Spurs nose broken, claret all over the place
The last few sentences from the last article I wrote on the Saturday before the West Ham United game.
Even though its early doors, even though players are settling in...I can't help but feel every game and the 3 points are undeniably precious. Especially at home where we dropped too many last season.
West Ham at home on Sunday. We can't afford to lose this. Am I being over dramatic again? Is there really any other way to be when you support this grand old club?
I like that Spurs are making me feel this way.
Then we lose.
I deserved it. I should have smelt the ominous stench of doom a mile off thanks to the hype with Tottenham's defensive record and West Ham's record away from home. Irony mocks me, then defeats me in one emphatic smackdown. Well, maybe not that emphatic. On paper yes, but not quite on the field of play.
Spurs were beaten in the most unspectacular way imaginable. It was akin to being approached by a mugger. You turn to face them and they apologetically move away from you, regretful. You reach out, grab their arm and pull them back towards you.
"No, no, please, go on, mug me, mug me. Look, my wallet is in my inside jacket pocket. Take a gander, it's practically got neon lights on it, it's begging to be snatched. Go on mate, take it...you've come this far, it's yours, it's..."
Broken nose. Wallet gone. Claret all over your shirt.
I've been home for around an hour (at the time of writing) and thought it best I didn't sleep on it and just ranted and got it out the way now so I don't struggle with my words tomorrow when I'm fresh and sober. I'll leave the tactical and strategic arguments for those that wish to discuss them in microscopic detail.
Hindsight is a brilliant mechanism in distracting away from the reality of the result that can't be changed no matter the post-mortem analysis. That's not to say you shouldn't discuss it in detail. It's football. We're meant to smash throw both ends of the spectrum.
I might as well highlight a couple of things that annoyed me without going too mental.
There was something resembling a team in the first half, but it was way too casual. No determined guile from us. I'd actually say that as far as a London derby goes, this was not exactly the best. It was awful. Granted that WH would have been suicidal to open up and just attack. It's not what they do and you can't blame them, but the game had no genuine blood and thunder tempo.
Everything (with us) went down the right hand side with Townsend - are only bright spark. He was superb, electric. But then how many times can you expect him to do the same thing, especially when there is no one of similar pace and ability on the opposite side to stretch the midfield?
As for the midfield, it was narrow, congested. Eriksen struggled with options. Struggled to impose himself. There was little space and little running directly ahead of him to thread something through.
Spurs were generally below par across the field.
Diabolically defending for the goals. The cliché would say that perhaps we were heading towards something like this (although I was actually predicting we'd thrash someone soon).
There was simply nothing there. No tenacity or intensity. No control and focus. No direction. Like I said, no shape and no real way through a dogged and organised West Ham who probably never expected to score let alone do it three times. Their master-plan was that dinked set-piece that Nolan struck wide when he received the looped ball. Bide their time, hope for a lucky break. They scored three times. Doesn't really matter how they did it. Doesn't even matter if they were lucky. They did it. Three times. Three more times than we managed to do. Lucky is irrelevant. If JD was born five inches taller we'd have been blessed with some luck too. After that second goal (the only one that we can perhaps tag with 'unlucky' on our part), they grew in confidence. We retained our stagnated posture. Anyone would think we played Anzhi on Friday night.
Yes, sure, we did have chances. The one JD had at the start of the second half was almost perfect (should have lifted it over the keeper). Paulinho got himself into positions in the box in the first half. The game wasn't really a 3-0 in that we were hardly outclassed or outplayed. Yet, I'd have preferred that rather than losing the way we did.
I've not bothered looking at the comments on this blog in previous articles or social media or any of the forums. Mainly because everyone will do what every supporter does when something like this happens. Knee-jerk. And that's fine. It's all well within our rights to vent. Someone will tie the performance into their own personal agenda as evidence of a more serious tactical coaching problem. Others will just say that now and again, this type of result (unexpected result) crops up.
We've hardly been 'found out'. We've lost 5 league games in a year (or so). Such is the rarity (especially at home) that we feel sick for it. I guess it's like that feeling of tranquillity you sometimes get when you've just finish vomiting. It's bad, but it's over. Or something. I've drunk now and will probably be puking up later on so I expect that tranquillity will be the days saving grace.
When Spurs do lose at home it's usually against lower-placed clubs and by the odd goal. The performance is usually not convincing. It's a shame it happened again. It's a shame it happened in this game and by more than one goal. Losing at home hurts. Losing like this has to hurt. I'd be worried if we shrugged it all off and got on with our day. That's probably the only positive. That 'Jesus Christ, are you ****ing kidding me? You what mate?' wake up call that shakes you up and reminds you that complacency really isn't something we want to entertain too often. That and taking it all for granted.
It happens. Sometimes you deserve what you get. I'm going to hazard a guess that if I do venture into the comments section of this article people will be slating AVB. Is he beyond criticism? Hell no. But this is one game. One bad performance. It's a game that highlights (again) the lack of width - a problem we know we have with only one winger playing. Lamela's cameo's are wasteful. Doesn't strike me that when he's called upon for his cameo that he's used particularly well. Start him out wide. Play him as an inverted winger.
You could also argue away about Defoe starting over Soldado or that congested midfield. Fact is, we created chances, didn't take them, then practically gift wrapped West Ham a brand new chapter for their history book. All achieved whilst we bossed the possession stats. That is football. You don't always have to be better than the opposing side to win.
Personally, I'd love to see more freedom in the opening 20-30 mins of any home game but then what I'm asking for is what Redknapp gave us and we all know such swashbuckle is sometimes easily negated by the opposition. At the moment that rigid continental style of containment by possession is what AVB does. The bells and whistles are missing. The only thing that matters now is how we react to this result and pick up that lost momentum.
'Maybe we've been getting away with it so far this season'...if you think that, you're daft. Take a look back. We've been confident and spirited and have created chances and played with that all important shape. So do we read more into all the games played before Sunday or do we only read what happened on Sunday and use that as a defining conclusion on the season so far?
Hope I'm right. Not for my sake, but for the teams sake.
It's beautiful timing with the international break now leaving us to fester in our misery and continue the discussions once more illustrating that we are as good as our last game with all prior positives dismantled and boxed away whilst all the negatives are let out of their cage and chains to run havoc and breed chaos.
Football is subjective and fractured and an absolute hellmouth.
You want the truth? No subjectivity? We we're ****. Well done West Ham. Let this be a lesson and let's never (this season minimum) concede as many and play the way we did on Sunday.
So in conclusion nice one Spurs. You've left me red-faced. And you know what they say...never red. Or claret.
(typos, grammatical errors and repeated rhetoric...deal with it. I've freestyled this, not going to edit. Keep it nice and clean if you're going to respond and fight amongst yourselves)