Another win, another clean sheet. This is getting boring now. Whatever happened to a good old fashion 4-3, calamitous goal-keeping and struggling to contain opposing teams attacking? I saw one clever looking graphical chart this week that illustrated teams and how mean they are in terms of defending and not allowing the opposing sides to create. Spurs bossed it.
Damn you Andre and your organisational skills and moral boosting. You've taken the Tottenham out of Tottenham. You've turned us into a professional and focused team that gets the job done. Even if said job is played out on a field that looks like its in desperate need to have the potatoes dug up (there's a spud joke in there somewhere).
So what of our 2-0 away day win played out in front of a handful of supporters with the home fans treating us to some delightful tribal house beats?
Whether Spurs line up with strength or with rotation, there appears to
be little difference with performance. There's an argument to be had (it's ongoing) that some of these second string players are deserving of a first team start. Step aside from the discussion and see it from another perspective. Unlikely to play out, but it would be a touch majestic if this second string (the bulk of the individuals) were playing every bit as good as those in the first team. That at some point in the not too distant future you wouldn't be able to tell the difference or decide which player(s) should compete in games that our coach (and some of us) consider 'lesser games'.
Eriksen/Holtby - a potential win if this theory works in practicality.
Momentum is key. It's powerful. Not just for the collective but for the confidence of the individual. We're heading towards something very special. At some point, we're going to need to arrive at our destination and build our fortress. That's a fortress rather than a towering Babel design.
That fear of 'here we go again' expectancy is (for now) gone. Tricky away game? Not a problem for this team.
Okay, so it wasn't the best of
games or the best opposition. Aesthetically, the entire experience was strangely hypnotic. That might have had
something to do with the TV commentary that induced narcolepsy quicker
than Jermain Defoe lashing the ball past the opposition keeper for yet
another goal. Alex McCleish truly took steps to reinvent ways to suck the life out of those that attempted to listen to his slow depressing monotonous words. Anyone tuning in would think he was narrating the end of the world.
Spurs, shook us up, and were definitely not sleepy against Anzhi
Makhachkala in conditions that resembled a pre-season tour in coldest
Russia. The tiny stadium and Hackney Marsh pitch a consequence of having
to play their games away from Dagestan. Bless Spurs for still
attempting to stroke the ball around on the ground with neat, quick
passing. Wasn't always tidy, but it worked out just fine. Pitch looked like it needed a half-time ploughing.
The opposition were hardly the billionaire club Anzhi of old (Lacina Traore their only bright spark). Yes, in the second half, we sat back a little (lost interest) and the home side asked the odd question which Hugo Lloris answered with his usual 'you aint getting past me' attitude.
All our work was completed in the first half between the 34th and 39th minute.
Holtby with continued good form and vision (deserves a first team role) to find his best mate JD for the first. Those two really connecting this season. Chadli scoring the second (I'm right in thinking it was Holtby again - sending Walker away for the ball into Chadli? Sorry, only seen the game the once. Not sure I can endure a second viewing).
easy. No panic buttons, no stress. Travelled, got the win, got the points, Group K almost done and dusted - or at least will be if we win the next one (which I'm fairly positive we will). My wish to ease through this group stage is coming true,
again with credit to that Godly depth of quality we have.
only downer was Kaboul limping off, especially after looking very strong early on. He appears to be jinxed. One knock follows another, follows another.
Sandro doesn't look like the Sandro of
old (pre-injury), but its easy to ignore the fact he was out for a very long time
with a serious injury. Actually, it isn't easy to ignore that at all. It explains why we're not seeing him as often as we'd like to (in starting elevens in the league). He's simply not ready. Building up fitness and sharpness. He looks like he still needs to reconnect with his spirit guide (someone find Banner and get him to Hulk up).
Chiriches looks very composed on the ball. Much like most of our new signings, that bedding in period will continue for a while yet. So expect more European games for Vlad before he works a way into the league. Does look like he's going to be a class act - again, sorely based on ye olde gut feeling. Another ball playing centre-half? Yes thank you.
Which brings me onto Lamela. Cue standard 'patience' mantra to baying public.
Give him some time to settle.
I'm saying this because people are already digging at him. They are digging at him, right? I know people are talking about people digging at him so...let's pretend some are thinking it. They must be. We all know how fickle we can be with the P word.
Having sold Bale we expect our record signing to produce the goods in a like for like swap, but the reality is, it doesn't always work like that.
Lamela is so smooth and silky with the ball at his feet. His awareness, his movement. It's still all very low key and subtle at the moment. Hence the (alleged) groans from some. Let's try not to write players off based on a handful of games (old habits die hard I know).
It's part and parcel of the game, opinions and objecting to them. Some arguments are balanced, measured. Some fans expect it all straight from the off and nothing less than the image of glory in their mind is good enough.
Sure, its all subjective in terms of how Lamela is being handled and how he's handling his new club. What if AVB threw him into Saturday's game and he scored a goal out of nothing and suddenly his confidence shot up and he awakens from his slow paced induction to Spurs? Villas-Boas hardly the type of coach that 'hits and hopes'.
Lamela is lost - I've actually seen this cited. Not sure that's the right way to describe his performances. He does appear to be strolling around, trying to work out where everything is. He can't wrap his head around us driving on the left-hand side of the road. We can't wrap our heads around why he isn't playing on the right-hand side of our midfield.
Remember when we signed Holtby? His frantic distribution and running? Little composure on the ball - just cameos of his one-touch passing, but mostly enthused passion. All very Jamie O'Hara someone said in comparison. He's got no skill, it's all a little bit too fast paced. Took him a while to settle, find his tempo and then work in-tune with the tempo of the team. Naturally, that is the case for so many players. Can I also randomly mention Luka Modric?
Holtby signed for us early, due to injuries we paid to get him before the summer. He came into the side to do a job without a moments pause for thought.
Is there a necessity to rush Lamela in? No.
Now look at the comfort Holtby possesses when threading balls in and laying off passes like a grand master. Every player is different, which means you can't treat them all the same way just so that the club can appease the desires of those that want instant gratification. Eriksen is the same. There are games where the sheer physicality of the Premier league will knock him for six whilst he takes time to adjust. Some players are just more robust from the off and better suited to the transition (Paulinho for example).
If you expected Lamela to go straight into the first team and explode with delirious magic - then you need to clip your wings and settle for some time with feet on the ground. There is no urgency, there is no pressure. At least there shouldn't be. On the player and on you. His ability is unquestionable. His days at Roma all the evidence you need. The kid needs to find his feet in England before he sprouts wings of his own.
I'm happy to sit back and wait. I'm a fan, so I'm not going to disapprove if he's involved sooner rather than later - but I don't train with Tottenham and I'm not privy to the players mindset and the process of interrogation new players go through. Which is why my faith is with the coaches.
I've only been told that some supporters are slating him. I've not seen much of this first hand. I guess it's no different to the criticism Soldado is getting - a player that also needs to adapt to the way the team are playing (along with his team mates adapting to having a striker that they need link into the game by delivering to space he can attack). Again, the expectancy carries weight due to the transfer fee and the fact he was signed to score goals.
With Lamela, there is nothing wrong with pointing out his underwhelming appearances so far. Those that do so have high hopes thanks to the price tag and the excitement and anticipation of what the player can produce (and has produced in the past). There is nothing wrong with discussing this. Nothing wrong with comparing it to other players signed in the summer that have made an immediate impacts. There is also nothing wrong with simply waiting. Took Spurs a while to get into the lofty position they find themselves in these days. What is 10 games or 20 games for a single player that might go on to give us 200 games of brilliance in the coming years?
Interestingly, there's a shout for JD to start against West Ham. A case of 'better the devil you know' what with the Hammers likely to defend deep, suffocate space and JD always loving a goal against them. Of course, you might want to share out a 'what if' and suggest that this might be an ideal game for Soldado to score from open play (in the league). Not that he's been playing badly, he's been involved - just not on the score sheet. West Ham (for the record) have not conceded a goal from open play away from home. Sounds like we have ourselves a potential story arc for Sunday's game.
In conclusion, a good win. All our problems still remain good problems to have.
At some point soon, we'll have to turn our jog into a run. It's never a sprint, always a marathon and Spurs look like they have the lungs for the full distance.