Same Coach, Different Results

For anyone searching the dark cloud of last Sunday’s performance in the hope of spotting the silver lining, at least two points from six is an improvement on our 15/16 barcode return of zero and, unlike last season, we survived both games without losing.

If you’d rather just study the dark cloud, though, let’s start with the first goal we conceded: Ever since the law change at the start of the 2019/20 season which meant goal-kicks could be knocked to a defender inside the box, we’ve repeatedly trod the tightrope of encouraging our least skilled footballers to take possession of the ball in the most dangerous area of the pitch. And even before that rule-change, Hugo was seriously in love with knocking goal-kicks short to a full-back.

The only time I can ever remember this tactic working to our advantage was in last season’s 2-2 draw at The Emirates, where Arsenal’s midfield shifted too far forwards ahead of the ball being knocked straight back to Lloris, who uncharacteristically hoofed the ball towards Kane, who characteristically flicked a header to Son, who skillfully fed the ball to Lamela, who couldn’t quite work in a Rabona so side-footed the lamest of shots straight at Leno, who hilariously spooned the ball towards Eriksen, who gleefully tapped the ball into an empty net a mere thirteen seconds after Hugo had reverted to hoof-ball.

Other than that, our short goal-kicks against any side who show even the slightest interest in pressing our defenders usually end up, at best, with us conceding a corner or throw-in simply because, when it comes to distributing the ball under the slightest bit of pressure, Lloris and the majority of our defenders are absolute liabilities. Especially now we no longer have Vertonghen as an option.

So when I saw the usual stupidity of Lloris preparing to knock a goal-kick short towards Sanchez after twenty-seven minutes of Sanchez being generally flaky, I should have known we’d be one-nil down within the next twelve seconds.

Okay, lads. We’ve got this… Davinson will calmly propel the ball to Tanganga who’ll pop a pass to Tanguy who’ll do something exotic ahead of putting Kane in on goal…

Okay, lads. Kane’s moving on in the summer and Jose will be beastly about us on TV… Still, look on the bright side. We don’t concede as often from kick-offs as we do from goal-kicks…


What’s so infuriating about this is that Mourinho seemed to understand Pochettino’s/Tottenham’s post White Hart Lane preference for short goal-kicks and general faffing around at the back were playing to our weaknesses not our strengths when he arrived: It was so noticeable across his first few games in charge that this sort of tactic was out, and transitioning the ball forwards at pace was in.

But maybe that was down to the way Gazzaniga preferred to distribute the ball rather than anything Mourinho instructed the team to do? Certainly since Hugo recovered from his Brighton back of the net broken arm we seem to have reverted to this sort of disaster inducing tactic, even though, more often than not, we cause ourselves problems whenever we do.

There were some other silver-linings, I guess, in the fact that we quickly recovered from that self-induced catastrophe with Ndombele playing a key part in both goals and Kane’s finish for the second being utterly sumptuous, then fashioned three great chances in the second half to put the game to bed despite allowing Newcastle 22 shots and an Xg of something like 3.3 when they tend to average slightly less than one.

And we didn’t lose.

Though it felt like a loss.

Just like Newcastle at home, West Ham at home, Palace away, Wolves away and Fulham at home.

In fact, I think the only draw we’ve had this season that hasn’t felt like a loss is Chelsea away. But what’s the point in smuggling a precious point away from Stamford Bridge when you’re happy to toss ten others away? If you consider how close we were to a point up at Anfield and the fact we let these ten points slip away despite leading each game with less than twenty minutes remaining, we might be facing United today with only goal difference separating us, a comfortable six points clear of Chelsea in fifth.

Instead, we’re facing a United who are bound to be out for revenge for the 1-6 scoreline earlier in the season having yet again bottled an opportunity in the race for top four.

I’m not looking forward to this game at all, which probably means we’re going to win it: I certainly wasn’t expecting us to go to Old Trafford and spank United a week after drawing with Newcastle at home.

Come on you Spurs!

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MiT
MiT
6 months ago

Went back and read some final comments on last article thread.

I completely agree that the Sissoko sub was baffling, and even cowardly. No idea what Jose may have expected from that sub. Like most, I had expected and looked forward to Lamela.

If these players have no faith in Mourinho, then I agree that he needs to go. But that will not fix this squad.

One comment compared the squad to that of West Ham… but in terms of individual players. That has NO bearing on whether they are useful or good enough any longer to this club.

Guys like Dele, Dier, Aurier, even Toby… They are done with this group. If their peaks are to be resurrected, it is in another club, surrounded by different and new players and circumstances into which they can build faith and trust.

Hugo has captained this squad long enough. The players need a new voice, and Hugo needs to move on. Not due to his individual ability, but instead due to being a longstanding bark in a squad that lost its mojo in that Final, and has showed few signs of gelling since.

Sanchez is just unwanted, untrusted, and not in s position of building any trust. Not here. Sissoko is well seasoned, and aside from a dressing room model, is no longer as useful as is necessary for the level. Vinicius comes in with little experience, and into a position where he will not gain much. No idea of his talent level. Winks is just not at the level, nor is a good fit for what the club needs. Hart has lost much of his level. Davies has always been a question as to both his fitness for purpose and his talent level. Doherty, no idea.

It is not about the individuals, and whether they are good enough as individuals.

This group of players, as a group, and as they fit in this club and this squad, are. not. good. enough.

This was becoming evident before Mourinho. They should have been regularly refreshed with players shifted out and new in, new pieces in which some faith could be built and restored… but they were not.

Culpability rests with all 3 levels, players chairman duties, management.

I easily – very easily – blame the players first. They are big boys, expected to be professionals, yet they have to be cajoled, coaxed, carried into even giving a proper effort. This is the first place to make changes that can be meaningful.

Bringing us to the chairman. The circle really starts and ends there. He seems to have lost the ability to shift players out at any good value – part of that due to running them into the ground or into positions of being completely unwanted and at weak leverage value. I do not need to go into what has been done wrong – that has been rehashed over and again. My problem is that I have no faith in him to right that ship due to a multitude of factors, mostly related to his business habits, his patterns, his controlling nature without the football knowledge to match (and without an ability to relate to the people as anything but spreadsheet assets), and his relationship with the rest of the football world.

Third comes the managers. Mourinho is likely no longer viable to build this squad, but without repairing the first 2 factors (players and chairman responsibilities,) changing this has the least effect on the future of this club.

A reset of all 3 areas would be nice.

Commander in thief Sexy Beast
Commander in thief Sexy Beast
6 months ago

https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/eb082cd00146a6a260499dbdfb1b9ede?s=64&d=retro&r=g
Chauveljn
54 minutes ago

Reply to  Commander in thief Sexy Beast
If there’s any kind of takeover going on, it ain’t communism or socialism, it’s corporatism. Rule by a clique of superpowerful businessmen.

So very true Chauv.

Modern day fascism is not skinheads in jackboots wearing swastikas on thier arms, it’s the corpoate cartels that usurp sovereignty of nations for the benefit of private elites, and they are working together. And they pay F*** all in taxes whilst we cover the bills of their wars.
Julian Assange gave a brilliant interview a few years ago in which he infered that the Middle East wars was a form of money laundering form the US tax payer, Tax the people spend it on amrs and wars and the few get super wealthy.
The military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned Americans about, the same people who took out JFK in my opinion.

TCY
TCY
6 months ago

I subscribe to Andy’s comment of a few minutes ago that is on the prior page. Yes Levy has been a better owner than most but not so successful as a few. Does that make me happy? No. As Shakespeare asked”Do you think because you are virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale?”

Ill take my ale in a few shiny new pots—which we won’t get from Levy.

Levy has wasted our time and much worse the careers of young men like Harry, Son and other doers pretending like he wants to go all the way, but he won’t or can’t either out of seilishness or lack of football acumen in the final analysis.

Chauveljn
6 months ago

My guess is Levy holds fire till the Cup final, then makes his decision about Mourinho for next season. I’d expect a caretaker manager in place from then because no point holding on to José but excluding him from transfer plans for the summer. That would be poisonous.

I’d like to know if Sacramento would be willing to be caretaker manager and could show us his own style in those last games.

TCY
TCY
6 months ago

Beast, Nut and 89–Treble best wishes to all three of you. Spurs coughing up the third goal at the last now makes all the sense—it can! Many years of happiness for each of you, and a treble under the new manager next term!

Chauveljn
6 months ago

I have to say I was disappointed with the substitutions made. After his major impact made in the Old Trafford match, I was expecting the disruptive influence of Lamela in the starting line up to put United out of their stride. OK, he didn’t start, but if there was a starkly obvious sub change for Lo Celso it was Erik. Not Sissoko. This was never ending as a draw.

For a manager who talked about being ‘clever c****’ , well, he was a stupid one himself yesterday. Lamela deserved to start that game. Horses for courses and all that stuff.