I won't be diving into a tactical analysis of the 2-1 Anfield loss. That's not me trying to dodge inconvenient truths. I apologise, I only watched the game with casual enthusiasm. It's not very Tottenham for me to expect a defeat but that's what I predicated and that's how it played out. This competition remains an afterthought, a nuisance. So much so that in the modern era even the possibility of a trophy (in the People's Cup) is for the most part ignored.
It's about damage limitation, attempting to succeed with the minimum of effort. Playing fringe players so they get their game time and prove some ilk of worth on a less pressured occasion. Let's face it, if a top tier team played a full strength side - they'd comfortably get to the final. Instead, it's chop and change with the weekends league game deemed a priority.
If a team, say Spurs, stumble into the quarters then Wembley is regarded a viable target and thus treated with love and attention. I've been to all our recent cup finals. The win over Chelsea was nigh epic (made so by the 5-1 semi-final dismantlement of them lot down the road). The other two appearances we're not so enjoyable, but these are the golden opportunities we all desire. The day out, the chance for glory. It's what football should be about - winning silverware.
History is pretty particular about records and trophy hauls. Nobody will care about nearly winning the league or doing well in the Champions League. Yet, sacrificing domestic cups is now a fairly standard stance to take when preparing for the two other (preferred) challenges. Why? Because nearly winning is close to winning and if you do actually win something then all the sacrifices will be worth it. A game of inches is superseded by the game of gambles.
As emotive as I am with most things, I'm comfortably numb with this one. What can I say? I might as well copy and paste all of the above and re-use it again when we go out of the FA Cup.
I'm not trying to craft another excuse here.
To be fair, we didn't play too badly for the mish mash of a team we put out. Although we still looked light years away from scoring from open play. I'm not worried about our recent run of games either (2 league, 1 CL, 1 league cup). We all know (and I've discussed in detail post-match for the draws in the Prem) what we need to be doing to fix up and look sharp. This Saturday will tell us plenty about the teams mentality and equally so if Mauricio Pochettino himself is the one that's in a minor slump, unable to fine tune us into the more refined Spurs we all know and love.
I'll echo what I said after the 0-0 at Bournemouth. Poch is still building up every personality trait of this side, from one week to the next. If you believe last season was a Lilywhite fairy-tale, that we got lucky (ultimately unlucky) then perhaps you should fine tune your own perspective. If we over achieved then this seasons 'problems' are surely not that surprising. If you believe last season was the rebirth of Tottenham as a proper football team, strong in mind and body and relentless with their fronting in the face of fear itself....then this term is about consolidating that and pushing it up several notches. We can't stagnate. Nine leagues games in with rotation for cups isn't stagnation. It's management. Be it underwhelming thanks to all the little issues relating to off form players.
Do we really think that's an easy task to undertake? We've got nineteen points out of this slumpy transition. I'm still struggling to understand why some wish to entertain disparagement. But alas, I'm just guessing it's that ye olde defensive mechanism to prep for the worst so that we're detached from the depths of disappointment, avoiding its unforgiving abyss. I need to keep comparing my way of thinking with the opposite perspective, otherwise I'm all alone with my ego with fingers suitable placed in ears singing la la la la la.
Players are either out of form, seeking to retain full fitness or still on the sidelines. Others have taken responsibility, which is fantastic, it's what you'd want. Once everyone is on the same level, then we see exactly how much better we can be compared to last season. Knee-jerking is a waste of time. Wait until we lose five on the trot, yeah? At least practice what you preach if you only like to deal with hard evidence (and not wishful thinking).
Talking of hard evidence, there was plenty last time round with our quick reactions, bouncing back from disappointing performances and moving on. Already this season some of the more fragile amongst our fan-base have cited troubled times two or three times already. It's like struggling is preferred, such is the comfort of the past when there was no pressure, with expectancy and ambition practically non-existent.
As for Leicester City. We owe them. We owe them for the 1-0 at the Lane. For their annoying ability to avoid tripping up on the red carpet laid out for them ceremoniously by practically every other Premier League side that wanted them to win by not wanting us to win it. If Poch threw the League Cup away, untold numbers of professional footballers threw their morality away when Spurs finished 3rd in a two horse race (so cutting is that particular jab to the gut, the City fans have it printed on a flag). I'm not bitter. Maybe I am. *** everything that isn't Spurs.
We owe it to ourselves and the players owe us the supporters. For all the 'just wait, Tottenham will wake up soon' soundbites I scribble down...it would be nice if that platform was this weekend and the springboard was a convincing win.
We've got some ultra tasty games in November. Defining encounters that could produce bragging rights galore and solidify contention and qualification, home and abroad. The boy Harry Kane will be back, recovered, rested and revitalised in time for the manic Christmas period. Nobody looks unbeatable thus far (even if we still are).
Nobody looks like running away with it. Which means this season might be tight with several teams involved in the race. We still might still see one or two pull away from the rest. Could we? It makes Saturdays game a must win just to get closer to that potentiality.