Outplayed. Now For Saturday

Sometimes there’s no alternative. Admit you’re beat, take it on the chin and move on. Yesterday against WHam it was Spurs who had to suck it up. Never in the game, from first to last.

Tottenham did not play well but were not allowed to play, never able to find a way past or through Bilic’s tactics. Pochettino simmered on the touchline throughout, muttering darkly to the bench. Whether this was because he was angry with his team or angry that he had been outmanoeuvred we will never know, probably a bit of both. It was a surprise to see WHam line up with three at the back but the real damage was done further upfield where they did not allow us to play out from the back by pressing the centre halves and denying fullbacks Trippier and Davies any space. In midfield they always had at least one extra man. Never mind three at the back, we hardly got anywhere near them and when we did, Kane was one versus three, an unfair fight even for him.

A theme of the past few weeks is that word is getting around – break the game up, disrupt the flow and Spurs are nowhere near as dangerous. We fell back into bad habits and for extended periods were our own worst enemy. We tried to beat a player and lost it countless times. We went long to try and loosen the stranglehold in the middle, in reality we just went aimless. Kane alone up front was easily picked off, but most of these passes went either straight to an opponent or into touch. Ahh, AVB, those were the days…

In my last piece I praised Pochettino for playing to Nacer Chadli’s strengths. He doesn’t take on the full responsibility of MP’s regime, so the manager has freed him, using him either in games where the team has a little more space (Colchester, Fiorentina) or as a sub when we need a goal and are pressing forward. In other words, not as a starter in a London derby.

Less than ten minutes in, Chadli’s pass back towards Davies put the fullback under unnecessary pressure and he had to concede a corner. It flew to the near post where the man Chadli was marking, or rather the man Chadli was nowhere near, headed it home. It was a vital goal. Ultimately it proved to be the winner but at the time it set the tactical tone. WHam did attack but they were under no pressure to open up to seek a goal. If you’ve gone with three at the back, perfect in fact.

Erik Lamela was also back to his bad old ways. He worked hard but held onto the ball too long and was frequently tackled. In one particularly irksome phase, he expertly wriggled clear only to stop and then pass to our wide man without spotting the two defenders in the way. All that hard work wasted. Meanwhile he got wound up and put his foot in late, breaking up the play and giving WHam the ball. Just what they wanted. Thought he had got past his brat phase – this was a big game and he did not cope at all well.

But they were symptoms not the cause. This was collective failure. It started early and spread from the back. Hugo has set an example for the whole team this season. Yesterday he missed a cross early on and then nearly dwelt too long on a ball at his feet in the box. We generated few ideas and forgot the movement and possession game that has served us so well. Might have done better to take a deep breath and knock it about for a bit. The only time we looked at all like scoring was after Alli came on and became a focal point for attacks as well as sharing the burden with Kane. He missed our one chance, miscuing a rebound after Toby’s fierce shot. It looked bad but the defender just did enough to cramp his room for movement as he shot. Kane looks really out of sorts. He looks knackered.

Enough. I’ve seen every NLD at the Lane bar one since 1968. Without question this is the biggest of them all. In my time the title has never been at stake, not for Spurs at any rate although in my time I’ve seen them win the league not once but twice. We are still second with everything to play for. Take the game to them from start to finish. Take them on. Don’t leave anything behind, play without fear. This is spellbinding stuff. The Derby will provoke every emotion known to woman or man then suck it dry, spin it around and rearrange the very atoms before we come out the other side. It’s what we live for.

Tottenham On My Mind has readers all over the world. The New Zealand Spurs Supporters Club are full of proper Spurs. They are running a Q&A with Don McAllister, who I think lives in Oz these days, before the NLD and you can watch it live on some new-fangled social media platform that I have never heard of and you can contact them if you want to join the club. Good people.

Add @opcmedia2013 on twitter or Periscope and we will post the stream up at 7am UK / 8pm NZ.

You will need one of these apps on PC or Phone/smart device to view.

This will give you the opportunity interact with us on the day and ask question while watching the stream live


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Hope to see you guys Saturday




6 thoughts on “Outplayed. Now For Saturday

  1. Was at the game Alan. From the first kick of the game I knew in myself this was going to be a tough one.

    I understand tactically Billic got it spot on, but I was alarmed at the way we kept on losing pocession and passes going astray .

    I know we have to lose at some point, but I can never take it on the chin when it comes to them.

    Keep up the good work Alan, and let’s hope we can do the double over the Nomadic tribe on Saturday 🙌


  2. Nice piece. I have to say you are spot on about Chadli’s contribution and despite all Spam’s huffing and puffing and enormous workrate, that one (actually two) mistake by our Belgian maverick was enough. I felt Eriksen was the one player Spam couldn’t get to grips with and the most likely to carve out something or score. I don’t think we’d have lost the match had Dembele been fit and they had someone they couldn’t out-muscle in the middle. It’s easy to say Kane was tired but we don’t know that, he just had a bad game when it came to the sharp end and we keep telling him he’s tired. But Spam really did compete sensationally well so let’s not beat ourselves up too much. Obviously the full backs weren’t as effective as normal due to Spam planning and thinking (a first).

    Who can disagree with Poch about anything? He’s proven he’s beyond criticism! However, I will say this (pompously): Son is a better starter than sub. When he starts, for some reason, he imposes himself on the action quickly and his touch is assured. When a sub, his touch seems heavier and he tries too hard to change the match, meaning nothing happens for him. I also think Lamela is a better sub, coming on when the space opens up a bit (City away, Sunderland away and others). Alli, Eriksen and Dembele are just world class, end of.


  3. Poch must hold up his hands and accept the blame. A midfield of Lamela, Eriksen and Chadli has never worked because they don’t work as a unit. Sadly, Chadli played badly and he seems to buckle under the pressure of a full game. Was Bentaleb injured? He would have been the right player for this match and Son would have added more of a threat than Chadli. Metal fatigue is starting to show but we still have more to offer. If Dembele and Alli are good to go on Saturday then we’ll be back to our proper shape. When Dembele plays, Harry scores and he allows Eriksen and Alli to do their thing. After the last defeat we pressed the reset button and went on this latest run. Hopefully the same will allow us to roll through to the end. Poch is right to go balls out for the top. It’s probably just beyond our reach but we’ll use it to claim a top four spot which was always the target. Then we can buy a couple of top quality additions to the attack and we’ll be even stronger next season, with everyone a year older and wiser.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, we were clearly second best all night. However, I tend to agree with David Read, above. Poch has been fantastic all season but I do feel he picked the wrong side for the West Ham game. Not least, we ought to have stuck with Rose and Walker, whose contribution v Swansea was so telling. Why not wait until after the NLD to rest them. I get the fact that Poch has been rotating the full backs but last night proved that there is still a gap between Walker and Rose and the second string of Davies and Trippier. In vital games against the best opposition, Rose and Walker are, in my opinion, as indispensable as Toby and Hugo at the back.


  5. I actually thought we’d started as well as west ham first 5mins, before the goal …

    Oh well, sets it up nicely, to say the least, for Saturday!


  6. Very disappointing result but not a big surprise. I was more anxious about playing Wham than A——-

    Was surprised by some aspects of the team selection. Chadli is a really frustrating player – and in this game we got the bad Nacer having seen good Nacer against Swansea.

    Hate to say it but Wham’s tactics were spot on. They are a good team and played well.

    Just wish we’d got that last minute equaliser to ruin their post-Cup Final party.

    Am still in the “love you Mauricio please stay forever” camp. However successful he is/we are there will always be games like this so we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and start all over again – by turning over that lot from the other end of the 7 Sisters Road.

    The more I watch this team of ours the more I like them. Have always thought that about individual players but this is the first time in a while I feel I can say that about the team.

    MP is very special. At some point in the future I think I’ll see one of his Argentina teams lift the World Cup so let’s enjoy it while it lasts.


    Liked by 1 person

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