With Wasdan off duty tonight (huge respect and thanks to him for bloeugin throughout this season), it behoeufs me to try to cobble something together. It’s been a while, so do be gentle – or just skip this bit and start commenting.
What a week, eh?
From dwindling hope in the run-up to the Everton game…to absolutely none after it…to a classic Spurs fan’s glimmer as Wet Spam, Liverpool and Chelsea all drop points…to a raging torrent as Mourninho gets the tin tack. Top 4 is back on! Well, at least until tonight. But I’ll take a sunny Wednesday with the dastardly Super League on the back burner. How much worse than the new dastardly Champions League is it, by the way?
Anyway, back to Southampton at home, a tie with banana-skin not so much ‘written all over it‘, as indelibly tattooed deep into our psyche when we’re in a position to give us half a chance of putting pressure on those around us. But…but. Now we have Sir Ryan of Mason at the helm, a nice guy, Spurs through and through, who’s already ruled out any joshing from his previous teammates (“There won’t be banter between me and the lads.”). Could he do the unthinkable and give us the kind of bounce that only Jump4Joy Bouncy Castles could hope for in their dreams?
For me it’s implausible. These players have been so psychologically damaged by 4 years of being nearly-men under Poch, followed by the worst of Mourinho’s psy-ops, that they will stutter again at the first sight of a goal threat. I’m sure Ryan will be looking to insert Bale and Dele back in the team asap and “get us on the front foot” but scoring goals is not really my concern (even without Kaneinho). It’s what happens when a team like Southampton break into the open space we’ve left behind as the New Buccaneering Spurs™️. Walker-Peters careering down the flank. Che Adams, or just as bad, Danny Ings in the middle. Or both. Ward-Prowse able to deliver the kind of dead-ball Eriksen can only dream of. Bednarek or Vestegaard to swat Toby/Eric/Davinson out of the way. Stuff of nightmares.
After that cold bath, let me put another scenario. Ryan Mason has actually been at the Club throughout this period coaching the U17s, U18s, U23s. He either knows these 1st team players or in passing around Hotspur Way. He can lean on Harry and PEH for some ideas as to how best to set up. He can’t reasonably expect to coach anything new in 48 hours. All he needs to do is pick an attacking side, give them his trust and belief and have them run araaand a bit. Bale and Dele looked great together when given the chance. Sonny is due a proper bit of form…
And so to selections. My take is that we have 2 attacking full backs and Davies & Doherty are injured anyway. So play to their strengths. If we’re doing that we need to be solid in front of the defence but not so much so that we don’t have any creativity in midfield (ie not 2 DMs). This is the team I would like to see play (with PEH told to shield the Back 4):
Aurier Rodon Alderweireld Reguilon
NDombele Hojbjerg (DM) Lo Celso
Bale Dele Sonny