Dithering Our Way to Second Place

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

How can a team be so good for 80 meters and so poor in the last 20? Such was the condition of tonight’s mismatch vs Middlesbrough. Be thankful that unlike Arsenal and Liverpool we didn’t drop points. De Roon had the chance with a minute left and shot wide…

Get the positives out of the way first. The back four was solid—what Davies lacks in going forward he made up for with solid defending all the way around. There was a lot of movement in the middle—Dele and Son were particularly active—Son won the winning penalty, Eriksen made some combinations and could easily have scored a clincher late, Kane worked hard as always. The two rocks in the middle were just that—Dembele is my Man of the Match—he was simply irrepressible tonight, wresting the ball free of Boro attackers, constantly spinning and swerving out of trouble, running the engine.

As to the negatives, let’s take them in alphabetical order. Dele was very good, except when he wasn’t. He missed a couple of opportunities. Eriksen was hit-and-miss as his wont. Son marauded freely down the left wing and yet had much too little to show for it. The pass or cross was late, the shot not taken, the combination not seen. Kane played offsides far too often and blew one terrific three-on-two with a horrible pass to Dele when even a normal schoolboy player could have done better and pretty much guaranteed a goal. Too often players hesitated—yes, they dithered—when a quicker move might have released a teammate or caused a deflection or even produced a clean shot. Wanyama seems constitutionally unable to take that 20 yard screamer from just outside the box even when it is handed to him on a silver platter. Kane for all his pluses lacks that extra Costaesque burst or shove to break free and create a terrific chance. Eriksen seems afraid of his shadow too often. And Son appeared too reliant on the “final” move when a more direct thrust forward might have done better. Frankly, it made me long for Erik Lamela for one thing is clear: when he has the ball alone on the wing, the ball comes in hard to someone. As it would with Danny Rose, but we may have at least a month missing that talent.

Anfield will require a much more clinical effort, even with the Reds reeling from what has been a disastrous 2017. Klopp knows the title is unreachable but lose to Spurs next weekend and Top Four might be as well. It seems insane to say this, but we may be close to reaching the point when both Manchester sides could work their way back into the Top Four. Truth is, Spurs have been subpar since the Chelsea win. Unlike the earlier slump after the win over City, we’ve still managed to gain points in every game despite the regression in form. But now the fixture list will get crowded and the likes of Sissoko, Janssen, Nkoudou and Winks (and, we can only hope, Lamela) will have to contribute. I’d rather be us than any of them outside of the leaders, but improvement must come quick.


Have something to tell us about this article?

Previous articleKane penalty keeps pressure on Chelsea
Next articleHow the Tottenham players rated vs Middlesbrough
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.


  1. Perhaps one day Spurs will buy a player who is not scared to take a shot out side the box in stead of trying to walk it in and get in one anothers way
    Please is there any one one out there who can tell me why in modern day football do players cross the ball so hard and it goes out of play the other side of the pitch.
    As an oldtimer I get so frustrated with the late crosses, and the ball going all the way back to the goalkeeper, and him kicking the ball up field and giving it back to the opponents
    I really would love to see Spurs win the league like I watched them win the double all them years ago

  2. Football's simply changed over the years, Roy. Some aspects for the worst, but many for the better.
    At least we have a genuinely competitive team again (for the title I mean) and you've got to love the way
    we 'push and move' when we're at our best.
    56 years is a long time since the 2nd of our two titles, but the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last year, after 116 years! So it could be worse. And our 3rd title might be nearer than you think.
    But it is frustrating when we're so much better than our opponents, and yet can't put them away.
    Having said that, I've seen Spurs lose 1-0 many times, when we've been totally dominant ..so at
    least we were still able to win today, even when not putting our chances away, or 'dithering' in the final
    third. This team deserves a trophy, and (if not the PL) then let's reinvigorate the 'glory' in the FA Cup by
    winning it for the 9th time.

  3. How can you dominate a game against a dogged relegation struggler, finally break the resistance after an hour, and then cling on for dear life for the final few minutes.
    The inability to see out the final minutes with any composure at all worried me, I was just sitting and waiting for an inevitable equaliser that luckily never came……..should have steamrollered them after taking the lead.

  4. I will say for umpteenth time, we should still have Defoe in our squad. How many goals for lowly Sunderland? Would help us greatly to kill off teams pr nick a winner

    • I agree with you Defoe still scoring goals at his age but to Old for the new manager, and I really do think he made mistakes selling Gylfi Sigurosson, Nacer Chadle, both not afraid to have a shot out side the box, We all know why They did not sign Saido Berahino (Drug Problem) But why did they let Moussa Dembele go to Celtic F C,
      Forward (sub) coming on and scoring goals


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.