Spurs Season Starts Here

Back to school we go. We queued up to get a new blazer, sharpened our pencils and mum has been up half the night biroing our name into the collars of our clothes. Then school closed for ten days. May as well have stayed on holiday. These days the start of each season is absurd. End the transfer window at midnight before the opening game and shift the internationals. But here we are so let’s get on with it. So what do we know now that we didn’t know on the morning of August 18th?

That Spurs fans have every right to be excited about the quality of the squad. We have bought skillful, talented footballers able to play the Spurs Way, with the power and strength in key positions required to prosper in the Premier League.

That we will have to be patient. The coitus interruptus of the international break is a let down but creates time to reassess our performance. The madness of the end of the window with three transfers in a day and Bale’s impending departure (who will ever forget the regular scaffolding updates from the Bernabeu on twitter?) has thankfully subsided, leaving time for tranquil reflection, at least until kick-off tomorrow. The conclusion is, we have a lot of work to do.

Let’s start in the heart of the team, the defensive midfield. Paulinho and Capoue are highly promising. That area is their natural habitat and they know their role is not only to break up attacks but to start our own moves once we have the ball. Paulinho is the more flexible of the two, willing to get forward when the situation allows and his judgement in that respect is sound. However, after settling quickly at Selhurst Park, at the Emirates at times they both looked a long way from home. Sandro should be back tomorrow to provide more power and drive. Last season he did so well before his injury, Villas-Boas often switched to just one DM, allowing more support for the attack. And they need it.

That Soldado needs to be given the ball. Well obviously – but this guy does his best work in the box rather than leading the line as target man. Support from midfield in terms of both making chances and getting up alongside him is imperative therefore. I look forward to seeing Eriksen but it is not about one individual providing the chances, it’s a team effort.

That we have to get bodies in the box. See above. Six points from three games is a better start than we are used to but it masks the fact that we have not scored from open play. Partly this is because of a lack of creativity in the centre. We’ve directed much of our work out wide, which teams keen to pack defence find easier to handle. Partly it is due to a lack of support for Soldado in the box. We can’t be everywhere at once but have to get a better balance.

That progress hinges on the form of the old guard not the new wave. At least in the short-term that is. Sandro’s back. The back four have to get their act together. With Dawson rather stranded for the Gunner’s goal, either they sort out the high line drill or, better, Kaboul returns alongside Vertonghen. Rose needs a run while Walker has to improve his decision-taking, that is not get drawn out of position or sucked into unnecessary fouls. Chiriches still doesn’t have a work permit – I trust the club have not made a misjudgment here. I don’t understand how that can happen.

That I wouldn’t swap Lloris for any keeper in the league. Huge favourite of mine.

That Dembele is key. He has been somewhat overshadowed by the newcomers but he has the lot. Hard to shake off the ball, a good touch and the pass to pick out a man in the box. The axis with Sandro was dynamic when they played together last season. His manager likes him but should play him further forward to make best use of those talents. But we have a problem – he’s not played well for some time and he can’t finish a match. If he’s not fully fit, rest him until he is. His lack of form and fitness has had a greater impact than has generally been acknowledged.

That Adebayor has a vital role to play. Barely noticed during the transfer furore, he provides not merely cover for Soldado but alternatives too. His movement and ability to bring others into the game offers variation, provided his motivation is right. He likes to be top dog and although the club are rightly and generously nurturing him during the aftermath of his brother’s death, his mind could be elsewhere when he’s fit again, in which case suddenly we are short of options up front.

That bloody international break. AVB has had no time to work on tactics and formation, precisely the things that are most needed. I read today, for example, that Lamela hasn’t trained with the team since the break. It’s like starting all over again.

That Franco Baldini is a star.

That our rivals are benefitting from the lack of change. Arsenal had an organisation and ethic that was enough to keep us out despite our possession while at Liverpool Rodgers has begun to get the message across, despite having a worse squad on paper.

At this point last season I thought we would do well but not immediately. Patience remains a virtue, except that with this squad the rewards when they come, and I think they will, could be great. I’m looking forward to the journey.

13 thoughts on “Spurs Season Starts Here

  1. Hello Alan,
    I’m really fortunate that most of our games are shown live over here so am really looking forward to tomorrow.
    You’ve covered the positives and negatives well enough and we must be of course be patient, but I must say that I find the decision to allow Tom Carroll to go out on loan a strange one.
    This player is in my opinion a true gem thet could provide the creativity in the centre that we often lack, he keeps the ball moving forward and doesn’t appear overrawed when given respnsibility.
    I am a believer in the ” If you’re good enough you’re old enough ” adage and feel that he already provides an extra option if the team begins to look laboured.
    Why play him in a lower division when he could be getting used to the role of playmaker at the highest level.
    Yes I rate him that highly.
    Somebody go and get him back, PLEASE!

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    • Agree he is a gem but see my post today – he will learn more at QPR than in the odd Europa League game and Townsend and Rose both have developed really well. It’s tough for young players at any Prem club.

      Regards, Alan

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  2. Hello Alan, whilst I agree with the previous chap that Tom Carroll has great potential, he’s not the answer to our creative midfield play in the biggest games, yet,
    I believe the season long move to QPR is a good one for him and Spurs. Pacier than the PL, the Championship can help him strengthen and mature perhaps quicker than a move to Ajax can. Also, he’s here in London, near to everything associated with Spurs, and alongside Harry (who obviously gets on well with his ex bosses). I’m more concerned we let BAE go, because now we have no left back cover for Rose. I know that Naughton and the cds can step into the breach, but it’s a problem area for us ..and we’ve now gone and loaned out our previous first choice left back without resolving cover. Anyway, as you may have noticed, I’ve been harping on for most of this year about bringing in a ‘Modric’ replacement. I was going frantic up until we finally got Eriksen (almost as an afterthought ..and yet he could prove the ‘key’ player of all). Bale masked our obvious midfield imbalance last season, and, without a ‘play-maker’ for this term (while the other top teams are awash with them ..plus add Willian and Ozil to their overflowing lists) our obvious new found power house of a midfield may have counted for little. We would have been like the immovable object playing the irresistible forces of the other top five (hardly the Spurs way!). Now too we have a proper box striker, after all these seasons, but we need him constantly fed. I don’t know how Lamela will play or even where, but if he can play that link with Soldado in both creating and scoring, then, in addition to Eriksen and good delivery from both flanks, the prospects are mouth watering.
    I agree too about Ade, who could link well with Soldado in certain games. Interesting that the pace on our flanks are all English. I can see Rose playing wing back at times, and again it’s where we’ll miss BAE just behind him. If anything, our Danny has it in him to be more Bale-like than Townsend in his development, the latter needing to concentrate more on getting his final delivery into danger areas in the box more often, and better than Lennon does, if he wants to be an important part of this exciting mix. You’ve got to love Walker, despite his mistakes, and him and Lennon (or Townsend) up that flank will frighten many a team. Our goalie, central defense and defensive midfield cover, are the envy of most, so I won’t go there, but I do hope that Sig and Holtby continue their development, and get a chance. You can see that both really want it at this level, especially Holtby, but doubts remain. Finally, I hope Dembele gets back his ‘attacking and shooting’ form soon, and although Chadli looks class, he’s almost too statuesque in his movement, which is worrying. . .

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    • Hello Chris,
      Obviously there is substance to your points regarding Tom Carroll and indeed this could prove to be a wise move for him.
      But I’m worried that it could be a season wasted with regards to asserting himself into our midfield.
      I could be overrating this player but he seems to be something special so I’d hoped that provision would’ve been made for him.
      The point is however mute since he is at QPR so I naturally hope that it’s a resounding success for him.

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      • Swedish Spurs, you are 100% right about young Carroll. Not only only skilful but highly intelligent , but worry he will not be given the chance to shine.

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    • Cracking analysis, Chris.

      Interesting re Lamela and where he will play. Townsend’s more muscular approach is a contrast and will keep him out of the side but we may have a look at him on Thursday.

      See today’s post re Carroll and loanees.

      Regards,

      Alan

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  3. Hi Alan. Always comforting to have you back in situ! I know, I know, you’ve only been gone for thirteen days……..
    Benny gave us great service but I think he’s on the slide and young Danny, whilst raw, has great potential. Agree with you, the squad is mouthwatering, the strongest we’ve had for many a year. AVB has the best problem a manager can have-the selection one. Can you see Sandro and Paulinho playing alongside each other? Aren’t they just that bit too similar? Mousa with one or the other looks a better fit. And we have ‘four into two’ situations on the flanks and in central defense. Chiriches looks very tasty indeed, I fancy him to play a big part this season. We’re thin in the full back position, shame we couldn’t snare Coentrao.
    Eriksen, so late in the day, almost an after-thought, could end up being the masterstroke. He looks to be Spurs through and through. AVB is the ideal person to nurture Lamela this season, I don’t think he’ll come into his own for a season or so (just like Gareth).
    We’re well-placed I believe for the next three or four years. Personally, I’d take 5th or 6th this year but with a pot…..I crave trophy number 18 oh so badly…….COYS.

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    • Aw, I missed you too HH ;). Appreciate that comment. A few hiccups at this end but plenty to write about this season as regular as All Bran.

      Regards, Alan

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  4. A fine precis of where we are Alan.

    I don’t like this wingers playing against their natural side and prioritising coming inside rather than going down the line lark. It isn’t good for Soldado either imo. Good as Lloris is and as much as I heart Dawson, if we are going to play a high defensive line Kaboul needs to come in asap. Lloris is a hair’s breadth from a sending off imo. Though I’d like us to defend a little deeper if truth be known.

    I think it was a mistake to let Benny go and make Rose first choice left back. I agree Dembele should be rested if he is carrying a knock/injury, he certainly isn’t at the races at present. I’d like to have seen more of Carroll in the front side, too. I’d like to see us get the ball forward (on the ground) quicker and try to sit on a lead less.

    Nonetheless, I’m very optimistic in the medium to long term as we’ve bought a good many young, highly talented fellas on the way up and hungry, to add to the ones we already had at the club. And the coach is clever and adaptable and a good sort, though, understandably, still learning.

    I do think it will be in the medium term before we are firing as we might be, Hopefully they’ll be more patience than there was last season …

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    • Excellent summing up. I know what you mean about the wingers, nothing I like more than a flying winger but if they come in, it allows our two fullbacks to get up into the gaps out wide. If it works, it’s great, if not, it gets cramped in the middle.

      I would not have let BAE go on loan but AVB clearly doesn’t rate him and we’ll see what Rose has learned at Sunderland, certainly their fans rated him and wanted him to stay.

      Regards,

      Alan

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  5. Hi Alan.
    Great read as usual.
    In all honesty I still think we have a problem as to whether we will score lots of goals from our strikers.
    Within 10 minutes at the Emirates I could see there was no creativity or urgency to get the ball to Soldado, and our midfield looked to lethargic with no ideas.
    Regarding possession . It’s ok keeping the ball but what’s the point if you have no end product, and that was our case playing a team that was there for the taking. AVB should have gone for it from the off, even if Arsenal played to sit back and counter attack us.
    Also I am still not sure about this high line we play, as it leads to mistakes, as in Dawson’s case. Teams like Palace even played in the second half to beat the off side trap, and when they do we only have Hugo to sweep up our mistakes.

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