Spurs Win Fades Quickly From The Memory

What am I doing here? How did I end up in this shabby part of north London on a freezing cold night? And why are there hundreds of other people shuffling along in this queue?

It was the sort of game that by the time you get to the station, you’ve forgotten all about it. Shame really: a cup semi-final, one step from Wembley, should produce a bit of edge but this dismal performance sucked the tension from the air along with any semblance of spark or originality. ‘Enjoy the win’ became Tottenham On My Mind’s mantra after a series of lacklustre performances earlier this season produced a series of improbable victories. So I liked this win but it was hard to love.

At least Spurs were consistent: it was a disjointed, low-key start and never wavered. Taking their cue from captain-for-the-day Adebayor Tottenham were stiff and stilted. In the modern game the role of captain is becoming inconsequential and never has the honour been rendered more meaningless than when the armband was tossed to Manu. The days of little Stevie Perryman, sleeves rolled up and urging them on through deed as well as word, are long gone.

I accept Adebayor is coming back from a long absence for, well, nobody outside the club really knows, but for much of the time he remained statuesque in the middle, inviting Sheffield United’s centrebacks to mark him. With due respect to the two of them, we needed to move them around and open up some gaps. Kane should have started up front. He must be tired but this is the most important game of the week and he would have posed genuine questions. Instead, Adebayor’s immobility set the tone and shape of the evening. United were admirably well organised and worked like Trojans but Spurs made it far too easy for them.

 

We played into their hands from the beginning. After about 10 minutes, as we gave the ball away unnecessarily (Ben Davies I’m looking at you) and struggled to get going, United realised that we were a bit soft and could be knocked out of our stride. This gave them renewed confidence whereas Spurs should have done much more to pressure a side two divisions below them.

United had a few decent opportunities but missed. Vorm did not have a save to make all night. At the other end, Dier had two headers but neither looked dangerous. No pressure on their keeper at all. Adebayor missed our best, perhaps only chance in the first half, sublimely controlling a long ball from deep (Eriksen?) as it dropped over his head, then shooting tamely over.

Spurs upped the tempo a notch or two after the break but United, falling back even further towards their own goal, contained us for the most part. Our domination of territory and possession wasn’t translated into chances. Townsend tried hard and we should have given him the ball more often. I don’t understand why our two excellent attacking full-backs, Davies and Walker, did not get forward more often. We lacked width and hardly ever got to the byline. Overheard on the way out: “We really missed Danny Rose tonight.” Now that’s a first. It’s true – he would have worked harder to get something going.

Then we got a break. Soldado, on as sub for Skip, had been marginal. Put through, he appeared to miscontrol the pass only for the defender to do the difficult bit and nip in between him and ball then knock it away with his hand. I’m happy to be corrected on this ‘view from the shelf’ but in all honesty I didn’t fancy watching the highlights. Townsend scored emphatically from the spot, same pen as Chelsea, placement and conviction.

We should have been geed up and gone for the jugular, inspired by the example of what a bit of pressure could bring. Instead, we responded to taking the lead with our worst spell, inexplicably conceding the initiative and nearly a goal to our opponents in the last 15 minutes. It was the worst spell of the season but we survived and went to Sheffield a goal to the good. I remain quietly confident but the United fans in the station queue were delighted at the outcome. We could well rue that slack approach come next week.

Dier was our best player, not put under undue pressure but one step ahead throughout and I like the way he carries himself. Vertonghen continued his good run of form.

United fans made some fantastic noise.

So that’s over with and we have a goal to take north with us. Once again we played poorly and came away with a win. Something is working. Last night the team looked their age – the willingness of youth without the nouse of experience. Also, Pochettino has the daunting task of getting a below-par squad through a sequence of 9 games in January, 7 of them in a 22 day period that ends on the last day of the month.

I suspect he has a plan and Adebayor’s appearance and captaincy may well be part of it. Fact is, we are going to need him and while I wouldn’t have picked him, last night was part of playing him into fitness, the armband a sign of his manager’s confidence, genuine or otherwise. It’s hard for young players to keep up an intensity of performance and concentration that they have never before experienced. Kane and Eriksen should put their feet up in front of the tele on Saturday. So far, Poch is handling things well.

Good luck and best wishes to Kyle Naughton, now a Swan. Neat and willing, not the highest quality but he will do better as a regular first teamer. I admire his approach – after getting some stick earlier this season, he kept going and produced his best football under the most pressure. 

 

22 thoughts on “Spurs Win Fades Quickly From The Memory

  1. Great read Alan. I agree it’s a win that’s hard to love, at least we have something to go to Bramall Lane with. A positive was that we didn’t concede an away goal, which could come in to play after extra time, if it goes that far!

    I believe Ade was given the armband as he was named vice captain along with Hugo at teh start of the season. Given that neither he nor ‘club captain’ Kaboul were playing, then Ade got it by default. Although, he may just have won a competition on a cereal packet?!

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    • Thanks my man. Really, if the armband is pointless then it’s pointless me even mentioning it! Ade’s contribution could have been a sending-off for a first-half tackle, needless one at that. Great!

      Cheers, Alan

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  2. Hi Alan.
    Think your being a bit unfair on Soldado, it was a very difficult ball to control and he may have been in for a goal but for the defender’s hand. Had there been an edge to the game I may have noticed that it was a possible red card but at the time it didn’t even cross my mind.
    I do worry about these ridiculous defensive errors that seem designed to give to confidence to the opposition. I think I counted three balls given away around the penalty area in the first fifteen or twenty minutes. Understandable when under immense pressure but no excuse regarding last night’s game.
    I’m sure that Poch notices these slips, I trust him to adress the problem.

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    • Fair enough, I have a good view but can’t see everything precisely. Agree re giving the ball away, very foolish and very costly. It’s a sign they are not thinking as clearly as they should be but there was no need to panic. Just keep the ball moving and don’t try anything silly.

      Regards, Alan

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  3. I spent most of the game thinking about my first game at the Lane. March/April 1976 also against Sheffield United. I was 11. We beat them 5-1 with Big Chiv getting a brace as I recall. And Ralphie Coates bombing up the wing, comb-over flapping away. I was heartbroken Barry Daines was in goal instead of my hero Pat Jennings. At the end of the game my Dad said. “It won’t be like this every week.” You were right as usual, Dad.

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    • Don’t punish yourself Russell. Judging by the comments I wasn’t the only one whose mind wandered as the game went on…funnily enough, my first game was versus Sheffield Utd too, last match of the 66/67 season.

      Regards, Alan

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  4. It looks like they took the first 10 minutes to have a look at what we could do and realized what they were up against and just starting making us look silly

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    • This is about it. They quickly realised we weren’t fully up for it and that gave them huge confidence.

      Big fan of Luther btw. Top class.

      Regards, Alan

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  5. Wait its not as bad as I thought (the game not Luther).Its the way we started.DWere they not told this qwas a cup tie?
    Looks like they travelled through the night to play a game in Hong Kong.and got up early for a kick around

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  6. LOL, I bet if we won 37 PL games and won a cup, the moaners and whiners would still be out in force. Crikey, at this moment, we are in 4 competitions (ManU in only 2, L’Arse in only 3) — sure, that may change in a week — but it’s a results-oriented game, and somehow, some way, with only some of the players he wants, MoPo has us in competing and getting results in 4 competitions. Support the team, we’re obviously not the finished article, and we’re not in the stratosphere where we can just buy a £28m player in the winter window. A bunch of you should come over to the Left Coast and see how we support our team, getting up to watch games at 4 or 4.45 or 7am — and even when we’re down 0-3, having the moxie to sing we’re going to win 4-3, even if it’s just plain silly! COYS!

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    • But there is nothing better to do on the left coast,Ashley.No wonder.
      Is there any possibility without buying a 28 quid player that we can get one or two that can string two passes together?
      Im not personally down on Tottenham but success has been too long in coming.Im with Poch.But some of his choices have been terrible.
      It seems he has accepted the challenge of making some of the expensive players that have not been good enough,good enough for us or good enough for another team to free some money to buy newly but is this a case of over confidence in his own abilities? Could have been a horrible mistake by Poch when he was riding high with the Saints. Im not sure but the flow has rarely been with us.remember AVB had his Chelsea game on time at Old Trafford.Im still watching and waiting to see the kind of football I expect to see at Tottenham. Ill take the odd ugly win.But is this sustainable? Thank God for Kane and Lloris thats all.

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      • The AVB obtuse bit was relating to Poch’s Chelsea game vis a vis AVB’s Old Trafford game.
        But seriously I am with Poch for couple of seasons for sure its juyst that Im getting older and want to see some more quality being played quicker. Its it too much to ask for another Double (yes the League has to be part of it)once before I pop off???

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        • Ron, sir, you’re lucky to have seen that double winning team but I’ve got a sense of it, coming just after those years. But the constant crabbing, in general, is just unreal. No one’s rolling over for us. ManUre’s LVG has admitted he was angry with his team of ‘Gaalacticos,’ after watching them fail to beat League Two minnows Cambridge. No one’s rolling over for them, either. MoPo has half a dozen players that he’s probably been forced to use (especially with 4 competitions) including two admittedly misfiring strikers, and others who just can’t play that high press game. I can wait for the “beauty” game to return (although, we’ve had a couple of whiffs of it) — I’ll take the results, right now. As for the Left Coast, nothing to do??? Well it was 75 today, I interviewed a lead in Game of Thrones for a cover story (being Danish, he’s a huge Eriksen fan). Sat outside in board shorts listening to the Beatles until a very pretty, smart neighbor/psychotherapist distracted me enough to get me to jump up and accompany and her pooch on errands and then for outdoor coffee, where we came up with very cool TV sitcom/book idea. It’s how we roll, man…lots to do and yes, the sun always leaves one with a sunny disposition, even about things Spursy! Cheers Ron! 😉

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          • PS I know it may sound ridick, but I have a sense there are Spurs “fans” who would secretly just love us to lose our next two cup games, so they can chime in: “Useless players, numpty coach, crappy tactics, boring football, lost the plot, never had the plot, let’s blow it all up, I was right, so na-na-nah!” Well, I’m backing us to win both by hook or by crook, who cares…and I bet MoPo is looking at these two games that way, too! COYS!

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            • There are indeed fans on twitter who were cheering our cup defeat for that very reason. Booing Adebayor is ridiculous too. All out on Wednesday, it will be very tough up there with our young side but Spurs taking over 5000 so the west coast will know supporters are there on their behalf.

              Best, Alan

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          • That sounds great and you obviously are a mega Tottenham fan for pulling yourself away from the wonderful talent on that side of the world to watch our glorious lot. Im on the cold side of the continent and watching a good Tottenham win helps.
            For me really I like to see a flow to the game. I find too much this season the teams we play have shown better coherence than we have but its true we have often beaten them. I know its the system and it has to be worked on until its right but I watch players like Davies who we just bought play worse than when he came to us. And then you thing of Sigg before he came to us and after he left.
            I do like Poch.I think he will get things going and thinking about the captaincies he has dished out,you would think (not you!) they were all diabolical mistakes but maybe he did them for other reasons. He made Dawson a captain,then sold him,he made Kaboul a captain and then dropped him and he made, of all people Ade, a captain? But you could conclude that his only motivation was the maybe create some esteem with the players that they would come through with more confidencbut all three didnt.(Ade will?)
            But with that the pressing does work,it will kick in more as the season goes in and we cover the weak spots.This issue of not gaining enough chances through the midfiellders is as valid as itw as when AVB was with us but thank god for Harry Harry Kane who has I think done the most of the outfielders to break through.Eriksen,though has done well.he just needs to craete more chances for others.

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