The Blog that's not always wrong.

Monday, 27 April 2009

A failure of leadership

I've given it 24hrs but it still hurts. But then those other collapses are still with us all after many years. I don't study the statistics of other clubs but I don't recall any of the current top six in recent years being 2-0 or 3-0 up and losing, and on two occasions by 2 goals.

So is it just a Tottenham thing? An example of our mental weakness, lack of team spirit or application, a lack of a tough core or spine? We can make excuses, blame the referee which is quite easy to do on this occasion, or dodgy pasta or whatever but its something that seems to be with us threatening to strike at any moment. We can never relax and enjoy the game because the team might buckle at any moment.

Currently we are on a very good run, still sixth in the Premiership form table, five consecutive clean sheets at home, out of the relegation zone to the edge of Europa qualification. Yet apart from this Saturday there was Blackburn and those other defeats which still burn in the memory.

There was a collective failure of leadership on and off the pitch on Saturday. Harry who I have acknowledged as our saviour this season showed why some, including me, doubt his overall ability. The box marked 'next level' on Levy's office wall chart will have been given a question mark.On Saturday when calm appraisal, and reaction to events was required we got nothing other than a double substitution on 86mins. We got theatrics and playing to the gallery. Harry froze just as the team itself did.

On the pitch Keane who might well have been substituted in the last three games also went missing. Being captain gave him the apparent right to roam anywhere and to neglect his role as support for Bent and link to the mid-field. Making him captain was a hostage to fortune. He did little to justify his selection as a player or as captain which requires head as well as heart. We lost it in tactical and formation terms all over the pitch.

The poor penalty decision certainly marked a change in the attitude of both teams: Man.Utd. sensed that their luck had changed and we seemed to believe that it was only a matter of time. Suddenly they had energy and belief and we had neither. The quick equaliser confirmed this view in both sides.

Now was the moment to act and I cannot believe that there was no plan B for such an event. Plan A was clearly blame the referee and cross your fingers. We lost our shape at the back and individual errors, bad luck and the sudden surge of attacking football played at high pace which we simply couldn't cope with announced the inevitable.

Am I calling for heads to roll? I most certainly am not as it is our recent stability under Harry that has brought rich dividends and we need more of it not less. Do we need more beasts in midfield to aid Palacios in his mission to search out and destroy? Not if we want a Tottenham that plays good football, which we have been doing lately. Palacios was fortunate to escape a red card on Saturday for a desperate lunge. Destructive midfielders need to have a positive side and either way are of no use to us in the dressing room before half time.

Two footballing myths were also exposed. Firstly that if we go out 2-0 up for the second half and keep it tight for 15 minutes everything will be fine. Secondly that if we can just get that vital second goal the game is more or less safe. We did both on Saturday and lost.

We can still make Europe if that's what we want; we have a quality squad although we must keep Modric; we are playing well most of the time but on and off the pitch as Kipling wrote some-one needs to keep their heads when all about them others are losing theirs. I hope he wasn't in the crowd on Saturday but with that attitude he's not likely to be a Spurs fan.

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