Look away now
The world famous tour of the Tottenham Hotspur circus continued this past Sunday with a visit to Anfield. If you were late to your seat or busy making a cuppa you'd have missed the opening goal. A goal so soft, it resembled a feather peacefully floating towards a sea of feathers where it would rest for all eternity to the soothing music of angelic harps. I almost floated away myself, into a dreamland where Tottenham absolutely positively never do the most obvious thing you expect them to do.
1-0 down in a minute and a bit. The most obvious thing you expect them to do.
Our players not getting tight enough as Liverpool casually strolled towards our penalty box whilst Spurs sluggishly came to the realisation that the game had kicked-off. Utterly pathetic start to the match.
Then 2-0. A goal as daft as the first one was cheap.
Michael Dawson on for the injured Jan Vertonghen. A first touch that wasn't pretty. The second touch, a side-ways cataclysmic pass back to Younes Kaboul with Luis Suarez hiding behind him and winning the ball before finishing past Hugo Lloris. You couldn't make it up. You literally couldn't. This is the script that writes itself. Two goals, two assists from Tottenham's narcoleptic brain.
Well, almost. Yet another mistake by a Tottenham player. I can't really remember who it was, to be fair they all look the same to me with their lack of urgency and self-pride, draped in white flags of surrender. Suarez, shaping up for a certain goal, headed the ball goal-bound and Lloris saved it onto the bar with Nabil Bentaleb clearing off the line.
In-between all the comical clown improvisation Spurs didn't look too shabby with ball at feet. We had the occasional adventure into their final third. This was of course an optical illusion. A distortion of reality. It didn't actually matter that we resembled a team during pockets of play. The fact is, there is no unified zest as a collective. Nothing to bind us together. No obvious plan or style. Just players parachuted onto the field, clones of expectations yet to reach a level of self-awareness that can be shared between all eleven. A team of ghosts with no recon.
Sluggish right? Well, add to it switched-off. This being the consequence of a calamitous season where leadership has lacked from the boardroom to the training ground to the pitch.
Tim Sherwood might be the easy target when it comes to dubious selections, tactical astuteness and man-management (not much to aim at then) but our performances are ones that appear to rely on half-empty tanks. We're sat in a sports car, pushing it up hill thanks to engine problems and the mechanic hasn't got enough tools in the box to fix it. To further this clumsy analogy (to match our clumsy football) the ones pushing the car are too busy dreaming about the summer months ahead to bother with effort and getting their hands dirty. This isn't a team, it's a collection of errors.
Sherwood; the job of Tottenham Hotspur is too big for him especially when you line up to what the vast majority of supporters desire - the very same ambitions we had in the summer before our fortress made of sand was swept away by the tide. Hardly fitting for the present day.
He should never have got the job. That old question about what the director of football/technical director is meant to be doing once more gets asked as we all scratch our chins attempting to understand how continuity can be attained if we remove the coach we spent £100M for and replace him with one that claims not to know much about certain (new) players. To simplify it; Sherwood is his own man with his own plans and has inherited a squad that sort of half belonged to the previous gaffer of team affairs.
Sherwood might think he can handle it but he can't (again because of the desire and expectations the club had aspired to) and neither do the players as none of them appear to display the traits of fear you would expect a coach to instil in his squad. It's all words no action - be it the ones from Tim's mouth or the echo we occasional get from the likes of Sandro, Dawson and company. Exactly what you would expect from a club and a team that doesn't really know what it's doing. Everyone is a victim. Well almost everyone.
Sherwood got the job because there was no alternative option because of the timing. Mid-season, there was no way to get someone more long term. If Spurs did attempt to do just that and fail and are on a promise to return to certain targets in the summer, then at the very least say the appointment of Sherwood is interim. If Tim refused to accept such a contract then offer the position to someone who would accept it.
I'm sure Tim isn't naive and understands how this will play out, so he's there to do as well as he can for himself. Levy will do whatever he thinks is best for himself. Spurs are all about the shock and awe, carpet bombing our senses to the brink of oblivion. It's not as bad as it looks (it never is) but if expectations are set without this continual game of hide and seek then we'd all be a little more calmer as we see out the season and look ahead to some of that famed stability we are forever chasing.
We lost this game in the tunnel before kick off. We lost it when AVB was sacked and Sherwood was appointed. We lost it when we signed seven players, some of which (arguably) were not players the previous coach wanted to sign. We lost it when we sold Gareth Bale. Keep going back until you're kicking down the chairman's office door.
Patience might nudge towards giving Tim more time, but this particular chaos needs to be calmed by wizardry from a more experienced wand. These dressing room lock-ins don't appear to muster up any improved character in games that follow. Where Sherwood perhaps should have looked to jog, he's doing sprint in a marathon. Steady the ship, set the shape, pick the best eleven and let them settle - be damned with trying to do anything more than that. Alas no, he's dug himself a hole so deep he'll probably ask Bentaleb to hold at the bottom of it. Don't blame him, blame the person that gave him the shovel.
Like I said, had we officially appointed Tim as our long term coach, the entire perspective on the club (from our viewpoint) and his own would differ from the current predicament. The players would have some ilk of focus. Many looked at the table, the amount of points off the top four and made an assumption that we could still kick on and make something of it. Perhaps with a certified appointment we could have but not with a caretaker in all but name. One that doesn't have the presence or the composure to control and contain several footballers that have lost their way in this mess.
He'd be more measured (if officially appointed as long term) and we'd have to suck it all up rather than spit out constant venom. Instead we have an interim manager attempting to prove himself worthy when everyone knows we'll chop and change for something more permanent. A recipe for disaster.
Disaster? That depends if your current perspective had you believing the season was still salvageable post-AVB sacking. It was mathematically but probably not anything more than that - is the answer to that question. To repeat a much discussed complaint, even though AVB struggled, to back him with the money we spent and to then sack him and almost behave like nothing major had happened in terms of overhaul is criminal neglect. You can't reboot the club in this fashion half way through a season. Well you can and what we've got is what you get for doing so.
Back to the game...
Liverpool simply didn't have to try that hard with Spurs so generous with their gifts. Our record against top four opposition this season illustrates the massive difference in assured ability and belief. A telling clue that we were never really in the chase for the top four are the non-event performances against our alleged competitors.
I'm not even angry.
The second half didn't last long before Coutinho made it 3-0. I kept thinking back to last seasons Anfield visit and how we made individual mistakes from a leading position to finally kill off Champions League and how Liverpool have gradually gone from possession obsessed statistics to scoring goals for fun. Free-flowing, clinical and ruthless with a gloss of brilliance sprinkled for good measure.
There were further cameos. Mistakes. We do love a mistake.
Danny Rose letting Daniel Sturridge in another 'here we go again' moment. The second half was spent day dreaming. Not just the players, but mostly me. Not so much about the past. Christ, as a fanbase we never stop going on about the past and making comparisons. I was busy thinking about a message I got from my bother:
You know that feeling when any sense of enjoyment in football has been sucked out by constant negativity?
Yep. Look away now bro...it's called supporting Tottenham Hotspur.
At least that sums us up for this season. Even last season to be fair when some wanted rid of Andre Villas-Boas after two games. Hindsight might suggest they were right but I prefer to think that the odds are always stacked against the appointment regardless so there's more chance of failure than there is of success so backing a horse to fall at the last hurdle is hardly a virtue of bravery.
Might be common sense though to see it coming. Much like it was with Sherwood (and why giving him time in this instance isn't a grand idea thanks to the way his opportunity was birthed). The blame game dominates every waking hour. Every single player has been slated, the hypocrisy and contradictions have far more bite than our attacks this season and about as much substance as our defending.
Then it was 4-0. All the while Sherwood sat gazing at a milky way full of exploding stars and black holes, his face set to the same expression. Freeze-framed much like the movement of his team. Perhaps he was considering the irony that had him sat up in the stands in the first place, an alleged campaign of spin that undermined Villas-Boas to the very end. I've mentioned that for the conspiracy theorists.
Jordan Henderson (remember when everyone laughed at him for not being very good? What a wonderful example of how patience can pay off in the end - if there is genuine belief they can master their potential). A free-kick that naturally found itself nestled into net through a huddle of players in the box, like metal to a magnet.
Day dream into full effect at this point. Was our best result against a top four side a 1-1 home draw against 10 man Chelsea? Hedonistic.
Highlight for me was the away support singing 'where is our manager?' At least we remain kings of self-deprecation. Plenty of songs and smiles. Belonging to Tottenham will always be the most important thing, regardless of the results. You'll never be able to laugh at us as hard as we laugh at ourselves. Just wish I could laugh at others more than I laugh at myself.
Circus and clowns. Floaty feathers. Broken down cars and engine trouble. Horse racing. Stars. At the moment the analogies are more entertaining than the football.
I'm not a fan of Sherwood, but the players are equally accountable and more so the ruin the board have created with their ambiguous tenure with all things football. All of this is a consequence of that. We are mismanaged so don't act too surprised by the results. Distract yourself with the latest transfer gossip and get yourself in the mood for next season© by renewing your season ticket.
Sadly, there is no real sense of pride/spirit/leadership. No one wants to fight for the shirt, there's no aggression or intensity. We switched off months ago. That's just a little bit disgraceful (regardless of any systematic degradation within the dressing room) but professionals can easily blame the ones above them in the hierarchy of hindrance. Roll on the summer months and the hope of rejuvenation.
As for these rumours of fights and arguments in the dressing room after the game, ridiculous when you think of our spirit and togetherness not that long ago - our away performances in recent seasons testament to that. The rumours are made up of course (Aaron Lennon and Roberto Soldado have both said as much on Twitter and if there was any truth the club would have imposed a media ban - although it's likely that words were exchanged) but they were almost believable...almost. Such is the state of our fragile minds and the first team after another walloping that some were begging for it to be true. Something something script writes itself.
The deluded faith I've perpetuated in recent weeks that we would still influence the top four in some way is a defence mechanism to keep me anchored to the season as to not completely lose interest. With Spurs drowning in a sinking ship having struck a Daniel Levy shaped iceberg, I may as well be all at sea with them, playing 'Nearer My God to Thee' with the orchestra.
(Titanic reference, slipped in for good measure)
As a final sign-off for this autopsy, I also think this season is the very last 'lesson learnt' this club can bestow on itself. Man the **** up and grow some ******* balls THFC.