Category Archives: Spurs News

Now hang on a minute Andre!

I’ve just arrived back in Colchester after witnessing another 90 minutes devoid of entertainment to hear that the tactical genius who is our Head Coach has criticised the White Hart Lane crowd for making it like an away fixture. To be fair the atmosphere was more than a little muted today but this is the first home game since the Club sent out its questionnaire asking for our views on the Y word argument so maybe there had been some reflection.

We are accused of creating “much anxiety” on the pitch which provided “negative energy” to the players on the field. My own view, for what its worth, is that the tactics we have been employing have created much anxiety in the stands to the point where we are nervous about any game. For at least three years teams have been employing the same “good strategy” to combat our play and in all of that time we have learnt nothing at all about how to overcome it.

It cost Harry his job for had he worked it out we would have made the Champions League and it threatens our current management squad who despite a reputation for strong preparation appeared totally surprised and without another option to use when teams don’t roll over and accept a beating.

Andre suggests the Hull employed a “great work rate” so why didn’t we? I hear every week positive things about Paulinho but for me he slows us down every time he takes possession and appears to be trying to fulfil a role he is unfamiliar with. Like Sandro when he joined he looks a bit overawed by the English game and needs time to get up to the pace but should it be in the public eye all of the time. 

All of our midfield appears to like to take the ball deep. Whoever plays up front is totally isolated and for most of the games the centre forward has not received any service whatsoever. We focus on the high line and most of the time lack width so we reduce the pitch to such a small box that it becomes easy to defend against and hard to break down. 

This afternoon in the first half we focused on trying a myriad of intricate flicks in an effort to break through and lo and behold none of them came off. Those of you who go to White Hat Lane will know about the warm up game that the 10 onfield players undertake during the warm up. Our games are becoming like that. 

Our tempo is slow and each game starts to look like a pre season friendly. We end up playing the ball across the back to the midfield and then return it to the back four. It’s comfortable but ineffective. In my book the centre backs are asked to participate too much. I appreciate that the game is changing but the midfield has to take responsibility for moving the ball not the other way round. This was always my beef against Jenas and Huddlestone when they played together but it seems to me that our current crop is drifting that way.

The exception is Townsend who has taken his chance and run at defences creating havoc in earlier games. Today wasn’t his best performance but he is still young and won’t play brilliantly every week particularly as he gets used to more attention. Last year we got used to the brilliance of Bale but in truth it wasn’t great for the team. But I couldn’t work out who was in charge. Bale or AVB? 

Bale started the season on the left, beat men crossed for no one to get on the end of it and then started to play more through the middle hitting shots and converting free kicks. He clearly had no faith in the forward man. At the end of the season he played on the right cutting inside for moments of brilliance. By the last game we were waiting for it as much as he was – no one else was going to.

This year the influx of new players provides us with a greater platform for a team effort and I accept that will take time to do. But so far we have seen a repeat of last year with Townsend replacing Bale and with Lennon injured Sigurdsson playing out left. Only he doesn’t do that creeping inside at every opportunity. Granted he has scored goals and wants to play a more central role but isn’t he in to provide chances for Soldado? 

Today Lennon was back and started on the left. He has played there before but it is not his best position. When it wasn’t working should they not have swapped to allow him to get out wide right and work with Walker who he knows well? It did happen but only in the second half.  

We complain like mad about Steve Harper wasting time or players going down injured but we waste half the game before we put players on the correct wings to create crosses for a centre forward that I would like to work out is better than Defoe or not. We will never know if we carry on playing as we have been. 

But this isn’t the only crime committed. Playing Naughton at left back was nonsense as he appears to have never kicked a ball with his left foot. It just can’t work effectively and he has now dropped to the bench. But the worse bit for me is actually sending Naughton out to his death in the first place. How does that help his confidence in the long run? My Father always told me a one legged man would be no good at an arse kicking contest but I fancy that Andre might try it a few times before accepting it!

 

Sandro also started today and wasn’t at his best giving the ball away a few times. He was replaced at half time and whilst it called for a half time substitution should Dembele not have come on for Paulinho to reunite their successful partnership of last year or Eriksen come on to play further up the field allowing Holtby to come deeper alongside Sandro who needs playing time. What we miss is a number 10 and we had a good one of them before allowing him to leave last season for a former club. 

In conclusion I think that this squad has the ability to be something quite special but I fear that the tactics being employed are preventing them from fulfilling their potential. To quote Andre we need what Hull had today, “good strategy” and “great work rate” so that the team get the crowd onside by reducing their anxiety. In Hoddle’s reign I thought the players became confused by the tactics employed and began to look anxious and unhappy. Looking at Vertonghen today that seems to be returning. 

Us fans get paid wages for the jobs we do and have ordinary mundane lives. We come to The Lane to be entertained by the team and support those we believe in and those who try – as demonstrated by Townsend’s reappearance on the field – so Andre if you do your part of the bargain then we will do ours without reservation.

It’s your job to get the tactics right to give us something to cheer and clap. Spurs have become boring to watch and it is your job to fix it. If you don’t goal difference will be your undoing come the season’s end!

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This is where Andre starts to earn his money

When we were watching MoTD last night young Mac and I started constructing some stats about our performances during 2012 – annoyingly Sky got to publishing it first (but they do this for a living!) – and of course 2012 is a split period in terms of management. Consequently we then did the previous two calendar years to see how our fortunes have turned once the New Year chimes have been heard. 

Anecdotally we all know that Spurs performances in the business period of the season has been worse than the first part leaving us at best disappointed at worst totally frustrated. But how bad has it been and what does our current manager have to do to improve our situation come the end of the season? The stats for the years 2012 to 2010 are as follows:

 

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

Points

2012

             

2011/12

20

8

6

6

31

21

30

2012/13

20

11

3

6

36

26

36

 

40

19

9

12

67

47

66

2011

             

2010/11

19

7

8

4

26

23

29

2011/12

18

12

3

3

35

20

39

 

37

19

11

7

61

43

68

2010

             

2009/10

18

10

3

5

25

19

33

2010/11

19

9

6

4

29

23

33

 

37

19

9

9

54

42

66

avbAs a result of the Everton cancellation we ended up playing 40 games during 2012 and managed to win 19 drew 9 and lost 12. Interestingly the number of losses is equal at 6 for Harry and Andre but as we ground to a halt in 2011/12 Harry had double the draws with 6.

Interestingly to me we scored 36 goals in the current season which is the most of all of the periods shown and so whilst this is  good sign it does show our vulnerability in games by not capitalising on periods of advantage. It was certainly a problem last year where we missed a hatful of chances and has continued this season where I feel that the lack of a creative player has reduced the chances created making it even more important to put them away. 

In my opinion perennial top 4 qualifiers like Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal continue to be in the Champions League because of their ability to convert their chances which forces opponents open up in an effort to get back into the game allowing themselves to be hit and punished once again.

For us winning points still remains the prime objective without showing the same ruthlessness yet at the seasons end goal difference will be the key determinant as to who qualifies for which competition. Maybe that is the difference between paying £140,000 and £70,000 for the best players in Europe? Maybe not.     

Of these years 2010 is the only year in which we fared better at the end of the season against the start of it. This suggests that for us to make Champions League that Andre must get the team to a level of performance not seen for some time. Entirely possible with the talent we have but is a creative midfielder required to link all those elements together so that the back four don’t have to look for the 60 yard cross field pass. I think it is. To set out why this is take a look at the same period at White Hart Lane.

WHL

             

 

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

Points

2012

             

2011/12

11

7

2

2

22

9

23

2012/13

10

5

3

2

14

10

18

 

21

12

5

4

36

19

41

2011

             

2010/11

9

4

5

0

14

10

17

2011/12

8

6

1

1

17

8

19

 

17

10

6

1

31

18

36

2010

             

2009/10

9

7

2

0

14

4

23

2010/11

10

5

4

1

16

9

19

 

19

12

6

1

30

13

42

What we can see is that fortress White Hart Lane has diminished in terms of the defeats in 2012 and because of the flair on show for our own fans over the whole period we have become accustomed to opponents playing two banks of four with occasional counters. We must accept that teams know that if they come and attack they are likely to get beat so only Manchester United, City and Chelsea play their home game these days.

Having said that if we could win 7 home games between now and the end of the season it would provide us with a decent platform for the top 4 so it must be on the road where improvement would really count.

ROAD

             

 

P

W

D

L

GF

GA

Points

2012

             

2011/12

9

1

4

4

9

12

7

2012/13

10

6

0

4

22

16

18

 

19

7

4

8

31

28

25

2011

             

2010/11

10

3

3

4

12

13

12

2011/12

10

6

2

2

18

12

20

 

20

9

5

6

30

25

32

2010

             

2009/10

9

3

1

5

11

15

10

2010/11

9

4

2

3

13

14

14

 

18

7

3

8

24

29

24

What this shows is an improvement away from home in terms of wins though the number of defeats has increased through our inability to scratch out draw so far this term. If we don’t do better than last season between now and the end of the season its likely that there will be no Europe next season at all and this may well be the reason that the managerial change occurred.  

My gut feel is that the top sides will post the number of away wins we have recorded in the first half of the season and we therefore have to do the same. The opportunity to do so exists as teams have to attack at home and we can therefore Bale2attack on the counter exploiting our pace. To do this we need to give the ball to Bale and Lennon whilst they are on the move rather than to feet so that they can open up and use their pace to frighten. With all of the ex player support for Bale today it would seem likely that better protection will be offered by officials to Gareth in the remaining games so that may bode well.   

To date Andre has suggested that little money will be spent in the window. If that is the case we need to keep a better tempo in midfield, get the ball to the wingers in Daniel Levydangerous position and put away the chances we create. If we want to do that Ade needs to play more down the middle and work tighter with Defoe if they are both to keep playing. Whatever happens, having felt the need to make the change Daniel Levy will be watching closely to see whether Andre earns his money.

Those Glory Glory Nights

I had tears in my eyes today. Nothing to do with the away tie of the 2012/13 campaign against Lazio but a picture of a disconsolate Danny Thomas, head in hands after missing his penalty at White Hart Lane against Anderlecht in the 1984 UEFA Cup final. That was one massive crowd at White Hart Lane that night and at that moment the tie turned once more to Anderlecht before Tony Parks rescued it and won us the trophy. Certainly a Glory Glory Night. 

Then there was the disgraceful tie against Barcelona in the Cup Winners Cup Semi Final where a full blooded Graham Roberts performance got us a 1-1 draw against a team that looked so unlike the current Barca side that’s its untrue. Never were so many angry fans leaving White Hart Lane over the performance of the opposition. Not a Glory Glory Night but a poignant memeory nonetheless!

Then there was Glenn’s demolition of Johann Cruyff in a 4-2 home victory where we were 4 up by half time and the man we liked to take more care of knocking in 2 goals. A Glory Glory Night if ever there was one.

I have to say that the latest offering from Martin Cloake and Adam Powley “The Glory Glory Nights The official story of Tottenham Hotspur in Europe” is if not the best, one of the best books I have ever read about our famous club.

From the moment you open the front cover to see the first page map of Europe setting out the campaigns between 1961 and 2012 and a list of the matches in each you can tell this is going to be something special. This is a book that ouses style as it charts our history in all the white kit.

I was born days after the Benfica tie and can remember every game after Keflavik. Growing loving football I always looked forward to reading the programmes over breakfast the Dad brought home from those UEFA Cup ties. Teams with unusual foreign names from far away places and players with unpronouncable names. All the programme covers are here matching up with the reports of the games which includes a team sheet and scorers.  

And then there are the interviews with stars from every era, the wonderful Cliff Jones and Terry Dyson, Paul Miller and Mickey Hazard, the great Phil Beal and Martin Chivers and a foreward from Gareth Bale.

There are problems. Anyone receiving this on Christmas morning will find it difficult to put down and is likely to get into serious trouble but that’s not a reason for not adding it to the Christmas list! If you’re still not convinced that you want this book on your coffee table take a look at how it looks by visiting  The Glory Glory Nights book page and clicking on the book cover to reveal extracts of the pages inside.