Opinion: Reflections on the Cup Final defeat – Some positives, some questions

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Ryan Mason
Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Tottenham’s defeat to Man City in the Carabao Cup final marks yet another year in which the chance for silverware will pass us by.

While many will debate the perhaps untimely sacking of Jose Mourinho, and suggest with him the result would have been different, the fact remains that we lost, again, and weren’t very inspiring in doing so. The words ‘to dare is to do’ seemed very distant on Sunday.

In the days after Ryan Mason’s appointment, he told the world that he wanted Spurs to be “brave and aggressive”, and to “play like Tottenham Hotspur”.

However, watching the game on Sunday, you would be forgiven for still believing that Mourinho was still in charge, with Spurs defending deep, and failing to move the ball forwards quickly enough when in possession to create any real chances.

Two possible conclusions can be made from this, either we lacked the bravery promised, or we are simply so far behind the big teams at the moment that we cannot compete.

Although harsh, with it only his second senior game, and up against arguably the best team in the world, with one of the greatest managers ever, Ryan Mason’s tactics can be questioned.

However, it must be said that it’s very easy to criticise losing tactics in hindsight, and there is every chance that we would have been beaten by a bigger margin had we attempted to open the game up. I would also argue that his player selection can come under scutiny.

An out of form Harry Winks playing the full 90 minutes, whilst Pierre-Emile Hoijberg, Lucas Moura and Giovani Lo Celso, the latter two in that list being our best forward players in the game, all being substituted at some point.

Gareth Bale missing out on a starting place despite being man of the match in the previous game against Southampton. Mason got it wrong. As Gary Neville put it, Ryan Mason was given a “lesson” throughout the match, which I suppose can be seen as positive, every cloud…

On that note, there were some positives that can be taken from the game.

The most obvious being that the defence, which has been the subject of much criticism this season, looked solid, and kept Man City at bay for a long period of the game.

Toby Alderweireld was without a doubt our best player, but Eric Dier, who has received a lot of criticism this season, also had a good game; Hugo Lloris made some great saves to keep us in the game.

Further up the pitch, Lucas had a relatively good game, and was perhaps the only player who exhibited the desired bravery, taking the ball and driving forwards when possible, and should have had Aymeric Laporte sent off for two cynical fouls.

Lo Celso, who has been missing for a large chunk of the season, was also a player trying to play positively, always attempting to pass forwards, although not always possible.

Although, obviously, it was another demoralising defeat in a disappointing season, positives can be taken, and must be taken.

All we can do now is attempt to win our last few games of the season and push for a top-four finish, and hope that the hierarchy at the club can make some big decisions for next season.

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