What A Waste

Just when I thought we were getting somewhere.

Beating the Blues on Sunday felt good, not just because it is rare these days. This was a grown-up performance from a frequently immature Spurs team. Without playing at our best, we succeeded in our concerted efforts to get on top after a couple of early scares, first to loose balls and determined in countless challenges. It was a similar story against W Ham the previous weekend. We were sharp and strong, and didn’t give the ball away with unnecessary carelessness.

Well, forget all that. It’s a cup game, so add last night to the litany of failure chronicled in these pages over the past decade. Add the Blades to the list – Middlesboro, Norwich (through Vorm’s hands! Worst penalties ever! At home! A goal up!), Everton, Palace – these pathetic efforts blur into one ghastly vision, a changed team failing to be cohesive or determined. Take a match report from any of those games and copy and paste for the others, just change the names. Insipid, braindead performances by a team weakened by squad rotation. Frankly, the only surprise is that I’m surprised.

Earlier this season, our chairman was blathering on about the Spurs DNA in a ‘could do better’ message to us. Apparently, our genes have mutated in this generation to breed out the ‘winning stuff’ gene, the cup runs that I was brought up on, that tempered the frustration of never being able to be consistent enough over 42 league games to challenge for the league. So I can only conclude that Spurs don’t want to win things any more and that the messages has got through to the players.

Last night, we began well enough. The wing-backs pushed up, as did Dier into the midfield to take advantage of the space United vacated as they pulled back. The front three looked busy but the warning signs grew more pronounced as time passed. Fancy flicks intercepted, direct runs blocked by determined tackling and covering. Son, Moura and Richarlison repeatedly caught in possession.

Ten minutes into the second half and it was clear that rather than this being the base for improvement, it was actually the best we could come up with. Shots were either weak and straight at the keeper or ended up closer to the corner flag than the goal. Moura hasn’t lost his ability to run down blind alleys, and if they don’t exist, create them. Son even at his best is a receiver of passes rather than someone who can hold it and move it on, but he’s not at his best, nowhere near it, so he provided tackling practice for eager defenders. Richarlison’s mind was all over the place, as was his shooting, he had a awful match.

I suspect Spurs fans recognised this pattern before the United players, but once they caught on that we are vulnerable, they swarmed all over us, took control and deservedly won, putting us out of our misery with a late goal that Forster, who has done well so far, failed to save at his near post with an almost imperceptible but fatal shift onto his left foot milliseconds before the ball went to his right.

Spurs are not good enough to make several changes to the team and overcome determined, organised opposition. How many games do we have to lose in this country and in Europe before we learn the lesson? It is yet another downside of having so many changes of manager, as each one has to find out for themselves, then express bewilderment in post-match press conferences. Partly it’s that the squad could be deeper, but essentially this is a failure of the collective. Stellini said that a front line of Moura, Richarlison and Son should have been enough. There’s some truth in that, and as individuals they were woeful, but any Conte disciple should know better than most that it is all about the team. Those three have never played together before and their talents do not complement each other. Neither were they supported from midfield by Hojbjerg or Sarr.

Kane needs a rest, except we can’t play without him. His presence forms the shape of our attacks. Someone else could do that in theory, yet we’ve not planned for that eventuality, so there’s no alternative.

My wife’s family are Hammers, so their match was on the TV. Manchester United changed their side for this game and found themselves a goal down at half time. Even after bringing in internationals to replace other internationals, it wasn’t working. Their recent enviable development under a manger who depending on which version you believe, we didn’t want to appoint or turned us down, comes through shape and familiarity, so they made changes to bring in key players, found their balance and won the game. Even with their deep squad, right now, where they are, they depend on a few key players. They must be as tired as our key men, except they have learned how to win and want to win again, so the tiredness recedes.

As an aside, a goal down and they brought on Martinez, their Argentinian, aggressive, front foot defender whereas ours stayed on the bench. It’s not just about throwing men forward, far from it.

United have momentum. We threw ours away, what little precious little we have. We won’t ever win stuff if we make it obvious that we don’t really want it enough. Pochettino was guilty in this regard when it came to domestic cups. He said he was told that Champions League qualification was his priority, and it still seems to be the case. Try telling that to the 5000 plus who were up for the cup late on a midweek night. It won’t wash. A winning mentality comes from winning things. We looked at the great opportunity of a long cup run offered by this competition with only a few other PL sides still left, and we said, nah, not for us. Not for Tottenham. It’s in our DNA.

16 thoughts on “What A Waste

  1. Absolutely spot on and looking at the fact we also have 11 players out on loan.
    To get rid of those players who are clearly not good enough will cost a fortune.
    We could just muster a 11 but once these are not available we are in trouble.
    A shambles and I would not be surprised that next season Harry will have moved on,


  2. Another great read the problem with supporting a team who lack the ability to actualy win some thing is replemashing the fan base those of us in our 6O s or 5Os etc will need to be replaced apart from family tradition who many kids will be attracted to our bunch of serial losers


  3. A perfect summary again Alanand of course it’s all made far worse by the continued success of the other lot in N5. Based on the last part of last season, that should have been us, but no, our DNA would never allow for that…


  4. Thanks Alan.

    As you show, been a fair few FA Cup runs thrown away in last few seasons, but that took a bit of a biscuit even for us in recent times.

    Sheffield United also made changes (6-8 depending on who you listen to) and while no great shakes by any means looked like they had a more coherent plan than us? Some may suggest partly because their plan was more limited than ours, but I’m not so sure that’s true beyond us having bigger names in the team. We were a mess going forwards and they were barely troubled.

    Will be very annoyed by last night for some time to come.

    Thankfully, I am of an age to have seen us win some things because quite frankly…

    Best wishes



  5. Spot on analysis. As a long sufferer (I’m 60+) I fail to understand why year after year we do the same with the domestic cups. They are our best chance of silverware. If we need to rest players then start with our best eleven and get the game put to bed. This followed all the others with a steadfast defense blocking us out for 75 minutes and fancying their chances late on. The best way to unlock these defenses is with skill, that was sadly missing from the front three last night, and once we can get ahead the opposition has to open up further giving more opportunity to score. Get the game put to bed and rest whoever we need to use all the subs on the bench. Its the same when we play all the sides at the bottom of the table.


  6. I was at the Port Vale cup game – (we lost that one for those that cant remember), so losing is i think in he Spurs DNA, i do wonder that if we were playing say Bournemouth or Southampton in the league ( which i deem Sheffield United to be similar) – would the manager put out the same side from last night, no, it would have been the same side as against Chelsea, so why the changes????????????/


  7. What has it come to when we no longer have the energy to be outraged at another humiliation? I could go on about the lack of pride and fight but if they can’t be bothered, why should I? It’ll be another reason why Harry will move on now that he has got the club scoring record sorted out. Pitiful, pathetic and preventable. I’ll go back to screaming into my pillow.


  8. Exactly where my thoughts are. Well summed up. Bring in players to leave on the bench and or ship them out on loan. Never really giving them a chance to prove themselves with Emerson proving that match play is essential to the team and personal development. Cups are not priority for Spurs. The riches of Champions League and fourth place is the year after year top goal. Very upsetting.


  9. This is such a brilliant summary. Tired of this, every bloody year. Nothing learned. Just so dispiriting given that the cup run looked so promising.


  10. Thanks Alan, throw into that mix the idea of bringing in Serial Winning managers who basically operate via favourites, not a squad then we are unlikely to proceed in tournaments. Richarlison is a case in point he play for Brazil where his manager supports and trusts him, at spurs Conte does neither one or other needs to go for their own and ‘our’ sakes. I’m beginning to think that Poch returning may not be the worst idea given there is more money to spend. Otherwise, I think a manager little heard of yet managing a prem team on the south coast may prove to be a good bet. Brighton has often been a good place for a knees up!!


  11. There’s something rotten in the dressing room and I don’t know how to fix it. I’d like to blame the manager but once the game begins it’s down to the players and there appears to be a collective complacency that allows lesser players and teams to run over us. I say lesser players because we have a world cup winning goalkeeper and centre-half, one of the world’s top three strikers, last season’s top scorer in the prem and sundry other gilded internationals who between them consider it acceptable to be rolled over by players with half their ability. The thing we lack is a couple of players with a real nasty streak who are not afraid to confront their teammates on the pitch when needed. Shipping four goals against ManC and Leicester in quick succession reveals a weak will and lack of fight. Richarlison, Son and Moura wouldn’t say ‘Boo!’ to a goose between them and they needed a rocket long before Harry arrived in the second half. What hurts as well is that it could be us against Blackburn in the quarters with a decent chance of making the semi’s. Stephen Jordan above makes an excellent point…the team on Wednesday was not the best equipped to win the match but it was the team chosen to enable a better selection for the more important upcoming games in the next seven days.


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