The Blog that's not always wrong.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

What's Lamela ever done for us?.








Mauricio's Secret Weapon: A pressing Machine!










This could be the start of something good. Let's hear it for the boys. Experienced internationals have given way to the younger generation in our search for effort and heart.

Against Forest and Arsenal we had a sprinkling of home grown and younger players on the pitch at various times providing a balance of the enthusiasm of youth and the experience of, well experience.
It worked for Pochettino at Southampton and it might just work at Spurs.

Ryan Mason got his chance in the Premiership after his enterprising appearance against Forest against the advice of many including me. But Mauricio was right and the boy played well again.

He turned in some impressive stats particularly on forward passes:


..................................Touches......Accurate Passes......Fwd Passes

Danny Rose ......................54...............19........................8
Ryan Mason......................51................25......................18
Etienne Capoue ................50................27......................12



















He was also right about Kaboul who was named captain against the advice of many including me. But he played the game of his life against Arsenal and was MOM by several football pitches.

This clearly upset Adebayor who in protest against not being given the top job has declared a go slow. However newly appointed Vertonghen although not signing a new five year contract to replace his old four year one turned in his best performance for some time.

So hats off to Mr. Pochettino who appears to know his squad better than the average fan. He changed his match attire and his tactics to suit the occasion. Out went pressing, except for the suit, and in came solid defence and rapid counter attack.

And it nearly worked with Chadli's goal giving us the lead for nearly 20 minutes after some sound defending by the back five. Lamela provided the assist once again. It was his sixth of the season and no-one else is even close.

So the answer to the question 'What has Lamela ever done for us ?' is 'Provided the assists for over a third of our goals. He can be irritating but he has a talent we are clearly short of; the ability to spot a run and deliver a pass.

We defended 15 Arsenal corners successfully and got a point with 31% possession. Against W. Brom we had over 60% possession and got nothing for it. Slippery things statistics and I only use them when they prove my point.

My point here and Mauricio seems to agree is that there is more than one way to skin a cat and I hope we see more of this Mourinho like flexibility of approach. (No cats were harmed in the writing of this blog by the way)

So is this the week that things turned the corner for Spurs? After all a week is just as long in football as it is in politics.Turning corners is a cliche for writing about Spurs. It seems more of a labyrinth at times. We turn so many corners we sometimes bump into ourselves coming back.

But something has changed. Reports are that Mauricio let rip at the post West. Brom team meeting. The message seemed to be 'Shape up or ship out. My way or no way.' The inclusion of Mason seemed designed to reinforce this message.

For most of the Forest game it appeared that we had not taken Mauricio's words on board. But it came good in the end with the arrival of Mason and Kane. Mason scored a cracker and Soldado diverted a wayward shot from Townsend (What other sort are there?)

Kane finished coolly from a through ball by Lamela. A very similar goal to the one against Arsenal where top scorer Chadli was set up by top assister Erik the Argentinian. Youth to the left of us: youth to the right of us. Well Nacer is only 25.

We have tough tie on Thursday in the Europa against Besitkas but home advantage and new found confidence and momentum should see us take the points. Expect several changes ahead of the game against high flying Southampton.

They are due altitude nose bleeds any time now but the desire to beat their old manager and his equal desire to build on the events of this week should produce a game high in intensity, tactical craftiness and several goals. Hopefully Spurs to win by the odd goal in 5.

Obviously we need a balance of youth and age. We used to have the Bale/Modric axis but as usual we couldn't hold on to them. However the future is bright and we need to build a new axis of the Lamela, Kane, Mason/ Vertonghen, Lloris type.

We have sold the heart and heartbeat of the team in recent seasons but after transplant and cloning advances in medical science it is not impossible to rebuild or grow it again.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
I'm hoping that this marks some sort of milestone this season. Ryan Mason's equalizer; a poacher's delight from Soldado; Lamela sets up Harry Kane  and grazes the post; Mauricio comes from behind to win; his substitutions are timely and effective.


















Monday, 22 September 2014

Tin Man Tottenham: if he only had a heart.

If I only had a heart and now I've run out of steam.

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The JimmyG2 Column.
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The Wizard of Oz Edition.

 So how was it for you? Make that, just how bad was it for you?
Worst you've ever seen Spurs play? Ever?
Worst you've seen Spurs play at White Hart Lane only?
Worst you've ever seen since the Premiership began?
Worst since ENIC took over?
Worst this calendar year?
Worst since Mauricio took over?
Or perhaps you disagree and feel we were unlucky with the ref, the pitch, the crowd, the weather and the opposition.

Plenty of support for the first two, very little for the last.
Shock horror Spurs fans stand united at last.

From back to front, Lloris of course excluded, and from start to finish, team selection, substitutions,
individual performances, effort, add your own criterion, this was a mess. I was going to put a dog's dinner but my dog wouldn't even sniff at it.

Our new captain burdened by the cares of office looked decidedly edgy but then who wouldn't playing alongside Chiriches who had his ineptly exciting side on full display. Our new vice captain went AWOL from the start.

The other one having fallen out with Pochettino was confined to barracks. Allegedly. Whatever could go wrong for Mauricio has gone wrong and in some style. But he has only himself to blame with his team and captaincy decisions.

His half time talk, rant, plea whatever, inspired the team to plumb new depths of apathy and substitutions were too little, too late again.

 Adebayor and Chiriches should have been off at half time if not sooner. Chiriches and Kaboul should never have been paired.

As for the rest Danny Rose was MOM again which tells a lot of the story. Capoue made some impact in the first half and Lamela tried but showed no vision. Eriksen gave a master class in how not to take free kicks and corners. 

Dier for Chiriches and the much maligned Kyle Naughton in his place would have been sensible. OK Mauricio you've made your point to the management we have an unbalanced squad but don't push your luck..

When the bottom of the league team' supporters are chanting 'Can we play you every week?' you begin to hope you've reached rock bottom and that the only way is up. But Forest in the Capital 1 Cup on Wednesday might test that theory, possibly to destruction.

The next few fixtures might prove terminal for Pochettino's prospects Oh yes they might. Four managers in a year makes you suspect that something is up. The spectre of Santini and Ramos rears up.

So here's another little quiz to take your mind off the impending visit to Arsenal which could be dramatic but not in a nice way. 

How long has Mauricio got?
  1. Gone by Xmas
  2. Gone before the next transfer window.
  3. Gone by Jimmy Greaves and my birthday. (20th Feb. since you ask)
  4. Will see out the season.
  5. 18 months, same as the average for all last dozen or so managers
  6. Will see out his contract.
Good odds available on 6) I'll warrant. Might have a sneaky sixpence on 4) but things had better look up soon.

Even Cane Hoy who probably don't care much about the football anyway, they're another Investment Company for Christ's sake, watched this one from behind the sofa which is where I'll be Saturday tea-time.

Normally I would opt for the take a draw now option ahead of a visit to The Emirates but to be honest at the moment I would take loss and a show of spirit.

Mr. Pochettino has a plan and a system, a vision even but not the players to implement it. At this stage of the season best to stop ramming square pegs into round holes. Just let them go on and run about a bit.

Which would be a lot more than they did on Sunday. I don't suppose Mauricio is short of good advice. Apart from The Musings that is. Harry will pop up soon and opine,' With that squad he should win the league. Timothy is sniggering in the shadows.

Of course there will be some in the, bad day at the office; early days; Coach exploring his squad; W.Brom not as bad as they are painted party. I've been there myself often. Too often. But Sunday really stole the Garibaldi.

Those that don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. Mauricio has dug himself into a hole with this squad and you know the advice: Stop digging.

Back to basics. Courage and heart and effort. Pick those that give a damn. Is it too late to get Dawson, Holtby and Sandro back? Bentaleb and Kane are in the same boat. What they lack in talent they more than make up for with attitude.

Jimmy's Video  clip: Somewhere over the rainbow.

Made for Spurs: blue birds flying; dare to dream; dreams coming true; clouds far behind; troubles melting away. Somewhere over the rainbow, well it certainly wasn't at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high.
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow
Blue birds fly
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Dreams really do come true
Someday I'll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney top that's where you'll find me
Somewhere over the rainbow
Blue birds fly
And the dream that you dare to, why, oh why can't I?


Been dreaming too long mate. Reality eventually dawns. Well this week anyway

 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Elephant in the Room at Spurs.

Sorry Jumbo you're standing in the way of progress.

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The JimmyG2 Column
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I've still got the old Jumbo my dad made out of an army blanket wrapped in what's left of a piece of flannel that I used to chew on. He was a tailor and had a tidy barrack sideline in soft toys, mainly elephants and rhinoceros because of the colour.

I say 'used to' because I don't need my childhood comfort blanket now: I support Spurs instead comfortingly the same under whichever new manager Levy appoints. Dominating but failing to win is now a basic component of our DNA .

Same old, same old or as the French more elegantly put it plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (“the more it changes, the more it's the same thing”).

Worried? Headaches? Support Tottenham and everything falls into perspective. A reassuring glimpse of the old blue and white stadium, 115 yrs old and still going strong is like meeting an old mate that owes you a drink.

The news that he has died leaves a big hole in your life and no recent Johny Come Lately's will ever fill the gap. He may be richer and always stand his round but some things and their memories are irreplaceable.

News that the new stadium will be delayed perhaps until 2020 or whenever is no surprise. We've waited for getting on for a decade for the shiny state of the art thingy that is planned to overshadow Sainsbury's.

We will appreciate it all the more for having to wait as I used to be told. Instant gratification is bad for the soul. We want a new stadium. When do we want it? Yesterday. Why do we want it? Well anyone who's anyone has got one.

The thinking is that with vastly increased match day turnover; a naming rights deal; an upgrade on the investment company that  runs us enables us punch our weight but at a higher level.

You are what you spend these days. We are the sixth biggest club in terms of spending and we finished sixth last season, are sixth as I speak and are most likely to finish sixth again this season. In the meantime the football outcomes remain the same.

Of course it's early days in the Pochettino revolution, the football against Sunderland showed quite long periods of some style. We were ahead twice and came out of the blocks in both halves with intent and pace.

Lamela and Dembele battered the woodwork; Eriksen was at the centre of things again; Lamela clearly understood the Argentinian for 'press' even if a few others didn't. But we only took a single point when we should have taken all three.

A deflected Johnson shot wiped out Chadli's opener and it was all square within five minutes. A late OG from a needless free kick took care of Eriksen's early second half goal. Late goals, conceding from set pieces, haven't they both been abolished under the new regime.

Mauricio bewailed our lack of killer instinct and any day now the phrase 'mental strength' will rear it's ugly head. However mental strength does not determine which side of the post the ball goes.

The referee allowed Clattermole and his mates to hack and chop until the 80th minute by which time it was a tad late and the damage had been done. Then he booked five of theirs and one of ours, Dier, rightly peeved at not getting a penalty.

Clattermole was expecting an England call up apparently. Presumably for the British Army Ground Clearing and Tree Felling Division and not the England football team. Lamela was particularly favoured by his attentions.

But let's not blame the ref. We had the chances and fluffed them. Adebayor could have had a couple, even so he was involved in both goals They offered little and without our help would have scored none and got nothing.

But 'twas ever thus, well at least for the past decade or so. We no longer have the R word in the back of our minds; the squad is certainly improving and most live in hope of new owners and a new stadium.

But as I tuck up in bed with Jumbo tonight I wonder if things have changed all that much. It's true that Levy hasn't bankrupted us but you can't help feeling that the Archway Engineering blockage should have been cleared by now.

If we had given them what they were asking when the gap was rumored to be £2million  we could be moving into a new Stadium 2 or 3 years ahead of even the most positive estimates. How much would that have been worth?

So plenty of positives in the long and short term but an uneasy feeling that we've seen this movie before. We know how it ends. As the picture fades and the lights come up the hero didn't get the girl
but his faithful old horse is still with him.

Actually his faithful old elephant in this case. I bow to the inevitable but I don't have to like it. Ambition gave up on me years ago.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
For those with kids or grandchildren over ten here's what replaces Bob the Builder . A Minecraft reconstruction of the iconic White Hart Lane. One to cut out and keep. Though I suspect there's no rush.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Delivery for Mr. Pochinetto.


Delivery for Mr. Pochinetto
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The JimmyG2 Column.
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Well it was never going to last was  it? As soon as we faced a half decent side it all went wobbly and Liverpool are more than half decent. Mauricio Pochinetto welcome to White Hart Lane.
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 His face in the second half revealed that he now realises exactly what he's taken on. I hope his  wife hid the cat. Did anyone play well today against a slicker faster Liverpool side?

 Eriksen is still stuck in an airport lounge somewhere after his holidays and his set piece kicking is straight out of the Hugo Lloris 'Distribution for Boys' manual.

One or two tried but to little effect. Adebayor and Lamela in particular but they repeatedly  failed to release the ball quickly enough. Chadli and Ade had gilt edged chances at crucial moments. The price of gilts has obviously fallen.

Liverpool roared from the blocks at the start of both halves and the game was virtually over within 50 minutes. Or we played as if it was. There were some serious errors of judgement particularly from Kaboul.

Even Lloris was affected. Moreno dispossessed Townsend on the half way line when Andros took his first touch, then outpaced him over 50 yds and bore down on Hugo who stood Freidalised in the six yard area.

 He left him just enough room to squeeze a shot home for their third. Lloris wrongly supposed that one of defenders, say for example Kaboul, would head him off. There was no sign of Dier at this point or any other of the senior staff either.

Dier is young but should know better than to make such a soft a penalty decision easy for the ref for the second. Capoue was an onlooker for the first goal.  We had plenty of defenders on duty but no sense of urgency or positioning.

A catalogue of errors as they say and each one punished by a lively Liverpool side that look as if they will be challenging once again for the Top four even without the dentist's best friend.

 Capoue, last weeks best thing since sliced bread has quickly gone stale if not mouldy. Chadli can be found  in the same supermarket aisle. Look for the 'Marked down; approaching sell by date' basket. Townsend  could well be in there if you look carefully.

Of course I'm going over the top. Just like last week but in the opposite direction, but you wouldn't want it any other way I'm sure. 'Out of over-reaction cometh forth truth' as it says in the Musing's Dictionary of Quotations..

It's a pity we have to play any actual games at all in many ways. 'Reality is too much for mankind to bear' as some old dusty sage once remarked. He's not wrong as far as Spurs are concerned. Is that the sound of bubbles bursting.

He also remarked that the World ends not with a bang but with a whimper. A pretty apt description of our seasons over most of the past decades. Facing reality is not a sign of depression however. I hope so for Mauricio's sake.

There is work to be done here, though rather more then some might have thought. Not a time then for curling up in a ball by the corner flag. Or even curling up in the corner flag with a ball. Or even.....

There we were after an unbeaten pre-season, progress in the Europa on Thursday, and two Premiership wins busily building trophies in the air. But they were all against inferior opponents which gave us no guide to the travails on Sunday.

Flat track bullies indeed. But we all know that this is inevitably another Year of Transition. I've said sixth all along and I stick by it. Two steps forward, two steps back at best. The best you can say is that the result was not as bad as it might have been and has been lately.

So I'm not downhearted yet. Being slapped in the face by the wet haddock that was Liverpool is just as likely to wake us up as knock us down. Individual errors apart for which no manager can be held responsible the team looked out of sorts.

The pressing was half- hearted in the main and the lack of incisive passing was striking. This was not a team with belief etched on their foreheads. Two more winnable games before Arsenal against whom I would take a draw now if offered.

The transfer window usually brings out the worst in the fans and Daniel Levy but he'll be happy, we made £6million on the window + the Defoe money, £13 million since January. Count them beans Daniel.

 Here's the ACDC (Actual Completed Deals Confirmed.)

In

Ben Davies
Michel Vorm
Eric Dier
DeAndre Yedlin
Federico Fazio
Benjamin Stambouli

Out

Gylfi Sigurdsson
Jake Livermore
Iago Falque
Michael Dawson
Zeki Fryers
Sandro

Good window/bad window? Are they better than those they replace? Do they fit the system better? The manager didn't get any of his priorities so Time, the Great Healer, will tell. It might all look better in a month's time or worse of course.

If he's happy then I'm happy. Probably not over the moon at the moment: quad trimmed; some rough diamonds to polish; key players retained. But we have stood still whilst rivals have moved forward.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Here's one we signed earlier and probably the pick. If he settles. Federico Fazio. 27  years old, 6'5'' and Argentinian, obviously. £8-10 million. (That works out at about  £ 1.5 million pounds per foot, or £125,000 an inch) So a bargain in today's terms if he's as good as they say.

The video clearly demonstrates  that he can smile, wink, sit, stand walk and sign his name. More than enough to be going on with . Well you didn't want to see the video of the Liverpool goals did you?