From the greatest innings in cricket history to 96 minutes of existential football chaos. Spurs, abstract but lacking definable character. Existence precedes essence and we had no essence.
So does Tottenham even really exist?
Having trouble making sense of the above? It makes more sense than the actual performance we were subjected to against Newcastle United.
England staged a remarkable comeback at Headingley, something Pochettino’s men often do. A miracle in fact (think Ajax away in the CL for all your philistines that aren’t engrossed in this series). The odds were stacked with monumental pressure against them. There was, however, no pressure in N17. Not for the home team. There was instead a stage for them to perform with expression and expansiveness and yet they delivered the footballing equivalent of a duck. Any chance of a victory was left to burn to ashes on the turf. I’m stumped. England stoked! THFC kaned! It’s just not cricket m8!!!11
That’s my analogy dump done.
Let’s get the casual analysis over quickly and get back to enjoying the scrumptious Bank Holiday weekend Vitamin D rays…
This was meant to be easy ffs. Newcastle in disarray from boardroom to dressing room. They didn’t do much. They didn’t have to. Spurs were completely devoid of ideas, crushingly illustrated with our dominant possession stats compared to the away teams shots on target tally. Yes, Steve Bruce (we got out-smarted by Steve f#cking Bruce) had his men defend deep and counter. It’s such a basic template but one that has often frustrated us out of points. You’d think perhaps we’ve be a little more cutthroat with our application to negate such fundamental obstacles. But also no. This was the Titanic blindingly heading towards the iceberg.
This was the classic ‘not the opposition beating us, but us beating ourselves’ shrug of the head COYS experience.
Outdone by our own incompetence.
Here’s some quick snapshot complains that are probably better suited to be tweeted (I’m not setting foot into Twitter tonight). The sooner we get back to enjoying the only sun this weekend not to let us down, the better. Granted, it’s late evening now, but I’m sure you agree you’d rather be small-talking about the weather than the Spurs.
The marking for the goal conceded was softer than a 99 from an ice cream van. Our defence crumbling like flakes.
Fortress new Lane? New ground, same old problems. These are points we simply can’t afford to be missing out on and if we truly want to challenge across the vastness of the entirety of the season, we can’t slip up more than 3-4 times. Let’s say 4. That means we can now only slip up (0 pts from a game) three more times. Home and away. Title gone then.
Ndombele missing through injury. Still played two ‘holding’ midfielders (be it both are progressive with their own brand of stylistics). Having both meant not having that extra bit of forward thinking in terms of creativity. Winks is tidy. Sissoko marauders. But where is the play maker? The conductor? He was on the bench humming bitter sweet symphony.
Both Son and Lucas started. No Jan naughty-step Vertonghen. No not so Christian Eriksen. Result? Abject, narrow nonsense even with flankers in the side. There was no oomph. No zest. No astute intelligence with movement. It was all very bog standard stuff. What happened to the pressing and swarming and swashbuckling? Sure, there’s no Dele to pull defenders away from Kane but…well, actually…
…Newcastle played 50 defenders at the back. They parked up. But this wasn’t the bullet ridden bus from the Clint Eastwood movie ‘Gauntlet’. Instead, it drove off back to the North East with a shine, engine and wheels intact.
Kane often looked like he was drowning in brown ale.
No inventiveness or guile from us to find a break through. I’ve probably stated this already (it’s so unavoidably jarring), but it’s happened at the old Lane and at Wembley too. Maybe on days like this, you get away with it by having someone knock the ball in. So the team under-performs and no individual stands out but you get a bit of luck or you get clinical when it simply has to matter. Something Lucas failed to do, smashing the ball well over the bar when it surely had to be 1-1. We got away with a late show against Villa. Lightning doesn’t strike twice (unless it’s VAR and it’s at the Eastlands).
Eriksen (he’s popular in my thoughts at the moment) again made a difference when subbed on. Showcasing what we lack when he isn’t starting. For now at least.
VAR did a RAH and Kane had a pen denied. Looked a pen. Guess this was our technological luck getting chucked back in our faces after enjoying it in our favour in recent times.
That Lucas effort came on the 80th minute. That’s pretty woeful that it took that long to get that close to scoring and yet the ball was nowhere close enough to entertain it beyond the ominous face-palming that followed it.
Sanchez got away with a last man incident. Looked like a red card. Seen ‘em given innit. Jan must be seething. That would have made him a shoe-in for the NLD.
Yes, we will play worse and win. But we can’t be playing any worse than this. Please no more of the same.
The NLD is next. You know the game. The one where we play that plucky little team that almost merged with Fulham and instead settled with renaming a train station. The one that turn up against us with the same desperate (and often successful) West Ham Unitedesque desire to beat us, to mask all other indiscretions. Lose this one and ‘Spurs in Crisis’ will be trending.
Okay. Now for some concluding thoughts.
Is Poch at fault with his stubbornness or correct in regimenting squad mentality? It’s a valid question to ask. It’s easy for us to just scream something about playing our best eleven and dismissing any disciplinary issues behind closed doors. Poch came in and got rid of the dead wood and trouble makers and rebels. Jan is a class act (on the field and off it too - from our perspective) and we’re weaker without him but if he isn’t being selected because of an argument or contractual issue or whatever - would you really be accepting of his inclusion? Is the name on the back of the shirt more important than the badge? More important than the culture Poch has built? There has to be some consistency otherwise it undermines it all. Also, we pretty much know nothing about what might or might not have happened ‘behind closed doors’.
Is this all a simple case of circumstance? The European transfer window still being open?
Eriksen not being committed fully isn’t ideal. He should still be starting. Until he’s gone or Lo Celso is fit enough to start games. We’d have won if he had started. Probably. I mean, if his head isn’t in it, even when he isn’t trying that hard - against opposition such as Newcastle - he can still unlock their defence with an acute pass. Poch is more inclined to start a player that is committed to the club. I mentioned that already. It would be inconsistent if he didn’t. I just said he should still be starting. After also stating that Poch is right to be stern to the rules he has implemented.
As fans we don’t tend to look beyond our very best eleven (that can be selected if fit). We don’t have time to digest the politics. We always put Spurs first. The greater good of Spurs. But Poch isn’t in the same privileged position to ignore such things. He isn’t right? I mean, he can’t put the greater good ahead of his stubbornness because his stubbornness isn’t him being stubborn. It’s him being the coach, the manager. The greater good is the responsibility he has to own, without the sentimentality we often attach to it.
It’s a bit messy this.
That’s all I have for now.
Bad day from the gaffer. Bad day for the players. Absolute shocker for us having to watch it unfold. I guess it’s better to get these ilk of performances out of our system early doors and then never repeat them. That’s the only rationale I can take from it. As long as we don’t lose another home game again this season.
I’m not asking for much.
I guess based on my aforementioned maths, we’re still in the title race.