Let me say at the outset— it wasn’t only Pochettino, or mainly Pochettino, that allowed a top Bundesliga side to come to our new ground and rip us to shreds; but it was partly the Argentine.
As much as some might want to discuss all the whys and wherefores of specific player performance—some did better than others and Hugo Lloris deserved the MOTM—this is a game primarily about the design from the manager.
So let’s be real. Saturday’s game is infinitely more important than last night. Dele might have been furious at his early exit, but I’m sure Mourinho has already told him about the vital need to make sure he is as fit as possible for Stamford Bridge.
The outcome of the match still leaves Spurs in a position where the type of outcome Man Utd created against PSG or we produced v Ajax could send us through to another round. But if it doesn’t, there will be no tears shed, for without Kane, Son or Sissoko last year’s miracle was never going to occur again. Whereas a draw or a win vs. Chelsea puts a Top Four finish in clear focus, and a Top Five finish—should that be all which is required—even more close to achievement.
So if Jose wanted to keep this one close, to adapt a plan where his attackers were not taxed to the limit, to try to withstand a superior team (they are running second to the Bayern team that slaughtered us on this same ground) for an hour or more before unleashing what he had to gain a result, I’m OK with it.
He played the wide open style Rio Ferdinand and a lot of other so-called experts wanted him to use, the likeliest result would be 1-3 Leipzig and then where would we be? The problem in the first half wasn’t the formation—it was a stifling press and the inability of several of our players (Alderweireld, Gedson, Winks, among others) to figure out a way past the press and to reverse the field. And when it finally did happen, Bergwijn came as close to scoring as Werner and Schick had done.
We don’t have the firepower to go toe to toe with anything close to an elite English or European side. That may not be a happy conclusion, but until Kane and Son return, and until some of your young players mature and a summer addition or two comes in, that basic fact won’t change. Against Villa, and Norwich, and Olympiakos, and their like, Jose has turned our attackers loose. We can’t play that way vs Liverpool or Leipzig or City.
Chelsea will be an interesting test between two evenly matched and flawed sides. I won’t prejudge it. Draw 1-1, win 1-0 or 2-1 and I won’t give a hoot about possession statistics or shots on target. This team, but for a six game stint of magic last spring, had been losing more than winning for months. Jose has turned that trend around—not totally, not completely—the full test will come next year. For now he’s doing about all he can. Live with it.
Have something to tell us about this article?