The universe says no
I've thrown together my thoughts on the League Cup final without any deep analytical commentary mainly because when you're experiencing the game at Wembley from the Gods, with an alcohol induced restricted view you tend not to pick up on the little nuances as much. Add to it the emotive pressures and expectancies causing claustrophobic nail-biting and then mash it up with the lack of constant reply action and camera angles. You're left with something better than television because you can taste the atmosphere but it's not necessarily as definitive. Not on an occasion like this.
I'd usually re-watch but I'm not sure I can struggle through it knowing how it all ends. Beyond the necessity to dissect tactics, it's in the moments outside of the discipline and instructions that make the difference. You carve out an opportunity but don't make it count or make the wrong decision. That comes down to the quality you possess or the unlucky inch the wrong side of the woodwork.
On the day, we got beat because they did the perfect job on us. On this day their discipline and the instructions guiding them suffocated any quality we had and was enough for them to edge ahead and then their lead.
Chelsea had as caged up, occasionally allowing us to claw and roar but ultimately we remained tamed behind bars. Our threat was expertly nullified. A case of clinical unglamorous organisation defeating the more expressive desire of gears of glory. Jose Mourinho taking our 5-3 victory over them in the league and using it as a template to mould a more effective game-plan knowing that we don't have an alternative key to unlock their door once they've had it reinforced.
We couldn't quite muster up an extra dimension to our play. Their first goal (deflected) came at possibly the worst time. Brutally from the feet of John Terry moments before half-time. Seconds earlier when the free-kick was given away I found myself thinking how typical and gut wrenching it would be for him to score. The mocking scream of fate made my ear drums bleed when my nightmare came true.
I think we lost the game in that moment. Before hand we had performed admirably. I can remember the Eriksen free-kick onto the bar. Kane had an effort but the power behind it wasn't enough. Our football was good and our endeavour positive. We contained Chelsea (they did look dangerous on the counter) and the game was equally matched. Until that goal.
Second half, another goal conceded this time early on, in off Kyle Walker. Two fortuitous knock-out blows. Two more than we managed. They had the luck, we didn't. But then I can't argue that the manner in which they set up allowed them to take advantage. The longer the game went on we had less spark and lacked ingenuity. That was thanks to Zouma boxing up Eriksen. Christian without a prayer, involved with plenty of touches but no successful visionary passes. Chelsea's midfield stopped ours from influencing the tempo of the game. It was calculated and ruthless.
This game wasn't like a derby at the Lane where the intensity is far richer. Their depth on the day dominated key areas and I sat there thinking to myself this is exactly what happens when they retain perfect focus and all we can do is keep banging away with our plan A. There is no plan B, mainly because if you compare us pound for pound it can appear to be ridiculous to even suggest we can compete.
We have quality just not enough of it. We have youth but not the right level of experience. I've got to remain philosophical about it. When Dembele, Lamela and Soldado are the players subbed on you know we're at a disadvantage.
Maybe if the Eriksen free-kick went in or if we managed to fumble the ball over the line in that frantic final ten minutes or so, something out of the ordinary could have shifted the balance in our favour. Chelsea we're simply not going to make mistakes we could take advantage of and we couldn't work out how to work our way to scoring or even creating that moment of magic.
I could easily get all psychotic and bipolar about this result. Bemoan that we should have played our strongest eleven in the first leg against Fiorentina and killed them off. Rested more than most for the second game. The 'chase' for top four which is turning into the bane of modern football might yet break our backs in the remaining months. I'd still much prefer to look ahead.
We've got the makings of a strong spine. Spirit and the willingness to be successful are good traits to have. Our youngsters need older heads to guide them through this evolution. We need better options as a squad and we also need to define our priorities - even if they are ones we (as a fanbase) don't agree with.
If Champions League is the be all and end all of ambition for clubs and players then let's stop dicking around with the Europa League with the energy zapping lust for the off chance of making a final that grants access to the upper echelons of football. The fact the competition is a safety blanket for clubs knocked out of the CL pretty much sums up how we're constantly cheated of aspiring to glorious cup runs that are such because of their prestige rather than an afterthought of where the real money is.
Pochettino is going to need to be backed constantly with players in/out to be able to build on the early foundations.
And there we have it. We lost, the day grew old and the result is now resigned to the history books. On the way home Sunday evening, around 11pm, there was a group of six Spurs lads on a Central line carriage singing, smiling and dancing. Anyone would think we won. It's simple things like this that remind me I'm still Tottenham so **** anything that isn't. Wasn't our day. Onwards to the next one.