It was during World War II, I believe, when the acronym SNAFU was coined by soldiers exasperated by the organisational failures from the powers that be that made their lives even more difficult than they needed to be. I doubt that anything could better sum up for fans Spurs’ seasonal flirtation with a Champions’ League place and the inevitable disappointment:
SNAFU: ‘Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.’
I didn’t, of course, harbour any hopes of Spurs winning at the Bridge for the first time since…. oh, I don’t know, the internet was invented…or maybe I mean the telephone…. or maybe since Ken Bates was Chelsea chairman, welcoming all and sundry, including former players, to the ground with a warm smile and a cuddle. A long, long time ago, anyway. No, only a supreme optimist – and they’re about as common amongst Spurs’ fan-base as The Little Book of Calm is amongst Millwall supporters – could look at our results against the other teams in the top four this season and expect anything positive.
And the lads didn’t disappoint. Sure, we held Chelsea to 0–0 for about an hour and we can – yet again – moan about a penalty and sending-off decision that effectively ended the game as a contest but to try to take any crumb of comfort from that would be to ignore a whole host of failures that make us a team undeserving and incapable of a top-four finish. The truth is that:-
(1) Had Eto’o not been dubiously flagged offside in the first minute, or Hazard not stayed on his feet after he was clipped by another mistimed challenge in the box a few minutes later, Lloris would have been sent off and we’d have had to play the whole game, not just the last twenty minutes or so, with ten men. God knows how many Chelsea might have scored then.
(2) Defensively, we’re a bloody shambles. Vertonghen seems to have been replaced by an alien lookalike, like in that sci-fi film Invasion of The Body–Snatchers, since his return from injury. How else can you explain how a once skilful, assured, calming influence, who I thought would help us build a real spine in the team, is now prone to the sort of terrible lapses of concentration and poor decision-making that leads him to feel that blindly whacking the ball across his own penalty area after slipping over in a wide, unthreatening, area is the best option? Walker, as his wonderful headed assist for Demba Ba’s late goal shows, has always felt that such options are to be embraced in preference to the safety first option of hoofing the ball forward or out. As I’ve said before, he’s done this sort of stuff so often now that he really ought to be made to watch DVDs of these moments on a continuous loop as a punishment (and I’d now suggest that this is accompanied by electric shocks being administered at appropriate times until he finally gets the message). Dawson is whole-hearted as ever, but is sadly playing as he was when he slipped down the rankings and looked like he was going to be shipped out to QPR under AVB; too often exposed by quick passing and pacy forwards and arriving heroically, but usually far too late, to try to stop goal-bound shots. Naughton is like Walker, but without the pace.
(3) We are not – unlike Liverpool, say – capable of compensating for a dodgy defence with a potent attack. While I still think Soldado could still come good with a consistently decent service (providing he’s trusted with a run in the team, obviously) and Adebayor has proved me wrong in a number of games this year, neither has been well-served by a midfield that has less idea of making forward progress than a three-legged crab and provides set piece deliveries that seem programmed to always find the first defender.
(4) Heart. Lack of. ‘nuff said.
(5) Leadership on the pitch. Lack of. ‘nuff said.
Tim Sherwood himself made no secret of the fact that he thought that the team suffered from points (4) and (5) above. Certainly, Saturday’s game was an unwelcome and embarrassing echo of our total capitulation with ten men at home to Man. City. Whether he was right to voice such an opinion in public is debatable but maybe he’s entitled to show his exasperation at the fact that the team rarely seem to play as if they are learning from past mistakes or listening to him at all. For example, when, in the past, he has publicly bemoaned the fact that we started too slowly in one game, we invariably seem to come out and start the next game in much the same way. Maybe he should try a bit of reverse psychology (the sort of thing Brian Clough might do) and give the following team talk: ‘Right lads, I want you to go out, fail to close them down, give away an early penalty, try and get someone sent off, create no chances, make sure every corner lands on the head of the first defender and, above all, if it’s still 0-0 after all that, start firing a few random back passes across your own box.’
It’s worth a try as whatever he’s saying to them at the moment doesn’t seem to be working.
Right or wrong, it would be nice to think that his comments will shame them into a much better performance against the Arse next weekend. I wouldn’t bet on it though – a woeful lack of chances for us and a two-goal win for Arse seems more likely. It looks more and more as if our 4-0 away victory at Newcastle was an aberration rather than the ‘new dawn’ I had hoped it might be, and that the sort of scraped 1-0 win at home we managed against Cardiff, when even a relatively early goal couldn’t stimulate our attack and a bottom three team without a win under their new manager were able to have us living on our nerves to the final whistle, is the best we can hope for.
I’d like to be wrong but, as the old saying goes, ‘I can deal with despair, it’s the bloody hope that kills you.’ In such circumstances, I feel that the sensible thing to do for my mental health is to abandon all hope– at least of anything other than another Europa Cup place. From now on I intend to start each day by adopting a cross-legged yogic position, closing my eyes, breathing deeply and chanting ‘SNAFU’ until a state of deep inner peace has been achieved. Only then will I allow myself to read the sports pages, the articles on Spurs-web, Twitter comments and suchlike. If it works, I suspect a new career beckons. My fees will be very reasonable.
Have something to tell us about this article?