Reflections On City: Different Manager, Same Spurs – Have We Moved On?

The memories of last season’s 6-0 defeat at Manchester City are hard to erase. The goals themselves, one conceded after 13 seconds, were bad enough but it was the manner of the capitulation that can still bring out a cold sweat in the middle of the night. In particular an image revealed by the TV of four or five Spurs players otherwise engaged as the whistle blew. Thinking more about the first train home than the game. Kaboul tying his shoelaces.

A section of the media, Neil Ashton and Martin Samuels in the vanguard, saw that their victim was vulnerable and pounced on Villas-Boas, unleashing a torrent of criticism stored up from days at Chelsea, not Spurs’ fault but we suffered most. ‘We’ meant ‘them’ but soon enough AVB had to refer to Tottenham as ‘them’ not ‘us’ because he was gone.  Two managers later, it feels like several seasons have passed but in fact it’s under a year. Time flies when you’re not having fun.

The match ebbed and flowed in timelapse, half a season’s worth of incidents speeded up and packed into 90 minutes. 4 penalties, sublime skill, pathetic defending (form both teams), end-to-end football in an open, exciting match that for neutrals could have been the best game of the season so far. How dare they enjoy that?

39 goal attempts and almost as many turning points but Soldado’s missed penalty after an hour did for us. The time for ifs and buts, could-haves and should-haves was past. In the middle of a spell in the second half where we took the game to City and found their defence was almost as porous as ours, Bobby stepped up, waited for the keeper to move and as usual put the ball low towards the corner, tried a tested routine, reliable….except this time something in the wiring of a brain that has seen him score goals for a lifetime fused. It compelled him to put the ball in the direction Hart was diving. It sucked all the strength from his leg muscles.

Hart saved the feeble effort. Shortly afterwards the keeper blocked Soldado’s fine effort from Rose’s cross. The game was gone and with it what remained of the Spaniard’s fragile confidence. Until then it had been his best game for Spurs for a long while. The link-up play with Eriksen in particular was delightful at times and one first-half pass sliced apart the City defence only for Mason to hit Hart’s legs with an outside-of-the-foot prod when something more substantial was required to put Spurs one up.

#457424802 /

So: goals and penalties, let’s go. Preface: in my view Aguero is the best in the world in the box and this was an outstanding day even for him.

First goal: Lamela gave the ball away and had a lousy match. City overloaded on our left in the first half, seeing Dier and Lamela as our weak spot and how right they were. Aguero does this thing: in the box most strikers take a touch forward before shooting. He shifts the ball a yard diagonally away from the goal and therefore from the defender in front of him then shoots. It’s impossible for the defender to tackle because he’s now two yards from the ball with Aguero in between. This also opens up the angle for the far post. The real problem here for Spurs was not so much Kaboul even though he gave him too much room but that Aguero needs two men to block and cut down that angle and space. We never did that.

And Lampard was in an offside position in the keeper’s line of sight. Questionable to say the least. not according to Alan Shearer on MOTD. Lampard couldn’t be offside ‘because Lloris wouldn’t have saved it anyway.” Rewrite the laws if it suits why don’t you. Or use your brain, which is why you get paid a 7 figure sum for a torrent of smug drivel.

Penalty: down goes Lampard who as all English football knows is a fine upstanding top hole pip pip decent chap. Except he wasn’t upstanding this time. he never dives so it must have been a penalty. He did and it wasn’t.

Second penalty: Kaboul ploughs in on the trickiest player in the league David Silva. Blatant pen, Kaboul reckless in the extreme and as captain no example to the rest of his side. Lloris saves with his legs. Lloris always dives to his left, you know.

Third pen: ours, Soldado was tripped outside the box. You know the rest. The ref’s having a mare, you may have gathered by now.

Fourth pen: Fazio who had until watched the penalty box mayhem without contributing much, pulled Aguero down as he ran in the box towards a cross. Might have got away with that in Spain. Sent off: was the ref certain Aguero would get on the end of that ball? I don’t think he could be. No red.

Fourth City goal: long ball, Aguero did that thing again. The free kick was taken quickly, three yards in front of where it should have been. Should therefore have been brought back. Did I mention the ref wasn’t having a good game?

Returning to the problems posed at the top of this piece, what’s important to me is whether or not we have moved on since then. That match was an example, albeit stark and extreme, of our problems in recent years against the top four. I used to say, ‘our rivals for the top four’ but there’s no chance of that, long gone. Spurs have a long-standing fatal problem of team deficiencies in attitude and togetherness coupled with failures of individuals at key moments. It’s a toxic combination.

Leave the ref out of it, yesterday showed familiar flaws. There were signs of better team play, especially coming forward. In the week Eriksen’s international manager criticised him for not dominating games. It’s something I’ve pointed out here too. Without putting undue pressure on a player who is still quite young, he has the talent to do much more. Goodness knows we need it. Yesterday he scored our equaliser with a fine right-footer, could have had another in the fist half when he passed unaccountably instead of shooting with his left and for the first hour was always a threat. Maybe he responded. It may be more to do with the extra room we have when we go away. City are the most attacking and therefore open of the top four and give others room.

#457426458 /

Without the ball we didn’t press so much as fall back, staying narrow, compressing the space and forcing City down the flanks, which worked well versus Arsenal and defending a lead against Southampton. Mason was delightfully energetic and combative, robbing the City midfielder to set up the first and generally being a right old nuisance. He moves the ball on quickly and his determined to take his chance. He’s waited a long time. Perhaps in the modern game 23 is the new 19. Players have to learn their trade elsewhere before coming into first team contention, more fully formed as footballers than in past generations.

On the bad days we’ve tended to fade. Fade – say what you mean man: give up. The late goals plus Milner hitting the post is a sign that problem hasn’t gone away but some mitigating circumstances, I reckon. 2-1 down, we had to push up and had a real chance until missed chances and the sending-off. Pochettino’s substitutions hindered rather than helped. The arrival of Townsend and Dembele disrupted the team’s balance. It would have been better to tweak, keeping the central midfield solidity as an attacking base.

However, we’ll get nowhere if we give the ball away with such profligacy. Kaboul and Lamela were the worst culprits in the first half, losing the ball close to our box. These errors led directly to at least two goals. Also, our progress was hampered by individual errors. Kaboul’s tackle for the penalty was inexcusable and even allowing for Aguero’s brilliance in the box there were other unnecessary, totally avoidable mistakes. The faults of key players are there too often, especially when we don’t have the ball.  Never mind the ref, we simply can’t play like this. It’s our fault, no one else to blame.

Lloris was great, I love him. End on a positive.

38 thoughts on “Reflections On City: Different Manager, Same Spurs – Have We Moved On?

  1. It is so frustrating being a Spurs Supporter, but I guess that after 50 years supporting The Lilywhites I have come to expect it. I feel sorry for Mauricio Pochettino as he has inherited a lot of players who are simply not good enough to wear our shirt. However, I am unsure whether the additions that were made to our squad this summer have actually done anything to improve the strength of our team. It has been obvious to us supporters that we have needed to go out and buy a top quality striker for the last four transfer windows, along with a quality leader in the centre of defence. Daws was our last leader, whilst Sandro (our own ‘Beast’) possibly could have been the man to take on the role of Skipper; but I am afraid that is now history. I am astounded that the management believe that Capoue was an able alternative to Sandro, or even Lewis Holtby, who for whatever reason has been allowed to go out on loan, and will probably be sold at the end of the season!?! I believe that his enthusiasm and commitment to the cause would have been infectious, and hopefully rubbed off on some of our other players. Whoever has sanctioned the signings that we have made since the departure of Gareth Bale should be held accountable for the decline in our quality and performances ever since. I am forever optimistic that somebody, no anybody within the Club will sort out the mess once and for all sometime very soon. Only then will we start to regain our place, and put our Club Mighty Tottenham Hotspur F C back where we should be….competing with the best. Here’s hoping! Come On You Spurs!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Every word said were my thoughts exactly I have been a spurs fan for 65 years and am so disapointed
      with the way we play! for years we have needed a world class centre half, and what was wrong with buying
      Wellbeck! best deal yet for the gooners, cannot find a good word to say about Soldado or Lamela
      we need to keep some of the younger players instead of putting them out on loan,, players like Mason, Kane
      and Holtby who play with a lot heart for the club if they had been kept in house how good would they have been by now and i’m not forgetting Carroll and Townsend those players could have been playing togather and
      gelling into a good unit, I lived in Scotland for 50 odds so only get to see lads now and again, and if they play
      like they are now I might no bother the next time there up here. From a very flustrated and ageing FAN!!
      Come On You SPURS


      • Welbeck didn’t want to come to us. Turns out that the best players in the world don’t want to play for a team that will finish between 5th and 8th in our league.


    • Come on you Spurs indeed. Great name Alf. Every reader of Tottenham On My Mind shares your frustration. The main problem is the constant changing of the guard. You say Poch hasn’t got the players he wants and you are right. It’s been a theme of mine for the last few weeks. Agree re Daws and Holtby, think he’s been sold now so never to return.

      Regards, Alan


    • Absolutely mate. Would we early be worse off under Harry for instance? Levy has this mystical reputation of being a great business genius. Really. Imagine the fees we’ve paid just in managerial compensation alone! And after the post Blae fiasoic that surely must be dead in the water; the slowness of the new ground, please. Its been far far too long and we could have been in CL last year if we’d have kept some consistency – and a certain Welshman. I mean Print the t shirts. I will buy a dozen. Levy is the root cause of our mediocirty . Levy OUT!!


      • When a manager that ALL PL clubs feared(and hence THFC were also feared) was sacked and an old (but useless as a manager) THFC ex player made manager before a FA Cup semi-final for which we had been favourites to win, you could hear the cheers from Highbury to Woolwich. Naturally my comments about the brown tongued nature of this sacking(to the THFC self called “elite” who see AFC as scum being more important than THFC) had me barred form not a few places as IMO it set the tone for ENIC’s rule. Sure I hated GG’s football BUT the 0-6s were few and far between and we were feared and I had not felt this since the early 60s. Sugar is reviled. Sugar found us a stand and a cup. What have ENIC and the tax parasite Lewis achieved? A cup and the “censored” wants ONE billion for us. His financial delusions(he is after all one of the most parasitic of all people: a currency trader) and his niggardly ownership have seen us fall FAR behind the top five clubs and now that we are in fair finance play time, we can never catch up. If you look carefully, it could not have been better played to screw us over but I am not that paranoid as I see greed as the motive here NOT the success or future of THFC in ENICs creed.


  2. Start on a positive. I love Hugo too. Without him think how many more goals we would have conceded and games lost. He is the reason we are in with a chance of not being a mid-table side.

    How did we get here when a couple of years ago we were regularly finishing 4th or 5th, getting to semis of cup competitions and thinking of maybe, just maybe, pushing on and winning the title?

    Easily explained. We sold our best players, bought a random collection of individuals and changed manager too often.

    Some wonderful play going forwards at times yesterday. Utterly scintillating. For an hour we took the game to the reigning champions.

    And then like so many Spurs teams I’ve seen over the last 40 years we just couldn’t keep going.

    For all the lovely play going forward we weren’t a real or sustained threat.

    Soldado’s confidence has gone and what the hell have we done to one of Spain’s best forwards?

    We were soft and naive defensively. Plenty of other teams are going to knock a few past us if we continue to play like this.

    Vertonghen on the bench and Fazio starts his first game in the league against City? Very odd. Reckon Jan is heading towards the door. In his head he has gone already.

    Anotger positive to end on? Ryan Mason looks like a bright prospect for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mason impressive as much for his attitude as contribution, in stark contrast to Vertonghen who seems to be dreaming of that “offer” from Barcelona that probably existed only in his agent’s head. We have this ability to suck the life from talented players. To be positive, or naive, persist with Soldado in that role for a few games. he did play well for an hour and so did we. Poch got more from him in an hour than Sherwood did in half a season.

      Regards, Alan


    • How about some uppers instead? Look after yourself my man. Suspect people who missed Saturday’s game were the lucky ones. Ups and downs in those first 60 minutes. Then just down…

      Best, Alan


    • Thanks for the post, Russell. I just can’t abide Shearer as a pundit. Nothing to do with what he says about Spurs, that insistent, hectoring, I am always right tone…you’ve got me started again…

      Regards, Alan


  3. Hi Alan.
    Imagine the Tottenham team-talk before the game yesterday.
    Don’t give the ball away cheaply, don’t dive into tackles in and around the box, don’t give the Ref any excuses for pulling out red cards. All tired but sound footballing cliches heard around the dressing rooms of the world week in week out.
    I wonder if some of our players lack intellect or are in need of psychiatric help because they clearly have trouble grasping these most basic axioms of the game.
    Individual errors once more overshadowed what was in effect a decent showing.
    The thought of an already overstretched Dier being given a horribly underhit pass and thus having to be carded for grabbing the shirt of the intercepting City player sums up everything up for me.
    He didn’t seem unduly surprised at being sold down the river by his team-mate, crass carelessness seems to overcome so many who wear the Spurs shirt right now
    Is anybody else becoming tired of Kaboul grinning after the team tries once again to self destruct?
    It’s probably a nervous reaction, he should work on it because it doesn’t look good.
    Positives will be highlighted. Despite the penalty miss, I thought Soldado played well, Mason and Eriksen too.
    I doubted however that we were ever going to win this game, the other team were miles better than ours.
    As for Poch, he’ll have to get to grips with the spaces between certain players ears before he can begin to concentrate on the spaces out on the pitch.
    I’d rather him than me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agree. Managers must despair when they see what the experienced players like Kaboul do, or Lamela, bearing mind that Poch plays him regularly therefore has faith in him. Time to repay. Pochettino can only give them so much time before he gets rid. The crying shame is that we are talking about team rebuilding so soon after the last window. Levy not backing manager again or is the manager a poor judge of a footballer? Big question…

      Cheers, Alan


  4. Alan, mate, had to get up very early on Left Coast to catch 4.45am kickoff, so us 30 Yiddos at the Greyhound Bar (owned by a Yankee Spurs fan) in Highland Park, were prepared for the worst, still sang (even “we’re going to win 5-4”), and enjoyed the entertainment, and that sure was entertainment. Kind of like life, if you don’t get a kick out of it (the good, bad and ugly) then why bother? And personally, I enjoyed it, knowing we at least had a sniff at 1-2, with Soldado’s non-confident PK flub and then Hart’s much better save off Soldado’s shot shortly after. We went home, not griping, but into the SoCal sun. It’s not so bad after all. Got a question, I was thinking of Nobby Stiles…why couldn’t we have put someone like Stambouli on Aguero, a man-marker who follows him everywhere, and let the other defenders hold the line and everything. Someone to disrupt his play before he gets the ball to make that diagonal shift, which Alan so perceptively noted, to get a sight at goal. Why don’t teams use man markers, what am I missing? Somehow we’re still only 2P off 4th (still tied with L’Arse on 11P), one round from LC QFs, unbeaten in Europa, and perhaps, maybe, hopefully…not far from busting out. The future’s so bright — well, at least, SoCal is — I gotta put back on my shades! Cheers, Alan, keep up the unrelenting reflections!!! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers Ashley. Good to get that perspective from far away. Social media unrelentingly negative on Saturday afternoon ….
      Re man marker, problem is, put a midfielder on a player as far forward as Ageuro, that man is taken out of the game. True though that the option is out of fashion. All about marking the space these days.

      Regards, Alan


  5. When Levy knee jerked AVB out of the door and installed timUB40wood I said Spurs were destined for another decade in the wilderness and I have yet to see anything to dispel that fear

    Liked by 1 person

    • Let’s give Poch time but the feeling that he was appointed because he wouldn’t argue with levy’s buying policy rather than being the best man for the job lingers…


  6. This was certainly for me not as bad as the previous encounter at the Etihad. I mean its not Spurs have learned or not its more that maybe I have.Or have I?
    I was pained at our constant inability to negotiate the final third,as most other people were during AVB’s time with us. I couldnt understand why we kept on doing the same thing.Walking into walls over an over again.It was as if Bill Murray had got the gig.
    We then saw Sherwood and we all knew he had some of that Redknapp fundamentalism in making the game more simplistic.It was something we could comprehend.All the science I couldnt understand,its just my job 1 day a week,Im a Tottenham Fan-a-ann a Tottenham fan. But it wasnt good enough,not.Not for the greatest club the world has ever seen.
    After I saw the way it was going with AVB,I thought,this is never going to happen.It never did. I could have made a mistake,maybe it would have…Nah.
    So why am I giving Poch a lot more time? Why is this non glory night different from all other non glory nights? Its because I trust Poch. I like his demeanor. I like his ideas I like his confidence in himself without ever saying anything about it.His humility.
    We ha a few great chances to make it more of a game but truly Silva and Aguero are about as great a double act as there have ever been,although on this day Aguero was absolutely incredible.
    What we did well was to cut own the space,with two rows coming back a la Sunderland and Atletico but they were too clever,too quick and too powerful for us.
    Its correct Alan as you say that Kaboul and Lamela were the worst culprits (of the first half) but Kaboul is just too slow for quickness of these players an Lamela looke like an 11 year old boy at the hands of the Man City midfield an defence.These players were honoured earlier by Poch.
    Poch has to learn. Will He? Really I have no idea.He looked totally frustrated in the interview after the game.
    I trust him but he trusted his players to do better.
    I think Soldado showed that he is a better playmaker than scorer.Maybe he should play behind Chadli.
    We cant change all these players so for now we have fin ways to beat the minnows an get 7th or whatever an rework everything in the summer.Maybe Lamela coul go on loan to spain where he can ultimately maybe recoup Levy some of that 30 mil with some good performances. Paulinho too maybe can be sol to the US for 12 mil etc
    Sorry for the long post…I am not really upset about the loss…I think Poch shoul get quite a fair amount more time but also he has to pressure Levy to get what he needs if not in January then in July.


    • Why are you happy to give Poch ‘a lot more time’? It seems to me that this ‘long-term project’ rubbish so popular with the AVB apologists is now being used to justify our slide back to mid-table under Pochettino, and the only ‘project’ which has succeeded in the PL era is the Arab-financed transformation of City, which is totally beyond Spurs under ENIC. Koeman has hit the ground running at Southampton, every other club seems to have at least one imported striker who actually scores goals, and yet ‘give Poch/AVB/Soldado/Lamela/Paulinho/Dembele/Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all time’ is the perpetual mantra of the ‘real’ ultra-loyal Spurs supporters! Many people comment on the apathetic attitude of many/most of our players, but I reckon the willingness of so many supporters to accept mediocrity is at least as big a problem – no wonder Levy and ENIC have had it so easy for 14 years.


      • I have never accepted mediocrity and have actually been in the instant gratification crowd for the longest time. But there are such things as projects and not all projects are the same.
        In the case of Koeman,he had the basis of the plan already there. He brought up some players an signed some but the template was already there. Though Poch beat him and the template a few weeks ago I thought.
        Poch’s plan seems like a good one but it takes time to assess players,and to have them play to the plan and react at the same time. Until a style becomes inherent it is a problem an it may never with certain players.
        Poch does need to fill in either in January or July with what he needs an he needs to stand firm on his ideas with Levy.


      • Not to do with Spurs in my view, Sean, all managers take time to get their ideas over. if you are saying Levy can’t pick a manager or support him properly, agree completely. Poch left hanging without a proper strike force. Shameful.

        Regards, Al


    • Soldado is a goalscorer…was…3 managers have had no idea how to play him, this was the best yet in terms of his involvement with the team performance, setting up others…not keen on this idea that because strikers can’t score, we play them somewhere else. Give him a role up front, give him some games, let’s see what happens…nothing to lose because the others aren’t scoring either…

      Am I hopeful though? No…

      Cheers Al


  7. Sadly, it almost seems inevitable that Hugo L will leave, not in January but in the summer. The ongoing cycle of our best players leaving, for various reasons, surely needs addressing as much as any other ENIC related point.
    And Poch – slim chance of him being on our Christmas cards in 2015 I fear.

    Baldini, exactly what does he get paid, and what for?


    • Yes, yes, yes and nobody knows.

      Did the manager ask for the players we have? Did he ask for a striker reinforcement? Hark back to what i have written in the past – think we made a big mistake on the last day of the window but no way of proving that…


  8. Sadly we are all realising that top 4 and CL is a dream.The team we have is behind both Manchester Liverpool teams and 2 from London Chelsea and Arsenal.Add in Southampton and at best we are 8th and flattered at that!
    I am tired of hearing about what will be coming when we should be dealing withh what is currently happenning.
    If Baldini is responsible for signings and scouting he should be sacked.
    Lamela will never make it in the premiership
    Soldado is just like Birtles was at Man u years ago and should be sold
    Dembele cant score Paulinho is the worst brazilian we were sold a pup
    Townsend for England lets you see how bad england are
    Lennon sold to Harry along with Adebayor
    Kaboul as captain is a joke
    Vertonghen poor attitude and will reveal himself as a think i should be in champions league team sign for barcelona !?
    There is something seriously wrong in this club and that is leadership vision and management.This has gone on too long
    Lloris will go and who would blame him?


  9. Have we moved on? Not really. Not the utter disaster of last year but in reality the result was similar and there was little of substance to grasp in terms of improvement. A few positives – Hugo, Mason and a much improved Rose. A few negatives – no leaders, Lamela and Eriksen not the players we were hoping for, Verthongen looking more and more out of it (mentally and physically).
    I wasn’t an AVB out man, I’m not a Poch out man either. Neither manager has / had the players to suit their preferred way of playing. My feeling is that we’re just treading water, drifting with the tide. Is that movement?


    • I think it’s the fault of the producers. They accept what he does, encourage him even. No editorial rigour. THEY THINK THAT’S WHAT WE WANT


  10. So, it appears we now have to dread the first game after internationals, as well as the Europa league games. At this rate we’ll be dreading every other game…First off, the manager and the team: Poch admits his priority is to “manage” (i.e. rotate) his squad so fresh legs are given a run out regardless of the opposition. Big mistake. If Soldudo is selected on this rationale we can expect further setbacks. I always thought playing your best team against the best teams is a wise policy. Apparently not. Poch has now had over 10 games to assess his squad, but it appears he is just as confused as we are. The individuals: is no-one else concerned at the drop in form of Danny Rose? He spent large parts of the match jogging back to regain his rightful position. City identified our weakness and loaded up on his side, giving me fits each time he went AWOL only to reappear jogging back towards his own goal. Lamela should be embarrassed at his contribution. Basically he gave up after his two gaffes just when we needed to stand firm. Chadli played, ahem, badly.
    I was hoping we’d begin to see a pattern or style starting to unfold under our new manager by this stage. It seems we take one step forward, one step back and one step sideways. In other words, mid table form. In candor, I didn’t expect much from this game because City have a better team and manager. But, lamentable reffing aside, we could have done so much better had we displayed an application to pass the ball and keep it. Instead, promising approach play was ruined by wasteful flicks and fancy dan tricks that mostly gave the ball back to City. Worst of all, I could have written this last paragraph at any time in the past few years.


    • Agree – different managers, same old story. I did that once – copied 800 words of the match report from the previous year. Then revealed what I had done, made the point that nothing ever changes. Have felt like doing that for the last 5 games….or should that be 5 seasons?

      Not sure why Vertonghen ‘rotated’ – manager doesn’t rate him more like. Or did Poch play the long game and like us not have great hopes for this one? None of these options are welcome…




  11. Nice article. Shearer is my least favourite pundit of all. A tedious, fat headed, wast of air time. I missed his analysis as I record MOTD and fast forward when he’s talking.

    Wasn’t part of the problem that we were too open rather than sticking to the Emirates game plan?


    • I normally do exactly that. Must have been in a masochistic frame of mind. Emirates plan – I think we play that more often than pressing. Worked well but will reserve judgement as to be fair, we were shattered after the pens and sending off.

      regards, Alan


  12. Crikey, so much doom and gloom creeping into the ranks here. I hope Kane’s hattrick and Lamela’s stunning volley for his second goal, and oh yes, his once-in-a-lifetime “rabona” dispels some of the darkness. Veteran journo and Yiddo Norman Giller, who has written books on Nicholson/Greavsie, etc, put it: “We wanted something special to mark the 10th anniversary of the passing of Bill Nicholson. I think Bill would have approved (of Lamela’s Rabona)!” Those 5 goals including Coco’s rabona, the all-white strip, Euro nights, echoes of glory, indeed! COYS!!! Cheer up, lads!


Comments welcome, thanks for dropping in

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s