Always Knew There’d be Days Like These

Testing on the New Model Poch has gone well so far, by and large, but yesterday against West Brom the wheels well and truly fell off. Progress is never straightforward. The best thing a supporter can hope for is that for every one step back there are two forward. When the season began, we always knew there would be days like these but that insight doesn’t make it feel any better.

This was as disjointed and mindless as the worst days of Redknapp and Villas-Boas. Ineffective in attack, scarily poor at the back and unable to shake themselves out of it. By the finish I was wistfully dreaming of an indiscriminate whack forward into the box, that’s what I was reduced to, but we couldn’t even do that, or get a corner past the near post.

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Empty spaces in the stands – Stubhub had over 800 tickets available on Saturday night. These 1.30 kick-offs are taking their toll. The scores from Leicester-United generated the only buzz in the second half. I don’t get that myself but it shows attention was elsewhere.

Dembele’s performance summed up Spurs’ day. He has looked eager and positive since he came back into the team. Like others, Rose, Kane and Dier notably, he’s responded to the competition for places. Also, and perhaps more importantly, he seems to have got over the thigh injury that plagued him for most of last season. He starts as one of the two defensive midfielders but can push up when we have the ball, giving us four in midfield plus Capoue staying back to cover and allowing midfielders’ runs into the box. It’s an important position if it works and he has the ability to put it into practice.

In the first half he was busy, making a couple of good interceptions and shifting the ball around more quickly than he did last season. He showed he has another gear. However, as the half wore on, he was twice caught in possession, potentially fatal for a DM with no cover behind him. Also, at one point he preferred to hold onto the ball rather than find the runner ahead of him, Rose I think, can’t be sure.

That this is noteworthy says everything about the game. I can recall this moment because we had runners in space so infrequently. There were a few oohs and ahhs in the first half as some crosses came in, Rose timing his runs well to give us much-needed width, and a double attempt (double-cross?) from Eriksen which two Spurs forwards just failed to get a toe on. Otherwise I don’t remember Foster making a single save until Soldado steered Lamela’s lightening cross straight at him, deep in the second half.

The first half faded away but any anticipation that we would get going after half-time was swiftly dispelled. Rather, we sunk into a quagmire of uncertainty and apathy. Constantly giving the ball away, unable to pass to a white shirt.

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This was also Pochettino’s worst game so far. This was the first time the players failed to respond to him. In the second half he was gesturing on the touchline like John McCririck on PCP, a demented tic-tac man vainly trying to change the odds in our favour. At one point he was miming bending runs and movement but I couldn’t spot a single player taking any notice.

WBA played a disciplined 4-4-1-1 but we had no idea how to get round that midfield four. Poch brought on Soldado and Paulinho for Dembele and Chadli, the only time I noticed he was on the pitch. Eriksen went left, Lamela wide right. This took Eriksen out of the game, a fact recognised later when he came back central when Lennon came on to at least take the ball to our opponents. Then, moving the ball from deep, half the players split to shape up for the old formation while five others pushed right up, leaving a 50 yard gap between back and front. Half the players were on one formation, half another. In the end, the forwards stood and waited for the ball to reach them.

Little things – man-marking at corners, Chiriches dutifully followed Sessignon even when the WBA man jogged out of the area for a short corner. Our centre back therefore taken out of the box for a corner.This is not to excuse the players. Eriksen has to get more involved even if that means he comes deeper. Yesterday he played in fits and starts. Lamela has blindingly quick feet but was stifled for the most part. As I’ve said before, Chadli is a talented player who is happy if the game is played at his pace and others do the work for him. In the PL, that’s a luxury we can’t afford. Soldado came on to a big cheer and got everything wrong. Manu furiously berated his team-mates near the end for not getting onto the end of his fine flick-on into the box but I’m sure they were as surprised as I was that he had actually won anything.

At the back, Rose did well but could not advance in the second half. By the time the game ended, the collective sharp intake of breath whenever Chiriches came near the ball was audible. You could almost smell his fear. His attempt to tackle a player at the edge of our box by rolling the ball under his foot for a clever turn was certainly a first for me. Luckily he managed to fumble his way out of it. Awful.

The winning goal was in keeping with our performance, an average-sized bloke jumping unmarked to head in from eight yards out. Credit to the Baggies. They kept to their shape throughout, worked hard from first to last and attacked whenever possible to keep the pressure on us. The better side won.

I do the Spurs preview for a fellow blogger who has a West Brom site. This week he asked a question about hopes for the season. I answered that what’s most important for me is that we show clear signs of longer term progress and have a two or three year plan to move the club forward on and off the pitch. That process will be painful at times but there’s no getting away from it: yesterday we were p*ss poor.

 

Voting has begun for the Football Blogging Awards 2014. Numbers of votes count at this stage so I would be eternally grateful if you could click the logo in the sidebar for Tottenham On My Mind in the Best Club Blog category  How about it for an old-fashioned, one man blog up against the big boys. Bless you.

 

 

30 thoughts on “Always Knew There’d be Days Like These

  1. A shameful performance.
    We could not beat the last placed side!!
    Early days but I am getting worried.
    The only good thing was MU and Liverpool getting beaten!!!

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      • Depends doesn’t it – good Ade, who was masterful away at Poch’s Southampton, or ordinary Ade yesterday. problem is, as i wrote last week, we need an alternative and gave ourselves nothing in the window. Soldado I like, has to play on Wednesday for match practice, but he was as bad as the rest of them. This could turn out to be a big problem.

        Regards, Alan

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  2. First time it has all gone wrong for MoPo?…were you at the Liverpool game?

    When Eriksen doesn`t play well, we have no creativity, a squad stuffed to rafters of defensive midfield tacklers (compare our midfield squad to that of Cheslea or arsenal, look at the number of creative players they have who can change or open up a game)

    Everyone wondering why Chiriches started ahead of Verts, but what worries me more about MoPo is his use and choice of substitutions…thought they lost us the 3 points at Sunderland last week, and were all wrong yesterday too!!

    Am very fearful of next Sat!

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    • Know what you mean but I see WBA as different, though, Peter. WBA played well but nowhere near as well as Liverpool and yet we got so much wrong. Interesting re subs because I think he’s used them creatively to change a game. The formation we adopted once the subs came on was wrong as he virtually admitted when switching Eriksen back to a central position and bringing Lennon on belatedly – I would have got him on earlier. Eriksen has to be more involved, get on the ball much more. Agree re Jan – should have mentioned that.

      Regards, Alan

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  3. Some comments – we still don’t know who are best 11 is, and too many inconsistent players. Eriksen brilliant one week, hardly visible the same. Same as Dembele, regarded as MOTM last week. Poor this weak. Lamela needs to stop doing his tricks and be more direct. Then if Soldado, like Paulinho even tried to make half an attempt when West Brom scored, we might be able to take him seriously. Check out the pic at http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/29196073. Lamela totally misses the ball but at least he jumps. Soldado and Paulinho just stand there. Will be very interesting to see how the players perform against Forest and Arsenal. It was gutting to see the likes of Leicester play with so much energy and spirit, and watch Spurs being the exact opposite

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    • Well said all round. Eriksen is the key, written that so many times, he has to get himself on the ball not wait to be neat and clever on the edge of the opposition’s box. Forest and Arsenall have diferent styles, both will be highly motivated, as opposed to our vapid efforts yesterday.

      Cheers, Alan

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  4. I really hope this take-over bid is successful because I’m just about sick to the core with ENIC and Levy’s penny pinching which is seeing us go backwards. We did the worst transfer business in the Prem, and do you know what – if you buy average you become average. Levy had plenty of time to properly support his manager for once, he could have struck early and sorted Schneiderlein out (no chance he might of had to pay a fair price for once), got some much needed attacking talent with one of Hernandez/Bony/Remy or Welbeck, but instead he did bugger all again. This man will be the death of us if he’s allowed to carry on in his role of not supporting any manager with the players he actually wants, Moutinho or Mousachio anyone?
    Lets hope this consortium buys out ENIC and somebody actually gets to sack Levy for a change. If Levy’s missus sent him to the supermarket for a can of Heinz beans Levy would save money and return with a cheaper option wouldn’t he?
    His penny pinching is sending us slowly but surely back to mediocrity. Rednapp and Bale might have made him look good for a while but they were just temporary blips, as for last season mindless spending spree of the Bale money, don’t get me started on that one. Levy out. ENIC out.

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    • Thing for me is that we have enough cash to buy a couple of decent players without upsetting any other plans Levy has, even if that plan is to sell. It’s more about the judgement buying the players we have and whether they fit what another manager wants. The striker situation could be a disaster and that was because we did not have a plan B when welbeck fell through. levy’s in charge and we’re failing.

      Cheers, Alan

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  5. Thanks Alan,
    I think Chiriches may have been in because of his presumed ball carrying skills, the thinking, perhaps, being that WBA wouldn’t be very adventurous and that we could defend high up and not be too pressured at the back. All hindsight and I have no way of knowing Pochettino’s mind. Got that one wrong and they were bright and bushy tailed up front all day.

    We have 4 central defenders but Kaboul, sadly, these days and definitely Chiriches, who cannot head a ball defensively, is reactive rather than proactive and cannot smell danger or track runs around him, look easily the worst of the bunch. At least I hope they are. Chiriches doesn’t show much understanding of when or where he can play his football and when to clear decisively. Even in his better games he’s an accident waiting to happy.

    I like Dembele in the middle and able to push further forward and hope we persevere with him and that tactic.

    I think everyone finds it hard to get through teams that defend in backs of four and are disciplined and tenacious and capable of keeping a side on alert through fast and strong running on the counter. We are not alone in this. Though the tops sides have those players that make that difference. Expensive though, not just in transfer fees but wages too.

    I’m not too disheartened but then 5th/6th and good runs in a cup or two will be a good season for this side in my book.

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    • Your assessment of Chiriches is perfect and you made that without reference to yesterday. Pochettino wants some consistency and is trying various pairings at the back and in midfield to find out the best, so he gave Vlad another game. Might have reached a conclusion now…although he clearly sees it as Kaboul plus one other whereas I see Kaboul as having lost the power and mobility that made him a fine player. Seems to have lost some weight, though.

      I’d be happy too with that season’s outcome but we are some way off, especially bearing in mind United’s investment, despite yesterday, Liverpool beat us easily and Arsenal, Chelsea and City are way ahead of us.

      Regards, Alan

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  6. Agree 100% with White Hot Lane. As soon as Poch names Kaboul club captain and plays our third and fourth centre backs you know you’re in trouble. Just look at how Fazio (excellent debut) and Verts played in Belgrade. I like the cut of the new man’s jib, but some of his bizarre selections are all too reminiscent of AVB and Sherwood.
    Getting rid of Holtby is utterly baffling to me. Yesterday was just the kind of game he could have influenced. And he’d looked terrific pre-season. One of Townsend or Lennon must always play, without them we have no pace in the side. It’s going to be a long old season I’m afraid.

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    • See above Harv re defence – Poch is trying a few things and is a quick learner, the real problem could be up front with Soldado and Manu nowhere near their A game.

      Best, Alan

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  7. Was that AVB in a Pochettino mask?
    Absolutely shocking.
    It seemed to me that a number of the players, Chiriches especially, didn’t look like they wanted to be on the pitch when they came out for the second half, completely lacklustre and apathetic.
    The only high point for me was when the p*ssed up oik next to me left when West brom scored.
    Flat atmosphere at the lane is becoming more and more prevalent. I think it’s the “Déjà vu” feeling that we all have.

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    • Chiriches looked like a youth player making his debut not an experienced international. You get the feeling he doesn’t want to be here. This was an opportunity for him to stake his claim for a place. Wasn’t up for it. Paulinho the same – he looks so hacked off with football. We can’t carry passengers.

      Regards, Alan

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  8. Hello Alan.
    I find it very worrying that a team that looked bright and snappy against Sunderland could be so poor just one week later.
    Maybe it’s White Hart Lane?
    These players need to understand that Spurs fans are justified in getting jumpy when the team starts in such a sluggish manner.
    Too many times they’ve seen us beaten by at home by teams that simply do their job.
    Too many times have our own players seemed incapable of concentrating for long periods.
    I stated last week that we shouldn’t underestimate the enormity of Poch’s task.
    We seem leaderless, totally lacking in application and imagination.
    I like many others, am dreading our trip down the road, I beg the players to prove me wrong.

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    • Inconsistency is typical of a developing side. As you say, away games where less is expected of us and we can contain and counter may suit this team better than going out to dominate. It really seemed a huge task for the manager, again agree. Let’s see how he deals with the NLD.

      Regards, Alan

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  9. Our possession (and supposed pressing) game was found out early last season, and it’s the same this season. There is no width and pace in our team anymore, no balance, and there hasn’t been since the best days of Bale/Lennon on the flanks, and our ‘great’ partnership of Modric and Parker in the middle.
    Now we clog up the midfield with slow paced midfielders, who are non-incisive and non-visionary in their dull possession game. Even the defenders and forwards are at it too. Treat the ball like a hot potato and pass sideways or back as quickly as you can. Can you imagine Dave Mackay or Danny Blanchflower watching crap like that in front of them, and doing nothing about it ..like the great leaders they were? But then Billy Nick freed them all up …eg just go out and score more than the other lot! He had faith in the players, more than any system they played.
    No one, not even Eriksen, is seeing the big picture as Hoddle, Gazza, Ardiles, Modric etc., once did..
    We have many good players, but no exceptional ones; we have willing players, but no one sure of their role, or how far they should deviate from it in order to play their best, take real chances and confuse the opposition. We are too readable, and Poch, like AVB and Sherwood before him, is too certain of methods and systems that don’t always work, and which he is reluctant to change mid-game.
    We are not watching favourite Tottenham players stretching their imagination and playing their best anymore, instinctively and to us, the crowd ….we are watching one man’s slightly nervous team system (team ..that’s a laugh). We may as well be watching someone play one of those FIFA football games.
    What’s wrong with the classic ‘push and move’? Even with someone creative, no one with pace is making the space for them to pass into it. Too frightened to deviate from their damn position!
    Our strike force is at its lowest ebb for many years, and that says something as we’ve had some pretty ineffective or inconsistent strikers in recent years, despite a degree of relative success. Kane showed he’s not up to regular team time yet on Thursday (disappearing completely in the 2nd half against Partizan), Soldado is the player we should have signed 4 years back but who is now a broken wreck under the system(s) we’ve played since he arrived, and Ade is clearly now on the slide. It’s been a long time since Keane, Berb and Defoe scored 60+ goals in a season. So I don’t really think it takes an expert to suggest we need a top all-action striker. Add a pacy and genuine left winger along with a deep lying CREATIVE playmaker, and we should be finding things finally improving since, not only Bale’s departure, but also Modric’s. As if Chadli was ever going to be the answer to Bale, and I could scream when Eriksen has played there! Eriksen could be Modric’s equal one day, but for now, at least let him dictate the middle with Lamela ahead and just ONE dm who knows how to play with the Dane whilst protecting the back four.
    But NO, in the windows we simply keep trading in defensive midfielders and defenders, and Schneiderlin won’t be the answer in January either.
    Our defense per se’ is not the problem. We simply need to take pressure of the back four by scoring more, and getting the dms to move it out of the danger zone more quickly and with purpose!
    I believe a good left winger at least, for now, will finally free up either Lennon or Townsend on the right again, and with Walker coming back soon (please!) our flanks and new found width/pace (if Poch can trust width) can put the fear back into opposing teams once more. What is the point of having good players in a squad, and yet seeing them lose to inferior players who are given more freedom to play to their capabilities than we are??
    .

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    • I am amazed that people keep saying that lennon should be in the team this man does not know how to kick a ball correctly thats why he never takes a corner or freekick one goal in 34 appearances last season and 10 decent crosses one every three games.Lennon is totally useless and should never be picked again.

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    • Thanks for taking the time and trouble to post such a thoughtful and thought-out comment, covers everything.

      To pick out a couple things. Strikers – absolutely. I wrote about that last week. Big problem, one we have brought on ourselves because of a mis-handled window.

      Midfield – agree re limitations but we could make better use of what we have by moving the ball much quicker. If players are less creative, fine – make up for it with effort and movement, get players into channels and spaces. Saints were good at that.

      Re width, problem we have is that our wide men are skillful but don’t work hard enough and don’t have football intelligence. Townsend wants to beat four players then score top corner from 25 yards every time, he doesn’t come back enough. Lennon’s crossing is not accurate enough and he doesn’t score enough goals. Chadli is a talented poser who again doesn’t do his share off the ball. These are not Poch-type players. We miss Walker.

      Regards, Alan

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  10. Before the game we were discussing the highs and lows of being a Spurs fan. Little did we know what was to follow. We were awful. This squad is not good enough.It lacks energy, pace and creativity and most importantly a leader out on the pitch. We are clueless when it comes to breaking the opposition down.Sadly, we are also good at predicting that the next injured player coming back will make all the difference.This time its when Walker comes back we will be ok. Dier is not a full back so at least play Naughton. Chiriches is a disaster waiting to happen so please play Vertonghen. Why do we need both Dembele and Capoue against bottom of the table. Play Lennon because at least he tries to go around the outside when he is played on the right. Forget Adebayor and give Soldado a run in the team. Trouble is we only have 6 days to get it right.

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    • Awful indeed. Paying for Soldado’s lack of match opportunities. He’s in a bad place just when we need an alternative to Ade. Vertonghen has to return.

      Cheers, Alan

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  11. Still bloody fuming… Came away from the game with steam coming out of my ears.
    Although it still hurts to loose, I dont mind, as long as we at least show some fight and passion, this though was absolutely abysmal and there is no excuse for that sh!te of a game that I wish I had not witnessed.
    God help us against the Arses.. If they thrash us, I’m going into hiding from the b’stards 😪

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    • If you find a hiding place, make sure there’s room for me too…

      No steam issuing from any of my orifices, just a cloud of gloom on the train home. No passion, no ideas.

      Best, Alan

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  12. Truly disgusting performance. I feel sorry for the poor fools who continue to be strung along by ENIC and pay Champions’ League prices for Championship football. They must need their heads testing.

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  13. I got angry with AVB very quickly,well at least after watching one boring game after another. I got frustrated with the news conferences that we rarely honest.They also offered excuses and blame and at some point chewed it all up and spat it out.
    Tim was refreshing for 2 minutes until the concept of no class took hold. In Poch I was happy what I saw.,Ideas.Fluidity.Commitments.Belief and confidence. So I said what you said Alan,that as long as I see increments of quality I would be happy and content knowing this was how you grow.
    Our pace in the game never went beyond the also ran. It was monotonous. But we at least ha started out with some formula,some pattern and shape.Eventually it because all that is was ever going to be and whether we were defending and staring into space while West Brom were looking incredibly like West Ham against AVB. There was no development either to the final third until everything turned to shite.
    I said at the time that we couldnt possible be this bad.
    When Paulinho came on I had to shake my head.He out beaned Mr Bean. This is the height of disrespect to the war torn fans of Tottenham. Rub our fucking noses into the ground why dont you.
    I still believe.But as I say in these cases ‘Show Me’. Dont talk about how great our system is,how great Poch is as a manager or how much fun it is to be a Tottenham player.Give us,the fans what we need.We are not asking for much.A little passion against those bastards this weekend will help.Its a shame I cant count on it though.

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    • addendum:
      Contrary to the commentators spouting out about tactics for the Arse game,I say that we kept our shape well,was steady and tough and saw glimpses of what Lamela can do. Very dissapointed with Eriksen who more and more looks a lightweight

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