You wanna make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs
Tottenham at the moment. It's a bit like that scene in Fight Club where the nameless narrator (Edward Norton) is fighting Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) in the parking lot towards the end of the film. You sort of know what's going on but can't quite get your head around it because you're too busy trying to piece together everything that came before it so that you can aid yourself in understanding what in the heck is unfolding.
Dissociated personalities in the one single body, conflicted. Norton has it figured and then works out how to get rid, by shooting himself in the mouth. Very decent shot in fact to put a bullet through your face without killing yourself. But if that's what it takes to stop mentally projecting an annoying alter ego, then it's the chance you just have to take. Otherwise, you'll be lost and consumed by all the madness.
So how exactly is any of this like our beloved N17 club?
Well for a start, the split personality. We know we can play teams off the park (44 minutes at Werder Bremen, first half v City at the Lane). We know just not from the teasers we've had this season but from the whole of the epic 2010 battle for 4th. And yet, this term, we appear to just turn up, mostly for the first half of every game and then lose our grip on balance and structure as we heads towards the 90th minute mark. Like an insomnia sufferer struggling to get through the day, we end up in auto-pilot. Everything seems so far away.
It's a bit of this and a bit of that, with a bit of this being super Spurs and a bit of that being sleepy Spurs. That's the template, although it isn't always played out to textbook standard. This can also include dominating homes games against supposed weaker opposition and still end up losing 1-0.
I'm a great advocator of Brand Spanking New Tottingham™. It's very easy for us to knee-jerk and cite 'same old Tottenham, here we go again, we never change'. Well, soz, but yes we do/have changed. This is a new Spurs, be it one with new issues that require ironing out.
Crisis talk, or the flirtation of said talk, tends to be over matters concerning games much like the 1-0 Wigan loss this season and last seasons home loss to Wolves and one or two other disappointing WHL fixtures. We don't get smashed up that often any more. We don't buckle or choke per se. We simply, beat ourselves up. We turn the art of scoring into something infuriating. It's much like a eunuch running around a brothel naked. It's just never going to happen mate. Actually, no, scrap that disturbing yet comical image. We do have the functioning tools available to us unlike the sorry eunuch. We just sometimes lack that extra kick of special. So it's more like Pele running around a sauna, just without having taken the Viagra. Intent is there. But alas, no penetration.
You can argue and discuss the mechanics of the game, in terms of theorising that fabled what if scenario(s). What if Defoe was playing? What if we had that extra Croatian craft of Modric dinking and trickstering, making beautiful football love with his Dutch partner in a harem of wonder in the centre of the Spurs midfield? Well obviously, we probably would have won comfortably. But then again, looking to the not so distant past, we've had key players start and still ended up with nothing to show for it.
Split-personality? No question.
To be fair, on Saturday, I didn't think we did that badly. In relative terms, how did all this pan out? How did we finally work through it? Like the nameless narrator in Fight Club, we got it figured in the end. It wasn't as graphic or dramatic as putting a gun to ones mouth. The answer was always there. We just had to pull the door open towards us, rather than attempt to kick it inwards.
We played brightly in the first half, Bale was his usual marauding self, creating chance after chance for the forwards. Lost count of the crosses he put in. Crouch, Keane could have scored. Wolves did, just before half time and against the run of play. The irony of switching off for a second, resulting in an opposition goal when we had spent the entirety of the first half asking the questions...you could see where this game was going if it continued to follow the re-hashed script.
So, at this point, there was plenty of ground-hog day head shaking. We didn't turn our possession into goals. Simple math, stuck on a basic equation, left scratching our heads. Second half, had Wolves more involved, be it sitting back and defending resolutely. With us looking ominous attempting to make/create the breakthrough. It wasn't as such laboured, but it lacked clinicality. The effort, was there. The positivity was there. If lacking genuine swagger. It wasn't in any way depressive football. Just time, tick tocking away, gave it an air of desperation. You had that Déjà vu feeling about it. You just felt, at least I did, that it would not come. The template was mocking us.
Hutton (on for the injured Kaboul) was showing plenty of remember me? intent and purpose. vdV, always trying to work something for the forwards. Bale beasting it as per standard. But still, nothing. And then, Wolves gave away a penalty. Not luck that. It's what you get for forcing the issue. Hutton fouled in the box after a superb run from defence. van der Vaart, 1-1, cool as you like. Great pen. Home goal. Rejoice.
You do not talk about points dropped...
This was our moment of clarity. Staring us back in the face. We're holding the gun. Use it.
Sure there was some Wolves pressure, which initially masked the hope that the equalising goal would inspire further pressure of a Lilywhite nature. But with Lennon (on as a sub), darting and crossing, ball was cleared to Hudd who struck it back into the box, hit Henry, fell to Pav, who decisively scored. 2-1. Once again, the Russian, in the right place at the right time.
Gun to mouth. We take control.
Hutton, forcing the issue once more, running into the box chasing down the ball, which hits him and loops over Hahnemann. 3-1.
Gun fired. Smoke puffing out of the mouth of our split personality, as it collapses to the floor in a dead heap.
We're left standing, tired and emotional, but content, happy, and alive. Whilst the explosives detonated and the buildings collapsed...(that's plucky bogey team Wolves finally beaten...I think the analogy is over-stretched at this point, although tbh, it was over-stretched from the start).
We took responsibility for our own creation. We exorcised our demon. Our eyes were opened.
It wasn't overly convincing, but again, it took some guts to keep on plugging away when it genuinely looked like one of those afternoons. Against Wigan, we run out of steam, incapable of changing the game in our favour, and suffering one of those templated sucker-punches. This time round, there was enough about us (on the pitch and off it) to eventually make the difference. It's not something you can quantify. Had Hutton not made that run, and we had not won the penalty, we could have failed to force another way into the game. And we'd all be near suicidal at this point, debating how Harry is losing his grip.
Honestly? We've still yet to get going as a complete fluid unit. 60%, lower regions of 70%, performance wise. It's still all about digging deep to persevere and battle through. Whether the team of two halves Tottenham is still with us, we'll have to wait and see.
There wasn't enough bite and the ruthlessness. But enough of something in the end. Even though we were low key, heads never dropped. We created plenty of chances. 18. So it's that clinical touch that remains MIA. I still standby my statement that the Prem this season will play out much like last season. And that's a good thing. But if we want that next level, then these types of games, can't be games where we drop points. We are three down already (Wigan). Six if you want to push it and claim the WBA game too.
King, Gallas, fine. BAE, about average. Jenas played well again. Sshh. Bale is a freak. Kaboul was solid (until subbed). Hutton deserved his goal and had a stupendous effect on the game. His pulsating run into the box, the game-changer.
Hudd was quiet, lacked any type of influence on the game. Crouch, not effective. Keane, tried bless him, but he lacks that assured edge. Did have 3/4 decent chances, so at least he's attacking the right areas in the box. Wasn't terrible, but just seems to try to hard and it doesn't work out.
Pav, can't fault his finish. He might do little else, but he takes his chances (the white Darren Bent?). He's popping up with the goods when it matters most, so no complaints from me. As long as he doesn't open a Twitter account. Lennon did well with his cameo. van der Vaart, as stated, is quality with the absence of Modric, it clearly shows the depth we have. Talking of which. Special extra mention to Redknapp and the three subs he made. They all worked. They all had positive effects on the game.
Conclusion. When it's said and done. It's Wolves. At home.
Get on it Spurs. We've got to be far more accomplished than this.