Spurs: Is Creativity Over-Rated?

Odd thing, creativity. Hard to put your finger on it, to put into words what creativity is, although you’ll know it when you see it. A spark perhaps that turns ordinary into extraordinary, the imagination to see something that others have not considered.

Sometimes creativity is best defined by its absence. Yesterday Spurs did most of the right things most of the time, all that was required was a moment of ingenuity to finish the hard graft and approach play that was a feature of the second half in particular, the best Tottenham have played this season. Yet when it mattered, inspiration deserted us. A good performance but no goals, and into the international break with no wins from 4.

The team played well and individual performances were pretty good too. Mason, playing in the forward three, ran his socks off and made those lung-busting runs from deep that Pochettino is so keen on this season. Dembele had a sound first half then began the second like a man possessed, hurling himself at the defence and trying to knock down a few doors until he was stretchered off after another assault. The irony of finally playing as we hoped he could only to be injured will no doubt be lost on him as he puts up his bandaged leg this afternoon. Kane worked like a Trojan, behind him Dier mopped up most of the danger and Bentaleb got things going again. The defence was solid, restricting a busy but blunt Everton attack to only a couple of chances, one of which arose from a crass error by Walker.

This was a game for the one man who wasn’t there. Christian Eriksen, absent through injury, this match was made for him. After a close first period, the match opened up in the second half as Spurs made a concerted attempt to take the lead. Dier and Bentaleb provided the platform, the forwards the space, so Eriksen would have had the freedom to dominate his territory, between 20 and 40 yards from the opposition goal. Dier, Chadli and Mason skied good edge-of-the-box shots high into the crowd. Eriksen territory. Kane, Mason and Chadli darted into the box. Eriksen sat in the West Stand involuntarily miming knocking the through-ball in.

By far the better side, Spurs made chances but sadly missed them. Some people are deeply suspicious of creativity. You can’t measure it or quantify it. It’s not something that can be drilled into someone, whether that be in an office training seminar room or the practice pitch of a top-class football club. Pochettino decided to cover Eriksen’s absence by selecting Mason in his place. Good footballer, I like him, but it felt as if hard work was replacing originality. Mason missed two good chances, one in the second half with just the keeper to beat when his left-foot shot was as tame as could be.

Mason however made the best chance of the match and his oppo Harry Kane missed it. Gliding onto a perfect long pass, Kane had time to control it only to stutter and stymie himself, contriving to bumble the ball against keeper Howards’ legs. Four games in, no goals and until today precious little support up front, Kane is weighed down by the burden of expectation. The moment when it became too much came a few minutes earlier. Having cut inside and shot, a la first goal Chelsea last season only much weaker, he then tried another from range to ruin a decent attack when others were better placed. He dashed back and fouled through frustration.

I read a lot of Ray Bradbury when I was younger, I should take another look. Bradbury once said, “Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do them.” Being good and then thinking about what you did to be good is the biggest challenge any player faces once success touches them. Let it flow, H, just do your thing, and we can go back to supporting a young, talented footballer, because that’s what he is and always has been even when the goals came without thinking.

Before kick-off they showed a video of a nice lad wearing a Spurs shirt, Korean I’d say, enjoying an afternoon at the Spurs training ground. I couldn’t catch the commentary but it looked like he was pleased with his GCSEs and was having a day out before deciding on his options. English language and sports science?

Son will provide pace and goals, both much-needed. Another striker will be handy but an experienced defensive midfielder to protect the back four and hold the team together is essential.

Twitter is full of people adjudicating on those moments when football jumps the shark. My candidate for the clearest indication yet that football has eaten itself is the complaint from the West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace that Spurs had the cheek to bid for one of his players during the transfer window. Whatever next, West Brom buying two strikers in the same window, surely not?

Still, it did provide a first, at least for me, Spurs’ fans barracking a player, John Stones, for thinking about but not yet joining a club we don’t like. I liked the Everton riposte too: “I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy you Stones.”

28 thoughts on “Spurs: Is Creativity Over-Rated?

  1. What the sky isn’t falling? We’ve only lost one game to an OG and mostly bossed the other three (albeit, as Alan says, lots of creativity, much less clinical finishing), only 1P off champions Cheatski (it would be nice if the sky did fall over there at the Bridge — more Frown-rinho!), 4P off ManU, Pool and L’Arse, who have all lost 1G like us. Real season doesn’t start till post transfer window and international break, on Sep 13 and Sep 17 in EL, when the games start to come fast and furious. COYS!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Alan

    I thought we played well enough and created enough to win on most days, but we perhaps lacked a little conviction with our finishing, though it should be reiterated that Howard did very well as we carved them apart at times. I agree we might have missed Eriksen in some circumstances yesterday but felt Mason got beyond Harry better and more often than Eriksen does, so I think we even added something to our game there. .I think Mason is a very good player. We need to try and marry their talents when Eriksen is back, though Son and or Njie may add something there, too, so lots to look forward too. I’ve seen a little of Son in Germany and he will add a lot to the side in terms of cohesion going forward and liking with Harry. I’d like him to replace Chadli immediately .

    Harry missed a good chance and was perhaps a little too hurried to shoot from distance but I think he has looked strong on scraps this season and and I am not worried about him. He needs a goal in the league as does Sanchez at Arsenal and Rooney at Man Utd but he offers us so much and is a real talent. The “He hasn’t scored yet …”narrative seemed to be ratcheted up a lot this weekend which is a shame, if unsurprising. We as fans and Harry need to stay strong. Lots of ex players have stated what a good player he is, which is good and should buy him some time.

    Dier was very good and in general we looked to have a better shape when we didn’t have the ball and looked more dangerous going forward until petering out a little towards the end. I was also very disappointed for Dembele who looked the most dangerous player on the pitch in that spell after HT.

    More enthused that I was last week as we go nto the intl break

    Liked by 1 person

    • it was more positive, no doubt. Felt like a win (almost!) on the way home, Stoke like a defeat, same points from both. I’ve mentioned Eriksen because we created enough space for him to do what he does best. He can flit in and out of games and certainly does not run a game, but he can make a difference. Without his goals and interventions, last season would have been disasterous. I like the idea of the players getting past the front man – I’ve called for this often enough over the seasons! Mason doesn’t have the touch in the box to take those chances, but he had a good game I thought. Alli a prospect too.

      Regards, Al


  3. I couldn’t agree more Alan.
    Creativity is thin on the ground, and although it would be unfair to knock the players yesterday for their hard graft and willingness to go the extra yard, the fact that I felt satisfied with a nil-nil home draw against an ordinary side speaks volumes about where Tottenham are right now as a team.
    I’ve got hopes that the back four may, given game time, gel into something approaching a reliable unit.
    (Assuming of course, that Walker recieves immediate psychiatric help) We also have a group of youngsters that give cause for optimism. (Then again, so do most PL teams these days)
    All in all I’ve decided to forget points and table positions this season and concentrate on performance alone, (My second assumption being that a relegation battle doesn’t lay ahead) because anybody who thinks that there is even the slightest hope of a top four finish should accompany Walks to the the shrink without delay.
    Get well soon Eriksen, coys!


    • I have never thoguth for a single second that Spurs are top four contenders and anyone who does either hasn’t seen the other teams or looked at how much they spend on salaries and transfers. Many fans have inflated expectations of how well the young men in the squad can perform. I like them all and their attiudes, but they need more time.

      Regards, Alan

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I cant say that this was a match made for Eriksen because even when Eriksen is there he often doesnt show up.
    He is our creative player that quite frankly not such a creative player. Its not difficult to understand creativity in football.Its having a vision.Seeing opportunity.looking at space an understanding it and showing the visionless where they should be running and creating the type of angles that they can read.
    He doesnt have the right players with him many say but I ask how many assists has he offered kane Kane ?
    Soldado by the way got two assists this week and two assists last week.
    Eriksen may very well be creative but Ill think you will find Son is a much more creative player.
    Even Dembele,in a limited way I know is more creative than Eriksen. Erisken has played week in and week out but really raely do we see anything Silva like or Fabregas like in his play.Very little. This may improve when we get two fast wingers and there is more movement in the final third but up to now Eriksen for me has been overated.He has a label he hasnt earned yet.


    • We place far too much responsibility on Eriksen’s creative impact, and, considering the lack of creativity behind him, or elsewhere on the pitch, he often tries to make up for it by spreading his talent wide, thus admittedly diluting that talent on occasions ..particularly by wandering from the hole behind Kane (which is where the Dane operates best).
      He is also played, wrongly, on the wing. Poch, like many modern managers, likes his players to be ‘versatile’, but it’s all becoming a bit messy with no semblance yet of a best ‘team’. Most of us would prefer specialists playing in their specialist positions. We used to call players who were versatile, ‘utility’ players, years ago, although the occasional ‘great’ player (eg Bale) can be both versatile AND specialist (left back, left wing, in the centre etc.). Eriksen, however, and although not in that class yet, is far more deserving of respect from Spurs fans for what he has shown he can do, and has already done. We’ll eventually see the very best of this man, assuming it’s in his best position, when he has the creative support in midfield behind him that both he, and Spurs, need.


      • I think he will perk up when the attack over all gets more dynamic but most of the time he sits with his back to the goal passing the way he is looking and its just stalls time. There has been a slight change in that and he plays better when Dembele is around as Dembele is constantly on the move and pushing the envelope (which I think with be Ali’s job).
        I think Eriksen has good talent on the ball but thats not what creativity is,its seeing,having vision to see where you could take the play and manipulate your position to find the right angles.We see that with creative players in the league constantly but not Eriksen.He is very static and his vision looks limited.
        Yes it could be Pochs plan but the Danish manager made reference to Eriksen not taking control. Control means vision and creating.


      • Eriksen for THIS match, certainly Ron. We made enough space for him and made those runs into the box that so often have been missing over the past few years. He would have got a shot on target, would have found one of those runners and one moment would have made the difference. At his best that’s what he brings – that moment that can win a game. Sadly he seldom runs a game by dicatating the midfield. That’s the type of player we need, and he’s not it.

        Thanks as always for your forthright comments, always read and enjoyed.

        Best, Alan


      • Last line does it for me, CB. Eriksen will never dictate the pace of a match like, say, Ardiles could. He relies on others to win space and win the ball, make the runs, take players away. That’s fine if the team are geared to that and I think versus Everton by and large this is what we did. Crass but Eriksen so often does not have anyone to pass to ahead of him, not someone making a run or in space. This is also why I implored the club to buy a deep-lying midfielder – protect the defence and give Eriksen the platform to play.

        Cheers, Alan


  5. Thanks Al, right on the money as per usual.
    Don’t agree with Ronwol who I feel is far too harsh in his assessment of Eriksen. Sure, he is not as consistent as he could be and does tend to drift in and out of games but he has contributed more than his fair share over the last couple of years, not least in the goals department.
    I know Alan Gilzean is so right, enough is enough Chadli, how many shots can one player blaze over the bar?
    I feel that Pochettino is far too cautious in his selection and doesn’t rotate enough. Why on earth didn’t Delli Ali start? But with Son, Njie, Pritchard and Delli in the frame, we ought to be able to ratchet things up significantly.


    • You are blinded I’m afraid by the goals ,its the only thing Eriksen has done in the last few years. BTW this past year only about the same as Chadli and yet there are people who call Eriksen great.
      And what about assists,and running our attack from a creative respect? Almost zero. So what is it?
      Up to now Ive seen the reality if Eriksen.He has a good first touch but usually does nothing with it.
      If he did we would be doing ok.
      We have two new exciting and fast wingers so that,not Eriksen,shoukd open up the game and you never know Eriksen might just benefit.
      No. He hasnt been great.A few great free kicks dont make a carrear as a great player


    • To me rotation is a necessary evil to be used when players get tired or sometimes when a specific job is required as tactics change. I like the principle of a settled side, especially as this lot are still getting experience and need to learn to become familiar with the system and each others’ games. Thought Alli came on at about the right time, looks good but early days.

      Regards, Alan


  6. Like most others on here I agree the performance was pretty decent but of course, without a goal to win the game, it ended very frustratingly. I may be in a minority, but I was – and have been every game – impressed with Dier in midfield, some excellent breaking up of play and one magnificent tackle in particular on Cleverly, though obviously it was a shame the Everton player was injured in the incident.
    A flat beginning to the season but I do feel there will be good times ahead when things settle down a bit.
    One other point, I was amazed at the number of empty seats ( perhaps I noticed it approaching the break which made it look worse than it really was, I’m not sure).


    • I noticed the empty seats too, and well before the first half was over. Bank holiday, 5.30 kick off, no demand for all the seats on Stubhub. Inevitable – it’s what TV does to the game.

      Cheers, Alan


  7. I agree with most of what you say, Alan, but it’s not a ‘defensive midfielder’ we need (we have those in abundance), it’s simply a ‘creative playmaker’ who can work effectively with one consistent DM (think Modric alongside Parker in 2011/12). That is what we’ve been missing for three seasons; and similarly with our balance on the wings (glad to hear Jamie Redknapp refer to both those crucial factors last night). I don’t know how or where Dier, Bentaleb, Mason, Dembele, Lamela, Pritchard, Del Alli, Carroll, Chadli and the two new recruits, Njie and Sun, will shape up or step up in a team that finally possesses a genuine playmaker behind Eriksen and Kane, plus a proper pacy left winger (who would bring out the best again in Townsend, or even Lennon, on the right), but I do know that sheer hard work in each game does not make up for this lack of creativity, an asset that can often take the pressure off both defence and attack (or the team as a whole) and has far more eye appeal for Spurs’ fans than simply a possession game with little cutting edge. Sure we played well against Everton, and could/should have won the game, but we still looked unbalanced, and that imbalance leads to the expending of more energy, overall inconsistency, and frustration. In the next game, will all the players who had a decent game against Everton step up yet again to that level of display and commitment? You’d like to think so, but as we’ve seen for the past few seasons, we’ve horribly lacked consistency, and winged a lot of games by the odd goal, with many late winners through so-called increased fitness (all of which caught up with us before the end of the term because of the ultimate lack of that old chestnut, ‘creativity’, and tactics that only Poch himself, and AVB before him, seemed to know about).
    I’ve stated before that I believe we have some very good players throughout the squad, but God knows where these final crucial pieces of the jigsaw will come from that can lead to the identification of present squad players who can become key or even great (or at least top four quality) as opposed to just the ‘very good’. Until that happens, players like Bentaleb, Mason, Dembele, Lamela (although hope is fading there) etc., will continue to lurch from game to game, playing well occasionally, within the confines of Poch’s ‘tactics’, but then ineffectively again the following week. We have gems in Kane, Eriksen and Lloris, and possibly Verts, but in our squad, further gems can only be uncovered and then flourish by consistent creation from the heart of midfield, and width and balance on the flanks.
    Where we’re going to find these two players, that’s the question!? …but find them we must.


    • See above – whatever you call the midfielder – I’ve now gone for ‘deep-lying!’ – we need someone to knit the team together and help the young men like Dier learn. These days DMs have to be able to pass and launch attacks as well as just breaking up the opposition forays. Bentaleb is good at that, less good in our box. Dier strong in our box and in front of it, less creative. Should have a been a priority.

      Thanks as ever, Alan


  8. Like the Ray Bradbury quote – an excellent summary of the dilemma Harry Kane may be facing.

    So long as the fans continue to sing his name loud and proud he’ll be just fine. Remember he didn’t start scoring until November last year. It’ll come, Harry, it’ll come.

    Thought Ryan Mason had a very good game. He is much underrated and could be key for us over the next couple of years.

    We are close to being a very good team. After a rocky start we were far better than Everton.

    And Man City aside, the other usual top 5 teams are looking wobbly so there could be a place in the CL places if we get our act together – we need to go on a run.

    I reckon we ought to focus on 2 things – someone up front to take the pressure off Kane and an old school defensive midfielder. Tough as old boots and willing to bleed Tottenham.


  9. I got so fed up with the negativity to the club I love that i took time out at the end of last season and through the summer to avoid Tottenham fans blogs and websites. i even avoided the comments on facebook. This is the first time I’ve looked at opinion and comments on Spurs. it’s was a good read from all round. Too much Levy out, poch out and basically a hatred to a club people support and so call love. Last season is over and so I move on to the next season like i’ve always done since the 80s. It was frustrating not winning against Everton but it was a good performance, looked quite solid. Felt the ref though was looking at giving a free-kick to Everton in dangerous positions everytime they attacked. Like the positivety I read. Feel there is something great going to happen under Poch, just needs some time. Joined a group on facebook that seemed positive and the first thing I read was Levy out. Left straight away. Pisses me off now that there are too many so called Spurs fans that i hate as much as them Woolwich Wanderers fans. Never regreted supporting Spurs and will always love them and get behind them no matter what. COYS


    • Thanks my friend, and you mum is a good judge of a player.

      I took time out over the summer too and I write the thing. I like the break – recharges the batteries. No banging on about friendlies or ITK is refreshing even though not doing so loses me vast numbers of readers. The ones on here have stayed around for a few years, that’s good.

      I criticise Levy and the manager when I think they deserve it, but it’s not knee-jerk stuff, I’ll give my reasons and open it up for debate.

      Regards, Alan


  10. I didn’t think much of it as a game to be honest. Everton matches used to be great to watch but they seem to have lost their ability to play exciting football too. It was all a bit pragmatic and looked like two team battling for 8th or 9th place..
    I’m very indifferent about the transfer window. Good to clear out a lot of unwanted players; keeping Lloris, Kane, Eriksen a major achievement and some exciting youngsters coming in. Thought Alli’s spell at the end was very positive. Unlike most of the others, he got into the D on the edge of the penalty area and looked a threat when he had the ball.
    On the negative side, some of the signings look more ‘prospects’ rather than proven players, not convinced we’ve filled the key positions we needed to and the size of the squad is going to make the European campaign a drain on resources. The Berahino fiasco is classic Levy. Failing to understand the other clubs negotiating position – it would be the same problem at his own club if we sold Kane (how do you replace your proven goalscorer with just a few days left in the transfer window?) and then nudging a low ball offer up. Hard to see us challenging for the top 4 and I can see the 5th-8th region being more our thing (again) if things run to plan.
    The key thing for me is that Poch has the players he wants and we can judge him on his performances without excuses. I’m impressed with the way he sets sides up to play but he doesn’t really seem to be able to change games with the bench when things aren’t working. Let’s see how it goes.
    On a more minor point, it’s still a embarrassment that only Eriksen seems to be able to take a decent corner. This has gone on for years now. I get more irritated with this as the years go by.
    Summary: It’s all very Spursy!


  11. Pingback: Eric Dier – What’s the fuss about? – Two Goons And A Spud

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