A Game To Forget and Spurs Play A Full Part

Time for my traditional Easter message to the world. My friends, I cannot begin to describe how much I detest DIY. Easter Sunday, 9am is the time the meaning of Easter is alive and well in the sunny suburban streets, further evidence that the British power-tool industry is in rude health. I was hacking away at something in the garden, which, completely coincidentally, was compete just before kick-off. By half-time I seriously thought about getting back outside again.

My granddaughter hurtled downstairs to greet me this afternoon. She hurtles everywhere. “Oh my god granddad, that was the worst game EVER.” Only 10 but a good judge already. The poorest match I’ve seen this season in the Premier League and Spurs played their full part. The clocks went forward a couple of weeks ago, apparently to mid-summer as this game played in bright sunshine had the air of a pre-season friendly rather than a fight for 3 points to take us above Liverpool into 5th place. A Burnley fan I follow on twitter complained of sunburn after the match. Sunburn, in Burnley, first week in April. That’s how odd this match was.

Spurs continued their lacklustre recent form. Mason and Bentaleb are playing OK in centre mid but there’s a lack of power and drive. There’s no momentum to our attacks. Eriksen was in and out of the action. In and around the Burnley box he was involved in several neat one-twos, usually active when the full-backs came into attacking areas. However, the players alongside him, Chadli and Paulinho, seldom responded. Up front, Kane looked isolated and weary. Wearing those support trunks under his shorts and tentatively stretching, it seems he was worried about his groin, a sure sign of over-playing. Not so much one game too far, more like ten, but he gets a free pass after a season like this.

Burnley deserve great credit for their phenomenal organisation and work-rate. it was hard to find a way through and Spurs never showed the required creativity. However, because of their efforts off the ball they could not get enough players into our box often enough. As a result they failed to pressure our makeshift centreback partnership of Chiriches and Dier with the long diagonal that has come back into vogue in the PL since Fellani’s success with it at Old Trafford.

We managed to tie ourselves in knots at the back, of course we did, but kept a clean sheet in the end despite a few scares. Ings shot straight at Vorm early on to miss the best chance of the afternoon. Our reserve keeper had a good afternoon, making several decent saves. One moment of weakness – off his line to make a punch, he was easily beaten in the air. We did our best to mix it up. Davies replaced an injured Walker and slotted in at centre half while Chiriches moved to right-back, so we had a full-back at centre half and an centre-half at full-back…

Not a lot more to say really. Our lack of spark and movement on the ball up front meant we made little more than a few half-chances. Paulinho was awful. Playing centre-midfield he provided nothing, except a second half shot when put through on the keeper so laughably feeble it will go down in legend as the moment that summed up his Tottenham career. What a terrible waste – of his talent and our money.

Chiriches did the shielding the ball out of play thing – except he backed into the Burnley player and knocked him over. Clear penalty, clear stupidity, but not given. Shame we did not see Townsend before the 80th minutes – not sure he touched the ball at all. His momentum from the England game seemed a perfect way to change the game’s balance. But it was one of those days when nothing could shake us out of our stupor.

Frustrating but take a step back and we know how hard it is for young players to sustain form and resilience over an extended period. Part of their learning, so let’s move on to the next one – which may not be that much different. Pre-season seems closer suddenly.

22 thoughts on “A Game To Forget and Spurs Play A Full Part

  1. Cheers, Alan, you haven’t given up posting! Our season basically ended with those games against Fiorentina and Cheatski, as we’re stuck in that Europa League, second tier, 5-7th position time loop. Some thoughts from over here, when we had to get up really early, to see game at 5.30 am. Crikey! Our 50th game of the season, really wearing on the squad (MoPo is basically using the same 11 now, shifting players in for injury or late illness) — but as you mention, when Pauli rotates in and performs awfully, it shows what a really thin (quality-wise) squad the manager has. An Oldham supporter posted on Norman Giller’s page: “As a season ticket holder I would say appreciate what you have. An awful lot of football supporters would swap places with you and the team and finance you have.” I say, too right, like about 85/86 professional teams in the English League would trade positions with us. We’re like 6th or 7th in revenue and salaries paid out, maybe 8th or 9th in stadium capacity, and we’re in 6th place. No surprisingly, kinda where we should be! Before the season (I didn’t think ManU would come back so quickly), I thought we’d finish 4-7th, which is where we will finish. It’s not the NFL where salary caps allow most teams to be competitive and have a shot at winning the SB, and with no repeat winners for a long time. As for Spurs’ season, and for me, personally: Harry Kane’s meteoric rise; the academy lads coming through; beating Cheatski and L’Arse; getting to Wembley; the youngest squad in Premiership. Not so bad, after all. And yes, pre-season and the smell of new grass seems not so far off! TTID! 😉

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    • I feel OK about the season, Ashley. I had low expectations and so have been pleasantly suprised and grateful indeed. The young core of the side are tired now, mentally more than physically. It’s also exposed Poch’s lack of faith in half the squad. Kane needed a day off but we have to play him, no alternative.

      Regards, Alan

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  2. “Paulinho was awful. Playing centre-midfield he provided nothing, except a second half shot when put through on the keeper so laughably feeble it will go down in legend as the moment that summed up his Tottenham career”

    Hmmmm I can distinctly remember 6 Premiership goals resulting from the period that Paulinho was a regular starter. Meanwhile not a word about Mason despite the fact he almost set up Ings to score in the first couple of minutes.

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    • When he came, I thought Paulinho was the man to turn spurs around. Drive and energy from centre mid, in the Confederations Cup he was excellent. Then he was played out of position by AVB – too far forward – and he became disillusioned and looked a long way from home. I advocated a rest. He rested and returned as weary in the eyes as when he left.

      Very sad and I say this with no pleasure at all – he was terrible and has been terrible.

      Regards, Alan

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    • It’s simple my friend – young players learning resilience. Not much experience to lean on. Can’t see much changing before the end of the season.

      Regards, Alan

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  3. Youngest squad in the PL? Against Man U and Burnley, we looked like we had the oldest! I cannot reason why a no-show at Old Trafford, and a lacklustre, tired and unimaginative display at Turf Moor, should suddenly dispel all optimism and switch the lights off for us all. Hope, rather than expectation, was all we had, following some wonderful individual performances this season, and the odd fine result among the erratic displays ..but that hope was bright. Still, perhaps the final games will throw up some lively entertainment now that there’s nothing to play for (and please don’t say we’re fighting for 5th …that continual ‘best of the rest’ position we know so well).
    Like Sven, in that mostly inglorious game against Brazil in the QF of the World Cup in 2002, we needed Poch to be Churchill in both these recent PL games, but all we got was Ian Duncan Smith. To be fair to Poch tho’, this was also another clear example of needing a LEADER on the PITCH! Bentaleb is beginning to resemble Wilkins in his sideways and back pass game ..but is less reliable. Couldn’t just one of them (Mason or Bentaleb) pick up the ball and run with it, head held high, looking around for options, pressing gamely on and finding our men in dangerous positions ..or even ‘creating’ dangerous positions themselves?
    Why do both look like they have no time on the ball to do what they really want?
    Pointless getting it out to Chadli on the wing tho’. What DOES Poch see in Chadli that couldn’t be done better, and with more pace, by Townsend??? Eriksen and Kane need support for pete’s sake, but in some very crucial games this season, the cavalry has not been there for them, either pushing through from midfield or from the flanks, and as a result these two fine young players can look ordinary and lost. Paulinho? Paulinho??!! What was Poch thinking?? If he can take off Townsend after 30 minutes in a game, he could (and should) have easily switched P for Dembele early on when he could see nothing happening against Burnley! At least Dembele would have driven forward hard with the ball, giving us an important option in breaking up Burnley’s press and chase game. No matter. It’s gone again now. This summer, let’s get our top left winger and deep lying playmaker, plus a solid striker to replace the misery incarnate that is Soldado, and see where we can get to from there. Paulinho, Kabul, Ade, Chiriches can all leave …possibly too Chadli and Soldado (for his own sake, although my heart will be heavy as I really wanted him to be our hero). I have a hunch about Capoue ..he may yet deliver, and then some. However, Poch doesn’t seem to like him, so he’ll probably go. That just leaves Stambouli supporting Mason and Bentaleb, with Dembele as an option behind Eriksen, Lamela, Townsend and Kane. But it’s that leader thing! Who is he going to be and where is he going to come from? If we choose wisely and pay enough, then that intro could also be the making of Mason and Bentaleb, leading to more space and opportunities for Kane and Eriksen, and our flanks. But let’s do SOMETHING this summer that finally eradicates all the mistakes (Modric’s and Bale’s sales apart) that our club has made in the past 5 seasons in its forlorn pursuit of CL participation.

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    • Your squad run-through shows how thin it is. Poch has to keep playing the same players because he clearly lacks faith in many of the players. I would give Dembele and Fazio games between now and the end of the season but both have had bad spells. Surprised Andros did not get a run.

      Cheers, Alan

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  4. What is it with Tottenham?
    Its everything thats what it is.
    I cant believe that we are that bad.
    Sigg goes and plays great for Swansea and I guarantee any of these players leave and they too will find a resurgence.I watched
    Blame Levy for spending the Bale money on nothing.
    In my opinion the managers have done a terrible job. Poch has no excuse for this farce.Its his responsibility.
    Im with him till the end of next season but our players have underperformed.
    Some ideas:

    We create very little.
    We barely mark anything other than grass
    there is no flow to the game
    Get rid of this ridiculous plan ,Im not sure what the problem is but it doesnt seem to be working on any level.
    start playing with the players instincts in mind,give them a run
    Dont let the backs go up and down yet.Keep them back and push the attack to attack and keep a balance in midfield.
    get a flow going of passing with some meaning not sideways.

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  5. In candor, after the hysterics of QPR and Leicester, I am quite pleased with a point and our first clean sheet in a couple of months. It was always going to be a grim struggle, but we matched them. We can’t expect seven goal thrillers every week and even Barcelona dredge up a 0-0 every now and then. I dislike the international breaks: it gives Poch too much time to think and he tends to surprise us with some strange selections (even more so than normal). I thought Paulinho deserved another run out after his showing against Leicester and to be fair to him he wasn’t worse, or better, than a lot of the dreck around him. Eriksen is going through a lean spell and when he’s off, all creativity is lost. Which is why Dembele must start in place of Chadli. The opposition has singled out Walker as a weak link. In the very first minute they tested him with a long cross field pass and he was struggling to recover. We lost a bit of thrust when he went off but we looked a whole lot more compact when Chiriches filled in. Seven points out of nine against teams fighting for their lives ain’t horrible and with Villa next up, it should be a more open affair. Maybe a game for Fazio to blunt the threat of Benteke?

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    • I’ve said for a couple of weeks that we should give Fazio a run from now until the end of the season. Have to see what he can do, give him another chance. And you’re right, we’re still getting some points. Not sure exactly how….

      Regards, Alan

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  6. Agree about walker, he’s been terrible of late. If Fazio is fit, he needs to be partnering Verts in the middle and push Dier to right fullback, for the sake of solidity alone. Bentaleb hasn’t been the same since returns from the African cup, looks very tired, and Mason starting to show the championship player he is. Cabaye is available from PSG for 10 million. Snap him up, make him captain (Hugo is leaving) and build the team around his experience. If Arsenal get Cabaye, go hard for Schneiderllin. Chiriches is better than Walker, he’s just not English. Everyone manager but Hodgson has worked out how shite Walker is, and the team is suffering as a result.

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    • In the summer, the problem is going to be – why would these players sign for us? if a bigger club comes in for them, they won’t come to WHL. But you’re right, we have to be active in the market, go for quality, have back-ups.

      Cheers, Alan

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  7. The wheel has come full circle and we are performing just as we did in the first third of the season. After rotating so well during our productive middle part of the season, Poch then decides to play the same 11 and pretty much sideline the rest of the squad. Hard to fathom and it certainly hasn’t worked. Dembele is justifiably aggrieved and ,in particular, Stambouli and Lamela, though far from being finished products, were showing more than enough endeavour to expect to play significant roles at the business end of the season.
    Another season peters out and we are also rans once again but I agree with Ashley, there are plenty of positives and the stadium green light is a massive boost. With Pritchard and Deli Ali in the mix and one or two quality additions, next season bodes well.

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  8. Well done finding enough from this dismal game to write about.

    I thought we looked tired, laboured and unimaginative.

    But most depressing is that we lacked the desire to be in pole position to take advantage of Liverpool and Man City imploding and Southampton fading away.

    A wasted opportunity.

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