Tottenham 1 Newcastle FFS
Spurs rolling back the years and giving it away like seasoned pros. From a seemingly dominant (first half) to an ominous second where naivety and casualness invited Newcastle to steal in for all three points and dish out our second league loss of the season.
Two sides of the coin. First half we out fought and out played them giving ourselves a singularity before it collapsed as both space and time got pulled away faster than light. I guess this was always going to happen having embraced our solid if not always spectacular momentum and proclaimed to aim as high as we can. Top four position calling our name. Talk of a title push. Even if we're firmly saying it anchored to the ground, the footballing Gods do love to slap us down for the sheer audacity to even playfully speak of it. Today, Lilywhite men can't jump. For the first time in a while neither our tenacity, spirit or luck held out to save us.
The only positive I could wish to take is to hope it hurt the players as badly as it hurt me. I've always said we'd need to be tested. Not so much in terms of being out played on the field because that still hasn't happened. My definition here of 'being out played' is basically being destroyed because the opposing side have been utterly brilliant. We still got out played technically speaking in terms of effort (in the second 45) and deserved what we got but it was hardly a master-class from the Toon. All they had to do was improve, bide time and watch our lungs burst. This was Spurs beating Spurs.
We got what we deserved because we let them have it. This is quintessentially something we did a lot of in past seasons. It's not uncommon for most clubs to suffer from it. It's just that for us, it reminds us of the upper ceiling we can never break through. Hence the reflex belief that we're going to sink back into our old ways - because in Spurs folklore, the single defeat is greater and more telling than a long stretch of unbeaten games.
The test of recovery from an unexpected defeat is one that will tell us if our mental strength is over hyped or not. Do we lose confidence or do we brush it off and move on? Is this defeat the perfectly cruel illustration of a reality we've considered a few times but not accepted? The one about needing more so that the shape of the team, its spearhead, can shift and change to give us renewed galvanised movement, in-game? Nah, we accepted this a while back. We've just waited until the day the panic button gets smacked at the very first sign of undisputed evidence before we look towards a defining resolution. Today being that panic button day when it probably doesn't need to be unless we lose a couple more times over Xmas. Fact remains, we need more depth. That will never change.
Caveat: Signing another striker won't magically fix things but it will make us far more robust and interchangeable which will improve us and thus remove the potential for excuse if we still can't deliver.
Not much wrong with our passing and movement in the first half. We missed Mousa Dembele's power and influence. Tom Carroll and Dele Alli didn't quite connect. Erik Lamela was hungry for more more goals. It was a superb first half of football and a deserved 1-0 lead, Dier glancing a header in from a corner. Loved the way we played it around in the final third, bringing in Danny Rose and Kyle Walker from the flanks. Wasteful at times but Tottenham were bullish and focused. More of the same in the second and it's surely 2-0. Cue tiredness/complacency/Newcastle turning up.
The second forty-five was a mess. We joke about needing a second goal but that's all we actually ever need. To take control of the game and its tempo, it's far easier to do this with two to the good, especially at this juncture of our progress where we have more of an identity (rather than when we led Stoke by two and still didn't quite know our best eleven). A second cements our position, gives us a buffer. Basic 101 football maths. We didn't get it and Newcastle upped the pace and our football gradually degraded before the smash and grab mugging at the end.
Far too many players had an off day (when looking back at the conclusion of the 94 minutes) which made for fragmented passages of play. Perhaps the first half was easy because Newcastle weren't able to dictate much, which masked some of the poor touches amongst all the good we displayed. When they peaked their intensity, we lost ours. It suggests we were too comfortable and then just switched off completely. The game was far too open which meant there was no control to it. Let your guard down, fail to retain a sense of fluid foot movement and things get erratic. It plays perfectly into the palm of the away side. Sucker punched.
We've seen it before right? Yes, sure. But I'm going to emphasis this is a new team which means all the good is new and all the mistakes are ones that should be contained within the present not compared to far more shabby teams of yesteryear. This means the coach and the players have to be accountable for the cluster of f**kery for both goals conceded. Both weak and avoidable.
Fair enough, you've got me. Both goals could have been goals conceded by those shabby teams of yesteryear. Limp and fragile in defence.
Still, from a single point to nothing, we didn't lose much. AMIRITE? You can't expect to win the game if you lose equilibrium - regardless of how well you played in the first forty-five. Spurs looked like a super efficient killer robot with loose screws, metallic limps falling off with each passing quarter until its legless and ineffective. Killer robot into imploding microwave.
How we react against Southampton is now the main focus for our immediate future. I can't look further ahead to what will be another attempted consolidation in January. I'll worry about that once Jim White suits up.
I had a quick look at social media. My eyes are burning. Witnessed countless citations from a particular breed of Spurs fans that have form for constantly firing off disparaging comments even when we win or draw. They're now screaming obscenities post-defeat. Begs the question, if you don't rate us, why are you so shocked? Or is that the point? You've been proven right in your quest to experience more Spurs failure? Be mad, go for it, I'm p*ssed off with the result but here we are - a better team than we've been for some time - but still with the same issue we had back in August. No second option up front which means no extra dimension. I'll probably be criticised for not being critical enough. Even though I am, constantly, but guess it doesn't count unless I'm baying for blood, pitchfork in hand.
I'll admit though, when their second goal went in I was thinking no way is this comedy bit being performed on centre-stage again. How many times have we laughed and cried at this BS? We've seen it so many times and yet it continues to occasionally gate-crash and remind us all that this endearing classic just won't disappear. Always looking for that last cheap laugh.
Fine margins, game of inches. In this league you get punished for not taking advantage. Not everyone rolls over. I might be proved wrong in time, but because of the amount of possession and chances created - having more in the way of fingers on triggers means second goal syndrome can be shot to death. Got to hope Daniel Levy and Poch have a target in sight otherwise that ridiculous and still not mathematically impossible push can still happen (even if we all know we'll still fall short but why not do so gloriously).
I've come straight from watching the game to writing this so not re-watched it or read up post game press conferences/interviews. I'll see if there's anything worthwhile writing about in follow up blogs. One thought digging deep into my brain. We've just boxed up November, the month that was meant to break us. December's fixture list into January on paper have less scary looking games. 'On paper'. These games tend to be more difficult because of the predicament the opposition might find themselves in. Regardless, it comes back to whether our squad, physically and mentally are good enough. The test begins next weekend and continues into 2016. Momentum has been halted. It's just one game. One defeat. As long as that stat remains the same and we re-start with three points next time round we can chalk this up as one of those disappointments that ruined a weekend but helped us cancel out the chances of it happening again any time soon.