Tag Archives: Champions League

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!

Thanks for the Memories Spurs 0 Real Madrid 1

I’ve had some time to reflect after the Madrid defeat before sitting down to write a review. In truth the moment has passed to reflect on the match as normal so I thought that I would think as much about the campaign as the game. 

We’ve a long and hard battle to try and qualify once again for next year’s competition and if we fail to do that when might our next opportunity be? Spurs have been nothing less than sensational in this year’s competition setting a standard for open play and attractive football throughout. The trouble is that Manchester City could do the same next year and with Liverpool once more coming back to life if we slip up we might have to wait a long time.

But then we could just as easily put a decent run together and qualify once more. That makes attracting the striker we need much easier to convert the chances created and keep us competing not just for the top 4 but maybe the top spot. Harry Redknapp talked this way when we were playing well before Christmas and if we make are able to buy well in the summer and keep the squad together that has to be the aim for next season. 

Had our current strikers been more on the money we could have worked Casillas harder and maybe won the tie. It would have been fitting. After being a little sloppy at the start we got going and put Madrid under some pressure. We were unlucky not to be awarded at least one penalty but based on current penalty form could we be trusted to convert it? Pav did his best but was a little wasteful with a decent chance in front of goal and headed just over in the second half and we were extremely unlucky that the official flagged for offside when Bale despatched a shot into the net.

Most disappointing was the way in which we conceded with Gomes allowing a shot from Ronaldo (of all people) to slip through his fingers and into the net. Like Hercules he slips from hero to zero and back again quite rapidly. We love him we hate him but we don’t. He is a great keeper but error prone at the wrong moment. The trouble is, as Arsenal have shown, you can’t win things with a dodgy keeper. 

We had it with Robinson before and Gomes is better and I can recall Ray Clemence letting in a goal like this latest mistake – maybe at the same end – in an important game which maybe also finished 0-1. Yet look around the league and the number of excellent goalkeepers who may want to move are not that many. 

For me a great striker might mean we can stick with Gomes for at least another season in the hope that we score enough to make the odd mishap less painful. Yet throughout the campaign he has performed well. It was our defensive display at Young Boys that put us 3 behind and a disastrous start at Inter that saw us 4 down at half time. Our only other disappointment was away at Twente where we got caught in typical Spurs fashion. 

In the last three CL games Dawson has been immense at the back and the partnership with Gallas rocks. Even though I thought him out of position for away goals at Madrid his performance was outstanding and Rio must be starting to look over his shoulder. 

So to Harry the man many like to criticise for his tactical naivety. Having got us into the competition I don’t feel it is my place to criticise him though I must confess to being a little surprised by Lennon’s substitution. He has improved a lot this season in my opinion and I can only presume that he was withdrawn for maximum rest before Arsenal once we had no chance of getting back into the tie. 

Harry has some difficult decisions to make come the summer and none more so than deciding if we can continue to support Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate through their injuries when others like Kaboul and Bassong might want away for a lack of games. Bassong is certainly one for the future and Bassong does a useful job when called upon but if fit Ledley and Woody would probably get priority. But for how long before their injuries return? 

This is certainly the most capable squad of players that Spurs have had since the days of the Clive Allen team and before and we need to keep them together. Bale and Modric are deemed to be the prime targets but the public speak from both is they are happy and want to stay together. Hopefully Harry will join them either turning down England or escaping from his tax evasion charges as he is more suited to working with players on a daily basis. 

So a disappointing exit to the campaign but achieving the last 8 and after defeating the cream of Italy we played well in the second leg against Madrid. I believe we’ve learnt a lot from this and sincerely hope that we can secure the necessary number of points by the season’s end to get us back into the competition next year.                        

Let’s take it to them: Tottenham V Real Madrid preview

I’m afraid that our Champions League campaign will come to an end tomorrow night but that’s not to say that I don’t believe we can win the game. My problem is that I cannot see us scoring 5 and if we do we will have to go at it so hard that a goal or two on the break are likely to be conceded. 

With Chelsea and Arsenal also eliminated it is no great disaster. We’ve played and overcome the two most famous clubs in Italy over two legs and been, if not the, one of the most entertaining sides in this year’s competition. As Spurs fans we have to be really proud of our achievement in getting to the last 8 and look towards our opportunity to get back into the competition. 

Unfortunately it looks like it might not be next season and therefore our transfer dealings in the close season will see how we can improve ourselves to mount a stronger challenge away from home next season so that our goal difference improves against our fellow challengers.

But that is for another day. Tomorrow I want to see an up tempo performance from our team like we put on in the first half on Saturday. Granted I don’t want to see the casual moments that allowed Stoke to get 2 back but if we exhibit the same quick thinking and interplay I am hopeful that we can give Madrid a really hard time and make them feel like they’ve been in a game at 9.45 as it comes to a close.

With Rafa playing 90 minutes on Saturday hopefully he will be properly rested and ready for the role he can play. Modric too needs to stamp his mark on an opponent who snuffed him out 8 days ago. Whilst Sandro will be unlucky not to play I think I would continue with Huddlestone particularly if Lennon and Bale are both in the side. 

Tommy’s presence allows Rafa to stick further up the field rather than leaving his partner stranded alone. And who should that partner be? Pav had a good game on Saturday but does drop deep and Defoe is an all out striker so might not bring Rafa in when he is better placed. I fancy both will get a look in and I might start with Pav to reward him for his performance against Stoke.

Hopefully Ekotto will not be carrying a knock and can continue alongside Dawson and Gallas with Charlie at right back. That is our best back line at the present time and I hope that all are ready to take the correct man at the first defensive set piece. This will not be a quiet night for Gomes but I hope that he can keep a clean sheet aiding our chances of a victory – however slim.

Two seasons ago the thought of playing Real Madrid at home in any European Competition would be a mere dream as would have games against either Milan side so this has been a terrific experience. Even a failure to secure tickets for each of these games has not diminished the enjoyment. 

A team for the game would therefore be:

                         Gomes

     Corluka    Gallas    Dawson    Ekotto

Lennon    Huddlestone       Modric       Bale

           Van Der Vaart              Pav

Prediction: Come on You Spurs hold them out and a 2-0 whilst seeing us out would be a tremendous result. Two early goals though…….