The Blog that's not always wrong.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The beginning of the end

News item
Lancashire police have denied that they assisted in the high-jacking of the Tottenham team coach on Wednesday evening and accompanied the coach to Anfield. Liverpool University students completed the fixture in look-alike masks.
Barry Catflap who stood in for the Tottenham manager said,'I thought I'd blown it when I replaced two defenders with, er defenders and brought on Robbie Keane but it looked as if Spurs might be getting back into the game at the time'
The FA will not investigate as it was all for charity and Tottenham have been at the forefront of charity over the years.

Where are you on the 'suicide / couldn't give a shit, knew we wouldn't get fourth anyway' matrix today?
Or for that matter the 'Harry is our saviour and should not be criticised / Nah small time and will never get us to the next level' index?
Is this the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning? With 16 matches to go statistically there is still all to play for but that's not how it feels. Liverpool, with our help, are back on the road and it looks as if the top four cartel will continue. The fact that Arsenal are top of the league having come back from 2-0 down to Bolton and might win it playing the kind of football we can only aspire to only adds to the trauma.

We didn't play badly at Anfield. Actually we didn't really play at all. We had plenty of possession, for passages of the game we dominated but we never really threatened. We lost not to a better team but to a more organised and determined one.

Key players like Modric and Kranjcar performed poorly but if you consistently punt the ball 60yds. over their heads how can they contribute? When we got the ball down Palacios, Jenas, and Modric almost contrived a goal. Time and time again the pattern of play was: Gomes to Dawson; Dawson long punt to Crouch; Crouch poor header; Liverpool get possession. Not once but nearly twenty times until I lost count. It's not good football and it didn't work .

I suggested at the time that the signing of Crouch would be a retrograde step and was assured by Harry fans that the route one method was not in his plans. Crouch's height was a useful tactic to be used sparingly. It hasn't worked out that way very often and it certainly didn't last night. Defoe is a moody striker who needs a scoring partner to fill in the gaps. Even our disgruntled Russian is worth a try.

We are still fourth but can be overtaken by Villa and Man.City. We are not on the edge of a precipice here, perhaps just a grassy knoll. There has been a gradual decline in our points per game ratio and scoring tally. In the first seven games we scored 17 goals in the league and got 15pts. In the last eight we scored 10 goals and got 11 pts. But now is when the physical and psychological pressure begins and last night's game suggests that we may not be up for it.

I think Harry got the tactics wrong and for large parts of the game excluded our key players. He also got his substitutions wrong although I assume Ledley's was for injury reasons rather than tactical ones which would have made no sense. Bassong and Dawson could have quite happily continued for me, they have done well. Swapping right backs is at best a hopeful gesture as is bringing on Robbie Keane on his present form.

If you are going to change the game you need game changing manoeuvres. Bring on players who might make a difference: Gio, Pavlyuchenko or Rose, or change the formation: put Modric or Kranjcar closer to the front men, swap wings, but play more football and cut out the long ball.
Play to our strengths. We could have matched them by going 451, that would have been better for all the good that Crouch was. O'hara might have been a good starter for this one. I'm not even sure I want to win playing the way we did last night.

Am I calling for Harry to be sacked? I am not. Do we need a new job lot of players? We do not. Constant change and the search for messiahs and saviours has been our downfall for too long.
Am I a bit over the top after a defeat in a game that had Defoe's wrongly disallowed goal been allowed to stand the result might have been different? Probably. Do I think we will finish mid table? No. I think we are likely to miss out on Champions' league but should finish 6th. which at the beginning of the season was what I had hoped for.

A little more flexibility from Harry over players, substitutions and tactics and we can beat Leeds at the weekend and Fulham next week and we will all feel a little better. But although poor performances may be forgiven they can never be forgotten. Otherwise how will we learn from them? Leeds at the Lane should be a foregone conclusion if we play football. 'Should be' and 'if' show how confident I am.

This game was an unpleasant reminder of the Spurs that always seems to lurk just around the corner and which we thought, or hoped, had been quietly buried this season. The skeletons fell out of the cupboard with some clatter at Anfield. Everton, Stoke, Wolves and Hull and the performances against the top four in general are post it notes on the Tottenham fridge reminding us of the Spurs that promises so much and delivers so little when it really matters.

This was the game that will very likely define our season. The game when we could have put so much history behind us and the chance to deal a real blow to one of our main rivals. And we didn't take it.


Vernon @ the back of the net said...

I made very similar observations willing every movement on the bench to be Gio Dos Santos coming on to give a bit of width.
But he never tried to change it. Crouch isnt even a good header of a ball. Look at the sitter he missed in the last minute against Hull. He doesn't head the ball he lets it bounce off his head

Anonymous said...

One game does not define a season. We have 16 games left - 8 at home and 8 away. 10 wins and we're close to 70 points. If this season has taught us anything, it's that we bounce back quickly. Look at the reaction after the Wolves game....5 unbeaten, 0 goals conceded, 11 points. Can't be bothered with all this typical negativity from the SPurs 'we've been here before ' know it alls. we're fourth having only lost 6 games all season. Hardly doom and gloom

Marianne said...

Arry`s inclusion of King puzzled me, why change a six clean sheet defence by dropping an inform Bassong, for an out of match fitness King of whom has not played in two + months? Pretty obvious that he wouldn`t have lasted the 90mins.

Losing 1-0 and chasing the game, so two defenders are subbed, for two more defenders, limiting our attacking options.

Where does Modric play when Lennon is playing? On the left, and it works very well, so why play Kranky there and Modric RW? Confused? You should be.

I had said on another site that, we needed to play a five MF at Anfield with Kranky on the right and O`Hara on the left, Modric could drop in between the MF and Defoe, utilising his skill to open their back four and slipping Defoe something to run on to.

Spurs just have not the quality in depth to sustain a push for CL 4th spot, and it`s looking unlikely that it will be remedied this window, which is worrying.


russell said...

Great post. I feel you are spot on with your observations and you talk much sense. I agree that this was a season defining game. Not so much in the mathematical possibilities but more in the attitude that the team took into the game. They are still scared and Harry is tactically naive when he comes up against proven Champions League managers. 6th place would be a great achievement. A couple of seasons of top 6 consistency and a cup run or two will work wonders for the strengthening of this teams mentality. Then we can build from there and strive for the pot of gold. I'm so bored of the idiot Spurs fans who have no sense of perspective. Do they really watch the team play regularly?


Anonymous said...

Basically, Rafa got it right. He packed midfield, and without Lennon we were stifled - no width. Bale couldn't get up the field too much. Modric and Kranky do not provide width. I don't think Gio would have made any difference - especially since he is still unproven - stop calling for him to play in such big games. Yes this King thing was a mistake - I do believe in 'if it ain't broke...' - 5 clean sheets! Dropping Bassong after that is not gonna motivate him is it? He didn't even put his shorts on when on bench! I am not down about it, because we learnt about ourselves. I am concerned that other teams will pack their midfield too to stifle us as well. If we must buy someone in window, it has to be cover for Lennon - preferably someone who can play both left and right, or just left. Gio is not the answer.

Marianne said...

How will we know if Gio is or isn`t the answer if he is never given a chance?. Other teams, ie, Goon scum have no fear in blooding the youngsters ;) and it has proven to be a wise tactic at the library during desperate times.

We just never seem to give them that break, what a great boost to the confidence it must be to see ones name on the starting sheet.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm getting increasingly worried about Harry as I don't understand his team selections. Against Hull, at home, he picks Defoe and Keane and sticks with a defensive midfielder, when it was clear that Hull would park the bus. Crouch and Defoe should have started with Jenas in midfield. That's what we ended up with, but it was two substitutions and over half of the game wasted, in my opinion.

The Niko, Modric thing was worth a try but clearly didn't work against Hull, so why try it again against Liverpool? After the game, Harry makes his selection more baffling by suggesting that without Lennon we lacked pace. What a suprise! We all knew that beforehand, so why not start with Hutton rather than Corluka or Rose instead of Modric or Niko? And why bring in Ledley, when Liverpool hardly have a forward to their name? What sort of message does this send out to Bassong? No wonder he was unprepared and sh*te when he came on. Every Spurs supporter also knows that Defoe goes missing in these games, so why doesn't Harry? Keane would have run around like the Duracel bunny in this game and would have helped balance out their five man midfield. Defoe could have come on later when or if the game was stretched and Liverpool were trying to score.

Finally, I was really disappointed with Harry's post match reaction. Yes, we played badly and yes, Liverpool worked hard. But we did score an equaliser and should have had a clear penalty. Harry should have been angry, not philosophical. He didn't seem to really care that we are throwing away the best chance of CL football that we are likely to get. That's not the right message to send out to the players, the FA or to the media.

JimmyG2 said...


Agree entirely about Crouch.
I'm not sure whether Gio is the answer but what's the point of putting him and Pavlyuchenko on the bench and not giving them a try? How will we ever know?


I admire your positivity but it's hard work keeping your chin up all the time, I keep bumping into things. Like Wolves,Hull etc.
I write as I feel and am usually positive but I feel just a little 'doom and gloomish' today.


Yes our quality in depth squad, best in the league is looking a bit thin.Partly because Harry hasn't given many people outside the favoured 12 a go.


I've got coming up to 60yrs. perspective which may make me well past it to some.
Mind you I've completely forgotten the middle 40yrs.

Anonymous said...

he brought hutton on cause hes more attacking and he wasnt far off scoring. we got a better squad than our near rivals but we always seem to have a mental block playing anyone that we have a bad record against.we wernt great but the ref was appalling and liverfool played like a bottom team does against us and rode their luck. we were playing great up till this match and they have not. lets see what happens next week pessamists....

JimmyG2 said...

Anon 11:14
As Marianne said, how will we ever know if Gio is the answer?
Did we learn anything new about ourselves?

Anon 11:41
Good post some telling points.I think I would start with Defoe though. I expect he'll get a hatrick against Leeds when we don't need it.

who framed ruel fox? said...

Better late than never but...

Excellent post, Jim.

JimmyG2 said...

I don't care how late you turn up as long as you bring a bottle.

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