New chapter, no words written
How exactly does a Spurs fan go about reviewing a 1-1 draw with WBA at home? Best not to bother but then I'm not sure how productive and entertaining the alternative is for readers of this blog. Not certain posting selfies as I progressively work through a brand new bottle of rum is relevant. Although arguably more entertaining on a personal level.
So here's my attempt at the former rather than the latter.
Do I go in all guns blazing attempting to de-construct Tim Sherwood's tactics and selection? Do I consider the impact Andre Villas-Boas had during his time at the club (the overhaul of everything from match preparation to on field methodology?) and the subsequent effect of his depature? Do we give Tim time to settle and for the players to settle into a new system of doing things? Or do I just take what is given by the coach and players in terms of performance and then respond with honesty - one game at a time?
Once again, your own perception and expectancy will fuel approval or disapproval of what we've seen so far.
What have I seen? Very little and quite a lot.
This is no longer AVB's Tottenham Hotspur and I'm hoping (praying) this is simply a shadow of the side Sherwood's version will one day be. Soon, I hope. Or at least he hopes. Or maybe he doesn't as he'll pick up a nice wedge of money if he departs in the summer. For now, what we have - what we're getting - is a side far less drilled and refined than the one we had before. This impact is to be expected, regardless of what ambitions you harbour for the remainder of the season. Or is it?
Should we be as naive and carefree as we appear to be when the players at our disposal are capable of far more in terms of discipline and dominance? Or are the problems inherited by Sherwood going to give us headaches for a few more weeks? We've got a few keys men missing. But we have depth. Always with the depth. Always with the excuses.
We won't know anything telling, truly telling, until we face a strong(er) side. Then we'll see what Sherwood does to combat the opposing midfield, to battle and win the territory in the middle. Lining up as we did today would be suicide against a team set up to suck up and spit out.
Revisit the word naive for a moment.
If you're a team with players pound for pound superior to the opposing side and you're playing at home, do you just play in the belief you'll out play the or do you seek to sacrifice a little of the over-exuberance and instead bully them and pick 'em off a goal at a time? Hold back, don't show them all your cards. Make them think, make them question. Spurs are obviously not at a level where they can destroy opposing sides because we never score early and build on it.
There was no parked bus antics for WBA - why would they consider it if there was so much space for both teams to take advantage of?
We had far more of the ball in the second half but the visitors could argue they had the better chances, even if we had the majority of them - again. Ruthless, cut-throat mannerisms not synced into Spurs this season.
Regardless, the outstanding tactical quirk that stood out was that even though we took the ball forward and did so with far more urgency, there was nothing to ease the fact that we could have easily have conceded as we could have scored. End to end, gung-ho attacking and defending is hardly of a refined nature. Even the fluidity was untidy, although there is no denying we look more likely to score than we have in the past. Urgency is all well and good but control of tempo, dictating pace of passing - there's a more culture style to be had.
Are players attempting to recapture the freedom of expression?
Possibly. Having all worked towards gelling under one coach and one vision they're having to do the exact same thing again - just with less constraints. But running around a bit doesn't necessarily mean it can produce convincing performances. Then again, this is three games in and his first as our permanent coach - so once more, it goes back to what you actually expect considering everything that's happened.
Some of our fanbase decided after three games they had seen enough to remain completely unconvinced of Andre Villas-Boas potential. Seemed ridiculous to do so at the time and equally so now. Still, I can't help but think Sherwood can reel it in a little.
Loved Christian Eriksen's free-kick goal. Nothing beats a dipping dead ball striking the woodwork and going in. His general set-piece work also of a solid quality. Laughed at the mocking irony (I need to copyright those two words when together) that we concede a couple of minutes later, from a free-kick aided by some pretty cheap defending. The best and the worst of Spurs.
Maybe it's because I was nursing the usual post-Christmas day hangover form excess, but this game looked as drab as I felt. Even with all the movement and pace, it played out in slow motion.
As a generalisation (this is not a dig at Sherwood), the Spurs way that supporters want (free flowing attacking football) isn't what we got to see today. Running really quickly with no clear concise flow is just that. Running. Quickly. With the ball. I guess that almost feels revolutionary when you look back at some of the more deliberately slowed down football that most referred to as plodding. Ignoring the three spankings we got (yes, you can hardly ever ignore them) for the most part, under AVB, we never looked like a team that could or would be beaten without extreme difficulty. We did however look like a team that would occasionally defeat ourselves (by not scoring and turning possession into goals).
Redknapp was able to mould a team of disheartened players playing out of position into a team that first rediscovered self-belief and then grafted towards a togetherness that released pulsating football.
Our new gaffer has a team that, for the most part, worked but remained dysfunctional where it mattered most - up front. If we had won more games, more convincingly - regardless of what you thought of AVB's style - he'd probably still be with us. It all degraded in the end, broke Andre and left his philosophy in tatters. Yet, it's not like the players were/are broken. Instructionally perhaps they need to be fine tuned. The lack of invention up front remains the crux and it's still working its way out of the darkness to reclaim the light.
Sherwood will surely be working towards a happy medium - positive football but calculated and considered when needed to be. Question is, how long does he have to get there? The answer - till the end of the season. Perhaps the freedom he has (he's in a win win situation, no true pressure aside from protecting his ego and the hype he's aligned himself to) will be his downfall but then I'm pondering on a conundrum that hasn't played out yet.
Next game, regardless of your position with expectancy, like me - you're going to want to see a little bit more. Perhaps another dimension.