At the end, Harry Kane and Ryan Mason embraced in victory. Kane pinched it for Spurs at the death, insisting on taking a late free-kick that clipped the wall and the deflection won the game. Mason played at pace throughout, playing it quickly, playing it forward. He also got right in the faces of the Villa team, clipping heels and giving not an inch.
These two want to play for the shirt. After this shabby effort, I’m not sure how many of the others want to. Always enjoy a win but make no mistake, this performance was rotten to the core. If this carries on, look down not up. The three points are only respite from hard times to come unless the entire squad change their attitude, never mind finding some form, and follow the example of these young homegrown players.
I enjoy debate about tactics and talk a bit about it here without going into minuscule detail. Tottenham On My Mind is a heat-map free zone. I’m no expert, I just watch other teams. Last week I watched Southampton and West Ham. Both hurl themselves into the fray and run with determination into space, to make chances when they have the ball and to cut out the opposition’s space when they lose it. Most of this Spurs midfield wouldn’t move themselves if you stuck a Saturn 5 up their backsides.
I’m past understanding. It is inexcusable. Just run back, the rest we can sort out. This afternoon, Eriksen and Chadli could not be bothered. Erisken, a real talent that I have talked up and who we should rely on during a difficult patch, was substituted at half time, although it could have been any one of 7 or 8 of them. I cannot abide professionals with this sort of attitude. “Fackin’ run around a bit” – it really has come to this. Capoue, a player I like, had his worst game this season, seldom near the action. Soldado was invisible for most of the time.
They looked on as our defence was cut to pieces in the first half by a side that hasn’t scored since the Coronation, apparently. Defending is a team affair. The back four deserve some protection. Every other team does it. Mind you, the back four did a fine job of imploding without any assistance. Kaboul was all over the place up against Benteke, who fortunately was rusty in front of goal and missed chances that he would normally take. As I said last week, Pochettino’s judgement to have such faith in him looks increasingly suspect. Vertonghen was anonymous. The gaps between the four of them were as wide as the Grand Canyon. The first half was the DVD of How Not To Defend.
Better teams than Villa would have scored more than one. Of course Spurs allowed Villa to break their duck. How can everyone be in the wrong place at the same time? We can. Weimann turned the ball in.
At the other end, Kaboul fumbled from close range and Soldado looked wistfully at the ball as he propelled it into Row Z, wondering how on earth it got there. He then set up Adebayor, clean through but his weak shot was saved by the excellent Guzan. Pochettino, Wengeresque, threw his water bottle feebly to the ground. He looked awful, I assume it was a virus rather than the effect Spurs is having on him but then again, perhaps Spurs has become a virus, sucking away the ability to manage a football team. Once again he did not get through to his players although his substitutions eventually turned it around.
It was embarrassing, you get the picture. At half-time the commentators suggested Pochettino would lay into his men. Almost certainly no one was listening. We were getting nowhere fast then Benteke was sent of for pushing Mason in the face after a few tackles flew in on the touchline. It was a way back into the match for Spurs that we had not earned and it looked as though we would not take advantage because we played the same way against 10 as we did against 11. Villa kept us very quiet, then Kane came on to brighten the day. I would have started him. His energy lifted everyone, his runs and angled passes posing problems.
I would not have played Chadli but Chadli it was at the far post to volley home a corner. Then Kane had the nerve to insist that the late free-kick was his and his alone. A most unlikely win, welcome though it was. I feel for Villa fans: when you are down, you are down.
Kane and Mason aside, there were no other positives in this grisly tale of woe. Enjoy the points but tremble at the thought we might play like this again next week. I really thought we had gone past this. Long season….