Not really that much to say. This result wasn’t shocking—nor even surprising. We came back from Budapest with two days to prepare and rest—they had all week. Our centre backs continue to be a walking disaster no matter what pairing Jose picks—Sanchez and Dier are probably the worst of a bad lot and Lloris simply rarely has the ability anymore to correct their mistakes.
Son has been frankly a shell of his earlier self for more than a month—could it be the contract negotiation that is wearing him down?—though he almost got us what would have been a deserved draw. Kane misses where the old Kane would have ruthlessly cashed in. Central midfield is far too hit-and-miss—Hojbjerg appears to be wearing down and Ndombele for whatever reason wasn’t playing at full force.
Of course, the manager bears responsibility. And of course, a mid-table finish missing out on Europe entirely (though let’s be honest—but for the payments for the new ground, do we care about Europa League unless somehow we can win it?) with no League Cup trophy will cost him his job. As it should. But the problems are far deeper than whoever is exhorting players to play harder on the touchline.
The mentality of the team is frankly second-rate. You can’t just decide for only a half-hour out of 90 minutes to play hard in this league. The competition is too good for that. Obviously, the players might have felt when we beat City and faced Liverpool at Anfield that we were in a title race.
And now we’re barely grasping at the chance for Top Seven with Top Four fast receding from view. They’re human. But they’re also professionals, and this team has shown a willingness to bow down, to concede, to give up, to be out-hustled that is, sadly, fast becoming their identity. If it wasn’t already. It would be a great irony if this were the team that won silverware because it’s the least inspiring of the versions over the past half-dozen we have witnessed. By far.
Oh yeah—a game against the Hammers and Bale was terrific. In a different year he would have scored the killer goal in his debut against them last September. In a different year his shot is six inches lower and we level today. In a different world the form we’ve seen this week would have arrived two months ago and spared us all this difficulty. But that’s not our world this year.
So let’s hope he can continue to do this in Europa and he has a brilliant game—with Kane and Son—saved up for the Cup final v City. It’s all we have to grasp now.
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