Trotting Out of the Starting Blocks in 2015/16

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Image: SpursWeb

Silly fouls, mistimed tackles and sloppy passes. Early subs, cramping legs and tired faces. Sighs.

Not exactly things one would hope to see on the first day of the season, but these images were all too familiar to those who watched the opening game from both Spurs and our hosts Man United.

Spurs started the game with intent. Probing United’s defence and pressing high up the pitch. Early chances for Eriksen and Walker had Louis van Gaal sweating, but all too soon, that venom seemed sapped from Spurs game. Having been up against the wall for the opening of the match, United were thrown a lifeline. A sloppy pass from Bentaleb set United on the counter. The sight of the ball coasting to Wayne Rooney’s feet 5 yards from goal was making Spurs fans wince collectively. Just when it seemed Walker was about to save the day after a valiant run back, instead his toe-poke to take the ball off Rooney’s foot put it beyond Michel Vorm, and knocked Tottenham for six.

The remainder of the half was damage limitation for a Spurs side that seemed shell-shocked. Gone were the intensity and the pressure. In its’ place came complacency and lethargy. Walker and Alderweireld defended effectively, but too often the recovered possession was coughed up by Eriksen, Chadli or Bentaleb further up the pitch.

The first half petered out and the second half was filled with first day tiredness. The game appeared more late-pre-season than early Premier League, as both teams found their play littered with mistakes. Despite a late surge from Spurs which saw near misses from the likes of Chadli and Eriksen, the result was sealed, and the season set off to a poor start. My question is, what have we learned?

The first conclusion from my vantage point, is the futility of this weeks’ prestige friendlies. Pre-season friendlies are not only a crucial way for teams to gain fitness and marketing power. They are also a chance for fans to get close to the team. However, playing two games the week of the season opener – against a team who finished above us in 2015 and have significantly strengthened since – was a brave move, which I’m sad to say has backfired. So often we’ve heard how Spurs struggle to overcome Thursday nights in the Europa League before playing again Sunday. This time we played not one but two games, on an occasion where that over-exertion needn’t have been necessary. The resulting fatigue was very apparent in Spurs play, epitomised by Nabil Bentaleb’s sloppy passing. Nabil is often one of our leading lights, however today he and others didn’t look up to Premier League pace.

The next lesson learned is the importance of strengthening while we still can. Pochettino exiling the players who weren’t contributing positively to his Spurs movement has been admirable. The squad has been trimmed, leaving a leaner, hungrier group behind. However, this group is now lacking in depth and experience – two things he must surely seek to rectify before the window shuts.

On a day where Harry Kane struggled to shrug off the entire United defence, Spurs named a squad with no other recognised striker. Moves for Saido Berahino and Lyon’s Clinton N’Jie have been heavily rumoured lately, both players provide lightning pace and either of whom would have been great additions today. More recently, Spurs have been linked with German deep-lying midfielder Sven Bender. A signing like this seems all the more crucial having seen Spurs being over-ran at the Centre of midfield today. I’m wondering has Daniel Levy still got Joao Moutinho’s number?

Next time out, Spurs make their home debut of the season against a Stoke side who have significantly strengthened this summer. The team will surely be physically in better condition, having a full weeks rest, and another game under their belt. I also have a sneaking suspicion we’ll see a signing announced before that game too – who may provide us with some unpredictability for the next round. Overall conclusion is that today’s result is sore, but far from fatal. It’s early days yet, and there are very few tougher opening games than away at Old Trafford. Onwards to White Hart Lane. COYS.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. The problem is we don'thave that winning mentality, if utd were poor, why didnt we beat them, ? Poch has a way of playing, unfortunately our players don't understand what he wants. They are too slow, and physicaly weak to play his system. One year on from becoming our coach and Levy has not delivered the players for Poch. Time for a new realistic system which suits our weak slow paced players. Don'tbuy any players unless they are lightning fast.

  2. it was a hugely disappointing stroll this afternoon against a Utd team that must have left their fans with real concerns for the coming season and were there for the taking.

    On paper the team looks lightweight and short of creativity and so it proved with a midfield that would scare no one but the spurs fans who read it when the team sheets were published.

    Bentaleb was simply awful and it seems that he may have a touch of Adebayor about him in terms of his attitude having earned a new contract recently. Dembele hasn't been good enough for 2 seasons to get into the first team so his anonymity was wholly predictable. Chadli played like he was still on the beach barely breaking into a sweat and having no influence on the game and Dier needs a leader alongside him to develop.

    As pointed out it is also worrying that Pochettino is so one dimensional and either lacks the wherewithal or bottle or both to bring about positive change.

    Finally why is it that after years of mismanagement Levy has failed once again to do his business early enabling the group to spend time together over the close-season. We remain the only one of the top 6 that has failed to noticeably strengthen and if Kane is unavailable or out of form we have not a single alternative to bring in. Whilst I am sure we will bring in players in the remainder of the window, I am also sure they will be very much youngsters with potential and need at best a significant period of settling or at worst develop into abject failures like Lamela.

    It was only a couple of seasons ago that we started the campaign with belief that we could finish above the Ar#e and though we didnt quite achieve it, things went down to the wire. We are now as far behind them as we have been for 10 years with the financial restrictions of a new stadium to come.

    Worrying times ahead and with Levy at the helm things are going to get worse before they get better.

    Looking forward t o next season already…

  3. So your saying each time Bentaleb gives the ball away ( 3 times in the first 22 minutes by my recall ) it is because he is tired . I don't think so . I know he's not the only Spurs player to do so but he does it regularly and plays in a position that when he does so, the rest of the team are very often pushing up and Spurs are then caught out, which on several occasions has directly led to conceding a goal. In my view he should be left out of the first team at least until he has learnt to pass a ball further than 2 yards without giving it away.

    • I agree the team looked tired and out of sorts, you always need the element of surprise and pace ,to build on the promising first 20 mins or so, it's time to ensure we get both before Stoke, and when plan A doesn't work change it ,speed and precision over the final third is what we need ,Get the players in and start them !

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