Opinion: A glass half full

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Tottenham visited Watford yesterday on the back of a hard-working FA Cup victory against Middlesbrough.  Spurs left with a solitary point after the now established goal line technology denied Spurs a victory in stoppage time.

This was naturally a disappointment to Spurs fans who have been used to being a regular fixture in the Premier Leagues Top 4 in recent seasons.  Watford on the other hand are a team that seem to be in a permanent state of flux with managerial changes aplenty over recent seasons.  Make no mistake, it’s a game Spurs fans expect their team to win.

It was perhaps telling that Watford started the game with a tribute to their great Manager Graham Taylor who along with Sir Elton John helped shape the future of their Club.  Sadly the era of Long-serving, dedicated Club Managers are now thing of the past.  Ever since Spurs jettisoned Mauricio Pochettino perhaps the only Manager out there at the moment that looks to have true longevity is Jurgen Klopp.  Although as we all know things can change very quickly and just 18 months ago Spurs fans held the belief and hope that Poch was to reign for years in the style of Ferguson and Wenger before him.

Putting the obvious disappointment to one side, I feel that yesterday needs to be put into perspective.  This is now a Spurs side that has dramatically dropped off in the last 18 months.  The manager may have changed but the same issues with a largely unchanged aging squad persist.

Watford were enjoying a renaissance of their own following the appointment of under rated Manager Nigel Pearson.  The former Sheffield Wednesday Manager can count himself unlucky during his managerial career but has rightly earned another crack at the Premier League.  Watford entered the game sitting third in the Premier League form table while Spurs were a lowly 18th.

The last time Spurs played at Vicarage Road was a 2-1 defeat last season.  This was a game where Spurs were outfought.  Knowing what we know now perhaps it was the start of the cracks appearing.

After the Liverpool game which saw a much improved performance I refused to take the obvious positives until I had seen the reaction in the subsequent games.  I believe there are green shoots of recovery.

In a game where a draw was ‘probably a fair result’ Spurs kept their first Premier League away clean sheet for 382 days thanks largely to Paulo Gazzaniga’s excellent save from Troy Deeney’s spot kick.

Paulo Gazzaniga
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Another obvious positive has been the blooding of young Tanganga who started the game at left back but in truth was given a torrid time by the excellent Sarr.  The young Englishman showed great character again during the game especially as he was occupying, in my opinion the poisoned chalice of being a right footed left back. 

I know that Mourinho would refer to this as an ‘inverted left back’ but I never feel that this is a successful tactic to employ especially when the left footed Sessegnon was sat on the bench.  Paulo Maldini has proved that you can be successful but he is the exception to the rule!  Mourinho has bemoaned the injury to Ben Davies and I agree that he would be the perfect candidate to fill the problem left back position.

Then there is the performance of Argentine duo Erik Lamela and Giovani Lo Celso who have had added a spark to the side in recent games.  An Argentine duo running the midfield for Spurs.  I’m sure that rings a bell………

We have heard so many times that having Lamela back is like a new signing, let’s hope he stays fit and is able to have a prolonged run in the side.  I do find them both horribly one-footed though! 

The appearance of young Gedson Fernandes for a brief cameo was perhaps most encouraging for the fact that he had been signed and took the field a full 13 days before the close of the transfer window.  Hopefully, this is a sign of a more decisive approach in the transfer market.

Finally there has been the improved performances of Harry Winks, I really hope that Jose is now appreciating his worth – I may be in the minority but I feel we are a better team when he plays.

Fans are starting to cite a lack in quality with the football Spurs are playing.  While I’m not sure we are as ‘boring’ as some fans believe, the approach of Mourinho is undoubtedly a more direct one.  A total of 15 shots however suggests that there was no bus parking but a desire to win the game.

Daniel Levy knew full well what he was getting with Mourinho (and vice versa) and is paying 15 million a year for the privilege.  As long as ultimately trophies are delivered we may have to ask ourselves if we are willing to sacrifice a little bit of style?

There is no doubt of Mourinho’s penchant for a target man (Lukaku, Drogba and Costa being particularly successful in Jose teams) makes it difficult for the team to play as effectively without Harry Kane.  Poch found a way of setting the team up differently when missing the England front man but this represents a more major tactical shift for their current Portuguese Manager.  In view of this I hope Jose is lobbying Levy daily to deliver him a new striker.

I think perhaps Mourinho felt he was inheriting a better squad than he has, this perhaps illustrated by the fact that he keeps persisting with Eriksen despite admitting that the Danish player was distracted.  The situation with the player needs to be resolved quickly.

I do feel at the moment that perhaps Son is struggling more than most with the tactical change with him not being able to recreate his pre-Christmas demolition of Burnley.

Other results yesterday with Arsenal and Chelsea dropping points ultimately meant that this was a point gained.  Our season is far from dead with the club fighting on three fronts in the FA Cup, Champions League and Premier League.  8 points behind Chelsea in 4th place is a sizable gap but with Chelsea’s next 3 games being Arsenal, Leicester and Manchester United the league could look a lot different when the two teams meet at Stamford Bridge on the 22nd February.

I’ve not given up hope of gate-crashing the top 4……yet, but if Chelsea do drop points then we absolutely must capitalise.  There is very little margin for error, the rest of the season must start here in earnest.  COYS.

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