The Blog that's not always wrong.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Don't try this at Home


Is it safe to come out yet?
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The Jimmy G2 Column.
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I wanted a performance and wasn't expecting a result. We threatened for a time to get both. We were under siege by design and all but pinched it. We parked the bus again and made a fair fist of defending with our backs to the wall.

We were helped in our defensive game plan by a very early headed goal for Kane responding alertly to a Son shot that deflected off Lovren's head onto the woodwork and back into Kane's sphere of influence

Sanchez and Toby coped well under pressure. Gazzaniga kept us in it after we went ahead after 48 seconds and went down eventually to a Salah penalty in the 75th. minute. Between times we defended and defended but gave the ball away sloppily out of defence.

We had 30% of the possession and by the end 4 shots on target. There was a growing inevitability about the loss despite Rose fluffing a good late chance and Son hitting the crossbar having rounded the keeper. Kane and Dele were both close to converting crosses.

Mauricio made 4 changes from the midweek mauling of Red Star. Winks returned with Eriksen; Toby replaced Vertonghen; Rose replaced Davies; Lamela injured in training was sadly not in the match day squad

Neither Rose nor Eriksen justified their selection and it is always telling when the goalkeeper is your MOM. This was a very unfamiliar game plan which at half time looked as if it might pay off until Henderson's scrappy equaliser in the 52nd. minute.

Eriksen and Dele spent the afternoon chasing red shadows which is not really their game but contributed little to composed break out play. Winks and Dele were caught on the ball and only Son and Kane showed effective endeavour.

Both goals were down to full back errors, Rose again misjudged a cross-field ball to Henderson and Aurier's mind seemed to be elsewhere when he hacked into the back of Mane's legs having initially seen off the danger.

After Henderson's equaliser a Liverpool win looked increasingly likely as they repeatedly pressed. We hung on and an unlikely point loomed but the very fact that we defended deep and completely jettisoned the press was evidence that we knew that this was one we couldn't win.

We didn't get thrashed which was a widespread fear before the game and emerged with some credit, but we lost. The performance will probably protect Mauricio again from his increasingly vocal critics but we are closer to the relegation zone than the top four.

Ndombele and Lo Celso showed some spirit and skill when they came on for Winks and Eriksen but once again they came on too late to really influence matters and of course they they hadn't spent most of the afternoon chasing their own tails.

It's not quite 'Where's Harry Redknapp when you need him' time but increasingly people are weighing up the replacement options. I wouldn't get too depressed losing to Liverpool, unbeaten League leaders and European Champions at Anfield.

Next up.
Back to Mersyside for the Everton game for the late kick-off on Sunday 3rd.
A whole week for rumours and other distractions to fester but having cunningly dropped out of the Carabao we have time to re-group and refocus.

Aurier, Rose and Eriksen should be relegated from the starting line-up. If fit, Lamela and Ndombele should start. A win will prolong the agony once again. Lose and who knows.

According to reports in France Jose Mourinho has been 'contacted' with a view to replacing Mauricio if he leaves by consent, spontaneously combusts, or in the unlikely event that he is sacked.

So that's a nailed on draw then and we are marooned in No Man's Land for another week.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Nearly a defensive and goalkeeping masterclass. Nearly. Son overhits his shot and it should have been 2/0 with a Gazza assist. Sissoko's tenacity leads to the early goal.

Both goals were full back errors: Rose misjudged the crossfield pass, Henderson shins a  finish and a careless Aurier tackle, but we know he has that in his locker, and we're done for.

But it's safe to come out again  in the light of an unorthodox Spurs performance. Spurs fans will not welcome this approach on a regular basis so 'Don't try this at home'.


Thursday, 24 October 2019

Any port in a storm.

Get back here
It's a sandbank not an iceberg.

 The JimmyG2 Column.
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Red Star or Crvena Zvezda as they like to be called, offered us a temporary safe harbour and a chance to take on provisions and catch our breaths on Tuesday in the Champions' League. 'Any port in a storm' as they say.

We took the chance to take on provisions of confidence, form and momentum as well while we were about it ahead of a probably more testing leg of our current journey at Anfield. Understatement is my middle name.

They weren't very good and probably would be no higher than the Championship in England. But as we lost to Colchester from effectively Division 4, let's us not take anything for granted or sell any achievement short.

An early goal and a clean sheet; some good movement; fine passing by Aurier, Kane and Ndombele; five well taken goals by Son and Kane and Lamela; effort and concentration all round. Even Dier impressed when he replaced Dele.

Dele did more than his fair share of defensive work but was caught on the ball at least twice. Lamela and Son again proved a handful. Kane apart from two well taken goals was instrumental in the build up.

The defence wasn't tested and looked a little shaky at times but Sanchez pace is a real asset. Davies was much more progressive and the ball was moved  forward much more quickly. Ndombele was a key factor in this.

We needed a performance as well as a result and this one puts our Champions' League fate back in our own hands, We play them again in Belgrade in 2 weeks and a win could ensure our progress again.

"One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.'' (Aristotle 4th Century BC) But I don't have to tell most of you that.

But like a drowning man I will clutch at this flimsy life-belt until a more substantial rescue craft full of my fellow fans hoves into sight in the shape of at least a draw on Sunday, or a narrow loss and another promising performance.

Unless this team selection and formation is followed up on then we may well be back at the current square one. But the signs from Pochettino are hopeful. His mood if not the script certainly changed in after match interviews. (See Video)

There were no signs of Toby Danny or Christian but I am not assuming that their writ has finally run.

Storm cones will be hoisted again at Anfield if Mauricio doesn't follow the succesful formula of playing those who want to play in a formation that enhances their talents. Round pegs in round holes.

Shipping Forecast N.W. England. (for Sunday)

The weather can't be avoided but its effects can be mitigated. I am not expecting the boys to turn out in  Sou' westers and thigh high waders but to concentrate. press and show some pride and for Mauricio to select those that show loyalty and desire.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Hugs all round! Now there's a more relaxed and happier man. Jokes included. 'I gave the players tomorrow off'.  Let's hope it lasts. The future begins on Sunday. Again.


Sunday, 20 October 2019

The End of the Affair.

It's not me, it's them.
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The JimmyG2 Column.
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During the match a popular TV series which ran through the 60's 'No Hiding Place' came to mind as I pondered Spurs predicament. There certainly isn't one at the moment. Realities have to be faced even by me.

After today's dismal and somewhat fortunate draw with bottom of the table Watford where we conceded early for the second game running the realisation grows that this Tottenham is no longer supplying the fulfilment of my needs let alone dreams.

When Aurier is the pick of the back four you know you are in trouble. But he was head and shoulders above the rest with a couple of decent crosses and a late saving tackle to prevent the ignominy of going two down to relegation favourites Watford.

Toby and Jan seemed to have aged 10 years this season and Danny 'Mr. Angry' Rose has lost his  focus entirely. It was not until Son and Lamela came on that some sort of threat was evident. The first half was wasted.

Winks is now the 'ritual scapegoat for the sins of others' especially when Eriksen and Lamela are not starting or playing. Winks seemingly cannot escape the blame because he does more and works harder than most of the others.

You can run but you can't hide so they say. Ironic really as he is one of the few that puts in the effort and doesn't attempt to hide. But with so little movement ahead of him safe lateral passing is his only outlet.

Playing in a midfield pivot of two clearly doesn't suit him especially in yoke with Sissoko but he gets the blame for that too. Ndobele isn't up to a full game yet and Dier is not the player he was.

With each passing game this season the belief of the team and my belief in them has drained away. Each game in my mind has been the opportunity to  rediscover some magic  Actually just a little interest and effort would do.

VAR supplied some drama for the occasion as usual. Dele controlled the ball arguably with his upper arm after seizing on a mix-up between Foster and his defence and contrived somehow to score high into the corner from an acute angle.

VAR apparently awarded the goal in the referees ear piece but the on screen decision was 'No Goal'. Cue despair and confusion but eventually the goal stood and on 86 minutes we denied Watford their first win of the season.

Each game has been an opportunity missed. A draw against Red Star on Tuesday and a narrow defeat against Liverpool are the limits of my ambition at the moment.

With no prospect of incomers in January how do we get through the rest of the season? Deploy those that want to be here; trust in the youngsters: Tanganga, KWP, Skipp; go to 433/4321; hope that Lo Celso and Sessegnon can be fit well before Xmas.

Reinstate the press and a higher pace and a quicker start. Play the ball forward more quickly. Against Watford we had 70% possession and 11 corners and 2 shots on target, the same as Watford. With crisper shooting they could have been 2 or 3 up before we scored.

Pochettino isn't leaving any time soon unless results become even more dire and perhaps not even then. Start with Lamela and Son whenever possible and regard the Europa League as a realistic aspiration in our current state.

It's our turn as fans to step up now, the club is awash with negativity at every level and that is a one way road to Nowheresville. Pochettino needs to start doing things differently on tactics and team selection.

If it ain't working fix it. If Mauricio can't recapture the spirit of the last 5 years ago he needs to move on and the affair ends without regrets.

''Thanks for the memory.
And how are all the little dreams that never did come true?
And thank you so much''.

Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Ella Fitzgerald among many others. (written 1938).

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Renewed signs of life from Dele, and some directness and purpose from Son and Lamela.Highlights make it look like a good game but not how it felt at the time. Misjudgment by Rose for the first and no-one tracking Doucoure or with the pace to cover.


Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Can we fix it?

I'm with Bob
 Fix it don't scrap it.
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The JimmyG2 Column.
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'Crisis? What crisis?' This crisis I'm afraid. It looks like stick or twist time after Brighton. The International break gives us a little breathing space and may delay any precipitate action by Levy or Mauricio.

I don't think he will either resign or be sacked. Who is available at short notice: Allegri, Mourinho, Chris Hughton, Allardyce, David Pleat again or Sherwood? But it doesn't solve the contract dilemma for key players or the fitness or out of form problems either.

Personally I don't want him to go immediately if at all. I want him to  stay and analyse and put things right with the team, the squad, the club and the fans. He is better placed to do so than any panic incomer and has credit in the bank

I would bench any that don't want to be with us and indicate so by their attitude on and off field and play by contrast those that clearly are still in love with the club including some youngsters.

And I include his own role in the current situation, if he can. But the weasel word ' immediately' indicates that at the end of the season unless fortunes and attitudes pick up then it might be best for all concerned for him to go.

There has always been a vociferous Anti-Enic minority and  a similar 'Levy-out' group. Now there is a loud 'Pochettino out' minority too but the fans and supporters don't get to decide these things.

The season is only 7 games in and we are 4 points off top four, radical change is uncalled for. Nobody is pretending that our form is good but there are many factors.

This latest defeat to Brighton means Tottenham, who were in the Champions' League final just four months ago, have taken 11 points from 24 so far this season and have failed to win in their last 10 away games in the Premier League.

This stretches back to a 2-1 victory at Fulham on 20 January. In total the club have lost 17 matches on the road in all competitions in 2019 - more than any other top-flight side. So a crisis of sorts without doubt.

Acknowledging the situation may be the first step to solving it but we are a long way off doing so. Despite a spirited rearguard action against Southampton and a lively half an hour against Bayern the last few games have been dreadful by any standard.

The results against Bayern, Colchester, and Brighton are a roll call of shame. Hugo's second crucial mistake this week on just two minutes in was a prelude to another  desperate display.

My father in law was an engineer and did all his own car maintenance.  His advice was always to fix one thing at a time to see if it cures the problem. If you try several things at once and don't check the results each time you will never know what the problem was.

Changing the Manager is drastic and sometimes it even works, like putting in a new engine. But it might be the clutch or the gearbox, or the electrical system or a faulty filter in the fuel system.

That was when you could get at the engine instead of just plugging it into a computer, and repairing things rather than replacing them. There were Car Maintenance Classes for Women then at the Local Tech. Probably illegal now.

Mrs Jimmy G2 went  for a term, obviously inherited her father's genes. Change the oil Mauricio and check the tyres.

Check out each of the players for their commitment and fitness; the ownership for its investment; the financial impact of the new Stadium; change the formation and the training regime and the tactics. Repair rather than replace the Manager and/or the players.

But not all at once. We need focused intelligent analysis. Knee jerk and you'll tip the oil can all over yourself.

There are many factors and changing managers may be throwing the baby out with the bath-water. Simply it is not a wise first step as it is irreversible and then we are probably back to the old days when Spurs Managers' average stay was 18 months.

We had 14 managers while Wenger was at Arsenal. So let's proceed with caution. I would bench anyone whose contracts are up or that have expressed an inclination to leave: play those that show commitment on the pitch and on the training ground.

Liverpool's powering start, City's loss and Utd,'s continuing woes have taken the tabloid and pundit  heat off us temporarily and we should use the lull to get down to an enquiry into our fall from grace.

It helps that Mauricio is no longer flavour of the month, though if this decline was a scheme to make him persona non grata at Utd. and Real it is case of cutting of our noses to spite our face and not a recommended game plan.

I note that there is no wild talk of Pep coming to Spurs after their indifferent start.  Remember he once said that the players stop listening to any manager after 3 years. He only overstayed his welcome only once, at Barcelona by a year.

My other team, Real Madrid, were in meltdown only a fortnight ago. Zidane was toast. Now they are clear league leaders and firing on nearly all cylinders in La Liga.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.Eventually.

Hugo Lloris.
Dislocated his elbow a particularly painful injury as we saw. GWS Hugo. But I don't expect to see him back much before Easter just in time to save us from relegation. I'm joking, I'm joking. I hope.

Next Up
Two weeks breathing space then Watford at home on Saturday 19th. at 3pm. I was thinking that playing away at Brighton would take some pressure of the boys as the natives are certainly getting restless, but apparently not.

Jimmy's Video Spot. 
Brighton TV view of the game. Bit one-sided but so was the game. Lloris caght in at least three minds. Brighton played well, we did not.

Mercifully short highlights but I can't protect you forever with  speeches and restful music. Sorry.



Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Pochettino on borrowed time until Brighton

Mauricio down but not out. Yet.
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The Jimmy G2 Column
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Dig the positives out of that performance Jimmy. Might give Geoffrey his head here, he's always saying he could do it. The Geoffrey Shufflebotham Column. Catchy or what. Nope, stand tall Jim.

Mauricio says we gave up. We certainly got thrashed in the end by a sharp, strong and competent team. Although for half an hour we matched them, pressed them and went ahead on 15 minutes through a goal by Son.

Not his first opportunity by any means. We looked good and felt good. By half time the game had unravelled and eventually produced our worst home defeat ever. Perhaps the project too. The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

The equaliser, the first of many fine shots came soon after but the killer goal was Lewandowski's just on half time. We failed to clear the ball in our penalty area again, failed to manage the game again, and his turn and shot changed the half time mentality.

We had played well to that point but that is clearly not enough. Within 10 minutes of  the break we were 4-1 down. Two more fine strikes by Gnabry. They had 10 shots on target and scored 7; we had 8 and scored two. One a penalty.

Two more goals by Gnabry and another by Lewandowski in the last ten minutes were record breaking killers . The fact that Gnabry is an ex Arsenal reject only adds salt to the wound. And wound it is even if not fatal.

Mauricio asserted at the week-end that 'Nothing is broken' but after Bayern  Newcastle and Colchester it's looking pretty battered. If 'it's broke then fix it' though what that entails precisely is difficult to assess.

New Manager; an unsettled or inadequate player clear out, or a return to first principles of the project. Promote those that want to be here; re-instate the team press; sharpen up tactics and substitutions; be more pro-active in-game.

Speaking of new managers, it's anyone but Mourinho for me. He has been a winner in the past but with him the cure is worse than the disease. Nice guys are not always losers and winners don't have to be nasty or make teams in their own image.

We need a re-boot if you'll forgive the expression preferably for me under Pochettino. After Southampton it looked as if this was under way. Bayern are a class team on form that played well but we only stuck at it for 35 minutes.

In the end we were swamped and the effect on Pochettino's pride and reputation may cause him to resign before he is sacked by an itchy trigger fingered CEO that has form even though he must share some of the blame.

I think that the established relationship between the two will prevent that but I am nervous whenever I look at the headlines in case he has gone even as I write this, so I've stopped looking for the moment.

This is known as the Ostrich Strategy for avoiding bad news.You don't need to know what Geoffrey thinks as it probably echoes what many if not most of you think too. But this is known as creative journalistic tension.

Short term measures: banish Aurier; reinstate Dier, give Sanchez more playing time or he will never make the grade; don't play Dele, my favourite player, until he is fully fit. Give Lamela his head and play Moura on the wing as a sub.

I am a big Eriksen fan but if he's sulking then bench him and anyone else that thinks they are more important than the club.  The much vaunted 'Bonfire of the Deadwood' is coming and it might not be pleasant.

Winks had at nightmare or least a bad dream  especially when he was targeted by Bayern after playing well for the first half hour. But his role needs to be sorted out. Every one of the back four last night night were under some sort of transfer or contract cloud.

It's a mess that has been fomenting since at least the loss to Liverpool in the Champions' League final and some of you will assert well before that. The lead Lawyer for the Defense is pleading for a recess to enable the dust to settle and for the future to become clearer.

But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is a lot of good that could be preserved and built upon. The youth policy and breeding some of our own. Not one of the players in 'dispute' with the club or manager is home grown.
 
I am what is sometimes called a Happy Clapper', my team and manager right or wrong almost, but today I am only clapping with one hand and I'm not too happy either. Bayern were good but not that good. 3 goals in the last ten minutes flattered them a bit.

But if Mauricio has reached the end of his cycle and 5years+ is a long stint at Tottenham so be it. Sir Alex won 38 trophies in 26 years, but it was 4 years before he won a trophy and 7 years before he won the league.

Changing managers when the season has barely started smacks of panic and is not a good look for a Champions League finalist. Keep calm and think it through.

We owe a manager that has bought success and respect to the club at least that.

Next up: Brighton & Hove Albion away at 12:30 on Saturday.
All Hell will break loose if we lose this one. Again. The word on the street is that Pochettino will be gone but I'm not so sure. Anyway we will win so it won't be tested.

Jimmy's Video Spot.