner, he catches it but it’s not quite there, a couple of flaps and it’s gone. The opponent seizes the chance but goes a bit wide….and the keeper brings him down. For no real reason other than blind panic. A second penalty in 30 seconds, they score this time. Surely in the long annuals of football history, this is a first. Genuinely remarkable. Fans of other clubs, tell me if your lot could do that.

This was of course the second implosion of the game. Again on top, as in terms of territory we were for the majority of the time, our defence’s unerring ability to evaporate meant we almost conceded in the first half. Where do they go? Really, what are they up to? As individuals I like them. Kaboul has a lot to learn about positioning at full-back but he’s OK. Gallas and Daws are true warhorses. Not once but twice in quick succession Blackpool had chances to take it as we looked on in desperation. Credit to Gomes here for a superb save, low and one-handed to his left. That’s the thing, he’d done so well up until the penalties. That’s the other thing – this ability to fall apart is all too familiar.

You have to laugh or else you’d cry. Something else that fans of most clubs would identify with, but it was a dismal evening at the Lane that was encapsulated in the MOTD highlights, which were a) not very long and b) almost exclusively featured Blackpool attacks. Tis wasn’t a reflection of the game itself – we were on top for most of it – but showed that despite our territorial and possession superiority, the Tangerines had the best chances. We had lots of attempts but I can’t recall their keeper having to make many hard saves, or even diving come to think of it. Mind you, his outfit was so bright, looking gave me a headache so perhaps I averted my gaze. Cars on the North Circular were slowing down because they saw a warning of a hazard ahead.

We huffed and puffed but couldn’t blow the house down. Without playing particularly well, we were fine until we reached the edge of the area. Then nothing. Early on, Blackpool played a high defensive line but gradually and to our credit we broke that down by getting wide. Bale had two or three men on him but still knocked over a series of crosses, not all on target but there were more than enough decent opportunities. A couple whizzed across the box as our strikers stood back and watched from a safe distance.

The goal when it finally came was excellent, and credit to Defoe for pulling that one of the bag. This season, Spurs have scored 12 goals from outside the box, more than any other Premier League side. The end of season showreel will excite with plenty of whizz-bang moments, but that stat indicates not brilliance but our fundamental problem: our strikers are poor. Time and again Modric, Rafa and Sandro were poised at the edge of the box, looking for something but saw only tangerine shirts. The crosses came in but there’s no one on the end of the them. It’s a well-worn topic in these hallowed columns, but all three of the strikers were terrible. Pay wore his rubber boots and the ball bounced off them time and again, but it’s a basic lack of technique that lets them down, over and over again. Pav was abysmal. I feel kind of responsible because without singing his praises I would pick him ahead of Crouch but it’s got so bad, I look forward to two metre Peter’s arrival.

Right at the first half’s close Sandro realised the real problem. Twice he surged forward at pace, knowing that we had to up the tempo and Harry took the hint in the second half by bringing Lennon on. He and Bale banged in the crosses – to a strike force composed of JD and VDV. If one stood on the other’s shoulders, they would barely be taller than the Blackpool centre halves, yet still we crossed it. This plays to our opponent’s strengths. One of their tactics is to withdraw into their box and the massed ranks repel all boarders. Not a criticism, it’s just what they do and we made it so easy for them.

Good luck to Blackpool. Their fans look and sound as though they actually enjoy football rather than being obsessed by money and league position, and their manager has done a fantastic job, my manager of the season. However, they are the dirtiest team I’ve seen at the Lane this season with several ugly fouls, late and high, when not under any pressure. In the first half Rose rode a dreadful tackle, then Bale was singled out for special treatment as Adam came across and cynically and calculatingly took him out. That ended his threat for the last 30 minutes (and as it turns out for the season), yet the referee did not even give a foul, let alone display a card when red could easily have been appropriate.

Mind you, by this point the ref appeared to have given up, happy to let the players get on with in the manner of a lunchtime playground kickabout. Fouls from both sides, with many from Spurs, went unpunished. I’m all for letting a game flow but this was bizarre. At one time, Crouch, Rafa and Evatt were on the floor clutching their heads and the ref gave a bounce-up after we deliberately stopped and kicked it out of play. He was probably still chuckling as in a moment of comedy gold increasingly in tune with our performance, Crouch had been pushed in the back and went flying into Rafa. Head met head and both lay prostrate. He even got the bounce-up wrong. Adam let Modric have it, thinking clearly that it was supposed to be uncontested but the ref meant it was a competitive drop, presumably to cover up the fact that he couldn’t decide what was going on so left it to the players.

Crouch on and the ball is launched high into the evening sky. A few half-chances but mostly a waste. That’s what happens when Crouch is on but we’ve done that one before, too. The guy behind brought his young son. He’s trying to teach him the finer points of the game but as with any 6 year old, he’s majorly impressed when they kick it as far and as high as possible. Suffice to say  he enjoyed the last twenty minutes more than I did.

A few other things to say, in no particular order. Luka Modric was once again outstanding, when we play like this he does so much to get us going, it’s downright criminal to see it go to waste.

Never mind all this samba football, the best Brazilian teams always has a tough defensive midfielder or two at their heart. Sandro will that man for years to come. He’s that good.

Danny Rose had a fine game. He looked composed and purposeful throughout and his defensive positioning was satisfactory. At the start Holloway pushed Taylor Fletcher right up on him, big experienced guy versus the slim newbie, but Rose easily had the beating of him on the ground and, surprisingly, in the air. Although he might have used his pace and linked better with Bale in attack, that’s only to be expected as they haven’t played together much. Rose is one of those players who came with high hopes and doesn’t seem to have moved on. From all accounts he’s not been ripping up trees when he goes on loan but this performance at least showed plenty of promise and it will be interesting to see what plans we have for him next season.

A great goal by Defoe, no question, but it was virtually first time that Blackpool allowed him any space. Give him a  second to compose himself and he looks dynamite. Except that in the Prem, that seldom happens.

Our last 12 games: won 1, drawn 7, lost 4. Opponents include whammers, Wolves, Wigan and Blackpool twice. It’s a lousy anti-climax to the end of the season. The lustre of the Champions League is fast fading. At the match I was mystified as to why a guy as experienced as Dawson should throw his hand into the air at a routine corner. I don’t usually get the chance to watch replays if I’ve been to a game but MOTD perhaps gave us a clue. it was a great ball and Evatt had him beat. No good moaning about a push, Daws, there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Beat and knew it. An ordinary incident but it revealed the pressure he and the whole team feel right now, and if he can’t cope then there’s no hope for the rest of them. Or for wins at City and Liverpool in the next 7 days.

Cheer yourself up – the club can’t be bothered to do much to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the greatest side we’ve ever had, unless you believe Paul Coyte talking to someone who wasn’t in that team to be enough. Fear not – wear the shirt with pride. Celebrate in style. The Double won the Spurs way, beautiful passing football. A superb high quality t-shirt featuring the team and the pair of trophies. Completely unofficial from Philosophy Football. Click the photo above or visit them here:  http://www.philosophyfootball.com/view_item.php?pid=700

More about the Double? Read my interview with John White’s son Rob and the co-author Julie Welch of the Ghost of White Hart Lane, the book about John and the Double team that’s a must for any Spurs fan. It’s the next piece down, go on, just scroll down a few centimetres…there it is, see it now.

26 thoughts on “It’s So Bad, I Look Forward To Crouch Coming On

  1. A shambolic display by manger and staff not inconsistent with the larger part of this season. Any momentum from the hard work of last season and the magnificent Champions League run is dead and buried. Time to start all over again. So, tell me it’s no one’s (or should that be everyone’s) fault.

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  2. A really well written piece from someone who obviously cares – a cut above the usual sensationalist crap on Newsnow.

    You have highlighted the problems well, but refrained from suggesting any possible solutions to our current woes. Thats either good journalism, opening the floor for debate or you are as bemused as the rest of us.

    Have all our players turned to crap, or is it simply that their limitations have been exposed? Has Harry been found out as a chancer who is out of his depth or have we been unlucky, deflated by the CL exit, mentally tired and the victim of injuries/poor refereeing? Has it been a good season (CL and 6th place) or should we have done infinitely better? Is Levy/spending limits in general or Harry at fault for our failing to sign the players we needed to push on?

    I’m f*cked if I know! – Although I will say that the prem has been relatively open this year, teams like Manu, Goons and Chelsea looked more catchable, Liverpool were much weaker than usual, at least for the first half of the season and Citeh still havent completely fulfilled their potential so it looked like a good opportunity. However in the unlikely event that we get six points from the remaining nine on offer, we will still finish eight points worse off than last year, and with a significantly worse goal difference.

    I suppose if Harry has one more season and we sign the players he says he wants, we will have given him the opportunity to prove he is the real deal. Of course it could all end in his departing to becoming England manager with Spurs in mid table with an ageing, mediocre, highly paid squad – Cole (x 2?), Parker, Ferdinand, Neville, Upson……….????

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    • Thanks leo.

      I had a few words to say about Harry a couple of weeks ago so I left that one. Same for the strikers, who have been the main on field problem this season. I hope to take an overview with a planned series of pieces in the final week of the season. Yesterday a decent striker would have turned a bad performance into an average one, and average would have been good enough to win.

      Regards,

      Al

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  3. Crouch is a Southampton/Portsmouth quality player who is at Spurs only because of his long term relationship with Harry. Mr. Redknapp has really sacrificed everything to help his Crouchy, and given the chance he will continue to do so (by complicating acquisition of a good striker and demotivating the current ones). So….better get used to Crouch-y and his four goals.

    Unless the FA saves us and takes Harry away. (please God!)

    Otherwise….wonderful match review.

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    • thanks for the comment.

      Agree re Crouch. Harry has to take the hit for this one. Even on form he doesn’t suit the way the rest of the team play and he holds us back.

      Regards,

      Alan

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  4. a rare balanced article, without the usual “harry out” and “we should win the title” mentions that unrealitic idiots write. In a way im pleased that we have settled back into our correct position table wise, our moronic fans were getting so carried away it was embarrasing. Why do we have more idiots than other teams? its cringeworthy to read their expert opionions written in hindsigh,t fresh from the lastest football manager game. Maybe a season finishing 5th or 6th will make them wake up to reality. We are a top 6 team who every few seasons could challenge the top 4 or win a cup. Thats what we are and bar the early 60’s that is what we have always been or aspired to. This is Tottenham, so why any of you expect more is simply pathetic.

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    • Yes it’s crazy to be amabitious isn’t it?? Crazy to pay £40 a ticket and be happy with the rubbish we’ve seen lately isn’t it? Mad to criticise a manager who seems to think how wonderful he is when we win a game,and then say how rubbish we were when he took over..We have a very good squad of player’s that should be utilised better..and it isn’t..Anyone who has witnessed the calamitous keeping of Gomes and our distinct lack of attacking play will attest to this.None of the present bottom three have we beaten this year,is that good enough for you with the squad assembled,which i hasten to add Redknapp was not responsible for.

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  5. What’s pathetic is to put limitations on what Spurs can or cannot achieve. The theory that we shouldn’t be challenging because we haven’t in the past is the theory of a loser.

    We’re failing to beat teams with far fewer resources than us. Do I expect us to win every game against these teams? No. But I do expect us to win many more than we have been.

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    • redschnapps continually manages to do this.Play things down and over emphasise his achievements,what’s his latest gem.”hey it’s hardly like we always qualify for the CL every year is it??” the sum total of his ambition,a complete one off and never likely to be achieved again under his stewardship.All these excuses just to make sure he doesn’t jeopardise his England chances….That may well be the tax man Harry anyway.

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  6. jim, the problem is not whether we finish 5th/6th – someone has to and if thats our place in the natural order of things, then so be it. Its the self aggrandisement/gloating (it was Harry who said we could challenge for the title and that Manu were weaker than previous years and we were competing with Arsenal, etc etc) and he or the players havent delivered to that level.

    The particular frustrations are that we have been able to compete in matches with Chelsea, Manu and Arsenal and then dropped bucketloads of points against inferior teams and that from being in a strong position to compete for 3rd our season has gone down the pan (ie we have had to adjust our expectations downwards mid season). The fact is that our form over the last couple of months would place us in the relegation positions and throughout the season we havent played that well.

    At the moment many of our best players seem a little out of sorts, off form or unhappy with Harry. Lennon and Krank are prime examples.

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  7. There are many areas of concern to look at. First is the squad. We have players who are not up to the standard required if we’re to compete at the highest level. Why hasn’t anyone mentioned that since Dawson’s recovery our defence has been shambolic at times. In the centre of midfield we have our most creative player foraging in front of the defence in search of the ball, playing deeper in every match. We allowed players out on loan, left back a prime example when there was no cover for BAE? Our forwards have no cohesion with the attacking mid-fielders, and are isolated in most games. Are they actually coached?, as it appears there’s no plan A at times, so plan B isn’t even a consideration. Why has Krancjar been allowed to rot, when if as Harry says that Bales a LB, why not play him there when BAE was injured, and let Nico play in his correct position?. Defoe scored two against Wolves and was then dropped for the next game, when all and sundry know that he’s a confidence player who hits goals in streaks!. Its a pity that a season of such promise and fantastic highs has petered out to become one of self examination at so many levels of the football club and I include us the fans for perhaps being over optimistic in that as well.

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    • “since Dawson’s recovery our defence has been shambolic at times”?
      Have you forgotten what our defence was like when he was out injured??
      And whatever the author writes, Dawson was unquestionably pushed for their first penalty.

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  8. As a fan , that’s our job: to be optimistic. When we finish fifth, we are optimistic that we will finish fourth next season. When we finish fourth, we aim for third. Anything less is the death of competitive sport. I don’t subscribe to Jim’s “know your place” outlook on life (imho Jim sounds like a gooner troll making the rounds on all the Spurs sites with that familiar line).

    I know what I saw last season and it was good cohesive team playing the Spurs way and grinding out results that took us to fourth. I know what I’ve seen this season is not a fraction of what I saw last season yet the players and the managers are one and the same. I would like to know why. All opinions welcome except “know your place” type crap.

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    • I hit a golf shot, at first I’m pleased to connect with the ball, secondly pleased that its airborne and travelling in the right direction, then pleased if it looks like its on the green but then I’m gutted it didn’t go in for a hole in one! Sport eh? takes you up and lets you down!. As for Spurs He, he, same ol’ same as….. roll on August, I’ll don the shirt raise my hopes and expectations and no doubt count the if’s but’s and maybe’s again next May!

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  9. It’s been heartbreaking to see this team stumble and falter so many times. They’re capable of brilliance, we’ve all seen that, so to see them labour out a 1-1 draw, or sink to an ignominious defeat is just sickening.
    The strikers aren’t the only prob we let in a huge number of goals. This team is consistently failing to realise its talent.

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  10. One name. Van Der Vaart. Great player, but the insistence on playing him regardless has led to the team losing all shape and cohesion.

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  11. Alan says: I hope to take an overview with a planned series of pieces in the final week of the season.

    That’s the only bit of good news I’ve heard this weekend.

    Haven’t we given a pen away, saved it and then immediately given another away one game not so long ago too? Or maybe I dreamed it. Sunderland Away or Home last season?

    The set-up was a real mess at times. Not for the first time. Harry’s done well, but it is a side set up for star players to make the difference rather than gain results through a cohesive, disciplined and methodical team plan. Next season’s going to be even tougher as our rivals strengthen. We look less well placed to move on than them at present.

    Whatever Modric’s loyalty (Bale’s injury may take him out of the transfer firing line for a while) if he feels the club isn’t moving forwards (who of his level can we attract without CL or probably even EL football?), all quiet on the stadium front, lower wage threshold, why wouldn’t he consider a move. He is coming into his later twentiesn and deserves the best.

    Good to see Harry has no probelm with Lennon!

    Harry’s done a very fine job overall, he’ll be there next season, but I hope England come looking sooner rather than later. Though I fear he’ll be less than mediocre at international level.

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  12. I think that first minute when Pav fell over the ball (literally fell over the ball, it was like a Charlie Chaplin move choreographed by Buster Keaton) the whole of the lane just decided that they had seen enough.

    Time to look forward to next season. 4 strikers and a keeper is what we need on the pitch.

    The THFC board are sure to want to keep Harry. Success plus cheap as chips is a combination accountants love.

    Redknapp I think will prefer to stay if we strengthen. But if we sit on our wallets again he might spend June watching the phone hoping to pick it up and hear a ruskie or scouse accent offering a real chance at the title before he goes out to pasture.

    Big summer coming up and we will know the score in May/June this time.

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  13. Before you read the obituary of the dead over the Eastlands result, may I ask : cannot someone with a little more online nous than me do something to reininvograte the tired and over early 2000s emphatic graphics and text content regarding our communal fantasy object at wikipedia? As it stands a gooner mighta wrote it (or Arry RIP).

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