The Blog that's not always wrong.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Down but not quite out

Boxer Knocked Out
                                            I didn't see that coming

New supporters start here. Our heroes having encountered hailstones and high winds on the first part of their return to the high wire have slipped and are hanging over the ravine by their fingertips. Welcome to the stressful world of following the Mighty Spurs. You wait half a century for a bus to come along and when it does it sails straight past. But all is not lost. I'm not sure how but 1-0 at The Lane would do it. We replaced our slick passing and teamwork of the City game with grit and determination and retrieved a 3-0 deficit after our worst half hour of football for some time. Ever? Those with better memories than mine will easily refute this.

Young Boys, at home on a difficult surface that they are used to, rode their luck and took their early chances well. We played a very high line and Dawson and Bassong were exposed by penetrative passing and pace. We looked uncertain and tentative perhaps due partly to mistrust of the surface but mainly due to the confidence and speed of our opponents. They caught us cold and we looked to be hanging onto the ropes: down but not quite out.

The selection of Palacios was logical for the away tie but Harry was quick to make a tactical change when it wasn't working. After Huddlestone came on we won the remainder of the game 2-0. Modric and Tom are our creative heart but they can't play every game in a 60+game season. We have a strong squad and are going to have to use it.

Pavlyuchenko whose movement was good but control was poor would certainly have been replaced but for Defoe's injury. His step-over and one/two with Keane was football of the highest class and his superb strike keeps us in the tie. He's 28 and is not going to change now. Take him as he is or not at all. He is a frustrating and irritating player but can give you golden moments. A powerful header by Bassong before half time gave us hope but few dared to dream that we would get up off the canvas and land a couple of body blows ourselves.

Huddlestone changed the game for us and his calm control of the midfield gave us a secure base from which to operate. It is a wonder how attitudes and opinions can change. Huddlestone, though playing in the exactly the same way as before, has gone from being criticised for statuesque immobility to praise for his zen like calm. The change of Huddlestone for Ekotto seemed tactical to me because though Bale is by no measure a better defensive full back he does offer Harry more attacking flexibility.

For the first half we played like something out of Shaun of the Dead and Young Boys could and perhaps should have had a couple more. We didn't chuck in the towel but we were bemused by their footsure passing and were slow to pick up on their example of the way to play on this surface. To judge players making their debut starts, Palacios, Bassong, Giovani and Pavlyuchenko on this tricky surface is harsh.

The opposition were better than we anticipated and we did well to stay in the tie. It was proof if we needed it that there are no easy games at this level and might help to focus our minds for the replay and hopefully beyond. Young Boys at the Wankdorf Stadium some joke, but it's on us at the moment.

So like some serial Dick Barton adventure mystery, now being repeated after 40 yrs on BBC Radio , we leave our heroes hanging over the ravine and will only find out next week whether they fall or clamber back onto the wire and make it to the other side. The second half of the journey should be easier than the first but we are Spurs: we don't do routine, predictable or boring. If you can't take the tension, the disappointment, the highs and the lows you are supporting the wrong club. But I often feel like that.

We need to beat Stoke to generate momentum after this faltering start and the return of Ledley should bring calm to the back four. Actually I'd save him for the replay which is now a must win game. For this reason I would play Palacios against Stoke and keep Modric for Wednesday. Up front I think we will see Crouch and Keane. Defoe is likely to be out for a while as he seems to be carrying the injury through from last season.

So here you have images and cliches for all ages and tastes: boxers on the ropes or high wire artists hanging by their fingertips. Another week though and I'm sure that our season will be back on track.
For sure.


Anonymous said...

It's important not to get too carried away by one bad performance on a plastic pitch that clearly the players were terrified of but I do think the match highlighted a couple of areas that could cost us dear. Essou-Ekotto is poor defensively and Dawson looks half the player when he plays without King. A priority for me is a new left back and a top class centre half if we seriously want to challenge for the top honours this season. Gomez still doesn't convince for me, any chance City would sell us Given? Unlikely but would be a calming presence in a defence that seemingly goes to pieces when Ledley can't play. I think we're ok up front and with Defoe's injury I'd quite like to see Modric played in the hole behind a lone striker to really get the best out of him.

Anonymous said...

Yep. Crouch, Keane for Stoke. Rest Modders. Use Kranj. Rest King. Plastic pitch not excuse, but it would be harsh to 100% judge players on this performance. Benefit of the doubt time. TonyTott

Welbourne Road said...

Missed Young Boys third as by then super jittery and by open kitchen door taking fresh air and smoking a fag. However when Tom came on a strange acceptance of fate engulfed myself as I resumed veiwing Sopcast. P.S. he also appeared to have a calming influence on the team.

Anonymous said...

Lets face it this tie has been a nightmare from the start. When we got them in the draw we knew nothing about them but who wanted to put 'Young Boys Switzerland' into Google?? We now have to put up with headlines like ' Spurs need to spank 'Young Boys at The Lane'. Role on next week so we can show them how we really can play and put these 'Young Boys' to bed. D'OH !!!

Acton_Yid said...

Team for Stoke: Cudicini, Kaboul, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Bentley, Palacios, Krank, Rose, Crouch, Keane...Rest the others for the MASSIVE game vs. Young Boys, hopefully Defoe, Modders and Lennon will be fit.

alwyn said...

so what went wrong in the first 1/2 hr, really? was it **really** the pitch? huh? so Spurs are a grass-only kinda team? and surely we're done blaming injuries and all that?

i'm curious: would a team like Man U or Chelsea stink up their game so badly?

this is going to sound weird but the night before i actually **dreamt** we beat them 0-5 but when i woke and checked the scores i wished i was still asleep. DAMN!

JimmyG2 said...

Anon 21.10
You say 'don't get carried away' and then talk of replacing our star man Gomes.
He shpould have saved the third goal and normally would but he was well beaten and let down by his defence otherwise.
I think the pitch caught us out but several players made poor starts and Ekotto was not the worst offender.
We also have other players who might play in the hole: Keane, Kranjcar,Giovani

Tony Tott
The fact that we are more than in this tie shows that we must indeed give the boys the benefit of the doubt.

Anon 22:58.
These Young Boys are no joking matter I'm afraid, but lets all laugh or we might just cry

LemonadeMoney said...

Gomes out!!!?
You could end up with a nasty facial injury with a knee jerk like that.

elwehbi@ibleedhotspur said...

The clear positive to take from this match, other than our 2-goal comeback, was Harry's quick decision to make the first sub; BEFORE THE HALF OR 60-MINUTE MARK. The addition of Hudd and Kranjcar was much needed as we were able to dictate the pace of the game - although not as well as against City. Young Boys will come to the Lane and should get a taste of their own medicine. Long season ahead boys, lord knows what's in store for us.


Anonymous said...

On the subject of Gomez, how many points a season does he actually win us? I know he's a cult figure now but that's mainly because of how dreadful he was initially. I know he's improved considerably but is it enough? He still doesn't fill me with confidence watching him so I can't imagine what it must be like for the defence playing with him. Joe Hart earned Birmingham an extra 10-12 points last season with his performances and he's already earned them 1 point more than they deserved from their first match this season. I just can't see Gomez winning us points. I sit down and watch a game just praying he doesn't make a mistake.

Anonymous said...

"them" in the above post should have read "Man City"

IKnowAlanGilzean said...

Yer boxer man up there looks well and truly out for the count rather than hanging on!

JimmyG2 said...

Trust me, he recovered after three.

Stronger sleeping pills is the answer

Anon 11.11
18 clean sheets is a good start. Few would deny that he played well and gave the back four confidence but if you insist on thinking of him as a liability there's little I can say.
Answering your actual question will take a little time and research.

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