Before yesterday’s match against Fulham, Spurs manager Tim Sherwood described his players as “much of a muchness”. Hardly a Churchillian call to arms as Tottenham aim to complete the season on a high. However, he rightly identified three players as rising above the average: Hugo Lloris and Manu Adebayor with Christian Eriksen the rising star. They proved to be the difference, making vital contributions at both ends of the field that made up for the deficiencies elsewhere on the pitch.
For much of a lacklustre first half, Spurs were disjointed and flat, devoid of confidence and shape. This has been a familiar aspect not just over the last few games but across the season. One big difference between AVB’s half and Tim’s half is that under Sherwood we are scoring goals. We made few chances in this one but took them. Two came from set-pieces, masterminded by the deadly Eriksen. At the other end, Lloris is finishing the season and perhaps his time at White Hart Lane in style. An athletic leap to reach up under the bar to tip over Rodellaga’s thumping header was followed by a penalty save. Just as valuable was an ungainly but vital block in the first half when Fulham were attacking vigorously.
Adebayor’s contribution wasn’t in assists or goal attempts – several shots were frankly rubbish. However, from the start he worked tirelessly, trying to lift the team. His team-mates should have done more to follow his example. Paulinho and Chadli both had good touches but never tried to seize the initiative in midfield. Parker is past his best and was injured early on but we missed his purpose and application.
At full-back Naughton and Rose were uncertain. Paulinho hung back but again without a designated DM or any intent to provide much cover, our already weakened back four with Fryers in alongside Kaboul were always exposed and vulnerable. The two centre halves did reasonably well but it was far too easy for a limited Fulham attack to get at us.
An early example was a long ball that caught our centrebacks dozing. Rodellega missed. We didn’t adjust despite that escape. Spurs went through the motions but lacked inspiration or energy. Flat as a pancake run over by a steamroller. Kaboul headed over, Lennon hit the post – think the keeper tipped it onto the woodwork – but that was it until Eriksen’s curling free-kick fizzed between a befuddled keeper and defenders facing their goal who feared taking a touch. It went all the way to Paulinho at the back post who touched it in from about an inch.
Rather than consolidating, Spurs immediately caved in. Sidwell shook off a couple of effete challenges, played a one-two with Fryers who laid the ball perfectly at his feet. The half drifted to a close. Attention wavered – vacant expressions in the stand, time to count the many empty seats. At this stage of the season we often hear of players halfway to the beach. At the Lane, that applies to the crowd. If the chairman has written off the season and the players can’t be bothered, neither are we.
If Sherwood is saying that we have too many players in certain positions, he has a point. There’s no room for all our attacking central midfielders while we are short in cover up front and at full-back. However, Sherwood’s role is to motivate the players, not to be a pundit. Not the right approach to criticise players in public before a game. Clearly there is dissention in the ranks – I was shown a tweet at halftime where Sandro announced he was fit. The undignified spectacle of a twitter and press conference spat continued after the final whistle. Rose and Tony Parks appeared to have words as they left the field.
However, Sherwood must be doing something right at half-time. The second half began inauspiciously with the team coming out late, hesitant as to who should lead them, Rose eventually taking the initiative while captain Kaboul was last out, talking animatedly to Adebayor. They were lifted by an early goal. Lennon had a good second half, working hard up and down the field. He curled in a deep left-footed cross from the right. Kane had a quiet game but showed his value as a man playing off the striker who has experience up front as opposed to an advanced midfielder. He headed home for his third goal in three Premier League starts.Embed from Getty Images
You will have sussed by now that Fulham don’t like the ball in the six yard box. Eriksen took his next opportunity to whip in a carbon copy of his first half effort, only this time from the left. Kaboul was at the far post this time.
Fulham were well-drilled but rather rigid. They failed to adapt to having to come back into the game despite being gifted a penalty when Eriksen lost concentration and needlessly handled the ball. Sidwell’s penalty was too close to Lloris and the keeper pushed it away.
A goal then could have induced a typical Spurs wobble but instead we took control. Our possession football wasn’t exciting but just what was needed to close this one out. Much of our play was uninspiring and insipid, especially in the first half, but let’s be grateful for a few moments of class in an otherwise ordinary performance that gave us three more points.
The caretaker effect created by Levy seems to have engendered lethargy and cynicism in players, manager and fans alike. At least we are together in something. Sherwood seems to feel justified in criticising players – he’s off so what the hell. Many players don’t have the incentive to do well because the new man whoever he is may or may not have different ideas. Just a reminder, if any were necessary, that despite Sherwood’s limitations, this sorry situation was set up by the chairman.
A couple of days ago I pondered on the nature of one aspect of modern fandom, the vehement rejection of any player who leaves us if they accept a transfer. It’s not something I feel, preferring a haphazard, not necessarily logical balance sheet that factors in their previous commitment and contribution to the Tottenham cause. In January, Nacer Chadli was allegedly thinking about a move but decided to stay. Sherwood has rewarded him with regular starts, most recently in a central midfield. I’d suggest the Belgian has not repaid his manager’s faith in him. He’s good on the ball but is reluctant to work hard enough. Alert and active when he gets possession, suddenly his enthusiasm dissipates when he has to do something that he doesn’t want to. It’s unforgivable to see him jogging back when we need him goalside. Apparently he’s quite happy for his team-mates to put in the sweat and toil that is beneath him. In a midfield four, without a dedicated DM, it’s a derelication of duty. On my personal balance sheet, he’s so far in the red no amount of top corner swervers are going make up for it.
25 thoughts on “Here’s To You, Christian Eriksen”
Happy Easter, Alan, to you and yours from the sunny Left Coast, where there’s always a reason to smile. As for the game and season, I agree with you…blah, blah, blah, blah…blah, blah, blah, blah! 😉
Happy easter Ashley. Time for Spurs to rise again…
Happy Easter to you and yours and hope you are having a restful weekend.
Yet another lovely account of the game and the broader context. You are repeatedly hitting the nail on the head. Hope someone from the club is reading your weekly blog.
Agree as always with your analysis.
It’s felt like we’ve been going through the motions for ages now. It was so flat at the Lane yesterday. StubHub doesn’t help. As usual I was surrounded by tourists. There was a row of regulars in front of me – and they left at 65 mins!
As you rightly, say Tim is doing the job he was asked to do as well as he can. Sometimes well, sometimes not so well. We are divided club and the blame goes up much higher than Tim Sherwood. Was thinking today that if Daniel levy isn’t going to change his ways, and why would he, then we might as well hand over the running of the entire footballing operation to Tim Sherwood. He’ll does as well as anyone will under Levy.
Agreed with your other post about Gareth Bale. I wish him well and am proud that we produced such a brilliant player. But it is also sad to think of the team we could construct right now of people who’ve played for us over the last few years.
As for Hugo. A fantastic keeper. I hope he stays but if he doesn’t I wouldn’t blame him at all.
Thanks – there is no way anyone in the club takes any notice of this blog, let me assure you.
Just to say – I don’t blame Sherwood for taking the job but I don’t think he’s doing it very well at all. Fair play if he gets something right and we are scoring goals. However, his tactics are naive, defensive organisation poor to non-existent and he appears to put his own image ahead of the club’s.
Fear Hugo will shortly join the ranks of that fabulous team who have played with us in the recent past.
Eriksen and Lloris were great as usual. I’m worried the latter will leave in the summer. Kane was good again and got another useful goal. Lennon has had a couple of better games, where he’s been involved in few goals.
Apart from that it was pretty poor. Agree about Chadli. What do you think of Paulinho? I can’t work out if he’s also got a bad attitude or if he’s just being played in positions he’s not comfortable in.
Paulinho has been a huge disappointment. Suspect he’s not settled over here but the main problem was earlier in the year where after the first few games, AVB played him out of position, mostly too far forward where his drive and energy were wasted. He’s best as a Lampard-type player but for us, especially when we were playing poorly, he didn’t see enough of the ball. Now he looks fed up and ready to go as soon as he possibly can.
It would be tragic to see Lloris leave due to the negligence of the Levy/Baldini/AVB axis of idiocy. To have a so called ‘defence’ as hopeless as ours after spending over £100m in one transfer window is criminal.
I think he will leave; he has the look of the man who understands that he is dealing with bonafide imbeciles, and, rather than scream or shout at them, is just biding his time till he can get as far away from them as possible.
It’s got beyond a joke now, but yet still fans fall for Levy’s false promises and pretend ambition.
Sadly all true
Interesting as always, Alan. I didn’t notice Chadli’s laziness, having watched on TV, but will look out for it in remaining games. He may be the most likely of last summer’s seven arrivals to go this summer because we’re likely to recoup most or all of the £7m we paid for him – whereas we’d have to accept heavy losses to ship out Lamela, Soldado and, to a lesser extent, Paulinho, Capoue and Chiriches. I can’t see Levy sanctioning that unless/until the new manager has had a decent look at them all.
By the way, what do you make of the degree of hatred directed at TS from so many Spurs fans? I find it really depressing. I want him replaced in the summer – and don’t always like the way he conducts himself – but I think he’s done reasonably results-wise in a difficult situation. I find the level of bile he receives embarrassing – a knee-jerk, herd mentality of the worst kind.
Have a look at Chadli and let me know. He bugs me so maybe I’m making to much of it but he won’t take responsibility for the hard yards.
Re Sherwood, I’m not a fan. His apparent desire to raise his own profile has not gone down well and his open, naive tactics have won few admirers. Some of the bile is projection – people are very angry at Levy’s continued poor leadership and also hopes were raised at the start of the season only to be dashed. A lot of it is the way twitter is. People say things without taking any responsibility. Shame – I let it go. Links to what i was saying in the Bale article – culture of vehement reactions linked to distorted perceptions and expectations. The nature of being a supporter is changing.
im a season ticket holder…it costs me 300 pounds plus to watch a home match and a 7 hour drive!!….despite problems on the pitch, the media speculated problems off the pitch, the one thing that i know is….the lane is flat as fuck when it comes to singing and cheering the boys on!! my brother is a bin digger … ( liverpool fan ). Obliging him to a trip to Anfield recently as it was the least i could do seeing hes done a lane stadium tour and 6 home match games, i was humbled by the passion of the home crowd. Literaly,…the seats were vibrating by the sound of the fans. Now, look, i am a spurs supporter and ALWAYS will be. But, I wish our fans showed that much passion! We as yids are always wuick to point out the negatives! Come on, be honest…these forums are full of “angry yids! ” but, i do question the fact of, is it our players under achieving with over expectancy of price tags? or…. the sheer lack of support? looking at liverpool and what they’ve done in their history…ones got to acknoweledge their achievemants. however….since 2008 weve finished respectably 4 or 5th consistantly. im proud as a yid but do expect more. Proudly and rightfully as do us all. Liverpool finished 7th last year, had very little abuse from the press, and full backing from the board. There was even a personal plea to the fans to cheer them on, sing as loud as you can and support the team not to mention suarez who was given a difficult time. The fans i feel have played a massive support to them contributing to their form and current position. Hats off to them i was there!! i witnessed it first hand. I gotta say to be fair, if 30 something thousand yid army’s did the same i feel we would install enough passion, belief and confidence in the team and the clearly gifted individuals we have to achieve what we expect from our boys, personally i am a massive fan of eriksen..aswell as hugo. i would love them to stay, especially after 1 season!! And holtby better come back too!! But for us to seriously achieve on the field i would personally plead to all lilly whites to sing louder than any other, make our best players feel amazing and not want to grace every mornings speculated paper talk of cut price transfers.. and put in as much effort as they do to achieve by supporting them louder than any other supporters!! Its very little to ask but can make our lads so much better… look at the bin digging giro thiefs? whats to lose? I plead for us all to rock the roof off and go nuts from now on!!!
I think more and more fans are sick and tired of false dawns and the division amongst our ranks. Overzealous stewarding, Stubhub and high ticket prices don’t help either. It’s easy to get the ground ‘rocking’ when you’re challenging for honours, but for that to happen the whole club needs to be going in the same direction. Something that is almost impossible with the big black cloud of ENIC hanging over us.
From the heart and I feel your pain. Away support is great so there’s something about what home games mean – people fed up with being treated poorly, ticket prices, not enough in return etc. You’ve heard that before, not an excuse just a fact. Hope we can get something going next season. It’s not just us by the way – Liverpool an honourable exception because of the history of their fans and they are going for something but many reports of bad atmosphere around the Premier League.
The ” honour ” as you put it is the pride each yid that feels for their team, history and sense of self pride…. install that via noise into our..insecure and clearly struggling 7 new arrivals and im sure they’d perform with a sence of worth and being wanted and appreciated by our support and not just meaningless match day quotes from the press and the board…. if the negative bunch decided to cheer instead of insult…moan or wallow in self pity im sure wed be half way there!! is it levy driving our best players out yearly or the same old whinging fucks who’d rather moan than sing on match day!!! its obvious!! lets unite…go nuts and give the media something else to talk about rather than the crap i see and hear on a daily bases….its down to you to make the difference!!! if you all care that much…stop moaning and start cheering!!! its them on the pitch we need to convince! we might start helping more positive results….thats in fairness what were all on here constantly bitching about isnt it?!
You’re talking to wrong the bloke, fella. I won’t set foot in WHL or the fabled new ground until ENIC sell up.
I was at the game Alan and took my 30 year old niece with me. Quite a few years since my niece last went, and told me that the atmosphere is very poor and was quite upset by how much different it was to the last time she went.
Regarding the game, I could not help but wonder what would of been had we played the likes of Liverpool or City. On the counter we were like lambs to the slaughter and was glad it was Fulham and not one of the top 3 teams, as I am sure we would have been exploited again as we still have not learnt from our mistakes in defending.
On the plus side as you say, we are scoring, and glad Tim has finally got the team to keep pressing for a goal, like the WBA game.
Good read as usual Alan, keep up the good work.
The master plan of Tim Sherwood is Trial and Error.I’ll give him that. He needed a creative solution and came up with it.I’ll try something different every week until something happens. Its a shame you cant build on that type of structure.
AVB had all the players on the blueprint for success.Even though it didn’t match reality they were playing out the plan that was in his head.The man was heralded as having tactical nous. But no nous was bad news.inj our case.There were key elements he could not bring himself to change.
Talk about opposites.
The problem with freedom its that its an eighth of an inch away from chaos.Often in the same game. The positive thing about freedom is that it could find some talent. Eriksen is one of those.
I mean I love Pauinho.The man is silky smooth and gets the ball up quickly. The problem is he doesn’t always.he does but sometimes the ball doesnt.But I do have faith nin his abilities.
Eriksen has taken the freedom and made it work from him.He doesnt really have a set position.There is no real plan.But Eriksen makes thinks happen.Which is refreshing in a team that hasn’t.
Small mercies are appreciated at this time.But it is small.
Please dont give the award to TTim for that.All he did was take off the chains.
Well said. I agree – Tim has no incentive to build for the future and this is the one area where I have some sympathy because this situation is of Levy’s making. Everyone is marking time til the season is over when they can see what is happening at Spurs or leave. For anyone decent, it will be the latter.
Great writing as per usual, you sum t all up so well.
Levy, ENIC and the board have to take the blame for the lack of Atmosphere at the Lane this year. I should possibly throw AVB in too, as at times under his reign it was like watching Chess. I don’t know about you, but I never felt the need to sing a round of “Oh when Boris goes marching in” during the Spasky/Fisher World Chess Championship. Just didn’t have the right feel about it. Levy and ENIC now feel like a black cloud hanging over the club. It wouldn’t surprise me if Levy f*cks up the next 18 month appointment. I thought it quite ironic that Rodgers came out in the press and said he didn’t want to come to Spurs, because of Levy’s revolving door policy toward managers.
We’ve been almost completely devoid of entertainment this year, although we’ve managed to present it to the opposition and reverted to the laughing stock that pundits and Spurs haters so much love. “Spurs will always let you down!” Alan Hansen’s favourite catch phrase. It’s a shame it rings so true.
Maybe we are expecting too much, but then again I look at Liverpool and Everton and they didn’t spend £100m in the transfer market at the beginning of the season and look at where they are now! It’s debatable whether we could have kept Bale, maybe if Real Madrid had come in with a similar offer and wages for Suarez, then Liverpool may have felt it was too good to turn down. I never thought we’d win the title, but I did at least think we would be battling away in the top four and holding our heads up high. What’s also set this season apart from others is the amount of capitulations we’ve seen. I can’t remember the last time we ended up being spanked so much, I don’t even think when we last went down we had so many hidings.
I agree that Chadli is a complete waste of space. Once again I forgot he was playing yesterday. Getting rid of him in January would have been a blessing as far as i’m concerned. Let’s hope he has a good world cup and we can off load him in the summer for a nice profit eh Daniel?
After the depression of the above, I actually think that if we get a good coach in this summer then we’ll have a cracking season next year. We’ve got a bloody good squad and with the addition of say two new defenders and maybe even a LEADER out on the pitch, then we can surprise everyone like Liverpool have this.
Cheers and COYS
Better atmosphere at the chess championships – I like it!
I think the Liverpool comparison is instructive. The Bale/Suarez comparison is easy to make and many pundits have but as you say, Liverpool and Suarez had to turn down 40m and Arsenal whereas we had a world record fee on the table plus Bale was offered the earth and wanted to go. Rodgers’ situation holds up much better. Liverpool kept their youngish manager who at one point was getting more stick locally and nationally than AVB. He had a plan that worked. At Spurs, Levy is a known liability.
I feel that TMWNN is right. ENIC really have become increasingly toxic and I see no way out of our malaise until they sell up. An average of eighteen months per manager on their watch (this trend, I accept, had begun before they came on the scene) tells us everything we need to know.
Is it not time for us to hold our best players to their contracts? In my opinion, Hugo and Jan should not be allowed to leave. A top manager, with a vision, ought to be able to mollify them.
As for next season, I’d re-sign Caulker right away and bring in a left back and a striker. Cheers.
I would like to agree HH but if players don’t give their all because they are fed up so they are no use to us. Players shouldn’t be like this but they are. If the new guy can convey a future to them, that could be the way to go. Suspect we need more than a couple of players, though.
Alan – good summary as always. I admire the way you’ve carried on with the blog this year when the performances from week to week are so inconsistent and the management of the Club so poor. Other than the Benfica games (for personal reasons), I won’t be able to recall much (anything) from this season. Roll on the last game.
Congrats to Benfica – pleased you have had something to cheer this season. I’ve never known this feeling – just wishing the season away.
I won’t tell you anything new, but this is just the same with everything in life.
You’d think experience teaches us at least anything, but alas.
Disagree if you will but the world changes rapidly, and none of us have no control whatsoever over it.
E.g., If only Obama had any balls to put Vladimir to his place, but it seems like it’s never happening, welcome world war.
A truly inspiring post, thanks!