We play like lassies in Lancashire Bolton 4 Spurs 2

What is it with Lancashire? For some reason most of the times we play there we show ourselves to be southern softies without fight or idea. Yesterday was no exception and was for me our worst performance of the season by far. You heard it from the top at the end of the game “we were as open as a barn door – you just can’t play like that”. But we did.

My team selection differed by one player from Harry. He went for Sandro I went for Huddlestone but apart from that no difference. I was surprised to see both Wilson and Sandro on the same pitch but reasoned that yes this was going to be a tough battle so good choice. Then the referee blew his whistle.

You can’t blame this performance on the Champions League because we played like this before we qualified for the competition. There is – as we know – the Spurs way of playing free flowing quality football with goals goal goals. Unfortunately they’re often at both ends. 

In years gone by we loved it because we only saw the home games and the programme told us about an unlucky defeat on our last trip. These days you can see every minute of play and some of it isn’t pretty. Yesterday was one. We offered nothing at all for most of the game – yet scored the two best goals. Despite all of our talent we got put under pressure by Bolton for most of the game and we had no answer at all.

I can only conclude that Harry did not want to destroy Sandro’s confidence by subbing him at half time for the lad’s sole contribution from the armchair was to concede possession in a dangerous position which allowed Kevin Davies to score from on offside position. No moans about the offside the ball should have never got to him but interestingly the linesman had his flag up against us in the second half!

This was the goal I’ve been waiting for from Ekotto but his sloppy concession – along with others – got intercepted or missed. So with Sandro continuing Wilson got tugged off and Pav came on. As we know JD is injured but hopes to return for the Arsenal game. Without him in the side much of the scoring duty has fallen to the midfield with Crouch becoming more of a provider than goal scorer. Many of you will say Pav would score more if he got more games but yesterday was once again a typical Pav performance. He was not in it throughout yet scored close to goal of the season. 

It was similar to the Young Boys game. Yesterday proved that if a sub plays badly the game cannot be changed around. For us to get back into it we had to win the ball and get it to our sub to make him do something with it. Never happened. Maybe not Pav’s fault but it gets to be like playing with 10 men.

I prefer Crouch because he does provide you with more options. He stays up front for a start so away from home you can try and belt it at him up the field. With both Pav and Keane playing in a different way it becomes more difficult. Neither can head with any great prowess and so you can get caught carrying a man by selecting them. Keane is a better option because he will try and press more but in front of goal Pav is definitely better – if only he would attack the ball a bit more.

At home this is a problem enough but away it’s magnified 100 times. With our midfield weak in the tackle but full of flair going forward the extra man in midfield helps to close down a marauding opponent – or that’s the theory. So the one man up front needs the support of the midfield and that’s where Rafa has come in. Without him it did not work so we reverted to 4-4-2 and saw we’d forgotten how to play it properly!

So will Defoe be able to fulfil the one man role? Balls hit into space to run at yes for sure but those don’t often provide opportunity for him to score; balls hit at him in the air – we know his record in the air about 1 in 10 possession retained. 

Having got to half time only 1 down on the back of a very poor half what did go wrong? A free man in the box for the second and a dreadful clearance from Gallas and very noticeable nudge in the back  to concede a penalty for the third but overall Bolton were very good stuck to their job and overwhelmed us for a lot of the time. What was Billy doing? Surely sticking it in the crowd was preferable to what resulted and he certainly won’t enjoy seeing that again. By the end he looked in trouble and was pushed upfield where a break fell to him but he couldn’t get up the speed needed to win it.

At 3-0 Harry told Bentley to sit down again but then relented and Hutton scored a peach of a goal to get it back to 3-1. I’m pleased for him. He does make it hard work at times at the back but going forward he is a decent player and hit a sweet strike with his wrong foot right into the top corner. 

When Pav scored there was a momentary panic amongst the Bolton fans but in pushing  for an equaliser we were caught on the break and conceded a fourth to Petrov who thankfully only played a short sub role rather than from the start. We had other chances. Bale had a good free kick hit the corner of post and cross bar and Sandro should have scored  to make amends but went with feet rather than head. 

He has much to learn about this league and maybe should not be risked in these games so early but without Carling Cup what have we got? Niko on the other hand knows all about this league. He was just poor. Surprising because so many – including myself – wanted to see him get a game  and I’m sure he really wanted to play and perform himself. 

I couldn’t decide his position. With five in midfield should he not have been out right stretching the play? He was inside for most of the game. His performance showed why Harry has had him on the bench or is it because he has not had 10 minutes here and there from the bench that his confidence has dropped to a low level. On this performance Bentley is likely to get a game if Lennon is not fit on Tuesday night.

Harry was incensed about Wilson’s performance and about him getting forward on occasions. Yes he should be holding but Luka wasn’t getting forward in support often enough and he did have the ball on the occasion of biggest rollocking. And Bale? Quiet, well marked, appallingly smashed by “90 cards” Davies without a 91st but still provided a couple of opportunities.

So what did we learn from yesterday’s game? 

Alan Hutton has a decent left foot and should be phoning Andy Gray for a motivational talk about capitalising on his ability. 

And what did we already know?

Sandro is not yet ready for this league.

We miss Huddlestone when he is on the bench..

Van Der Vaart is essential for 4-5-1. 

We don’t travel well and should review our travel plans for this part of the country before we gift Blackpool 3 points!

Pav is like Class A drug addiction. All highs and lows with not much in between.

We need Berbatov back – or a player like him to be the front striker.

Lastly, Richard Gough suggested Harry picked the wrong team. I don’t agree with that. I think they let him down and made it look like that.  They need to sort it out with a table having a 3 point difference between 5th and 16th place!

22 responses to “We play like lassies in Lancashire Bolton 4 Spurs 2

  1. We didn’t play like the lassies from Lancashire. the ones I know would have beaten both teams, at the same time

  2. Not hard really.
    Crouch is not a real striker but a smart tactical option.
    Modric is a midfield genius but did not get forward enough. VDV is the ideal support behind the striker and could be an absolutely deadly combination with Defoe.
    Gallas is off the pace and error prone. Clearly he carried an injury yesterday
    Krancjaer is not a winger was anonymous in that position yesterday.
    Harry got it really wrong.

  3. I think you are wrong about Crouch, for the following reasons:

    * He might be tall, however he wins very few battles in the air. In addition to that, he is not a very good header of the ball either (how many times has he scored with the head, let’s say from 10 yards out?)

    * He simply can’t shoot under the slightest of preassures. I mean, every time the ball ends up humping and bumping along the ground at 3 mph. It os just not good enough, and in the last games he has been in a position to fire away a shot only to make a mess of it (defoe would probably have bagged a goal or two from those chances, and with ease)

    * He lacks pace – both with and without the ball. We can’t play the ball in front of him because he will never reach it and when we play the ball straight at him, he uses hours to controll it, only to play it straight back to the guy that gave it to him – so what exactly have we gained from it? Nothing at all…

    * Because of his lack of pace, he is not a particularly godd defender either.

    * when he plays, we tend to smash the ball up to him, rather than keep it on the ground. Although this has become better this year, he is still a kind of “bail out” for players who don’t dare to do something with the ball themselves: “What do I do.. eh.. well there’s always Crouchy up front”

    It is obvious that Pav has his downsides as well, and I like Crouchy, he gives his best every minute he plays. But at the end of the day it simply is not god enough.
    Pav has not got half as many chances as Crouch, though he is far more of a goalscorer. No, he is not a fighter, but honestly, do we really need and old school target man up front every single time? Isn’t it about time that we meet the likes of Bolton, Stoke etc playing our own kind of football, keep the ball on the ground, play quickly etc?
    Obviously, Harry hasn’t got the guts to do that. Ever since the three goals away at Young Boys he’s been obsessed with not getting “outnumbered” in midfield and not having a “big guy” up front to match the opponent’s big centre backs.

    In the long run we will pay for this and even as early as november that 4th place seems way out of reach.

    • Some really good points here all pointing to A N other being the go to striker when JD is unfit or to partner him.

      I’m finding it hard to accept that a player can be on the field in this modern game without doing anything. If we started Pav wouldn’t we be approaching it from the other side saying he needed to be more in the game?

      The other trouble is yesterday we had no time to play the ball due to Bolton’s pressing so smashing it was our only option at times!

      We need JD back quick so we can all debate something else!

  4. Wthe benefit of hindsight, its easy to criticise he tactics but its down to the players in my opinion.

    Wilson must take responsibility for passing (if only) to a teammate; Sandro must take responsibility for indecisiveness leading to a goal; gallas for not simply putting the ball off the pitch, etc etc.

    Looking at the other options available to Harry, there isnt anyone who who would have been guaranteed to do any better. Keane or Pav for Crouch? Both slow and neither can do anything in the air. Hud to start? not sure if he is fully fit. JJ for Wilson or Sandro? Powderpuff against strong players and hasnt set the world alight recently. Bentley for Krank? Well I thought Krank deserved a game. Bassong for Gllas or Kaboul? Last time I saw Bassong play he was like a rabbit in the headlights as we let in four goals in 20 minutes against Inter. Gio for anyone? has done nothing at all when played this season.

    The fact is Bolton played to the best of their ability, were hungry and competitive. We were off the pace – too casual and sloppy and expecting to win just because we beat an Inter team that were nowhere near as good as when managed by Jose.

  5. Well Leonardo. Could you point out to me what excactly Crouch does offer in the air? He niether wins that much of the man-to-man battles nor does he score from headers. You mention slowness, Crouch is unarguably the slowest of the three.
    No, neither Pav nor Keane are perfect and we have a serious striker crisis going on, but while we wait for Defoe and hopefully a new signing, I think there’s little doubt that Pav will get us the most goals of the three.
    I don’t blame Harry for picking the wrong team, although I would not have started with both Sandro and Wilson, probably would have chosen Sandro and put in JJ in stead of Wilson to add some offensive strenght, or Thuddle if was fit enough.

  6. It never ceases to amaze me that some ( albeit very one eyed ) Spurs fans can continue to blame Crouchie for the entire misdemeanors of the team – at least this article has a more balanced view. The problem surely is the leaky defense coupled with an ineffectual midfield – particularly defensively. If you watch Crouch he backtracks all the time – often heading Spurs out of trouble. You can’ t expect to have any confidence in going forward currently. And who has actually provided the assists for VDV? You won’t get that with Defoe- another selfish goal hanger like Pav – not a team player and often ephemeral as the game goes on

  7. I have never blamed Crouch for all troubles, he’s not responsible for our defensive blunders for instance.

    Yes he backtracks, if not all the time, quite often, which in turn leaves us with nobody on top when we eventually get the ball. We are supposed to be able to defend ouselves without our lone striker having to run back to our own box.

    Yes, Pav might be more selfish, but just look at the statistics, as provided by windy’s blog:
    Redknapp’s persistance with Peter Crouch

    Doesn’t help to be unselfish when you never capable of unleashing a shot. Our lone striker should be concerned with scoring, not backtracking.

    It is true that Crouch has had assists to some of VDVs goals, but that doesn’t hide the fact that he destroys our way of playing. He’s not good enough to take part in the link-up play between VDV, Luka and Bale for instance. The ball stops with him every time.

    He puts in a nice old fashioned working shift, which I appreciate, but he simply is not a good enough footballer to be in the starting 11 at spurs. Simple as that.

    • What we’re really saying is he – like our other strikers – are showing themselves to be sadly deficient on current form/ability in important areas of their games. Rafa has clouded our judgement by supporting well hitting the target and scoring. Without him we were back to square 1!

      I thought against Everton that he had 2 poor shots but the Sky highlights showed that one was knocked back to Howard by Distin and probably should have been a back pass offence.

      Only time will tell if JD fixes it. I’m not sure about it but time will tell. If he doesn’t who can we sign who will come right into the team and make that massive difference? If only we still had the Bulgarian!

  8. It sounds like you all talk about an amateur club. A professional club competing in one of the world’s best leagues must have attackers who all can score regularly and they don’t have only/mostly the role of a provider and defenders who basically can defend almost impeccably. Most of our players are physically and mentally weak. We have 3-4 really good players but the rest are just mediocrities.

  9. Hmm… is it time to start worrying? A week ago, Liverpool were facing relegation… today they have tied us in points. YIKEZZZ!!!

    • Yeah it’s tight alright. A Liverpool fan reminded me about this last week. I’m waiting for the email in the morning!

  10. Clearly Arry is in a difficult position with VDV around and it is going to get worse for him when JD comes back. Could you imagine VDV and JD plaing together. Yes great at home but what about playing away. It seems that we need 2 different teams, 1 for home and 1 for away matches. This will never work as you lose momentum and continuity. He must persist with Crouch if he wants toplay 4-5-1 with VDV. None of the other strikers are good enough. I think that he should revert to 4-4-2 if VDV is out with Pav and JD. We really are going to struggle to get fourth spot this year especially with City and Liverpool coming good again. Spurs supporters are going to disagree with me but I don’t think VDV was such a good signing for us. Yes he is a good player but not in our system.

    • I wrote an article some time ago about who drops out to let Van Der Vaart in. I thought it might be Tommy to drop out but was told No no no! So who is it, not Bale, not Luka, maybe Lennon or a striker. We all have so many thoughts about players but when it comes down to it you can only put 11 on the pitch.

  11. spurs 1961, along with bale he (vdv) is in avery small minority of spurs players who can be satisfied with their contribution – he has only just joined and is our most likely goal threat (and our top scorer, I believe?). For gods sake lets play our best, most skillful players and work around them. The problem isnot signing a quality player like VDV, its not signing a good enough striker who is adaptable enough to play 451 or 442. anyway, I think vdv is capable of playing CM or even on the wing – he has been pushed further forward because in the absence of Defoe we dont have two strikers worth putting on the pitch together.

  12. The problem is not Harry not Crouch not even Galles is stupid pass we are just one team amongst all the shocks the problem is False Tempo. This is not trained but swallowed and ignored by the FA who have to many members attached to clubs who are doing the swallowing Utd Bolton Arsenal to name a few Gill Gartside ex drugby league that is the damming verdict everyone is ignoring even when there are strokes and Deaths take a good look at some of the players weight loss

  13. Pingback: Ream Hills Lake – Weeton Lancashire | Ultimate Fishing and Hunting Blog

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