Good But Not Good Enough. Or FFS Shoot!

Winning ugly is something we’re all familiar with, despite the doubts expressed in this blog over the years that’s an over-used euphemism for a lousy performance that we’ve got away with. Call it resilience or luck if you like, one reason for Spurs’ success in this time is our improved ability to sneak a win when we are off-colour. On Saturday we saw a new variation. Not by any means at our brilliant best, we were more than good enough to dominate the game against a well-organised and admirably determined Wolves team, yet we failed to turn one point into three.

Writing early on a Monday morning is often by necessity rather than design as my weekends are busy but I’ve learned that it offers some perspective. Leaving the ground, there was an overwhelming sense of frustration – not only we were we the better team, but we had the opportunities and we need those points at the top of the table. Reading my twitter timeline, others felt even worse. You’d think we’d lost to the Woolwich Wanderers, looking at some of the entries. However, although this match threw some recent nagging doubts into sharper focus, it’s a measure of our progress if a performance like this is now the benchmark for a bad game.

All the hallmarks of the current side were there – the movement, application, effort and skill.  Over 68% possession, 26 goal attempts, undoubtedly we were the better team and there was plenty to enjoy but something wasn’t quite right. It was hard to put your finger on it but it was a combination of several small factors that added up over the 90 minutes.

Throughout the game we missed a series of straightforward passes, none of them significant in themselves but unusual these days with this new Tottenham. Similarly, up front the ball didn’t stick in the manner we’ve become accustomed to. At the back, we’re used to the early mistake but we were far too open at times, even though Wolves seldom ventured too far forward.  Dawson was uneasy at times and they missed a fabulous opportunity to go 2-0 up, as well as 2 more chances in the second half.

The main problem was in the box. Midweek, in the midst of my raving about the win, I hoped that we could score more goals from inside the area. Benny’s thunderbolts are all good fun but we’ve not been taking as many bread and butter chances from close in as I would wish and that proved our undoing on Saturday. Inside the area we took a fraction too much time and as in previous seasons there are no shortage of Wolves’ bodies ready and willing to get in the way. Hesitate and you will be swallowed up. The old adage is get it on target, whereas Bale, Modric and Adebayor were looking to shift it onto their better foot to make sure. That can be one problem of getting midfielders forward, that they are not instinctive chance-takers. Luka had one early opportunity from a low cross that cried out for an inelegant toe-poke, just a touch or messy deflection, but he tried too much.

Wolves encouraged us to come inside, where the massed ranks tackled, blocked, got a toe in, a shin in the way. They swallowed up so many of the one-twos and we didn’t quite have that rhythm to stretch them out of shape that has been so effective this season. Adebayor had one of his least effective matches – the one-twos were too tight. However, it looks like his offside ‘goal’ should have stood. Shades of Stoke, that’s 3 points lost due to poor decisions in similar areas, although to be fair this was marginal whereas Stoke was a street.

Overall, there was too much shooting from outside the box. Lots of oohs and ahhs but ultimately frustration. Ironically Modric scored from just such a move, a low drive into the bottom corner, but most efforts failed. By then we were a goal down. We were due one from a set-piece – our defending has been naive lately (and caused the Stoke defeat) and Dawson was beaten by a decent ball and header, with the ever-willing Fletcher tidying up the loose ball.

The goal meant we couldn’t draw out our opponents, who although they barely got the ball out of their half towards the end, were more than willing to battle it out.  Wolves deserve credit for their defending, despite our failings, and their centre halves should be proud of their afternoon. Not so with their latest variant of time-wasting that broke up what rhythm we had. It infuriates me when players go down injured in order to disrupt an attack, knowing that the ref will stop proceedings if they stay down. On 3 occasions Wolves did so and positively shrieked at their physio to not come on. The game is stopped but when the player recovers miraculously, they don’t have to leave the field.

Bale had a reasonable match but I would have preferred if he had spent more time out wide. Benny wasn’t the same after his early knock. Although he ran it off, his play was uncharacteristically lacking in confidence so we missed his attacking contributions. Parker too was perhaps hampered by injury. Again he didn’t perform badly but there was no drive or power just when we need a lift as time wore on and Wolves retreated further and further into their shell.

Kaboul, the spare man at the back, often charged forward but his final ball lacked accuracy. Good but not quite good enough on the day, which sums it all up nicely. An opportunity missed but it could be worse – two seasons ago we lost a very similar game and our overall record remains excellent. That point at Swansea, another source of frustration, looks a good one after yesterday. Half listening to 606 last evening whilst cooking the dinner, Alan Green said something about a breakaway group of three at the top. I’m still mildly surprised when he includes Spurs, but I shouldn’t be. That’s all we deserve.

17 thoughts on “Good But Not Good Enough. Or FFS Shoot!

  1. Too much talk for a simple solution…….start playing Pav and Defoe for the second half if we havent scored by half-time!!!! He keeps sticking with players like Ade who aint scoring enough!!! Try 1 attacking pair for the first half and if they dont score then swap them fukkaz for another pair for the second half and grow some fukkin ballz Harry!!!

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    • ???? Adebayor is scoring 1 goal every 2 games. If that isn’t scoring enough, then what is?? Half time was too early to make a change in a game that we were unlucky to be a goal down in. You are speaking with hindsight. If we had scored a winner, you probably would not be on here criticising. We did not lose, and we managed to come back from a sticky situation. Wolves scored whilst playing defensively, and then intelligently they came out after that to stop us bombarding them. 4 points from Wolves and Everton is pretty good going. Luck evens out, and on this occasion we were unlucky.

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  2. The task was made doubly difficult by Wolves scoring first from the ‘corner’ enabling them to park the bus and take the wheels off for the day. Poor refereeing enabled Wolves to continually kick at players and BAE seemed to be especially affected.
    Quite a few players seemed to look a bit jaded on Saturday. Parker wasn’t fully fit and didn’t play to his usual standard and for once the ‘roaming’ Bale seemed to create as many problems for us as the opposition. We seemed to lack a shape to our play, especially towards the end, when we resorted to lumping the ball forward; a sure sign that Dawson has returned.
    There are two areas that we really need to improve on. The first, which you’ve highlighted, is to stop overelaborating inside the box. Someone needs to put on a Gary Lineker video and demonstrate that a goal from a simple toe poke counts just the same as one from a 35 yard screamer or a twisting run. The second is corners and free kicks just outside the box which are absolutely abysmal given the quality of the team in all other respects. Some of the corners in the last few games were embarrassing at any level of football. Didn’t they watch Beckham in training last year?
    We need to forget the hype about winning the Premier League but we’re still a great team. Let’s keep it in perspective. The result wasn’t great but not a disaster either. Above all, we need to be thankful that we’re not Wolves fans. Who would want to watch that kind of football, more than twice a season?

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  3. Another enjoyable, measured insightful and thought provoking piece Alan, That’s only the first time we haven’t managed to break down a side coming to defend en masse at WHL this season, or at least win the game, so tangible progress from the past season or two at least. A ricochet here or there a bit of luck or more composure and we’d have had the win we deserved on Saturday too. So not too concerned and some results went our way others less so but we increased our lead over 5th.

    I said on the WBA blog and often in the “real” world that while Bale’s roaming is a good idea given the attention on him from defenders, it can mean that we are too central rtoo often and that the est way to undo teams that come to defend is round theback. We are very stron on both flanks and perhaps more of a balance still needs to be met by Bale in particular. Again an observation ratehr than a criticism.

    Perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but the corner was on the 6-yard box and I felt perhaps a keeper should be looking to come for that. Sometimes our defenders will get outjumped it goes with the territory but it was close enough for Friedal to come I thought. This is the one shortcoming of the guy who has given confidence and stability to a good defence.

    Still, I fancy us to put in a strong performance and get something, maybe the whole caboodle at Maine Road next week.

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    • Given the inability of our players to put a ball into the penalty box or take a free kick which threatens anything other than the opposition’s testicles, I’m quite happy to believe the idiot media and settle for any one of the numerous ‘flukes’ Beckham’s managed to toe poke in during his long and distinguished career.

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  4. Basically the players we rely on for creativity & goals (Ade, Bale, Vdv) were below par – apart from Modric who was at par – like the rest of the team. Ironically Lennon got subbed – even though he created the most chances out of everyone. Lennon set up Modric 3 times for him to shoot, plus Lennon beat his man twice and whipped in good crosses on those occasions. I wasn’t disappointed to see Defoe come on – but not for Lennon. Defoe then proceeded to disappear.

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  5. Dead balls.
    Our corners and free kicks are appalling at the moment, we are wasting chance after chance in games like this.
    Still looking good, but those basics, like getting a free kick on target, is what makes the difference to the results

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  6. Hopefully with Hudd back at some point, he might give us more of a shooting threat from around the box, Not that I can see where he will fit into the team at the moment, but if we have a game like this he can be brought on as a sub.

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    • Problem with the big boned one is that the pace of this team may have left him behind. He will have to make up for his slowness with speed of foot, deed and thought. Look forward to him being available, though, and his passing could be an asset.

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  7. Excellent summary as per usual Alan. I don’t understand why Harry rushed Parker back, especially after Livermore’s assured performance against Everton. Also, agree with one or two of the above posters. Harry ought to have been bolder and made a double substitution.
    Defoe should have started against Wolves, especially given his superb record against them. But, as we all know, Harry tends to be over cautious and just doesn’t like tweaking the team, even minimally.

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  8. “We seemed to lack a shape to our play, especially towards the end, when we resorted to lumping the ball forward; a sure sign that Dawson has returned.”

    The other sure sign: missed marking in the box.

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  9. Good article, as usual. I just finished watching the Manchester city versus Wigan, and I give high accoladesI to the latter. They were very unfortunate not to get at least one point as they outplayed Manchester city with attacking soccer, unlike Everton last week. It has been obvious for all to see that we just cannot finish. Our mid field play is excellent, also on both wings, but when we get inside of the box, we almost always play too close and get in each other’s way. It is getting late in the transfer market and I cannot see where Harry is going to bring in the player he talks about to rectify the above concern. I hope he proves me wrong.

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  10. Not a lot to disagree with there Alan.
    Never post too soon after a match especially if you are elated or disappointed.

    The first 20 minutes of the game was a catalogue of injuries, free kicks and stop,start action which broke up the play wholly to their advantage.
    Then they got a goal and the pattern of disruption was set.

    We still should have won it even then, Modric Bale and Adabeyor all wasting good chances and Van Der Vaart wasting multiple. dead ball opportunities.

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