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Monday, 29 October 2012

We've changed.

"We had enough of the ball and enough chances - I don't think Brad Friedel has had a save to make in all honesty, we just couldn't score.
"We just couldn't get the break, we just needed a bit of luck in front of goal today."
That was the post-match comment from Redknapp after we'd just lost 1-0 away at QPR last season. A newly promoted side away from home. The side we put out had 'the likes' of Modric, Rafa, Parker and King as well as Bale, Defoe and Sandro. 
It's not the hardest spot to notice that we've been lacking the free-flowing attractive football that we'd become accustomed to last season. We seem more lacklustre on the break, more conservative when in possession and, at times, seem as though we look backwards instead of forwards for a pass. This, of course, is what comes part & parcel with selling your strongest players. Players that are unlikely to be replaced like for like - in the short run anyway. 
What we have been doing under AVB, though, is winning when we've been poor. We've seen ourselves become more resilient as the season has progressed and taken our chances when presented with them. If this Southampton game was played last season, you could almost have envisaged the hosts nicking an equaliser with one of the final touches of the game. I anticipated a struggle yesterday. I saw Ricky Lambert waving his genitalia in front of our back 4, much like Lukaku did when he came on for West Brom earlier on in the season. 
In previous games we'd struggled when a long ball was hit up to the forward man. As good as Gallas has been this season, this is still something he'd fallen short on. Not winning the first header. It was almost like primary school again as the bigger forward would bully him into mistakes. This was my primary concern. Although, come full-time, I was exceptionally pleased with his performance. We still have a tendency to sit off teams in the second half which is something that needs to be addressed and eradicated. We pressed Southampton in the first half and they barely got a sniff of Friedel's 18 yard box. We sat off in the second and we conceded. Of course, a pressing game is a tough nut to keep up for 90 minutes but we need to work on bringing it into the second half as well as the first. 
Southampton will be content with survival this year. Newly promoted sides are never always easy pickings to go away to. We've yet to put out a full strength side, we're not playing at our best but we're picking up points and this, arguably, is something we struggled to do for a large part of last season. We've yet to encounter a situation in which "a bit more luck was needed in front of goal".

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The experiment.

I'll jump right into the sea of beyond doubt here and state merely at what a fantastic season Jermain Defoe is having this year. Having ended 2011/2012 with more questions than answers raised, his status at the club remained on a knife edge. His future hung on a cliff edge as many clubs tempted him to let go. Then AVB was appointed Spurs' Head Coach. He flung a rope to Defoe and convinced him that grabbing on to it was the best for both parties. He fuelled him with a confidence, brought back that spark, that hunger, and gave him a new two-year deal. Neither have looked back since.

Although, amongst our ranks is a forward that contributed 29 Premier League goals last season. A forward we managed to bring in from Manchester City's Poundland in the summer and one in which expectations were amongst the highest. There's no doubting that without Adebayor leading the line last season we'd have struggled to get into the top 6. The guy slotted into our system proving the final jigsaw piece to paint a magnificent portrait that was our quality side. A side that brought both flair and, ahem, "swagger" to the Premier League, and football that we really couldn't get enough of. 

Things haven't been quite so bright as yet this season for Adebayor. The forward arrived back at Spurs Lodge (eventually) apparently overweight but, ironically, has lacked the hunger he had last season. This only brings back memories of the Mido situation all over again. Despite this, Ade's quality isn't lost over a summer. He looked his usual self when arriving onto the scene at home to Aston Villa and it's clear that he is a player that would bring more to the side when in the starting 11. AVB has recently said that Ade has to wait for Spurs to switch their formation for his chance. I understand that playing the same formation every week will enable the players to understand both their roles and that of their team mates', although, I do feel that changing it up every now and then leaves us far more unpredictable and offers us a different approach. 

The following is undoubtly hypothetical, but just what I personally would like to see be given a go (apologies for the poor layout).  [25 - Lloris; 5 - JV, 13 - Gallas, 33 - Caulker, 28 - Walker; 19 - Dembele, 30 - Sandro, 7 - Lennon; 11 - Bale, 10 - Ade, 18 Defoe]

1. 4-3-3 - We have an incredibly quick and powerful side, so why not play to those strengths? Pushing high up the pitch will give us the chance to press the ball and keep it in opposition territory. We also have stability with Dembele dropping back in alongside Sandro when defending. This also leaves us in a great position to counter-attack. My decision to put Lennon slightly wide of centre midfield is to give him the chance to pick up the ball early and drive. He'd also only have to look up and see both Adebayor & Defoe in front with Bale offering an option on the other flank.

2. 4-2-3-1 - This becomes a more natural line-up. Although, I would have Defoe almost playing off of Adebayor. There are two issues that I have with this formation. Firstly, the amount of space in front of both Sandro and Dembele. One would most likely have to sit in front of the other. Secondly, with two players almost sitting in front of the defence -arguably Dembele could pick up the ball and start off certain plays - it restricts the defence from playing a high line and pushing up. We've always looked nervous when we've sat off and allowed the opposition to play in front of us. In my opinion we seem far more comfortable playing higher up the pitch and pressing the play. 
3. 4-1-3-2 - This has sought to go some way in highlighting the potential issues from the second line-up and amend them. I feel this formation offers more stability. When we defend we have both wingers and 2 CM's that can drop in and revert to a 4-4-2 yet we'd have the pace in midfield and the attack up front to break quickly if need be. 

I'm not suggesting this is the answer to accommodating Adebayor. I'm merely offering a suggestion as to what I'd like to see be given a try. We should seek to fit Adebayor into a system that suits both him and the other 10 players comfortably. Defoe doesn't and shouldn't be dropped. Our plan B can lye with Dempsey and Sigurdsson.

At our disposal we have two very good forwards. Two different types of forward. Two forwards that can both score goals and create them. We have a very strong starting 11, despite having big pieces of our jigsaw sold abroad this summer. We've sought to fill these gaps with slightly different types of players and bring them into a new system under a new manager. At times we've looked close to clicking as a team but we're yet to fully find our feet as a unit. Every game is a another step in the learning process and trying different things is all part of this process. We know what Adebayor can bring and, in my opinion for what it's worth, involving him would be one step closer to making us click.


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Sunday, 21 October 2012

We are an embarrassment.

Chelsea at home. What was previously called 3-point lane from the away support had become memories. Mutterings of what was. We'd derailed a highly powered steam train at White Hart Lane and kept it off the tracks for 6 years. In those 6 years, we've experienced immense progression. We've matched the top sides, beating them in some years and established ourselves as one of the top sides in the country.

With great success comes great expectation. Fans become more expectant. We no longer enter these big derby games in the hope of not being embarrassed, but in the hope of finishing with three points more than we started the day with. We expect free-flowing attractive football. We've evolved from our previous eye-sore that we'd put up with for years in the past. We expect to win, every game.

Inevitably, with great success also comes a higher demand for match tickets, Spurs branded items and the like. More fans want to see the side play. Fans are happier to pay out more as their expectation to win grows. Many now visit White Hart Lane for the entertainment, supporting the side comes second to the day out. Criticism is easier to give than praise.

Standing in Park Lane yesterday cemented my belief that we can no longer talk of the fantastic support we offer at games. In the past we'd be used to experiencing defeat at the hands of Arsenal, Chelsea and United but atleast we'd stand there and back our boys until the end; singing relentlessly for 90 minutes. We're never going to compete financially with some clubs, but this is no reason why we can't win the game off the pitch. Our job as fans is to support the side. Support the side when we win, draw and lose. I almost felt embarrassed on Saturday. Chelsea fans, at one point, even coming out with "It's so quiet, it's so quiet at the Lane." This coming from supporters renowned for their lack of vocal support - or so I'd perceived.

We've moved on from times in which starting a chant in the stands was publicly supported through thousands of others joining in. We're now at a time when starting a chant is met with irritated looks. It's easy to sing and praise the side when we're winning. It's easy to sing "AVB's blue and white army" when we're ahead. But the moment we go a goal behind, at any stage of the match, I get the impression the majority are already checking for when the next train is departing White Hart Lane. The flood gates open and we swarm out.

Picture having your boss looking over your shoulder at work. You instantly feel nervous, tense. You worry so much about making a mistake that you don't excel or work to your best. The moment we go a goal behind the atmosphere gets tense and edgy. We find publicly criticising the side a far easier feat to accomplish than supporting them. What good does it bring? More often than not now I believe that many fans would rather sing "I know I am I'm sure I am I'm Tottenahm 'til we lose." It would have more truth in it than any other song.

I still remember being at Fratton Park under Ramos, being 2-0 down and singing Super Tottenham for about 8 minutes. Long gone are those days and long gone is my initial perception that we one of the best groups of supporters in the Premier League. I continue to question why we've become something we hate.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Lazy day.

We all love them. After work is more preferable. During a working day both your manager and customers are more than less likely to appreciate a half-hearted lazy attempt at doing something productive. Spurs failed to get out of 2nd gear and spent most of the evening in Athens strolling around in neutral. Of course, this was nothing on the part of the Greeks - they were predictably woeful - we just seemed failed to light any sort of spark and get going last night.

Somehow I struggle to envisage AVB telling the boys they'd walk this one. "Don't try tonight lads, the result will come." "You've beaten United so it's a certainty you'll smash this lot." Naa, don't buy that at all. The players themselves just seemed lacklustre, undeterred by the opposition and complacent. The only positive from this is that hopefully any signs of a growing ego would've been rattled and knocked a little. Villa themselves are proving a little unpredictable and turning up to that as we had last night will see all three points heading back up to Birmingham.

Contrary to what AVB says I think fatigue had little to do with last night. Of course, I know our squad's levels of fitness far better than that of our head coach. We find ourselves in the early part of October and have played the same number of games as the clubs we're directly competing with. Have we been on the pies again or have all these double training sessions left the squad tarnished? AVB could hardly admit the players weren't bothered and already had one mind on playing as themselves in the Fifa 13 Spurs Cup post-game last night; It's a little like the Emirates trophy but with a little more prestige. It's also not held at the Emirates. Results to follow.

Complacency is the last thing that should wiggle its way into a side that are still yet to hit their peak. If we genuinely want to have a real good go at the Europa League then AVB has to pass his belief onto the squad.

An unspectacular draw reflected a rare positive for the Greeks to bask in with the highlight of my night being the anticipation at 5pm of finishing work and watching Spurs play.

For it's a bland old team to play for...