Lyon in the Europa League at the Lane tonight and then tomorrow night Bolton again at the Lane in the FA Youth Cup. I'm missing both games, but I'm probably more disappointed I wont be watching the Spurs kids tomorrow.It's another 1882 gathering, with a couple of blocks allocated by Spurs to people who want to be vocal. 300 or so tickets sold already. You can buy on the door on the night for neighbouring blocks if you've not managed to escape Valentines Day for tonight's first team encounter (which has a fair few tickets still available) and desire a Tottenham fix before the sabbatical.Read More
Morning. How's everyone feeling? Aside from freezing cold (if you're unlucky to be living in Blightly). We're about to hit the minus temps apparently. Everyone going to the Lane this evening, don't forget your long-johns. I wont be there but will be present for the Europa League 'decider' next Thursday, somewhere in block 32 (where 1882 has been allocated) to see us hopefully not just beat the Greeks but also match their relentless support from start to finish. As for tonight, I'll be watching from the comfort of an illegal stream, hoping for more of the same offensive intent against a side that will be far better than the pish West Ham managed to display on Sunday.Read More
Lloris displayed mad skillz. Dembele is back. We had (yet another) perfectly legitimate goal disallowed for offside. Carroll's vision and pass to find Bale for that goal was sensational. He was also tidy in possession and focused with other key responsibilities such as tracking and tackling. We were in control in the early part of the game, aside from a blistering Ledesma effort. We did make it count (that disallowed goal) so it didn't actually count and then Lazio got a stranglehold and asked all the questions from that point onwards, especially throughout the second half. We held out thanks to a defining shift between the sticks from the keeper that isn't Brad. We need to beat the Greeks at the Lane (or draw) to qualify.Read More
Brad Friedel, Wednesday, July 11, 2012
We'll welcome any good addition to the squad. When I first signed here there was no secret that at some stage Tottenham Hotspur would need a long term number one goal keeper. I'm 41 years old. This could be my final season. I'm here and I'm contracted to the football club and I'll do whatever is asked of me. Whether that's a number 1, a number 2, a number 3...I'll do it to the best of my ability. It's easier as you get older to realise it but this is a team sport and the ego's have to take a back seat if you want to be successful
Sharing this quote from pre-season as it's fair to say some people have forgotten all about it. I've seen some supporters on social media discuss how Lloris only started this past weekend because of 'board pressure' along with France playing and how it would cause issues with Andre Villas-Boas if the French number one wasn't involved at club level. So it's unlikely that the coach picks the team based on fixtures and tactics and that the decisions on player selection is conducted by directors and people outside of Spurs that have no influence or direct relationship with the club. Nothing it seems is ever conducted as normal routine, there is always a conspiracy sitting in its shadow.
Stranger than fiction?
Tottenham 2 Villa 0
Still not completely convincing at home. Lacking that ruthless killer instinct. One or two players struggling with their form. Other's still settling. Other's forming new on field relationships. Pre-match I wanted to see:
- More than just 45 minutes of dominance, fluidity from start to finish.
- Boss midfield and tempo with aggression and pace.
- Clinical in front of goal.
- No late goals conceded.
- Comfortable win.
- Noisy happy atmosphere.
We sort of got some of the above, in pockets, more so in second half than in the first – including a moment or two where the opposition might have punished us, but thankfully, they too lacked that killer touch. Yet, even as this team builds momentum and team unity, even with new players still looking to find their groove in Lilywhite, we still find ourselves sitting in 5th spot with four consecutive league wins and unbeaten in nine games. Momentum breeds confidence and confidence breeds style. All in good time. Considering we lost two key players (Luka and Rafa) in the summer along with an injury to another (Parker) and the retirement of Ledley plus an overhaul of coaching and training...if this is a transitional period, it's hardly traumatic. Andre Villas-Boas inherited a side in a state of flux. We are hardly the sitting ducks some expected (prayed for) in the aftermath of the summer.
Sure, okay, no problem...I agree (how can I not?) that the swagger isn’t quite free-flowing at the Lane. Would be naive to expect a new coach to implement new ideas as casually and easily as flicking a switch on. We look better, more fluid, away from home at the moment but the signs are there that improvements will be made which should have a more positive effect on how we set up at the Lane. It’s one thing being a side that attacks attacks attacks but if there is no added dimension to our play, no adaptability – then we’ll get unstuck against more clued up opponents. However, the drawback at the moment is that as we look to progress we might get unstuck by virtue of the problems that exist, the ones we’re trying to iron out.
Say, for example, sitting too deep at 1-0 or not taking our chances early in the game. Then again, as good as we were at full pelt last season at home there were plenty of games where for all our intent we failed to break down teams. Looks like we’re worked through our early season issues (WBA, Norwich) already but the real test will come when a far stronger side visits.
What did we learn with the 2-0 against Villa?
Sandro and Dembele are forming a robust partnership in the centre of midfield. The Belgian completing 77 passes from 79 and was never dispossessed and aided the powerful push forwards in the second half. Such a great mix of abilities and with Parker out, Sandro is able to graft his way towards making the position his own. Dembele is quality and players like that won't struggle to settle if they have the confidence to play thanks to their team mates effort and work rate. Can't wait to see the immensity of their partnership 20 games into the season.
Special extra mention: Sandro and the 720 degree turn. He's a mentalist.
Vertonghen is superb. So vital we have players in key positions that are world class. There, I said it. I'm not ashamed. He's a centre-back that looks equally comfortably at left-back and attacks as well ad he defends. Oozes confidence and leadership. Caulker's eduction by the side of both Jan and Gallas, better spent with us than out on loan. The youth of Spurs are being coached and selected. No favouritism. If you're good enough, you're in. Mature beyond his years but then we caught a glimpse of that when he was at Swansea. Talking of maturity, Gallas, on the quiet, getting the job done and continuing to prove many of us (including me) wrong. Still has it. We look strong at the back, more so when the injured return to full fitness.
Dempsey is still bedding in (much like Siggy is) – when both find their place in the team then both will give us that extra bit of oomph in midfield that we lost when van der Vaart returned to Germany. Dempsey scored a bundle for Fulham. Siggy equally effective for Swansea. Both, thus far, bit part players trying to work into the system. The American currently ahead in selection.
Adebayor’s return is massive for us. Holds up the ball, retains it well, allowing the midfielders to press forward and his link up play is far superior to what Defoe can offer. It’s part of his natural game. Hoping he gets in amongst it with the goals once he starts to play regularly.
Hugo Lloris proved why he’s got so much more than Brad Friedel between the sticks in terms of this being a team game. His distribution and his communication is vital to improving the way we defend, acting as both keeper and sweeper. He did make one mistake that went unpunished. Still, a clean sheet. Ta muchly. Brad, the model professional all smiles on the bench (unless Friedel was not actually at the game and Spurs were using 'tupac' holographic technology to show us a smiling Brad to aid with disguising the turmoil in the dressing room). Another feature of Hugo is the way he sees danger and seeks to throw himself onto the grenade. Love the way he reads the game so well and dashes out to tackle/win the ball. Also – 67% passing rate (Brad has 18% average).
We accepted the slice of luck to go 1-0 up and that was enough of a breakthrough to set us on our way for a far more comfortable second half. Although Villa had a moment or two (one shot straight at Lloris and the other, the aforementioned mistake from the keeper that thankfully saw Benteke’s header go wide). A reminder of those problems that need ironing out.
Walker is still struggling. I don’t get why some are so keen to dismiss him because he's currently detached from solid consistent form. He’s a young lad, he had a fantastic season last time out. I don’t know what the reason is behind his erratic displays but much like the team as a whole struggled, we need to be supportive.
Might be in need of some rotation/rest/competition once Naughton is available for selection again. We all know he needs to work and develop his positioning and defending. He's got all the right qualities for AVB's tactics. We just need to make sure he's focused and disciplined. Maybe he does need that rest. But there's no doubt he needs to understand he's a defender and usually defenders need to defend. Rest aside, the coaches need to nurture the raw talent. I guess some will still slag him off or not open their eyes to the long play much like they were all too eager to see Bale go off on loan to Forest.
Lennon's goal was great. Sandro, Dempsey involved, lovely finish from Azza. As for the first, Defoe cleverly aiming for Caulker to purposely deflect the shot in to beat the keeper. As for Gareth Bale. Solid performance without being outstanding but the 'dive' deserves its own article. Will share soon.
No sitting too deep second half with positive attack minded substitutions.
Villa were not very good. Did well in the first half to nullify us (although we still crafted chances of promise). But our first half misgivings had plenty to do with untidy passing and decision making and lack of tempo and composure. Too anxious perhaps? Trying too hard to force the issue rather than dismantling the opposing side with cool, calculated movement. We still looked solid and we improved and in the end the visitors had very little to show for it. A better striker up front for them and perhaps the game would have played out differently.
We could have made more of it after they went down to 10 men, but failed to find a third goal. Woodwork making sure of it.
Good work going into the international break. We still look like a side playing at around 60% - 70% of our true potential. The trick is that we retain that winning momentum when we’re not firing on all cylinders, whilst aiming for 80% +. Once the spine of the team is settled and we’re more fluid in movement and intensity, then we’ll be standing on that next level of performance. Once on that level, I’d expect us to be far more dominant and bullish at home. It still has that ominoius feeling that its a bit to much of a graft to earn the points. But then that's hardly a bad thing. We're still winning, still finding a way through. The progression of Andre Villas-Boas Tottenham continues.
Special mention again to Brad Friedel and 320 consecutive games played in the Premier League. Phenomenal. Also worth noting (again), seven played with fourteen points. One defeat. Nine games unbeaten all comps.
Blimey. That (deadline day) was just a little exciting. So okay, Jim White once more failed to explode on live television and Moutinho failed to materialise in the end, but all things considering, it’s been a good window. No doubt perception of what defines good will differ amongst the majority, splintering into a variety of groups ranging from the happy to the content to the disappointed. Review time.
Joào Moutinho was a vital ingredient to the plan. I firmly believe he’s the key to ‘replacing’ the departed Luka Modric in terms of midfield creativity, an outlet of control for a system that will be based on fluidity, pace and strength. Long term, we’ll have to revisit this particular deal. Sounds like we worked until the bitter end to get it done, so the fact it didn't happen does make me feel empty. Four months we'll have to wait so the hope is we start up on the 1st of January and not on the last day. As for Dempsey he's a fantastic addition to the squad. Not comparable, the two of them. The latter is versatile and scores goals. Not quite as creative as Rafa van der Vaart but fitter and a better fit into VB’s plans.
So why wasn’t the attempt to sign Moutinho kick-started earlier?
I don’t know. There’s no definitive answer unless you work alongside Levy. Some will blame the chairman for brinkmanship and others will point to the culture of transfer negotiations, with clubs (selling clubs) also waiting until the last minute to do business in order to pressure the interested party into paying over the odds. Seems a couple of chairman in this window have had their egos bruised by little Daniel. It might have been down to the player wanting the ilk of wages we simply cannot afford. With regards to Lyon and the hissy fit thrown by them in the aftermath of the transfer of Lloris to Spurs, one or two seem to point and shout at Levy for taking massive risks, changing his mind and playing games. But that’s how he operates. He's always operated like this. It's not going to change. In the end the fee and personal terms might have been agreed. The third-party ownership of the player the stumbling block.
The player (Lloris) signed in the end and probably signed for the fee we were willing and happy to spend on him. Levy does what he does for a reason. We want it to be purely about the football but he’s a business man, the money spent is an investment in the club which is part of ENIC’s investment. It’s why he’s so shrewd and perhaps sometimes willing to sacrifice for the sake of making a stand or refusing to be bullied or paying a penny more. Doesn’t always work. But he’s been relatively successful in this window, probably because he’s able to work with a manager who has a clear strategy in what is required.
Hate to say this, but if we had CL, some of our other targets (strikers included) might have been easier to sign as well. We’re aiming high. Too high perhaps. In fact so high that our backup plan for a striker was Remy, and that failed to get past agreeing a fee. Leandro, Llorente...perhaps not possible now for several reasons but possible in the future. Although I’ll like to point out (before you do) that both links have been ever present for the past few windows and nothing has happened. Not sure we’ve ever really bid for Llorente. If we’ve got our hearts set on someone and it’s for £20M or so then maybe we won’t want to spend that amount on someone we don’t really want. I don’t know, I’m trying to rationalise again on this. Spoke about this in my last blog about our summer targets and it does seem that wages + lack of Champions League is holding us back. What is frustrating is how there’s no apparent cheaper options out there. But then would you be happy with one?
Might not be as bad as it looks here (with Adebayor, Defoe). Dempsey can play in forward positions. Only need one up front, midfield/flanks will be important in how we attack and create. We’ll have to use width to compensate for lack of deep-lying movement from central positions. Midfield currently more robust and direct than reliant on scheming and ghosting. For now anyway.
Replacing Modric was never going to be easy. Catch 22. Sell Luka early in the window, get less money, then perhaps struggle to attain targets or sell him late on and give yourself less time to sign replacement. Then again, ground work would have been worked on throughout the summer. Some of the complexities of transfers breaking down are not always discussed in the public domain because we’re not privy to the details. Although the Porto chairman is also having a dig at Levy and his negotiations. Again, it's funny ha-ha how some are quick to just lay the blame on someone representing THFC.
Key player movement (or lack of) + reminders
Lloris in will have Villas-Boas smiling. Sweeper-keeper. I actually gave up on this one happening until the new year so the fact we went back in to negotiate shows us how important a player he is to aid the new template of player positioning, starting with man between the sticks. Upper body strength will need to be worked on.
Moutinho. The one that got away. I'm fixated on this. We’ve relied heavily on a play maker. Modric was special. Moutinho also has that edge, able to defend but also craft and create and attack the box. The player wants to leave Porto. We all thought he would if Hulk failed to move on. Neither have departed. Yet. Hoping this will be resurrected in four months time. We’ll have to sit back and watch how the side will set out to retain possession and attack from deep/counter attack. Either we’ll compensate or Villas-Boas has plans to mould Dembele into an emergency ‘playmaker’.
Talking of which, Dembele is a steal. Quality player who has gone from strength to strength under Jol at Fulham. He’s not in the same class at Luka and it’s unwise to expect the same type of movement and play from him but he brings something different. Dynamic, beastly, box to box. Strength and skill.
Dempsey might be perceived us some as a fall back plan but let’s think of this without the pressures of alternative signings. He’s Prem experienced. He’s cut throat in front of goal and scores a fair few. He can play in midfield, on the flanks and up front. He scores goals <-- hello. I mentioned that already but it’s worth repeating. If Bale steps up this season and improves his tally then playing with one striker might not impact us if the midfield are sharing the load. Rafa got a fair few for us in the past two seasons. We need to retain or improve on that form. Also, he’s another strong player. We’re turning into a very mobile, versatile side (on paper).
Remy was the player we got linked to a few times and had bids rejected for. I think at one point we were balls deep, but it didn’t happen. He’s not in the same class as some of our other prospective signings but then the other ones are Llorente and Leandro, to name just a couple. What player would sit in the tier below Remy? Seems our quest here for an out and out striker (which ironically is not what Remy is) will continue into yet another window.
Jenas. Turned down a move to Sunderland. Still with us. I guess along with Huddlestone (who doesn’t appear to fit into the mobile fit that VB is aiming for) we have a fair few options to cover us for the cup games. Midfield is looking very busy. What will be of interest here is how VB handles squad rotation. Redknapp didn’t. Our benchers we’re exactly that. Afterthoughts. Never called upon to do a job and when they were, they struggled.
dos santos has finally gone. I’m sure he’ll look good in La Liga. He looks good in anything other than a Lilywhite shirt.
Rose to Sunderland will allow him to develop and for us to see if he will ever get to the required level to return and play for us.
Kane to Norwich. As above. We'll see how he does coming up against Prem opposition from one week to the next.
Bentley hasn’t gone anywhere. It staggers me how his career has just disappeared like a ball landing in a skip with noone willing to recover from all the rubbish. Haven’t got a clue what kind of shape he’s in, physically or mentally. Would love for him to come good but not sure how he’ll fit into the team as he has no pace.
Gomes not moving on is surprising. Thought someone might come in for him. Seems to be a millions light years away from the first team.
Kaboul out for four months. So Dawson stays. Caulker is willing and able so centre-back wise we’re doing fine. Full-backs? Let’s hope for no injuries or loss of form.
Easy to forget Bale signed a new contract. His progression and new improve instructions on the left (and when to roam) in the hands of the coach. Could bring a completely new dimension to the side (or an old and working one if he stays on the flank).
Defoe’s contract is business, IMO. Say for example, we sign Leandro in January, we get to sell JD for extra pennies in the same window. Can't see him being anything more than an impact sub as he lacks the movement and patience to truly lead the line on his own.
Kranjcar, Corluka, Pienaar, Bassong also shifted on earlier in the window along with short-term players Saha and Nelsen and other lesser squad members with very little impact to our plans. None of them close to first team action.
Not too shabby for a team punching above its weight financially, signing (some) players good enough for CL and retaining strength in squad. Best to remember how far away we are from the likes of Man City and Chelsea in terms of finances and yet how close we are on the pitch. And without CL it makes it doubly hard to compete for certain signatures. Levy has shown he can work with the coach – although not disputing some of his methods and ideology isn’t always agreeable with some quarters. But then in a modern game plighted by over-spending, we continue to compete and plan for the future.
We've got better depth in squad but perhaps not quite a better first team although it’s unfair to discuss this until after we start winning games and seeing a visible distinction between this side and last seasons.
Also, some of the changes made were simply impossible to avoid. Ledley King retiring and Luka Modric wanting out. Selling Rafa van der Vaart is one of sadness, but sentiments aside, he was continually subbed off last season. Not fit enough under Redknapp so not a chance he could fit into VB’s plans. Not just about the fitness, but his style would see him relegated to the bench and Rafa is not productive out on the wings and shouldn't be wasted on the bench. A brilliant player, one that truly galvanised us. Had a winners mentality and will never be forgotten for his form against the scum. Was one of my favourite players before he signed for us, had to pinch myself when he did. Good luck back in Germany. I’ll be keen to see how often he plays and how many games he finishes on the pitch.
We’ve made more in transfers out then spent on transfers in. That will no doubt turn the chairman on. I’m fairly excited myself. But more so in getting behind the team (easy tiger) and watching us gradually transform into a new variant one that hopefully retains the beautiful football of recent years but with more guile and mental strength.
Levy might not be everyone's cup of tea and his ideas of what is best for the club differs from some of ours but by doing the best for himself he does actually do quite well for the club in the end. Opposing chairman crying their eyes out? Bless them. They probably expect to push us over and don't like it when they come up against someone that bites back. All fair in love and war. The work now shifts from boardroom to training pitch and the league.
A very good window. It could have been majestic with Joào. I will ignore the scenario that would play out if Adebayor picked up an injury. For now.