As We Stand Still, Our Rivals Rush Past

Frankly we got away with it: it could easily have been 8 on both sides of the north London divide. By the time Spurs found a little of the good stuff, City had made and missed three good chances. More opportunities came their way as the game progressed and they eagerly sliced through our toiling, bewildered defence.

Two games in and for many it’s doom and gloom. Reported scenes of Spurs fans leaving the Lane on their knees flagellating their naked backs may have been exaggerated. Others detect a whiff of conspiracy: Harry wanted us to lose this one to remind Levy that he needs to buy and buy big. Or to get Levy to sack him.

Back to reality. Yesterday we saw the same old Spurs, bright coming forward but no punch in the box and fatally neglectful of their defensive duties. What is particularly chastening is that whilst we are standing still, our rivals for the top four have moved on, and on this evidence have left us far behind, chewing their dust as they power off into the sunset.

Sandro Posing For Photos in the Paxton Before The Game

Whilst his choices were limited due to injury, especially in centre midfield, Redknapp’s selection and tactics were naive in the extreme. City swamped our fragile midfield from the outset, something that was apparent from the teamsheets let alone what happened once the whistle blew. Modric wasn’t fit and Krancjar has proved on three occasions this season that he is unwilling and unable to come back and cover.

With Lennon and Bale staying forward, presumably following instructions, our back four were exposed from the outset to City’s attractive blend of pace and movement. Goals were inevitable; the only surprise was how long it took them to score. It’s a familiar and numbing refrain on this blog – I love the attacking play but you have to have a foundation upon which to build, and in the Premier League that means a midfield defensive platform. Lennon and Bale are not best suited to coming back – sorry but they have to. Niko doesn’t fancy it – I don’t fancy conceding 8 goals in two games, however good the opposition.

City played with two men up front (thought they were supposed to be boring) and two holding midfielders. It can be done. Gareth Barry is not the player he was a few season ago, yet with minimum effort he protected the back four and stayed constantly on the move, just being around when he was needed and allowing others to get forward. Early in the game City attacked with four against four in our box. We cleared and went up their end. We had four up but faced 6 or 7 in their area, with Toure and Barry slotting into the gaps between back four defenders, whereas we allowed their men free rein.

Dzeko’s ease of movement was equally both instructive and indicative of how far behind our strikers are. Again he took up all the right positions without apparently breaking sweat. Our centre halves  have had better games but there’s little you can do against a combination of a sweet cross to a striker easing from behind the defender to just in front at the right moment. Contrast Crouch ambling to the far post or Defoe shooting repeatedly from outside the box. The way to deal with that is to stop those crosses coming in the first place, whereas we happily waved them through.

Midway through the first half I wondered if we had got away with it. City missed their chances and we attacked brightly, at pace. Despite his lack of fitness and, according to Harry, motivation, the team is comfortable around Modric and he made things tick. Benny’s passing from deep was incisive, Rafa busy and Crouch kept play moving with by being available and moving it on quickly.

Chances would be few and far between, and we missed them, Bale skying from close range then producing a gem of a cross that Crouch at full stretch couldn’t quite keep under control. No blame – it was a difficult header. Otherwise, Bale was asked to do a hell of a lot – attack wide and cut in diagonally, cover back and get forward with late runs into the box. Not unexpectedly, he didn’t quite manage to do any of them well. On the other side, Lennon was anonymous. When he did make a run, each time he hesitated fatally at the moment to cross and the chance was blocked.

City took their chances well but we allowed them to create far too easily. For a team with little width they made two against one on the flanks several times. We stood still for the second, played statues for the third, then Benny missed a tackle he should have won. In between, Daws did everything right one on one against Aguero, getting goalside and narrowing the angle, but the Spaniard is a master and made a tricky chance look easy. We should ever leave him one on one in the first place.

Well beaten by two of the best teams in the league, our season starts in a fortnight. I suspect we’ll be playing catch up until Christmas at least. Without reading too much into the season so far, it’s a harsh and unwelcome reminder of how far we are behind our rivals. We bid large for Richards, Aguero, Dzeko, Young at United. They spurned our advances: what we could be with them in our side. As it is, looks like we’re falling back on experience. Parker and Bellamy are good players but after yesterday, it feels like they are left-overs. It’s like we’re two weeks into pre-season, not the season itself.

Harry has a lot of work to do in the international break. He would do well to focus on building his team rather than complain about how much the media bang on about Luka, then proceed to bang on about Luka. Redknapp seems to be an irony-free zone: he just didn’t get it.  It’s a sign of his desperation but in fact he’s in charge of the team and there’s plenty to do there without venting his feelings publicly.

Finally, a true story if you are in need of a little perspective. Yesterday, while I’m chuntering away on the North Circular about matters described above, my wife is trundling in her wheelchair past a neighbour’s house. She hears cries from the first floor. ‘It’s coming, that’s the head, it’s here.’ She calls up and the woman needs some help. The ambulance and midwife have been called but like our full backs are late to arrive. She manages to get in and assists the birth of a premature but healthy baby boy, on the bathroom floor. A happy ending to this sorry tale after all.

30 thoughts on “As We Stand Still, Our Rivals Rush Past

  1. Why did Harry tell the world Modric asked to be left out? It achieves nothing and seems to be yet another ploy by Harry to deflect some of the blame from himself.

    The midfield selection was bizarre so I can understand why some people see a conspiracy.

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  2. Conspiracies aside (hard for me, I love a good conspiracy) it is the simple things, like goals, that we need.
    A good finisher in the first half in both Manchester games would have changed this, the annoying thing is we all know this… Adebayor has a lot to do, quickly.

    As for Modders, ‘Arry seems more determined than most to keep him in the public eye rather than just say “hamstring”. No idea why, but there is a game being played somewhere, I am not sure all the people in in actually know they are in it though.

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    • As you say we all know we need a new finisher. He should have come in during an earlier window but why wait now until we’ve played two of the top clubs and are bottom of the league?

      This is all too reminiscent of three years ago. Top player wanting to leave and being difficult. Bottom of the league. We all know what happened next.

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    • Agree on both counts, Simon. Time and again we’ve failed through lack of a striker, whether we have played well or poorly, it would have made such a difference.

      I wrote about Harry and Modders last week so didn’t want to go over the same ground too much. But Harry is. Clear he and Levy disagree and Harry wants his own way. This should be played out in private, whoever is right, not in public. Harry is abusing his position. It’s not good for the club and that’s all I care about.

      Regards,

      Al

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  3. Please Daniel, be proactive not reactive, move Harry Redknapp on while we still have a chance of being one of the establishing top 5 in the league. He does not have the knowldge or people around him and he is too clique, now he wants to bring Joe Cole in, a player not good enough for Liverpool. It’s time to give Tim sherwood a chance, at least, he is a winner and anyone who reads lots about Tottenham know the excellent work he is doing in the background like managing the under 17s and going off to Real Madrid to work out a game plan against them (because our manager couldn’t be bothered) amongst many others. Mr Levy, I respect and like you and know you love the club too. ‘You know it makes sense’.

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  4. Agreed, tactically we were too open and midfield was missing most of the game. Defore came on and injected some urgency and life into the proceedings but the damage was done long before. If we score first (bale missed a good opportunity) or even if we equalise (Crouch header) then it is perhaps a different game but overall you can see that players dropped their heads, could see Modric wasn’t interested and the game was over at half-time.

    Surely the board, management team etc are bored of reading the same headlines and commentaries – defender, goalie, midfielder and top strikers are whats’ needed – why wasn’t Adebayor signed up and playing vs united. Nasri signs for Man City and goes straight into the team. Why hasn’t a midfielder been signed – Palacios en route to Stoke, Sandro injured longer-term – it’s not rocket science. I agree with the last comment whjy wait until we are having to play catch-up with a terrible goal difference and bottom of the league – get your business done earlier Mr. Levy and stop haggling over the ‘dead-wood’ If HR doesn’t fancy Bentley, Jenas, Palacios, Hutton, Pavlechenko, Crouch et al, then should be sold to free up budgets and the players HR does want should come in. Even signing Parker is becoming a protracted affair and only comes about after Diarra deal goes quiet (or so we would believe). Damiao was supposed to be signed early in the window and then that goes quiet – it seems to be that for every step our club goes forward (CL venture last year was great to go to see) we take 2, 3 even 4 steps back. I have to say on current form and what the other big teams are showing we will be very lucky to stay ahead of the so-called ‘lesser’ teams and maintain a top 6 position – 7 is not a goal difference of a top premier league team in my opinion.

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    • I’m not worried about the deadwood. They will go one way or another. I wish we had done our business early. I think rightly we’ve gone for top class players, we’ve found out that they don’t want to come to us. Combination of us not being in the CL and the salaries other people are paying.

      Regards,

      Al

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  5. We haven’t played any of our rivals yet. We have played the 2 teams who will finish 1st and 2nd by a distance. We are competing in another league against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool so knee-jerk reactions are not needed at this time. A striker who can score and a fit holding midfielder solves a lot of problems.

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  6. Simply Chris because we have to get people off the wage bill before we can put more people on the wage bill, common business sense, it’s not rocket science. Teams wait before they buy our players to get the best deal naturally so we have to negotiate deals but wait before we can sign them. Simple.

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    • Well, that’s the balance sheet at the end of the window, right. However, I don’t think that is what is stopping us now. We could have got rid of several players easily before now, but I assume Levy believes we can hold out for a better price because we have enough cash around to wait.

      Regards,

      Al

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  7. Please can we put this into some sort of perspective. Man City are now unquestionably in a mini league of 1 – nobody can compete with their wealth and resources. And I mean nobody – until an equally rich oligarch/oil tycoon enters the game. Yes City were excellent – but as soon as I saw the starting line ups I knew we were in a for a torrid afternoon. Without a holding midfield player we were hopelessly outnumbered in the centre of the park. Neither Kranjcar nor Modric (even if he wasn’t sulking) are players who protect the back four. We could and should have had two goals in the first half – Crouch and to a lesser extent Bale missed golden chances. VDV also had a brilliant free kick tipped around the post by Hart. In the second half Defoe hit the post and had one tipped over. It’s a cliche but goals do change games. Crouch made an easy chance look difficult whilst Dzeko made a bloody difficult chance look easy. Not making excuses but if Crouch had scored then it might have been a different game – look at City and Bolton last week..

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  8. couple of seasons back when we got the forth place `Arry was always talking publicly about where he got the team from and where he brought it.This season looks like he will take the team back to where he got it from but he says nothing about it!!!!!!

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  9. As horrible as yesterday was, I don’t think now is the right time for knee jerk reactions. As someone has already posted, a fit holding mid and adeybayor and I think things will be different. I’m very glad we now have an international break and that the transfer window closes on Wednesday (really hope the fa see sense and change the transfer window so it closes before the season starts, to stop such unrest, and players aren’t going into the season not knowing where they stand) as we need some time to re group and start afresh.

    Our midfield selection yesterday was absolutely suicidal, it was inevitable we were going to be torn apart. I do understand that, yet again, we have a huge amount of injuries in key areas (does make me think what kind of fitness work our trainers do with the squad) but to not have any ball winning midfielders at all in midfield is ridiculous in the extreme, it’s all very nice having quality attacking players playing pretty football, but when we lose the ball, we basically have 5 passengers, not picking up the runners, and leaving our defence ruthlessly exposed. It also means playing with two out n out pacey wingers is pointless if we don’t have the players in the middle to control the play and get it out to them!

    Before the season started Alan, you had several articles focusing on the tactical aspects of our squad and potential formations. If you look at other successful teams in the prem, what works is essentially different variations of 424. Two defensive minded, holding midfielders, who can protect the back four, control possession and get the ball to the 4 attacking players. Man city yesterday, had toure and barry doing that job, and then use dezko as a focal point up top, and have 3 creative attacking players around him, who play in a fluid style without set positions, who pop up in space, and can swap positions. Man utd also do this with cleverley and Anderson as the holding players, with wellbeck as the orthodox striker and rooney, young and nani as the attacking three. Chelsea ditto, and dare I say it on a spurs blog, but the unbeaten arsenal team played in the same way with viera and peit holding and 4 attacking players.

    Here’s the thing- we have the players now to play the same way. I hope they both come in, but parker and diarra can hold, we also have hudd and sandro when fit, then you play any 3 of modric (if he stays), bale, vdv, lennon, kranc, piennaar, with ade as the focal point. Any of those players are good enough not to be constricted to one specific area of the pitch, and able to swap positions freely and find space- bale in particular would suit this, as he needs to move his game on, from such early promise. Teams know he will be on the left, so set themselves up accordingly, and they often double team him and restrict his space. As a defender I can’t think of anything more frightening than an afternoon desperately trying to follow bale around the pitch, not knowing what positioning he will take up next! Basically we need to sacrifice one attacking player from our current line up, for the sake of our team. It’s a long season anyway, so everyone will get their chance, and it’s easy to make a sub and take off one of the holding players if you need to chace the game a bit more.

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    • Nice post, although I would say that, seeing as you’ve referenced the blog.

      Agree re formation. Players have to be flexible and not just move in straight lines, to swap positions as you say. I wonder if this is why Pienaar was bought – he gives us that option which at the moment, Lennon doesn’t much as it pains me to say it. Interesting to see what happens in Rafa’s absence when changes will have to take place.

      Regards,

      Al

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  10. Conspiracy is a strong word and best avoided by those sane of mind. But there is clearly room to suggest that Redknapp was, shall we say, having a bit of a laugh at our expense with that starting line up. How else can you explain the fact that Tom Huddlestone has suddenly gone from being Harry’s first choice defensive midfielder to someone who can’t get into the team ahead of a player that wouldn’t recognise a tackle if an angler dropped his trousers?

    Apart from Modric, there were a number of players who looked less than fully interested in the games proceedings, notably Gareth Bale. Whether Bale had the huff with Modric for not pulling his finger out, or with Levy for not honouring verbal promises made to Modric is anyone’s guess. It would certainly be naiive to believe that young Gareth isn’t carefully weighing up his future options and thus has a interest in observing how Levy deals with his want away stars. Regardless, the upshot of yesterday’s events is that the pressure on Levy to break his promise to the fans over Modric’s departure is greater than at any point over the summer. Predictably, that pressure wasn’t lifted by Harry’s post-match comments.

    Only nutcases believe in conspiracies. But only those with their eyes permanently shut would disagree that professional football has become increasingly dominated by personal agendas.

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    • I would have played Hudd or Livermore, told them to stay back and let the rest take it from there. Not the perfect solution but better than we had. Hudd is probably not fully fit. He’s coming back from injury and looked as mobile as the tin man on Thursday. Even so he could have done a job in front of the back four.

      As I’ve said maaaanny times, I have a view similar to that of the press box only in the east stand. Bale was genuinely trying, as were all the team. Bale has some learning to do and he’s being to do a lot already, More thoughts on that in a post next week. Our attitude was infinitely better than that of L’arse – they were chuckling away on the pitch and Rosicky should be condemned for that reaction after the free kick. We were more beaten and bewildered.

      Regards,

      Al

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  11. Re matt spurs. It’s not a knee jerk reaction it is foresight. Redknapp compared Man. City to Barcelona, would he have played Kranjkar and Modric in the middle with Crouch ( who must be related to Harry) up front against Barcelona. Go and manage at your level i.e Blackburn, but, please, not Tottenham or England.

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  12. a few more v.quick(ish) comments-

    1.we’re too nice as a team, I don’t advocate foul play or cheating, but I’m fed up of seeing our players, when after a miss-timed challenge or 50/50, shake hands with the oppo, help them up, give them a little hug and pat on the back… we need a bit more nastiness about us sometimes, our lack of bite was so clear for all to see yesterday.

    2. corluka is too slow, and was ruthlessly exposed yesterday, Walker could be an exceptional rb for us and england, and needs games.

    3. You’ve already covered the irony of Mr Redknapp re: the modric situation, moaning about the press going on about him, when old ‘rent-a-quote-harry’ himself loves to talk up a story, any story, and seems to have talk sport and ssn on speed dial. But I’d also like to point out the irony of harry moaning about ‘a bad atmosphere around the place’ ‘worst pre season ever’… could it have anything to do with such inspirational quotes as…. man city are as good as barcelona…. best we’re ever guna see at spurs…. 6th the best we can do…. europa league waste of time. Harry has never framed himself as a technical, tactical statto type coach, but has always pro actively been moulded in the image as a great ‘arm around the shoulder’ motivator, so what excatley is he doing/saying around the team then?! It’s all good moaning to levy saying ‘the team needs a lift’ that’s YOUR job harry.

    4. I’m not in the Redknapp out camp; this can just be a blip all forgotten about in a few months, but his persistent stance of taking the plaudits when things go great, but deflecting blame to anyone, putting bodies in the firing line- modric/levy/the fans/whoever, needs to stop, it really doesn’t help anyone- take some responsibility! The clear disagreement between levy and harry being played out in public also needs to stop as well, it’s terrible for morale, and both need to be singing on the same hymn sheet. If history has taught us anything, its that with levy vrs a manager, there’s only ever been one winner!

    5. modric. I hope, come sep 1st, he’s still here, and I hope with the window shut he gets on with it, and gets back to his best. What I fear though, is that his head has been turned, his heart won’t be in it anymore, the rumours in the press will carry on, and will intensify come January, this will all cause unrest in the camp and we end up selling him anyway in jan for less than the rumoured 40mill being offered now.

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  13. Not much to add to the above, only to say the ceding of central midfield is a major Spurs preoccupation of mine and one that was the most important factor for me yesterday. Harry can very often look like a novice, amateur, hack coach.

    I look forward to Thursday morning, when we will know who is there and can get on with it until Jan at least. I would like us to sell Modric is 35-40 million is offered as whether it is Modric and his agent, Chelsea or Harry fanning the fires, this saga has had a major downer on the club and squad. Chelsea will be higher than us and still richer than us in January and Modric will still want to go. I love(d) Modric at Spurs, but that fella left the building a few months back.

    Three cheers for Mrs Fisher.

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  14. What I find hard to take ‘Arry has a large coaching team behind him and yet when things start to go wrong on the pitch none of them seems to have the where with all to change anything. It’s almost like they are all there just to keep ‘Arry company. He must’ve seen we were being over run in midfield yesterday, yet didn’t seem to change anything. When you think how the likes of Mourinho and Ferguson can influence a game from the sidelines and are not afraid to change things shows how limited our bunch are.

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  15. Pingback: a quick knee-jerk | wrong side of the pond

  16. And I get told off for being curmudgeonly.
    You sir are the curmudgeonalists’ curmudgeonalist.

    Unfortunately we are right.

    We are all doomed! Doomed!

    Harry has taken us from the brink and back.

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  17. 2113: More from Harry, and Chelsea fans might be interested in this… The Tottenham boss says his club turned down another bid from the Blues for Luka Modric on Tuesday. “£4om was apparently offered yesterday,” says Redknapp. “It was a big offer turned down for sure. I am delighted the little man is still here.” Like Carlos Tevez and Wesley Sneijder, it appears Modric is going nowhere tonight.

    Handshake
    2112: DONE DEAL
    Signing number two of the day for Rochdale, with Peterborough frontman David Ball joining on a three-month loan deal.

    2110: Here’s more from Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp about his transfer dealings in the last few hours and days: “We’ve been trying to sign Gary Cahill, trying hard all day but Daniel Levy couldn’t quite get it over the line. Peter Crouch’s up at Stoke talking to them. Alan Hutton: it seems like he’s at Aston Villa. Jermaine Jenas is at Villa. I’m sure David Bentley will do well at West Ham. I am absolutely washed out. I’ve been on the road at 5am every morning and it’s a waste of time going to bed. We got Scott Parker in and Emmanuel Adebayor.” He did escape from the car-park in the end by the way.

    2017: Harry Redknapp is trying to drive home, but cannot get out of the carpark at Spurs Lodge. Kaka? “Never an option,” according to the Spurs boss.

    Head in hands
    2105: HEAD IN HANDS
    Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has just told Sky Sports that he has pulled the plug on Sebastien Bassong’s move to QPR because Spurs failed in their attempts to sign Bolton defender Gary Cahill.

    Chelsea midfielder Yossi Benayoun, wanted by Arsenal and Liverpool, on Twitter: “Staying in London…will sign soon … I will twitt when it happens.”

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  18. Not having been asked for a title to the shite above from Mrs BBC, here it is: More Shite from the BBC and Mr SFB Rednapp (SFB; Shietfurbrains)

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  19. ‘Arry, for sure, your brain’s scrambled egg. I can’t give a toss anymore for your delusional comments.

    Having supported the team, (but) not necessarily the club for over years and meantime enduring many truly incompetent mangers, (notably excluding messrs Nicholson, Shreeve, and possibly Venables and Jol and mebbe even a coupla others), I cannot recall another as self-centred, egomaniac, event-blind or perhaps less legally-vulnerable than you.

    You seem to think that you may act without criticism or equilibrium.

    Do you think that just as you’ve got a tasty drum on Sandbanks that you’re Colonel Gaddafi? You’ve done us great: you’ve taken us from “Played 8: Points 2” years ago to “Played 2: Points 0” now.

    Time to fuck off back to Boscombe & Bournemouth Athletic? Think about it, eh, H?

    Arry;Gedaffi.

    Gedaffi;Arry.

    Nice resonance, eh?

    Of course if you possibly any changes in the next hour, Mr R, and you can drag in a mighty attack team, a midfielder with fully developed testicles and a full back or two with balls to match (all under £20m tops) and drop £80 -100K/month from the wage bill,erything’s cushty.
    In which case you’re invited to my 13th birthday party along with V I Lenin, Lord Margaret Thatcher, Alf Ramsey (Sir) and the Holy Ghost.

    Pip pip

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