I've been away for a couple of days. I won't bore you with the details of 3g/4g woes and lack of internet access (all fixed now) other than to say I spent some time thinking about recent performances and some of my written reactions and thoughts.
I think it's sometimes easy for me to be accused of always attempting to find balance in debate and generally slide towards an apologetic conclusion - we're getting there, it will all be fixed soon etc etc. That's me accusing myself of a crime that's hardly heinous. When you write and put it out there for others to read you can fall into the trap of writing what you think your audience wants to hear or rather seeking to find some equilibrium to safeguard everyone's sanity. Although the audience of this blog tends to be fractured at best when it comes to opinions.
I still believe that. The 'we're getting there' bit.
Currently, regardless of how transitional our football is or how it might be perceived as being impacted by players settling in, there is one important factor missing...
And this unexpected soon becomes an expectancy as part of the teams business as usual functionality (sounds like I'm reading this off a PowerPoint presentation).
What I mean is this:
Imagine this season with Gareth Bale in the side. We'd have won all the games, with a touch more comfort and probably have won the games we didn't win. Probably.
Is that to say that this one individual *is* the team? No. Rather than this one individual completes the team. Lifts the team. Adds that game changing dimension. That X factor, that moment of inspired magic out of nowhere. Be it a pass, a flick of a 30 yarder.
We all knew we'd miss a player of his undoubted ability and influence. We are still pound for pound man for man stronger now than we were last season. That game-changing element is meant to be owned by more than a single player. The teams strength is meant to be as this single unit. It's working at times, but there's just no rabbit being pulled out of a hat. Not yet.
I'm not going to ignore the team spirit/moral and all the positives simply because we lost one game (badly). Not going to suggest that this was going to happen because 'we've been punching above our weight' - something I've heard a couple of people suggest. If Spurs supporters we're a comic book character we'd be Harvey Dent, forever flipping that coin up in the air knowing full well it will always drop on the disfigured side.
This isn't a big deal but its the question that when answered opens the door to that next level playing field that we should be playing at, what with our depth and quality possessed since the summer.
I'm also not making this about Gareth Bale or that there's no confidence with one of our current players being able to step up with waving a magic wand. Someone does have to step up. Perhaps that step up won't need to be an individual but instead as that fabled unit.
For that to be achieved Andre Villas-Boas will have to step up...or step it up. I mentioned in the last two articles that we need less of the deliberate and more of that unexpected. I have faith in AVB not because I'm happy clapping my way through all the pockets of negativity that bubble to the surface when something goes wrong but because here is a coach that is completely focused on his set of beliefs and values and learns from his mistakes. Making him (and us) stronger for it.
The reason I still believe that we're on the right path is because Gareth Bale, for the most part, was every bit not deliberate and completely unexpected. Yes, he was a talent, but one that was under developed and almost lost prior to his ascendency. As he grew, physically and mentally, he found his place from left back to left wing. We all know what happened next. More so last season when the lack of consistency up front meant he took the responsibility as a forward, attacking from deep areas and scoring bundles. Giving us that extra dimension, that Plan B.
I'm not sitting back waiting for a player at Spurs to 'break through' with such blockbuster epicness. It's a long process. What I do expect is that the players we do have (some far more accomplished than Bale was before his rebirth) will awaken and take the game by the scruff of the neck. Already we've seen Andros Townsend - a relative child in the modern game - fearlessly attack. He's raw, he's rough round the edges but he's playing with the world at his feet and he's not scared.
His England début was a delight. He's in the Spurs team because he's worked his way into the side and deserves it off the back of his performances. Here's an academy player that is keeping out million-pound super-star signings. An academy player that might retain his place as a first team regular, perhaps in rotation, and that's perfect for us especially with Aaron Lennon on his way back. Giving us competition for the right and options for the left too (considering Lamela is also seeking to settle and work his way into the team).
Someone is going to find their place in the side as that catalyst, as that all important game changer. That something out of nothing player. It's unexpected because you don't ever see it coming. If all our key creative players are on fire then...well, that's the dream I guess. You'd struggle to hang onto something when drowning in your own drool.
I'll be happy with just the one for now, to take the limelight away from the team as a whole - something that I thought I'd never suggest having sold Bale thus making us a far more robust side with no necessity to rely on that single player.
How will it differ this time? When we do have that catalyst step up, the team as a whole will be in a better position to support him and each other than the very one sided affair some of our performances were last season. Bale was expected far too often to spearhead where as this season we need the team to spearhead and one player to provide that rabbit and top hat trick.
We are holding back. Time to let it all go. I understand what AVB has done and that he's seeking to progress with further organisation but there has to be a maverick - be it an individual or in part in style. The conundrum remains the home headache when the counter-attack isn't always effective due to the nature of the away side's defensive strategy (hence the away day joys).
We need to be braver, take a calculated contained risk. A burst of swagger and swashbuckle.
...well, it's not like we're short on potential candidates, are we?
Maybe I'm thinking too much into this, seeing a problem that I've already answered with that aforementioned balance and apologetic conclusions from previous musings. Our sometimes rigid play a consequence of no width on the left, a domino effect that unsettles the shape of the team. But this is what we do as supporters. We micro-analyse.
It's either this or talking about which player has the best thighs.