The Blog that's not always wrong.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Highs and Lows

Palacios, Sandro and Sherman tanks. Ineffective against aerial bombardment

 Tottenham fans are no strangers to the exhilaration of the peaks and the choking depression of the troughs. It doesn't make it any easier to bear, but we should have had enough practice by now to cope. From beating Inter Milan to losing at Bolton within a week sums up our irregular progress not just this season but over the years.

The leftovers from the Champions' League celebrations haven't had time to go stale and some of the balloons have barely started to deflate and go all wrinkly. Partially deflated is exactly how I feel.. We have fallen to 7th level on points with Bolton, Sunderland and W.Brom and behind Newcastle  At this rate qualification for even the Europa League looks difficult let alone the Champions' League.

We can't say that it's because we haven’t adjusted to playing in the Premiership after the midweek jaunts in Europe because we haven't actually won at the Reebok in the ten years since the Premiership was formed. Perhaps Harry decided that he might just as well experiment as we were going to lose anyway..That might be why he rested Huddlestone and moved Modric up to second striker and played Palacios who has been out of form for a year alongside a Premiership rookie who has yet to adjust to the English game. It wass Sandro's dithering that led to the first goal.

Kranjcar needed a game but playing him on the right seriously unbalanced the side as positional discipline is not his strong suit and he should have taken the second striker role. Perhaps Harry thought that Hutton would have more room to come through on the flank which he did eventually but the game was already lost. It enabled the Bolton defence to concentrate their attention on Bale who even so made several breaks and three or four good crosses which all went begging.

Harry rightly takes the credit for success and rightly takes the blame for failure. This was a poor performance by a poorly selected side in a poorly thought out formation. Bad refereeing didn't help as Davies was clearly offside for the first goal and deliberate fouls on Bale went uncarded from the start. Eventually Robinson the angry man's angry man was booked for a foul on Sandro. But the first early chopping down by Steinsson and a cynical full body massage by Davies went without comment. Huddlestone may well be suspended for a stamp on Elmander which the referee judged accidental but on video review could be seen as more than just clumsy. This is not the first time that he has been charged with an unnecessary over-reaction.

To concede four goals against Bolton is quite a difficult task but the defence and the midfield certainly put their minds to it and in the end accomplished it with ease. They could have at least a couple more but for Gomes and although the first and arguably crucial goal was offside we couldn't really quarrel with the result.

In open play we created very little; Sandro and Kranjcar were clearly wearing some of Zokora's old boots and peppered row Z. from good positions. A solo run by Hutton ending in a fine curling finish and a Pavlyuchenko wonder strike almost put us on level terms but once again we had left ourselves with too much to do. Not for the first time this season.

How can Harry get things so right on Tuesday and get such a fine team performance out of the squad and then get it so wrong at the weekend? How can he consistently get it wrong over Pavlyuchenko who is by far our best striker in terms of goals scored/per minutes on the pitch, and was last season too and at the moment our leading scorer in all competitions? In the absence of Defoe he should start every game. Crouch at best is an impact sub. who can come on to change a game and give us something different. This is the well known theory though personally I feel that he is not good enough at anything to justify a place in the squad despite his three assists.

On Tuesday we face Sunderland at the Lane and although we are 10 points off the top position we are only 8 points off the bottom with eleven teams level or within 3 points of us. Last season we beat Sunderland 2-0 at home and then overwhelmed Wigan in the following home game. We have two good opportunities before the Arsenal game to put six points on the board against Sunderland and Blackburn. If we don't take them we could find ourselves floundering in the pack.

'Don't panic' I hear you cry but yesterday even the players who have been rested and who should have been out to stake a claim for a place while we are suffering a widespread injury list looked lethargic. Those anticipating great things from Sandro, as they did for his predecessor Palacios may be sorely disappointed again. Bolton don't play through the middle; they play over the top and a couple of Sherman tanks would have been just as useless against this form of attack.

We missed Huddlestone's passing skills and the ability of Modric to carry the ball out from the midfield.. Huddlestone was eventually brought on to salvage something in the last half hour and Modric moved back into midfield. A tacit admission that the initial strategy was misconceived.

Momentum from the Champions' League has never materialised and we need to put some results together before Xmas if this is not to peter out into a very average season indeed: Champions' League excepted of course. Only at Spurs.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with you. We lost this game because of a poor initial team selection and an even worse change at the interval. Harry got both things wrong, in my opinion, and should have known better.

Playing a striker, Crouch, who is far from prolific with our main midfield playmaker, Modric, in the hole, doesn't suggest many goals and removes our main midfield drive. So why should Harry think that it is a good idea. VdV could have been replaced with Kranjcar or Jenas more effectively. Personally, since Bolton play 4-4-2, I would have gone for Keane, and probably played Pav instead of Crouch.

Harry also seems slow to learn his lessons. He has plenty of evidence to suggest that playing Luka and Kranjcar in the same premiership side doesn't work, playing Kranjcar on the right doesn't work and that Crouch and Pav are not an effective partnership. Yet he tried all three again on Saturday! We can't afford to keep dropping points, while we repeat the same mistakes. At least let us try some new ones, such as pairing an out of form Palacios with an inexperienced Sandro in centre midfield, while leaving Hudd and JJ on the bench.

The whole selection on Saturday suggested a hit and hope approach with muddled and untried tactical thinking.

People talk about Harry having favourites, but I think that sometimes he is a bit too soft. He seems to feel sorry for players like Wilson and Niko, who try hard in training but can't get a game and players like Crouch, who never complain, but are not really doing what they are paid for. He needs to be a bit more ruthless, in my opinion and accept that some good players just don't fit in to the bigger picture at Spurs and need to be let go.

Sam-I-Am said...

"Harry rightly takes the credit for success and rightly takes the blame for failure."

Too bloody right. Since the start of the season, some strange selections have cost us quite a few points: tinkers where he shouldn't, stays with the same crap performing player when he should have given others a game. I'm not saying that managing is easy but, recently, some of his decisions leave me baffled. COYS!

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galvin was god said...

a friend, who has supported manchester city all his life, tells me of a gypsy's curse hanging over his club which may still be present. city and spurs fans have felt a great deal of empathy down the years. just a thought. kranjcar's threat to leave in january compounds this theory. a week is a long time in football.

JimmyG2 said...

galvin was god
Don´t start with the ´gypsy´s curse´schtick we´ve got enough problems already, already.
A week in Spurs time is about ten years.

He's a bit hit and miss to say the least. I'm sending him a subscription to Zonal marking

First poster Anon.
I don't think he has favourites I just think he get's it wrong.
It took him a long time to see that Palacios wasn´t doing it, or Corluks for that matter.
Could be viewed as misplaced loyalty?

elwehbi@ibleedhotspur said...

You nailed it! Poor from all angles.

I would like to see Niko play off of Pav (similar to VDV and Crouch). I can imagine that we would be rewarded with some great passing, along with service from a midfield made up of Hudd and Mod. We must beat Sunderland tonight... not beat actually, DESTROY them!!!!

Otherwise, we may instill some confidence in Blackburn as well. Sigh...

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