Paying the penalty, over and over again...
I asked for swagger. What we got in the first forty five minutes was not swagger. It was a hellmouth of atrociousness. No shape, no fluidity, no composure. Granted Bolton are spoilers, a side that will get in your face and stop you from playing, but let's not exaggerate. This is no longer Big Sam's anti-football on show at the Reebok. It's a far more timid version and regardless of our poor record up there you'd hope we’d at least attempt to match their tenacity. But oh no. This is Tottenham and once more we failed to see any of our esteemed players capture that early to mid season form which was spent chasing down opposition players, applying pressure and generally bossing teams and picking them off with comparative ease. I'm not even exaggerating, we looked the part back then. But with each passing week we appear to be forgetting how to play as a unit. Granted, no Lennon means we lose a vital dimension to our play. But this goes beyond not having the little man in the side because our decline began when he was fit and playing.
So we got battered for 45 minutes, looked absolutely lost and lacked any sort of spark. They're calling it a game of two halves and that's just about the best tagline you can give the match. Although it wasn't until the 60th minute that we awoke. Two moments that saw the ball hit the woodwork (for any other team, it would have sneaked in but we seem to will the ball over safely thanks to our desperation for relying on any anything that resembles luck). But when the goal did come (Defoe lashing it in) I almost felt a moment of over zealous confidence. We're going to win. The assault continued, can hardly remember Bolton doing that much in the second half so when the penalty was awarded, I jumped up and punched the air in delight, dancing a jig of joy followed by some break-dancing.
I'm fibbing, that wasn't how I reacted. I infact feel to the ground (Wengeresque) with my head in the palms of my hands. Because I knew, I just knew that more misery would be compounded on us. That it's not enough that its taken one hour to get going, we're now going to see victory wave a fleeting goodbye and disappear, to be seen next under floodlights.
What? You telling me you honestly thought we'd score?
When Huddlestone stood there ready, there was a moment, half a second, that had me thinking he would drill the ball towards the goal. The fundamental issue with penalties remains one of mental strength. If there is 1% doubt in your mind, you're likely to over-think how to take the kick and probably fail to simply rely on instincts and the natural obvious method.
i.e. Decide where to strike the ball before you put the ball on the spot, then strike it with power to the pre-determined target area.
The moment Tommy started to do the shuffle I laughed. If that wasn't a 'I don't know how to take this penalty' moment, then I don't know what it. He placed his shot. Placed it. Tommy 'I have a thunderous thunderous shot on me and can't half it hard' decided to softly softly place the ball allowing for a comfortable save. Yes, I know, its 50/50 with pens. Had the keeper guessed wrong we'd have scored. But why leave it to percentages? Pick a far corner of the goal, left or right, doesn't matter. Then drill the sonofabitch towards it. Damn it, Tommy, we know, you know…you can hit a ball with venom. It's usually moving. Here, it’s a dead ball and what do you decide to do? Caress it.
I say give the next one to BALE BALE BALE.
Anyways, if we get past Bolton we've got Fulham away. So we go from one bogey away side to another.
COYS. In it to win it.