The Blog that's not always wrong.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

What to do with a team like Tottenham?



 For shame sir, we spit upon your cards.

Our determination to do things the hard way continues. Following the reckless leap by Defoe against Villa we now have the loss of composure by Kaboul against Newcastle. Both resulted in red cards and three match bans. Neither affected our ability to win the game, in fact we only scored the second goal to make the game safe after the sending off. Curiouser and curiouser.

But imagine the scene in opposition team meetings or strategic pre-match operational logistics seminars as they are known these days.
'Lets outplay them, quick passsing, pressure them in midfield, double mark Bale, deny Modric space, oh and double mark Van der Vaart, and Lennon too just to be on the safe side, take the game to them, grab the first goal'
'You mean like Arsenal?
' Oh wait'

'Nah boss lets rough em up, kick 'em off the park, get Palacios or some hot head sent off, stop Modric playing, oh and double mark Bale, Van der Vaart and Lennon.'
'Like Newcastle you mean?
'Oh wait'
Solutions on a postcard to Tactical Logistic Solutions ASAP. Please.

The loss of Defoe could be seen as a one off moment of recklessness. It further reduces our striking options at a crucial time and seriously interrupts his return to match fitness after injury. It might force Levy's hand in providing funds for a striker in January.

At least the match provided vital evidence that Carroll is probably not that man. He has some raw energy but lacks the experience and skill to contribute a great deal to our line-up, although the presence of Lennon and Bale might offer him better service than he got yesterday. Without Nolan and with Barton too direct it made Dawson's job easier. He stood up to the rugged play of Carroll well and looked as if he was enjoying himself. Bassong was again an able stand-in for Kaboul after his red card.

Newcastle came to spoil and upset our game and they nearly succeeded. Palacios who has played so well recently, reverted to type and was determined to prove that he was as hard as the next man. He lost his composure and focus as a result of the aggressive tactics of Tiote, Smith and Barton. He was replaced at half time, to save him from himself, by Jenas who again linked well with Modric and didn't get distracted from his role.

Kaboul was a victim of the same tactics and in trying to assert his tough guy credentials was sent off for a meaningless, slow motion, head butt gesture. But he should know better. Moments before he had showed his footballing credentials with a fine run into midfield and the wide ball to Lennon that led to the goal. Harry was correctly scathing after the game about the lack of discipline and the failure to remain focused on the job in hand. Younis has at least had the grace to apologise.

We went further ahead with a copycat goal by Bale from the left. He too turned his fullback inside out before finding the corner of the net in a goal reminiscent of his hat-trick against Inter. Newcastle had little to show up front and there was little creativity from their midfield. They parked their tanks in an attempt to prevent the inevitable. A welcome clean sheet and our tenth game unbeaten saw us go into the top four at the expense of Chelsea: for 24hrs anyway.

We controlled the game although we went in scoreless at half time. Pavlyuchenko watched in disbelief when his header at the end of the first half was pushed onto the post and then rolled from post to post without crossing the line. It took us until 56 minutes to score but we did not allow the sending off to unsettle us. The real footballers stood up and treated Newcastle's rugged tactics with disdain. Modric continued to sparkle and our wingers showed that we had the skill and pace to outplay them.

On wider matters, there are no points to be gained in my view from pressurising the referee, though many fans believe that there is. Their belief is based on a common fallacy: all cats are animals: all dogs are animals; therefore all dogs are cats. Manchester United are a successful team: Manchester United confront the ref. Therefore confronting the ref makes you a successful team.

Manchester United are a successful team because they have world class players, under possibly the most experienced and canny manager in the world and play as if they expect to win and never give up.. Tottenham have achieved their current status by playing good football and have a fine squad under a manager who suits the Tottenham mind set. A manager whose instincts are for open, attacking football. Aggression can be counter productive as we saw against Newcastle.

Referee baiting is no part of this approach either and can have a small marginal effect at best, contrary to popular myth. It is not the right way to play and if some people would have us play this way in order to be successful then success is not worth having. Our success over the past 4/5 years has not been achieved by such tactics.

We are in the Champions' league final stages this year and challenging for the top four again this season. We have not compromised our values. What's to be gained? Very little. What's to be lost? The whole joy of supporting Spurs, by common consent the most entertaining team in the Premiership and at the moment one of the most successful. It's the football stupid.







13 comments:

Anonymous said...

i disagree somewhat re the ref.. i think that refs are aware that they will be lambasted by fergie afterwards and so shy away from the chance of that public ridicule. fergie works the ref and so does his team. i have yet to see a ref strong enough to stand up to them. at old trafford this year clattenburg old the spurs players to go away and then let ferdinand stand next to him moaning and berating. it goes a long way to explaining that loughburough uni (?) survey/study that shows utd getting something like 84% of 50/50 decisions. i do not condone it and would love to see the refs simple book every player that moans at them, barton and carroll would both have been sent off if i had been the ref on tues. but until refs do it i fear that we are getting a raw deal and i dont expect redknapp to do this, especially as he wants the england job

lettermen1 said...

Brilliant post Jimmy! Those last two paragraphs should be pasted on our dressing room wall! Pure Gold!

Anonymous said...

While I agree that not pressuring the ref is correct, I don't think that Spurs, as a club, should let a terrible display of weak officiating, such as that witnessed on Saturday, pass without comment. The referee was indirectly responsible for Kaboul's dismissal, as he failed to control the Newcastle players.

Early on, when VDV went down fairly easily under challenge, the ref correctly gave a foul. He then stood there, totally mute, as Barton bad mouthed VDV, in effect disputing the refs decision. Surely, some comment to Barton to get on with the game would have been in order and would have let him know that the ref wasn't going to put up with abusive behaviour.

I also couldn't understand why Barton wasn't booked for unsporting behaviour and told to take the kick again, when, instead of returning the ball to Spurs after play had been stopped due to an injury to a Newcastle player, he kicked the ball into touch as close to our goal line as he could. This resulted in a freekick close to our penalty area and could have lead to a goal for them. Again, like the Nani goal at Old Trafford, it is an example of a referee allowing a team to gain an advantage due to unsporting behaviour. Surely, that can't be the correct way for the game to be played.

The game on Saturday turned into a niggly affair with plenty of bookings and a sending off, purely because of weak and ineffective refereeing. How this guy ever made it on to the Premiership list is beyond me and I would have welcomed some comment to that effect coming from Harry. If this referee carries on letting the type of reckless tackles that we saw from Newcastle go unpunished, it will lead to a broken leg for somebody.

Anonymous said...

In the two games when Defoe and Pav left the pitch I thought we looked better.

While our strikers are who they are I think we should play without any strikers at all and just add extra attack to the midfield.

Anonymous said...

The players signed by Newcastle and their tactics suggest they are going to try every trick in the book. That's where experience and, most of all, discipline comes in.
Man U do con the ref but that doesn't mean we should. The Fulham dispute, I found, a little embarrassing and we were at it again in the following match, unsuccessfully this time.
We Spurs fans can hold our heads high, and long may it continue. That teams will start using all means when taking us on is a massive compliment and I'm confident Harry can prepare those who listen.
Jerkinthattherejurgen

JOHN ADAM said...

I am disappointed with the standard of refereeing in the Premier League. There are so many bad unfair decisions which affect the outcome of a match or sometimes no decisions at all when there should be. The officiating standard in the Spurs/ Newcastle match was appalling. Just think of all the nasty tackles by Newcastle players that went unpunished. Tiote should have been given marching orders well before the Kaboul incident which could have been avoided had the ref been more efficient.

JimmyG2 said...

I agree with a lot of what you all say.
Refereeing standards are inconsistent and affect the outcomes of matches on which very much depends these days.

But Kaboul cannot be excused because Tiote should have been dismissed earlier.

All refs are assessed on every match and up or down graded.
Over a season things even themselves out.Tom Huddlestone might well have been sent off twice recently but got away with it.

But my real point is that abusing the referee is not the 'Tottenham way' and we are achieving success without doing it.

Messi and Modric just get on with it and the look in their eyes says,'You fouled me because you are not good enough. I know it and you know it and the fans know it.'

Protest should be by the captain on the field and through the proper channels off it.

Bitching about the ref to Sky, which Harry doesn't do, is cheap and innefective.

Anonymous said...

excellent piece. likewise, i found the two paragraphs on tactics pure genius

Anonymous said...

Great players in great teams undoubtedly control refs. Examples being Jordan for the Bulls in basketball. Fitzpatrick and Mckaw for the All Blacks in rugby and whoever wears the armband for Man U. It is just a fact of all sports. All Spurs have to do now is be perceived as a great team and they will influence the referees. Never underestimate the power of suggestion.

JimmyG2 said...

Anon 10:13
'Power of suggestion', yes but not the power of intimidation
Don't you think it evens itself out?
We got two penalties from handballs at free kicks lately; proof of our new status?
But Arsenal were denied an exactly similar penalty agains Wigan which probablky denied them two more points.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the perception of Arsenal as a great team is waning? Justifiably so I might add.

Anonymous said...

Let me elaborate a little on my theory. And let me also state that I agree with you Jimmy that standing in a circle around a referee while spitting obscenities at him definitely achieves little. However, this seems to be one of the less beautiful, but commonly occurring parts of the beautiful game. The true influence comes from the simple perception/ suggestion, of a great team. This in itself can influence a referee to make very crucial decisions at very crucial moments that can creat a momentom shift that changes the final outcome of the game.An example was the Man U v Spurs game where Spurs were leading 2 nil and the ref awarded a penalty simply through the perception that I have spoken of. This happens many times to great teams and is part of the slight edge that is gained by being perceived as a great team. Let me finally add that Spurs are at the point of being perceived as a great team and justifiably so.

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