If you can’t stand the heat

6
Mauricio Pochettino Jesus Perez
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

How many will be getting out of this particular kitchen? Christian Eriksen for certain. Jan Vertonghen must be considering it. Alderweireld? Pochettino?

The hard truth about a season already in considerable tatters is that Spurs have played six halves. Three were miserable exercises at our swanky new ground against promoted or winless sides. In two others we were flat dominated by the best team in the league. In one thirty minute stretch we played like we belonged in the elite of England and Europe. And that is it. The truth is pretty inescapable—this is an average team with very little understanding of how to win games or break down defences. Whether it can be much more than that is an open question—one painful reality that last season’s miraculous European run obscured is that it is nowhere near a quality Premier League side, and hasn’t been for nearly nine months now.

So let’s begin with the beginning of this horror show. Once again we came out– against an inferior side set up to pack the middle and frustrate our forwards– at a walking pace. Maybe crawling. No urgency, no swarming, no spirit to try to grab control of the game. The first goal would of course come from the opposition for that has been the Spurs way these last many months—this time it didn’t come until nearly a half hour in, but like a broken record against the run of play Davinson Sanchez screwed up his positioning and Lloris had no chance. Then the game settled into a familiar backwards, sideways pattern—our “round the world” attack never looked so pathetic. Harry Winks is a nice chap, but he kills the flow time and time again. Only near the end did he actually wake up to the fact that maybe a straight ahead run might lead to something better. Kyle Walker-Peters has either been told not to round his man or lacks the confidence or wherewithal to do so—and he is bullied off the ball far too much for my taste.

But even if such penetration had occurred, to what end? Kane and Son were either invisible or ineffectual. I lost count of all the balls bounding off feet, poor passes, lame attempts at a shot. Erik Lamela tries to make something happen in his awkward way, and Moussa Sissoko was the one player who I thought might actually do something that might lead to a goal. Lucas was either too small, blocked off, or lacking the precision on the two or three good finishing chances he was presented with. Lo Celso was a non-factor upon his arrival; and, curiously, so pretty much was Eriksen.

As for the penalty shout and VAR, well we can join the club. By my count there were at least four fairly clear penalties this weekend that weren’t called by the game referee and were either never reviewed by VAR or were deemed not be a clear and obvious error. Listening to Lee Dixon trying to claim the Newcastle defender had accidentally fallen into Kane’s path was almost as bad as Mike Dean’s non-decision to begin with. But that is hardly an excuse because at best that call cost us one point, not all three.

What does Poch do? Fact is, without that Ndombele wonder strike we very likely would not have won the Villa game either. He’s got dissension in the ranks given Eriksen and Vertonghen that is unlikely to improve over the next week. He’s got an attack force with combinations of players coming off injury, suspension or new to the club that has simply not gelled. He’s facing the likelihood of Spurs being buried somewhere in the bottom half of the table without a victory in the NLD. Most importantly he has a team that within the league has not been good since New Year’s. The sample size is growing. The patience is not. Trophies? Really? They had better downsize their expectations and simply see if victories can happen first.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent and eye opening article. The truth hurts and I totally agree spurs have been covering the crack for a very long time. Kane today looked like he was no where near premier league quality. And Harry winks, I’m sure he’s a nice guy but he’s not fit to wear moussa dembeles boots. The signings need timing but in this league, it’s very precious at best. As for KWP, it sums up the academy. A bit like Harry winks, cheap average replacement for decent players. In short we are a mess! Don’t worry it’s only arsenal next week

  2. Totally agree ,something is wrong at the club !! We thought the game against Villa was a warning,but todays’ perfpomance was dreadful.no excuses that the team with more desire won.Well done Newcastle

  3. Same old spurs same old poch. We loose to a terrible team and the coach is refusing to pick players for reasons only he knows. We now face arguably the best arsenal team in the last three years so we must loose. Wonder what odds a spurs var win

  4. No one ever challenges Poch, the press love him. The facts are simple, our slow, pointless passing doesn’t challenge any team. Again for the umpteenth time over the last two seasons we fail to turn up in the first 45 mins. Last season we struggled to break down Newcastle, Brighton, Burnley and Watford. This season a goal down at half time every league game so far. It’s pathetic.

  5. I think it is fairly clear that for sometime now Tottenham have lost their way as we keep on witnessing a brand of football that is just not convincing or effective. Whilst Tottenham largely continue to dominate possession in most games they lack decisive and effective forward and attacking football, for me this is why Spurs stuttered so pointedly in the last third of the season and why they continue to struggle in very game this season so far. And apart from throwing all their energies into controlling the middle third of the field they seem to lack the collective nous to defend when called upon conceding fragile almost crass goals in the process. I am critical of the whole of Tottenham’s squad today but have to single out certain players more so for their frailties. KWP just isn’t good enough and is tactically naive, Sanchez was culpable for the goal again today and for all his hard work is rash impetuous all to often, Lamela and Son kept losing possession or just overworked it, and Winks has a dreadful habit of slowing down play which enables defensive organisation from the opposition and Kane was virtually invisible for the entire game. We cannot blame the lack of a penalty decision for what essentially was a woeful overall Spurs performance (even if VAR did get it wrong, and besides this technology is not always going to work to our advantage in any case). Personally I think Tottenham need to become a little more direct in attack, and are always better when they play at pace and at the moment we just don’t see enough of that!

  6. Some really good points here and I agree with almost all of it. If the Club’s first 11 contains KWP, Winks and Sanchez then I fear for the future. There is, however, the reality of MP’s decline. Here is what Levy said back on 27 May 2014:
    “In Mauricio I believe we have a Head Coach who, with his high energy, attacking football, will embrace the style of play we associate with our Club”. Erm… high energy, attacking football???? How long since we saw that?? MP has changed his philosophy and we have become boring and predictable. The question surely has to be “what has happened to MP over five years”. To leave your best (arguably loyal) defender on the bench signifies to me that it is more than a training ground spat – and it works to the detriment of the team’s performance. Today was a really bad day at the office and the bloke talks in riddles.

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