The Blog that's not always wrong.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Any more for the Scapegoat

Any more for the Scapegoat? OK then form an orderly queue and we'll just go once round the highlights and see if the tide is low enough for us to see the wreckage of the 'High Hopes' which sank on Saturday. Someone's got to take the tiller here .There has to be some good reason for not beating the current top three in consecutive matches for the first time in, oh ever. Only 6 points out of 9! what were you guys thinking?

First up: Harry.
He will get some stick because he disobeyed the golden rule of team sports: 'never change a winning team'. Not that I necessarily agree with this old adage. Remember if it's not perfect it can be improved
In order to include Wilson Palacios once compared to 'sliced bread' but now gone a little stale we had to reorganise the defensive set-up. Ekotto went to right back in place of Kaboul who wasn't to be trusted. Two goal Bale went to full back and Modric to the left midfield slot, which many believe is his best position.
Nothing really worked although a lot of this was not Harry's fault but caused by the poor performances by individual players, but the confidence from the previous two matches was wasted.

None of this is major reconstruction or not justified except for Ekotto to right back where he has played before without distinction.
Scapegoat rating: 6/10

Second up is Ekotto himself.
He got the wrong side of Berbatov and despite attempting, and failing, to haul him back was then bamboozled by his neat back-heel to Evra who he floored just because he could. Poor judgment as there were covering players. First goal to United from the spot.
Scapegoat rating 7/10

Third up is iron man Wilson.
He hasn't been injured so would have trained and should not have been so far off the pace as he appeared to be. Poor distribution whilst in his favoured midfield position and poor positional play when asked to replace Ekotto at right back.
He attempted to pull back Nani before he got into the area and then tried to run through him once he did which was unnecessary as once again there were covering players. Third, icing on the cake, goal to United from the spot.
Scapegoat rating: 8/10

Next up Gareth Bale the boy from left field.
Seriously astray for Nani's goal where he appeared to have forgotten that he was the full back.(Note it has been pointed out in the comments that  he was not playing Left Back at the timer Ekotto was. But the point is stillvalid because he had dropped back to cover him and Nani was his man.) He allowed Nani to run inside him, didn't backtrack or cover and left it all to Ledley. This is usually a good idea but not on this occasion. Wonderful finish though and a worthy match winner. Second and decisive goal to United.
Scapegoat factor 4/10

Lastly,the rest of the team.
Bentley and Defoe were very poor. Scapegoat rating 4/10
Pavlyuchenko and Huddlestone were just poor. SR 3/10
Modric tried but had no support. SR 1/10
Gomes ,Ledley and Dawson were fine. SR 0/10

We were set up to attack (442) tactically but our attitude was defensive and timid until they scored. We talked a good match but were content to spar with United for the first half and then even though we had our best spell after we equalised we still sat back to admire our handiwork and never really went for it against a United side without Rooney and Ferdinand who were themselves not at their best.

They needed to win this game as much as us. They won the midfield battle, which was really more of a skirmish, controlled the ball better and were less wasteful. They had in Berbatov and Nani two players with the skill to make the difference.

Harry was let down by his players although his lack of trust in Kaboul and the inclusion of Palacios proved disruptive and fatal. This is of course with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight but we had played well without Palacios against Arsenal and especially Chelsea. How was Harry to know that Palacios was going to play so poorly?

In the event Harry got it wrong but he has got more right than wrong over the season. Palacios is not the player he was and his limitations are beginning to show, particularly his passing. Ekotto has not developed much lately and his temperament and judgment are questionable at times. Do feel free to disagree.

However its still ours to lose although the field is bunching up behind us as we approach the final three hurdles. Still 4th with three to go, who would have thought it. City have to play both us and Villa who have been on a good run at just the right time but I make us favourites now to clinch the final Champions' League place having more than coped with our difficult run in.

The reappearance of Lennon to replace the painfully slow Bentley could just be the bonus we need. Bolton's away record is poor, they have lost 11/18 games and conceded 35 goals, and whilst hesitating to call this an 'easy' game if we don't win it we don't deserve anything.


Anonymous said...

Pavlyuchenko was far far worse than defoe. unfair to blame defoe who at least was holding the ball up pretty well. pav on the other hand showed absolutely zero fight or first touch. a major reason we couldn't keep the ball well. not sure how he kept his place after chelsea match

Anonymous said...

Its just a little bit ridiculous to get in a rage now after that match at OT. 6 points out of 3 games, which I myself thought we would only get 4 at the very best. Mind you, if our failure is due to that match, maybe I will start cursing the names of every player on our team.
However I agree with you in terms of the team selection. Knap should have really stuck with that successful starting XI in our previous derby games. Why would he put Ekotto as RB?!
I maintain we look more of a threat when BAE
is at LB and Bale in the Left Wing!
Ah well, I still say we have a great chance! C'mon You Spurs!!!

Anonymous said...

you cant curse this loss to utd...sunderland...hull...wolves

Anonymous said...

bale was not lb when the second was scored. ekotto was moved to lb at that time, and was no where to br seen

Anonymous said...

Who gives away pens like Spurs. 3 Sunderland
1 Pompey 2 Man.U. Lets get real Palacios is 2 bob at best Bassong is u/s and BAE enough said.
Spurs will never win anything with those 3.

Anonymous said...

6 Penalties over a season doesn't seem bad, I presume you listed them all?

Anyway as previous said Bale was LM when Nani scored so please correct that too BAE.

Anonymous said...

I am no tactitican but even I could see that Bale should have had BAE behind him from the get go, Evans looked shaky first half and was there for a roasting. Second half Evans was excellent and Vidic let nothing past him, especially not Defoe.

You would have taken 6 from these 9 points. Hopefully Spurs will destroy Bolton (1-0) and a Villa win at Eastlands may be preferable. But we're still in it when many thought we would be well out of it after these 3 matches. Now who has the harder run in?

Anonymous said...

I am not sure how anyone can criticise Bassong, he wasn't even playing against Man U and his partnership with Dawson has been a revelation this season.

I have never thought that Palacios is the answer in midfield, he just isn't good enough on the ball and he is too indisciplined. Bringing Wilson back, while sticking to a 4-4-2 was the problem on Sunday. We needed Bale in midfield to take the game to United.

Harry has talked about it, but I think that he needs to embrace the 4-5-1 system now used by all of the top sides. We have the players to do it, but it probably means dropping Defoe. Playing 4-4-2 is not an attacking system, if you don't give support to the front two. We fail to do this all of the time away from home and until we stop this we are always likely to struggle against the better sides.

JimmyG2 said...

Anon 19:40 and Anon 20:02

Bales error,
He had dropped back to cover Ekotto and was marking Nani at the time so the point is still valid but you are right he was not playing left back but was in the left back position. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the real crime lending Alan Hutton to Sunderland and leaving us exposed in a vital position?

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to get a little depressed that we haven't ousted a manager in 18 months. Can I propose that unless Spurs qualify for the CL and win at least 3 major pieces of silverware next year, the general election, the World Cup, The Derby, The Oaks & The Grand National, that HR be sacked forthwith.

Fourth place with three games to go and our future in our own hands after beating Arsenal & Chelsea in a week... I'M OUTRAGED!


Anonymous said...

Erm... the 'real crime'? Hutton wouldn't made a blind bit of difference - he's a defensive nightmare at the best of times.

I disagree with your scapegoat rating JimmyG2. Training is training, match practice is match practice. Harry shifted a winning, effective formula / line up to accommodate Palacios (who hadn't been in the best form for a while, let's face it) - so he is culpable. Putting our most potent attacking threat that scored two crucial goals in two games - at left back - is unforgivable and beggars belief. Breaking up the 'Moddlestone' midfield pairing - perplexing. Playing a left back with no right foot (who played there before, and despite what Harry claims - was rubbish) - naive and clueless.

You're right - Pav, Defoe, Bentley contributed to the flatness of our play - but apart from Bentley in defensive situations - none of it was a surprise. Even in the Chelsea / Arsenal games - the forwards were ineffective, frustrating (missing easy chances), and not really contributing to overall play (Gudjohnsen apart, but he played quite deep anyway). It seems Harry hasn't done anything to address their obvious dip in form / shortcomings. I appreciate Crouch can be frustrating - but he offers a different option, as does Gudjohnsen - and it probably would have done good to shake up the forward pairing a little bit and experiment with how effective either Pav or Defoe (or both) are as 'super-sub'.

Don't get me wrong - I am grateful to Redknapp for getting us to actually perform as an effective unit - but there's a glass ceiling there and it's pretty bloody obvious.

JimmyG2 said...

As long as Lennon is fit we should win the flat races but the Grand national is pushing it.
Actually 18 months is the average of our last 12 managers so Harry is doing well.
Well put.

Anonymous said...

Sunderland can keep Hutton he's too reckless. Spurs have plenty of options at right back but HR made the decision to accommodate Palacios which did not pay off as everyone with a brain could see. We were exposed at right back while our most potent attacker was reduced to left back.We threw this game away from the start by making the changes. Let's hope Harry has made the right decision to sacrifice the Man U game to stay fresh for the remaining games.

Anonymous said...

Harry did a Mick McCarthy against Man U... Gave up before the ball was kicked.

JimmyG2 said...

Anon 20:55
Everything stemmed from the decision to play Palacios which was a reasonable decision.
I have never been a great fan of Wilson but I can see the logic of it from Harry's point of view.

Anon 20:46
Think you are a bit harsh here, I poor game doesn't wipe out what Harry has done over the last 18 months.
I think Defoe who seems to be carrying a groin injury will make way for Crouch this week.

IKnowAlanGilzean said...

I think the decision to play Palacios and move Bale to left back was symptomatic of the caution with which we went out with on Saturday. While I was hoping we were going to really go for them, I can understand Harry's reasoning. I think we went for a draw first and foremost. Mind, we may just as well have lost 3-1 having had a real go at them from the off, as Nani, Valencia and Berbatov with Scholes prompting would have enjoyed more space.

I agree about Nani and Berbatov (second half) had his second very good game against Spurs this season. Scholes was excellent, short and long passing, snapping at our heels when without the ball, an object lesson in passing and moving and always being available to the man on the ball. I thought he was superb on Saturday. They have an organisation and belief that allows them to ride the loss of key players and still get results. They've been doing it forever it seems.

I admit I would have dropped Kaboul for Saturday and, given Corluka was out, I would have tried Assou Ekotto there. He has played there last seaason (I think) and also this season, I forget who against and he did well I remember. I am not a huge fan of his, and the pen he gave away staggered belief for me. But no scapegoating, He was the best option for me on Saturday morning. As Bill Nick used to say: if there were no mistakes it'd end up 0-0 all the time (or such like).

We are in good shape. I am very worried about Liverpool as City, Villa and Spurs will take points off each other. If Liverpool beat Chelsea...

Still, we are 4th and it is gonna be terrific.

That Ledley King is some player

JimmyG2 said...

I know Alan Gilzean
Relax, I've just done the BBC predictor again and we've got points to spare.
I thought Scholes played very well for the second week running.
Man.Utd have the confidence which comes from success.
We're getting there.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Jermaine Jenas to blame...he is Scapegoat No.1 :-D

IKnowAlanGilzean said...

That, Jimmy, is very timely and comforting indeed. I shall cease worrying forthwith.

Beat Bolton on Saturday and the whole table will smile with us by Sunday afternoon, I am sure of it, as sure as I am that we could easily not beat Bolton.

Liverpool on goal difference...

It's no good, do the BBC Predictor one more time, just to make sure!

Until next week, must try to think of something else...

Anonymous said...

Good stuff above!! IMO Palacios was a better Zokora(showed what we have lacked for so long...(since ? Roberts) but still has the same problems to a lesser degree: rash tackles near the middle(as opposed to in front of our box) woeful distribution (on anything >5ms), only a slightly better position sense than Zokora and slow to boot. IMHO before we needed Sandro urgently but now IMHO we need someone else, AS WELL to back him up and who is CONSISTENT (and NOT consistently bad :)).
It would seem that this RM talk has pricked Wilson's balloon & that he will be lucky to be wanted by Espanyol.

I just hope that Harry played with the toys on purpose and said:"enjoy yrselves" as IMHO Kaboul was well and truly getting into the RB idea and was a far better choice thee than BAE.

If Harry did intend to play to win here, he had better improve if we hit the CL as it wont be that forgiving of tactical screw ups.

JimmyG2 said...

Anon 02:09
I saw Zokora a couple of times recently playing for Seville (on the tele in Spain) and he looked pretty good: fast, good passing and good positionally and as I said I was never that immpressed with Palacios for the reasions you state.
I think that Harry and the team have improved together but we are not quite there yet.
Fantastic season whatever happens.

Anon 22:19
We need Jenas back to take the pressure of the other players. The revolving scapegoat idea just doesn't work.
It doesn't affect JJ, he's used to it.

LemonadeMoney said...

What was Harry thinking of playing the same team that beat Arse and Cheatski? It's all very well playing a midfield of Hudd and Mod at home, but away to Man U? For years we've been saying that Spurs need a midfield enforcer, what's the point of buying Wilson if you're not going to play him in the big games? And I can't believe he stuck with Kaboom at right back, everyone knows that's not his position. As for instructing Benny and Wilson to give away pens, what sort of tactics are they? Redknapp out.

I KnowAlanGilzean said...

Personally, I'd have played Hudd (poor on the day) and Gudjohnsen (I really want him in the side - he's such a Spurs player, wonderful) in the middle and Modric left. Bale at left back is OK, there is, or at least was before Saturday, a school of thought that he is more effective coming from deeper. I think he is equally dangerouys at left back and left mid. But, I could understand why Harry chose the team he did. It didn't come off, but like Mourinho, Fergie etc etc etc sometimes it doesn't. Who was who said that strategies never survive contact with the "enemy".

I am, without minimising the importance of managers), very much a players ultimately decide games through moments of inspiration (Macheda to Nani) or mistakes (Benny mad lunge on Evra just) camp. And a bit of luck here and there.

Anonymous said...

I think their are spurs fans who like nothing more than a setback of any kind so they can go online and kick the crap out of the club, players, manager, coaches, programme seller, tea lady, and cat.

who framed ruel fox? said...

I blame Jesus...

and possibly the Wembley turf.

harveyb said...

Just discovered you JimmyG2..marvellous blog. Agree with I Know Alan Gilzean, Harry has seriously under used Gudjohnsen. I think the game at Eastlands will effectively be the 4th place play-off.

JimmyG2 said...

Welcome. I'm not sure that Gudjohnsen, a very fine player, is ready for a full time role yet.
I hope he stays as he will give us flexible tactical options next season.

Anon 15:48.
Kicking the cat is not an option under cruelty rules. Kicking all the rest is fine.

JimmyG2 said...

Sorry make that harveyb

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