So we did what was needed. Well, we did more. We did what we, as supporters, wanted Spurs to do. We won a game, and well. What I loved witnessing yesterday was the evident level of urgency from the first whistle. I credit both Sandro and Luka here. They were both constantly looking to push the ball forward and with pace. Although Sandro, for me, was key. It may prove a small blessing in disguise that Parker may miss another game or two as Sandro is the type of player we need operating in our midfield in the remaining fixtures we have to play.
A player with the energy to truly play the "box-to-box" midfielder. His defensive duties are undoubted but his ability to break from midfield and beat a few players is an aspect of his game that could really prove the difference in the final three fixtures. Of course, there is a large emphasis on the word 'could.' Parker has been an inspiration alongside Luka this season, he has proved a fantastic compliment for the Croat but, of late, has looked a little fatigued and his performances have reflected this.
Sandro's energy and grit is the sort we need in the middle of midfield when we really need to grind out results. His ability to boss the midfield and keep the ball in the opposition half will hopefully pay dividends for the forwards. Yes, hopefully.
Blackburn didn't even look a side that came to pressurise us, close out the space and stick 11 behind the ball for 90 minutes. They looked a side defeated before they'd even taken the field. It was almost as though that damage limitation was top of the agenda. Their strike force was redundant as they failed to register a single shot in the entire match. I put this down partly to our brilliance at maintaining possession and Blackburn's general lack of eagerness and grit.
It was a joy to see every player playing for everyone else. Everyone seemed to want the ball again which, as I'd previously pointed out, had been something that had been lacking. Players had the confidence to play, move and push the ball forward. Of course this was a side that are probably the worst in the Premier League at the moment. But, as they say, you can only play what's in front of you. Bolton will prove a sterner test and away at a ground we haven't won at for years. My primary concern for this is our defending of aerial balls. Gallas looks incredibly suspect to a long ball towards him and this is where, if fit, King should partner Kaboul as both are far stronger in the air. The only positive I can see going away to the Reebok is the emphasis is on Bolton to try and get a win in front of their fans. It would bring a small surprise if they were to set up 11 behind the ball for the majority of the game.
But hey, this is football. Points are gold dust; 1 point is better than none for those scrapping at the bottom, but three is a must for us. Keeping a level-head, it was only Blackburn. But the performance and mentality of the players warrants a congratulations. 3 cup finals to go. Hopefully we can go to the Reebok and put out another performance like we did on Sunday.
'Hopefully.' Nothing really is certain with Spurs nowadays, is it?
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Conspiracies. A small mutter of one rumour propelled by, of course, an "incredibly reliable" ITK and 5 minutes later a 100,000 people have heard it, spread it and adapted it in their own way. It's almost like a mass game of Chinese no-so-whispers. I choose to ignore them and until word becomes official, I don't believe them. Does our slide in form really have to have an underlying conspiracy theory that Harry has signed for England and that our key players are more or less sold? It's like a broken record. We've heard it all before. I've lately heard 'Arry's being lined up for the San Marino job. Anyone else heard that one?
Gallas tried to pinpoint that Spurs have "run out of luck." Maybe we've been watching different sides this year but I struggle to identify where any real "luck" has played a part in what was a promising season up until late January. We were playing well and deserved to be winning games. We weren't leaving games with 3 points because of dubious decisions or good fortune, we were leaving games with maximum points because we deserved to win those games.
In truth, any real luck we have experienced has predominantly been bad. I don't need to refer to the various games. Adebayor's been on the wrong end of luck having had 4 goals wrongly disallowed and, on reflection, it has cost the club dear. The standard of refereeing has been incredibly poor and, although we have suffered at the hands of it, we aren't by far the only side which has done so. But, saying that, I don't buy this "What goes around, comes around" lark. Until we're granted goals that didn't cross the line, goals scored in offside positions or penalties wrongly awarded, I won't buy it.
Maybe I'm looking through Spurs-tinted glasses but I like to think I'm not, of course. We've hit a bad patch of form that we can't seem to get out of. In the back of my mind, and I mentioned on Twitter, that the years of disappointment has taught me that "this will go tits up at some point," my words to many others. It's incredibly rare that sides go a whole season without hitting some bad form. What happened with us is that we ran into a run of tricky fixtures where the distinct possibility of dropping points was always going to be very real.
You can read what I blame our demise on for the last two months here
I refuse to buy the conspiracy theories, the running out of "luck", 'Arry problems, player problems or anything of the like. The defeats have deflated the players, knocked them down and brought them crashing back to Earth. Mentally we look unstable. The only comforting thought is that this is football and in 90 minutes- 97 if your losing at Old Trafford- anything can happen. All we can do is hope that the players and manager have picked themselves up in time for Saturday... and they've worked on a few more set pieces.
(Try to) Keep the faith.
Monday, 16 April 2012
Gareth Bale had just equalised in the 65th minute at the Etihad stadium and suddenly we had the league leaders staring at the prospect of dropping points on their own patch for the first time this season. I took off my Spurs-tinted glasses and yet still saw a new Spurs. A Spurs that had guts about them. Had fight about them. Had the desire to win every ball. I couldn't help but be in awe. But then reality dropped us back to Earth with a bang as a sloppy mistake from arguably Ekotto then King cost us a point after Defoe had gone within inches of stealing three.
Ekotto took to Twitter to vent his frustrations and stated that he'd rather lose by three goals than lose in the fashion we had in Manchester. That was something that stuck with me. With a kind league position and positive season thus far, I hoped that the boys would take heart from the performance at City and carry this throughout a tough run of fixtures that was to follow. In all honesty, the pessimist in me looked at Arsenal away then United at home followed by a tricky trip to Everton and screamed 0 points. But this new Spurs couldn't help but fuel belief we might get something, from somewhere.
The Arsenal game set in stone what an uncomfortable several weeks we had coming for us. If any history is to go by, two goals ahead in this game means anything but a guaranteed win. We looked good value for an early two goal lead but soon enough complacency kicked in to the side. Every player seemed crying out for their moment against Arsenal leaving a sickening gap in front of the back four. We were opened up like a common hooker. After well and truly being dismantled against an apparent poor side, the belief, aspirations and confidence that this season had given us seemed well and truly flooded from our bullet wounds and left at the Emirates for Arsenal to feed on for the progressive weeks that followed.
United at home. Almost like a derby day. Once more I saw this Spurs side keep the ball very well in midfield but noticed that never once did we look confident going forward. The urgency, the fight and the desire seemed to almost be but a distant memory. Within a month or so this Spurs side looked a different side, a side that I'd grown to watch for so many years but hadn't witnessed recently. No one wanted the ball. No one wanted to run. No one was getting any service. It seemed each week, with each progressing fixture, more and more confidence was being chipped away. Suddenly this loving father figure at the helm was becoming more and more like an evil step dad. Our faith in him was brought into question as our performances continue to flatten.
But we'd come out the worst of it right? What faced us was an 'easy' end to the season. The common cliche will tell you that there are no easy games in this league. Although, unlike last year, I don't believe it was complacency that caused us to drop points against Stoke and Norwich. A large part of the damage had been done in the past fixtures. As more belief and more confidence was chipped away the players found that pressure had well and truly caught up with them with the teams around us starting to find their feet with results (and decisions) flowing their way. Arguably, Redknapp got it wrong against Norwich. If I'm honest I was happy with the line up we started with. The 11 that started the game whether in 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2, should've been more than capable to overcome a newly promoted side sitting in mid-table. What I noticed was that after Defoe had equalised and Bale came close from hitting the bar, it was Norwich that wanted the game more. They had shades of how we were playing in the first half of the season. Norwich were almost like a comparison of how we were playing to how we are now. Confidence had truly flooded from the side. We'd lost this game in the weeks building up to the fixture.
It's noticeable that earlier on in the season, everyone wanted the ball. The enthusiasm, the passion, everyone worked for everyone and everyone wanted to win. The team had seemingly instilled a winners mentality. A mentality to overcome any hurdle pitched in front of them. Our demise started when Balotelli knocked in the 95th minute penalty. Yesterday summed up our spirit. No one wanted the ball. Luka would have it with a bit of space and no one would move for him, no one was readily available and soon enough he found himself drifting out wide to get others involved or found himself going backwards. We failed to deal with numerous long balls that Chelsea forced and within a season it looked as though we'd fallen back to square one.
The side looks nervous. They don't look confident. They look a side that approaches every game with trembly knees. The lack of pace at CB when Kaboul's not in the side frightens me. Our midfield, at times, wants to push forward but our CB's don't have the legs to play a high line. Redknapp's signature 'arm around the shoulder' effect has faded. The players do need someone to flood them with confidence but someone with more of a tactical prowess and more direction. Contrary to what Scott said, re-run videos of earlier in the season when we were a joy to watch. As fans we love re-watching exciting games that we come out on top off and it fills us with confidence for the following fixtures. There's no harm in showing the players the level they could and should be playing at.
This is not a knee jerk reaction. This is a reaction that has been formed over each week after the 22nd of January and how each fixture has slowly brought a sudden demise to a side that were looking unbeatable before Christmas. I look at the final 5 fixtures and, with us struggling to overcome Norwich at home, I find myself clutching at straws that we'll get fourth. We've run into a sticky road that we don't look like we're getting out of. All we want is the fight, the desire and to see that the players want this as much as we do.