Tim Throws His Gilet, Spurs Throw Away The NLD

An age ago, or so it seems, Spurs beat Ars***L at the White Hart Lane with a scintillating performance of power, commitment and creativity. It feels so distant and far away, so much time has passed, so much has changed, that dinosaurs must have walked the earth but chipping away at layers of sediment to reveal the fossilised remains of what’s left of this victory, I found the true date. March 3rd last year.

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I had to check. I actually searched Tottenham On My Mind to confirm that we did indeed beat them 2-1 under Villas-Boas. Towards the end of this defeat, some of our football had been dug up from another era, aimless long-balls forward. Worst thing about it, many were grateful that at least we showed some spirit and desire. Meanwhile, Tim looks like he came out without a hankie.

This was our best effort for a while, a dubious accolade. We were well on top in the second half and had the chances to at least get a point. The crowd were right behind the team and the atmosphere was something like a proper NLD. Ars***l created little during this period but scrape away the surface of the hope and excitement, they were more comfortable than the possession and territory stats suggest. We simply did not stretch them enough or pose enough problems, especially through the middle where Eriksen should have been given a greater central role.

One factor of consistency is our unerring ability for self-inflicted pain. At kick-off we pressed forward eagerly. Too much so. Sandro’s cross-field ball was blocked. Caught high unfield instead of hanging back to ensure nothing went wrong early, he couldn’t even bring Rosicky down. The Gunners counterattacked ruthlessly. The back four’s high line was shot to pieces. Rosicky’s match-winning shot was unstoppable but he should never have been allowed anywhere near the goal. The game lost after 70 seconds. From then on in, it was all uphill.

It could have been worse. The Ox as I am now contractually obliged to call him had better get some shooting practice in before he goes to the World Cup although I was grateful that he was high and wide on two or three occasions.

More changes in formation and personnel for a Spurs team crying out for some stability. I don’t like Townsend on the right but he did well, giving us width and pace that our opponents found hard to handle. On the other flank, Eriksen came inside leaving Rose to do well one on one with Sagna. We should have used that more. Sandro hung back in centre midfield, Bentaleb tried to keep the ball moving with Chadli in an indeterminate central role further forward.

The fact that many on twitter say this was his best game for us says more about the rest than it does about his quality in this one. He neither got close enough to the excellent Adebayor or offered any threat of his own in the first half, while tracking back is clearly beneath a man of his showpony status. Oxlade Chamberlain’s break and missed chance led to a furious exchange between Spurs players with even Bentaleb having a go at the Belgian, still strolling back in the sunshine. I may be becoming obsessed. This morning in an e-mail, instead of writing ‘child’ I wrote ‘chadli’. Twice.

For a time we struggled to play it forward. More arguments as the receiving player complained about the pass under pressure. Vertonghen was nearly caught a few times. One was instructive, though – with 10 Spurs players ahead of him, he did not have a single pass available. No wonder he shrugged as if to say, ‘what am I supposed to do?’

To their great credit, the Spurs players came out with fire in their bellies for the second half and in taking the game to the gunners found some weaknesses. Ars***l were pushed further and further back towards their own goal and their counter-attacks became sporadic. Adebayor did an outstanding job of taking on their defence single-handedly, dashing from side to side, rushing back to pick the ball up and trying to link with team-mates but he still did not receive enough support in close order to take full advantage of the crosses that were raining in. Most came from the right where Townsend had a good game despite having to use his right foot more than he or I would have preferred.

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Naughton did well in support, maintaining a decent accuracy rate with a series of balls into the box but his impact on the game and on our season could have been so much greater. Szczensy fluffed one but Chadli wasn’t strong enough to capitalise. Moments later, however, another error left the Belgian with an open goal and the ball at his feet but Chadli’s uncertainty eventually meant a poorly judged shot straight at a covering defender. The crowd bellowed their derision. A golden chance not just to equalise but to galvanise a Tottenham team that so desperately needs something, anything, to be proud of, but the moment was gone and with it the chance of winning the game.

Despite the set-back, Spurs kept pressing. We dominated possession and territory but this was always a game where chances would be hard to come by and had to be taken. Adebayor, falling sideways, just missed with a header and Chadli, again, failed to get much of a touch on a cracking low near-post cross.

Siggy and Paulinho came on to boost the midfield for the final 20 minutes. In fact, the move served only to dissipate our momentum and the Gunners dealt easily enough with the rest. The crosses were plentiful but now coming not from the byline but from deep – heading practice for their centre-backs. This was a throwback to the 90s, all long ball, craning of necks and straining muscles and sinews in the box. Even that we didn’t do properly. Manu took them on alone. Chasing the game, Soldado did not appear until the 82nd minute, Lennon not at all when it was clear our opponents were weakest on the flanks. If the long-ball and crosses are a plan, so be it but at least commit fully.

To be fair, going with a midfield four is fatal versus Ars***l, hence some justified caution, but a goal down with 15 munutes to go, we were narrow and needing a goal when our best opportunities were created from wide positions.

Kaboul and Sandro finally looked as if they had shaken the stiffness caused by many months on the treatment table. I have been planning to pay off my mortgage by betting on Sandro being booked in each game but he let me down by finally in the second half having the pace and therefore the confidence to stay on his feet to resist a challenge.

Lloris had little to do but made one lightening-fast stop low to his right from a header at a corner. Naughton had a good game all round. In addition to his crossing and support for Townsend he defended well.

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I doubt this pre-match protest meant much. In Saturday’s piece in the aftermath of the Benfica defeat, I expressed my continued strong misgivings about the way Sherwood is managing the team. He’s forgotten that his early success came about because he kept things relatively familiar and reassuringly brought out the strengths of his men. Since then, he chops and changes formations and personnel every game. He seems bewildered and frustrated that his message is not getting through when in fact it merely shows his immaturity as a leader, blaming his players and simply failing to grasp the fact that what looks good on the tactics board is hard for players to adjust to.

Last week in one of his now daily communications in the media, he was proud that he speaks without thinking. In no other profession would that be seen as anything other than a fatal weakness for a leader. For those of you keen to have a manager that shows his emotions, I hope Tim proves to you that you need more than histrionics to manage a Premier League team.

A public service announcement: on Saturday I made a disparaging remark about The Bloke Behind Me at the Benfica game (it was actually very restrained – he was a complete embarrassment to his whole family). I have been asked to point out by The Bloke Who Usually Sits Behind Me that he missed this game and so the piece does not refer to him. At least he reads this…

36 thoughts on “Tim Throws His Gilet, Spurs Throw Away The NLD

    • Cheers Rich, ta for the quote, I couldn’t bear to check it before finishing up. Did forget one thing though – Arsenal weren’t anywhere near their best and still we foundered.

      Regards, Al

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    • Problem is, I was nearly too disheartened to write about it…not good for a blogger and not for the first time recently.
      Pics a regular feature from now on. If I remember. Keep your pecker up. Not sure exactly what that means but we can both do it anyway. Cheers, Alan

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  1. At least the pain of recent years, compounded by unfulfilled hope and expectation, has dissipated.
    We now KNOW that we are no longer CL material, and can therefore begin to deal properly with our long term aims ..which might ensure there’s no repetition of the rotten judgement, poor management, missed opportunities, and cruel luck of recent seasons. Not to mention the fact that it has ALWAYS been bloody Arsenal, out of all the PL clubs, that seemed to laughingly nip in front of us at the finishing line, as we began to falter (starting under Jol and Lasagnagate in 2005/6 ..and especially compounded in the past two seasons).
    Appropriate that it was THEM yesterday who put us out of our top four misery once and for all!
    We cannot allow them to ever do this to us again! Even tho’ the argument remains we’ve done it to ourselves.
    We’ve had some wonderful memories in recent seasons, but shattered hopes, and so we must ensure that we build a ‘team’ now, our best team, and stick with it (with just tweaking here and there for obvious reasons of injury, suspension or needed rest).
    We must ensure that our tactics have a solid core too, and is 100% known to every player, so they don’t look like strangers on the park.
    There should always be a plan B, and even C, but again, don’t ‘surprise’ players with things they’re not familiar with, or expecting.
    Bring in another playmaker, plus a fast left winger, and proper left back cover, to balance out the pressure on Walker/Lennon on the right.
    Demand that any disgruntled top players stay ..but ensure they see real signs of our ambition next year.
    We need to emphasise creativity in the middle and pace on both flanks, as that will inevitably take the pressure off our DMs and defense ..and we must NEVER see such a season again where we possess the ball so much yet create so little in the final third, and end up with so many humiliiating hammerings and embarrassing cling-ons to 1 goal victories/draws over lesser sides.
    From now on, to the end of the season, we must play with no fear as we start that rebuilding process! Give us something to cheer in the temporary absense of hope and expectation.

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    • Don’t forget we’ve been crying out for a dead ball specialist for several years now, particularly in the corner department. Maybe Eriksen can sort this problem out too, as he’s not bad on the direct free kick front!

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    • I have looked forward to the last couple of EL games for that reason, that we should go out and have a go. Your point creates another interesting angle on Sherwood’s management style. He’s creating a climate where the players are under pressure – he wants them to argue with each other, he clearly doesn’t rate many of them. Hardly no fear.

      Alan

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  2. I like the thought of us playing without fear. Top four is definitely gone and I think we should use the rest of the season to work on our style of play and give the ” s-club 7″ a bit of premier league experience. The pressure is off.

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  3. Went to the game Alan and thought like you that Erikssen should of played behind Ade.
    Although we played with more desire and urgency, we needed to be more clinical in the final 3rd and this would of been better had Erikssen been there, and the 2 wide men in Lennon and Andros, and Chadli on the bench.
    Also good to see the fans urging the team on and would like to see more of this against all teams we play at the lane.
    I saw and spoke to those 2 guys holding the banners and they want more fans to show their anger towards Levy and co.
    Good read as usual Alan.

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    • We were nearly late – the first time I would have been late at a football match due to celebrations for a Jewish holiday, Purim in full swing in Stamford Hill! So didn’t see the placards, thanks for letting me know. Eriksen needs more time to settle. Reckon he will stay so it’s about planning for the future.

      Regards, Alan

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  4. Hmmmmmm, some stats and a para I found: “Has Sherwood improved Tottenham? The stats would suggest otherwise. In Villas-Boas’ 26 games in charge this season, Spurs possessed a 69% win percentage, with an average of scoring 1.69 goals per game, and conceding just 0.96 goals per game. With Sherwood winning nine of his 19 games in charge he has a win percentage of 47%, with 1.42 goals scored per game and 1.37 goals conceded per game. Every one of these stats would suggest that Sherwood has made the team worse…” Oh, and COYS!

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  5. We tried to kick the doors in when we should have picked the lock.

    All passion and heart. There is a place for both but we need guile, technical skill and intelligence too.

    And play people in their best positions. Eriksen is by far our best number 10 so play him in the middle, not out wide. And put Chadli our wide, not in the middle.

    Tim Sherwood losing it on the touch line isn’t good. He should be sitting down and enjoying watching the team play having done all the work On the training pitch.

    As for “Levy Out” be very very careful what you wish for. Likewise “van Gaal in”. It’ll end in tears that one.

    We should never have sacked AVB. Not mid season and not with only Tim Sherwood as the replacement.

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  6. Hello Alan,
    Lots of effort from the players yesterday, for this alone they deserved a point but c’est la vie, there will be more important matches to win against that lot in the future.
    The immediate problem is what to hope for regarding the remaining games, I’d happily miss out on 5th place, would Liverpool be looking so sharp if they’de been burdoned with the Europa league?
    Whoever is in charge next season, I don’t believe that trips to eastern Europe and constant Sunday kick offs will help with the required reconstruction of the team and tactics.
    We need stability, a stable fixture list may help with this.

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    • Glad for a bit of optimism for the future there! Problem of being outside Europe is that the club is less attractive in terms of keeping players, buying players and income. Stability indeed – that has to come from the top with a sound choice of manager, supported by the chairman and DoF, given time. All the best, Alan

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  7. It’s so hard to resist making changes to formations or managers in the modern game as the pressure for results is so intense.I wonder if we had kept AVB would the players now be getting used to his ideas and maybe we would be looking forward with more optimism to next season?Hard to say yes with the beatings we suffered under him.We do need someone with very clear ideas about how we should play though and a plan for the future and AVB was attempting to impliment such a plan according to his philosophy.

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    • Hard to say indeed but making the change mid-season without a proper replacement was the real problem. No doubt that AVB was having a bad second season but I think he would have got more from the team that TS has.

      Regards, Alan

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  8. Hi Alan,

    What say we go all out Thursday night to win the game and not worry about the usual hangover on Sunday? Benfica will be thinking they’ve got it in the bag considering the way we played last Thursday and the depressing result yesterday. There is still something to play for and you never know we might shock them ala Inter Milan in that wonderful second half at the San Siro (Seems such a long time ago now). It would certainly show respect to the fans who have shelled out a lot of money to make the trip. However, if Sherwood thinks we can still make top 4, then he’s likely to play the reserves and we’ll get thumped yet again.

    As for yesterday, well my heart sank at the news that Chadli was starting then sank further when I saw he was taking the number 10 spot. Maybe Sherwood’s been given free rein by Levy to experiment how he likes as the season was deemed to be a write off when AVB left. So loads of huff and puff, punting the ball into the area hoping one of our players would at least get a touch. Somebody wrote that the opposition don’t mind us having the ball and then defending deep as we haven’t got a f*cking clue what to do with it and so it played out that way yesterday. It was ironic that our two best chances came from that c*nt of a keeper of theirs making mistakes. However, both times it fell to that useless piece of p*ss Chadli. They manage to recover from their mistakes whereas ours invariably lead to goals conceded.

    It’s ground zero again for us. A laughing stock of a football club with no idea where it’s going, who it’s going to have in charge as a coach next season, another big turnover of players, namely the good ones f*cking off to Champions league clubs after probably more all summer protracted out negotiations which will leave us no room to spare to get replacements in and so the merry go round will continue. And let’s not also forget the large patch of wasteland that will probably become a match day car park rather than the much heralded new stadium. I know we all like to have a laugh at Wet Spam, we shouldn’t they’ve turned us over twice with ease this season, but they will be settled in Stratford long before we see any building works.

    Yes I am still very p*ssed off at the result yesterday. Possession and dominance are statistics and they can be spouted till you are blue in the face. It’s scoring goals that counts and we’ve lost the art.

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    • Classic last para – possession stats when you lose are the modern equilivilent of the consolation goal, i.e. no consolation at all. When I like a Spurs player, I say so, when I don’t I try to just keep quiet but it is fair to say I also agree with your summing up of Chadli.

      To be fair, one of my favourites, Sandro, is a yard off the pace. Leaves a big hole in the middle. AVB was impressed enough to opt for him as the only DM once upon a time. Tim could not do that now.

      Cheers, Al

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  9. Hooray !!! Fame at last. After many years or reading your magnificent dispatches and discussing them with you at the home of the mighty T.H.F.C. I’ve finally received a mention from you. Thank you Alan

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    • It’s often said that you realise the true value of a player only when they are missing from the side and I like to think that can now be extended to supporters too…

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  10. Hi Alan. Totally agree with comments regarding “Nice but Dim”. I think his heart is in the right place and he is trying to get the players to show a bit more aggression and tempo, however, this is not always enough in the Premier League (think Bolton and Wet Spam under Alladyce). You need guile craft and pace which we seem to lack in bucket loads at the moment. I also failed to see why we played a central player out on the wing and a winger in a central position. “Nice but Dim” must see something that no-one else can, judging by the comments above. Agree with c b waters that this season is now a right off and that we should be preparing ourselves for next year with regard to the structure of the team and the style of playing. Can it possibly get any worse ? COYS

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  11. As much as I like Eriksen,and I do like his talent,he doesnt make a lot of through balls (infact there is not one I can remember) I notice his free kicks and his crosses but rarely does he move forward with the ball and open a defence with a pass.
    Our forwards do not score enough.The wingers,when inverted are not effective making anything happen,Ade strains to get long balls and when he does get something good does do the best with it most of the time,Soldado has had a hard time but too few clear chances (there have been a few) but Eriksen has failed to create enough in my opinion.
    A playmaker definately needs a man ahead of him who can read the angles,but he needs to see the space as well. Silva is one fo the best but even Holtby can hit these passes (He did with Defoe a few times) but Ive yet to see Eriksen do such a thing.
    We have been lacking clear cut chances and I out this partly down to the strikers,and a big part on the playmaker.
    Midfielders are always pumping out to the easiest place,,the wing,for what? An innefective cross.
    Nothing created pretty well inside at all.Same under AVB as under Sherwood.

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    • Eriksen is likely to be around next season, if only because this one has been undistinguished so he is not a man in demand. I’d use this time to give him time on the pitch to develop. As you say, he can’t hit the passes unless he has men in front of him to pass to. I mentioned Vertonghen getting caught in this respect because he had no one on but it happens all over the pitch to others, including Eriksen.

      Regards, Alan

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      • I agree and Im not down on Eriksen either.I think while he has shown talent,he hasnt shown even what Ive seen in Holtby,the fact that Holtby can hit that through ball the someone running on to it as he did with Bale in his first game and to Defoe several times. Its possible Eriksen is better but he hasnt shown that he can break down defences.He has shown he has some talent.

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      • and as far as Vertonghen goes.He certainly is a classiest defender and has an eye for the game.But he has his defiociences too. He is feisty but not tough and he is awkward and not smooth. But I would definately keep him unless a ridiculous amubt of money came in.

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  12. Great point about the substitutions. At the time we seemed to have the momentum and afterwards it drained away.

    When I heard the team news I assumed Eriksen was central and Chadli on the wing. Why does Sherwood insist on playing people in odd positions?

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    • I know, felt the same. I think Sherwood knows we have problems and he’s trying to find something different, something that clicks, and to be fair Chadli has had a minimal impact wherever he has played despite looking the part and occasionally showing touches of great skill. My view is that constant changes to a side that has never settled in the first place smacks of desperation.

      Cheers, Alan

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  13. Hi Alan,

    Me again! Something else that came to mind during Sherwood’s ‘Timmy Time’ after the game was he said “They’re papering over the cracks”. I sincerely hope that doesn’t come back to bite us like AVB’s declaration last year that “Ars*nal are on a downward spiral”……………………………………

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