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Thursday, 13 November 2014


I made one of the biggest decisions in my short-lived technological life to present. I voided into the unknown and swapped my unintentional life-loyalty of Windows for a Macbook Pro. I've never been one that's scratched further than the surface in regards to technology. I don't keep my finger on the pulse at the best of times in regards to innovation, it doesn't reflect my greatest interests in life.

But I ventured into the unknown. Sure, it was a little difficult at first but I'm starting to understand the basics. Over time I'm sure I'll grow to be more comfortable, more natural in my approach in utilising a Mac. Transitioning from one way of thinking, one approach, to another is naturally difficult. Don't we just know it. At Spurs we're lacking those basics. The foundations looked there after pre-season. The win over QPR reiterated this. The patches of pressing solidified this perception. But that's all it was at the time, perception.

Eriksen made a note to the Danish press that Pochettino has changed his system in the short-term with the hope of instant results. A damning issue if correct. It largely reflects arguably our managers own concerns of his position which will do little to breathe confidence into the playing staff. Our results have reflected this. A manager appointed for his pragmatic and exciting approach to football matches belittled into becoming his own enemy.

A fearful mentality at Tottenham Hotspur. That cutting edge of belief always missing. A mere soundbite of "What happens if we don't make it..." rather than "we will make it" removed with the conveyor belt of endless manager sackings. We're too quick to shy away and it is just this fearful mentality that reflects the frail nature and polystyrene spine of Tottenham Hotspur from top to bottom at all levels.

We're lightweight on the pitch. Regardless of the prospective intelligence of our playing staff, you cannot both shy away and revamp over 100 years of English culture. Power, aggression. Paramount at one level or another. Its' non-existence telling of our sour position in the Premier League. A position only not classified as 'disastarous' because of the disappointment form of our rivals. Worrying.

We're lightweight off of it as well. Our scouting network just as embarrassing as our performances on the pitch. Bitterness from Comolli regarding our scouting network? It didn't seem so. The links with Pochettino's former scout Paul Mitchell as well as the further employment of former chief scout Ian Bloomfield suggests there was a gaping flaw in the now-seeming previous 'regime' (can we call it that?) of trusting one man duly unaccustomed to Premier League football with over £100m of a transfer kitty. Quite possibly the strongest two fingers up to Baldini he'd have likely ever seen but an also quite probable indirect further set-back in the confidence of those we did recruit. "The bloke that signed us has been told he's done a terrible job". It wouldn't fill me with confidence if I ever heard that.

Signs. In pre-season it's all we seek out. How we set-up, a style in how we approach fixtures, an identity. We carried one through for all of 5 minutes of the Premier League for it then to diminish. I jump back to what I mentioned earlier on about Pochettino altering his system in the short-term in the hope of immediate gain. In truth we have seen glimpses, but blink and you'll miss them. It fits an all too typical narrative but we look sideways. We try and play it safe in possession and actively encourage the opposition to harass us.

Does this reflect the nerves in the side that Adebayor came out so publicly to talk about? Arguably. But we've struggled to facilitate and engineer a set style for the most-part of the season. It's not that we're failing to successfully undertake an obvious style but that we are failing to even attempt one. Then we fail to have the players to lead by example and grab the game by the lower regions. What does it say about our first XI that 3 players have come through from the academy over the last 12 months and 2 started the last game? That those players are exceptional or that our current crop are just poor? I'm deliberately opening this can of worms. Mason & Kane have looked good when playing but I'd argue the answer to the above is a mis-match of both aspects. For arguments sake, I've actually been happy to see Bentaleb, Mason and Kane involved in the first team of late.

It's easy to argue we have the wrong players in the wrong system, but it's natural to expect more. Sometimes it becomes difficult to tell if we've a set of rough gems or dirty stones. Talented, raw players or overpriced imports? Maybe it's too early. We've seen what Eriksen can offer and Chadli has grown into a more forward role, but we've failed to see what anyone else has to offer. We're sitting in a posh restaurant and have so far been given a plate of cheesy chips in a greasy cardboard box. It's natural to have expected more.

We're paying the expensive price for flaws throughout the hierarchy at Spurs. The lack of scouting network has presented us with a wealth of problems in which we have well and truly dug our own grave. It's easy to say hindsight has shown the players may not have been right but the conditions in which we went about seeking out these players were clearly far from ideal. All we can do now is do what we do best. Hope, pray, then cry.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Early Days

We've reached, endured and survived our first international break of the season. It provided a great platform in which to reflect on our relatively promising start to the season. Three largely differing performances could easily reflect inconsistency but, in truth, highlight how we're still piecing together the Pochettino puzzle. We're sat on a learning curve, embracing structure.

Early signs have presented promise and reason for quiet optimism. There seems to be a greater sense of unity in the side, a hunger to go for the throat. Against Liverpool we were choked out the game after missing the opportunity to go in on level terms. We bowed down at 2-0 and our inadequacies reminded us that we are in the early stages of a hopeful long-term project for success rather than an attempt at a 'quick fix' (if they even exist).

Our ideology this summer was that of building a stronger squad rather than a team littered with individual talents. I like to think our signings represent greater quality than the sum of their individual talents. We've purchased players because of their style and type to fill in the gaps. They arrive with no weighted price-tag allowing them to steer clear of the media spotlight. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but the mistake we made last year was signing Soldado based on his numbers rather than his style. A square peg in a round hole. He's not young enough to develop his game & still looks horribly starved of confidence.

In Vorm we've signed a keeper better suited to the game Pochettino is clearly trying to install. The space between Friedel & our back four under AVB's high line (especially in cup competitions) left a consistent worry we were playing a keeper not suited to our game and thus at a detriment to the side. This would naturally have proved a worry for the defence. In Ben Davies we've signed a defender that has more quality in operating as a wing-back. His defensive work, based on last season, clearly surpassed the failings that we'd had to endure in Danny Rose every week. Davies' move has also seemed to reinvigorate Rose whom had probably his best game for a long time against QPR.

Reading between the lines of breaking down Fazio as a footballer, my perception is that of the lovechild of Vertonghen and Kaboul. Technically good with the ball at his feet, he's also a mountain in the air. The perception that quick defenders are the holy grail of a successful high-pressing game are a myth. The best defenders in the world aren't renowned speed-kings . Positioning and spatial awareness are far more valuable assets.

Stambouli is allegedly in the mould of Schneiderlin. A raw gem, albeit a little rough around the edges. According to the press he represents great value and when have they ever wrongly over-hyped a player? Aside from this I feel our chances of developing younger more 'promising' players are far more prosperous with Pochettino and his coaching team overlooking this development than I ever would under Sherwood or Redknapp. AVB is another debate.

Pre-summer, our most pressing areas to add to were arguably left back and centre back. On paper, we've done this with relative success. Abraham Maslow theorised that human motivation can be listed in a 'hierarchy of needs'. This theory identified that the 'basic needs' (such as living) must be met before more complex needs are required (such as self-actualization). We arguably fulfilled our basic needs of a left-back and centre-back, before suddenly demanding a more complex need in a striker as the window wore on.

We have three forwards but play just one in our current system. It's clear that we showed an interest in Jay Rodriguez of Southampton but with his injury naturally showing cause for concern, we decided against making a move. Talks of a January move make far more logical sense as it provides us with 4 months worth of assessment. During this period, we have to show some faith that our £26m striker can provide the return we've been crying out for for 12 months. We have to also hope that Adebayor can hit the heights consistently that we know he can and Harry Kane can continue showing promise whenever he plays in the lilywhite.

If these 3 forwards can't produce the goods then the January window will provide us with a golden opportunity in which to fulfil this renewed 'basic need'. A striker would've been a nice touch to finalize the window but the money evidently wasn't there to bring in the type of forward we'd have wanted.

It's easy to forget that we brought in Pochettino to exploit the talents of the individuals in the squad and mould them into a football team. The signs have been there. Its early days, but hopefully the finished image of the Pochettino puzzle will be that of sheer beauty.

Monday, 18 August 2014

We survived.

West Ham on the opening day. I've seen prettier sites checking the bottom of my shoe to see if I'd just stepped in dog shit. I wrote a piece detailing how, although pre-season results shouldn't be given an inch of your time (and they shouldn't), the style and system in which we approach these games inherently should. This game seemingly worked try and go out of its' way to contradict literally every word I wrote.

Although, that wasn't quite what was top of my mind when I was watching us play at West Ham. I couldn't help but imagining the dangerously unsettling comparisons between our performance across the 90 minutes and the regular drivel we had to endure under Sherwood. The notable thing that we did manage to avoid was an all too typical collapse at the first sniff of danger. The game almost reminded me of the Cardiff away fixture last season. We flattered to deceive for much of it before a new boy popped up and scored a late winner.

That first sniff of danger was our back four. Hands up at the end of last season who'd have predicted Naughton & Rose would be starting our first Premier League of the new season. Neither did I. Kaboul, sadly, is not the player he was in 2011/2012 & the wildcard that is Eric Dier could be hit or miss.

I must've watched this game with my hands over my eyes because up until Naughton saw red, I've been informed that we were doing admirably up until this point. I remember us being slack in possession and moving the ball at a snail pace. We looked a minor shadow of ourselves system wise that we saw more or less in every pre-season fixture. It wasn't the fact that we even put into practice this fresh approach and West Ham stifled it, it was more that we lacked the confidence to try and put it into practice in the first place.

We'd seen a far more pragmatic side that were more direct in their passing style but we struggled to get out of our final third at times on Saturday. We lacked that extra midfield option when the defence had the ball or lacked that option in the final third when Bentaleb came deep to collect that first pass. Maybe pushing Capoue back into CB affected this but we struggled even at 11 vs. 11.

We've big hopes for Lamela this year but I feel giving him this seemingly free role almost stifles Eriksen's effectiveness in the final third. Lamela consistently picked up the ball but struggled to know his next move when receiving and often tried too hard to impress. He'd miss the more simple-yet-effective ball more often than not and looked a little lost positionally when out of possession. I maintain that giving him a permanent role right would allow him to work on his game as well as a role that would exploit the best of Erik as well as the system we're trying to implement. This would further allow Eriksen to adopt a more permanent role centrally and allow him to flourish where he is arguably his most dangerous.

Maybe the system needs time. In fact, there's no doubt it does. One player that slotted like he'd been at the club for years was Eric Dier. His positioning, no-nonsense attitude and versatility were exceptional. Considering his debut was arguably made all the more difficult as he was forced to shift over to RB when Naughton did see red, he performed admirably in his first outing.

It's always satisfying to pick up three points on the opening day but I think it's understandable to expect the more pragmatic approach we'd seen in pre-season to be adopted more regularly as time proceeds. We've still to welcome back a host of players from the World Cup as well as a couple of weeks left of this window. The signals have definitely been quietly optimistic, but it's clear that time is still the most valuable thing Pochettino needs at his disposal.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Diluted expectation.

It's been an uncharacteristically low-key and rather reserved summer. We more or less wrapped up our managerial appointment early and saved ourselves a shadow fewer and a 'saga' less than we've known to expect of latter years. We should probably thank the World Cup for this. The fact it's essentially prevented Neil Ashton from inking poison on to the back pages of the Mail has certainly ensured my enthusiasm for the tournament has remained consistent.

Although come next week and we can only expect the usual pathogens to breed more bollocks on to toilet paper and bleed the eyes of the unfortunate reader. We're fully aware of the vicious circle we fall into every summer. Is it a sign of improvement that these calibre of players are happy to join Tottenham Hotspur or that these players are more wiling to use us as a stepping stone to then fuck off into the sunset? Probably the latter.

But Pochettino's short tenure at Spurs thus far has taught me that we don't need to have our manager bleating the same soundbites of league titles and Champions League qualification for me to feel a sense of warmth and quiet optimism towards him, subjectively speaking. I almost feel as though our greatest ever optimum opportunity in which to establish ourselves firmly within the seemingly intimidating presence of the top 4 has essentially been and gone. I don't see this as a negative though.

Our expectations in recent years have poisoned the atmosphere at White Hart Lane. It becomes more of a chore to enjoy a game and this, possibly, may be the first season in many in which expectation is more aspiration. Content at top 6 is bluntly realistic. The competition for the Champions League and its' riches via Premier League qualification seems more than an arms lengths out of reach. Our arguably more modest and realistic goals for the forthcoming season may ease the previous burden of weighted expectation and allow us to thrive in a more structured environment.

So where do our main priorities lie? The recent survey sent out by THST (that you should definitely fill out here if you haven't yet) asks fans where their personal priorities lie for this season. I felt torn on this one. On a previous question I'd answered that I felt '"dissatisfied" at the atmosphere at White Hart Lane at present and, in reality, a good league run would help to an extent to cure this - but only in the short-term. In Fact, I placed the FA Cup and Europa League above the Premier League in preference. Have I contradicted myself? Arguably, but I hate how we seemingly can't have a fairly average run in the league anymore and still have White Hart Lane as a fortress as we did in the past.

Pochettino's appointment excites me. Not because I think we'll be world leaders under him though. We've craved structure and preparation prior to fixtures. We certainly didn't utilize our squad to the full last season under a manager that struggled to know how to implement them best. Hopefully we'll bring more attractive football back to White Hart Lane and with this a snowball effect of injected enthusiasm into the fans that could roar the side on in the league and cups.

A combination of more modest expectations behind a manager that will pay more thorough attention to detail could (again) be a mix we've desperately required. We've finally reached a point in time in which 'how long' our manager will be given has slowly been swept under the carpet, well - for now. For the moment we seem content to sit back and just see what happens, maybe we could enjoy the company of our football team again.

Ben - You can follow me on Twitter here

Monday, 2 June 2014

I want to enjoy Spurs again.

Very rarely have I felt a season concluded in which the word 'bittersweet' could paint the story of how we rounded a largely anticlimactic spell that, on the whole, redefined disappointment. That is 99% bitter with a sprinkle of sweetness on top after Sherwood's sacking. I maintain Tim Sherwood's abrupt arrival was through unravelling a chocolate bar and finding a glistening golden ticket staring at him in the face. The ticket revealed a unique CRN and a bar code that granted exclusive (limited-time) access to the Head Coach position of Tottenham Hotspur. A poison chalice, yet a seat that offers such lucrative wealth it forever remains in demand.

A tenure so brief that all Sherwood seemed to have taken from it was a win percentage and a rife of publicity that, in large, constructed bridges with the media and dismantled any ounce of harmony that existed within the squad. Hold for applause. We quickly became isolated. Hibernating away until the overcast and disappointment had temporarily become dormant once more. The season finished and soon after the clouds departed with Sherwood out of White Hart Lane, allowing the sun, as well as our usual cautious optimism, to re-emerge.

It is a season as typical as this that inherently begs the questions of our expectations as fans. Have our expectations smothered our aspirations to the point where we're suffocating our own realism? You wouldn't bet against it. In truth, this hasn't been the worst season as a Spurs fan, but the feeling is just that. It's the feeling of thorough disappointment. Our heart and soul are placed delicately in the grubby, unforgiving and Stubhub-tattooed hands of a football club that has the capacity to crush them at the sound of a referees whistle. We've qualified for Europe, again, yet it reveals a more disheartening outlook when the path most trodden is one full with fans that do not want it.

Our success is always relative. Achieving 4th position in the league isn't 'success' but is 'relative success'. The money that's succumbed the souls of far too many clubs now dictate that even being in the Premier League is 'success'. It does beg the question though, where do our expectations lye? You look at the league table and argue that there are 7 clubs that will be pursuing the top 4 positions of the league. The strength of the opposition naturally exponentiates every year, excusing United's expected anomaly of a season.

The story of the season said so much more about a few underlying traits of the football club that we want sewn into the DNA. We want to enjoy supporting the Football Club again. It's that word 'enjoyment' that has been so lost in arguments between finances, net spend, league positions, transfers and management that we've forgotten to enjoy having the opportunity to grace the sacred ground and bellow our support at whoever encompasses the shirt.

We want to finish the season with a sense of nostalgia, inherently disappointed that we won't see another game for a few months. We want to be so wrapped up with the club that everything else naturally becomes of second importance. It's difficult to enjoy visiting the ground and watching the side when there remains so much doubt injected into our blood. The doubt has shaped and re-shaped our perception of an unloving club but one we could never outright unlove. The love remains but the enthusiasm sat on a cliff edge, by the end of season it was hanging on for dear life and only the outstretched arm of Pochettino may have reinvigorated it once more.

We'd hit a temporary identity crisis. Temporary being largely the operative word. Our performances have tipped the balance between distinctly monotonous and overwhelmingly flamboyant. A medium between the two would be a welcomed arrival. Preparation and a consistent first eleven will encourage a growing identity we can latch on to. Hopefully the perception of unrest will (again) be buried deep with the memory of Tim Sherwood and his time in charge. In Mauricio Pochettino we may finally have the ingredients to do this but are once more testing an unknown recipe. We can only sit back and ponder as to whether this will finally be our dream dish.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Spurs need to change this, desperately.

This summer, like the many that have foregone this one, brings with it a great importance. We're presented with a chess board seemingly stuck in a position of checkmate. One wrong move and it's all over. We over-committed and sacrificed pieces that we thought were for the better of the club but have quickly realised that this short-term impact holds only negative bearings for the long-term.

Ah, the long-term. Look it up in the Spurs dictionary and it'll tell you that this is anything beyond 2 years. A long-term vision that is held in such a hollow shell by a trigger-happy chairman does not bode well for the future of any football club. Given circumstantial external elements must be taken into consideration, as must the internal environment, but the clubs that were around us that persisted with the faith they installed into their respective managers are now stepping on our shoulders with a firm eye on achieving their seasons' objectives.

We can only look down and realise that the comfortable pair of shoes we purchased in the summer have become scruffy and unloved. They desperately need an owner to come and give them some immediate attention. There's no need to fall in to the easy cliché of modern football and shift a variety of players that have failed to live up to our initial perceptions. I find it incredibly difficult to label our summer signings as 'flops' although I can understand why this may be the case for some.

I beg that the surface is scratched a little more. I'd ask how so many players, even those that were stand-outs last season, have shown only half their calibre this year. It was understandable that time, persistence and a notorious amount of patience would be required to install and settle an entire side of talent; three factors that are alien in language for our own club. The seemingly imminent rotation policy would be our own self-created hurdle and a challenge we would have to embrace. I felt that we were too quick to rotate initially at the start of the season, but understood that players had to play.

But right now we're lost without a strategic direction, without a game plan. Forgive my marketing background but if I were to launch a new product and applied little to no branding, no pricing strategy, no method of distribution and no use of promotional tactics behind the launch then no matter how 'good' the product may be, it would fail. If I had no strategic direction to market this product and grow in the future then it wouldn't be a success.

If a team/a squad of players have no real strategic direction, no consistent, homogeneous way of playing every week and approaching each fixture, no preparation as to how to attack the oppositions weaknesses or defend against their strengths and 11 players are just fielded, then the results will be similar. The players have no idea how to operate in their roles. Combine this with a lack of cohesion within the side and the fail to have a leader on the touchline or within the squad and the result is inevitable.

Oh, Bobby. A £26m man would be (and is rightly) judged on goals. Playing up-front is a far more complex operation than it may meet the eye. At Valencia, Soldado enjoyed a flurry of quality crosses and was renowned for pouncing on them. He'd play 90 minutes in the opponents area. With a season that has presented a mismatch in players operating out wide on the wing, the most utilised have arguably been Eriksen out left who naturally tucks inside and Lennon out right who's struggled to execute a consistent final ball all season. There's no stable system for Bobby to play in. The early runs off of defenders at the start of the year - before Eriksen's real introduction into the side - have vanished as the forward works into positions out wide just to get involved.

Without a regular partner feeding him goalscoring opportunities or wingers that are thumping balls into him we lose, essentially, all of Soldado's game. In glimpses we've witnessed a partnership in production between the Spaniard and Christian Eriksen. This may have materialised far earlier on had Eriksen not suffered injury in November and AVB not being sacked moments after. This prospective partnership is the glimmer of hope we have to carry into the forthcoming season. It should be a partnership that we operate around next season. A system that should also see Paulinho exploit his box-to-box asset that we signed him for and present him with a regular partner within the centre of midfield.

It's been mentioned before that we're lacking a real core, a real identity of this football club. Granted the players haven't performed, but the environment they're in is poisonous. There's no system or preparation. There should be a growing desire to keep them and integrate them into something that works. It's criminal that we're into April and still haven't discovered our strongest 11. Selling off an entire team would see another transition, another summer of uncertainty.

So this brings us to the person that can bring all these pieces together. Levy. Sherwood's pitch for the full-time role has fallen on to hard ground. The guy is the image of Tottenham Hotspur and it's ironic that he's pushed his own chances of keeping the job full-time (one would hope) out to sea with his diabolical antics on the sidelines, his alienation of the players and his obvious lack of tactical approach and preparation.

If we were to be sucked into a black hole and emerge into a paradox Universe in which gilet's were a genuine trend and in one that Levy did decide to retain Sherwood this summer, then we'd face another 12 months of uncertainty due to his contract expiration. There's potential for fruition in our, now seemingly, exaggerated objectives of actually winning a trophy or acquiring a Champions League spot next season, but the manager needs changing to facilitate and put this potential into practice.

Ben - You can follow me on Twitter here

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Investment desperately needed.

I've failed to write on here for a perceived prolonged period of time now. Those unfortunate enough to regularly follow my Twitter feed will know that my feeling towards Spurs have touched the tip of alienation, but not the usual Spurs alienation. I don't feel bereaved at losing football matches. This is contained in the small print upon signing a life-long Spurs supporters contract. I feel more bereaved at the feeling of losing touch with the football club that I once felt was nestled so tightly within my heart.

Don't have me mistaken. My support for the club remains without doubt. Although I feel like the club have gone to lengths to push supporters to the point of the abyss. They want us to jump but we can't and never would. We were sold and continuously fed lies. The disappointment resembles that of a young child on holiday with their parents and picking up a football jersey on the street market before returning home and realising it's a fake. We were led down untouched paths that were born on false hope.

March had long been labelled as season-defining. March. Our relative 'achievements' last year look so much more glossy than they did last summer. They were suppose to be the platform we kicked on (again) and (finally) finished in the top 4. That bloody top 4. When did finishing outside of 1st bare any relevance?

We're mid-way through our season-defining month and have lost three games from three. We're set to face Benfica with our heads placed underneath the guillotine. The outcome is more likely to be a messy affair with viewer discretion strongly advised than it is to show a Spurs resolve. Our season has already set-up base in a care home and we can't expect much from it. It's clear we've lacked any real direction this year. We've cut a project in two at the first sign of trouble and forced ourselves into a retreat.

I struggled to take a positive from the Arsenal game. The players showed more heart than they had done in the past, but surely this is the minimum you'd expect to see on show against them. It's an effective metaphor settling for a bit of fight and desire in a NLD. It shows our fragile nature. Our legs failed to carry the weight of our own expectation. There's no leader in the side to pick up the pieces. There's no manager to galvanise. A sparkling light in a dark and unwelcoming prison cell of a season is Christian Eriksen. Our optimism falls with this one special player. A side built around him would be a blessing. But can we afford another rebuild? Can we afford to tear down the walls we'd invested in last summer and try again?

We've a manager at the helm that struggles to play against organised sides. He struggles to identify the key threats in an opponent and suffocate them. We play purely our own game on the ball, but this is half the job. We're vulnerable, nervous and lack the spark we were once associated with. I'd initially grown cautiously optimistic at times under Tim but it's looking more and more that the good few pockets of positive play we'd had in the second half of the season were produced from the quality of player we have at our disposal.

We've spurned the opportunity to extend our gap between ourselves and Liverpool. We've passed on investments we should've made. We've arguably been set-back a good few years. An investment in the trust and patience of one man to get us achieving above and beyond our expectations is certifiably required. But it needs to be the right man. We need a presence on the touchline. A respected leader. Someone with a tactical edge and winning mentality.

I'll throw my penny in the well and wish for the best. It's all we've got left.


Sunday, 5 January 2014

Sherwood's Master Plan.

Fresh off of consecutive wins at Old Trafford we arguably approached the Emirates with a false sense of confidence and a not so much a 'renewed' but a brief 'revitalisation' of the limited optimism that had dragged us through the season so far. Possibly unwanted. We'd just about scrubbed away the expectation. The brief strangle hold of financial net spend and squad settling issues keeping us from scenarios involving dark rooms and brandy. It's our defence mechanism. A mechanism I sincerely hope we lack next season.

I'm not knocking it, it's fact. Tottenham Hotspur: forever the 'next season' team. Not quite the soundbite notoriously heard at Anfield at the start of every season but you get the gist, it's frustrating. With Bale leaving and 7 players unknown to the Premier League, this year was always going to have atleast an element of settlement required. With AVB gone who knows how long it'll be before we can have a season with little change.

Confidence at your own peril. The DNA of Tottenham never changes, you never know what you'll get with us. The Enemy at their place on the back of Christmas was probably one fixture too much for us. The same 11 feeling the effects of 6 games in 17 days. Feet up and cotton wool were probably needed for the week preceding the win at Old Trafford, they deserved it.

Sherwood, not wanting to alter a short-term winning formula and a lack of options, was limited in selection and picked the strongest available names - bar arguably Bentaleb. Fatigue likely ripe within. We could see the car-crash on the horizon. Yet we remained hopeful. Somehow, someone would step up and become a hero. Contrary to our boss, we were overrun in midfield. Dembele given the job of three at the worst of times. Dropping Soldado and putting Capoue in alongside Dembele and Bentaleb would've given the protection the back four needed. What was more worrying was we could foresee this although our manager seemingly couldn't.

When in possession we were pressed high up the pitch, as expected. Walcott making up extra numbers in midfield. Arsenal were relentless without the ball. Again though, as expected. Sitting deep to counteract Walcott's pace made sense although as a result we couldn't press the ball as often as we may have liked. Eriksen was forced to stay out left far often than he'd have liked and we didn't set up as we should've done until after Rosicky had capitalised on our second defensive error of the night. Given, we sought to make the change before that blunder.

But it is how it is. Neither side were at their strongest. It's frustrating, of course it is. We made individual errors but, if anything, this game should encourage us to operate a different system. The short term under Sherwood made us far more unpredictable, as did 4-4-2, but it's so quickly sussed out & an easy system to play against with a rampant midfield. The space in front of the back 4 left Dawson and Chiriches with little protection but also fewer options to play the ball when in possession.

Hindsights a wonderful thing. It's perfection. We always question our decisions to lavish any hope on a performance at the Emirates worthy of 3 points. It's the hope that keeps us sane, but it's the same hope that can push you over the edge. You appreciate the smaller things in life and turn your back on football momentarily after a defeat.

Soldado reportedly came off with a knock. He's remained a regular fixture in the side despite the recent flurry of fixtures. He's looked better without quite turning it on just yet. If When he's not scoring he's contributing. There's a real ball of fire in him, but we're seeing just a flame so far. The tip of the iceberg. Time obviously not on his side but it's more promising than it was 4 months ago. But this knock may provide us the opportunity to tamper and test the 4-2-3-1 that Sherwood finished the Arsenal game with, albeit with different personnel.

Sherwood: When you lose the ball you are always going to be out of shape - otherwise you are going to be a rigid, boring team". You understand his point but that statement is incredibly naive. Eriksen's recent growth in confidence has allowed him more expression on the pitch. Taking away those final shackles pinning him to cover left midfield will grant him the freedom he so desperately craves in that number 10 role. With Dembele & Sandro sitting in behind him offering support in possession, we could still play with the same flair but have the stability we've arguably lacked under Sherwood. Ie. we could keep our shape though operate it a little deeper when not in possession.

Regardless of how this season turns out, you still get the impression we lack a long-term plan. Sherwood's steered the ship back on course in the Premier League but we look every part as likely to steer it back off it again. We've one competition left in which to compete for silverware and I hope we give it a go (again that word 'hope'). A fully fit squad will allow us to. But that's a feat rarely found but desperately craved in football.