…come by the mighty Spurs.
…come by the mighty Spurs.
Ac felly rydym yn croesawu Caerdydd i Wembley, cartref byd-enwog (dros dro) y Spurs!
Which roughly translated (according to Google Translate, anyway – so it could pretty much be saying anything) means and so we welcome Cardiff to Wembley, the world famous (temporary) home of the Spurs, their first trip to us in the Prem since 2nd March 2014, when we were sitting pretty in fifth and they were squatting ugly in 19th.
That last visit ended in a brilliantly engineered Tim Sherwood victory to us by a whopping 1-0 margin, enhancing Tim’s chances of going down in Tottenham folklore as the manager with the greatest win-percentage of all time despite only having much-of-a-muchness to choose from.
Alas for both clubs, each would drop a position by the end of that season, with us finishing ten points behind Arsenal in fourth (remember when they nearly always used to come fourth, and always – always – above us?) and three points behind Everton in fifth (remember when not finishing above Everton used to be a conceivable thing?). Cardiff ended bottom of the pile, accompanying Fulham and Norwich into the Championship.
Our team that day was Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Verts, Fryers, Dembele, Paulinho, Lennon, Townsend, Adebayor and Soldado, with Soldado getting the winner in the 28th minute – a really well taken close-range effort following a pretty-slick move between himself, Townsend and Adebayor. According to the BBC match report, ‘Spurs came closest to scoring in an underwhelming second-half when David Marshall saved substitute Harry Kane’s effort’.
This time around, it’s pretty much as you were for Colin’s Cardiff as they’re still squatting ugly in 19th, having taken two points from seven games. Should they lose to us on Saturday – and, really, they should; I’m firing up the VPN and creating an alias on a certain other website to truly wet the bed with some like-minded individuals if they don’t – they’ll have the proverbial two points from eight games, and we all know a manager who can help them with that…
For us, we’re one place better off than we were the last time Cardiff came calling four and a half years ago, which I’m going to use as a spurious link to the fact we’re also one place better off than Cardiff in the ever-important net-spend table for roughly the same period, Enic having diverted £18 million worth of cheese-room supplies towards our somehow competitive first team in that period, roughly £5 million more than Vincent Tan has needed to invest in order to return Cardiff to second from bottom in the Prem.
Just to show that pounds don’t necessarily mean progress, though, Arsenal and Everton spent £221m and £203m respectively across those five years. Man United, £400m. Saturday will see us kick-off on the same points as Arsenal, five points above United and six points above Everton. Although, of course, both Arsenal and United have won trophies in some of those seasons, and both United and Arsenal somehow finished above us in the league in one each of the last three seasons.
And, of course, for any non dumb-dumbs who might be reading, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool have net-spends of £508m, £242m and £173m across those five years, and all go into Saturday’s round of matches better off than we are – Man City and Liverpool (who, of course, face-off at Anfield this weekend) four points to the good, and Chelsea, who face Saints, two points.
Meaning, should Dippers and City draw and ourselves and Chelsea win, (and should my maths not have screwed this up), we’ll end this weekend two points behind the three teams tied at the top of the Prem.
Other than 16/17, where we were a point behind City and Arsenal, that will be the closest we’ve been to the top spot after eight games in Poch’s time with us. Chelsea, who won the Prem that season, were three points off top spot, lurking behind us and Liverpool in fifth.
Which, given we still haven’t really performed at anything like our best in any competition so far this season, is pretty astounding. Because, points-wise, following last weekend’s trip to the Terriers, we’re still slightly improved on last season’s results – a whopping single point better off following the same number of games, and an even more awe-inspiring three points better off against the same opponents.
If we’re going to maintain these superior stats, though, nothing short of a win will do against Cardiff, as we beat Bournemouth 1-0 at home in this round of matches last season and scuppered Stoke – who finished second from bottom and are therefore the team I’m swapping results against Cardiff with – 5-1 at Wembley.
Irrespective of what we do against Cardiff, though, cups add context, and this time last season we’d beaten Barnsley one-nil, Borussia Dortmund three-one and APEOL three-nil. However, as weird as it sounds, none of those games left me feeling quite as optimistic as Wednesday’s defeat against Barca. The fact an out-of-sorts Spurs team without Verts, Eriksen and Alli – and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Dembele – could gift Barca that opener, concede that second, see Messi strike the same post twice within a matter of minutes, and yet still be one late blocking tackle away from a three-three draw after subbing on Sissoko says there’s still a lot about this Tottenham team that is very, very right.
If anything, there’s no reason why Poch can’t sell this to the squad as a glorious defeat and inspire them to go on a run the way Redknapp did in 2010 after Bale’s hat-trick in that 4-3 defeat at the San Siro, when, other than that obvious blip in the return at The Lane a fortnight later, ‘Arry inspired us to a one-one draw away to Everton, our customary two-nil defeat away to Manchester United, a four-two defeat away to Bolton, and a brave one-one draw at home to Sunderland.
Hmmmm. Or maybe, hopefully, not. Because, following next weekend’s interlull, it’s Pikey’s away and City at ‘home’, so if we’re going to continue to keep pace with the spenders, we’re going to have to cut out the stupid mistakes at the back and build on the attacking verve we sporadically displayed against Barca. I think we’ve got us in it to do it. But I’m a Flat Oeufer, me.
Not much to say about this really except Fortune favours the Brave. Audrey est Facere etc etc
Will it be another wonderful Wembley night washed with tears of wonderment under the twinkling floodlights? Or will we be left sobbing into our scarves under the harsh glare of the spotlight?
My take is that Poch wants whoever is out there to play with confidence, flair and zest. Some say the system kills much of the individuality that many of these magnificently talented maestros have, but we’ve all seen us when it clicks…those moments, even whole games, where we’re irrepressible.
The manager has talked a good game. ‘We’re not victims’. ‘We are Tottenham and we believe we can win’.
Well, he needs to show that belief in how he sets us up. No stodgy 4-3-3 with Dier, Wanyama and Sissoko à la Watford or Liverpool.
We have to provide Kaneinho with some chances. Or if he’s keeping 2 defenders busy, exploit the space for Lucas, Sonny or Pamela. Winks has just begun to show again why he earned the plaudits 2 seasons ago: always looking for a forwards run or pass.
FFS, Poch, tell our defenders to defend. Give us a solid base from which to launch at them. I’m sick of our non-wing-backs pretending to be wingers and leaving gaps behind so that everyone is shitting themselves to lose the ball, even in the oppo’s final third.
Enjoy the game, Oeufers.
Good morning my little Devilled Oeufs
It’s not hyperbole to say that we are an injury or two away from being pretty stretchered.
CURRENT INJURY LIST:
Vorm – whatevs, we got Gazza
Lloris – back on the 3rd?
Aurier – quad “not good”
Eriksen – abdominal, back on the 3rd hopefully
Vertonghen – tight hammy, should be ok
Dembélé – ‘knock’, should be ok
Dele – hamstring, no return date
OCTOBER FIXTURE LIST:
3rd October vs Barcelona
6th: October vs Cardiff
12th: Croatia vs England (other internationals are available)
15th: England vs Spain (see above)
20th vs West Ham
24th vs PSV
29th vs Citeh
With Kaneinho, Lamela, Wanyama, Winks all potentially a little fragile (based on only just clambering off the treatment table and/or recent injury records and/or possible fatigue), I have to say I’m beginning to get a little woeurried that we could find ourselves in a bit of hot water…unless you relish the idea of Sissoko becoming a nailed-on starter.
What I see is that this squad definitely still needs upgrading and improving. Why? Because as much as I can get excited about Skippety Skipp and Tori Amos, it is unreasonable to expect them to BE READY NOW if things go a little sideways from here. Poch will *have* to trust them, rather than using them when he actually feels the time is right.
I’m no doom merchant, but it’s not inconceivable that we are heading into the situation where buying nobody in the summer would look to have been a bit foolish.
It’s Saturday art’noon footynatics, and yes, we actually have a 3pm kick off for a change.
Today’s foray takes us to a land where the wooden wheel has only recently been invented (so they say), and where there’s always trouble at t’mill, Huddersfield!
So what awaits us at the end of our travels, besides 6’ of snow and torrential rain? Three bloody points is what, nothing else will suffice!
Who are the plucky chaps who will wear the famous Lily white today, and provide goal fest for our delectation I hear you say?
So with no further a do, I give you todays victors!
Following our wanderings from the San Siro to the Amex to Stadium MK in the space of eight days, we now head to the Kirklees for 3pm Saturday, virtually a year to the day since our last visit there.
Which, incidentally, saw us record our first league victory away to the Terriers since we dished out a 5-2 thwumping way back in the black & white days of 1954 (match report from Ronwol to follow 😊).
That 4-0 last season made it four out of four on the road for the mighty Tots following victories at Goodison, St James and (as Chauvelin rightly pointed out on the bloeug last week) what started out as the proverbial stroll in the Upton but soon disintegrated into what could have been the tossing away of a three-goal lead to those pikey little Spammers in Stratford.
Thanks to our sporadic home-form, though, we travelled to Huddersfield on eleven points this time last season, with a goal difference of plus five, one point and two goals worse off than we are this year.
I’m always slightly wary of simply comparing seasons by games played, though, as so much is dependent on how kindly or unkindly the fixtures fall, so I’ve taken a look at our results against the equivalent opponents last season to see how we fared, and have smacked myself in the mouth with the discovery that our stats are still ever so slightly better, this time by three points and two goals.
Which, being honest, just doesn’t seem possible given the fact our performances since United away have left so much to be desired.
Admittedly, trying to compare like-for-like this way involves some jiggery-pokery as I’ve had to swap last season’s home-draw against West Brom with this season’s home-win against Fulham (bottom of last season’s prem compared to the team which came up via the play-offs, so, theoretically, the weakest of the promoted and relegated sides), but, still, it at least shows that our premier league results are presently better than last time around, when we finished third, no matter what way you want to compare them, and no matter how negative some of the spin around this season’s performances have been over the past couple of weeks.
Still, though, something about Tottenham’s performances in the last eight days just doesn’t seem right, even though we’ve squeaked two and narrowly pipped another: To paraphrase something Nutty posted during the Brighton game, at times it’s just not been enjoyable to watch. Our five goals in those games have been a slight fluke from Eriksen, two penalties, and two great goals finished on the counter by Lamela, whereas four of the five conceded have come late, one being a great strike from a great striker given waaaaaaaayyyy too much space on the edge of our box, another being a shoddily defended corner, and the other two coming from counter attacks where we had been pressing the opposition high up the pitch rather than sitting back trying to protect what we had.
We also presented Brighton with a great chance straight after they’d scored in a very similar fashion, so, like Watford, that game could have ended two-two.
At this point in time, as far as I’m concerned, we’ve been nowhere near as resilient as our best performances under Poch, and nowhere near as exhilarating either.
Despite this, I don’t mind admitting I’m dumb (-dumb?) enough to walk away from pretty dire overall performances such as Wednesday’s Carabo Cup game against Watford or the late scare against Brighton with a greater sense of satisfaction than I got out of last season’s game against Huddersfield, which was pretty much done and dusted by the time Kane scored our third with a sumptuous spin and finish from the edge of the box in the 23rd minute: Other than the novelty of Sissoko scoring in injury time, who really remembers anything else about the majority of this game?
It’s all context, I guess, and a stroll in the park against a team you have no real rivalry with and totally outperform on the day just doesn’t get the blood thrumming and the Peroni tops popping the way a topsy-turvy ending can, even though our topsy-turvy endings in the last few games have been caused by shoddy performances at other points in the game.
Plus, in all three of the matches we’ve played since last Tuesday, I feel there have been hints of an overall return to aggressive pressing football with a goal-threat on the counter, and – towards the end of the Brighton game, at least – some actual proof that Harry Kane is… well, Harry Kane.
As slight as these hints have been, I never got the sense any were present in the games against Watford away and Dippers at Wembley.
I’d still rather sit through a stroll in the park this coming Saturday, though, so I’ll be hoping for a repeat of last season’s performance against Huddersfield, and another welcome three points ahead of the small matter of Messi & co at Wembley next Wednesday (for anyone wanting to watch either of these games on the net, by the way, I’m reliably informed they will be streaming in high-definition on hartleycam.co.uk).
The fact Huddersfield are having a pretty miserable season of it themselves at the moment, with only two points to their name and having been beaten 6-1 by City and 3-0 by Chelsea in their last two games (compared to something like nine points this time last season), suggests anything less than a repeat of our four-nil win really will represent this season’s first true backward step from Poch and the boys: It’s unlikely we’ll be the only ‘big’ team to lose to Dippers at home and Watford away before next May rolls around. A slip up against Huddersfield simply can’t be excused the same way.
FIFA has finally decided that the business (and I use the word specifically) of buying and then loaning out young players needs to be regulated. The principle is that players should be bought and then loaned out only if it aids their development.
Numbers have yet to be decided, but somewhere around the 6-8 maximum loans per Club is being talked about. This would mean Chelsea having to sell around 30+ of their current squad. Spurs currently have 2 senior players out on loan: CCV and Josh Onomah.
There has been plenty of sneering at the Academy, in terms of players breaking into and making it in the first team (as though this is a piss-easy affair). What we haven’t done at Hotspur Way is turn it into a talent abattoir, hoovering up the best young prospects and then never giving them a whiff of even an early-rounds Milk Cup substitute appearance.
As we saw in pre-season, Poch is actively trying to bring our Academy players through, to give them honest chances to show where they are in their progression and whether they will be able to take the steps up in class necessary to hold their own in the first XI. Skipp and Amos looked good and continue to play week in, week out in the U23s. KWP is only being held back by the fact that we’ve got a seldom injured Trippier and Aurier to call on (some would say he deserves the chance now).
What we haven’t done is be the slayer of youthful hope and expectation by bunging money at good players and then offsetting the wages by passing them on to the lower leagues. I’m happy about that.
El Pochettino’s musings at the latest presser ahead of the Carabao Cup clash with Watford tomorrow courtesy of Alasdair Gold.
How do you feel about playing at the Stadium MK?
I feel well, because we’re going to discover another place to play. It’s a very nice town. Four years ago I saw Dele Alli as a 16 or 17 year-old playing against Manchester United – Many very good memories. I think it’s a beautiful town with an amazing stadium. The option to play there is the only option we had. We’re going to try to enjoy the game and the afternoon of course.Alli pushing for it
Dele seemed to be pushing the idea to play there?
One thing is he told you it’s a good idea, another thing is him pushing. No player is going to push the club to make a decision. He’s happy to play in his home town. But in the decision, Dele Alli wasn’t responsible.
Did he say anything to you?
He’s happy, he’s so excited of course. He’s the King of Milton Keynes.
What do you make of fans who might be refusing to travel there?
I think our fans feel very disappointed, like all of us. Our chairman feels disappointed because it was a game to play in our stadium. It’s not under our control. Of course, I understand the fans who are so disappointed but so are the staff, the players, everyone who works for the club. The first is the chairman who cannot deliver the new stadium on time. I understand completely the fans are not happy but no-one is happy and we need to adapt ourselves in that circumstance. If we only complain, find excuses, it’s difficult for the club and team to move on, it’s difficult to be strong. If not, the human being is always to find excuses if you don’t win. For me, it’s the opposite – to try to be strong. All that situation is to make us stronger than before and use that for the future, have the capacity to adapt. I want to be positive, I am positive because I am an optimistic person. I’m not going to blame or complain. We’re playing Watford at Milton Keynes. It’s a great opportunity for discovery and to be strong in our mind. We’re away from home for a second consecutive period.
First of all we need to win. We respect Watford, they’re doing very well. It will be a tough game but if we win after the draw we’ll take the decision if we need to play at home and it’s not possible to play at Wembley or our new stadium, I’m more than happy to play again at Milton Keynes.
They have cows in Milton Keynes…
I’m going to be so welcome because of my sympathy and respect for the cow. We were talking before the press conference about the concrete crows. They run about! For me, it’s a fantastic city. I have a few friends there and it’s so close to London – only 45 minutes. It’s a great town, beautiful. When I was there I enjoyed a lot.
Will you be giving game time to others?
From the beginning of season we have been making changes and making a lot of changes in the Premier League and different games. For me it’s a squad game and competition. In four years we have played one final and two semi-finals and that means we always take all the competitions very seriously and try to win. Like last year against Manchester United and the previous season against Chelsea and the final, in some circumstances against Chelsea too, it because you took it very seriously. For me the competitions are about the squad, Premier League, Champions League, League Cup or FA Cup and we have a strong squad, capable of everyone playing. The idea is we want to win tomorrow.
Will Paulo Gazzaniga still start tomorrow?
Nothng changed because Hugo and Michel are still injured. It means Paulo going to play and of course Alfie [Whiteman] and Brandon [Austin] in contention.
How far away are Michel Vorm and Hugo Lloris?
We’ll see after the next few days if they can arrive to be ready for Huddersfield, if not then Barcelona, if not Cardiff and if not after.
Could one of them be fit for the weekend?
Look, we cannot change, the process is the process. They need time to recover. We’ll see what happens in the next few days and sure at the next press conference before Huddersfield I will tell you properly if they will be ready to come back and compete.
You played Watford not longer ago, what can you take from that?
We were watching this game and another game in the Carabao Cup against Reading, where he rotated and changed the starting XI, completely different 11 players and using different systems against Reading. We’ll see what happens tomorrow, if he decides, the coach or manager, to have the same players playing or to play with the same starting XI or rotate and using different systems. We are aware of that and of course differing things that you can take from our game that we play at Watford. But sure it is going to be a completely different game and a different competition. We’ll see what the starting XI is.
Were you disappointed that Lloris or Kane were not in best team of the year?
Yes of course I can understand our fans, and for them sure might be disappointed but we’re not responsible for the vote and we don’t pick players who are going to be rewarded. Only I can say nothing because it’s not in our hands to give the awards to our players.
I presume you will make some changes?
Yes, like Inter Milan or Brighton, we changed five. It’s a squad game or competition like all. Of course sure five or six changes.
Do you think it devalues the competition?
Why? If you see how we lose the games in the previous season, you’re going to see that we lose always against big teams. Of course we want to win but if you say the same question to the manager of Watford, why he picked 11 different players against Reading, with the risk to lose, when they didn’t play European competition, and we are involved in the Champions League. We have a lot of games ahead. I think we rotate, trying to find the best solution to try to win games. But the obsession here in England is to try to disrespect the players who play in one or another competition, and for me it’s so difficult to understand.
Sorry, it’s nothing wrong with the question. But always it’s, if tomorrow Paulo Gazzaniga plays, the competition the FA Cup, or Serge Aurier, who played against Inter Milan but didn’t play against Brighton, it’s like we disrespect the competition or we don’t take it seriously. I think when Tottenham is going to play tomorrow, it’s going trying to win. When you sign players and you have 24 players in your squad, you need to respect all the players. If not, if they’re going to have the possibility to play and show their quality, why do you pay their salary, why do you provide the food every day at the training session and at the training ground? Sorry but for me it’s so difficult to understand, that obsession about why one or another plays. It’s like all the managers want to lose.
No-one wants to win, or like the competition in the Copa del Rey in Spain, if Real Madrid is going to play against someone and they used to rotate, it’s like Real Madrid don’t want to win. I think it’s crazy and the problems sometimes is not from you, because I understand you. But sometimes some people who play football and were professionals, their opinion is similar and it’s difficult to understand, because I was a professional player and now a manager, and you need to understand that to deal with 24 or 25 players is not easy. To give the possibility to play to all the players always is so important because they need to feel the confidence and trust. They need to challenge the players they believe are ahead of them. In the end for me it’s about the squad. It’s about being a team.
If you want to win some competitions you can win or lose with one or with another. Sometimes it’s more important when you win a trophy, the players that not play too much because they help to be better every day the players that play the most. I repeat again, I don’t understand the obsession with asking about the players that are going to play in one or another competition because when we are going to play tomorrow, or Saturday, or Wednesday, or I don’t know, always it’s Tottenham that’s going to play, and your honour. But of course I understand you and everyone need to find always some reason to talk, and in the end if we win, it’s fantastic to rotate and give rest. If you don’t [win] it’s because you don’t give rest and you kill the players and it’s normal. If you don’t play the players that don’t play too much it’s very disrespectful for the coach. Always with the medicine of Monday it’s easy to give opinions and of course. But that is my job, it’s in my contract and it’s my job to try to deal with everything.
There are no other injury concerns going into this game?
No, just Hugo and Michel.
Anyone you might leave out to give a rest, like Sarri did with Hazard in the Europa League?
Of course we will rotate, like it was at Inter Milan. We have the plan to give other players a rest.
How do you approach this in a stadium you haven’t played in?
For Watford it will be the same, the same conditions. We are going to try and adapt to our game and give our best and win the game. It is not an excuse to play in Milton Keynes, I don’t want to say anything negative, I am so optimistic and very positive. The circumstances are the circumstances and we can’t change them. We need to be clever and positive in a tough period that is now for the club. The last season was tough and now this is tough because the circumstance and the expectation was to play in our stadium and that is for everyone so disappointing and frustrating for many people. But it is so important from inside to keep strong and believe and try to be positive.
It is a circumstance no one wanted but we need to keep pushing. We cannot go down because the circumstances are the circumtances. If we lose we cannot say it is because of the circumstance, because we play in Milton Keynes, it’s because the stadium is not ready, it’s because we played at Wembley. It’s easy to blame all this but I don’t want to blame, I want to be responsible for the result and the performance and when I am happy I will tell you and when I am not happy I will tell you too. It will be good for the future because the stadium will be a fantastic venue to play football, the facilities here and the potential of the club is massive.
How unsettling is it for the players?
If there is one thing I didn’t want it is to give reason to the players, to us, to say, ‘If we don’t win it’s because of Milton Keynes, it’s because we don’t play at our stadium, it’s because we play at Wembley’. I am not like this. If we lose it’s because we deserve to lose and our performance is no good or because I made a mistake. It is our responsibility, but for me if you are a winner you have a different mentality and if you are a loser you always try to find an excuse to avoid responsibility. I understand that it is not the same as playing in your home and the help from our fans will be fantastic in our new stadium and the energy is different to play in Milton Keynes than your own stadium. But I don’t want to find an excuse, we need to go there and show personality and character and win the game. That is our responsibility, it is not to blame the venue or the fans or the chairman. When we are on the pitch, we are on the pitch, it is 11 v 11 and we need to be clever and better than the opponent. I understand football like this, this is my character and personality. I understand everything that happens around, but I try to avoid the players finding excuses.
How much sympathy do you have for the fans having to go to Milton Keynes and buying tickets for the new stadium?
I am the first that would like to finish the new stadium. If I have to go to work after training here and help the builders finish the stadium as soon as possible so the fans I will be happy, and all the fans will be happy and the chairman will be happy, I promise I go. But I told you in the past when there was the decision because it wasn’t ready for the date we expected to play against Liverpool we were so disappointed. I need to tell them sorry, that we are doing all that we can to try and finish and the chairman is so committed.
I promise he didn’t sleep trying to find solutions. Of course we feel disappointed for our fans but they need to understand that is a venue for the rest of our lives and for the next generations and years and years and it is so important to finish in the right way. Maybe one or two months means a lot , but in the end it is no time because the most important thing is to finish and be safe when we are going to move there – fans happy, players trying to give their best to win games and in the future have a venue that is going to help us win trophies. I think Tottenham’s future with this venue to play, with a stadium that will be the best, the only thing that we will be missing is trophies in the cabinet. But we need to start to put trophies there. The best training ground, the best stadium, the best fans, okay not so good manager and coaching staff, great players, only trophies we need to add to the history of the club.
One player who might feature is Juan Foyth, he started the season with an injury and missed out on the Champions League squad – how difficult has it been to manage his situation?
He will be in the squad but no it hasn’t been difficult to manage it. It’s true that it was very bad luck that he got injured the day before we were going to the USA and it was long the recovery. Now he’s doing well and he’s going to be in the squad. I don’t believe he is going to play but he will be in the squad.
There are reports coming out of Argentina that he might be in the next international squad…
Only I can tell you that some coaching staff contacted me asking about his form and how he is doing. I don’t know if he’s going to be called for the national team, but in the last month, in the last international break, some staff contacted me, yes.
To all those who’d rather win a League Cup or FA Cup then finish top four i hear you, sadly imo the domestic cups are not even close to a top four finish, (ask Willian) the best players want to play in the Champions League, thursday nights just don’t cut it, who watched the Arsenal or the Chelsea game this week? No one i’d guess, certainly not me!
If someone did a financial comparison of Spurs anual income compared to the others in the top six since the start of the Champions league era we would likely be hundreds and hundreds of millions behind Manure, Arse and Chelski, this inequality will take one hell of a long time to balance itself out and then you throw in the new Mothership and how much that will set us back financially this all points to a struggle for us to win something. However Pooch has demonstrated with a net spend of £15 million (this is truely remarkable) in his time at the helm that it is still possible to build a competitive side. Hoddle and Hargreaves are spot on, we are two top players away from being true challengers, Zaha this last window and a top Midfielder could have been the difference, fact is we just don’t know what went on in the transfer window, maybe Pooch has a very small pool of players that he targets and we just couldn’t get the clubs to part with them?
Who knows? I personally would rather finish 4th then win the League Cup if given a choice between the two, however i’d love to see us win a Cup and secure a top 4 place of course. Champions League is a legitimate target, we dominated both finalists last season don’t forget. We just need that bit of luck draw wise and the odd tight referee decision to go our way just like Liverpool had v City twice over two legs.
Last but not least we need to get into our new home, get our feet under the table and make it a fortress, this will be a game changer in the long run in so many ways.
So here we are again, waiting for our hero’s to zero’s to take to the field again in a bid to turn around a run of eminently avoidable defeats, can we do it?
A day at the seaside normally means a fun day out, being mugged by the arcade slot machines, rotting our teeth with a stick of rock, and braving a not so scenic walk along a pebble strewn beach, marvelling at how brown and dirty the sea looks, but not today.
Today we take on a Brighton team buoyed by a sense of self belief (and some good results) and no end of ‘pride’… To get a result today I feel we will have to match their energy, and passion which we know they have, and show a level of confidence and clarity, if we are to walk away with all three points.
We have all had our say on what we’ve seen in the previous three games, unfamiliar formations, bizarre substitutions and a general lack of concentration, which to be fair is something we haven’t seen to much of in recent years.
Personally I would like to see Kane given a rest, he looks like he’s wading through treacle at the moment (saucy minx), struggling to keep up with play, when he get’s a chance he want’s too much time or an extra touch to make sure, that’s not the Kane we’ve come to know and love. Perhaps it’s time for Poch to give a front three of Son. Lamela and Moura a try, with Eriksen-sen-sen-sen playing just behind? A front three would mean we play a back four, am I bothered? No. To play a back three the wingbacks become integral to the system, and for me neither Trippier nor Davies have the pace to maximise that benefits of that formation. Some bright spark (bloody upstart!) on the ere bloeug suggested Trippier play in the middle, using his passing ability in the centre of the park, not a bad idea, and one I’ve also considered, I’m not sure, mainly because of his lack of height and ability to win arial duels.
This is all conjecture on my part, and whatever team Poch puts out will have my full support, if we approach this game with the right attitude, and look to set the tempo (and not dawdle) I see no reason why the cockerel shouldn’t be crowing LOUDLY this evening!
Come on you Fakkydoodledandy Spurs!!!!!
Never mind seagulls – we head to Brighton on Saturday with an albatross around our necks in the shape of our first three-match losing streak since the dark days of Dimwood.
Returning to happier times, though, the last time we headed to the Amex was five months ago, on 17th April. In the three games immediately preceding that one, we had finally won at Stamford Bridge – so were the best thing since sliced-bread – pipped a narrow squeak away to Stoke, then copped a pants down at home to City, proving that the round-earthers were right all along, and we never will thrive under Levy.
That run of results saw us third in the table after 33 games, two points behind Man U, three points ahead of the Dippers, and ten points ahead of Chelsea in the race for securing top-four.
For the football purist, though, the telling statistic is that we were twenty points behind Man City, and the seeds of that sorry state of affairs had perhaps already been sewn by this stage last season, where the equivalent round of fixtures saw us trailing the Cityzens by six points despite having just strolled into Stratford to beat West Ham 2-3. However, we were also six points behind Man U and two points behind Chelsea, proving it’s too early to say a gap can’t be narrowed or that an early pace-setter won’t fall away as Chelsea did under Conte.
This time around, of course, and we’re in a pretty similar position, though it’s Liverpool and Chelsea six points ahead rather than the Manchester clubs. And, of course, by the end of the weekend, we could be even further behind, because Brighton away won’t be easy, especially the way we’ve been playing: I caught most of their second half performance against Southampton on Monday and thought they were unlucky to be two-nil down. Even so, they stuck to their game-plan of attacking down the flanks and getting numbers in the box, and although I didn’t see the end of the game I wasn’t surprised to learn they equalised at the death.
Their other results have been patchy, however, losing to Watford and the Dippers away while beating Man U and drawing with Fulham at home, while, trawling back through last season’s results, if you ignore another routine win over Man U the week after we paid them a visit, they haven’t tasted a Prem victory at the Amex since Arsenal were overcome 2-1 on 4th March.
Last season, we ended up coming away with a 1-1 draw, with Kane scoring on 48 minutes following good work from Son and Pascal Gross equalising from the spot two minutes later following an Aurier trip. I remember watching the game but don’t remember much about it, except that on the blog I used to read back then (but was banned from contributing to) both the result and performance were taken as a sure sign we would get no points from our remaining four fixtures and drop out of the top four. Which, obviously, would serve Enic right and reveal Poch for the Levy-pet fraud that he is.
We actually won three of those games to finish third, although the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Man U which immediately followed the Brighton game soured that achievement and took the gloss off an otherwise excellent season, more in the limp manner of the defeat than the fact we had lost yet another FA Cup semi-final – plus it was yet another key game we lost after taking the lead.
This time around and, for some, we’re verging on crisis again, while, for others, we’re wallowing in it: No new stadium, no new signings, and no clue what Poch’s going on about with all his guff about cows. His substitutions on Tuesday didn’t make a lot of sense either. As far as I’m concerned, Watford could have been a blip but the performance against Liverpool was woeful, even though we should have been awarded a penalty at the death which would probably have seen us steal a point. I don’t feel that performance was entirely out of character for a Poch team, though, as I felt we hit similar lows away to both Arsenal and Leicester last November, a month in which we also narrowly beat Crystal Palace and drew 1-1 against West Brom at Wembley, all of which followed our 3-1 trouncing of Real Madrid.
This, for me, has been the most frustrating aspect of the Poch era (on the pitch, anyway): We seem to follow a great result such as the ones last season against Dippers and Madrid at home and Chelsea away or the recent win at Old Trafford with a run of shoddy performances which completely undo the milestone results. I don’t know if it’s squad size, form, formation, or a Hoddle-like smugness that sees players and management sit back on their laurels after doing something special, but it’s something that Poch’s going to have to find an answer to if he wants to take himself to the next level without having to jump ship to a club that has oodles of cash to cover up this flaw in his teams.
On Tuesday, in the second-half, and especially after our goal, I did feel there were signs we were playing ourselves back into some sort of form until Poch’s tactical changes handed the initiative back to Inter. On Saturday, no matter what formation and team he sends out, it would be nice to see a performance which shows some evidence of our pressing game, a return to form for Christian Eriksen, signs of life from Harry Kane, signs that we have a functioning central midfield, and an end to Poch’s worst ever run as Tottenham manger: The sort of performance, in short, his Spurs teams have been delivering for us more often than not.
But, it’s also got to be said, the sort of performance it feels we haven’t seen over ninety minutes in a while now from Tottenham.
DON’T PANIC! I’m here to help if you need me Poch!
There is nothing wrong with Poch’s tactics. As a matter of fact he should win everything with the formation of 3 at the back, 2 attacking wing backs, a DM and a AM and 3 up front is fantastic. This is his preferred formation I believe.
With a strong wall in the back providing unyielding defence and feeding to either of 3 directions, one of the MF’s, one of the wing backs and then in turn either a diagonal ball, a ball down the line or a ball through the middle for the deeper lying runner behind the oppositions back 3 or 4.
So what’s wrong with Poch’s tactics – NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL.
Well how come our displays in the last two weeks (some might say longer which I can understand) have been ‘tres ordinaire’?
Here comes the rub –
To carry these tactics out you need the right player for the right position. For example – you might say our best back 3 is Toby, Sanchez and Vert’s in which case I would agree, so let’s agree these 3 should be capable to perform the first part of our tactic’s.
This is most important if you chose to play out of the back as opposed to hoofing it which is what Poch is demanding at this point.
They need to fulfill the next requirement of getting the ball to our wing backs or link with either the AM or DM.
Let’s look at the qualities of a good wing back – I would suggest the following certainly come in handy:
Calmness on the ball
Ability to control the ball and pass
Ability to cross accurately
Ability to get back
Well let’s look at our so called WB’s and see who has all of these – In my opinion only Trippier comes close. Davies is terrible and who knows if the old Rose will return. The only trouble with Trips is he is not very good at defending when required. Aurier is a hit and miss and fringe players don’t rate at the moment.
Now let’s look at the AM’s and DM’s. What qualities do they need:
Calmness on the ball
Ability to pass
Ability to read the game
In our squad, the only real AM is Ericksen (who can either player AM or more up front but I believe this is where Poch wants him – just behind the front 3). Who else fits the bill? (fringe players are not there yet).
In the DM’s department, we have a plethora but I would suggest only the ageing Mousa plays this role with any aplomb and even he is erratic. Dier is out of position, terrible at passing and also at defending set pieces and seems to be regressing. Winks is not coming on like we hoped. Wanyama could provide hope but injury is slowing down his progress and Sissoko has a good engine but little else and that’s even if you place him in this category.
Again, none of the fringe players fit the bill – yet.
Playing 3 up front should work very well with this formation behind them ‘IF’ the players behind are decent at their individual roles.
I think in Sonny, Lucas, Lamela, Dele and Kane we have quality in abundance.
In theory – a terrific formation.
It may take time but we need to build 2 or 3 players each window to get where Poch’s tactics and formation show quality. We need fast, ball controlling, calm wing backs. We need another AM to back up Ericksen and we certainly need much better quality in the MF.
In summary (and thanks for reading if you got this far), we are reasonably well off at the back and at the front, however almost everything else in the middle of the sandwich needs more seasoning.
We simply do not have the quality to carry out Poch’s instructions.
Here is my one hope – ‘Juan Foyth’ to play in front of the back 3 (something to consider anyway).
I don’t do predictions. I’ve got a weird *It’ll jinx us* thing if I say we’re going to win…and I can’t bring myself to say we’re going to lose, or even draw.
As per all my rantings about the Watford and Liverpool games, I just want to see us pick it up A LOT. This possession-based filopastry is killing our attacking intent. What I’m witnessing over and again is that when we have possession in our half or the first 10m of the oppo’s half, all our Full backs, AMs and Kaneinho are in position, waiting for the ball to come forward or wide. I think we’re meant to play it into feet and then have runners going past the ball to receive a clever flick or one-two but, more often than not, there’s nobody running past and/or the flick gets cut out.
What I see other teams do is some slick inter-passing at pace…cutting through midfields and defences. We’re like Subbuteo players in comparison.
So are we going to be experimental and have our way with Inter, or are they going to royally……it doesn’t bear thinking about.
Team to play Inter: Vorm, Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Dembele, Lamela, Eriksen, Son, Kane
Subs: Gazzaniga, Rose, Walker-Peters, Wanyama, Winks, Lucas, Llorente
Pochettino has made a “technical decision” to omit defenders Toby Alderweireld and Kieran Trippier from his side’s Champions League opener against Inter Milan.
relating to a particular subject, art, or craft, or its techniques.
involving or concerned with applied and industrial sciences.
“an important technical achievement”
synonyms: practical, scientific, applied, applying science, non-theoretical; More
(in areas with guerrilla warfare) a small truck with a machine gun mounted on the back.
“the helicopters flew difficult night-time searches for technicals”
I’m assuming Poch isn’t referring to the noun in his description. Although on second thoughts it might be useful to bolster our leaky defence at dead ball situations.
In other news Dele Alli (hamstring) remains unavailable after missing Spurs’ defeat by Liverpool on Saturday, as does captain Hugo Lloris (thigh).
On the upside Moussa Sissoko (hamstring) is also absent for the match at the San Siro.
“You cannot bring 25 players and can only play 11,” said Pochettino.
“That is the reason. It was a technical decision. You can find it in the dictionary, maybe tactical also on the pitch – yes, it’s tactical too.”
Italian giants Inter Milan return to Champions League action following a six-year absence but suffered a 1-0 defeat by Parma on Saturday as their indifferent Serie A start continued.
Forward Mauro Icardi should return to Luciano Spalletti’s starting XI after the Argentine was a substitute in that match, but Danilo d’Ambrosio faces a late fitness test.
We’re live at Wemberlane, our home again for another round of Premier League bum-squeaks.
No Hugo, no Dele, no problem.
These are them wot’ll duff ’em up and get us a 3-1 win.
Stats, stats, stats. We all have differing views on how useful they are, and we all know the vast majority of them can be skewed to fit the narrative of the person producing them.
As an example, off the top of my head: Spurs are shit-hot at corners because we scored from 50% of the two we won at Old Trafford; Spurs are utterly shit at corners because we gurned our way through all ten at Watford with zero end-product.
For me, the two things I think about ahead of every premier league game are pretty simple – how are we performing points-wise compared to the same stage last season, and what did we do in the same fixture last season, irrespective of when that fixture took place – so I asked Flatty if he’d mind me having a go at producing a weekly post ahead of each Premier League fixture reminding the good ship Flat Oeuf of these two things and any other random snippets of nonsense I can manage to cram in: Just the same as my wife around midday on any given Valentines Day, he said ‘you have a go and we’ll take it from there. Definitely no promises, though.’.
So here I am, having a go. As it’s still pretty early on in the season, I thought I’d also look back at where we stood following the fourth round of fixtures in each of Poch’s seasons in charge to date, and whether or not our fabled slow starts really have cost us title-bids compared to the teams who eventually triumphed. Putting this first one together has been a bit rushed, though, so apologies in advance if I’ve mucked up my research on any of the results, or, even, got my seasons mixed up.
In Poch’s first season, 2014-15, our fourth game ended in a 2-2 draw away at Sunderland which saw us in sixth with seven points, already five points off the pace of eventual champions Chelsea. A welcome away win against the Spammers in Poch’s first game and a battering of Arry’s QPR saw us all dreaming of glory and a truly brave new dawn until the Dippers did us 0-3 at the Lane back in the day when the only titles we were dreaming of were the deeds to Archways premises. Despite already having given us that battering, though, Liverpool ended that fourth round of fixtures two places and one point behind us.
In 2015-16, a slow start saw us with only three points from four games, wallowing in sixteenth, following three draws and a loss, again five points off eventual champions Leicester, who we had drawn away to, along with home draws against Stoke and Everton and a narrow defeat at Old Trafford on the opening day. Our dippy mates from Scouse-land ended the same round of fixtures in 7th with seven points. We followed that by winning a scrappy game against Sunderland one-nil away, with Ryan Mason getting injured in the process of scoring our winner and rarely featuring for us again. Two games later, though, we took City apart 4-1 at the Lane. When Liverpool turned up at the Lane two weeks later, in the 9th round of fixtures, Jurgen Klopp’s first game spent on a touchline worrying about his car tyres saw honours shared 0-0.
Following that flash-in-the-pan season where all the big-boys had a year off, we were widely tipped to slide back to our Europa League status again, but 16/17 saw us sitting pretty in fifth after four matches, having won two and drawn two, only two points off eventual champions Chelsea, though four points off early pace-setters Man City. As in Mo Po’s first season, those pesky dippers were lurking a point behind us, having already visited the Lane for our second home-game, securing a 1-1 draw. Despite the fact White Hart Lane’s missing corner would surely ruin our season and cause weird winds to disrupt the flow of our game, a single Kane strike on 59 minutes would see us extend our unbeaten start to the season against Sunderland at home in the next round of fixtures, and, of course, we finished our last ever season at The Lane unbeaten and with our highest ever Premiership finish, second. Wembley would see us slide back to our Europa League status next time around, though, for sure.
So on to last season, and the dreaded Wembley curse. Following a painfully narrow home defeat to defending champions, Chelsea (I was there, and it was narrow, and it was painful) and a home draw against Burnley, we were sitting fifth on seven points following away wins over Newcastle and Everton. Liverpool were in seventh, on seven points, having just been torn a new one away at the Etihad. Despite this, those pesky dippers picked themselves up, brushed themselves off, and took the footballing world by storm, proving once again that they truly are the greatest club-side in the world. Well, if that’s how you want to spin being ripped another new one by us five weeks later, finishing below us for something like the eighth season in nine, and winning exactly the same number of trophies as we did. And, rightly or wrongly, at least we stood by our goalkeeper when he started to act a bit drunk.
Which brings us to now, our zero spend zenith, the season when Levy’s chickens will surely come home to roost…
It’s obviously way too early to tell whether the summer’s (lack of) transfer shenanigans and our attempt to break the world-record for home venues in a single season are going to spur us or scupper us, but this is our best start under Poch with nine points from twelve. However, the dippers have also had their best start over the same period, with a perfect return of twelve points, although neither side can be said to have really hit anything like their best form from last season yet, with our lapse against Watford leaving that bitter taste of Spursy in the back of the throat and Liverpool perhaps having to dig in more then they would have expected for results against Palace and Brighton and their expensive new keeper gifting Leicester the sort of joke goal Hugo likes to keep back for when he feels a world cup final has got a bit one-sided and someone really should do something to distract the world from what a tool Dejan Lovren is.
While it’s weird that their visits to us over Poch’s tenure have consistently come early, the tale so far is one trouncing each and a couple of very close draws, though it’s also (hopefully not) worth remembering that the last time they visited pre-Poch resulted in another pants-down for us and the sacking of AVB.
I’ve got the feeling with this one that it’s one of those games where either team’s capable of giving the other a right pasting, with both equally capable of producing an end-to-end nail-biting nil-nil, which probably means it’s all going to come down to how we do with our corners, and, as the stats show against Watford, we’re fricking awful at them.
Just seen this visual graph of HK10’s Premier League output before and after his injury at the end of last season. The work is by a certain @EFaroh (https://twitter.com/efaroh/status/1038879813157699584?s=21) on The Twitter. He admits himself that the long block between May and July which indicates the off season slightly throws the visual impact of the graph.
What it does seem to demonstrate is that his numbers have measurably changed since the injury in March. This does not even take into consideration any stats during the World Cup.
Our Harry scored a much vaunted 6 goals at Russia 2018, with an impressive 66.67% conversion rate…better than any other striker including MBappe at 60%. Only problem is, that 3 of Kane’s goals came from the penalty spot, which skews his ‘outfield’ data a bit.
There’s no doubt that over time Harry is up there with the very best. His stats are better that Ronaldo’s, for example, over the last 4 seasons, on several metrics:
All the same, as I regularly say, some stats can mask the realities of what you can see if you’re watching the games with your own eyes 👀.
It’s pretty clear that Kaneinho has not been firing on all cylinders despite confounding partisan critics with the way he keeps breaking records, winning awards (WC Golden Boot) and exorcising hoodoos (He does score in August!).
Historically, he’s been the sort of player who’s played himself back into form. Perhaps he’s been asked to change his game a little this term to work with Moura? Or to give defences who’ve had 4 PL seasons to work out a strategy for him/us?
To me, he looks a bit knackered. Or crocked. Hasn’t got the same snap about him. Hope I’m wrong.
Why it wasn’t always Tottenham for me
Just in case you’re not all bored enough by the interlull, I thought I’d bore you with how I came to not be a Tottenham supporter until I was fourteen years old.
Like most things, it wasn’t my fault: At the start of the 1976-1977 season my fourteen-year-old brother sat me down and informed me that, having just turned six, I was now old enough to choose a football team to support for the rest of my life.
Despite what was about to take place, I didn’t think this was going to be a difficult decision for me: I already knew I wanted to be a Tottenham fan. My brother was a Tottenham fan, after all, and so were the very cool family next door.
Plus, being six, I loved the name Hotspur, so even though we didn’t live anywhere near N17, I didn’t need to choose. I was already Spurs, me.
My brother had other ideas, though: I was already sharing (and therefore destroying) the cherished privacy of his own bedroom, running around like a demented little-me in all of his hand-me-down clothes, mucking around with all the toys he hadn’t quite finished mucking around with himself, and, even worse, starting to loiter on the fringes of everything he did with his mates.
I wasn’t ruining another element of his life by being a Tottenham fan as well.
“You can choose any team you like,” he said, producing one of those football league ladders you used to get in magazines like Shoot at the start of every season. “Except Arsenal or Spurs. I’m Spurs. And I’m not having an effing Gooner sharing my bedroom. You disgust me enough as it is.”
There being an eight-year age gap between us, and my brother always being prone to massive fits of rage if I didn’t do whatever he told me, I didn’t have much choice in this. Not having a clue who else to support, though, I couldn’t decide, so my brother made me read every team-name on the Shoot league ladder out-loud, which, at that time in my life – where I hadn’t completely mastered reading out-loud without spraying spit everywhere – proved an almost impossible task.
Finally, though, with my brother correcting every mispronunciation and reinforcing every syllable by administering a friendly little Chinese burn to either one of my wrists, I reached the last but one name on the ladder:
West Brom – (phlegm) – wich… West Brom – (phlegm) – wich… West Brom – (phlegm) – wich Albion.
And that was how my brother decided I was to be a West Brom fan. Because I couldn’t pronounce Bromwich without spraying massive volumes of spit everywhere.
I was always a Spurs fan at heart, though. The first football match I can clearly remember watching highlights of on TV was our 9-0 demolition of Bristol Rovers (back in the day when Division Two matches were sometimes featured prominently alongside Division One games on Match of the Day). I can also remember, as a seven-year-old, listening to match-commentary on a crackly old radio and then running around our back-garden with my brother and our next-door neighbours celebrating the fact we had secured promotion back to the First Division by drawing at The Dell. Surely acting on some sort of natural instinct every non-Gooner shares, I joyously celebrated Arsenal losing two FA cup finals and a European Cup Winners’ Cup final in the late seventies, and, of course, our own FA and EUFA cup triumphs of the early eighties. Also, when I was about twelve, our next-door-neighbour lent me a Jimmy Greaves autobiography (This One’s On Me), and I read that from cover to cover about five times, mesmerised by Jimmy’s sense of awe at the great double-winning side he joined, and his obvious reverence for Bill Nicholson, Dave Mackay, the Glory, Glory Nights at The Lane, the genius and tragedy of John White…
Although I always had to be shifty about it with my brother (who was still very territorial about his right to be the only Spurs fan in the house) I had properly fallen in love with the glorious Spurs by the time I was thirteen, and never paid anything more than lip-service towards my enforced support for West Brom.
Which was ironic, given I could now say their name without spraying spit everywhere.
The situation finally came to a head in late 1984, when I was fourteen. At my dad’s insistence, my brother, then in his early twenties but still living at home, had been taking me with him to games at White Hart Lane since the start of the 84-85 season. Given the age-gap between us and the fact we had virtually nothing in common, the two-hour-plus train and tube journey to and from the ground could be tortuous, but, the more often we went, the more the mutual distrust between us seemed to thaw, which had probably been my dad’s hope all along: Even so, despite my increasing whining about the situation, my brother still insisted I wasn’t anywhere near cool enough to be allowed to support his beloved Spurs.
I can’t remember how many games we’d been to by the time our home game against West Brom came around in early November, but more than enough for me to stand there on the terracing directly beneath The Shelf and realise I knew the name of every single Spurs player by sight but couldn’t name a single West Brom player lining up against us.
That was the day I finally stood up to the tyranny of my brother and told him – and, since then, anyone else who’s ever been bothered to ask – I don’t care what you say; I’m Spurs, me.
You’re still a little twat, though, my brother snapped back, and then got back to belting out Come On You Spurs… a song I finally felt able to legitimately join in with myself.
And, obviously, bloody West Brom turned us over 3-2 that afternoon, the first time my brother and I ever saw us lose in the flesh, and yet another thing he’s always blamed me for since.
Found this interesting article rating the 13 Tottenham managers that have been in charge since 1992,the start of the Premier League era. I’d forgotten that Doug Livermore and Ray Clemence were once in charge at the beginning of the era and were actually responsible for signing Teddy Sheringham. Controversially the have Hoddle only 8th best behind Sherwood in 5th! Is that possible or have we fallen into an alternative universe?
Pochettino is clearly the best we’ve had in this period but how do the others rate in terms of the order the article give them?
I’ve taken the liberty of posting McG’s comment as a starter for ten. I hope that’s alright.
So who thinks Dembele shouldn’t start vs dips? I think playing Sanchez & not Dier was the major issue on Sunday. He’s a big game player & does raise his game. I’d like to see some more of winks, but not until he’s fully up to speed, & against some lesser sides first. Dembele to start against dips for me, should be nicely rested too.