Inferno

 

It's so much easier to write a match report when Spurs have lost. It's because anger and frustration has far more meat to bite into, chew and spit out. That's not to say it's enjoyable and if I'm perfectly honest I'd much prefer to pour myself another Kracken, finish off a whole pack of Oreos and browse through my collection of Jennifer Lawrence 'the fappening' pics. But I can't. Mainly because this blog has retained an essence of personal therapy for seven or so years and I can't move on until I've got it all out.

There is plenty of blame doing the rounds amongst our fragmented fanbase. Some are blaming the present and the lack of tangible progress in the past four months where only cameos of style have appeared for as long as it takes to walk down a catwalk. Others preferring to cite this transitional lull is simply a new one that follows on from the old one thanks to the ENIC business model that repeats the same mistakes over and over again.

On the one hand we have players struggling to match the mental strength our coach seeks. On the other we have a squad that has been assembled by the chairman and director of football, an inherited mess that Pochettino has a challenge to fix, that goes beyond a handful of league games and long into next season and beyond.

The question, purely from a football perspective is whether he can fix a problem with the players at his disposal. Is nine games really enough to justify blaming him? I hope not. Otherwise that makes us accountable, on par with that repetitive business model of misery we malign ENIC for.

So what of the footballing issues at hand?

There's experienced players lacking inspiration with others still struggling to impose their character and ability. There's no balance, no spirit or guile. There's no leadership either. It's very average, casual and apologetic. But this is part of the learning curve, right? We have to work through this, right? If anything Poch has to work through this to know who is worthy of retaining a shirt. Yes...but at the same time you could argue no.

See the crux of it is, we have slowly - from season to season - found ourselves in this current predicament by a combination of upper mismanagement and chaotic footballing application. This current state of affairs is because of what happened before and although we must focus on the present, the past continues to mock us.

Under Redknapp we should have consolidated. We didn't. We went cheap. Under Villas-Boas we didn't look to sign the players he wanted and the second-choices (be it his own, sanctioned or otherwise) were simply not the correct purchases. Then the Gareth Bale money was spent with complete detachment from reality. Oh sure, I was fooled. We were all fooled (more or less) but equally so knew deep down it might cause a detrimental impact (which it did). Looking back now you wonder just how many were wanted by the coach and how many were bought as the usual investments/assets this club loves to prioritise. Buy the players the coach wants not the players the team requires to fulfil some ilk of profit quota X years later.

Redknapp's team played with swagger but couldn't think their way out of a tactical paper-bag. AVB's team was obsessively committed to holding onto the ball, so much so, we couldn't let it go and when we did we didn't know what to do with it. His stubbornness also the downfall for a formation where the selection did not align with his Powerpoint slides. The players signed did not fit his system or any given one to be fair. Sherwood proved you can get any set of players working together but there has to be depth and substance beyond the basics. So what of Poch?

Forgetting the past (another attempt to do so) and the politics of transfers and sporting directors, we all know what our Argentine coach desires. Our players are not giving much back and to be critical, tactically, sometimes there are question marks with the selection.

Inverted wingers don't work but still we persevere. Do we do so because we don't actually have any traditional wingers? Perhaps. I'm beginning to believe we don't have any traditional defenders, midfielders or strikers either. Sure, maybe Poch should have stuck with Harry Kane (just for consistency) but then he's never stuck with Soldado after he's scored either. Tired post European football? I don't buy it on this occasion. Eric Dier was napping when caught for that ridiculous Newcastle equaliser but he isn't a right-back and the team as a unit were caught out and not just the single player.

We looked to cement the defence in the summer but hardly anyone signed is fancied as a first team regular. Kaboul is our captain and at times it's staggering to think this is what we have left now that Ledley King is a but a memory, ghosting in the aisles at the local Sainsburys.

Maybe I'm being pulled in by the majority and their knee-jerking and I'm expecting too much too soon but still, I expect to see something tangible to make me believe that my faith in some of these players isn't just doomed optimism. It's stop start with us and it's more than just a struggle to retain some cohesiveness. Sometimes the effort is embarrassing. Is that because of the instructions or because this collection of hugely expensive signings are just not very good? Bit of both but for me it's the spine of the team that makes us look like like jelly rather than steel.

Commanding centre-back. MIA. Midfield conductor of recycling the ball (currently at Real Madrid). Game-changer and provider of width and dynamism (currently at Real Madrid). Goal-getter (perpetually in flux).

Effort, guile, pride in the shirt - we are missing these qualities. Fundamental building blocks for any team wishing to compete in a game. The passing was untidy. There was a lack of chances crafted, the ones we did were not taken. The defence was poor - although Danny Rose at the very least endeavoured to try. You know think back to Pochettino and his reaction after the 5-1 midweek game and you realise this is a man being tormented by the same group that torments us.

Even after a first half that saw us relatively boss it without having to do much, we didn't capitalise before the break. Eriksen and Chadli both had chances. The latter was more trout than dolphin, opting to hit first time rather than control and place. No smoothness to it. The only moment of class came from the feet of Ryan Mason with a lovely cross for Adebayor to head in. Still, a goal and even the misses were fine going into the break. There was no immediate concern.

Out they come for the second half and the attitude from the eager to get the game started Newcastle completely changed the game. It wasn't just the fact they attacked from the kick-off and scored within seconds, it was the manner of our mind-set and the collapse in the aftermath.

A complete mental shutdown.

This game was meant to be a celebration of Bill Nicholson. This was not the Tottenham he knew. Then again we've spent decades attempting to emulate the impossible, which is grand ideology but there was only an echo of despair on show here. Hopefully he wasn't looking down from the heavens on this occasion.

We just collectively gave up.

This single moment of calamity and narcoleptic defending was when the visitors won the game. Their attitude and willingness broke us. We snapped like a twig. No backbone, no guile or tenacity. They're just buzz words right? Yes, but they are describing characteristic elements we lack in abundance.

The second goal was shameful. Hot knife, butter, through it.

Blame the coach or blame the players or blame those responsible for assembling the players?

Or just accept it. Arguably Levy never makes the right appointment. We just get lucky with appointments every so often. So what does it matter? Even if the right man is appointed, he's still up against it.

Poch had a mare too. He's not beyond criticism but be warned - if you look to start pointing your finger at him then others will follow and we'll head towards the usual path that leads us back where we started. If the disgruntlement grows the board and Levy will make a sacrifice. That will only ever be the coach. Then we're back to praying we get lucky again.

I don't buy into the suggestion the tactics are holding the players back. It's hardly the deliberate over disciplined era of AVB. Stand up and be counted.

Am I over-dramatising a touch? Perhaps a touch. We react badly in defeat, all supporters are the same. But having lost to WBA and now Newcastle and with our home form being utterly diabolical for seasons, it could turn poisonous. It's already shifting uncomfortably towards the venomous.

Be upset, frustrated. We are because of our expectations. We want to see players play for Tottenham the same way we would if we could. That won't happen because for the most part they don't care as much as we do. Sherwood was right about one thing, the attitude - the culture of comfort that Michael Carrick once refereed to - it still lingers on. I hear some people got told to shut up when they attempted to applaud on the 61st minute. Others fought in the Park Lane thanks to some unsavoury commentary that other fans took a disliking to. It's not just the football that's turned ugly.

Spurs now have to find a turning point at this early juncture in Poch's tenure at the club. Be it a game or run of games that sees the players lift themselves and the club upwards. It's hardly crisis time. It looks worse than it is considering that we are here right now because of the entirety of last season. It's going to take a lot longer than nine games to cleanse us of our ills.

That missing style and identity might still be a way off but the defeat against Newcastle, the manner it played out was unacceptable. There has to be more than this. Some aggression, fortitude and pride where our players lead by example. It's shocking we lack all of this. If it fails to transpire then we can revisit the capabilities of our coach and look at the chairman once more for his decision making. I hope we don't have to. I hope there is some honesty at play and accountability that allows for that precious and often ignored commodity of time.

Personally, this is where I lack faith. We repeat the same mistakes. The clubs business philosophy and flawed structure does not support the ethics that we are meant to aspire to.

ENIC, Levy...they have always been a constant. You want them to go away, it's going to take more than a few people in the West Stand demonstrating on Wednesday night. For now it has to be about the football and Poch has to somehow get the best out of a squad that is missing the best of what we once had.