We played, we drew, I ate
Watched our Group C Europa League game on Thursday in the kitchen on ye olde ipad (it's okay, it's never seen the inside of a football stadium), whilst cooking a meal to accompany a drink. Got to say it's a far more fulfilling experience than having the game on the tv whilst retaining one eye on my Twitter time-line. Yes, I know, there is no gun to my head forcing me to read the inner thoughts of hundreds of fellow supporters when I should be experiencing the game without distortion.
There is occasionally the sense of comradery or at the least the hope for it when surrounding yourself with other Tottenham fans, be it in a pub or social media. The reality is there's little enjoyment online, as the platform is mostly embraced for pessimism because it's so much easier to be constantly angry about everything. So as an alternative, I preferred to chop chillies and work the wok instead, in solitude, as I watched my beloved team play out a goal-less game.
I had not a single hateful thought, neither did I over analyse every misplaced pass or stumbled dribble. I did not feel the need to shout my opinions or associate any particular player with a constant expletive. There was no need for stand up comedy here. No lust for me to use our players as scapegoats for a quick witted joke to score followers. Hands up, guilty as charged. This was simply Spurs, me and a kitchen knife.
Okay, so there was potential for a loss of a finger but the game simmered at low heat like my stir-fry, with one glaring admission...there was nothing hot about the football.
Consider the following:
Partizan Belgrade are the Serbian league leaders
We had the usual mix of fringe players and a second string ethic with key players left back in England
We dominated possession in the first half without doing much. They took the initiative in the second with organised tempo
Kane had the very best effort the game offered in the opening minutes thundering a shot against the woodwork
The pitch was hardly the best but we still tried to play football
Benjamin Stambouli and Federico Fazio slotted in well (inc shaky moment for FF) but both looked reasonable comfortable, considering the occasion
Stambouli mobile and robust
Jan Vertonghen also pleasant on the eye, the key to getting the back-line stable in selection for the more important games
Sure, we didn't create. We didn't use the ball well, losing it, or running into players (hey Paulinho, how you doing?) We didn't hit the target (Kane aside I'm not sure we had another effort between the sticks). The display could be concerning if this is the manner in which we seek to progress in this competition. I still think the football will improve in time and we'll look far better for it and have end product to laud over. This is simply based on the accumulation of the training and Pochettino's work. I'm not killing grey matter here.
Lamela came on. Did some tricky footwork. Soldado came on. Should have stuck his head on a delicious Stambouli cross but attempted to control it.. Townsend was energetic if not refined.
Perhaps I was protecting myself from the full immersion knowing that it would not be a spectacular carnival of football, instead focusing on plate preparation and the aromas of black bean sauce. Or maybe this is the best way to get yourself through these early Europa games. Don't get too held down by performance (as long as it isn't bad enough to set a fire alarm off). A draw was decent enough. We won't make giant steps whilst we endeavour to find the right balance to stand tall.
Pochettino rotated. That's all he could do. Partizan turned it on in the second half and that pretty much surmounted to us defending without too many nervous moments. A lapse always found Hugo with safe hands.
One point, clean sheet, no injuries (Townsend dead leg doesn't count) and a lovely dinner. Not too shabby.