Opinion: Shambolic defending

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Hugo Lloris
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

This outcome was probably coming. Let’s face it—they were tougher. Sharper. Better. On our best day we would probably be hoping for a draw. And this wasn’t our best day. The bright beginning was squelched by a correct but typically ridiculous VAR decision. (Theirs was much more substantial—Bobby, you can’t be playing volleyball before you kick it upfield) From there our attack was mostly wasteful, one of our scorers taken out by injury, the other continuing a recent pattern, the ruled out goal to the contrary of wasteful play. So our chances rested with some fairly dynamic midfield play at least in the first half and our defending.

As for the latter, let us count the failures and bemoan the seeming collective decision to decide that Sadio Mane can be left in space with little or no risk to our prospects. After Son’s first few shouts—VAR overrule, muscled off-ball, and shot directly at the keeper, the game settled into a more familiar pattern of Liverpool keeping possession and Spurs defending.  Mane was always the major threat, and Lloris made one fine save on him and we held our breath all the other times.

Until just before the whistle Aurier got greedy—moved up on a ball, letting Mane absolutely alone behind him. His cross was accurate but slow, and maybe we’ll never know who of Dier or Lloris most to blame, but somehow they allowed it to bounce nicely to Firmino for a tap-in my dead grandmother could have converted. I guess I come down most harshly on Dier for if he didn’t hear a shout from the keeper, even if one was mandated, his job is to clear that ball—whatever the risk of an own goal. But to be fair Lloris should have come out to claim it. 

So then with Kane clearly ailing (and with that injury may go our top four chances, though off today I don’t see how we will top Leicester, let alone the other three big clubs at the top) Jose decides to insert Winks and Lamela and revert to a back four with Doherty now replacing Aurier on the right. And Matt joins Club Shambolic by allowing Mane by him far too easily, and this time poor Hugo, having his biggest nightmare of a game in a Spurs shirt since Brighton early last season, makes a total mess of it and Davies is caught not paying enough attention to Alexander-Arnold who, give him a credit, slams home a wonderful finish to seal our fate. 

So now we have everyone but Rodon in the back four or five at fault for a goal. Hojbjerg goes all Victor Wanyama on us to give us hope, which seemingly quickly squelched as this time we double down and allow both Mane and Salah to roam free, the latter firing it home only for Firmino’s hand ball which began the entire attack to be discovered by VAR. No worry because Joe Rodon—despite one poor giveaway—hadn’t yet really entered the frame, but for his brilliant first-half challenge, until he decided to walk along the garden path with his friend Sadio, doing nothing to prevent Liverpool’s best player from collecting the ball, then firing past Lloris to put us officially out of our misery.

As for the rest, there were moments in the first half when I felt the trio of Hojbjerg, Ndombele and Bergwijn could do something special and even boss the game. But they needed help and a battered Kane and a wasteful Son weren’t supplying it. After the non-goal I felt Son was particularly poor, doing little right and constantly giving the ball back to Liverpool. Lamela added little save some energy; Winks was guilty of his typical two or three bad errors; Bale came on too late to make a difference. So what now? No title race— grasping at a Top Four fight with games against Chelsea, City and West Ham on the horizon, all possibly missed by Kane. Kane will also miss our next cup game at the Toffees and is questionable to play in the first Europa League against Wolfsberger. They are human. Teams have bad games. Liverpool are still probably no worse than the second best team in this league. Every big team has stumbled inexplicably this strange season.  But let’s face it: the defence is poor. It has let us down at the end of numerous games—today the mistakes came earlier. Seventh place and no trophies is as likely an accounting at the end of this season as fourth place and one piece of silverware. 

There will be a thorough overhaul of the back line and very possible a new goalkeeper by a year from now—whether we still have the same manager—or the same two prime goalscorers—or not. That may be the only given about this team. Diminished Alderweireld, regressed Sanchez, limited Dier, mistake-prone Aurier and Doherty, stolid Davies and future Madrid-bound Reguilon simply won’t cut it. That group was exposed last night, as was our goalkeeper. The success or failure of this campaign may rest on their ability to rise above today’s mess and produce something bigger. I’m sceptical. 

 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. We kind of accept the boring set up Mourinho gives us cos we’re winning but when it goes wrong he has to accept with his coaching staff WTF!!! Most of us can’t get why no vinicius, bale or moura didn’t come on for Kane and (ball watcher) aurier. we lost to a side with no regular C/B so why not give vinicius a try FFs, Winks and lamela why? they must do some great things in training, but not for this situation they don’t create shit so what was the point!! It’s like if he don’t see Kane up front he’s confused with what to do.

  2. It will never change as long as Mourinho continually picks Dier, the common denominator for the majority of goals conceded. The first goal was embarrassing. Aurier had the reactions of a sloth fast asleep but when the poorest of crosses comes in , knowing that Lloris is never going to be that brave as to collect the ball, Dier should have launched it into space. Unfortunately he is totally incapable of taking responsibility for anything. If he showed as much desire to win the ball as he did in trying to rip a supporters head off, he’d be half decent.
    I’m afraid we have have a group of defenders of which NOT ONE would get into any other premiership team, they are that bad. There are possibly two reasons for this. 1) We have a defensive coach that is simply not good enough or 2) We have a coach that knows what he wants but the players are mentally void of understanding him. I think its both. Ledley King is out of his depth with a group that simply are not up to standard. And until this is addressed , we will continue to concede. SO BEST GET USED TO IT.
    As for the rest, well we have only 3 class players. Hojbjerg, Ndombele and Kane The latter of which will NEVER complete a full season. And no , I dont include Son. Whilst he’s everyones favourite when its going his way, he consistently ‘downs tools’ when its tough or not going his way and he did it again last night. Class players don’t do that. They run through brick walls to make things happen.
    We have more problems than ever at present.

  3. Truth is we are paying the price for Daniel levy buying the players. He brought in Doherty when we should have got castaghne at Everton. He should have moved lamela out and sanchez out to get that top class centre half. Don’t get me started on dier he has cost us so many goals this year and he should have stayed in the stands with his brother when he was there a rubbish centre half.

  4. I would have to agree with both Spursnut and kaybee . The reason we haven’t won anything for year’s is that the majority of the squad are overrated and lacking in mental toughness. We are lumbered with underperforming so called World Class player’s 🙈, Ali , Sanchez , Aurier . Please someone buy them and get some energetic new blood in the team

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