Turning Spursiness Upside Down

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

The less said about the actual 90 minutes, the better. Burnley defended well, but they had no interest in scoring and seemed as unclear about how to it in the five minutes they were given to try than Spurs had been all day. We simply grew more and more comical in our ineptitude in the final third—there was a rogue’s gallery of poor corners, poor crosses, bad lay-offs, poor touches and when a Lilywhite finally got enough gumption to attempt a shot, it was rarely on target or even in the same county.

Until it wasn’t. I felt increasingly sure in those final fifteen minutes that if a goal was going to come it would be a long ball with a smattering of luck—and sure enough a long ball took a fortuitous bounce off Dele, Kane corralled it and the turned with a perfect lay-off to an onrushing Eriksen and that was finally that. Our three best players combined for the one moment which was all that was necessary. If I had to award an anti-MOTM (appropriate given the discussion to follow) I’d have a hard time between Lamela, Rose and Sissoko. All played hard, mind you, but their execution or decision-making left more than a little to be desired. Sissoko should have shot at least once when he was in alone on the right wing, and one of his lay back balls was hit at such a cannon-like speed that no one was going to make anything of it. Lamela was active and imprecise. Rose had one horror show of a cross that went sideways and into the Wembley stands, or somewhere. Teenager Skipp was OK—he was bossed off the ball a couple of times and made a few errant passes, but why single him out when so many of his teammates were lacking?

But don’t get me wrong—I come to praise Spurs, not to bury them. Three points were won when so many times in this or preceding eras, a frustrating draw or even a late defeat would have been the outcome. Leicester proved that 1-0 results count just as much toward silverware as fancy 4-1 victories. Think of the last month or so—late goals produced a Wembley win v PSV, a late goal bested Inter, Lucas’ late goal rescued the crucial point at the Nou Camp, and now this. There are times when Spurs get beat—the NLD, home to Pool, City or Barca—but lately, there are fewer and fewer occasions when we manage to beat ourselves. This was a sterling candidate for such a development—some natural legginess in the cold rain against a side set up to defend at all costs, the letdown from Barca, the unfamiliar side lacking Son, Winks and Eriksen.

I can’t say for sure that days like this, or Tuesday, will lead to crucial cup victories or a sustained title chase or an upset in the next round of the Champions League (Please—let it be Juve. Please) I CAN say that when we failed on days like this in the past, it would inevitably be followed by all of that, and more. Being Spursy was something real. A failure at the worst possible time was something we grew to expect. It was seemingly something ingrained in the club. Fans knew it, pundits knew it, opponents knew it, and especially our own lads knew it. Fergie only said it for emphasis—Keano and Co. already knew what he meant.

Nothing is written. Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence said it over a half-century ago. And he was right. On to the Emirates, on to the CL draw, on to the FA Cup, on to the festive season of games, games, and more games. It all lies in front of us.

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