5 games in and already whispers of 'crisis talks' are doing the rounds. I don't tend to believe such things, simply because I'm sure the chairman meets his manager on regular occasions, and in this case what exactly can he complain about considering the mis-management of the summer transfer dealings?
Why are results so poor?
Why are our new players not settled?
Why isn't the team playing a cohesive brand of football?
Why aren't we scoring any goals?
Why aren't we in the Top 4?
Now, the anti-Ramos amongst you might suggest that our form in the Prem since he took over has been anything but spectacular - even with Berba and Keane in the side (towards the backend of last season).
Regardless, taking this season into account only - most of the above 5 questions can be linked to the fact that we simply did not prepare for the start of this season in the right manner. I'm talking about dithering with signings. It's been mentioned before, so I won't go back over the mistakes made. Not in great detail that is.
Ramos does however need to get the best out of what he has, unless of course, he can't be arsed. But other than media rumours (all denied) there isn't much to go on other than maybe Poyet's dejected face in post-match interviews.
The players need to step up with the effort, regardless of selection. But selecting the right balance would also be a welcoming addition to our climbing the table. 'An understand' is required for any set of 11 players out on the field, to function in the right manner. Football 101 people.
A crisis talk at this stage is unlikely. Re-visit this after the Carling Cup game against Newcastle and the UEFA Cup match, with Pompey sandwiched between.
Lose all three, then media pressure along with supporter outbursts, might get trigger-happy Levy all guns blazing or see Ramos leave yet another club behind due to lack of botheredness.
For once, I'd like to see the trend bucked. Just like Utd did with Fergie. Not that I'm suggesting for a minute we have the basis for future dominance. Two wins on the trot is the only kind of achievement I'm gagging for at the minute.
As for the those questions -
1. Why are results so poor?
Results are poor, but we haven't been thrashed or out-played off the park, we've just been mediocre to the extreme. Not creating enough chances to worry the opposition which means the opposition only need a couple of decent efforts to notch up a win. Confidence has played a part, or lack of. Fundamentally, results are poor because the team is not playing like a team. Probably the only side in the Prem that has no cohesive style of play or balance backbone.
That's actually both embrassing and worrying. Regardless of the cock-up seeing us sign no class DM, if the player we have bought have come in to do a job, then the job has been left undone.
Too many luxary Rolls-Royce textbook Spurs signings. No hard grafters, to plug the holes.
Levy/Comolli are to blame. But then it's difficult to say blame also doesn't sit with Ramos. How much say he has in the signings (he is meant to have a big say, as Levy stated that the DoF works with the coach to sign players). So either Ramos was happy with the dealings come end of transfer - or he was not. If he was not, then that's going to affect our on-field performances. It's not too diffcult to state this considering our results. Ramos is chopping and changing far too much.
Is this meant to be another transitional season? If so, then enough with the 'we can finish in the top 4' - when clearly getting out of the bottom 4 is proving more difficult than some would think.
Regarding the transfer policy - it's possible the players Ramos wants, which Comolli attempted to sign, are unavailable or still 'on the cards'. Regardless, there is such a thing as 'secondary' targets. I refuse to believe that there is a lack of quality - as Levy suggested. If these guys are working hard to bring in the players - they are not working hard enough.
2. Why are our new players not settled?
Bentley - Played out of position. Therefore, uncomfortable and trying way to hard to impress, resulting in woeful 'never beat the first man' corners and set-pieces.
Modric - The 'too lightweight' for the Prem is a fallacy. He can handle himself just fine. But obviously needs time to adjust, like many players do. Not everyone settles in their first game or two. Those that do, do so because the team they are in is brimming with confidence. Modric is playing in a midfield with no support. He is doing work he should not be doing. His task should be to create, run the show. But with such a disjointed middle four, he is lost amongst the confusion. This is where a true DM would have helped the lad settle into the team. It's not been a great start. But blaming him is pathetic. Remember the abuse Carrick got? Its deja vu.
Gio - A young lad, more an impact sub at the moment. Can't be critical of him at all at the moment. He isn't the finished article by a longshot, but once (if) the team start to play with style then he will flourish, much like Lennon did in the '06 Season.
Ramos has to be responsible with this side of things. The Bentley situation is not a good one. Gomes is fine, clanger or no clanger. Corluka looks a safe bet alongside Woodgate.
3. Why isn't the team playing a cohesive brand of football?
When the summer began, you had the feeling that when Chimbonda, Steed, TT and Kaboul all left - we would be replacing the lot of them with 'squad' players, to make sure we had a squad of depth (to allow for injuries and competition). But now you wonder why we let the likes of Steed especially (our hardest worker last season) go so easily. When all this has achieved is a negative impact.
But depth of squad aside, selection wise - thing's are simply not great. If the midfield doesn't work then there is simply no pattern of play that allows players to settle into a rhythm. The front one (or two if Bent starts with Pav) is lacking understanding - which is, well, understandable. Losing Berbatov and Keane (how many times has this been mentioned now?) has impacted us greatly. So, instead of drying those tearful eyes, we seem to be unprepared for each game. There is no spark to ignite or inspire. With those two former players (Keane coming deep, Berbatov creating) there was a style of play that allowed all the players to take their roles within the team and push forward with meaning.
Now, we have two players upfront who have no support. A midfield with a poor excuse for a DM and no consistent attacking/creative option (apart from Lennon, if he starts). So all the defence can do is defend, and they don't do that especially great.
Every club has the balance, even if they are shit, they have the players in the positions the team needs to allow them to function. Some function ok, others well and others on a different level altogether - mainly because of the players they have selected. We just have a group of players, who look like they have all turned up for the first time at Hackney Marshes for a kick-around.
The irony is, the players who have left, have been 'replaced' by better quality. At least, you would think that on paper.
Again, shame on Comolli and Levy for their transfer 'mare. But Ramos must know his squads strengths and play to them. I'm glad to see O'Hara in the team. Might not be great by any means, but he has bite and energy. Lennon has to start, ahead of Bentley. If Modric comes back into the team, then Ramos has to decide who will protect him and do the midfield donkey work - but even more important is that the midfield must chase all the balls, close down the oppposition and work for each other. Modric, Lennon, Gio etc can then work towards supporting the front two players.
But all this is obvious, no? Surely the manager can see this?
Most important, due to the predicament, is the three points, no matter how. Spirit and urgency, and a bit of luck - and then consistency with the team selection to allow for that fabled 'gel factor' as the team 'get to know each other better' and begin to take shape as a unit.
We can then hopefully look to next season for that push for '4th spot' (top end of table). Unless Hutton and Bale get sold to Man Utd and Jenas finally makes that move to Real Madrid.
4. Why aren't we scoring any goals?
Same as above really, re: Decimation of the front two. Still, if you spend practically £30M on two forward players, you'd think they would develop a decent understanding sooner rather than later. But, as above, the midfield have to chip in with creating openings. And thus far, there has been very little going on.
It's all linked. Team selection> team structure > midfield balance > working partnership upfront.
5. Why aren't we in the Top 4?
What, bottom 4 isn't good enough for you? It's still got the number '4' in it.
All this talk of 'top 4' is media hype, not helped by the players and management. It's not really an expectation from the fans. It was under Jol in the first of our two 5th placements. Because we sat in that position for 4 months. But this season, even with the positivity we all had, nobody felt it was going to happen. 5th spot, yes - of course, why not. Historically, the clubs who battle for this place changes every season. Like it will do this year. And again next year. Its a cert. Spurs though - on paper - are always made fav's. Although Man City will most definetley take that honour going forward. And Villa, for their steady progress.
Levy - like any other ambitious chairman - will have 'top 4' as the mission to be accomplished. But making it a reality is something else. And making the same errors each summer will do nothing to progress the team.
We should be 4th or thereabouts had we started well (based on a dream I had). We could have had 12 or so points had we swaggered from the start.
Boro away, winnable - but tradtionally a draw.
Sunderland home, - win.
Chelsea away, - draw.
Villa home, - draw or win (based on previous seasons).
Wigan home, - win.
11 points. But that's based on the expectations relating to money spent. The team has deserved NOTHING on performance. All this 'they gave everything' sounds more like 'we don't know what's wrong and we can't stop the rot'. It's scary if you spend some time thinking about it.
We haven't swaggered since the 5-1 against Arsenal, and the Cup Final. A cameo here and there since. But nothing else. Levy has to sit back, supporting Ramos and Poyet in private, and let the two of them do what they have to do to get us up and running. Comolli has to allow Ramos to make suggestions for the Jan window (how bad is that, season under way and we are having to think about bolstering our team already). And as for the fans, more of the 'We are Tottenham' than the dismay and groaning at mis-placed passes.
Tomorrow, the circus is in town. Visiting the local circus. Clowns taking centre stage. Yes, it's Newcastle away, defending the Cup we won so brightly last term. Its a must-win....(to follow on from the 'must win' games against Villa and Wigan).
Is this the turning point? I hope so. Because going to Poland to win is going to be hellmouth.
COYS, yeah? Anyone?