Since When Does Naughton Take Corners?

Since when does Kyle Naughton take corners? From both sides of the pitch? How come that was the plan? Someone at Tottenham Hotspur sat down, thought this through carefully, maybe even deliberated with others, and came to the decision that a Spurs reserve full-back who seldom looks confident moving forward anyway, should be our deadball specialist for the day.

Sometimes you watch a game and things don’t go well for Spurs, OK, they gave it a go, could have played better but that’s how it goes. Occasionally you see something that is so bewildering, so utterly unfathomable that you have to hit yourself over the head with a tin tea-tray to make sure this wasn’t the hallucinogenic ramblings of a delusional unconscious.

Look – I know Naughton’s corner-taking ability isn’t the thought that’s uppermost in Sherwood’s mind as he reviews this hideous performance. Since the final whistle I’ve tried to come to terms with it. My only conclusion is that is represents the nightmare vision of my repressed subconscious, where every fear I have about the team, hitherto long-buried under alluvial denial, played out before me. Those dreams where you run and run yet find yourself going nowhere. Where you lose control over muscular functions so everything you try fails crazily. Where logic and rationality becomes an Alice in Wonderland parody of reality.

Much of the game held a hazy, dreamlike quality. Vertonghen, a fine centreback, intelligent, quick, tough, a footballer, crashing through with mistimed tackles he was never going to make. Dawson, marooned like a beached whale on the halfway line, stranded and gasping for air. A back four so far apart, they needed binoculars to see each other, so lacking in unity they would have been better off communicating with semaphore. Lennon with some sort of a central free role – but he can’t pass it… Chadli doing, well, not sure what really but he looks good and that’s what counts, apparently. Defensive midfield? Who needs it?

With no intended disrespect to Norwich, who were fully deserving winners, the first half was shocking. The Canaries’ hesitancy was understandable given their perilous league position. Ours was harder to grasp. We had a lot of room and took no advantage. Instead there were bizarre passages of play where both sides struggled to come to grips with the basics of football and passed to opponents, into space, anywhere but to a team-mate.

One time, we took a throw, with caution mind, nothing rushed, and precisely tossed it 10 yards to a Norwich man, who with as much consideration passed it straight back to us, whereupon we gave it to the nearest yellow shirt, all without any pressure on players or the ball. Did I imagine this or had my mango squash been shaman-laced with bad seed?

The match highlights on the Sky red button included only two incidents in the entire half. One was Van Wolfswinkel trying to kick a ball in the box that was eight foot off the ground, the other was Chadli shaping to do a far-post top-corner curler and failing miserably. After Newcastle I guess we’ll have to put up with that every time he plays from now on.

I know this because I missed the very start of the second half as I was still putting the dinner on. Add some celery and carrots to the pan, stuff the chicken with an onion, keeps it moist you see. A lemon will do, then slice the onion in the baking tray. This all takes a fraction longer, long enough for Spurs to give the ball away with the defence stuck upfield. Snodgrass, by far the game’s best player, darted into the inviting gap left by Danny Rose and scored a fine goal. At least my gravy was full of flavour.

We flattered to deceive for a while and were on top without getting very far. We had been unbalanced by Capoue’s injury early in the game, partly because we lost the protection he gives us but mainly because we missed the hard work and promptings of Bentaleb who had to drop back. Throughout we had no tempo, settling early into a dull, monotonous torpor from which we never escaped and that Sherwood was powerless to influence.

Only Dembele tried to shake things up, driving at the defence whenever he could. He dished up a perfect ball to Chadli in the second half but his fellow Belgian shot at the keeper when well-placed. Adebayor kept going but his movement was wasted because he was so far adrift from his team-mates. This was a creativity-free zone. Goodness knows what ran through Eriksen’s mind, watching from the bench. What’s Danish for, ‘are you seriously saying I’m not good enough to get into this team?’

Soldado’s form has plunged into the abyss, resting finally in a subterranean cavern that last saw daylight 300 million years ago before the grinding of tectonic plates contorted tortured sediment into an underground chamber buried beneath the rock until the sun explodes in five billion years’ time. See the way he looks round suddenly? He hears the sound of deformed otherworldly creatures scuttling by.

My pity for his misery is as deep as the chasm that has trapped him. Beyond criticism, I can’t bear to look when he comes on. Such indignity should be a private affair. The commentator had barely finished sucking clean the bones of his Thursday night miss when a rare decent move set him up on the right of the box. His first touch of the game was an outrageous slice impossibly high into the stands. A minute or two later, a close range header skimmed off his forehead without even going in the general direction of the goal. Two perfect chances, and the game, gone.

I feel so deeply, desperately sad. What have we done to him? “Soldado, ohhh oh. He came from sunny Spain, he’s going back again….” He must be on his way in the summer. Bags packed in the hall as we speak, I should imagine. And we all know the consequences if the team’s form continues to deteriorate – who else will join him? For the last few seasons, we have diced with the consequences of thwarted ambition and promises that we cannot keep. We build a side in the knowledge that success may keep it together but also acts as a season-long advertisement.  Berbatov, Carrick, Modric, Bale, all gone but thus far we have tried to replenish the pool of talent.

Now, Vertonghen, Lloris, they won’t hang around, Dembele will be a target for someone, Paulinho has a reputation plus a possible World Cup Winners medal to look forward to. What a waste.

Sherwood has a real challenge to overcome. He has to get a grip and exert a greater influence over the side. Individuals are coming back from injury, it’s true, but Paulinho and Vertonghen have to drive us on and be a presence on the field, while the problems with the inverted wingers that bedevilled AVB’s second season have reared their ugly head in the last two matches. We can’t rely on Manu’s goals all the time.

Watching the last two games on TV, I was struck by how low and worried a few of the players seem – Dawson, Verts, Townsend, Paulinho. It may be nothing but they look as if they are carrying a heavy burden.

Norwich deserved to win. They defended stoutly in the second half and should have scored more. Lloris saved well from one chance while the crossbar is still vibrating from a thundering free-kick. Other chances we got away with.

So what I mean to say is, yeah – it was s**t.

38 thoughts on “Since When Does Naughton Take Corners?

    • Please send EMAIL to Daniel Levy.
      Dawson – Most disgusting defender in the league and he is the Captain of Spurs. This lowers the Club. Siss
      Naughton – No idea for football. I am shocked he is actually plays for Spurs. How did he make it to the Pro ranks.
      Bentaleb – He thinks he is God’s gift. Defendeing midfielder very lazy. Dribbles and loses ball. He often passes ball side ways or back . I cannot under how Tim selects players like this and leaves quality on the benck.


      • Um, think “Dear Mr Levy” has already been done. I’ve seen far worse than Daws in my time. We know what he does well and what he does badly, so why play a system that leaves him unprotected high up the pitch, and Eriksen must have wondered what he had done, watching Chadli


  1. Naughton is not a good player in any case. I wonder why he is chosen to play all the time. Talking of corners, Spurs can never capitalise on the many corners they get in every match..


  2. Why is it we only have one decent full back anyway – and even Walker pushes his luck sometimes. Why Benny was allowed to go (OK he fell out with AVB) or has not been recalled is beyond me. Failing that, surely Fryers would do a better job than Rose and Naughton. I saw something on Twitter a while ago – some sort of wish list. The poster suggested that Naughton be given a six year contract at double his salary as long as he signed it immediately – once signed, he was to be told, sorry, we fooled you, you have just signed an immediate release form. Even immediate is not soon enough.


    • Feeling a bit guilty here. Not Naughton’s fault that he was chosen to take corners, the dig wasn’t at him, however undistinguished his performance. But as you say, lack of cover at full-back from the start of the season, avoidable and costly.

      Regards, Alan


  3. Well I have to say that at least when Naughton is played in his position he does an OK job, it is when he is on the left that he fails more obviously. Why is he the lamb to the slaughter when we have no valid option. I am sure that this has had an affect on his performances as his form has faded. When on loan (like Walker) he performed well for the teams he played for (like Norwich). The game was so crying out for Eriksen yesterday. Certainly he or Kane would have been a better option – I’d have preferred both. Eriksen should have come on in the first half for Capoue when things were obviously not working. And Bentaleb was having a mare (tired?) that led to the goal against. When will the beast be fit again, we need his awesomeness on the pitch. This Thursday we need to pick an attacking side (maybe not with Ade if he is still having an issue with the deadleg) and try to find some form from the kick off and then continue it against Cardiff this weekend. otherwise you can forget those awful three fixtures we have coming up. With Sandro we may have a chance, Paulinho didn’t look fresh or fit yesterday. Two full games after just coming back from injury. Come on Tim, if you don’t get this team playing you will not be managing at the end of the season, so go for glory please. I’d rather get back to the Jol & Redknapp days of free flowing football and loads of goals.


    • Naughton copping too much stick hereabouts – Sherwood chose him to take those corners and Kyle no worse than many others.

      TS naive to play young man like Bentaleb in midweek and Sunday, his mind needed a rest as well as body. Very disappointed with Paulinho since his injury, lethargic and off the pace. On Thursday I’m looking forward to it – we’ll have to go for it, attack and be damned. Sandro reportedly played half a friendly last week – always our key player, much missed.

      Regards, Alan


  4. Everyone can see that Naughton lacks confidence, goin forward., and jus an average player. The big Question IS, WHY IS HE playing again and again and again. He is NOT Senior level yet.. Please spare us fans.


  5. Er du seriøst at sige jeg ikke er god nok til at komme ind i dette team? Så hvad jeg vil sige er, ja – det var lort. Ja, wahre, reine, stinkende Scheiße.


  6. You ask why it was Naughton who took the corners. Well to me the answer is quite obvious, he was able to hit the first defender. This has been a Spurs tactic for a number of years now and we are becoming very proficient at it. Why else, I ask myself, would we do it every single game if it wasn’t part of the overall game plan. Surely, we are talking professional footballers here, who spend hours on the training ground perfecting their skills and practising dead ball kicking. So if they dont intend doing it what the f**k do they do in training apart from injuring one another so they can have the following week off for a spot of R & R or are they really that bad !!!


    • I don’t get it, Steve, really I don’t. What happens in training? We have been working on a move, near post to Daws or Manu. never works of course but mostly they are just bad corners.

      They had better perk up – bringing my granddaughter on Sunday for her first game…see you then.

      Cheers, Alan


  7. Hi Alan.
    Been a fan since 1967. This was worse than all the thrashings we have endured this year. It feels like one of those (all too familiar) very low points when we need to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. Both Sherwood and AVB are decent human beings but neither cuts the mustard at this level. Our two flair players, Holtby (loaned out – arguably the best football we have played this season has been the fleeting Holtby-Defoe interplay in Europe) and Eriksen, (benched). Speaks volumes. Plus we are carrying half a dozen sub-standard players. Naughton??? Championship level player, at best. What on earth is he doing in a Spurs shirt? Dawson-great servant but palpably in decline. Chadli? A poorly spent 7 million…..
    Nothing will change until new owners take over but, in the meantime, let’s start next season with Mr Van Gaal at the helm and young Lamela finally given his head. Audere est Facere. COYS. ps: Townsend, Kane and Eriksen all must start v Dnipro….


    • The real problem is that we are marking time until the summer when TS will surely be gone, even if he does reasonably well. Play well, play badly, same outcome come May. I’m a generous man, so let’s just Chadli has not impressed me so far…let’s go for it on Thursday..

      Regards, Alan


  8. It totally amazes when we play bad, it’s virtually the whole team that plays bad. No one, except Hugo had a good game. It’s as if they were on some type of relaxing drug that slowed their brain function down.
    “Why, when we played Newcastle all of our team were in unison, finding space to meet a pass, covering each other’s mistakes to stop goal threats, and then 2 last games, a pile of poop, why is that.
    It makes me think in a deluded way, we may have an enemy in the camp who is spiking their drinks, and on said day we play brilliant it’s his day off. This is what watching us play lately, makes me think, like why, and need to find bloody answers for the way we are p!ss poor.
    Brilliant read today Alan, keep up the good work.


    • Thanks my friend. As you say, total lack of collective intelligence. No purpose or drive, against a team that frankly were not very good…but far too good for us.


  9. In the forty plus years that I’ve supported this team I’ve never felt more down after a performance.
    Yes we’ve had worse sides, but never have we seemed so leaderless, so resigned to mediocrity.
    Forget fourth place, PLEASE! forget fifth. We’re leaders of the league of Limbo, nowhere to go but backwards or sideways, which is strangely in keeping with our passing game.
    Absolute Vodka anyone? Mine’s a pint!


  10. Brilliant eloquent article, absolutely spot on! Brings a smile to the face after the worst outcome of weekend results and such a poor Spurs performance.


    • Thanks. I swing between being depressed and the absurdity of it all. If I write when the absurdity holds sway…got to laugh or else you cry…

      Glad it made you smile.


  11. Hi Alan,

    Great article as ever, though it would be preferable that we were reading lines of praise rather than doom and gloom!

    Yesterday we were sh*t from start to finish. At one point I turned to my mates and said it’s almost like city away again. Norwich could have thumped us out of sight, but for their own caution.

    Maybe we’re being too harsh because of the injuries we have, but then again Chadli on for Capoue? When Eriksen would have been a better bet? It was like going straight to playing with 10 men. I personally never want to see Chadli in a Spurs shirt again as I feel he just doesn’t offer anything or even try. Problem is it will be Lloris, Vertongen, Paulhino and maybe even Sandro we won’t see in Spurs shirts next season. Eriksen might not want to hang around if he’s just going to be left to rot on the bench.

    Does Levy have a plan? We’re quite frankly buggered for next season (we aren’t going to make 4th this season, but who knows maybe we can still win the Europa Cup?) as there is going to be yet another big turn around in quality players out and average make weights in, along with yet another 18 month revolving door managerial appointment.

    As for the new stadium, I understand the reason the site has been cleared is not for building work to get under way (though of course that would have to happen), but to avoid paying business tax on the business properties that were once there. So dear old Daniel shows his financial acumen along with his horse trading skills. Shame he hasn’t got a f*cking clue about the football side.


    • Levy have a plan? No, or rather not a good one. Strongly suspect he has signed or thinks he has signed Van Gaal, so in the meantime we go through the motions.

      I too have heard the stadium will not go ahead yet, although the current hold-up is because of a still to be resolved CPO or something – happy to be corrected on that.

      Chadli – very low down my list. ‘Showpony’ comes to mind. Real problem is that occasionally, very occasionally, he shows glimpses of sublime skill as on Sunday when he eased past a defender without appearing to move. But I am really not a fan.

      Regards, Alan


  12. Can’t post a comment this week Alan.
    Chewed off all me fingers in anger and frustration
    after the appalling truth hit me.
    The party’s over for another year.


  13. Great article. Naughton taking the corner was surreal but my abiding memory of the game was Dawson flinging himself forward while the ball sailed over his head.

    I think the lessons were: Bentaleb and Paulinho need a disciplined, experienced, holding player behind them (here Sherwood was unlucky with Capoue’s injury). Our midfield need to get closer to Adebayor. Eriksen must play.

    In one week Tim has gone from hero to down and out.


  14. A lot of the players have given up. They were sold one thing, but given something completely different and can now see that club is clueless. They know Sherwood won’t be around next season, even though the ever incompotent Levy tried to give the impression of stability by handing Tim an extra year’s salary (more money squandered on nothing, can he do nothing right?). Most of them now have their minds on the World Cup and perhaps who they might sign for after.

    Don’t for one minute think that Van Gaal is our saviour either. As long as Levy is chairman, managers will continue to have one arm tied behind their backs and be undemined.


      • I think this touches on the nub of the problem – mentality. We have quality players but they are not playing with confidence or desire or belief, certainly not as a team. This is the difference between us and Liverpool at the moment. You can see the same problem at ManU, who won the league last year with the same players. If the mentality is not right, TS can shout all he likes about tactics, it wont make any difference. It is strange though for players who want Champions League, not to perform to their potential to try to get it. At least put the effort in.


  15. To be fair to Tim Sherwood, how was he to know that not all teams are as hideously appalling as Newcastle and that they won’t just invite you in and offer their daughter for the evening? Norwich played 3 defensive midfielders and Sherwood could not see how to unpick it. Our defence is paper-thin and held together by the sheer force of Jan’s resentment, our midfield is either ponderous or hiding from the ball and Manu cannot do it all. He’s entitled to have a couple of bad touches now and again. He’s also entitled to get some help once in a while.

    Still fuming from the game, to be honest.


  16. Alan,
    Terrific read per usual.
    It seems that we continue to be stuck in this slow motion game that became prevalent firstly with AVB, the deliberate pace and backward default passing that just destroys an semblance of rhythm. Where is the creative movement the passing, cutting and movement to goal that is so apparent when watching Liverpool this season. How many of our players stand there with palms to the sky waiting for someone to move, it is both frustrating and annoying to see. The consistent lack of creativity and killer pass was absent, it especially highlighted the obvious substitution for Eriksen. Do our players look committed to the cause I think not, this is where a manger really earns his pay, the ability to push and prod, especially against teams like Norwich. With the lack of a “middle” in this years premiership , every game takes on added importance as the number of potential relegation teams is so high, they are all dangerous.
    I want to think we will respond, to push forward and not slide back, I instead find myself looking into an abyss, being pulled downward by the inevitability that spurs has become.


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