I’m not sure if George Orwell or Franz Kafka is writing this script. But no matter—the team is lost, and while life may unquestionably not be fair, I see no other way out but the manager relieving all the pressure and enabling a group of shell-shocked and perhaps beaten players to start again.
Let me dispense with the game. The cross was brilliant though even at the outset we were allowing Brighton too much space. I am not certain which came first—the injury or the mistake. No mind, it as a cruel fate for both our captain—who may face months on the shelf if it is a rotator cuff injury—and his teammates who then spent the next hour seemingly in shock. Of course Vertonghen would have a collision leaving him with a shiner below the same eye which Eriksen—apparently—had wounded in less honorable circumstances.
The second goal was down to some pretty porous defending by Davies, Gazzaniga spilling another ball, and a superb cross. But the evidence of our dissolution as a quality football club was rampant—in no section of the pitch did we excel. The break brought a short-lived burst of energy followed by the Seagulls taking the game back and Connolly’s second goal an inevitable consequence. This was Brighton—one of the weakest teams in the league, the least capable of scoring, the worst at home—and, as one of the match commentators put it, Spurs made them look like Real Madrid.
So why Poch to suffer the consequences? Why should it be anyone else? One can rag on Eriksen’s attitude, lament Dele’s regression, wonder what happened to our back four, condemn the failure of our forward players to link up, even single out Lloris for an increasing penchant for huge errors—and yet at its core, don’t all of those critiques, and several others, reflect on the head man? When players report that a) they have taken to begin calling him “Big Brother” because he has retreated to his office to watch training sessions on video, or b) openly question his tactical decisions as several players did after the Bayern debacle, well surely they have stopped listening. It matters not whether their agendas or selfish or not, or whether they are living up to even the more modest wages Levy pays them. You can’t sack an entire squad, nor even several of the biggest transgressors until January at the earliest. How can we see better results in the intervening three months?
And let’s be perfectly clear. Off the growing body of work—games that now comprise nearly two dozen, over more than nine months—this is actually a side barely above relegation quality. Barely. It is not far-fetched to conclude that in another few weeks we could be squarely in the midst of the unthinkable—a battle for league survival. Why should Pochettino be trusted to provide the impetus and intelligence and leadership to change things? Do I believe a new man will “save this season”? No, because this season– if the standards are trophies, progress beyond Group Stage in the Champions League, and gaining a return spot in that league for next year– is already lost. The only saving is to find the players and the attitude necessary to go forward, with the knowledge that it might take a full season or more to even approach the solution.
It’s all very sad. Perhaps undeserved. Undoubtedly harsh. Ironic with the NFL arriving tomorrow to put another marker down for the glory and power of the new ground—as the team which occupies that space dissolves into mediocrity—or worse. We will thank you, Mauricio, for all the achievement—silverware or not. It was a damn good run. We used to love you—but it’s all over now.
The views in this piece are those of a fan and do not represent the opinions of SpursWeb
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