Lamela came on at the start of the second half and gave what he gives: work rate, energy, skill in tight areas, a sense of purpose. As a one-footed player, his world unfortunately is not 360 degrees, it’s half a world of 180 degrees. He’s easy to predict and lost if he finds himself trapped on his right side. Wanyama and Sterling came on. It was nice, for different reasons, to see them. Rather, sadly, like seeing a friend to wave at across the street when you are in the process of being mugged.
After the Chelsea game, I awarded ratings based on what I thought was a courageous and spirited second half rally. I was wrong: the real point was the abysmal first half. It is one of the key stories of our season: the shockingly poor way we have started on a consistent basis.
We did it again here. The first half was wan, hapless, wafty, unfocused and careless. We start expecting the game to come our way … as an entitlement. Many times we have produced a stirring second half and often rescued games at the death.
I don’t care one jot for possession without purpose; the two halves here once again illustrated the difference between that and possession with purpose. In both these recent games, these two halves were produced by the same players. Something is wrong with the mentality with which we take to the field.
Spurs went out of the second cup in less than a week and deservedly so. The grades on this occasion principally reflect the first half performance.
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