Spurs: Is It August Yet?

Danny Rose was bright and alert, dashing forward into gaps in the Villa defence. A willing outlet on the left, he was always available and had our best chance, Guzan blocking a low shot with his legs. Even after our opponents plugged the gap in the second half, Rose remained a danger.

Thought I would get that out of the way. It’s rare that I fail to see any redeeming features in a Spurs game, however poor it may be. In this case, that’s the best I can come up with. Before this turd of a performance sinks to the bottom, pull the chain and flush it from the  septic tank of memory into the stream of effluent that is the end of our season. It’s certainly all gone down the drain.

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On the way out, a dad was carrying his little boy and trying to explain what happened. I have every sympathy with him. Beyond, tactics, formation or team selection, this was mouth open jaw-dropping I can’t believe what I’m seeing are these professional players bad.

For extended periods some players were unable to control the ball so it rested near their person or pass the ball 5 yards, let alone penetrate one of the most shaky defences in the league. As time went on, we became worse not better, adding to our repertoire the unerring ability to knock the ball into empty space or straight to a grateful Villa man. Instead of a gung ho finish in search of an equalizer, we wasted our time by conceding a series of needless free-kicks or giving the ball away.

It was unremittingly awful. Chiriches and Townsend on the right formed the latest in a long line of famous comedy double-acts. The difference is, Morecombe and Wise or Laurel and Hardy are funny but no one was laughing. As Paulinho’s “shot” last week encapsulated his Spurs career, so with Chadli on Saturday. With a sublime shimmy that took two defenders out of the game, he briefly emerged from the primordial soup only to hang onto the ball on the byline until a defender could get back and block his feeble cross. Thus he sank back into the swamp, never to evolve into a capable Tottenham footballer.

Spurs have seemingly been in a ‘transitional season’ for about 15 out of the last 20 years. Now we can add the ‘end of season fade’ as a second unwanted tradition, although this is less about fading away, more plunging headlong off a cliff. In truth this pathetic effort was not unexpected after our last two games. We’ve played three of the bottom five and looked short of form and motivation.

I am not a fan of Tim Sherwood because to me he committed the ultimate sin of putting himself before Tottenham Hotspur, where he practiced being a manager with our first team. This has been done to death so I’m not going to go over it again. I’m sure Tim and his ego snuggled up together for a cosy Saturday night in. This new breed of modern English manager showed the way forward – bang it up to the big man. Everything went to Benteke, usually from deep rather than the byline. He either went for goal, scoring the winner by stepping in front of the lumbering Fazio and guiding it into the far corner, or by flicking it on to Agbonlahor dashing through. The latter hit the post when he should have scored.

It’s hardly radical but it was far too good for Spurs. Fazio played to mark him, fine, but the Belgian drifted wide to get into space or onto the full-backs. Not standing still – the nerve of it! Chadli on Beneteke for several set-pieces…no one in that defence sussed it. Sherwood kept his side narrow and compact. When Rose had the freedom of the left, we never supported him, preferring to stay narrow centrally too. Easy to repel attacks and Villa have not had a more comfortable awayday since the last team outing. Looking at one stats site, in our shots total they must have included the half-time entertainment of a punter shooting into an empty net.

So what’s gone wrong? Our young men are tired under the burden placed upon them. They will emerge more mentally resilient next season. In the meantime Mason is half a yard short, Bentaleb passes sideways, Kane stiff-legged and adrift. Eriksen works hard but has lost form, row Z instead of match-turning magic. I don’t see why Chadli plays every week.Yedlin made his debut to a huge cheer. His first task as a Spurs first teamer was to take a throw-in. He stood frustrated on the touchline as no one moved for him. Welcome to Tottenham.

There’s no spark, little inventiveness and disappointingly the dullest knife in the box is our manager. Pochettino has done little to shake things up when we have been playing badly. Soldado came on and played off Kane except the two never got anywhere near each other. He seems resigned to the fact that he has no real alternatives in the squad. Can Dembele really offer less than the others? He like the team appear to have given up on the season. At half-time the conversation turned to the only truly modern discourse in fandom – the best ways of getting credit to pay for the tickets next season. Perhaps we have too.

34 thoughts on “Spurs: Is It August Yet?

    • This summer we should buy players to strengthen the first team, not just loads of squad players. I could understand Vorm, Dier, Yedlin last summer, but not Fazio, Davies, Stambouli if they are not regular first team players.

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  1. A fair reflection of a truly grim afternoon, Alan. My only joy was catching the early train for once and seeing a sizeable chunk missing of the former Archway building on the corner of Paxton Road.
    Rose played well, Vorm looked more comfortable (if not totally assured), Dier was OK(ish) and that was it. The tactic of playing Bentaleb alongside Mason failed again; a combination of a dip in form for them and only two circus clowns on the right and the unfathomable Chaldi ‘somewhere’.
    Aside from the players, Poch has to start looking at himself as well on days like this. I’m not going to rave about Dembele but he does offer some energy and energy was needed for certain. Why is Chiriches within 5 miles of WHL? He wouldn’t look out of place in a mid 90s Spurs side. Same for Paulinho. I’m convinced we’ve bought the wrong one and there’s some professional Paulinho in Brazil scratching his head and phoning an agent’s mobile which is now disconnected. Why not give the place on the bench to one of the U21s or even one of the fans? At least someone would have had something to tell their grandchildren about this match!

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    • were exactly were i thought we would be in a new managers first year. we have some crap that he could not clear, we will in two or three windows, we are building a new stadium do not expect a big spend unless we sell . this is a transition period that has lasted since 1963 my first visit to the lane, Im 62 my life has been a yid i know no other , the arse down the roa needs a kicking , with a nerw stadium and an arab owner when its built , the cock will crow again , meanwhile what are we going to do change our colours and barrack for somebody else , i dont think so , your tribe is my tribe do not let us forget we will see the good times return , i hope so in my life time. Auspur

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  2. Excellent Alan. Sadly all too true. I was laid up in bed with bronchitis so this was the first game of the season I missed. Passed out around midway through the first half commentary. Not sure if it was the antibiotics kicking in or a defensive strategy on my part to avoid the inevitable.

    Of course the press are throwing themselves at Sherwood’s feet this morning. I’m sure he gives them good copy – especially now that Redknapp is on his way out. I can imagine being a journalist and staring at an empty page wondering what to write about a pretty crap game – then Sherwood opens his mouth and your report writes itself. I wonder what the Villa fans think of him.

    Looks like a season of two soft ends with a hard middle.

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  3. I don’t think too many of them are crap, it’s just not worked out for a good few of them. For example, Fazio is still coming to terms with the premier league and while he makes a major rick a game, his appearances have become very spasmodic, so it is hardly surprising. When he had a run in the side he looked better. It may be, like a fair few few who’ve two seasons under their belt, he never quite gets to grips with it and is better off going back to Spain where, by most accounts, he is a very good defender.

    I only saw MotD highlights of this one, luckily, and I thought we looked smart and aesthetically pleasing in our lilywhite kit. Vorm made a good save from Delph and Harry nearly conjured up a super goal. And that’s it.

    If not August, it looks like summer has come for a few of them.

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    • This was one to miss. You have summed up the Spurs ‘highlights’ and I should have given credit to Vorm for doing everything that he had to do. Agree re fazio – he has not impressed me but has ability and leadership as he was important for the Seville team. Maybe if we told him he was playing every game from now until the end of the season and that he was the back four leader, this would boost his confidence.

      Regards, Al

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  4. The magic in masons boots are to convince dim witted idiots he is a footballer. Surely one of the worst midfield I have ever seen at spurs. We have fluked our way through the season. With a manager who seems clueless and only rates hard work. This summer will again be another frustrating one. And poch will lose his head come December.

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    • Mason a decent player – but not good enough yet, if ever, to dominate a midfield. The responsibility he and Bentaleb have taken on has overwhelmed them. Roll on August.

      Cheers, Alan

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  5. You make an interesting point about no one moving for Yedlin’s throw-in. It’s not something new, because it’s been happening all season and I’m amazed that Pochettino hasn’t sorted out this single easily-fixed error we keep making. It’s even more baffling when there’s uncertainty over which team has put the ball out of play and there are players with their arms in the air, fervently appealing for the throw-in, then when they get it, nobody knows what to do.

    It’s a long time ago, but I can still remember our football coach at school telling us that a throw-in is an unusual advantage to have, unusual (firstly) because we have possession but our opponents can’t tackle us to win the ball from us, and (secondly) we have been given time to decide how to make best use of that possession. He drilled it into us that the possession MUST NOT be given away and it MUST be used as a basis for putting pressure on our opponents. We were told that the player taking the throw-in MUST ALWAYS have the choice of at least 2 (and preferably 3) team-mates to throw the ball to, and these team-mates must be continually moving in order to lose their markers and create space to receive the ball in. The ball was NEVER to be thrown-in at head height because that gave the opponent an opportunity for a heading duel where we could lose possession of the ball. A player who received a thrown-in ball was also told not to return it immediately to the taker of the throw-in (because that would compress play on the touchline) but instead was encouraged to take, or pass, the ball infield where there would be more space. These rules aren’t rocket science, they’re taught at school, they make sense and, as our school coach pointed out, if they are followed, there is every prospect of building an attack through retaining possession. He basically had the same view as Johann Cruyff, that if you have possession, your opponents can’t score.

    Now watch Tottenham. Nobody moves, opponents aren’t shaken off, the poor sap taking the throw-in hasn’t a clue what to do and, almost inevitably, one of two things will happen. Either (A) he throws the ball in and it comes straight back to him, jammed on the touchline, no room to manoeuvre, and one or more opponents pouncing on him; or (B) he tosses it high into the air, down the touchline, where there is a heading duel and we invariably lose possession. It’s criminal, it happens time after time and the problem is never addressed. There’s a saying that if you continue to do the same thing, yet you expect a different result, you’re worse than stupid.

    Sorry to go on about the throw-in thing, but it’s symptomatic of a lack of thought in Tottenham’s coaching regime. It’s a bit like the 4-2-3-1 formation that is never changed and isn’t working. If you continue to do the same thing, yet you expect a different result, ……………

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    • The throw-in as a syptom of a deeper problem is exactly why I mentioned it. I’ve been critical of Spurs’ work off the ball a lot this season so did not want to go over it all again. I’m surprised teams do not as you say make more of throws – I remember players admiring the way Bill Nick used to work on this and very detail.

      Regards, Alan

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  6. poch plays the same system every week
    inverted wingers is a crime and senior players know it
    and now the younger players have realised it
    it means our fullbacks are our width
    which is why when attacks break down their is so much space down the flanks
    leaving rose and walker exposed
    chadli and eriksen for example do not track back like they should
    but then is eriksen for example not that style of player
    football is horses for courses
    the fact poch plays the same non working system every game
    is a poor choice and highlights his ability as a manager
    we will strengthen next season
    but with the same system poch plays
    we will have a lot more non effective displays too watch
    its a very frustrating time to be a spurs fan with a lot
    more frustration to come
    even our superb fitness levels and pressing has dropped
    poch has got it wrong and unless he addresses the shape of the team
    we are in for a long ride.

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    • Eriksen is a talented player crippled by this system.He isnt defensive (not enough bite for that) he doesnt actually create,though Im sure he could. He is restricted to being a one trick pony.Score occasonally from long shots (got a great shot) and lay it off rareley turning to create opportunities for others though he could. Its not that the others are bad.Its the system. Eriksen has barely passed the ball to Kane

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    • It is becoming a long ride. I’m not keen on inverted wingers, compounded by this bunch, none of whom are properly suited to the role.

      COYS Alan

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  7. Now, i know we have played pretty well withouy him, but i cant help but feel that, once again, when we are without Lennon during the second half of the season our fall falls to pieces.

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  8. Tragic that an ounce or two of enthusiasm from our ‘super fit’ young squad (more like ‘damp squid’ than squad in the last month) and a bit of tactical nous from our supposedly ‘intelligent’ coach would have meant that top four might have been all to play for come City’s visit to the Lane. Especially with City’s crisis of confidence. It’s not the dip in form that worries me about Spurs (was the form always that great?), it’s the combined mental crash of players (and manager) who were supposedly looking forward to the Man U game (and the rest of the season) with confidence, and yet who’ve sunk to the level of that other turgid team in the PL over the last few months, Newcastle (my second club ..dammit).
    Were all those recovered games from lost positions a coincidence ..or, as one BBC pundit put it, resilience, implying little else?
    Is our season really only about 4 or 5 dominant results (2 misleadingly against the best two teams in the PL ..Chels and Arse)? Sad to say, Kane’s goals and Eriksen’s earlier last minute winners apart, we have not looked any better than a mid table team for much of the season, while even our run to Wembley wasn’t that testing.
    Yet by God we certainly ‘tried harder’ until recently …but all that stopped (Leicester City apart, although that could have been drawn) when the whistle went to begin the United game.
    Look, I know this is a young squad, and that Poch will hopefully show next season what he is all about in terms of tactics, mid-game awareness of altering tactics (please note), and, of course, motivation ..all aside from keeping his squad super fit again. I’m sure he’ll add a few players of his own, and we agree pretty much on the type of players he (and this club) needs.
    But I can’t help feeling ‘where did this recent slide, or plummet, suddenly come from?’.
    Has Poch lost the dressing room suddenly? Why have the players lost that obvious enthusiasm and togetherness they had? Has something happened we’re unaware of? We’ve been used to just missing out on CL football in recent years (often via bad decisions, bad luck and so on) and usually on the last day of the season, thus keeping us all involved to the death; but we were supposed to kick on from the 6th position of last season’s mess …at least in terms of building a team, strengthening relationships between players and manager, and overall performances (seeking Glory ..if not actually achieving the holy grail of 4th).
    What a strange and ultimately very disappointing season this has been, however ..the odd memorable moment apart.

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    • Strange indeed. See Jimmy is God’s post below – Poch’s weakness is that he does not have a ready made Plan B. I am disappointed with Poch, a coach i like and who needs time, and his reaction to the end of this season.

      Regards, Alan

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  9. Europa League 2015-16, 5th place always qualified, 6th since Chelsea won the League Cup, 7th if Arsenal and Liverpool reach the FA Cup final next weekend. If Aston Villa or Reading reach the FA Cup final they will qualify fot the EL, and not 7th in the PL.
    Do Spurs want to be in it ? Who knows ?

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    • I tend to opt for cock-up rather than conspiracy, Jim, so not sure if they are consciously working for 8th but finishing higher up the table has not motivated them. To me it’s more a lack of leadership, nouse and resilience to see them through the periods when they are off form. Sad to watch though.

      Regards, Alan

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  10. Wonder if Spurs have made any money out of the EL in recent years. More income, but need arguably for a bigger squad. And the worst team to follow for Saturday home games after Sky/BT and the EL have meant switches to Sundays.

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  11. Well, it’s official – Pochettino is mad. Einstein claimed that madness is defined by conducting the same experiment over and over but expecting different results. Here we have a manager persisting in playing a system and individuals so out of whack that the opposition rubs its hands in glee. Not scored in ten matches? Not won away from home since December? Defender never scored for his club? never mind – here come Spurs!I I do not know what Stambouli or Dembele have done to piss off the manager so badly that they can’t get a game – in Dembele’s case not even on the bench. And you know we are up sh*t creek when poor/rich Soldado is thrown into the mix to terrorise opposing defences. If he hasn’t scored in four months then he’s not going to score in 15 minutes. Alan and Colspur set out the problems and Poch stands by working on his look of puzzled confusion at how the opposition has rumbled his plan. It’s not difficult Poch…you’ve played it for the past two months and it still ain’t working. I can take two or three players having an off day but when it’s eight of them, with the exception of the excellent, energetic Rose, plus Kane and maybe Vorm, then there’s a problem brewing. So, a tale of two managers and we got the dud. Daniel Levy’s fiddling with key personnel and the transfer policy is laid bare to see that he is not fully equipped to lead our club. He may be a whizz on the Abacus but everything else is in plain view with a performance that showed we can’t hack it. I thought things were meant to get better the longer the new manager is at the club – not happening, is it?

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    • A disappointing end to the season. Poch has done well in some respects but appears tired, waiting for his own players hopefully to come in the summer. That’s the wrong approach and has spread to the players. Surely Stambouli and Dembele would bring something we don’t currently have. Cheers, Alan

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  12. I have a friend who is a Southampton supporter and his one gripe against Poch was that during the time that he was their manager, when things started to go wrong, he didn’t have a Plan B to change things around. Unfortunately, we are now seeing the same thing at Tottenham. His substitutions are nearly always a like for like exchange and on the odd rare occasion when he does bring on an extra forward, its always at the expense of one of the 3 behind Kane which then leaves us light in the middle. I know our defence is a bit of a shambles at the moment, but do we really need 6 defensive players on the pitch when we’re losing 1-0 with only 10 mins to go. Come on Poch, there is no glory in losing 1-0 whilst trying to keep it tight at the back. We might as well have a go and lose 4-3, that way we could at least say we lost whilst trying to win. That is the Spurs way. That is why we support the team that we do and not those nomads from south of the river whose reputation has been built on turgid 1-0 wins
    We are Tottenham. We are The Spurs, and we deserve something better than the dross which has been served up in the last couple of games !!! And if the poor players are so tired they can’t perform to the standards which we expect then bring the kids in. They might not win, but at least they will probably give it a go. It can’t get worse, can it ?

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    • My guess is that Poch is more of a ideologue than a creative thinker. It means he has a plan and will live and die with the one plan. He doesnt have the ability maybe or interest in not changing anything.He may be stuck with the one plan. He obvious believes this is THE PLAN. That there is nothing else. So they train only for this,to perfect this.
      He could be a genius or a fool but it looks like he will live or die by this.
      He quite frankly maybe right or he could be wrong.
      I havent given up but I havent seen too much to be encouraged either.

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    • Can’t get worse – my half-time comment Steve. But it did….ta for Saints comment, interesting insight there. Disappointed in MP over the past few weeks.

      Cheers, Al

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  13. I noticed that Tottenham’s tactic of allowing a visiting side to dominate the opening stages worked wonderfully again.
    Ours must be the only team that likes to give the opposition a ten minute confidence boost before deciding to start work properly.
    As supporters we’ve been here so often we should know the script by now.
    A missed opportunity, three players short of CL, player power is destroying our club, Blah! Blah!
    The fact is that our chairman is wretched and couldn’t give a shit about the supporters or the success of the team.
    He is a man of money who answers only to men of money and with ENIC at the helm only continued mediocrity awaits this club.
    I fear that the stultifyingly boring chore of watching my team is draining my enthusiam for a game I once loved.
    I fear that guessing the future is becoming alarmingly easy for Spurs fans.
    I fear that Levy and his oh so smug moosh actually revels in the fact that he delivers nothing with regard to footballing success and yet retains such power.
    “A Life lived in fear is a life not lived” I’m not sure who said that but I bet they were a Spurs fan.

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    • My feelings re the club and the chairman in the article before this one. The feeling lingers that Poch got the nod because he was willing to work under these financial restrictions.

      COYS Alan

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