Watford @ home
The performance against Watford was very subdued and a touch sloppy. I'll take that at this stage in the season as long as it's accompanied by three points. The visitors had the type of zip and energy we wanted to see from our lot. It's about grafting through these final games. We have to play with better application in the remaining fixtures so let's not quite roll out the sunbeds yet. Another win this weekend might do it if Chelsea get done by Liverpool. But then again, all eyes on 3rd spot?
For now, I'm thankful that Watford aren't very good and Hugo Lloris was precise with his timing and shot stopping.
I'm pretty sure every year the pre-season prediction is that we wont make top 4.
Poch's first season, no expectancy. Second season, same again and we 'put the pressure on' Leicester City. Last season, many thought all the sleeping giants of the previous campaign would wake up and leave us trailing behind. Wrong again. This season Wembley was meant to have us sitting at mid-table. Wrong wrong wrong. Can you see the trend here? Even our own don't expect to challenge* and yet we do and then we moan about it not being a good term when we end up (possibly) 3rd or 4th.
*We've not really challenged, but you get my point. We've never been close to the title since the 80s and we're not yet today but considering the possibility isn't delusions of grandeur. Honest rival fans, pundits alike agree. Perspective gentlemen please.
It's been a good season for sure (once CL is confirmed) and yes, we are over-achieving. No doubting that. However it's time to admit we need to do more than consolidate the trend and push things forward. We seem very accepting of the fact that we do over-achieve. Maybe there's no way to lose this label for the time being.
With Toby probably bound to Barcelona and Mousa Dembele on the cusp of leaving too...Spurs have a massive summer job to complete along side the build for the new stadium.
We're facing four successive away games at the start of next season. Knowing the FA fixture algorithm I'd hazard a bet it will be City, Arsenal, Chelsea and United. Just for the bantz. We're up against it at all times because of our stature and our wage structure. We need to plug holes left in the squad with top tier quality and not French youth players. We need to pro-actively improve most areas of our squad. It's nothing original this. It's every bloody summer. Keep things fresh and competitive and perhaps give up on player projects that aren't suitable or good enough.
What is utterly mad is we’ve only lost twice in the league since November. Both against City. Think on. We're so damn close to something more than what we'll end up with at the end of this season and yet it feels like we're still miles away from attaining it.
Man, we do demand a lot. It's because we know we're capable. Almost capable.
105 in 150. He's going to get better. He's not sharp even if he says so. But that's okay. He's the most important player we've produced for generations. It's the end of a long season and he'll be hurting that some one season wonder from Liverpool is claiming all the accolades.
He's going to get better.
The club has to match his hunger for success because his hunger matches our own. It's that simple.
Lamela. Squad player yeah? Of course he is.
The love and hate for this guy is intense on both sides and he's used mostly as a pawn to combat two different tiers of our support; the pessimists (realists) and the happy clappers (realists). The thing is, strip away Baldini's mistake of signing a £30M 'attack minded' winger (lol) for a manager losing his way at our club and the blame can't really sit with the player himself. It's not his fault. Poch re-invented the mistake into something more tangible for him and his tactics.
The problem is, compare his er talents with say Eriksen or Son or Kane and it's a struggle to retain any argument that he produces as much as they do. However, he does produce. In pockets, literally, in and around the pitch. Be it an assist or a rare goal or diagonal pass. But mostly tackles, biting at ankles and inciting seethe in opposition players. He isn't useless. He is effective. He's Erik Lamela and he isn't very comparable to most other key players with more naturally obvious traits. This makes some supporters uncomfortable and others ultra defensive of him.
Unlike many other midfield failures we've had in our sides down the years, Lamela is better than all of them. That's not saying much I hear you say but my point is, you can't compare him to some of the clusterf**ks we've signed in our past.
Erik, however, is not a fireworks display of exploding colour. He's just a neon light that flashes up with a missing letter or two from a word that is indistinguishable. You can see it and it works because it grabs your attention but you're unsure what the point of it is. Yet you keep attempting to read the flashing word to no avail.
This isn't saying that Lamela isn't replaceable or that he doesn't offer some end product like many other players that are certifiable first teamers. Erik is an enigma, a conundrum - only in the eyes of those that constantly defend or berate. Whether the light bulbs in the missing letters will ever be replaced so we can read the word the neon spells out, is altogether a different question. The ilk of which will probably never be answered.
The only true reality is that he's part of our team and a loyal disciple of the Poch philosophy. He does a job for the manager. He isn't the player we thought we signed. He isn't the player we needed to sign at the time. He's a consequence of boardroom and managerial mismanagement. A catalyst for change, be it indirectly proving that Spurs had to change their transfer policy and the ethos around progressing and developing a squad that could work in the short term and be effective with longevity.
He's a poster-boy for what Poch does compared to what previous directors of football and coaches fixated on (sign, try, fail, sell). He repairs what might be deemed to be broken. He gives players that have the right mentality purpose to increase squad synergy. He gave Erik purpose.
The kid (he's no longer a kid tho) has had it tough with injuries and personal problems and yet he's still involved. Not in a Lewis Holtby (decent on the social media) kind of way but because regardless of whether you think he's rubbish or that you love his brilliant swarming and pressing (standard responsibilities of anyone in the team and not the attribute you want to be shouting about as a killer skill) he is neither rubbish or brilliant.
Just accept this and learn to love him too. No need to be offended or hate him because you dislike how a fellow Spurs fan chooses to perceive him. Lamela has always been Lamela and he's unlikely to be anything more than that. After-all, he hasn't really changed that much since he's been at Tottenham. Paradoxical.
The Argentine from Roma might not be missed in how we style and profile as a team without him but if he left tomorrow, in amongst all the rhetoric, I'll miss him for what he does offer...when he offers it.
Even now when Lucas or Son play, they are compared to Erik in heated discussions about how the other two are better in what they offer than the 'runs around a bit' Lamela. But he isn't that player remember. He was never really the Bale replacement. He isn't the creative galvaniser we thought we signed from Roma.
I'll miss him because I don't let expectancy of legacy decisions out of his control mask my enjoyment of his erratic manic offerings. One thing you can not label him with is the suggestion that he doesn't give it his all. Unlike say certain cult heroes from our past, Lamela is actually a very decent footballer, one that has been birthed purely by accident in how we utilise him. He's just not a key player, he's not someone we do actually miss like when say an Eriksen or Kane isn't there. But lets not pretend he doesn't slot in and help out when he's asked to. That's all he really is.
Coco got us all loco for the wrong reasons and that pretty much sums him up.
I heart you Coco.