Spurs Rabble Come Back To Draw

None of this should have happened. Never have I seen a Premier League team defend as listlessly as Spurs did against West Brom. Never have I seen a Premier League team concede the initiative as needlessly as West Brom.

First half – excruciating, mindless Spurs defending. Second – West Brom sat back and took their punishment. Draw probably fair although we finished by far the stronger. Think all the things players are not supposed to do – that was West Brom v Spurs. No pressing, no marking, little structure – even for our season this was an open mouth chin on the floor are those professionals DID HE REALLY JUST DO THAT sort of match.

Spurs began with the same line-up and formation as against Sunderland on Monday night. Eriksen was on the left, Kane just behind Adebayor and Chadli alongside Paulinho in the centre. Chiriches continued at centreback. I say centreback. Turned out he was so out of sorts, he must have picked up a dose of the plague. I say formation. What I mean is that for 45 minutes nobody knew what the hell was going on.

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This crass, inept and mindless defending plumbed new depths even in a season where passing the ball to the opposition as close to goal and in as much space as possible has become a defensive art-form. Players and coaching staff abnegated collective and individual responsibility for their. Quickly it descended into farce. After half an hour, they were a rabble.

I admire Sherwood (remember this moment – not a phrase you will see often on Tottenham On My Mind) in the sense that we may as well go for a win in each of our remaining matches but surely chucking everyone forward in a formation based on the ‘gung ho’ setting on Championship Manager 01 isn’t the way to go about it. One or two defensive-minded players can hold everything together, allowing defenders some protection so they can defend and allowing forwards plus attacking fullbacks the freedom to create. This set-up has nothing to hold it together, like a perfectly assembled Airfix kit that falls apart as soon as you pick up.

Our Ledley sadly did not win much in his illustrious career but he still holds the record for the fastest ever Premier League goal. His former team-mates obviously struck a bet to see if they could deprive him of that honour. Under two minutes versus Liverpool, here from kick-off an Albion forward took on Rose in our left hand corner. The full-back allowed himself under no real pressure to be turned. Meanwhile Eriksen had wandered back then stood off and watched from a few yards away, wide not between the ball and the goal. Didn’t occur to him to get goalside. Lloris pushed out the resultant cross which was thumped back into the empty net. 26 seconds – hard lines lads, Led has 11 but still four matches left. I’m sure you will give it a go.

Two down in 3mins 50 secs. Eriksen had the ball under little pressure then obligingly fell over. Chiriches failed to reach the cross first and the whole back four had become drawn under the ball to the near post. Brunt volleyed the ball home. None of the midfield bothered to cover, natch.

Kane shot wide from the edge of the box and then from much closer in a few minutes later, a chance he should have converted. We knew then that WBA weren’t much cop at this defending lark despite the game being given to them on a plate. I predicted 4-4 at that point. Hopelessly wrong…

A penalty offered us a way back after the missed chances in this breathless, gawky game. Rose, touched from behind by the defender, reacted as if he had just lent against an electrified fence. He had barely finished his performance of rolling around when Adebayor stepped up and precisely placed the ball into keeper Foster’s arms. It was his worst penalty since, oh, the last time he took a penalty, an effort in Europe that’s still heading skywards.

Spurs had four or five men up for every attack, West Brom strolled through the wide open space at the other end. Lloris saved well before Albion went three up, the worst of the worst. Kaboul exercised his responsibility as captain by charging towards their corner flag with the ball. Bear in mind everyone else was attacking so the run was completely unnecessary. Nobody had the wit or inclination to cover. Inevitably he lost it. Inevitably despite this he still just ambled back. Inevitably Albion played the ball over his head. Sessignon was one on one with Chiriches, the only defender, and scored.

The effort of mind it must have taken the rest of the team to suppress their natural inclinations and years of coaching to run back and cover is only to be admired. Train that thought power and soon they will be able to move objects just by thinking about it. I headlined our abject performance against Liverpool ‘pathetic’ but this redefined the concept.

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One exception to this criticism is Harry Kane, who stuck to his task and his position regardless of the mayhem around him. Refusing to be downhearted after those two earlier misses, he kept showing for the ball and was rewarded. First he came off the back four and found Lennon making a run out wide. The cross was deflected into his own net by the luckless Olsson. A complete fluke but not for the first time this season, we had a bit of luck to get us out of a hole.

Coming just before half-time, this gave us a boost. As with the Sunderland game, we dominated the second half without playing particularly well. Instead of pressing, Albion sat back, conceded ground and let us play. It was a fatal error that cost them two points and nearly the game because Spurs had more than enough chances to win this one at a canter despite everything I have said about the first half. Manager Mel said this change of approach was not due to his instructions but he didn’t seem to do anything to change it. Perhaps a relegation-haunted club’s fear of conceding another lead is too much for any manager.

Spurs took full advantage. Monopolising the possession, we spent the rest of the game trying to find a way through. Free from any left-wing defensive duties, Eriksen came inside and was much more influential, while Paulinho stayed deeper to allow Rose to come forward with a wild look in his eyes but in all honesty we didn’t need much protection at the back because West Brom hardly got the ball in our half. We pushed the Baggies further back into their half and had total control.

Our next goal came at the right time too. Just when we were flagging, Lennon to the byline, a perfect cross and Kane headed in, although three other Spurs men were in the queue for that same ball. Lennon has become a more all-round player but at the expense of his stock in trade, the run down the wing and cross, rather than to enhance it. Two assists from virtually the only two byline runs he made. A message there, I think.

Chances were made and missed by Eriksen, Rose and Lennon. The ref’s award of 6 minutes injury time seemed generous. In the second, Eriksen seemed to have delayed too much on a chance in the box but the crafty so and so just pulled it onto his right foot and shot high into the net. Spurs pressed for the winner to no avail.

Crazy to write that we deserved the draw after a diabolical first half but it’s true and it was that sort of game. Forget everything you have learned about watching top division football – the players certainly did – and I suppose it would have been good viewing for the neutral but nerve-shredding for the committed. As with the Sunderland game on Monday, we managed to lift ourselves and did not give up. That’s something at least but I can’t shift the hideous images of that first half defending.

 

31 thoughts on “Spurs Rabble Come Back To Draw

  1. An admirable and determined come-back by the team. Tim can clearly do a half-time talk.

    Eriksen is going to be a key part of our future. At least until we sell him to Real Madrid in a couple of years.

    Our away fans are the best in the league. Their full throated support through thin and thin is wonderful.

    Those positives aside, the first half shambles on the pitch reflects the shambollic way we are run off of it. And I don’t blame TS for that. He is doing the job he was asked to do as well as he can.

    Watching the Liverpool/City game today was a painful reminder of how far we are from the top teams. At one point we seemed so close.

    Oh well.

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    • So why doesn’t Tim do his half-time talk at the beginning? Given his philosophy that professionals shouldn’t need encouraging to do their job — an Anglo-Saxon anal-retentive justification for a coach to do nothing — I’m surprised he bothered even at half time.

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    • That match was a different world. Fleetingly I had the same thought – not so long ago we were justified in thinking we could be part of something like that. Not quite the same but remember the 3-2 loss v City a few years ago? Ancient history.

      Best, Alan

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    • “…as well as he can”.

      Fine, I would accept that, but the swagger he has completely nullifies any warmth the fans could have for him.

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  2. Very good article… you have summed up our performance well, I too could not believe my eyes, yet again from the kick off we were woeful, I’ve lost count of how many times this season we’ve started like that, but yesterday took the biscuit 2.0 down after 4 mins, is this really my beloved team, the team, the team that i have adored and followed for so many years I’ve lost count, our whole defensive unit, if you can call it that deserves to be shot Vlad, Naughton, Rose even Kaboom, and as for the other non caring MF that wasn’t even playing JV FFs just go away… I’m disgusted by what i saw yesterday and so angry that we have fallen so far behind, as you say Russell Child, I also watched the game City & Liverpool are on a different level I’m talking the difference between penthouse and basement. Can’t wait for the season to end, what a total waste of a season.

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    • I see I’m not alone in not being able to get past the horrnedous defending when by rights we should hailing a comeback. Just marking time until the end of the season, when we start all over again. Lot of people share your anger.

      regards, Alan

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  3. Tim needs to do his half time talk before the match in future…..

    Just to shine a light away from the woeful defending, Lennon seems to be trying again, and Harry Kane! In fact, goals! Scoring goals! Forgotten this team was allowed to score. Alright, shipping loads, but can’t have it all it seems…..

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    • Glad to have someone mention a few positives. As you know I am not a negative blogger but can’t see past the awfulness of some of our play and all of our organisation to enjoy the goals rattling in. Think Lennon always tries but either doesn’t think enough about his role or thinks too much and maybe under instructions tries to be an all-round player and forgets what he and wingers are good at. Get to the line and cross it.

      Cheers,

      Alan

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  4. It makes you wonder,if it’s true,if Sherwood’s brief was to determine who is worth keeping at the club come the end of the season,how many of those on display yesterday would be around to wear the shirt in August.There are so many problems to be remedied that the new manager whoever he is has a real task on his hands.Interesting that we, the Arse and Utd have major work to be done before and during next season.

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  5. Hello Alan.
    I didn’t see the game but have just watched the “Highlights” on tv and yes, I’m gobsmacked.
    The defenders resembled a shoal of fish for the second goal, moving in perfect unison toward a ball that wasn’t there.
    Forget the highline bring on the lateral line!
    Talking of damp fish, is it not time to ditch our female comedy fullback Rose Naughton? The joke is wearing thin.
    Like Russell I don’t blame TS, but this is beyond him.
    If LVG comes knocking great, if not, only a manager who commands immediate respect will do because it’s a hard fix.

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    • Highlights only? You were lucky, didn’t remotely cover the systematic awfulness…

      Players must shoulder some responsibility but so must Sherwood for the way he sets the team up. Allowing players to drift forward was poor. And both full-backs were shocking defensively on Saturday

      regards, Alan

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  6. Sherwood is obviously a disciple of Redknapp’s philosophy of football, i.e. that of the non-tactical ‘run around a bit’. Unfortunately, unlike Redknapp, he doesn’t have Bale, Modric, VDV and King in the side.

    He should’ve never been allowed anywhere near the first team. Levy is 100% to blame for this shambles of a season. A lot of our fans must have more money than sense to sit quietly by and allow the charade of Levy’s tenure make us more of a laughing each week. The sight of him makes me sick.

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    • Redknapp is a shrewder tactician than he wants us to believe. Sherwood tries things but hides his ability extremely well. He makes choices on tactics and gets that over to the players. It’s just that most of the time they are wrong. Like Redknapp he concentrates on attack and leaves the basics at the back to chance. I genuinely think he isn’t that bothered for the final four games. Go for it and if it comes off, great, if not, he’s off at the end of the season.

      Cheers,

      Alan

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  7. Rabble is just about right, we should never be 3-0 down to any team, someone on the radio said Liverpool have had the season spurs were hoping for following spending 107 million, I think they were spot on, yet another season of under achievement and disappointment.

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  8. “One or two defensive-minded players can hold everything together” But they are all injured!! Capoue (big girls blouse; the slightest knock and he’s off). Sandro. Dembele (always injured). All injured. I’d get rid of Capoue and Dembele. Injury prone and no bottle.

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  9. If that game had been an FA Cup tie in bygone years, or a game that meant something in the league (either early on in the season, or late when a top four place was at stake) then the response to coming back from 3-0 down would have been ecstatic ..irrespective of the absurd defending that put us in jail to begin with.
    It would have been what our Spurs were/are about. Glory!
    But, much like the 5-1 slaughter of a hapless Sunderland, this game simply left me cold and devoid of excitement. Because neither mattered not a jot. Am I therefore a true fan? I think I’ve lived through the agony and ecstasy of being one for the past 50 years. So am I just so horribly disappointed and let down by the finely tuned hope and expectation of the past 5 years, finally crumbling into dust?
    Knowing that we’ve had the players (passing through our squads) that could have gone on to achieve something like the odd trophy and more Champions League opportunities in recent years, and yet with no one to truly blend them into a team, guide and inspire them, as Rogers and Gerrard, and especially Suarez this season, have done with Liverpool, has killed me.
    Oh Captain, my Captain! …where were you during these hope-filled (or hope-killed) years? ..Either on the pitch or off it?
    Potential lions all …but always led by donkeys, both at ownership and coaching level!

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    • Interesting and reassuring to see that others feel a little cold about comebacks that have been praised in the media. The regulars are drained – stagger through to the end of the season like the team and then see what the summer brings. Not the most inspiring of philosophies but it is all I have left.

      Best, Alan

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  10. Not much compensation — but to think if Soldado had been on the pitch we would have had at least four goals, he being automatic choice as penalty taker and never having missed one. Hope he’s more appreciated now. In deciding Adebayor should take the penalty, was it a joke about “Who’s most UNlikely to succeed?” If it was I get it — but don’t appreciate it much.

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    • True. Wonder if Kane and Soldado is worth a try. Not that Manu is playing badly so we shouldn’t drop him and I assume Soldado will go back to Spain in the summer because he has had enough of us and Levy may want to seel while he’s not damaged goods or too old.

      Regards, Alan

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  11. After AVB offering lots of possession but little potency and lots of high lines breached,Sherwood took off the gloves.
    There was a breath of fresh air.We could see space.The forwards could actually do what they wanted and things opened up but freedom sometimes brings chaos. Sometimes we get them both in one match.
    A great manager has to control but also allows freedom of movement too.
    We just had 2 managers that were not right.
    Fans ask who we should sign and I have one answer.A decent manager.
    We dont even know what players we have and what their full capacities are.
    I have watched Holtby a few times.He is brilliant.I liked him from the off when he hit a couple of great balls through to Bale at Norwich and the schmuck send him off packing. Van Gaal at any cost please.Make him a partner. That is your misson Levy.Youmight be good with money but so far your football legacy is quite bare.

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    • Excellent reply Ronwol, liked your comments! I think we do know the capabilities of Erikson and Paulinho! Holtby is a great young talent, I hope we retain him, hard working, loves his football, has honour and love for the game! The so called defence must be sold, including Dawson, Kaboul, Rose, Naughton and Vlad the terrible!
      Leonardo D.

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    • LVG hedging his bets it seems because he may get a better offer and/or think twice about working with levy but we need someone who is strong and clear-minded, that’s true.

      Agree re Holtby – needs games and is promisning. I worked out that he had been here a year and had only played 4 matches from start to finish.

      Cheers, Alan

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      • Unless you were a Tottenham supporter deep in your heart and the manager of Holland why would you not pick the best? I suspect that with LVG its not all about the money,I suspect its more about control. Levy would have to give up a lot and make sure within reason we get the right players. LVG wouldn’t take the players lightly that we have it seems.He will thoroughly check them before any discarding so its not all about buying another team. But could he work with Levy?

        For that to happen Levy would have to have a profound thought and that is that he is probably coming to the end of his line with Spurs in a sense. Staying solvent and strong financially can’t be bad if the legacy is all to do with balancing the budget and making money and going towards building a World Class Brand. But the product has to be right just like the sweater has to fit. It has to provide service.
        The clients are all fans that thirst for success.
        At some point he must be judged in that field. In this he has made mistakes.Shown a profound lack of vision.

        The market is getting more competitive.CL spaces at a premium.Oil money begging to get in.
        The little shop around the corner cannot survive long in this climate buy cut price goods.

        Its time to be committed.

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  12. Good read as usual Alan.
    Was at the Sunderland game and although we won 5-1, the warning signs were there in the 1st 20 minutes, yet we do the same again.
    It amazes me how our coaching team do not work on our weakness, as our calamities seem to get from bad to worse, especially regarding our full backs.
    Teams know our weakness and go for it at full pelt, but thank god the weaker teams run out of steam which has allowed us back into the game.
    From now to the end of the season I would like to see some confidence and pride in our team.
    Finish 6th if not 4th, Arsenal in the Europa, and we concentrate on the league for next season.
    Keep up the good work Alan.

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    • Thanks my friend. Agree re the weaker teams. WBA in the second half and Sunderland were very poor. And surely the coaches must see the same things as we do, we make basics errors. Oh well – yet another mystery from this season that we can’t answer.

      Regards, Alan

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  13. We have a manager who has no idea how to setup a team.
    We have wasted this great chance of spending 100m and setting the club up for the next five years.
    Instead there will be a rush for the top players to get out the door well done Levy and Baldini.
    AVB another poor appointment followed by the disaster TS who thinks putting eleven players on the pitch is enough,sadly it is not that easy.
    A SHAMBLES

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  14. I have to say I find little to get excited about our “comeback”. We only got something out of this game because Pepe Mel bottled it with an inexplicable decision to sit back, presumably because of the goal we scored. The own goal. The piece of luck our play did not deserve.

    At 1-3 and with us dominating, I said to my friend that even if we got something out of the game, I would still be fuming with the team. Completely shapeless and directionless when the opposition have even the snifter of an idea of attacking us.

    Tim grinning on the sidelines, comically pointing to his watch after his star man dispatched a penalty with such glaring disinterest. It really can’t end soon enough.

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  15. Lennon’s best game this season and positive performances from Kane and Eriksen. Other than that… So pleased Benfica are doing so well this season or I’d be ringing football phone-ins and rambling incoherently. Two games to endure at WHL and then hopefully Interim Tim will be relieved of his duties. In the immortal words of the Spurs programme, I ‘wish him well for the future.’

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