Fan Report: Spurs 2-0 Sunderland

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Tom Huddlestone - Header

The start of the season for Spurs was all about speed of passing and movement coupled with some assured finishing. Michael Turner will remember with little fondness the dismantling of Hull City at the KC Stadium in August by a Tottenham team full of style and confidence. He would’ve been more confused than anyone to seethe stilted, stodgy performance the same team gave at WHL on Saturday against Sunderland. It was a win and a welcome one, but most of the talk afterwards was about how this three points balanced out those lost against Stoke as there was general recognition that we escaped with this one.

Stripped of width by injury and Redknapp’s tactics for the second week running we generally stank as an attacking outfit until Kranjcar came on for Keane with half an hour to go and the midfielders and forwards resumed their familiar positions and the team reverted to a recognisable shape. By the time Huddlestone rifled home from the edge of the box after Defoe had fed him from Kranjcar’s lovely ball forward, we should’ve been out of it. How many times did Harry have to witness Jenas, Palacios and big Tom dig the ball out from under their own feet and get in each other’s way in the middle as they desperately struggled to find an outlet up field before he realised things weren’t working and a change was needed? Too many is the answer.

The speed of Bent, Campbell and Richardson embarrassed King, Woodgate and Corluka on multiple occasions. Woodgate has the excuse of being short of match practice, the other two looked a liability. It doesn’t bode well as teams have already started targeting Corluka. The last thing we need is two more oil tankers in the middle. Bassong’s stock has increased despite him not featuring in the game. That the hares were eventually kept out by the tortoises had a lot to do with Darren Bent and Heurelho Gomes. Bent’s profligacy with chances, including the wasting of a penalty won by cheating, combined with some top class keeping from Gomes kept us in the game even as the midfield continued to run round in circles, shove the ball out of play looking for wide men who weren’t there and hoof it straight up in the air. In the first half Andy Reid smacked a volley against our left hand post, Bent did us the favour of nicking the ball away from Campbell’s feet as he set himself to smash the ball back towards to an unguarded net.

By then we were one up as Crouch’s knockdown from an Assou-Ekotto cross had been bundled in by Robbie after 12 minutes. The absence of a replay being shown inside the ground led everyone to believe the goal controversial when in fact there was nothing wrong with it. There was also nothing wrong with Gomes’ challenge on Bent which in a strange decision made by an unauthoritative ref whose inexperience showed throughout, led to a penalty and only a yellow card for our favourite Brazilian. Bent never tried to stay on his feet but if he’d been honest and kept going it’s unlikely he’d have missed so why no red I don’t know. Still, two wrongs made a right in this case as Gomes pushed away Bent’s low penalty prompting choruses of “That’s why we sold you”.

Redknapp’s crack afterwards about “a diamond that didn’t sparkle” is annoying as in recent games both Kranjcar and Bale have proved that they can do a job on the left hand side of midfield so why change a formation that he knows works and waste a player of Palacios’ talents by sticking him out there? All it does, the same as last week, is just cramp all our midfield possession. 

By the time we play against Wigan, Lennon and maybe Modric will be back and we can  hopefully get back to the style that we began the season with. Alarm bells should be ringing at the back, especially given that Ledley didn’t make it to the end again. We got away with it this time, but we’ve got to find some pace somewhere.

By MF

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Great article, agree with everything you've said here. What I loved about Harry when he came in is, he played players in their strongest position and let them get on with it.

    Unfortunately every manager – at some stage – seems to feel obliged to earn their money by experimenting with formations.

    Hopefully that's it done now, and we can get back to 4-4-2 against Wigan – Modders on the left, Lennon on the right – both should be back from injury.

    Defoe and Keane up front – and I'd love to see Dawson and Woodgate at the back. Daws deserves a game and sad as it is to say, I think King's career may be drawing to a close, he seemed off the pace in the last couple of matches.

    I'm wondering if Harry is starting to think this way too – I noticed he was talking about what a great pro Dawson is and how he'll be here long term.

    Oh and well done JJ and Hud for getting back in the England squad (even though I'm not yet convinced they're the best we can do at Tottenham).

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