Spurs On the Road to Nowhere

Disorganised, demoralised and despondent. And that’s just me. Me, you and the players. When we speak of the bond between the team and the fans, this isn’t quite what we’re getting at.

Levy won’t dispose of Jose Mourinho as readily as he dumped his compatriot. However, the match showed Spurs as a team and a club adrift, with neither an anchor nor a course to set. The personnel and tactics change but the apathetic, erratic and error-strewn football leads to defeat in 5 out of the last 6 games. Worse, it’s hard to see what can change to improve matters.

With a nod to the pitfalls of oversimplification, players can’t pass the ball if there is no one to pass to. Yesterday’s debacle showed how easily City could isolate our players when they were on the ball. We were ponderous in getting the ball forward (at times I would have settled for sideways) and wasted potential openings because players did not work to make themselves available for the man in possession. This is not just about individuals, it’s about teamwork, and coaching.

Mourinho has been severely chastised for his negativity and lack of ambition. He’s tried to change that over the last 6 weeks, badly. If Spurs defend, we can’t attack, if we attack we can’t defend or attack. Enterprising, creative football is not just about style and infidelity to the Spurs Way, it’s about winning football. Mourinho isn’t and never was a defensive coach, but his teams could always defend, and there’s a difference that comes from organisation and transitioning into attack. Yet Spurs seldom look comfortable in possession for extended periods and we leave gaps at the back when we go forward. He knows it as well as we do but he’s struggling to find the solution.

Mourinho is a divisive figure, provoking strong opinions. With Mourinho, no one sits on the fence. Currently, the debate rages around whether this is his fault or the players aren’t good enough. Individuals are not up to scratch at the moment. Sanchez’s early promise, once our record signing I think, has stalled. His effort to prevent City’s third was slapstick worthy of Laurel and Hardy’s best work. Hugo has served us well and has come back from past dips in form, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that we’re witnessing a gradual permanent decline as a series of shots go through him and his decision-making is as weak as his wrists of chocolate. He’s the skipper – indecision flows from the six yard box and through the team. Dele and Winks have prodigious ability and zero confidence. Lucas searches for a blind alley, if not he’ll create one.

I take no pleasure in these descriptions. That’s not how I see Spurs players. They are my players. Our players. Get behind the team. If there was some way I could lift them, I would. They have to take some responsibility, but so does the manager, and he has a real problem with this. Right now, with Spurs in considerable trouble, he can’t resist shifting the blame away from him. If he talks about collective responsibility, as he should, he can’t stop himself from qualifying this with a dig at individuals and their errors.

The only solution is a collective effort, with the manager coaching and the players responding, as individuals and as a unit. For once, JM could say something bland to the media and go and sort the players out in the sanctity of the dressing room. But he feels compelled to put a distance between himself and his players.

I don’t care for him but that’s irrelevant. I care about my club and I want him to do his absolute, total best, but this is not effective leadership and it’s certainly not improving performances. The players appear unmotivated, nervous of taking risks, hiding on the field, unclear about how to lift themselves or change the way they are playing.

This is all about team building and coaching. Lloris has made errors, which he would readily acknowledge, but he has been exposed repeatedly by organisational failings. His defence could have done more to prevent Calvert Lewin charging forward, or could have reacted to Bernard’s late run, or filled the hole that Gundogan ran into, deep in our own box, and that’s just this week.

Over the last 6 or 7 games. Mourinho has changed formations. Against Liverpool and Chelsea we had different approaches with the same outcome, that the space vacated in front of the backline played to the strengths of those teams rather than nullifying them. We may come to look back at the first half against Chelsea as an era-defining lowpoint, except I fear things may get worse.

Lamela had a fine game versus West Brom, coming in from the right, Lucas in the middle of midfield and N’Dombele deeper, with space for the full-backs to get forward. This worked and it was good to enjoy a Spurs game. However, City exposed the inherent problems. Lamela comes inside, where City can easily deal with him. City don’t want to be stretched out wide, because it can create gaps and stop the work of their full-backs in attack. But we kept coming inside, which also left both our full-backs unprotected against one of the quickest attacks in the league.

He’s also constantly changing his central defenders, meaning a partnership can never develop. This isn’t solely about picking a side to deal with particular opponents, injuries or rotation. Rather, it shows he does not know what the best partnership is, and he’s been at Spurs for 15 months. Rotation works only when players are comfortable with the system and slot in and out.

This is Spurs. There’s no magic money tree, to coin a phrase. He chose a full-back, Doherty and a centre forward, Vinicius, who he clearly does not rate. This repeats his behaviour at United, where he spent a fortune on players only to tell them that they were not good enough, blaming them for errors. Sounds familiar. Players are grown-ups and professional football is hard, but creating a climate of criticism is not the way to get the best from the squad.

At any level, judge a manager by whether he gets the best from his players, and Mourinho isn’t. This comes back to the lack of fit between Spurs and Mourinho. These players are good. We know that because they played better in the past. They may not be up to the standards of their City defensive and midfield counterparts. That’s because we won’t spend money on that calibre of player. I know that, you know that, Mourinho says he knew that when he came, so therefore he has to work extra hard to develop the men he has, and he’s failing. On the contrary, he’s closed down the potential in Dele and Winks (I won’t have it that Winks is awful. He had an awful cameo against Everton but we and Mourinho know he can play better). Our former back-up keeper has been ostracised and we have Joe Hart with his dressing room inspiration and hands of jelly. A centre forward he simply will not play if Harry is fit enough to crawl onto the field. No effective back-up plan if Harry is absent.

Levy chose him, seduced by the shiny shiny trophies he won once upon a time. Mourinho is a born winner, so the story goes. He was and could be in the future, but that doesn’t mean he is right for Spurs. You hear this so frequently without analysis of how he wins. He is a man in a hurry. He has no need to put down roots at any club, no incentive to develop talent and tactics over time. Fine, that’s not what he does, but his skills are not what we need. We need someone able to revamp the squad, ease replacements into position and develop what we have already, all on a budget more limited than he is accustomed to.

This month has been a low point in Spurs recent history, with lacklustre, directionless performances brought into sharp focus by the efforts of other teams who now seem to feast on our weakness and discomfort. Even through those ultra-defensive games, I saw some signs of progress because the players responded and were motivated. Now, I’m pessimistic about the future.

In the short-term, if there was anything positive to take from yesterday, it was Dier’s determination and willingness to address recent mistake to take his fate into his own hands, a perfect attitude. Tanganga did enough to stay in the side, and Mourinho could stabilise the defence, using our forwards without resorting to early season negativity. And trying to be positive, all is not lost. Maybe the Europa League is a chance to build again, plus, this year’s league means any resurgence could see us moving up again.

Convince me otherwise but I can’t escape a sinking feeling about the future. Here’s a plausible summer scenario. Spurs need not a refurb but a major rebuild. Some players are disaffected, others not good enough, others past their best – Hart, Sissoko, Toby, Hugo, Bale are all in their thirties. In addition, we need different types of player, like other midfielders able to both defend and get the ball forward. Young players have promise (Skipp, Rodon, White, Scarlett later but not yet) but need more time.

Levy is not keen to spend. This is reality not parsimony, because we have the stadium debt, no crowds, no hospitality income. Our manager isn’t committed to this longer-term strategy. More disruption. Players don’t want to come to us because we’re not in the CL or in Europe, and/or Spurs are no longer the attractive step up that we were until recently. And I dare not think about Son’s and Harry’s future plans. I write a series of blogs until 2025 about how we’ve thrown it all away, then collapse in a gibbering heap on the East Stand concourse. Tell me that couldn’t happen.

24 thoughts on “Spurs On the Road to Nowhere

  1. Hi Alan. Thanks as always for your excellent writing and sharing your insight and history. I think you’re right about Mourinho (and Levy’s commitment to him). For instance, our players are as talented as the Leicester squad yet we’re going in completely opposite directions. I pray you’re wrong and it’s crazy to see how we’re still not too far from a top 4 spot. Still, I’m ridiculously optimistic, probably because I took to Spurs later in life (1992, age 35). Best to you and your family.

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  2. Excellent balanced article and so many things have gone wrong for the team. There are numerous reasons that are fairly obvious without being too controversial.
    I really hope that we see the Club begin to make ‘better’ decisions ibn respect of the playing staff. I say that simply you see ‘so called lesser’ clubs make better player acquisitions for less money than we seem to do.
    Let’s hope we will have some form and the missing players back for the League Cup Final and we win it no matter how.
    Both the Club,Players and the fans need it.

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    • Thanks. We need a co-ordinated approach to recruitment with manager scouts and levy working together. Vital that if we can’t spend a lot we find value for money.

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  3. Whether one agrees with all you say about mourinho (I happen to incidentally) the piece entirely omits the names of those responsible for our club’s inevitable decline….
    look no further than enic levy and his Patagonian asset-stripping godfather.
    The fundamental For football success with any owner is an interest in the sport they bought into
    We have real estate charlatans impersonating football club owners. the results we are witnessing lay their motivations bare. Simple comparison uh, Leicester etc etc etc etc

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    • Clear who takes the big decisions re appointments and players that I criticised, and I’ve written about Levy’s failings in this respect before, so I didn’t bore myself by going over it! Regards,

      Alan

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  4. The honest truth the recruitment at the club has been dreadful and the rot of this team started in 2018 hen potch didn’t sign a single player for 2 windows .while other clubs were improving we stagnated and here we are.I have blamed the players for potch’s sacking and i will blame them if jose gets sacked. It’s not a managerial problem it’s a quality problem.The squad isn’ good enough to compete for tiltles cause outside the 6 good players at the club no one belongs at the top.You say jose stagnated dele and winks but winks was never a great passer and was just good at beating the press and has no physical prescence and they were times he was caught suspect.Dele on the otherhand has been a passenger even before mourinho came so i don’t understand cause since 2018 can we say he has been the dele of old or his brother.The board is to blame cause if we weren’t always getting players on the cheap and bought quality for what it cose we would be a different club.Look att the likes of aurier,doherty,lucas,lamela all these players were bought cause they were cheap.2 years ago we could have gotten reuben dias and bruno fernandes but we didn’t cause they were too expensive and we bought cheap now the consequences of our stagnation have caught up with us .So at the end of the day in potch’s last season the players were making the same mistakes and now they are showing it under jose at the end of the day my club needs to sell a lot of players at loss if were to move foward cause all i see are kane,son,reguilon leaving cause we all know this team isn’t good eough to win titles for the next 3 to 4 years we will be fighting for europa keague football as a consequence of the boards cheapness and horrible reqruitment .There are so many players at the club i don’t think potch or jose wanted but they never said so to not bring drama to the club but if they were honest alot of players would have never been bought and a lot would have been sold .If we had better recruitment we would still be a guaranteed top 4 .So at the end of the day a change in manage won’t make horrible players better what we need is to rebuild the squad but i don’t see that happening so lets enjoy europa league fotball for the next 2 or 3 years thanks to our cheapness

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    • Thanks for taking the time to contribute. I worry more about the future than this season, despite the problems currently. Dele and Winks both have the ability to come back and be better.

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  5. Hentus’ & Tatenda’s comments have pretty much hit the nail on the head. Compare Spurs to similar sized clubs (in the past before they were taken over by billionaire owners as basically “playthings” who are willing to through vast amounts if money at their respective clubs knowing that they have no need to get that money back) who are owned by an investment group who care more about spread sheets & financial profit margins, rather than a real intent of waking a sleeping giant. Look back at player recruitment over the tenure of ENIC, its always about potential sell on value, or bargains. The stadium is basically a cash cow for milking the entertainment industry and gullible fans willing to pay through the nose for second rate dross. Who’s the mugs?

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    • I’ve heavily criticised Levy re recruitment and missed opportunities over many years.

      Are fans gullible if we pay to see our team despite Levy? I know what you mean but don’t think so. We are loyal fans, love the shirt and watch the team regardless. Fans know what they’re doing. I do think Levy is lucky the ground is empty – there would be blind fury at some of these performances.

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  6. Great Article and true to the bone a good read. What can we expect when we have owners that are not interested in success on the pitch, just how much money they can make from us long suffering supporters and from this stupid NFL, concerts and anything else to make money etc etc etc(ain’t we a football club?) why not just concentrate on football? we all know the answer because Levy had a brainwave from the Olympic stadium, he saw money from a multi-venue stadium there and saw pound signs if he could impliment the same to make our ground multi-purpose for the money to roll in on all fronts! not that the team/squad would see any of it! we are just customers to hand over as much money as they can rinse out of us, so unless they leave we will be the same as long as these leeches are with us, we are being mugged off for their profit that is the long and short of it, other supporter groups would of protested a long time ago so much they would force them out but for some reason us Spurs fans just put up with it! 21 years and one league cup it’s laughable! changing of managers is frequent as it’s cheaper to sack a manager than to back him with proper funds to be successful, all driven by money and keeping costs down, that’s what we are a business to Levy and Lewis Enic is an investment company so why should we expect to be treated differently, i think i have seen Lewis once in the ground that says it all. We are f…cked with these as our owners and it’s never going to get better, get used to it unless someone has the balls to start a protest which speads to all our fans but i won’t hold my breathe! ENIC/Levy OUT!!!

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  7. I am 84 and have been a supporter for 70 plus years , been extremely fortunate in enjoying Arthur Rowe’s
    push and run. The double team
    Danny B and Dave M etc.
    Great football under Keith Birkensshaw with players such as
    Graham Roberts and Paul Miller
    leaders who would “die “ for the club. Plus Glenda, Ossie and Ricky.
    The current team lacks a leader,
    there is no spine.,
    Terry Venable’s side was scintillating.
    Pleat and Harry ‘s teams at times
    we’re enthralling.
    2001 Enic took over.
    Poch has the similar football
    nous as Fergie and Wenger, who could anticipate when a player was
    reaching the sale by date .
    I ask did Poch request funds from
    Enic to refurbish . Supporters were
    of the opinion that Poch would be
    an institution like Fergie.
    In my lifetime a major will never
    be achieved under Enic and DL,
    My two sons are supporters
    under the current regime it may
    not happen in their lifetimes.

    To Enic and DL sell the club and go.

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  8. Tell you it couldn’t happen? Alan, you know how this is going to play out: we will miss out on a European place, we have not a hope in hell in the Europa League and Harry will make his move elsewhere for a medal. To underline this nightmare we will pretend it is all worthwhile for a scrappy win in the Carabao Cup. Mourinho is without a settled team or a system. Three efforts on goal at Man City is the end product of a failed experiment and now Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, West Ham and Leicester are looking down on us. West Ham! We are at exactly the same point Man United were when their reality hit home and JoMo headed back south. Defending narrow leads was never the raison d’etre of our club – our club motto tells us this. But we now have our best attacking midfielder paired with Hojberg and plugging holes in our defence instead of creating chances for Kane and Son. I don’t know what’s happened to Moura. I shall forever salute his heroics against Ajax but he seems to be getting worse with each game. Offload five members of the squad to fund the arrival of a Grealish or Adama Traore – players who actually make a difference on the pitch. Maybe buy a serious defender or two. How will Levy fund all this? The transfer of Kane will be like catnip to Levy. He will get a few million to take the edge off the interest payments and pay off another departing manager. And the song remains the same……

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  9. So easy to jump on the LevyENIC out bandwagon when things go wrong. Remember how fans were ecstatic after this transfer widow….
    We’ve finally replaced Aurier, our worst player last season – turns out the guy we’ve bought its even worse! Fans begged Levy “just put your hand in your pocket and fork out 250k per week for Bale” he did, and guess what he’s shit now! “Go and buy a back up for Kane” we did and guess what he’s nowhere near Premier League standard. All Levy’s fault?
    We have a manager who after being here for 18 months can’t decide on his best team and rotates the defence every week, causing untold errors, can’t even decide on a style of play that suits us (who are we going to be watching this week: boring Spurs, attacking Spurs with leaky defence, no midfield Spurs, long ball Spurs) alienates players, makes appalling substitutions every game…I could go on.
    Levy’s only fault in this is as you say being lured by silverware (long ago at money bags clubs) and appointing this washed up fraud in the first place. I find it hard to believe we have fans out there who still think we are going to win something

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  10. The sheer mendacity of this verbose piece beggars belief. I’m surprised you didn’t go the whole hog and bring up Diego Torres as that oaf left behind at The Independent did.

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  11. Good article and too many points to respond to. I was a fan of JM but even I think he must go. More importantly levy must go too. He got lucky with Poch and when Poch told him to act differently he did the opposite. Levy is a good businessman but knows v little about football. To me the last 18 months are summed up by the following: we signed the Fernandes. That is Levy.

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  12. I agree with most of that. Dont know what happened to Dele , but Winks is not a quality player , now or ever. Reminds me of Steve Clemence or Kevin Bond. Only there because of their dad. Except his dad didnt play. Why were we top til December. What was right then. They did as Jose said , but seem to have lost the plot since losing last minute at Liverpool. We need a huge clear out. Pope, Soucek & Grealish in for starters. Skipp a good shout. 2 centre backs & a winger. If Levy wont spend big, how about decent scouting. We need players with class, urgency & a willingness to do it week in week out

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  13. I have to say Paul Miller did good things. But he needed upgrading with Butcher, Mcleish or Levein. Or 2 of them & a ball winning midfielder. Could have made Burks side champions. Why did we not buy? Its not enough to just entertain. Redknapps side played well but we still had inferiority complex v , Chelsea, Arsenal, United etc. We have finished above everyone more than once but never won anything & im sick of it 2 titles is a disgrace for all the talent we have had. Because we never finish the team build

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  14. Alan, you have once again, to use that awful vernacular, “nailed it”. Some of the comments in response to your piece are equally spot on while others are laughable. What everyone has to accept (perhaps unfortunately) is that levy and ENiC aren’t going anywhere so they need to change and the first step to that is changing the manager again. One thing Levy actually got right back I The early 200s was that changing manager was a,ways a short term expensive fix so he tried the DoF approach. It worked briefly, with Rnesen and Jol, then collapsed with Commoli, so he (levy) reverted to the old school approach of a strong manger. Again, Redknapp (to a point) worked and they then got lucky with Poch until he held Levy’s feet to the fire and it all buckled from there. Probably too late to get Poch back now but to those who say who would you br8 g I if Maureen goes I would suggest trying Ragnick, who is largely responsible for the philosophy of so many others who have even successful elsewhere and would also restore the good Poch philosophy.

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  15. I lay the blame predominantly at Mourinho’s door since mid December, and I’ll explain why, Alan.
    Levy/ENIC gave us the best football stadium in the world, and one of the best training facilities. It’s not their fault the pandemic hindered NFL, boxing and other sports income/contributions towards their cost.
    If Levy/Lewis made a mistake in recent years it was not supplying some transfer funds in the summer of 2018 when cracks were appearing in what had been an exceptional and balanced squad (having finished with one 2nd and two 3rds in the PL since 2015/16, and while playing a season and a bit at Wembley). Trophy-less? Sure we were, and very unluckily so, but what great memories Poch’s Spurs gave us!
    Even in our ‘decline’ we still finished 4th in 2019, as well as narrowly missing a great chance of becoming Champions of Europe after a ‘Journey of Glory’ to its near-summit!
    No, I can’t blame ENIC/Levy. The summers of 2019 and 2020 saw a number of expensive new arrivals, including our record signing, Ndombele (who looked a waste at first, but has become one of our key players). And all this when the richest and highest profile clubs, with whom we were competing, didn’t have the debt concerns re a new £1b stadium, the training ground, and the aftermath of having rented Wembley etc..
    Let me also add that Levy was being PRAISED for our squad additions last summer, Bale in particular!
    Jose’ seemed happy too, plus he improved Ndombele, while all the independent TV/radio/press ‘pundits’, as well as fans, expected things to go well for Tottenham ..based on squad strength/depth, the ‘unstoppable’ attacking line-up, and Mourinho’s ‘serial winning’ magic touch. Maybe not the PL title, but certainly top 4, plus a trophy or two was more than possible.
    I, for one, was certainly optimistic we were building towards something again. I’d backed Jose’s arrival and bedding-in (many didn’t, but it was important to support our high profile ‘serial winner’ manager despite his weird comments, his all about ‘me and I’ rather than ‘us or Spurs’ mentality, and the narcissistic blame-shifting inherent in his DNA) while ‘All or Nothing’ even endeared him to me a bit more.
    Yes, we finished a disappointing 6th (the end of a 5 year period of top 4 consistency and some majestic PL and domestic/CL cup football), but Jose’s own performances, as he reminded us, indicated ‘4th’ last season, based on the fact Spurs were 14th when he took over. So despite the pandemic, I believed in the special one and the squad, and sure enough his masterly, and what seemed flexible, tactics took us to the PL pinnacle by mid December.
    That, however, is when everything changed!
    It was the last 55 minutes of the Palace game, where Spurs sat back protecting 1-0 and inviting them to equalise (which they did, inevitably, late on, of course, and we saw it coming)! Jose’ said the team couldn’t carry out his 2nd half attacking instructions, but his defensive/counter tactics following the West Ham ‘blip’ were already becoming one-dimensionally set in stone.
    Such dour tactics weren’t needed for this match, and were fast becoming unsustainable anyway. It was a horrible watch, not becoming of a ‘mid-table’ Spurs side, let alone one at the PL summit with title aspirations. God, I can take losing, I’ve suffered enough over the decades as a Spurs fan, but I can’t take a cowardly fearful type of performance from a club that has Glory in its DNA (whether glory came from success OR failure). These ‘cowardly’ signs (as opposed to the necessarily defensive periods in a match) were visible earlier in our narrowly survived victories over Burnley, WBA and Brighton, where we had little more than 35% possession in total. Then, after Palace, we took ‘cowardly’ to an even higher level in the first half against a ‘weaker’ Liverpool at Anfield. Two clubs at the top battling first spot!? No contest, despite Son’s goal and two Bergwijn ‘misses’ (is he ever going to score another goal for us?) and suddenly ‘horrible’ became the norm! Not disappointing, not agonising, not exciting, not frustrating, not even boring, but ..horrible, and wholly embarrassing to witness!
    Apart from 3 PL results since mid-December (2 against relegation fodder), it’s been disastrous, and Jose’ repeated ‘exactly’ the Palace debacle in the Wolves and Fulham games, while we passively handed easy wins at home to Liverpool (again), Leicester and Chelsea, and Brighton away. It wasn’t Saturday’s City game, although the result looked all too inevitable once they’d scored their penalty and our players looked resigned and leaderless for the rest of the match, although it may prove one of the final straws for Levy. He already fired a warning shot across Jose’s bows over Alli leaving last month!
    No, it was all the depressing build-up from mid-December!
    I can’t blame the players either. Their confidence is shot. Even the best defenders and DMs in the world would struggle with a system which over relies on defending, and invites pressure by not having a high pressing and creative midfield, relying constantly on the presence of just two players (despite their worth) for goals on the break. Such tactics worked eons ago (think Italy in the 60s and 70s, while Arsenal and Chelsea had their moments over the past 2 or 3 decades) but in an age when defenders and DMs are now fearful about tackling or going to ground anywhere on the pitch, putting their hands behind their backs in and around the box, getting cheated cleverly and constantly by forwards in the penalty area, and facing bookings/sending-offs for the most innocuous of offences, Jose’s new Plan A was a bottom heavy system unsustainable in reaching top 4, let alone winning the PL title, especially with the rotation of players whom Jose’ doesn’t trust, and especially with a club that believes in the opposite of ‘sitting back’! What did Blanchflower and Billy Nick say?
    Things like it’s about Glory, doing it in style with flourish, going out to beat the other lot, rather than waiting for them to die of boredom etc., or simply scoring more goals than the other lot! etc.. For ‘dying of boredom’ (although it’s how I’ve felt as a fan since Palace) you could replace it with ‘why hand lesser opponents the advantage, and confidence, to throw everything at you in the last half of the game, when all you had to do was keep them on the back foot?’.
    I always thought attack was the best form of defence, and you lived or died by it, and especially so in modern football, where almost everything favours the attacking team! And what an attack Tottenham are supposed to have!!! So what have we been afraid of? Did the final 8 minutes of the West Ham game do this? Surely it was a fluke ‘blip’, like Newcastle, and could have been ironed out, because we were entertaining in those games, and lethal in the United and Southampton ones as. City, Chelsea and Arsenal proved Jose’s tactical genius as we hit the top, but the tactics were clearly unsustainable, and certainly not even needed for most games after! I hate it when we attempt to shut up shop with 10 minutes to go, let alone for what seems like most of the match!!
    We showed we had the midfield and strike force to do well, yet Jose’ decided to take the onus away from all that by applying extra pressure on our weakest point, a defence that isn’t a patch on the defence Poch had in the best years. Or maybe, Jose’s just wrecked many of our players’ confidence?
    I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know what Kane thinks. Jose’s stubbornness has blown things, and his baseless attitude towards Alli even resulted in something tantamount to bullying a young, proven and major talent at our club. Winks and Bale must feel confused too. There’s a difference between feeling incorporated into a strong squad but accepting you’re not going to play all the time, and feeling left out and unwanted even when results are consistently poor without you. Now, people are saying that Jose’s trying to change (he even used the word ‘compromise’ after WBA, as though he was acting on someone else’s behalf). Maybe, but he and Tottenham have fallen badly between two stools. Spurs are rudderless, and the passiveness (can’t keep using cowardice) has taken its toll. Jose’ had it right by mid December, while the squad was confident and he was clever at changing tactics as and when needed. Now he and Spurs are lost and it all began with that final 55 minutes of the damn Palace game!

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