As I was away for the weekend and only got back last Sunday night, I have only seen brief Match of the Day highlights, which means my post match debrief is limited.
But reading the match threads, it`s pretty clear that those of a negative bent have almost relished the event to metaphorically say “I told you so!”
Apparently, Poch is a pretender, Wembley is wank and Tottenham are Tottering. Of course, the more negative amongst us will agree with every word of that, the happy clappers will see it as a minor bump and the realists will use their commonsense and knowledge of the game in terms of set-up and tactics to consider what went wrong – the margins between a good win and disappointing draw are fine; I don`t recall seeing Sanchez being brushed off the ball and get his timing so wrong that allowed Rondon to mishit the ball and trickle the ball into the net.
If you`ve been watching us since Sanchez came in, you would have put your mortgage on him seeing Rondon off or marshalling out.
I`d lay money on the video rooms being like sweat boxes today as the analysts review the key moments of the game.
What is clear is that as manager after manager has and still do claim (including Poch now) juggling the Champions league and the Premier League isn`t as simple as we think, looking at the clubs that are in it, apart from the club who have the advantage of being owned by a Sovereign Wealth fund, all are finding it trickier than it really should be. Once again we learn that the Premier League has the capacity to hurt and surprise, the differences between everyone else and the Top 6 is not nearly as wide as it is in Europe, and it demands a price and takes a toll.
In my preview, I`d presciently said this:
” The bad news is that teams that lose their managers always have this uncanny knack of trying to prove that it wasn`t their fault the manager was sacked and often un-expectantly play above their recent form, managing to confound all the pundits and critics. It wouldn`t shock me to see them do just that; leave their recent form behind and look to their past record to inspire them for this one. West Brom`s record against us is pretty decent and the new man will no doubt remind them of that before they cross the line. I expect that their realistic ambition for this game will be a draw?.”
It seems my deeply held fear has come true, even though I let my positivity get the better of me predicting that an early goal would still let us tonk them 4-0.
The result prompts a deeper look and a piece of introspection into our approach: On the matchday preview thread, 10Hoddle pointedly asked the key questions prior to the game:
“Well, WBA have two wins to their name this season and this could very well be their 3rd.
No, but really, I have little faith in how Poch mentally prepares out team for big games and against teams that are having a bad trot. Lesser teams have a habit of breaking their drought against us over the last 4 years or so.
Should be clinical 3-0 win with 65% possession.
Question is….which Spurs will turn up?…. “
Well it seems the leggy, knackered and less than impressive Tottenham did, so how now to answer 10Hoddle who asked the difficult questions; perhaps now we need to find the answers?
I think we`re suffering from four key missing ingredients now, and have been for a while; Wanyama was absolutely outstanding for us last season and he`s being badly missed. If anyone ever wondered how we`ll deal with losing Toby in the summer, I think that too is now pretty clear. Add to that missing Roses pace and tenacity down the wing and you have a less than complete Tottenham. The biggest weakness of all for me is losing Walker, he was outstanding for us in the last 2 and a half seasons, he`d eliminated errors from his game and his pace terrified defenders. Aurier clearly isn`t yet got anywhere near that level, even if I do believe that the indications are his lack of pre-season conditioning and his bulk carrying are being addressed.
Trippier is bang average, good in a back four, impossibly exposed as a wing back; he couldn`t go run past a lamp post on a good day. Those that still think that Trippier and Davies can work as wingbacks in our system of play must now wake up and smell the coffee – and that includes Poch. When both play our ‘wing` play is limited and lacking genuine threat and pace, Trippier in particular almost stops our attacks stone dead which is why he does the old David Bentley trick of hitting long balls from deep, as an opposition, once you suss that out, eliminating him as a threat is relatively simple.
We`re built on a high tempo, high pushing pressuring line, /pressing possession game, where according to the Tottenham supporting intelligentsia, pace doesn`t matter. The threat of pace is over-rated, work-rate is king.
If anyone, including Poch still believes that, then they are deluding themselves, pace gets past defenders and gets behind them, pace scares defenders and forces them to play differently, it means defenders give a healthy distance away, which in turn allows your more creative players to stand off, not be pressed by two or three players and gives them ability to make passing movement swifter and with greater movement. Both Trippier and to a lessor extent Davies, negate that and allows defences to just sit back, crowd the area and choke the life out of our game. Because of it, we get reduced to shots from the edge of the area or headers in crowded positions where both require a large slice of luck to hit home.
I dread to think what our wingback play will look like when we lose Rose as well. Personally, I`d drop Trippier for Kyle Walker Peters as the alternative to Aurier faster than you can say “Spursey”.
Of course none of that lets off how our playing through the middle with our creative players has become muddled, confusing the enemy with rapid movement and passing is now beginning to look like a slow-motion car crash; you can see it happening, but appear powerless to correct it.
Poch has to rethink his tactics in the light of our injuries and then limitations of our second string ‘wing-backs`, he could start with play one, not both. Davies has done well whilst Rose has been having mental moments and recovering from injury. Davies isn`t Rose and never will be.
Let`s be sensible; we`ve done well up until now, but in post Champions league games or after international breaks we`ve looked leggy and bereft of the energy levels our style of play demands; I hope as we make our transfer plans concrete in the Jan window and prepare for Toby and Roses departure in the summer, (and I am 100% certain they have both been tapped up) we consider that, and make the adjustments that are looking absolutely necessary, because if we don`t, it will be Europa again next season and a ‘as you were` like for like swap with our North London rivals.
Unless of course, you know better and think I`ve got this all wrong?