Small team beats big team
That was over at the Emirates. At Upton Park, a very average side without a win in the EPL beat a supposedly good side on paper that were in fact abjectly shit for the best part of 90 minutes, apart from a few long shot efforts from midfield.
No desire. No functionality with the line-up. No enforcement of a defensive nature. It was wrong. Unbalanced and without that vital ingredient of sustained effort. Momentum? What momentum? It's all slip slip slipping way at the moment.
Yet you'd still think we'd have enough about us to win it regardless of the rested/injured players and slight tinkering, considering the side West Ham lined-up with. No excuses, right? Alas, no. Not this seasons Spurs. Full of excuses. Seems that playing players in their not so best positions is suddenly a recipe for mediocrity. But that is almost an after thought for the lack of certified positive attitude.
Two issues. Firstly, there is no apparent plan or reaction to the tempo set by the opposition. No willingness to say, spend the next ten minutes nullifying the threat being posed or taking the sting out of the ball. Getting our hands dirty, playing ugly. In fact, if you take a further step back you could perhaps ask why we did not swagger into East London and just take the game to them. Believing we would win, wanting to win, and applying pressure until their fragile little legs snapped. This was the side rock-bottom before 3pm. But no. It was the complete opposite out on the pitch.
Well done to West Ham. They showed desire. They just pushed forward and that was enough, whilst we responded with cameo-shots. We kept Green on his toes, but Carlo was equally at hand to save us from conceding a second. A number of times. The first and only goal, a header, laughable defending. And that was job done for the home side.
So, what's the crux?
Can we seriously not perform if we shuffle players around? I'm beginning to get tired of this excuse. We have last season to compare our players to, and they are falling short at the moment. This is starting to reek of mental strength; lack of. Our old friend.
Cudicini - Kept us in it. Although there was no point (or points) at the end, what with yet another no-show for our offensive tally of goals.
Huddlestone and Jenas - Did not work. I remember there was a time when this partnership clicked. Today, it was pish. Hudd was anonymous. Jenas tried, for all his heart can give, but was easily beaten in the centre by Parker and co. Lose it there and you'll be second best all afternoon. Sandro and Palacios, using the magic of hindsight would have been better options for one or the other. Even with Wilson's lack of form, he would have at the very least given us some bite (be it erratic). Sandro, having been baptised in that abomination of a NLD the other day, would not have found today any more daunting. Also - Hudd and the captaincy = doesn't work. I wish it would but it's failed twice now.
Corluka, Hutton, Bassong - Charlie, out of position. Yet played reasonably well. Bassong was okay. Hutton, I thought, was actually fairly decent. As a unit? Can I trademark the word dis-jointed? I guess they looked a lot worse (with Bale included in there) because of the allowance permitted by our midfield for the aforementioned to be placed under constant pressure.
Bale - No BAE, so Gareth is imprisoned at left-back. This is akin to taking a WMD and burying it in the desert. Do you know it's even there? It just doesn't work. He is a left-winger and a beast of an attacking player. Can we please stop dicking him about. No BAE, so I guess, hands tied. I just wanted to vent, in preparation for future games.
Modric - Welcome back. Cracking effort on goal. Tried to invent, the majority of our players did their best to prevent (my puns are as bad as Spurs were, I'm doing it to retain an air of consistency). A positive: Moddle + vdV works. In the long run, this will prove to be a God send. If we can get someone upfront scoring.
van dar Vaart - Is probably beginning to scratch his head, Hoddle style, at why nothing is working around him. Works hard, looks to create. Was superb in the early stages, faded a little, I guess due to the knock he got and the fact there is so much he can do if the side is losing the battle to retain possession. It all gets lopsided and we can't expect him to run the show if everyone else is skipping.
Lennon - Not used that often. And pretty average when he did have the ball at his feet. Got a cross in, created the odd chance. But he's still not the spark we know him to be. The irony here is that when he went off, we had no width. Crazy. When Spurs play narrow, with no Azza, we don't seem to be able to work the ball forwards as well. But we don't appear to have options for additional width on the bench. Go on, dare you to come up with a quick-fix solution to this one.
Crouch - Didn't work. Will probably score a brace in the Champions League this coming week. We have a problem. We need someone up front who can make things happen with movement, clever runs, coming deep but not so deep to allow the midfield to push into the box. Someone with pace. Bobby Smith with a touch of the Jimmy Greaves. Or the moon on a stick in a Lilywhite shirt. If 451 is the future, the most vital position is the front man. I'd say, play two up front for the league for the time being. Until the Jan window opens.
On his own (Crouchie), today, it was a struggle. Not for the want of trying, but there was no link with him and the middle five. Isolation the name of this unfortunate game. Six games now, and only one goal from an actual bona fide forward.
Subs - Had hardly any time to make an impact. Although Gio was a mighty dollop of why bother. Seems lost at Spurs, at home with Mexico. Not sure Harry really understands how to use him.
West Ham - Not exactly Barca but they probably thought they were today. Will struggle in and around the below point of mid-table*. But they showed us how to play like a team. I think that just about sums up how bad we were. Parker was very decent, focused. As was Noble. But then they had direction and intent in their boots, unlike our centre pairing. Hammers were first to everything. Us, second best by miles. Statue no doubt being built outside the Boleyn this late evening. But they proved an important point (three of them). You can be down on your luck, average, whatever - but if you stick in the shift, you can win the day. Good luck to that attitude. Shame for them they only get to play us once in East London. We really did gift-wrap them a win, finally a win, over us and Redknapp.
Redknappology - Harry is confusing matters. The way we lined-up didn't work because there was no genuine spin to it. What was meant to be the style of play? Where was the contingency plan to dig us out of sticky moments?
Then there's the lack of motivation. Which is the crux. Harry's good at getting the best out of players. But struggling this season to inspire some of our some what damaged Prem stars. Harry is best when Harry is dealing with backs against the wall. He joined us, 2pts8games, rebuilt confidence and we pushed on. He then took the next challenge and got us playing with absolute conviction and belief. And we took 4th.
We were always on the chase. Always with a target ahead of us.
It's now altogether a new type of pressure and the players, having achieved that impossible dream, well...I'd hate to think they are resting on their laurels. Is there no apparent target in their mind set?
He needs to re-tune them back into Fight FM. Wipe it all clean, last season. We have done nothing, achieved nothing, until we finish in the top 4 again. That ought to be the thinking at the club. The message from the gaffer to every squad player.
I'm glad West Ham beat us. Obviously, I'm not, but here we are. Why am I glad (in the context of the aftermath?) Because you can't sink any lower than this. Well, apart from Wigan at home.
If this isn't a wake up call with regards to EPL form, and if we dare not react positively to it once and for all next time out, then we deserve nothing more than nothing. This is not a crisis, but we may as well pretend it is. There appears to be no fire, no chests pumped out desire as a cohesive unit from top to bottom. A complete lack of willingness, conviction.
We are twitching.
If we line-up against FC Twente with Moddle, vdV and Bale on the left-wing and King at the back and win stupendously well, then once more we will ask the same questions? Are we not up for league games? Are the players thinking too much about Europe? Or do we simply struggle because of one or two changes in personnel? Can't believe the latter. We are not that sodding delicate. Or perhaps? Nah.
Goes back to the points made above about motivation and desire. And managerial guidance. Last season, they all had something they wanted more than anything, and even with injuries and shuffles, we just got on with it. And got it. We didn't over-achieve. We didn't punch above our weight. The players proved to themselves they had it in them. Too busy puffing on those Cubans at the moment to work out that all we did was take a step forwards. Not a leap.
Time for us to show that hunger again.
The current version is not the same Tottenham who bullied and brushed oppositions aside away from home during the 2010 season. We can't keep looking to the next game to kick-start it and find ourselves looking forwards for the next opportunity again every bleeding week.
I do appreciate the injury problems and the fact the players do need to adjust to playing high pressured high profile games and it's Harry's job to make sure they don't lose focus for any game. But hey, like I said. We've been here before. And although our back four was patched up, we can't keep on making mistakes in midfield.
It's not quite the point of no return. So, still no knee-jerk from me. I'll continue to support both manager and players. But they need to set the alarm. Snooze button disabled. And get out of bed.
Perhaps, we need to go back to basics again for the league games. Take every game, one at a time, rather than looking ahead, deep in thought on the next one. The players, their heads, not 100% in it. Not even close to 60% today. Just play 442, or 433. Direct on the ground sweeping football with at least one DM in the middle. Keep 451 for the group stages.
It's okay for me, the fan, to review and change my mind. I can do that as often as I want. I called for consistency a week or two back, that we need to stick to a formation, but with each passing game, I've proved myself a touch naive. Because it seems the players are not up for it at the moment. So no matter the formation, it wont make a difference. Unless, you know, creature comforts and such. Take it back to the way it was before to rebuild that confidence.
So time for some consistency from the only ones who can make the difference.
Wakey wakey Spurs.
As for you lot. Your solutions please. On a postcard. To Bill Nicholson Way, 748 High Rd, Tottenham, London, N17. Via this blog. If you want therapy of the discussional type. Knock yourself out.