Sunderland 0 Spurs 0
I'm fairly certain the reason we lacked any vibrant sharp urgency was because our players were battling narcolepsy having to watch Sunderland that close up. I know I was. I spent most of the game counting sheep. There was no tempo to our play which was a massive shame because had we stepped it up a notch we'd have won this comfortably. Although it would have entailed our players firing rubber bullets to get past Martin O'Neil's ten man demonstration against forward progression.
Still, our passing was sloppy. Even with a whacking 65% possession we failed to test their keeper. Did we fail to break down Sunderland? Yes. Trying to skip around a brick wall rather than attempting to jump it proved futile. Then again we don't have too many that can jump. As for our hosts they were the epitome of anti-football (if you haven't guessed yet).
I called them 'organised' and 'committed' in the match preview. Oh the hilarity of irony. They were defensive and negative and the personification of footballing boredom, drilled for containment with the hope of perhaps getting lucky from a set-piece. No want and desire to make a game of it. Shame on us for failing to snap out of the snooze and slap them down. Up to them how they wish to play (even if IMO a home team should be the one setting the pace of the game rather than camping out in their own half for ninety minutes. Each to their own).
Frustrating that we appeared to hold back. I thought about this earlier. Perhaps that pre-match focus (take one game at a time and treat it as the one that matters most till you get to the next one) failed us. If we did hold back with Norwich and Chelsea in mind when you attempt to understand what that means in a pragmatic sense, you can't. Well I can't. Does playing within yourself mean that exerting to say play a decisive forward pass in an up-tempo patch of football have a knock-on effect for the next game and the one after that? Is it possible for a collective, a unit of players to decide to play at 60% effort and restrain imagination from having the expansiveness of a lucid dream right down to a forgettable day dream?
I've played football. Its been many years now, but on occasions for whatever reason, things just don't work on that day. Whether you're off the pace or lethargic with pass and move, it's all a little clustered and without fluidity across all players in the same jersey. Fluidity is something we've recently rediscovered so perhaps in the back of the players mind a point was enough and that's what ended up playing out. That's a shame because every game should be about the three points. One will have to do this time.
Then again, we probably didn't hold back that much. We just couldn't muster the required craft and guile to trick our way over their brick wall. Being constantly hacked down didn't help with the rhythm either. The stadium extinguished light to darkness.
One to forget.
Danny Blanchflower would have frowned at this.