Don’t be fooled by the narrowness of the scoreline, only Stoke’s lack of ambition saved us from something far worse. We were the original mockery of a shambles of a travesty. A great big stink the place out mess.
All the characteristics of the majority of the season’s performances thus far were there. Narrow? Tick. Slow? Tick. No movement up front? Tick. Shambling centre of defence? Tick. No leadership? Tick. For this game we added no first touch, some strange tactics and an after you Claude approach to defending that was only ever going to lead to one result. It was one of the most lightweight and feeble, combined midfield displays I can remember for a long time.
After the game I asked my mate for some positives, “at least we’re sure now that the manager doesn’t know what he’s doing he said”. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s what he meant. The manager is supposed to get more than the sum of the parts from his players – ours are now a quivering jelly, coagulating in a lump around the centre circle, waiting to deliver the next five yard pass until it finds either an opposition man or a Spurs player not strong enough to keep possession. With no one out wide though, it’s not easy to see who they could pass to. “Very worrying” was my mate’s other comment. That understates it, we’re a mess.
I’m all for breaking the mould and giving the manager some time and a couple of transfer windows but playing Kane on his own up front (Chadli doesn’t count)? Persisting with the out of form Capoue? Playing Fazio above Vertonghen? (Playing Fazio full stop?) You can’t help but be nervous. This isn’t a Pochettino out call; I do think he needs a word in his shell-like though.
Designed as it was to drown out the boos, the ear splitting volume of the music released on the first peep of Mike Jones full time whistle was depressing enough but combine that with reports of Levy Out banners being confiscated moments after being produced and it all leaves an unsavoury taste in the mouth almost as bad as that left by having to watch what was going on on the pitch.
Get the width back (Lennon and Chadli wide). Get some fortitude in midfield (Dembele to start, give Stambouli a chance). Get some assurance at centre back (Dier and Vertonghen). Start Kane with Soldado and get the ball over the first man at restarts. Give the fans something to cheer on.
We’re looking down and not up.
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