What a Goal. What a Performance. What a Relief.

Amongst all the guff that’s spouted in the media about Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas, the dossiers, the trenchcoats, the goalkeeper, what the hell the fact he’s foreign, Spurs fans are beginning to sort out the reality. Yesterday he demonstrated a quality that will endear him to the people that matter the most (and no, I’m not talking about tabloid sports journos) – loyalty.I wouldn’t have picked Defoe, or Lennon or Gallas for that matter. In fact I said as much in When Saturday Comes – so much for that match preview. But AVB knows his own mind. He stuck with three key men, three key elements of his formation, and it paid off handsomely. Defoe as the lone striker, never would have thought it but no complaints. He applied the finishing touches to an excellent all-round team performance against an admittedly poor Reading side, including an outstanding second goal. Picking up the ball on the halfway line, he ran with perfect balance and touch into the heart of the area before decisively side-footing it across the keeper. Bale was the decoy – he could have stayed wide left but cut across the other way, leaving JD with room to breathe.

This was one of those games that will do Spurs a power of good, with influence over and above the three vital points. It was not just the win but the manner in which it was achieved and the fact that it was on Sky for all to see. AVB can’t be as bad as the tabloids say if we can play this fluently. Trust your eyes not the papers.

It was also one of those that felt better at the final whistle. Take the overview and we dominated but there were times in the second half when we were only one up, when Defoe missed a few, when the passes were going astray, that this had all the hallmarks of a Spurs cock-up. Of the season so far, in fact, when we have been on top, admittedly not quite to this extent, only to concede late on.  Lots to be delighted about, but be honest – relief was the abiding emotion.

It’s all about the team, as AVB searches for his best side. The combination of Dembele, Sandro and Sigurdsson in the centre won the match for us and prospects look good for the future. Sandro looks fearsome again. He’s our strength, our rock. A sight to behold, breaking up Reading attacks then trotting back diligently to his defensive duties, ready for the next onslaught. Meanwhile we raced upfield in flowing moves that he began. He also popped back between the centre backs when Reading came near, ready to bolster the defence.

Nearby, Dembele is a classy midfielder, unobtrusively effective as he went about his business. His touch, movement and eye for what’s going on in front of him are sure signs that he will fit in nicely. Siggy was better in the first half when he passed the ball more readily, most notably for the through-ball that cut Reading apart in preparation for Lennon’s cross and Defoe’s finish. Come the second he tried to take players on and predictably was caught in possession.

Most significant was the way the three of them combined. Already there’s a decent understanding. If one moves up, at least one other stays back. All are aware of the space that runs create, and are eager to take advantage, or will cover if we lose the ball. It’s hard to put numbers to the midfield set-up, such was their flexibility. Reading couldn’t cope at all. This nullified their main weapon, their effort and ability to close teams down. If they weren’t sure where we would be, they couldn’t get at us easily.

Vertongen is classy, quick and alert. He had a fine game, already becoming a real favourite of mine.

I have no memory of what AVB said in his post-match interview. I just recall his smile, like a little boy who’s won first prize in a talent contest. After a few seconds it faded, to be replaced by the media-savvy pro he is, but he really wanted this one. It’s the moment when I really warmed to him. He’s one of us, and I can certainly warm to his team if he can build on this performance. Dempsey’s the next conundrum. He’s not fit, having not had a proper pre-season, but he showed his worth in the last ten minutes, moving off the centre into areas where defenders can’t easily pick him up. I’d share JD’s burden and play him – neither Lennon nor Bale are prolific scorers and he needs some help. Lazio on Thursday will present a chance to try something slightly different.

If you spotted an unusual number of references to the media in the early paragraphs, it’s because I’m bitter about the way AVB and our club are being treated. I don’t normally respond to the coverage of the club, the gossip, the ITK, it’s so tedious and there’s plenty of it elsewhere on the web. However, it’s all become a bit much during the international silly season, culminating in the Spurs goalkeeping crisis. We sign a high quality experienced international at a reasonable price because our first and second choice keepers have a combined age of nearly 80. Friedel is outstanding, Lloris can’t get in the team but we had a crisis before Lloris was actually able to play. Even for Fleet Street, this is something out of less than nothing. Even the Hadron collider couldn’t find the particle of reality in this concoction. “Spurs Buy Well in Transfer Market and Plan Ahead”. “Spurs Have Healthy Challenge for Goalkeeping Position. Anybody?  Not in the script.

18 thoughts on “What a Goal. What a Performance. What a Relief.

    • We did well yesterday. The opposition were poor but as I said in the piece, much of that was down to us. The papers will be lurking for the next time AVB’s tie is slightly crooked…

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  1. Some of the spurs fans need to start giving Defoe the credit he deserved. Even last season his goals were ignored, yet he’s performed consistently and at the highest level for years. The fact that you wouldnt have picked him makes me relieved that you’re only another blogger and not our coach! Roy Hodgson and avb are the guys whose judgement I respect.

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    • Delighted to be proved wrong. I aim to be consistent on the blog so only fair to point out that I’d written about JD not being the man to lead the line as a lone striker – I would have given him some help up front and I still worry (could have just put a full stop there) that with Lennon and Bale as the more advanced players, we need more goals from other positions regardless of who plays solo striker, which is where Dempsey and Dembele come in. He’s as sharp as he’s ever been at Spurs at the moment in his all-round play as well as his goalscoring.

      Regards, Al

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  2. Aye, relieved, but impressed too. I maintain, given the quality of the opposition, that we were even better for an hour at Newcastle. Only Norwich has been below standard, thus far. Mind, another very very late goal let in. Snooze alert! Come on you lilywhites or black and greys.

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  3. Thanks for your positive writings. I am sick of that negative crap in the press.
    We played well and dominated for long spells.
    I like what the Manager is doing but still would like the tall guy up front with Defoe. JD is a scavenger type player and could pick up the crumbs from crosses to Ade.

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    • Cheer Chris. It’s not just the negativity, it’s the dishonesty. Sections of the media have a view about HR and AVB and make everything fit into that pre-determined vision rather than analysing the info they have on and off the pitch then drawing a conclusion.

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  4. A 3-1 victory against the new boys who haven’t played for a month. After previous results does this tell us that the glass is half full or half empty?

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  5. If Spurs ever got Moutinho then it would be classic. No other team would be at ease playing against spurs. Also we need to get good players who are present in relegated teams or those who have their contracts expiring or even those talented youngsters who are free agents….it would help…. avb has still work left to be done his defence is not fit till the end, he needs to integrate caulker, lloris,dempsey into the team… but yes great victory

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    • Happy Birthday, Ashley, me ol’ china.
      Great result for us all on Sunday. I think VB will do alright. It won’t be so gung-ho as the twit before, therefore less exciting, but if he can get the team to understand exactly what he wants from them, I think we’ll be more solid this term, but also more calculated. Shame that he’s having to do his pre-season in the season, but we all know who’s to blame for that. Promising.

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    • Agree re those players – tomorrow is the chance to do so. Dempsey is the key – 23 goals and bucketloads of assists last season, tough-minded. Could be the man.

      Regards, Al

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