An inexcusable evening in Colchester

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Dele
Stephen Pond/Getty Images

All I remember were the boos and heckling, after the dismantling of our team by gutsy Colchester United

Unusually for me, I was in the away end;  after Colchester United fans went mad, after humiliating us, our players came over to the away end to praise our supporters and usually they would get a round of applause back, but this time they got booed and heckled. The shock was palpable on their faces. If some of Tottenham supporters could physically get to them, then god knows what would have happened. On top of that, Colchester fans entered the arena and came over to mock our supporters. The atmosphere was intense. A strong showing of stewards and police surrounded our supporters, preventing any sort of physical confrontation.

I saw people on crutches/with walking sticks being pushed as they made their way down the steep stairs (trying to get to the home supporters), another potential catastrophe was waiting to happen.

After our disastrous league start and jittering Champions league campaign we expected this game to be a pushover, it was, but not for us. Determined Colchester United turned up hoping to create sensational headlines in the national press, for the next day. They came with the sole intention of causing a cup sensation, and they got their dream.

Pochettino has been at the club over 5 years, and in that time we got to a few semi-finals and one Cup Final, but in all our attempts we walked away with nothing, other than a losers medal. At any other top club, thoughts would have turned to dismissal. Personally, Pochettino should see out this season and then we – the board and himself – should reflect over the past 5 years. Granted, early days and with other clubs falling over themselves to help us along (United, Chelsea and hopefully Arsenal) things could dramatically change. As for the Champions League, Liverpool lost their opening game, we drew ours (and we have a point more than this time last season and look where we ended up… in Madrid).

As I said, Pochettino has yet to win a major trophy during his managerial career, despite an encouraging season in 2018-19 which featured an appearance in the Champions League final and making the last four of this competition. So, at this present time, God knows what the other clubs (who are interested in him) see in, so-far, an unsuccessful manager. Money isn’t going to remedy his faults, only experience (and he has had money at this club to spend).

But his wait for a trophy will go on, providing he is given enough time, but what is enough time, before fans and board alike, start sinking into depression and demand more from their manager? This game is the biggest shock he has experienced as a manager. Let us hope this shock motivates him into a different approach.

He had taken charge of 18 domestic cup ties against lower-ranked opponents since arriving in England with Southampton in 2013 and had never lost. Until now.

We are on a gruelling run of seven games in 21 days, but we could hardly blame tiredness for this result, with Pochettino making 10 changes from our defeat at Leicester – only keeper Gazzaniga kept his place. Maybe that was the problem, too many changes.

There was a first outing of the season for out-of-favour Eric Dier, a return from injury for Dele Alli and debuts for 20-year-old centre-back Japhet Tanganga and 17-year-old forward Troy Parrott, but none pressed their claims to break into their manager’s first-choice eleven. Our defeat will only add to the sense of uncertainty around the club – BBC Radio 5 Live commentator, Don Hutchison said before the game there was an “undercurrent of frustration” surrounding Pochettino and that it was hard to “see where the club is going”. I have felt that myself, and not only me.

Four wins in our past 17 matches suggest that something is not quite right. And what is going on with our away form? We are winless in all five games on the road this season, conceding two goals on four occasions and – most worryingly – now suffering an embarrassing exit from the EFL Cup.

Colchester had already produced one significant upset this season, winning on penalties at Crystal Palace in the second round. Adding the scalp of Tottenham – who were eliminated by a team from a lower division in this competition for the first time since Grimsby achieved the feat in 2005-06 – means Colchester are the first side from outside the top flight to win shootouts against two top-tier teams in the same League Cup campaign since Bradford City in 2012-13. They went on to reach the final that season.

The bigger clubs regularly use these sort of contests as a testing ground for squad members and younger players and, after beating a side ranked 70 places above them, John McGreal’s men are unlikely to fear whoever they face when Wednesday’s fourth-round draw is made.

They held their own in this game, despite us having 75% of possession (in our other defeats we controlled most of the territory as well) and 19 shots. In truth, Colchester were rarely under pressure, with only four of those efforts on target.

Kyle Walker-Peters’ shot hurtled against the post early in the second half, but, as the game approached full-time and Pochettino brought on Son Heung-min, Eriksen and Lamela to add to the attacking power of Alli and Moura, Colchester looked as likely to break the deadlock.

On a night when we hoped to progress further in this competition we only got humiliation, boos and questions marks over Pochettino and the squad’s heads.

I would be astonished if otherworldly clubs would be still interested in Pochettino. He hasn’t achieved anything yet, and those that join a top European club want certainty in who they poach.  There is no certainty surrounding Pochettino at the moment. Only question marks.

We can only put this match behind us and prepare for Saturday against Southampton, which will be quickly followed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Somebody once said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” Hopefully, that present is a brighter future than what is currently projected for us.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And Spurs will reap all it deserves (in a good and positive way).” Paraphrasing John Lennon here.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Whoever wrote this needs to have a serious word with themselves. “Dismantling” by Colchester? We lost 4-3 on penalties for god’s sake. This is possibly our worst start to a season under Poch but dry your noses, stop this players out, poch out nonsense and get behind them team.

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