I arrived at the Bell and Hare just in time for the weather to make its mark over Tottenham. Standing in pissing down rain with a can of Red Stripe isn't what one would define as enjoyment but West Ham were three down and I was just over an hour from visiting, well, my third home.
It wasn't surprise that hit me when I saw Adebayor was starting alongside the likes of Kane and Townsend on the bench but I was surprised to see Livermore and Sandro partnering one another in midfield. Livermore's progressed at the speed of Usain Bolt over the last year; it almost reminds me of O'Hara under the Ramos 'era'. I have started to really rate Jake. As well as he did last year we all knew he was just a step-in. Pure cover. Slotting in when needed and did a job. But in Newcastle and, particularly, yesterday I feel he's starting to add more value to the side. He comes across as far more disciplined this year. He knows his role thoroughly - when to defend and when to attack - and his passing has upped a level.
My issue is that the partnership between Livermore and Sandro, as much as I've enjoyed it, can't be more than a summer fling. We're entering the back end of August and, as positive I feel we have looked in the two games we've played, we're crying our eyes out for some creativity sitting in centre midfield. Someone to unlock a killer ball, open doors, leave defences on their knees. I'm almost sure we have a player of this calibre in our ranks, somewhere. I've also heard the same player has finalised his move to Madrid for the 63rd time this summer. I was sure Gylfi would start alongside either Sandro or Livermore with Vdv behind Defoe.
Again yesterday, I found it difficult to fault the performance and especially AVB. We pressed the ball, kept it well and West Brom didn't have much of a look in for 70 minutes. We eased off when we scored and their introduction of Lukaku was a game changer. The few that seem intent on jumping on the back of AVB and weighing him down with more pressure than he can handle need to, again, see the bigger picture. Agreed, it was West Brom at home. Agreed, this is a game we'd 'expect' to take full points from. Although this is a side we never give a whipping to. They're organised, no mugs, and evidently play right up until the final whistle. Sloppiness in defence cost us. What I was happy to see was we had more or less every player back defending; I struggle to blame AVB for failing to clear the ball when there were more than enough white shirts there to get it done. We're not finding ourselves unlocked with balls over the top or between our defence as we initially feared. This is the issue that occurred at Chelsea and I see no sign of this being mirrored this season.
Had we taken our chances when they were presented in the first half we'd have been home (but not dry) by half time. Arguably, leaving our key business to the end of the window may have cost us 2 wins but, saying that, it's the players we have got we need to focus on. I don't want to continue echoing what I brought up last week but last year's spine has been non-existent this season. King/Kaboul, Modric/Parker and Adebayor. Without atleast 3 of these we'd have struggled to even get 4th. What we had yesterday was, of course, no King or Kaboul, Modric or Parker and an unfit Adebayor. I feel Parker's role is more than covered through Sandro and Livermore but it's the lack of spark in the centre which is costing us. Modric will not be easy to replace but be replaced he must.
Some may say I'm digging out excuses to protect AVB. But I'd beg to differ. You only have to look at the key players that are missing, our evident need of a fit target man - Adebayor didn't have a pre-season - and our positive performances despite these needs to see that we're not in danger of having a catastrophe of a season and by no means are we the finished article just yet.
180 minutes of a season gone and a minority boo. They're probably the same people that didn't lose a single loyalty point after the deduction came in. Funny that.