The crime of the Andre Marriner
I'm not bitter. I promise.
Ok, so let's try to do this without drowning in philosophical excuses.
Tottenham outplayed for the first forty-five minutes, we couldn't get anywhere near them. Outplayed for the second forty-five, compounded by an advantage in numbers. It was men versus boys. Monsters versus fluffy rabbits. City on another level. Hardly unexpected considering their form and pound for pound superiority. Their identity is unquestionable. Ours retains its perpetual state of flux. Did we honestly believe we'd compete with that midfield? Fine line between bravery and stupidity.
There was simply not enough brute strength in the middle to compete. Easy to pick holes with selection aided by hindsight and we could debate what ifs around having say a Sandro in the middle and perhaps a Paulinho. Still doesn't mean we'd have seen much of the ball. But do think it was obvious we'd struggle to get hold of it playing Dembele central and the young talented but inexperienced Bentaleb. The latter was lost. Far too much was asked of him in the middle. Not able to cope with defensive duties, not seeing enough of the ball to recycle it. The former struggled with his touch but did more than most. One day we might see Mousa in a more offensive role. Utterly wasted at Tottenham, he's never had a definitive responsibility in the side where his strengths are used to our advantage.
Sigurdsson and Lennon made up the numbers in the middle. Both equally ineffectual, neither able to befriend the ball that was neatly knocked about the pitch by the opposition whilst our lot chased shadows. With no time on said ball our attacking outlets were null and void. Adebayor with no link and Eriksen desperately trying to create one. City as good with closing down and defending/protecting as they were elegantly rampaging in the final third.
Tim Sherwood should have gone for one of those holding midfielder types. Considering the quality missing from the side we should have been shrewd. We could have been ugly. Not quite the Spurs way and possibly far too Andre Villas-Boas (when it worked rather when it didn't) to perhaps suck the life out of the game and frustrate. Does make me a little sad (a lot to be honest) that there isn't any electricity running through the club at the moment. The power has been cut. We haven't even got a scented candle. Just a single light-bulb that flickers on and off as it swings left to right, unable to brighten up the dark room we all sit in.
Possibly exaggerating this emotion because we've just lost 5-1, but last seasons 3-1 win against City cuts deep in comparison.
The players gave up towards the end. Psychologically, I hope they've not given up full stop. How many times has this happened now?
Astonishing. Even more so when you look back at the games as they were hardly capitulations of comical proportions. They were systematic defeats which amplified our weaknesses - not just with the set formation or tactic but with the belief (or lack of) in both. We've conceded five and it almost feels normal. The opposition have been clinical with their endeavours and we've retained a static state of surrender in response. I guess you can't replace one player with seven after-all.
Also, it pains me to see how difficult it is to recapture fortress White Hart Lane which has been lost to any conquering enemy that wishes to plant their colours in the middle of the pitch. AVB responsible for the most part in our lack of adventure at home, unable to match the intensity and tenacity of our away form. It's the lack of wins in N17 which will cost us in the end. Still, this was City. We could have set up right and still lost but losing in the manner we did is hardly going to result with giddy confident strides post-match.
Still, at 1-0, anything was still possible. Then it was game over with the red card, Danny Rose sent off for tackling the ball in the penalty area. He tackled it right? In went his foot, it touched the ball away from the player. What's he meant to do? Knock the ball away and then make sure Dzeko doesn't lose his battle against gravity? Jan Vertonghen cursing the irony of his return with the left-back position fluttering her eyelashes in his direction.
Shame considering we showed some bite just before half time. When we managed to retain possession, we didn't look too shabby. Didn't use the flanks often enough but when we did there was the odd moment of intent. We actually resembled a football team during these brief cameos. Sadly it all remained far too untidy for us to muster more than the fighting spirit we displayed. By fighting spirit I'm referring to when we held the ball for more than five seconds at a time. Threatening from set-pieces felt underwhelming even though Eriksen's deliveries deserved so much more at the end of them.
Plucky Spurs isn't endearing to me. Have we somehow managed to de-evolve? I'm exaggerating again. Those pesky philosophical excuses have found a way in. It does feel like we've gone all Vinny Samways, sideways rather than holding onto momentum and pushing forward. Hardly a surprise. Consistency was never a Tottenham trait.
Then again, this was City, title challenging City, probably title winning City. Hardly a team that would take pity on one that is managed by a coach that has a handful of management game time experience compared to one that has around eight hundred to his name. Sherwood looking on from the technical area without any true ability to influence the masterclass on field.
Three one, four one, five one. Did it even matter in the end?
City were lighting fast when turning possession into attack for the 1-0. The early warning sign from Aguero who carved out a brilliant chance ghosting into the penalty area to see his shot strike the woodwork. Wish we had a silky skilled Argentine. When Aguero did score after 15 minutes the first thing that came to mind was that we didn't concede after 15 seconds. Improvement.
They could have had plenty more, every time they got forward I thought here we go again. So thankful for Hugo Lloris for that world class save from Aguero's header. He'll look great between the sticks for Barcelona/Real Madrid/PSG (delete where applicable) next season. Levy already rubbing his hands at another in-profit summer. Fiscal Army!
When the game turned from a walk in the park to a casual slow walking stroll early in the second half, City only had to plod forward with half the effort to carve us open such was the surrender of circumstance that was bestowed on us by those officiating.
I'm happy to admit and even lose to a team that are simply too good for us to handle. It happens. Even when you're on form, it can happen, so God forbid that eventuality when you're attempting to rebuild shattered confidence and dubious decisions rain down on you. Tim has done well so far, aside from a couple of indiscretions outside of the league games. His own misplaced trust let him down on the night. Those officials didn't help matters, or rather they helped matters along for the visitors.
Okay, so perhaps the Michael Dawson goal was not given because Emmanuel Adebayor was in the mix just ahead of him, causing strife with the defenders, interfering a bit, that might have been deemed illegal. Or maybe he was just offside. Hard to tell from the replay. Maybe the linesman guessed. To remain balanced, let's not forget the incident with Nabil Bentaleb embracing the ball in the penalty area, gently caressing it before sending it on its way. Seen penalties given for far less than that. Had little chance to get out of the way, granted, and in slow-motion it looked far worse than it did in real time.
Fernandinho's attempted punch on the line when Etienne Capoue scored the consolation goal (just after half murdering David Silva) also proves the footballing Gods continue to mock us. Had he cleared it off the line then it would have been 10 v 10 and a penalty. We'd have missed the pen. So no great loss.
I'm more concerned with the fact that with ten men on the pitch we never seem to have a handle on damage limitation. No leadership. No Ledley King. Tighten up at the back lads, yeah? Could definitely have done with one of those holding players that defend. Then again, like I stated already, we gave up.
Capoue's goal probably had Levy fax over a new improved (for us) transfer fee for Napoli to cry over. Holtby threw his shirt into the Paxton at the end of the game after coming on as a sub. Loan deal out of Spurs to Fulham with Berbatov arriving the Jim White head exploding deadline transfer day bombshell some would prefer to see.
Don't have much more to say. When the fourth went in I switched off. In my head. I kept watching but I was numb to the late goals. I expected us to concede more. Strange how we have strengthened the squad yet remain susceptible to spankings and now appear to have weakened it because we have no fabled continuity. More emotional exaggerations. It was worse than it seemed even though it was pretty bad.
Fact is, City are ridiculous. In practically everything position. They're not just clicking, they're stamping and bullying and destroying with ample ease. Not just us but anyone else that dares to get in their way.
We'd have still also lost the game (possibly, probably, maybe) but special thanks go out to the officials for destroying any faint hope of something, even if that something was minuscule. It was still something. Or at least it could have been something. Andre Marriner shooting down our Albatrose, leaving us cursed. An omen of bad luck with no burden left on the shoulders of the referee.
Best we just concentrate on the singular positive from this match; We don't have to play City again.
I'm over it already. Writing this has cleansed me.
A Tottenham existence was never meant to be an easy one. Don't know why I ever expect it to play out any differently. Can't smile without you even with days like this.
Sandro, Paulinho, Vertonghen, Kaboul, Townsend, Lamela. Practically the core of any given side we could field. The fact we've been thrashed four times this season and still have everything to play for sums it up.
I love the fact I can still believe.