In our defence
End of season review. An attempt at one. I have to be honest with you, I’m struggling a touch at the moment. I’m spending most of my available time online (when not working) musing on Twitter, slagging off the In The Know community simply because I default to this obvious caricature of hate because there is very little else to discuss at the moment.
I could perhaps talk about what’s-his-face and the delightful twitch his face displays when someone on Sky Sports mentions the Chelsea job. Then again, no.
A letter is due to the chairman, but I’ll wait another week or so before I drain blood and dip feather.
As for the ITK community, I’ve already spotted one Spurs fan on a forum make up some s*** about a player only for a supposed well known ITK to then post about it on the forum he frequents, giving the impression he heard about it from a club insider.
Even funnier is the fact that ESPN are obviously connected because they published a news article about Cristian Ceballos (even though they jumped the gun suggesting he had signed) without a single citation in the day(s) before from any of the esteemed ITK’ers. A Barca reject kid on trial at Spurs and none of the countless self-proclaimed messengers had anything to share other than providing updates post-ESPN exclusive.
Yes, yes. I hate it all with a passion and here I am talking about it, unable to turn away. But for the moment, I will.
So this is me skipping onwards with the end of season chit chat.
Before I do I just want to say goodbye and good luck to @drwinston001 who is ‘retiring’ from blogging and handing over his site (thfc1882.com) to a couple of other top lads to continue its coverage of all things Spurs. His final article covered off an assessment of our squad, which is well worth a read. If you’re wondering, a baby is on it's way. Good luck Tom, look forward to your guest-blogging over at thfc1882 in the not so distant future.
So, player reviews up first. The defence.
To follow: Prem / The Cups / The Progression of Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham / Summertime High Jinxs.
From shot stopping genius to calamity clown. If Gomes was a centre forward he’d be of the ilk not too dissimilar to the ones we have at the moment. Very good when there is no time to think. Remember Robbie Keane during his better spells at the club? Stick Robbie in a one on one situation and his brain farts and the ball either goes wide or straight at the keeper. Gomes, when he has a similar pocket of time for his grey matter to rub up against each other, can only ever result with a haemorrhage of haplessness.
He completely losses the ability to control his physicality, body going one direction with mind left behind between the woodwork, whilst we all witness the implosion in slow-mo.
What is Gomes? Is he a good keeper prone to mistakes and lapses of concentration? Or is he an average keeper, one that is always prone to errors, but masks the negatives with moments of unparalleled reflexes and super-saves? It’s a fallacy to suggest all keepers are loopy. By virtue of the fact they are the only ones wearing gloves to handle the ball with hands during the game, their mistakes will always stand-out more. Conceding a goal thanks to an avoidable mistake can change the whole course of a game and the psychology of the teams focus. Much like missing a sitter.
No doubting Gomes has given us moments of stupendous plot. Giving away a penalty in the last minute, then saving it (Chelsea at home) and saving a pen only to give one away and concede seconds later (Blackpool at home). We’ve been treated to a master-class of excellence too (AC Milan away) as well as insanity (Inter away). He was incredible at the back of last season. That wasn’t him over performing. That was him at the top of his concentration. Gomes strikes me as someone who is fragile with self belief and confidence and when one mistake or a moment or uncertainty plays out, like domino's, all layers of his mind collapse.
He makes wonderful saves but when he makes mistakes, they are epic (and at key moments). He can flap too and when mistakes don't lead to goals they lead to Keystone antics across the whole of the backline, infecting his team-mates with a dizzy virus and it's side-effect of momentary panic.
Personally, I don’t want to detach my faith from supporting him. People who prefer him to be replaced by someone with a more steady head might be forgetting that a keeper who retains concentration might not necessarily be capable of match winning performances and when they conceded, it might not be thanks to a lapse of concentration but simply lesser skill.
If there’s a keeper out there that’s capable of brilliance but has the cool composed calmness of a Cech, then the vast majority of us would not complain if he was signed and the Brazilian was sold on.
Sort your head out Gomes.
He’s ex-Chelsea, he’s ex-Arsenal. He’s a trouble-maker. He’s a melter. He’s too old. He’s too slow.
Wish someone has pre-warned me he would be an absolute gem, a steal...a stolen gem. With King and Woodgate hardly involved, having someone of Gallas experience in the side has played a major part in retaining strength and organisation at the back. It took a while for him to regain full match fitness and settle in with his new team mates, but his almost nonchalant ‘doesn’t give a **** other than just performing well’ attitude proved that sometimes there is nothing wrong with wheeling and dealing. I can remember feeling mixed emotions and displeasure when he was made captain. Kudos to Harry. Gallas has been imperative in the absence of King, if not a pound for pound replacement. Interestingly, he's yet to score for us.
Step up, step up. Everyone knows Daws excels when he has Ledley King by his side. He’s been equally impressive with Gallas playing next to him but Daws is best positioned to the right of King. Regardless, he gets on with it and defends with royal passion. Just that, what with his age and with Ledley missing for large chunks of the season...it’s time this prince became a King.
Mixed season, inconsistent at times and brilliant on occasions. You love Daws because of his relentless desire to do well. He might not be the quickness and he might lack the assured presence a Gallas or King possesses but you can’t question his work rate (and his distribution ain’t too shabby).
If he can replicate the form he is capable of when he plays alongside King, then he’ll have grown into the player that we all wish him to be. At the minute, we’re just wishing. Dawson needs to believe in himself, just a notch more and take each game by the scruff of the neck. Which he does already, just not in every game.
Not one of his better seasons. All over the shop early on, replaced by Alan Hutton whilst we all wondered what had happened to the always reliable Croat. His positioning, key to make up for his lack of pace, had deserted him completely. I like him. I like the way he works the flanks with Lennon. I think, on form he offers more than our other options. He’s intelligent on the ball and can play football rather than perhaps just knock the ball ahead of him and run onto it. Hopefully it was a blip. I doubt Hutton will be with us next season. Kyle Walker will. So you can’t help but feel content that competition at right-back will be tight.
Everyone huddles, except for BAE. I mean, he’s there. You can see him, but his back is straight and his head is facing upwards and looking away whilst all the other soft-hearted lads are bending down to listen to the rallying speech. Simply put, Ekotto is too cool for skool. A modern day footballing anomaly. He doesn’t follow the game as a spectactor. Although it’s slightly stretching the persona of coolness to perhaps suggests he doesn’t care. He’s a model professional without the superstar add-ons.
His consistent, he’s drilled. He plays for the team and he does exactly what he’s expected to do at the back. More kudos to Harry for solving this conundrum as there was a time before his arrival when we were not quite sure he was the answer to our left-back headache.
Excellent player, excellent season...lets Bale rampage whilst he sits back and defends and never appears to lose focus. Hopefully Danny Rose will continue his impressive cameos into next season and give Ekotto a rest now and again (won't be too presumptuous and say 'competition' just yet).
Okay, so he’s offensive and he runs forward with intent and can impact the game but he can’t perform at the back as an individual or as part of a unit. He doesn’t fathom the concept of positioning and he has no astuteness in the art of defending. Had a period this season where some of us thought we’re be proven wrong, mainly down to the fact Charlie was so awful. Alas, we were not proved wrong in the end.
When Comolli signed him he stated he was ‘one for the future’. In true Tottenham fashion we threw him into the first team and ruined him. Well, we thought we had. Quite surreal that he was sold and then signed back. He’s grown and matured, he’s still raw in places but I can’t help but believe he has a strong future at our club. Development of his defensive abilities on the back foot need to match his awareness going forward with the ball. He possesses the right attributes to be a beast and hero status for the third goal to complete our famous win over at the swamp.
Who? Oh yeah. The forgotten man. Thought he was more than decent for us last season and yet this season he’s hardly figured. If Harry doesn’t fancy you, then you don’t get a look in. Shame because he is more than capable.
The discussion about whether it’s worth retaining him if he’s only going to appear in a handful (if not less) games per season will continue throughout the summer. He’s one in a million with the one knee, and yet he can do more than most are capable with two. Galvanises Dawson and improves our defence every time he plays. Statistically, we lose less games and concede fewer goals when he plays. If he had two knees, we’d still be where we are now...as King would probably be playing for Barca or Madrid.
Might as well mention Woodgate. Depending on what you read he's either going to be let go or given a pay-as-play contract.
We certainly need to decide on our back-line in preparation for 2012. Fullback positions are fine, it's the centre pairing and the backup(s) that need attention. Preferably not the type that involves ice packs and cotton wool.
Overall, we've done well in defence. Just not scored enough goals down the other end to relieve them from pressure which has resulted in loss of shape and conceded goals. Confidence with the keeper/defender relationship another required fix. It's not just four at the back, it's five.
Across the season, as a unit (ignoring moments of madness in the CL and in the cups) I can't complain more than I have above, which isn't a lot.
Midfielders and attackers to follow...