Three points. Clean sheet. Mid-table. Come on you Spurs.
Wolves 0 Spurs 2
Okay, so this was hardly vintage. You scratched your head when Bale started on the right then knowingly screamed out at Redknapp when he was swapped back into his traditional left-sided position allowing for more balance and (not so) coincidently a far better second half team performance, which included two solid debuts from new boys Parker and Adebayor.
Seems in the wake of a victory some of us are still not that content about proceedings. I can’t really fathom why anyone would even contemplate complaint and mark down player’s performances. It’s obvious we are in need for rediscovery. The groove and confidence of a side that’s bursting with pomp and perfection is still lost out in the wild, but the search party is not that far off. Got to dig deep to find it rather than waste time looking for it at the end of a rainbow. Hard graft and no misconceptions or fantasy.
Look, put it this way, if this was the opening game of the season and we played like that and won 2-0 at Wolves, we’d all be ‘ooh, we got the job done’. But it wasn’t the first game, it was the third, and the opening two were in some ways devastating (when you look at the score line on paper). They were not anomalies, but rather harsh reminders that our form (went missing back end of last season) is still AWOL. Shovels at the ready. Time to find that treasure otherwise it’s a shallow grave for our own funeral.
The point I’m making (placing aside the messy metaphor) is that both the Manc defeats looked and therefore felt a lot worse than they actually were. United punished us for being limp and City ruined us for being defensively lapse. This isn’t just about a lack of midfield in the opening two games and injuries and the apparent inability to muster up fire in the belly from manager and players alike. It’s obvious we need a reboot and one or two players need to wake up from their slumber. We need focus too but more importantly, we needed to win and claim our first points for the season. Which we did.
Winning 2-0 away at Wolves? Both result AND performance was above the level of basic acceptance. It was warranted and deserved. First half was well below par. The unbalance of Bale on the right-wing (let’s be done with this please) and our general manner in defending and bringing the ball forward – it felt wrong, it lacked a meaningful cohesive pattern.
Perhaps the fact that its new blood in with misfiring players and emergency selections? Sounds like too much of an excuse that.
This meant that players like Modric, Bale and Kranjcar struggled to find fluidity in the middle which is why people are pointing at the likes of Luka and saying the word ‘ineffectual’. Yes, but no. If you’re not set up accordingly, it’s not going to be easy marking the game with your presence. So perhaps there is an excuse hidden behind all the shrugs.
In addition, the wantaway Croatian has plenty of work in front of him and his own personal journey of self-discovery to get a grip of himself and reclaim the type of industry and spark we all know he is more than capable of achieving. It will come in time. He's got no choice.
Defensively, we were sound with Ledley King back in there (you almost forget he’s still knocking around The Lodge). Parker gave us that workman like dimension we have craved for – so even though we spent the best part of an hour struggling for that fluidity, he made sure we ticked in a game that lacked that creative edge. He broke up play and got into forward positions. Bit of get up and go about him, just a subtle hint towards leadership.
When Bale swapped back to left-wing and the game opened up in our favour, we started to own possession. Midfield worked better and from defence to attack to defending, we looked and worked like a unit, rather than the fragmented and frustrating opening 45 mins we endured.
Adebayor proving what a quality forward can bring to a side. Although I refuse to believe the Bale flank swap was tactical astuteness (it was a mistake put right) I do think we won because we simply had more quality and the longer the game went on the more evident this was. Wolves had very little to offer in return. So again, I can't be dishing out pats on back for astute tactical stuff. We'll need the clever stuff against better opposition (and redeem the mistakes of the first two games played).
Ade gave us that missing cutting edge. He’s robust, strong and can work the turf intelligently. Cool calm finish for the 1-0. Defoe equally clinical for the second. Props to Niko, even if he isn’t too comfortable in the side (positionally not always prominent) he stuck in a good shift and assisted for a goal. Parker had a superb debut. Also assisted, worth ethic etc etc. An on-form Parker with an on-form on-it Modric – that would be something to see. Although equally, so would Sandro + Modric. We’ll be spoilt for choice once our wounded ‘nine’ are back.
Big Bad Ade teamed up well with all concerned, giving players options and galvanising JD (I did predict this). He looks the player we needed to sign. I'm sure he'll be elevated against the scum when we play them. Nothing to prove he says, but I'm guessing he might have a slide or two in store.
Bale has to get his head down and just do the simple things again. We keep saying this, we keep waiting for it. Gaffer - earn your wage.
Was impressed by King, not because he played particularly brilliant. He was more than decent, but any player that starts in Lilywhite that has not trained, got one knee and yet still command a presence of supreme authority and inspiration – credit to him. Players around him, other defenders, they seem to anchor into Ledley and not lose their head as they would commonly do when he's not in the team. We do need to grow up a little here as we can’t rely on the great man to always play. We don’t know how long left we have him for. At some point, the club and the player will need to make a decision. For the good of both the club and the player.
Also, applause for Freidel and his saves. Looks like I got my pre-season prediction here wrong. Saw Brad walking out of my local Tescos on Sunday. Nice tracksuit. Gomes appears to have disappeared. More soundbiting from Redknapp today about the player not being happy/potentially moving. Shame.
Next two games in the league (at home), Liverpool then Arsenal – these will be defining (as early as this season still is). If we win both, watch how the media’s perception will change. Witness the growth in belief and desire from our fragile-minded players morphing back into monsters. And see the positive knee-jerk from fans online and in the stands.
This is Tottenham. Nothing ever changes. But for now...
Three games. Three points.
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Love the shirt.