Norwich at the Lane, the afternoon after the night before
The season starts here. There's nowhere else for it to hide now. Second home game of the season against beatable opposition (we've heard that before this season and last) and we need a win to compete a triple (to go alongside the loss and draw). Not that I'm counting points. Had we held on last weekend we'd still have posed the odd question about the side's overall performance and the strange substitutions - which illustrated the gaps that the transfer window filled in. Well, almost filled in. We have no João Moutinho. Not that he would have been signed in time for Norwich at the Lane. But clearly, based on the lack of obvious midfield creativity, we lack that spark. So no pressure Mousa Dembélé. Hope those shoulders are nice and strong. Welcome to the world famous home of the Spurs. We promise to smile, chant your name and get behind the team.
Chris Hughton is back with a Norwich team that were deserving of the win here last season. The same result today and those smiles and chants will take on a more sinister feel. If we play as well as we did against WBA in the first hour and take our chances, we'll be dancing a merry jig in the stands and on the touchline. Have to be ruthless in front of goal. That's it. There's no requirement for any major reshuffle tactically to the way we set out last week. The issues became apparent the longer the game went on allowing WBA to push forward more and trouble us with the physicality of Lukaku, who battered us every time he came forward. We have to be the ones that do the bullying and the punishing. Options will improve further when Clint Dempsey is available, but for now Dembélé and his dynamism and hopefully a fitter Adebayor will have to provide the punch and Bale and Lennon in improving supporting roles.
To tie all this in with Daniel Levy and the transfer window, utterly bored of this 'early points will cost us Champions League' argument which seems to bask in hindsight that some seem to enjoy citing. Dropping six points last season in the opening two games was unavoidable in some ways thanks to two yet to be signed players and Redknapp's selection with the way the midfield lined-up. The points that truly cost us came after the fact, later in the season, when form had been hit and defeat pulled us back down to earth with failure to recover. These very early games can be sacrificed to transition with the real tests coming when pressure to retain success on the pitch is prominent to all concerned. Still flexing those muscles.
Still, flexing or no flexing, points (in a bundle of three) on the board and a good solid performance will go a long way in settling things down and sending us on our way in the right direction. Outside pressures, we have no control of. But pressures from within can do far more long term damage. Three points and no booing.
The season starts here.