Sad Spurs Are The Ghosts Of Their Former Selves

Plenty of Spurs places on the web where you can find anger as we slip down the table. I’m fond of describing the significance not of individual matches but sequences that crop up as the season plays out. A combination of computer predetermination and evolving circumstances throws up intriguing little sets of fixtures. Take our last segment of the year and it’s relegation form. Don’t forget, after the big sides, this is our winnable run-in.

Tottenham On My Mind, however, is a site of sadness. Flashes of fury quickly passed. The team deserve it for a pallid impression of their real selves on Saturday evening. It looked the same. Same characters, same passing, same runs down either wing, the midfield dominance. But there was nothing really there. Lifeless apparitions going through the motions. I bet if you put out your hand to touch the chest of any of them, it would have gone clean through.

Sad now, because of all recent Tottenham teams, I feel so close to this one. I’ve agonised over their growing pains as they made mistakes, so many mistakes. I’ve stood up for Modric as his apparently frail frame became the target for lesser men. I knew he was tough, and so it proved. I’ve worried for Bale, youthful and timid on the wing, until suddenly he had a growing spurt and put it all together. Ledley I’ve nurtured through each  sinew sapping sprint, looked anxiously to see how he recovers following every crunching tackle, marvelled at a calm diligence and dignity that I could never have come close to in my wildest dreams.

These and others I’ve watched, wondering if they can find the answers to maturity through experience. No good telling them, they have to live it and find out for themselves. Then suddenly they were pinging the ball all over the place, pass and move, push and run. The game is easy, it’s just the players that make it difficult goes the saying and this lot made it simple. Made it heaven. Beautiful, beautiful football I’d waited a lifetime to see. Gone, all gone. So sad.

Sad that against inferior but well-drilled opponents, once again we did not have the nouse to find a way through. They did try, for the most part, they just didn’t think. Modric did many of our good things but that’s not saying much. He could and should have done more to take the midfield by the scruff of the neck and dominate. Not for 90 minutes, 20 would have done, 10 or 15 even. In that short burst we could have turned the game because Rangers had little interest in even holding the ball up front when they cleared it, preferring to sit back and wait. That would have been enough, but nothing. Parker too: plenty of effort and he does the same things as he did before Christmas. Except he does it all half a yard slower. He’s a fraction late into tackles, just one the tail of the runner into the box, a touch off-balance when he passes or shoots. So sad.

It’s wrong to invoke the spirit of Barcelona when comparing football tactics but I’ve seen them recently try to over come a packed defence. Inter did it last season at the San Siro and went four up.  They hold the ball in the middle while two, usually three forwards push up onto the opposition back four. Then either a ball is played to feet, back to goal and they look for a one two or more usually one or possibly two of them come a few yards off their marker. The defender then has an invidious choice, If he goes, then he leaves a gap. If he stays, the player is on his own in the danger area between midfield and the back four. Barca vary it by having their attacking full back join in, moving into the space that’s vacated out wide.We could have done that. Not as well as them but we could move like that. Broken things up. Shifted their centre backs out the way. Instead we aimlessly buzzed around the back four like a wasp in the autumn trying to get through a pane of glass. Sad that we bring on a winger, Lennon, who is playing well admittedly, just send over a series of crosses for defenders to head away because our forwards aren’t very big. I’m sad no one noticed that they weren’t very big because it’s clear to me.

Sad that we never learn our lessons. Once again, we begin by not playing well but managing to muddle through. For the first 20 minutes, our defence played as if they had never met before and were terrified by the presence of these strangers. Wild lunges, crazy mix-ups, yawning gaps ripe for exploitation. Yet we muddled through, until once again conceding an avoidable goal. From then on, as against Norwich, Everton, Chelsea, Stoke, it’s an uphill struggle. Once again, we were unlucky with a referee’s decision – Sandro made a brave legal tackle – but Friedel had so much time to see that leisurely freekick loop towards his goal. He seemed transfixed by its progress and his geriatric topple in the general direction of the ball was far too late. He’s been the unobtrusive foundation of our success this year. We should allow him an error becasue he’s made so few, but this one hurts.

Sad that if a side takes its lead from their manager, they are as bewildered and powerless as he is. “I’m not worried about the way we are playing,” says Harry. I don’t get angry with him when he talks like this. Genuinely I don’t believe he thinks through what he’s saying so it has little meaning. The media never challenge their darling so he just caries on. I think I should be angry. Anyone might think his complacency insulting to the loyal fans who can see all to clearly that we have real problems. We lack that edge, making and taking chances, being dangerous for extended periods, breaking down teams, that’s what makes the difference, that’s what he’s not giving us. Contrast the attitude of the QPR players. The manager has given them a shape, they sick to it, it works. That’s the way it should be.

Sad that this, the team that was to take us to glory in style, is falling apart as fast as my dreams. It will further disintegrate come this summer if we fail to reach the Champions League, with no prospect of decent replacements. This wasn’t the fate of this wonderful side. Sad that we’ve conformed to type and can’t hack the pressure. Sad that amongst other fans in London, we’re a laughing stock.

True story. At half-time for the first time in a while I lit our woodburning stove. Open the box with the pile of newspapers and there on the top is the Evening Standard on the day Harry was found not guilty. I screwed up the cover and it went up in smoke. You want symbolism? I’ve got it. Sad that an ordinary side could beat us to easily. Sad that we’re going down without a fight.

To cheer you up, scroll down to the bottom of my last post and you can win an exclusive Spurs T-shirt courtesy of clothes 2 order

Good luck!

38 thoughts on “Sad Spurs Are The Ghosts Of Their Former Selves

  1. First class article, and I totally agree. We have players who can create chances but cannot defend. Then we have strikers who do not know how to score, its a total shambles. Harry has to take the blame considering his main strength is supposedly able to motivate players. Where did it all go wrong? It has to have started with the England job, Harrys obvious desire to go has affected players, who can blame them? Harrys motivation went out the window. I fear for our great club I really do, and I have been a fan since Ramsey and Bill Nick WORE the shirt. Mr Levy has some hard thinking to do?? Finally, what would the media and english fans say if Harry takes the job and goes on a losing run like spurs at present? Ouch ah?? I pray only for a miracle for thats all I can see to get the team out of this mire Harry and the lads are rapidly sinking into.

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    • Thanks Bazza. I was banging on about HR and our current predicament in my last article. My mind is laid bare so check it out if you can possibly take the strain. I don’t think England has been the major factor. It’s more Redknapp’s poor choices under pressure plus problems he’s stored up like letting Corluka, Pienaar and Pav go and running several players into the ground.

      Regards, Al

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  2. Sums it up perfectly. The day the England job came up was the beginning of the end. Not sure that tactically Harry cuts it at the highest level, with one of the best sides in the league he never went for it against the top teams – and results show that. I worry for us too. No one looks like they believe any more. That sense of all in this together has dissapeared. If I was Levy I would be very concerned. What a shame, it was a great party and maybe we would be singing that Lady Gaga classic on the terraces – we’re on the edge of glory!

    Geoff

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    • I’m not so well up on that Lady Gaga’s body of work. You hum it son, I’ll sing along.

      Is she any good at tactics? HR needs some help, I agree.

      Regards, Al

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  3. Where’s Ashley Collie when you need him?

    Not that I believe that Adebayor is actually that good, but I think we’ll really struggle against Blackburn if only Defoe is fit. They’ll come to stop us playing; try to nick one on the break.

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      • Hahahahhahah, gents, nice to get some recognition on St. George’s Day, way over here in Tinseltown. Alan, someone has to do it, but in the palm trees outside my lil bungalow, the feral parrots are squawking what I feel about this season — Most of us will be back at the start of next season, come hell or Europa or whatever! Personally, I never saw our squad as that strong, as it’s been proven now (no other strikers or proper CB cover at the weekend), and much of it has to do with that funny old issue…MONEY. We’ve spent the least amount of all premiership clubs in last two transfer windows. For a number of factors, Mr. Levy is playing (has to play) a delicate but dangerous game. We still get into CL, he wins. If not…well, “I’ll be back,” as the Terminator said! Meanwhile, yes I love Spurs, but I have other things to look forward to, like my hometown Newport County going to Wembley in FA Trophy Final and Kobe & The Lakers taking another run at an NBA championship. And, I have been busy doing some proper writing, a new action thriller called Hyde & Seek that reps for Tom Hardy & Jason Statham are reading, fingers crossed, wish me luck guys. Now got to get back to those Hollywood nymphs that keep knocking at my front door, distracting me! 🙂 COYS!

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        • That’s just how I pictured you, Ashley, a vision. If you ever need someone to hold your notebook, give me a call.

          Being a realistic romantic about the game, one of the reasons why I like this side so much is that we haven’t bought success, not in the way other teams have anyway. But harsh economic realities intrude and there’s much in what you say.

          The Argus writer who covers Newport County is a passionate Spurs fan and a fine sportswriter on the verge of bigger and better things.

          Take care my friend, Al

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          • Alan, what’s the boyo’s name at the Argus, as I read it online and was telling my dad in Toronto the other day about Newport’s success. I went to elementary school right next to the old Somerton Park (County’s ground). As for the money issue, even Newcastle has 16K more capacity than us, I believe we only have the 10/11th largest stadium. There are hard money issues at stake — Levy is playing a “moneyball” game of sorts, certainly without CL this season and maybe not next season, all the while trying to get a new stadium, run a profit, keep wages in line, etc. I like the hard salary cap of the NFL, where every team can be competitive within a couple of years due to free agency, draft picks, etc. As for the weather, after having experienced what seemed like drizzle every day in South Wales growing up, if I never see dingy days again, I’m a happy camper. Even when it’s “crappy” here, it’s still sort of nice! And the sun and feral parrots in the palm trees make an appearance just about every day. Not perfect, like Spurs, but I’m a fan! COYS!

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            • Ashley, you don’t have to convince me.

              The journo’s name is Michael Pearlman. I have a cyber relationship with him. Good man.

              Regards, Al

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    • TMWNN, mate, I got off after the Newcastle 5-0 thrashing, I just had a sense that was as good as it may get this season. Here’s an English dude I interviewed who was a world class athlete, now lives in Malibu, dates Victoria’s Secret model Rosie, and doesn’t support a football team, so he doesn’t go through the good, bad, ugly and indifferent of being a passionate football fan. We’ll all be back next season, right?! COYS! — http://www.celebratedliving.com/jason-statham-diver-lake-pancharevo

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      • You see, I don’t envy him. Because he doesn’t support a football team.

        Right. Up for an hour, only time I can write in peace. Walk dog in rain in muddy field before hitting the M25. I don’t envy him at all.

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      • What was he like, Ashley? He always comes across as a bit of a wally in his (cough, cough) films. Don’t get me started on the accent!

        Of course we’ll all be back. It’s “costra nostra”.

        Have fun with the nymphs, get stuck into one for me.

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        • Hey mate, I must admit, I’m kind of a pro at this, so I get a lot of respect from my interviewees. So they may be on their best behaviour with me during interviews — who knows what they’re like in their real lives. Then again I’ve met Jason at the Farmer’s Market in Hollywood (close to where his Rosie lives at Sunset & Vine), and he’s always been pleasant and quietly polite. Can’t say anything bad about him right now anyway, as his biz partner/manager and he are reading a project I wrote with Jason in mind. The reps for Tom Hardy and Ray Stevenson are also reading it. It may be paradise here but you need an incredibly strong constitution & a lot passion and luck to deal with the rejection, BS, and all that other great stuff about Hollywood. PS Jason’s movies have done over $1billion BO worldwide! He joked, “No, I didn’t know that…But I can tell you that it’s not in my back pocket.” He protests a little, as he has an $10+ mill home in Malibu! COYS! It ain’t over till some fat lady sings!

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          • $1 billion, eh? Amazing! There really is no accounting for taste. Although I did enjoy Lock Stock & Snatch.

            Must be difficult to watch the games over there, what with the time difference.

            Anyway, here’s hoping for a win on Sunday.

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  4. Oh spuds…mind the gap….looks like St. Totteringham day’s gonna happen afterall when it seemed so unlikely in january! Your best team in 50years and you still cant finish above the arsenal…plus we gave you that scum adebayor….you deserve each other. This tastes so sweet!! On the bright side,maybe you will win the europa next season…keep dreaming…for now london is ours and i damn love it! Wallow in your misery!

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    • Well, since we are having a little fun, here’s some from always sunny LA, matey!
      Fire brigade phones Arsene Wenger in the early hours of Sunday morning…
      “Mr Wenger sir, the Emirates is on fire!”
      “The cups man! Save the cups!” replies Arsene.
      “Uh, the fire hasn’t spread to the canteen yet, sir.”
      Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom!

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  5. Good article. I struggle myself to make sense of why things have gone so wrong, and it does seem worse given how good they were early on. At the start of the season, I think the way Spurs played caught a few people out, no more Three Point Lane. Soon enough, teams figured out that they should come prepared to park the bus (and who was the first team to do that? Irony…)… so they did. But a Spurs at their peak was good enough to unpick that lock time and time again. But, any team relying on playing that way has to be at their very peak, no weak links.
    Some random disjointed thoughts then:
    Steven Pienaar. Who’s he scoring for at the moment?
    Newcastle. What’s the difference? Strikers who would probably score if they were in wheelchairs.
    Ledley – the dream is over.
    How many times do you see a misplaced pass now? Too many.
    How many times do you see instead of a trapped ball, it rocket up into the air or straight back to the passer, meaning the receiver has to chase? It’s like watching England at the World Cup. Is this how Harry’s preparing for the job?
    How many times do you see instead of a pass an attempted blast at goal through three defenders which cannons off the nearest defender and straight to another one?
    How many passes go sideways and backwards, instead of forwards, like a team of Ray Wilkins clones?
    Tactics are one thing but fear and loss of form are another. This team never gives the impression it will score, and it’s the same team that couldn’t stop not very long ago. It’s beyond me to sort out, and I’m glad I’m not being paid to.

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    • My theories collected in my last post.

      Agree that teams have sussed us out, but we should be good enough to get round that. I would not have let Pienaar go. Our weak strike force in stark contrast to Newcastle’s goalscorers. I am surprised they are doing this well. We’ve been so poor in front of goal.

      Regards, Alan

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  6. An article to sum up my exact feelings. Brilliantly written. I cannot express just how hurt I feel by what has happened to us….. and how frustrated I am by Harry’s lack of acknowledgement to the fact that he is quite largely responsible for it. All we hear is excuses…. ‘we were unlucky;the ref got that one wrong; I did not have any options on the bench; ‘. Where is our APOLOGY Harry? And how can you deny that the England job has had nothing to do with it when the statistics clearly paint a different picture. A combination of Harry, the FA, injured or past it defenders, signing players on loan who quite simply are not REAL Spurs, and an underachieving strike force has destroyed our season and our beloved team will now be torn to pieces. Gutted. Levy needs to take action.

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  7. Assuming FA appoints someone else for the England job, so that distraction is gone – would you still want Harry in charge next season?

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    • I used to fully support Harry and always liked him as our manager. However, now when I look back, despite the fact that he has (or certainly had) assembled the best Spurs side in years and given us champions league football (albeit only once), I think I now believe that he is not the man to take us up to the next level. This is not so much based on the whole England job issue, but some of the tactics he has employed and transfer window activities have been a bit weird. For example, loaning out players which then leave us short for the end of the season, loaning in players for key positions who really do not have to care if the season goes down the pan knowing that they can go back to their parent clubs at the end of it all, and finally bringing in players who are in their 30’s which appears to be a constant theme. I am not sure that these strategies are the best to create a title winning team. But I may be wrong… I don’t know, what do you think? Is having two on loan strikers a good thing? We rely on them to score goals, but at the end of the day they are not true Spurs – does this affect them psychologically? Then Defoe on the other hand is so inconsistent that he is not really a reliable option. Add this to a set of injury plagued or aged centre backs then it is possible to see where out problems could stem from. So… its been a long answer. But no… I would not want Harry in charge.

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  8. Aye, it was a very bad one on Saturday. They looked like they didn’t believe any more. It’ll take a Herculean effort to get back on track. Mind, Arsenal and Chelsea, in the league at least, are turgid, too. Only Newcastle look to have the force with them. I won’t give up yet, there’s all summer to be miserable, if needs be.

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  9. Westham, Soton, Pompey – all in crisis after Arry had fukked them up. Now Spurs: Gallas, Nelson, King, Ade, Parker, Friedel, Cudicini, Saha are all just stop gap solutions which will bite Spurs in the arse in the comming years. This is just a quick fix so Arry can get some glory before he moves on. But England must be mad if wanting him now…

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  10. I like you when you’re angry but you’re even better when you’re sad, Alan.

    Looking forward to next season already.
    We could still make 4th but we wont.
    New manager, new signings, pre-season gossip, rumour and ITK.
    the smell of newly cut grass and fresh paint.
    Mmmm….

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    • Tottenham On My Mind. The Spurs blog that’s best when it’s sad.

      Jim you are a PR genius. You’ve fair missed your calling.

      Thanks Jim, appreciate that. Regards, Al

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    • JimmyG2, can smell those fresh coats, and grass way over here in CA…hope springs eternal…at least we’ve been getting a sniff the last few years, unlike 14 or so other premiership clubs and all those teams below us in the other divisions. And what about Pool with all that money spent and no CL football again. Things could be way worse. Spare a thought for me, in the 60s through to mid-70s, Spurs (9 trophies, IL, 3 FAC, 2LC, 1ECWC, 2UEFA ) and ManU (only 4 – 2L, 1FA, IEuropean Cup) were the glamour teams. My dad is an inveterate Red Devils’ fan, and I’ve had to live with that throughout the Premiership years, ouch! COYS!

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  11. Pingback: Spurs plotting surprise £2m deal & Levy faces real transfer battle – Best of THFC | la liga sport news

  12. A few things off my chest regardless of whether we finish fourth, in the Europa or whatever. So, like, if we win tomorrow, we’re back in 4th (not saying we will but we could). And all those who spout sanctimonious, disingenuous, knee jerk claptrap on the Net, will continue with their vitriol and diatribes about our manager, and formations, and team. Having an opinion (even passionate) doesn’t make one intelligent, observant, thoughtful, insightful, and savvy to what really goes on behind the scenes of a pro sports team. There are tons of opinions on the Web that are so lacking in insight, they are truly hilarious. My pals and I just laugh out loud. It’s like a comedy club and it’s why I rarely post. And the ones who spout the most crap, do it the loudest, almost like bullies with their opinions. For example, Spurs Vital Football is dominated by those types. You spout vitriol, you are most certainly one who self-loathes, it’s so freakin’ obvious. So try to give it a rest and let the season play out, lads! COYS – and temporarily silence those supposed fans of Spurs who only want to hear themselves be heard and be right, even if we lose. That’s not a fan, that’s a six-letter word that starts with “w”.

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  13. Pingback: Spurs plotting surprise £2m deal & Levy faces real transfer battle – Best of THFC | Kickers.IN

  14. Sorry, did someone say we’re back in 4th, and with a win on Weds (fair enough, no guarantee), we’d be right back on Gunners’ tail! Sandro a monster today, his best game since a run last season. And that’s the way to hit a freekick, Rafa, watch the English lad Walker! That was as good as anything Ronaldo or Messi could pull off — did you see the bend on the ball? Lots of twists and turns left. And it may well not be done and dusted till the CL final! COYS!

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  15. Oh, Alan, I’m not a “sad Spurs” fan — so be careful, mate, with your headline for your always insightful match reports. Saying sad Spurs only invites negative crap from the moaners and whiners. We are what we think all day, we think we’ll fail, guess what, we will fail. And words have power. So let’s have a positive headline on the next post — who wouldn’t have taken 4th place with 3 games to go — and it is still all to play for!!!

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    • Freely admit I’ll never cut it as a sub-editor, Ashley, but this article was about being sad not angry as well as a description of our performance and part of what I try to do is reflect emotion and mood. And the moaners had plenty of other places to visit – ‘sad’ was the mildest adjective used to describe our efforts on any Spurs site or messageboard on the net!

      Regards, Al

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