68 games and counting...
Utd 2 Spurs 0
I wont be mentioning that goal.
In the grand scheme of things, another loss at Old Trafford probably doesn't change anything. In fact, from a psychological perspective, it probably didn't even hurt our players - who displayed more oomph in complaining at the death of the game than across the whole limp ninety minutes.
It was a performance that lacked spark, ideas and cutting edge in the final third. There just wasn't enough there to carve out enough chances to stake a claim on the three points.
Far too many under-whelming Lilywhites, under-par and from the looks of it under the big bruising thumb of United. Again.
The Manc side were not exceptional in any great way. Efficient. And focused. But not beyond the realms of defeat. They could have been got at if we had some of that long lost intensity and desire. But I guess if you can't pluck up the courage, you're still a level away looking up at them rather than fighting to compete.
Ignoring certain old skool inclusions in the side and missing players - we still had enough about us to give it decent go. We saw evidence of growth and evolution last season - even with injuries and tinkering. What I don't like is this almost defeatist attitude in the manner of our play, as if this game did not warrant that extra lung-busting will to better the opposition.
If the gaffer drills it into the player in the week leading up - this game is a must win game - then we'd have had a right go at them. I don't believe this is as good as we can get when facing a not that scary United side.
Dare I mention Tuesday and Inter. It looked like their minds were on this game and not on the one playing out at OT.
We played some good football, there was some decent movement, but nothing that made me believe we would score or win. Their first goal was thanks to some non-existent defending. Kaboul poor for giving away the free-kick and then losing his marker. He's not a centre-back.
At half-time you'd still have believed something might give, if we stepped up the pace. But we kept stalling the car. Failing to turn the keys, but then why bother turning them when the tank is empty? Long walk home it is then.
Tottenham, I'm afraid, simply did not want it as much as they could have wanted it, considering that a win would have meant far more than a win on Tuesday (because the game on Tuesday is not a decider, the ones against the Dutch and German clubs are).
Beating United at OT would have been far more significant.
Still, perhaps the selection wasn't the best for the occasion.
Keane, wasn't that great, but then did okay for someone playing in a position which was slightly isolated and as he didn't come deep too often to collect the ball, his performance looked worse than it did. But still, you have to accept his time is over. He just hasn't got the mojo.
Jenas played the ball forward once or twice, which for him is rare positivity. But he's not strong enough in mind and spirit to make us stronger. Our midfield was brushed past too often.
Both are not first-team players and it showed why.
As for the rest? Some mentions:
Hutton is detrimental to Lennon. The more the Scotsman got forward the less Lennon impacted the game. Azza did have a good first 45 until Hutton decided to take over the offensive duties.
Modric faded a little in the second half, but although he was busy dinking around the pitch, it's still far from vintage.
vdV was superb in the first half not so superb in the second and I'm hoping the hamstring injury was exaggerated a little, only in the sense that now we've lost, he can be fit for Inter. Cracking effort off the woodwork.
Did Bale get his beach holiday or not? Very quiet evening for him.
I find myself slapping my face with this one, but Roman improved us when he was subbed on.
As much as I do agree a new forward and another midfielder/defender might elevate us further, there has to be a change, another evolution, in terms of priority and focus with these games.
It felt far too ominous for me early on. It's tiresome now Spurs. Let's stop playing for DVD's in Europe and start playing for morale boosting points in the Prem.
Tactically, it didn't work. We had no apparent plan. We need to smarten up for these types of fixtures once and for all. I keep calling for us to up the tempo like we've done against Chelsea at home in recent seasons or play smart football like we did against Arsenal at the Lane last time out when we let them play pretty football which amounted to pretty much nothing then hit them hard twice.
Best post over on GG was the statement that went something like 'f*ck attempting to play free-flowing footie, just do a Stoke on them'. The idea here is to get in their faces, push and hassle and do the utmost to stop them playing. Play ugly and win. Just to get out of our systems. Just to edge that psychological barrier closer for us to jump over. I'm not someone who would usually suggest that and if I'm honest, I want Tottenham football the way it should be played, but it's time we took a leaf out of the United way and recycled our possession and made opportunities count.
Be relentlessness and punish. Of course, perhaps the reason why we can't always manage this and never seem to be able to do so away to these teams is because we don't quite have what's required on the pitch. And perhaps on the bench in terms of management. No knee-jerk here, just that at some point we have to show some b*llocks and stand tall.
So to conclude from an overall perspective taking everything into account, at the minute, 4th spot is as good as it will get which means we need to start to better Man City's results and make sure Everton and friends do not fly past us.
The battle for fourth is on. We can review again after Christmas and the closure (after the re-opening) of the transfer window and decide then if there's anything more to be had.
I'll leave you with the billion dollar question: How do we improve our mentality?
In the meantime, COYS.