Is it safe to come out now? Everyone recovered from the debacle at Blackpool? No irony lost on me as I was ravaged and harassed much like our backline was. Rather illness than DJ Campbell witnessed me waste away (I lost 7 pounds). Offside indeed. Arguably a more damaging week for Spurs losing three points that cannot be recovered. I can at least eat a couple of doner kebabs and apply the lost weight in ample time.
What lessons can we take from the defeat? Other than the routine complaints that our forwards are not up to scratch?
1) Our forwards are not up to scratch.
2) Aided by the naivety of pushing forwards in numbers and allowing us to be punished on the counter.
On another day we might have scored a bundle. Oh for that other day.
JD hasn’t been on form for what seems like forever. Perhaps since the 9-1. Injuries aside, he has now taken an almost Pavlyuchenkoesque aura with his under-performing.
“He’s only just back in the side”
“Needs to rediscover his touch”
“Trying too hard”
“Thinking too much instead of being instinctive”
“Lashing it when he should place it, placing it when he should be lashing it”
In his defence some of his performances have been selfless in terms of sacrificing traditional goal-hanging virtues for more workman like defensive-forward qualities with JD running back into midfield, working the channels and generally doing all the donkey work with movement and pulling defenders away that many would over look because there’s no glam or end product. In these games you could also look towards the lack of creativity in supplying options to the forwards to strike at goal.
Such is the complexities of the current Spurs side that we’re almost performing to paradoxical levels week in week out.
We have spirit and guile and tenacity and most importantly we have team unity and belief (well, apart from Alan Hutton who is apparently in Goa with some old bloke with a white beard claiming to be Lord Lucan). We also have genuine balls deep world class players. In fact, in some ways we have the ilk of player(s) that transcends the accepted quality we usually enjoy at the Lane. We have players who are wonderfully talented as individuals but work majestically well as part of the team – with no determent for their inclusion. The paradox is, us sitting in fourth, could have been third, with hardly a reliable forward to be found. Ours can be easily located in Dubai.
I’d say ‘Crouch’ but I’d be shot down for mouthing it. But at least he tucks into his continentals whilst others choke on their full English. Although, I guess, he also chokes on his English. All a bit over-cooked then.
The only consistency has been the excuses we’ve all discussed post-match as reasons for our failures to see our midfield and attack combine to score goals (rather than goals being scored from midfield).
Apparently, it’s because of van der Vaart. When he plays everything goes through him (via Luka). Hence why it works with Crouch up top as a foil to the movement and endeavour of the Dutch maestro. If he’s missing, we fall back to a more traditional 442 set up. And we make hard work of it when we do. For example, the 3-1 loss to the Tangerines.
It’s pretty obvious stuff. We need something, someone special at Spurs. A player at the same level of a Modric or a van der Vaart. A forward, robust and intelligent who can play it on the ground and isn’t too shabby in the air. Some who can also link up play and allow others to flourish. Equally so, if there is no Drogba out there available then all we need to do is find a Lineker. No wonder we fail at each transfer window, eh?
Nothing new here, hardly a revelation. But all is not lost.
The paradox still has us in the top four with only a couple of recent gut wrenching defeats in the league that have seen us falter.
We have a striker who doesn’t score much, other than in Europe, but does assist.
We have a striker who has forgotten how to score.
We have a striker who seems to perform better as an impact player and can finish the ridiculously sublime but not the ordinary.
In fact, all three of our forwards are probably more suited as Plan B’s from the bench. But we still have to make do with what we have. We have no choice. Nothing we can do about wishful potential signings either. Whether it’s one up front or two, we’ve only got three to choose from.
I know that it’s all very dependent on the availability of vdV in how we line-up and from one game to the next and Harry likes to swap and change, but it’s time now to stick and pray. I don’t just mean with the forwards, but in other areas.
We need cohesiveness from one game to the next. Play the best players in their best positions and if they’re on-form let them retain their place. Sure, tactical reshuffles are a necessity for certain games (Milan) but if we want the midfield to link up with our rouge strike-force then a particular line-up needs to retain its shape. Appreciate squad rotation for freshness and injured players has to be accounted for. But sometimes I don't grasp the reasons for the shuffles. But then I'm just a fan not a coach.
It’s not ideal all this. If you have an in-form striker, someone you have faith in who you can stick up front and you know he’ll give you not just 100% but a little bit of composure too...you wouldn’t complain. Even the best have off days and you’d accept that. What’s frustrating is we’ve seen little in the way of movement in terms of improvements from any of our players other than say Crouch who does impress in those European one-offs.
Pav has never been in the zone. Always fleeting on the edge.
Defoe is a confidence player, scores in bursts, and when he doesn’t is maligned for offering little else.
Crouch is hardly prolific, great foil for vdV or an in form Defoe. But can’t be relied on to notch up the goals.
You can’t be too shocked that were not producing the goods. But even with this motley crue, we’re still someone how in the hunt. Thanks to the strengths of our midfield and the fact that we don’t actually lose that many, so our defence must be doing equally good. That’s the defence that also never remains the same from one week to the next.
We need to be better to consolidate. We have to in order to remain in the fight. To suggest we can’t is the type of pessimistic hoodoo we can do without. Last season we had key midfielders missing. We got on with it.
We’re stuck with the intangible again. So based on blind faith I’m placing hope on our trequartista threesome simply because...we have absolutely nothing else to place our hopes on.
Zonal marking, eat your heart out.
Anyone for a t-shirt?
Entrepreneurial webcomic illustrator/blogger/founder of the Studs Up empire (and all round nice guy) Chris Toy has followed up from his simplistically joyful football culture tee ‘2 points, 8 games, 1 hero’ and ‘Taxi for Maicon’ shirts with another essential must-have.
You know you want to.