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.