A Lot to Ponder

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 A friendly in Nashville. Someone’s dog died, my wife left me, and I drowned my sorrows all night in a honky-tonk dive. Country music is all about sorrow—did tonight presage more of it than we bargained for in the upcoming Wembley season?

The lineups were first rate. No Aguero..no Wanyama… Everyone else from both sides who deserved to be in the starting XI were present. Silva without hair, Walker in a different hue of blue. And after an early Trippier cross found Dele all alone in the box (thanks in part to Kyle’s over-commitment on the wing) and he dithered just long enough for Ederson to cutoff the space needed for a shot, it was open the floodgates dejavu c. 2013 and City were rampant.

Our defence was hideous all night. More troubling, however, was the inability of anyone on the team—keeper, defenders, midfielders—to figure out how to get the ball out of our end in the face of a furious Pep-inspired press. There were several occasions when the ball drifted to midfield and one of our forwards or wings failed to keep possession against City pressure and back came the Blues into a threatening posture. If I had to nitpick I’d single out Kieran Tripper and Harry Winks as being particularly sloppy with their possession, but really the whole outfield contingent was overwhelmed.

A lot to ponder because ponderous was the best description of the entire team, and particularly in our own half. Let’s face facts—without either Walker or Danny Rose, and for that matter, Son and Lamela, Spurs are not a particularly fast team. One could only conclude that Guardiola knew that and in sending three or four players in on Lloris with an equal number pressing our midfield, he was daring Spurs to try to go over the top to escape because nothing else would work. We had no answer for the speed of Jesus, Sterling, Danilo and, yes, Walker—all working in concert with and opening up space for the likes of Sliva, DeBruyne and Fernandinho. Poch will have to go back to the drawing board and determine if a 3 man back line in a side devoid of pace can really survive against the likes of Chelsea (Week Two), City, United or even Liverpool.

Kane missed an open goal (so did Jesus and Sterling botched numerous chances too). Janssen almost flicked a ball past the backup keeper. The second half was actually an improvement despite the two late goals. But if there has been a theme in the American journey, it has been weakness in the backline. First it was the young replacements like Walker-Peters and Cameron-Vickers who were culpable— but tonight it was what will undoubtedly be our starters at St James Park in two weeks time.

Do we need another player or two? A defender and Barkley? Sure. But unless this was simply a walkabout that will be forgotten as soon as the jet lands at Heathrow, the bigger needs are closer to home.

What are your thoughts on the performance?  Have your say below

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Paul is a respected U.S. political pollster (Democrat) based in Madison, Wisconsin and Los Angeles. His love for Spurs began when the Premier League games started appearing regularly in the U.S. and an American lover of football had to choose a side. Bale, Rushdie, Adele, Shakespeare, the Spurs faithful, The Lane, etc. were all irresistible attractions and have made Maslin a Spur for life.

5 COMMENTS

  1. That was embarrassing last night. No one was prepared to take any responsibility until the kids came on at the end. Hugo, great keeper that he is, is not the man to continually pass the ball back to. We got to where we are today by seriously pressing other teams but we can’t handle being pressed and other managers will pick up on this. We are in serious need of a leader or it’s going to be a long season!

  2. Ponderous is the correct word indeed.
    With the season about start and statements of we are ‘a bit behind’ well who’s fault is that?
    What exactly have we done so far to kick on/improve from our solid finish last season? Answer- Nothing!
    What are we waiting for? That’s it some cut price deals if there’s any to be had.
    The Ambition is there for all to see!
    We need pace, we need quality 2/3 proven CL standard players else were p;ssing into the wind.

    • Poch’s teams are worked to death in pre-season and rarely perform like they would in competitive matches. For several reasons I really wouldn’t read too much into that performance – horrible though it was.

      There are numerous ways that we will improve prior to any signings.

      In regard to cut price deals – Poch’s primary target is Ross Barkley. He had a year left on his contract but Everton have slapped a £50 million price tag on him. We won’t pay that and they will accept less, eventually – the word is, he really wants to learn and play under Poch. He has also just gone through surgery. If he is Poch’s first choice what do you suggest the club do? Pay the ridiculous valuation of £50 million? Rush a deal through over the odds when he has just been through surgery?

      There are numerous ways that the squad will improve prior to injuries and signings will be made – you just have to activate your reason and patience faculties ?

  3. I’ve just seen a 10 min clip on You Tube of last nights game and can’t disagree with anything Paul has written, our defence was appalling,in fact it has been throughout this tournament!!!
    We urgently need to add to our squad now and time is getting on… so sort out Toby’s contract,but as important revise the wage structure in order to attract the top players to us,get some players in before the achievements we’ve made over the last 2 seasons come crashing down around our ears and we lose Poch…
    Over to you Daniel Levy… make it happen…

    • The wage structure – it has been the media theme since before the season ended. United, City and Chelsea, but particularly the Manchester clubs, have been on an epic quest to unsettle our brilliant young squad. Wages has been the fault line. And the media have done everything within their power to aid and abet them. They have to do it now because our revenues will grow rapidly with the new stadium and, as wages are a percentage of revenues, wages will go up too.

      That’s their game. It is not our game. Our game is Poch wants players who are 100% committed to him, his style of play, his team-mates and the club. Got to expect players to desire to feel something like they are getting paid in the ball-park of what someone at their level in their profession should be. But you have to take a lot of factors into account when you say that. Firstly, the media seem obsessed with under estimating how much Tottenham players actually earn. Secondly, they never mention bonuses and Spurs have a particularly high performance related wage structure. Thirdly, we have the youngest squad in the division specifically because we emphasize the purchase and development of young players, our rivals are emphasizing the purchase of mature players at their peak – would you really expect a 24 year old who was picked up at 20 as potential and developed to be earning the same as a 27 year old purchased at his peak at the pinnacle of his profession?

      With all these factors and more to consider, any Spurs player who is just focusing on how much players in the distorted world of the oil clubs are getting paid in wages clearly wouldn’t have the type of focus and commitment that Poch wants. Are they breaking down the doors trying to escape? Is Poch putting them all on the transfer list because they are packing the necessary focus and commitment? No! That should tell you all you need to know. Play our own game, commitment, focus, morale, team-spirit. Ignore the media attempts to make it all about wages at the behest of a couple of slimeball oil clubs and a desperate bloated United.

      Just for the record, if you don’t know: our wage structure is to pay a set percentage of revenues in wages. We follow the model, exactly, as advised by UEFA – but which they won’t/can’t enforce. We are getting it right, they are getting it wrong. The fault is not ours but theirs. It is only the twisted world of the media who would rather focus on us as though doing it right is a problem and distorting everything with filthy unearned revenues is some noble thing, that makes folk want to be angry with Spurs and Levy. And the media’s promoters at the aforementioned clubs whose only concern is to try to unsettle our players because they want them – waving their wads like Harry Enfield’s Loadsamoney!

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