‘Enough Is Enough’ – Protest Or Epitaph?

Spurs blog 104The banner unfurled on the Park Lane before and after yesterday’s Spurs game read: ‘Enough is Enough’. One side red, the other blue, it symbolised the unity of the two sets of supporters campaigning against extortionate seat prices for away fans. After this diabolical performance, it could just as easily be Andre Villas-Boas’s epitaph.

This was a benchmark match. Liverpool and Spurs have much in common: youngish managers making their way in the game,  teams with an illustrious past but uncertain future as they build new sides, contenders for a possible top four place. Now Spurs know where we stand: we weren’t beaten, we were totally outclassed. One of our main rivals is not just a few places above us in the league, they exist in a different dimension.

If there is any consolation to be had from this wretched, dismal afternoon, as bleak and foreboding as the chilly drizzle that seeped into the marrow, Liverpool’s performance makes the perfect training video. AVB should take a long look before he shows it to his players. Where they were quick and agile, we were dull and ponderous. They continually burst forward at pace and in numbers. We drifted around aimlessly. They pounced on our players on and around the halfway line like young panthers eager for the kill. We played with all the menace of charity-shop soft toys with half the stuffing hanging out. Liverpool were everything Spurs should be.

Rodgers and Villas-Boas have both faced criticism as clipboard bosses who have been given their demanding, prestigious jobs too early in their careers. At the end of last season, the Guardian ridiculed the Liverpool manager in a quiz listing ten absurd management-speak comments and inviting readers to say which was said by Rodgers and which by David Brent, the boss in the Office.

Now, the only guy who looks absurd is AVB. Never mind a parlour game, judge him from the way he put this team out. We were simply swept aside, utterly inadequate. We is Us, collective responsibility. Players and manager  were poor but the manager must take the blame for this one. Time and again we were caught in possession, no one to pass to, players ambling forward so they could be easily marked by the Liverpool defence, separate from each other, Soldado isolated, strangers not a team.

Last season in late November we beat them 2-1 at the Lane. it was my favourite game from 2012-13, two teams who went at it from first to last in a thrilling match. Then, Rodgers was under pressure. He’s moved his team forward, we are lost. They made runs from deep, three or four at a time, early pass to feet or into space, simple but devastatingly effective. Simple but beyond us.

Villas-Boas has been criticised for not changing. As I’ve said in this blog many times, that’s not quite accurate because he has tried different things. Lately I’ve been asking a different question: not why doesn’t he make changes but can he? Is he able to find the right formation? Soldado is the example. I assumed we paid that money for top class striker knowing that we also had a plan, players and tactics that is, to play to his strengths. I’ve asked that question a lot recently – I am a patient, generous man but the answer is ‘no’. AVB does not know what to do. Bobby is flotsam up front, drifting on the tide, far from safety. Suarez starts deeper, leaving space to run into and in touch with his team-mates.

Liverpool got stuck in from the first whistle. We ambled on the ball and never imposed ourselves. After sustained pressure where we failed on several occasions to cleanly clear the ball, they finally scored when Dawson dallied and Suarez pounced.

We were hanging on, mistakes everywhere, unable to hold on to the ball, as if we were puzzled at Liverpool’s temerity at not allowing us to play. Ironically, we then had our best period. Chadli gave a rare glimpse of why we bought him, an imposing figure on the ball who crossed three or four times from the byline. Soldado and Holtby put the ball wide.

Then further calamities in our box. Lloris all arms and legs like an agile version of Kasey Keller, saved twice. In that moment, and this sounds crazy but I will share, in that moment I thought, the luck is with us, a turning point, we’ll muddle through to half-time, undeserved but only one down. Funny how the mind plays tricks. A split second later Henderson rammed home the fifth rebound and we were sunk even before Paulinho, who was awful yesterday, was sent off for a high tackle.

A feature of the first half was Sterling’s performance. Like an old-fashioned winger, an old-school phrase should sum up his day – he took Naughton to the cleaners. His control, style and speed were dazzling and in stark contrast to Lennon’s haphazard, stumbling afternoon. Naughton was hauled off at half-time, hopefully for the sake of his sanity to spend the rest of the afternoon in a darkened room with soothing music in the background.

If so, he won’t have heard the cheers that greeted Fryer’s arrival. That’s hardly going to help him. Naughton was poor, no excuses, but he was no worse than the others and he was hung out to dry. He’s a right-back played out of position because his manager saw fit to have no cover at left-back, to the point where he sends our first-team regular out on loan. Chadli gave him no protection whatsoever – imposing going forward he may be but he can’t be bothered to come back and double up on the winger, which is basic tactics. Basic. Other chickens are coming home to roost. Why sell Caulker knowing Kaboul is not fit, so we have a midfielder at centre-half. The manager’s responsibility. And Sterling would have given any player in the league a mare on that showing, make no mistake.

It ended up as five, should have been eight (they hit the woodwork twice), could have been double figures, but I would have said exactly the same if it had stayed at two.

Spurs blog 105At the finish, Holtby slumped to his knees and repeatedly pounded the turf with his fists. The others slunk away into the dressing room. If we are to recover from this, Holtby’s spirit and willingness to face up to the crowd is the place to begin.

The debate about AVB has been rendered irrelevant by this game. Levy will not tolerate it. Villas-Boas’s sacking is inevitable, only a matter of time. So here we are again. New manager, new ideas, players brought in to support the old ways. Good players will leave without European football. One step up and two steps back. Change when only continuity will bring results.

But there is continuity – Levy is still here. A financial wizard, he has no idea how to choose a decent manager. He’s still here and we’re down the toilet, stuck in the u-bend. A decade or more of opportunities flushed down the pan.

The effort to stay behind for the post-match protest against ticket prices was superhuman, let me tell you. I doubt if anyone noticed. We were the last on the Shelf before shambling home in the rain. Off to find a darkened room of my own.

Postscript: this was written before I heard the news of Villas-Boas’s dismissal. Good luck to him elsewhere but sadly elswhere is where he should be. Epitaph it was then.

38 thoughts on “‘Enough Is Enough’ – Protest Or Epitaph?

  1. Like you said Alan, so here we are again. As you’ve posted this so AVB has left. I’ve seen all the good stats about what he’s done and the points we’ve achieved this year but when we’re playing so much worse than our worst last season something has definitely not been right. I hope our new man sorts out our forward play – we’ve so much talent.

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    • Good timing on my part for once…! Agree completely re the forward play – he has failed to make the best use of the considerable talent at his disposal and it’s getting worse, not better.

      Regards, Al

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  2. Very damning and wholly correct Alan. There have been signs of what we might achieve this season, but only a half or 20-30 mins here and there. You are right to compare VB’s travails with Rodgers’s last season, which could give some hope going forwards.

    But it isn’t 1978 and Levy isn’t Mr Wale. (i.e 1-4 vs the Villa early in the season (WHU) 7-0 at Liverpool (see Man City) and 0-5 vs the Arse (see yesterday) two days before Xmas). AVB has to throw some babies out with the bathwater as his way of playing is too slow and turgid or simply too regimented to get us in the top 4 in England, esp now Liverpool have woken up and we don’t have a game changer/winner like Bale or Suarez. I doubt he will do that. Possession football for its own sake isn’t enough and we lack the purpose or understanding of where such a strategy might lead that L’pool showed yesterday.

    Really, that was beyond abysmal, esp coming off the back of 4 “good” games, when confidence should have been restored.

    I dunno. Depressing.

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    • I dunno either, really. Much sighing and shaking of head around these here parts. Last season we were always at our best when we played the ball quickly. This season we have lost the ability to do that. The movement off the ball in the opponent’s half is nowhere near as good as it should be. As you say, there’s no plan or strategy.

      Cheers, Alan

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  3. Absolutely brilliant summary of life so far this season. It has been inevitable and AVB has gone now and maybe someone new will introduce the necessary changes to stop this slide and get moving back up again. After all, we won’t get to the top, but we are only 5 points off a top four slot and only 6 points from being second at the moment, so hopefully Levy’s season can be saved by getting into the CL.

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    • Thanks, for kind comment and a reminder that there are some reasons to be cheerful. I think the CL is beyond us, and would have said the same even if AVB had stayed. There are better teams than us. The real problem for me is next season and the ones after. This was always a long-term plan, now we have gone backwards once again.

      Cheers, Alan

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  4. Totally agree. Forget AVB – nothing will change whilst Levy is there. Doesn’t trust Harry with a penny when we needed just a couple of players to cement regular Champions League football + at the same time consign arsenal to the history books. Only opens the cheque book when he has a Director of football who buys players left right + centre with no regard to if they can adapt to the Premier league or where they will fit into the team .
    Oh and on a side note what other chairman would allow their supporters to be deprived of their right to watch Spurs in a massive FA Cup tie ? + let arsenal get away with some pathetic excuse about health + safety, Coming out to say we will give them a reduced allocation in a reply is an insult to our intelligence – how will that help me ?

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  5. I’m sick of Daniel Levy, he needs the sack and I can’t believe I’m not seeing spurs fans arranging protests for levys resignation or firing. I’m sick of spurs at the moment, I only have so many hairs on my head And I can only take so much stress and heart break.

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    • I’ve lost most of my hair already – you’re right, I should blame Levy for that too. Stress and heartbreak – supporting the wrong club my friend, but it’s hard to take even if we are used to it by now. So much potential, so much waste.

      Regards, Alan

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  6. Surely Spurs fans have to wise up to the fact that the fault rests at Levys door. If you need reminding check out his long list of managerial cock-ups on the net. What makes this occasion worse is that not only did to get rid of Arry but Levy spurned the chance to appoint the likes of Moyes, Martinez, Rodgers and Benitez. All were available. But Levy fancied another punt. And where is the sparkly new stadium we’ve been promised for 15 years????

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  7. I suppose it was inevitable after Sunday’s embarrassment.When he was appointed I was quite excited by the idea,a young progressive manager who would bring excitement back to the Lane.Yes Harry did have us playing some great stuff at times but for me he was yesterday man and not tactically astute enough to take us to the next level.Also the alleged chance of taking over the England job did have an effect,I don’t care what anyone says.I was prepared to overlook the fact that player power seemed to have done for AVB when he tried to carry out Abramovic’s plan.However it seems Chelsea had good reason to let him go.
    This season has seen a decided change for the worse in our playing style.Obviously Bale is a big loss,but he wanted out and I think the transfer dealings were carried out with the knowledge that basically we were getting all our outlay back.Individually the players brought in are of good quality.Paulino a fixture in the Brazil team,Soldado Spain’s striker(until he came to us),Eriksen Denmark’s playmaker for the last 2 or 3 seasons,Chiriches captain of Romania and Lemela only a boy but spoken of in glowing terms by people in the game who know their stuff.Capoue and Chadli only young and to get much better.
    So it would seem that the tactics employed didn’t get the best out of the players available to AVB.We had become so predictable and pedestrian in our approach play and whilst initially the defense looked strong,it was inevitable thet our failure to score goals was always going to be our downfall.A -6 GD at this stage is very likely to cost us at the end of the season,even if a new manager can turn around our fortunes.Why were we playing with only one up front at home,particularly against so-called weak opposition?I think the players themselves are unsure of what is expected of them because they’re not played in the positions that suit.I noticed that in Europe last week Townsend was very productive but once he was switched to the right he was up to his old tricks,cutting inside and trying to shoot on every occasion,Bale-lite.If he wants to emulate Bale he has to play for the team first,I never understood why AVB could never impress this upon him.He has talent but must work for the team.

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  8. I lost the comment box before I could finish.
    It’s true the next appointment is crucial.Kramer13’s point is well made.Like him or not Benitez was very good for Chelsea at the time in the interim.Do we now have a temporary man in charge until the end of the season?A heavyweight is a real consideration at present just to steady the ship,restore confidence and belief and have us playing with a swagger again and more importantly picking up 3 points every game.We can still get 4th.position as points wise we’re not far off,but again that GD is a real concern.

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    • Eddie, I agree completely with your assessment of AVB’s story at Spurs and what has happened to the players. Excellent summary. As to the future, it is hard to get the right man in the middle of a season, presupposing that Levy has any idea of who the right man might be, which on his previous record is doubtful to say the least. On the other hand, thinking of the Pleat caretaker half-season still gives me nightmares. A very experienced hard nosed caretaker until the end of the season could be the ebst damage limitation – our goal has to be to keep this squad together at the very least for someone to spend two or three years with them, than we will see where we are.

      Regards, Alan

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  9. You have to question the role of both Levy and Baldini in this whole situation we find ourselves in.Was AVB consulted about the new signings?Was it agreed how they could all be implimented in the side?To be honest Levy’s choice of managers in recent years hasn’t exactly been a success.Yet he seems to be fireproof.He must be a real mate of Joe Lewis.

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  10. Think Spurs have hit a glass ceiling for now. Their future depends on whether the stadium development goes ahead. If it does, without too much debt, they can aspire to CL football, etc. If it doesn’t they’ll still be a major football club, but not really top rank. Possibly occasional CL as under Harry.

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    • Jim, that’s what I have been saying – we have to take the long view however hard that is. I had hoped AVB would be the young manager to stick with us and his talented squad. Not to be.

      Regards, Alan

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  11. We will never be able to attract the really top players until the wage structure is amended.The Arse finally woke up to this in the summer and lo and behold Ozil arrived,although he always looks like he would rather be elsewhere(Utd?).This has been the main stumbling block to recruiting the players who would make the difference.
    The locksmith in midfield(difficult to know who we could attract at the moment) is our main requirement at present along with a LB(Baines,Shaw),even if the new manager likes Benny.Plus another striker and a good young goalkeeper(Butland,Schmeichel) to learn from Lloris.
    To go should be Friedel(been a geat servant),Gomes,Naughton(unless only used on the right),
    Somebody tell me why Caulker was sold.

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  12. Back to square one again. I’ve had it with the our club, always lifting our hopes only to be cruelly crushed.
    The piss take today was relentless . There is a picture of Mr Beans head superseded onto AVB’s body saying he is our new manager.
    Levy! Is the one to blame for all this. The buck stops with him.

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  13. Perfectly summarized as per usual Alan.
    When I arrived at the ground yesterday, I and those sitting around me were quietly confident that we were going to win, given our recent improved showings. And then, we saw the team sheet and our hearts sank. The most negative line-up imaginable, every single one of our flair players warming the bench and Chadli preferred to Townsend. It felt so wrong and all of our worst fears were realized.
    I was one of those who was excited by AVB’s appointment, I felt he was a good fit for us and I loved the way he immediately referred to our history. He had done his homework. But pretty much every week I would be baffled by either his selections or his substitutions and it became clear to me that he simply doesn’t cut it at this level.
    In terms of his replacement, Laudrup or Di Matteo excite me more than Capello (who was far too cautious as England manager). Personally, I agree with Lineker – Let’s give Glenn another go.

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  14. Hi Alan,

    Yep back to square one again and another 18 months of transition. A veritable laughing stock, especially to the South London refugees down the road. They get beaten 6-3 by a rampant city side and then we make them feel better by getting stuffed out of sight at home.

    I’m actually quite sad for AVB right now. I really wanted him to succeed for us and light up the premiership in the process. I was quite excited when he joined, wanted so much to put one over on Chelsea. However, in the end he didn’t actually seem to know what he was doing. I’ve felt recently that apart from having a plan for how he wanted us to play, in his mind he conjured up how he wanted the opposition to play, only they didn’t!

    The way Liverpool played yesterday is how I want to see us play. We didn’t even look like a team, let alone play like one.

    How much the summer signings were down to AVB and how much Baldini will be the subject of many discussions for quite some while. I’m sure the autobiographies that emanate in due course will have the usual denials attached to them. As for those signings, I think 5 out of the seven will be very good for us, but I’m still not sure about Chadli and Paulhino. The latter has played regularly and not impressed me at all that much. As for the former, he’s a big guy who should be scaring the crap out of defences whether it be tearing down the wing or imposing himself in the box at corners. Someone should tell him to pull his finger out as I think he’s only giving 50% at present.

    So on to Levy and the manager conundrum. He has to take his share of the blame for this debacle as should the advisers around him. They don’t seem to have much of a clue where choosing managers is concerned.

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    • I agree – I wanted AVB to make it, for our sake and to show the football world that Spurs were on the up with a forward-thinking manager and young, hungry players. Which makes his departure all the more galling and makes us even more of a target for everyone who wants to have a go.

      I’m pleased with the quality and potential of the players although with some like Lamela it’s hard to tell because we have barely seen them! Paulinho is a good player who is out of form. He’s knackered after the Confederations Cup yet AVB did not rotate him. getting sent off could be the making of him as he needs a rest. Also, he’s playing out of position – he’s a box to box player with a starting position fairly deep whereas AVB played him off the striker recently. Chadli looks good going forward – he has to work back too.

      Regards, Alan

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  15. I have no idea what was really happening,but my guess is that AVb held his one idea over all.Not that he didnt adjust.He did.
    But taking the concept of inverted wingers,even though it was probably Bale himself who invented it (HR?),it was taken as a successful thing to do at least.Even though Bale and a Ronaldo were two of the very few that could make a loving out of it.
    But what that his great additional to tactics?
    The High line was either badly interpreted by the players or it was a system that was built only to look on the positive side of and that’s the attacking side.Defensively it was a mess and not only with the quality great passers and their targets but lone runners from West Ham too.
    But the man stuck with it even though Courtinho and Suarez carved us up with their brilliant timing last year.
    And all we heard was how unlucky we were,how we dominated,how the ref was bad,the fans let us down…..and supporting everything was the players (no no the insurgents Ade and Bade) saying how much they belief but when their belief was really tested it crashed like a blamaunge.
    If AVB could have dropped the hubris and arrogance and talked about himself learning rather than he acting like he had something that nobody had ever thought of before and that take everything by storm with this computerized idea he had that put the system over the instincts of the players (HR put his instincts above any system and that wasnt sustainable either).
    If you do act you nhave the greatest project in the world,you have to show the owners that you are working towards it. Those 2-1 can only go so far. Having Lloris be your savior can only go so far.Winning in the Europa can only go so far and saying that we were back after the 6-0 drubbing,after a few games against average teams and United that were completely open for it..you better make it stick.
    Systems only go so far.Having forwards play like defenders and defenders like forwards and tip tapping across the field while the other team sets only takes you so far. You also have to not only convince the players that the system is good,you have to instill winning into their mentality.
    One year of Porto doesnt count for much.He has Chelsea and Tottenham on his CV now.
    Maybe di Matteo should have get the team motivated.Im not sure about Sherwood. But I hope Levy thinks clearly about this next one because I cherish Tottenham and have done since before most of these characters were born,never mind being associated with Tottenham.
    Its not easy for someone to meld this team together.But they have some great players to work with.The right idea can see our team flourish Im sure of it. They need to hear the right message and be offered the right ideas and most of all need to believe they can win.

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    • Think getting all these new players to gel was a step too far for him – it would have been tough for most managers, to be honest. I think he played the inverted wingers elsewhere in a 4-3-3 but the problem here is that he had wingers, not players who could work back, pass and get in the box, which is asking a lot but frankly is what is expected these days from forwards.

      Regards, Alan

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      • I agree Alan that the game has changed but surely a forwards job is primarily to create chances/score and a defenders to defend? and anything else is a bonus,not the other way around

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  16. Think we need a caretaker for now…not a knee jerk reaction and then a good assessment and a good choice.
    Hoddle should get a year perhaps

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  17. Well a sad day for Spurs and AVB. Levy’s decision (whether it right or wrong, time will tell) should have been made with a firm plan ‘B’ in place. By this I mean someone should already be earmarked to come in – interim or not – and said person HAS to be a well known and respected/successful name. Step forward Guus Hiddink. If Levy and Spurs want to salvage their League season then Guus is the man. Someone who can work with our new overseas players as well as the established names and get us playing with some passion and style – wins will follow.
    AVB – I really wished he/we would work and I had great feelings about it – AVB at the Lane for the next 15 years, watching silverware roll in and football to delight. But something has gone wrong and I can’t understand why ? Levy has to choose wisely now or we will be along the same track as Newcastle/Villa and other ‘big’ names – plodding around 6th-13th. I don’t want those days back….

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    • Exactly – those are the consequences. The media say Hiddink is not interested – not sure if vast amounts of cash might persuade him to change his mind. A tough, experienced caretaker could be the way to see out this season.

      Regards, Alan

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  18. My final word, I think we’ll stick 3 or 4 past the Whammers tomorrow using the same players who were so poor the last few games…….. Go figure ?

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  19. I think we should move mountains to get Hiddink in till the end of the season. This isn’t a time for gambles, we need a tried and trusted manager with a clear head to steady the ship. No talk of titles, no talk of top 4, just get someone in to do the best possible job they can so whomever takes over for next season will have the best possible platform. I know people are talking about Hoddle, I’m not certain he’s the man we need right now, but I’d be more optimistic about the appointment if we could get him to work alongside Hiddink to ease him back into management.

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