Superjan Struck Down By Kryptonite Posioning

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Sure, Superman is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, he may be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound but could he keep the Spurs defence together? Superjan can. Vertonghen can do the lot. Centre half, he’s assured and quick. Switch him to left back, the whole team is transformed. He takes free-kicks, he scores from other people’s. Charging heroically upfield, he scores too (I know it’s been adjudged an own goal but that United effort will always be his to me).

Last night, we discovered that somewhere inside Carrow Road, there’s a chunk of green kryptonite hidden away. Unsuspecting, he took the field only to find his powers drained from his body. Ten minutes later, he was revealed as a mere mortal. Norwich wear green shorts. Coincidence?

Villas Boas clearly believes in his powers. When Vertonghen came on as substitute, Spurs were on top as they had been from the kick-off without ever playing especially well. Norwich were cranking up for a final ten minute fling. Throughout the second half we had tried but failed to add to our single goal lead, so the manager decided it was time to protect what we had. Hardly radical, although it was a surprise to see Vertonghen slot into a central defensive midfield position. An extra defender who can also turn defence into attack couldn’t do much harm.

But Superjan looked odd to me. Normally focussed and keen, he didn’t look as if he had the appetite for this one. From a corner, he airily waved a leg at a shot that was going well wide and deflected it in. A few minutes later, from a free kick that was wrongly awarded to Norwich, he lost his man and Holt headed down for Jackson to tap in the winner. A complete turnaround against the by then well-established equilibrium of a match where we were the better side but failed to score the goals to confirm our superiority. Dempsey then missed a penalty to complete our indignity.

AVB is a meticulous man who has demonstrated his commitment to cup competitions by preparing strong sides in the Europa League and League Cup. However, in a sporting age where backroom staff outnumber the playing squad, little things make all the difference. I question why Vertonghen rather than Dawson or Caulker was marking Holt, Norwich’s most dangerous player. When the penalty was awarded, the players did not appear sure about who was supposed to take it. At least Dempsey had the guts to step up to the spot. Two small but crucial errors of preparation that proved decisive.

For better or worse, right or wrong, this blog is always honest with you, dear reader. I try to be consistent but when it comes to the League Cup, I confess to some hypocrisy. I can’t get too worked up about it, win or lose. Except of course if we beat Arse**l in the semi-final or reach Wembley, where suddenly it becomes a tournament we all want to win, officially designated ‘A Springboard For the Future’.

Neither should ew read too much into a single game like this one. Whatever the rhetoric, the players of both teams were not up for it as they would be for a league game. However, place it in the context of other recent performances and there were examples of unwelcome trends that Tottenham will have to work on if we are to prosper.

We don’t score enough goals, or to put it better, we don’t turn our superiority into goals. We have a tendency to look good and take up good wide positions – Bale and Falque (in the second half) were excellent. Falque has certainly developed his game and delivered 3 or 4 top class crosses plus one sublime cutting pass that took out the entire Norwich defence only for Bale to have a weak shot saved. However, there is nobody on the end of the crosses. Not enough bodies in the box and no figurehead striker. Either get one or play a different way because defenders can get heading practice on their training pitch not in competition. Without Dembele, we miss creativity in central areas. How we were spoilt with Luka and Rafa.

Connected with this, we sit back after we’ve scored rather than snuff out the game. To be fair, this was not so much of a problem last night. After Bale scored from range, we continued to keep possession well for a period but to retreat and hang on to just a single goal, as AVB is keen for us to do usually, is a game we’re not yet resilient enough to play.

Finally, there are too many games where a couple of players go missing. Last night there were extended periods where Siggy, Dempsey and Carroll were not involved. (In defence of a talented young player, Carroll demonstrated his customary involvement in the second half). It felt as if we were playing with ten men for much of the first half. Dempsey, a player I was pleased to buy, has not yet found his niche. There’s no doubt that Martin Jol got something from him that Villas Boas can’t.

Even so we were too good for Norwich. League Cup or not, this was a missed opportunity.

6 thoughts on “Superjan Struck Down By Kryptonite Posioning

  1. We’re putting out what should be ‘decent enough’ teams in both the Europa and League Cups but it doesn’t seem to be happening. We are missing Luka but we’re missing Rafa more in this type of game. Both Siggy and Dempsey haven’t shone for me. AVB also needs to learn that Spurs is not a team that defends a lead.
    Ultimately though, we’re paying the price of not having a proper strike force equipped for four competitions and this has been a result of three seasons of messing about in the transfer market.
    Last night was disappointing in terms of our development as a team but I’ll console myself by thinking about the money it’s saved me.

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  2. Excellent observations. I think (1) get the figurehead striker or play a different way and (2) we’re not yet resilient enough to defend 1 goal lead for a significant amount of time – are two of the most sensible comments that I have read on this Spurs team since the start of the season. I can only hope AVB reads this blog.

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  3. Nice to read an article which isn’t steeped in gloom.
    I thought it was a good performance last night considering the team we had out. Controlled the game for 80mins, then Vertonghen came on and had a bit of a nightmare. It who saw that coming?!

    Bale had a good 65 mins last night, which was pleasing. And I also thought Dawson had a pretty commanding display at the back, although I’m not sure why Michael seemed to be marking space instead of Holt for their winner, considering he is the best defensive header of the ball we’ve got.

    Young Tom Carroll was another player who really impressed me in that first half. Confident, composed and positive, Tom justified his inclusion yesterday with a performance brimming with promise. Surely a candidate for the upcoming games against Maribor in the Europa League.

    I’m not entirely sure why Clint Dempsey is being written off so early in his Spurs career. I have to say that I was one of a FEW people, at the time, that was a bit baffled by his initial transfer to the club, but after seeing him up close I’ve got to say that I been rather impressed.
    So ok, he hasn’t exactly set the world alight in the infancy of his Spurs career, but what HE HAS DONE:

    IS BE TIDY- rarely losing possession. Clint was never going to be a VDV type: great vision and the ability to thread a ball through the eye of a needle. Dempsey game is more about receiving the ball, giving it to someone more creative, while manoeuvring himself into dangerous position through which he can score.

    MADE A HOST OF INTELLIGENT RUNS- thus freeing up space for Defoe and co to move into ( maybe this has gone unnoticed by the majority, as Hansen and co are yet to highlight the fact on MOTD).

    BE EXTREMELY BRAVE- Always wanting to get involved and influence play, never goes hiding when things don’t go his way. Always willing to take responsibility as his effort (albeit a pretty poor one) from the penalty spot proved. Take a minute to ask yourself where are ALL those players who seem to crowd around free-kicks from 20-25 yards when it comes to taking a spot from 12. Bale, Sigurdsson, anyone?

    BE A THREAT: One thing that Clint will always be is a threat to the oppositions defence. Again his Movement and intelligent runs mean that he will always be problematic to opposing defenders. His goals against Southampton and Man Utd (plus the WRONGLY DISALLOWED goal against Lazio and the sitter he missed against Villa) were all examples of the excellent movement and goalscoring instincts that I believe WILL make Clint a very good (short-term/long-term) signing for the club.

    At the end of the day, to judge Clint on the back of what must be a dozen first-team starts is just ridiculous, just as it was, when many of you, no doubt, chose to judge AVB after 3 games. Clint HAD NO PRE-SEASON WHATSOEVER, IS GETTING USED TO PLAY UNDER A NEW MANAGER/WITH NEW PLAYERS AND IS STARTING UPFRONT WITH DEFOE WHO I CAN BARELY REMEMBER MAKING A SINGLE PASS TO DEMPSEY, LET ALONE A KEY ONE.
    To compare Dempseys and Sigurdsson performance is laughable, as all the things I have stated Clint has brought to the team Sigurdsson hasn’t.

    Although I am not going to write of a 22 year-old who clearly has talent, but seems desperately short of confidence. Personally, I think Gyfil is struggling because of the expectations he places on himself to score. I think the first thing the Icelandic international needs to do is concentrate on becoming a bigger influence on the team, by getting on the ball more. Every time I see him he seems either not to really show for the ball or when he does get it he seems in too much of a hurry to give it away again. I think once he gets that first (‘good’) goal, his confidence will rocket and we will start to see the real Gyfil.

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  4. I feel sorry for all our fans that made the trip, me included, a lack lustre display that should have been so much better. Norwich offered nothing for large periods of the game and it felt like a pre-season friendly against a 2nd division team at times. Siggy should have dominated in midfield but was poor and Dempsey missing for much of the game. Thought Daffy should have come on instead of Jan to try and kill the game off as we hadn’t really been tested at the back. It seemed every Spurs fan around me knew what would happen when big lump came on for them but I still feel Caulker and Daws would have handles him and with them pushing for a goal would have given us more oppurtunities at the other end.
    As for their fans!! Bloody carrot crunchers!!

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    • Yeah, that was the glaring error from AVB, putting Jan on instead of Defoe, to try and get the second goal and kill the game off, Tettey or no Tettey, we had a chance to finish 2-0 or 2-1…I liked Falque’s display but Sigs and Dumpsey look poor in a Spurs shirt for me…

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