Tag Archives: Luka Modric

We’re back! Tottenham 4 Liverpool 0

Having seen Manchester City cut us to shreds today’s game against Liverpool gave us the chance to see how good they are and also how far we have come after an encouraging display at Wolves last week. Much will be made of the “reduced to 9 men” but the game I saw showed Parker, once again, making a massive difference in midfield; Adebayor mounting a charm offensive whilst making a contribution and helping himself to two goals whilst Adam got dismissed after 30 minutes and Henderson and Downing were anonymous.

The Dalglish factor has been massive to Liverpool but today it could not handle the way in which we started such was the level of our performance. The midfield of Modric, Parker, Bale and Kranjcar controlled everything and the opening goal was as good a strike by Modric as you could wish to see.

Last weeks game against Wolves showed Luka in recovery after a shocking first half against Manchester City for which he rather than Kranjcar should have come off. Had he done so he might no longer be a Spurs player but he seems to have refocused and if he and Parker continue in this vein we ought to mount a decent challenge this season.

This was the big concern for G and I weighing up how long it might take to get his head right. Today he showed he is back and let’s hope that it continues.

The addition of Parker has been immense. We got badly beaten in our first two games for our failure to defend from midfield and put in tackles. His arrival puts pressure on Sandro to improve further to get back the shirt but it also offers much for some away fixtures playing them both. Better than that he showed leadership on the pitch, encouraging others and discussing things that hadn’t gone well with others even Ledley King on one occasion.

Then up front Adebayor showed what he offered over Pav and the departed Crouch for the second game running and had the partnership gone a little better with Defoe we might be seeing positive goal difference tonight. Having said that its early days and for two games running both striker has scored so who can ask for more. 

Unfortunately JD missed an absolute sitter in the opening minute of the second half and at only 1-0 you could see Liverpool getting back into it. That moment might have arrived when Suarez was brought down on the edge of the box and his sublime chip on another day might have produced a goal. He needs to keep his temper in check and was booked for sarcastically clapping the linesman. Elsewhere Andy Carroll had his third outing at White Hart Lane and increased our view of his value to around the £35 mark.  

There was also the surreal situation when Liverpool were down to 9 men and at 3-0 where we seemed to stop playing. We had 100% possession but were just moving the ball around in midfield not approaching the goal at all. Having established such a poor goal difference before getting our season on the road I felt we needed to attack them while they were down and therefore the fourth goal was the icing on the cake. 

I can’t conclude without talking of the pace shown by both Bale and Walker. We know Bale has pace and can destroy defences. Liverpool did not seem to appreciate this and got caught our particularly in the first half and on the other flank Walker showed an unbelievable turn of pace and great attacking flair. It certainly got Van Der Vaart keen to get onto the pitch in the second half.

Against City we were destroyed by their power, today we did the same to Liverpool. It was a great performance by all of the players and shows that if we keep it up at home and keep things tight away from home we can be there or thereabouts for the Champions League places when the business end of the season is reached.

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A game of two halves – thank goodness! Spurs 2 Athletic Bilbao 1

Generally the final pre season friendly is the one where you discover who will feature in the coming season with that side having an extended work out. Unfortunately the midweek internationals put paid to that and led to Harry starting with more of a reserve side with the intention of bringing in some big guns at half time.

An injury to Pienaar put paid to that and Modric was introduced to a standing ovation from many yet even he could not turn over the mediocrity on show before the break. I wasn’t sure of our first half formation but assumed it to be 4-5-1 with Pav up front on his own. Unfortunately the crispness and pressing of Athletic Bilbao put our midfield under serious pressure and they responded in the main by going backwards and getting penned in. Apart from a couple of decent passes from Huddlestone which set Lennon free we were poor.

My mind was cast back to the days when Jenas was a regular starter as he dropped took the ball from Dawson and handed it straight back. Nobody appeared to be taking the lead and we ended up stuck on the edge of our own box for much of the half. 

Pienaar had to be withdrawn with an injury that might prove serious but I still don’t know what his role is on the pitch. That led to the early introduction of Modric but such was the ascendancy at that point that even he could not turn things round before half time. In fact his first moments saw Bilbao’s goal from a ball in from the right beautifully flicked on by Pav for a well hit volley that gave Gomes little chance. It was fair reward for their performance and a serious cause for concern as Tyldesley and Beglin informed us that they were a week behind us in terms of preparation.

Our erstwhile commentators also suggested that Pav should have done better with his header. Quite right but they’ve clearly not observed his lack of aerial prowess during his Spurs career. It was a disappointing half for Pav. Playing on his own he became isolated and whilst Lennon was our best player down the right none of his end product finished at Pav’s feet.

The back four also had their problems. Dawson was intercepted on more than one occasion trying to thread passes through the middle and despite looking good coming forward Benny allowed his man to get behind him more than once. Charlie was playing similar balls to get Lennon in the clear when we went forward and Bassong looked a little uncomfortable on the ball. Behind them Gomes made a couple of saves that kept Spurs in the game but he also flapped wildly at one corner which we managed to get away with. 

And so to the second half. Friedel came into the goal, Walker and Kaboul into the back four, Bale, Crouch and Defoe came in for Jenas, Huddlestone and Pav forcing us into 4-4-2 and immediate improvement.

What we now saw was a midfield trying to go forward rather than backwards and using the width available to create chances. All of a sudden Bilbao looked more ordinary as we took the game to them and we were rewarded when Crouch turned in Bale’s cross before Defoe hooked in Lennon’s cross from the right. 

This side is more likely to be the starting line up with Kranjcar stepping down in favour of Van Der Vaart unless the club undertake a mass of transfer activity in the coming week and they showed why. Modric took control of the midfield and kept the ball moving in usual fashion. Lennon and Bale had a number of runs, one of which producing a speculative penalty as Lennon went down expecting a tackle that never materialised. Kranjcar’s spot kick was saved which had an element of justice about it but he was disappointed not to score. 

Kaboul and Dawson looked better in central defence although Bilbao had a couple of opportunities half way through the half. Walker looks good going forward but his performances in the U21 side showed he can be caught napping like Benny was in the first half. Will he link as well with Lennon as Charlie? Only time will tell but he needs to be given games at the start of the season.

But the best thing was goals in open play from Crouch and Defoe. I was particularly pleased for JD as he linked up well with Lennon, previously one if his best providers, for his goal. If we are to challenge we need to convert more chances from open play and JD will need to be a major contributor. 

Yes the first half was poor and somewhat disturbing but when we see some of the replaced players in isolation in the main side this season as Niko was during the second half they will look better, won’t they? Unfortunately JJ and Tommy did themselves little favours with what they showed and consequently little for Pav’s chances.

Everton next week, let’s hope for 3 points.  

Luka, Luka, Luka

I was delighted to hear Daniel Levy’s statement yesterday lunchtime after seeing Luka Modric plastered over a number of newspapers saying the time was right for him to leave the club. In all honesty I can’t say I blame Luka as from the moment I saw a paper suggestion that Chelsea would pay £140,000 a week to him I fancied his head might be turned; I know mine would be.

But a contract is a contract and whilst Luka may claim that he made an arrangement that should a decent offer come in the Chairman wouldn’t stand in his way he has to get a little bit realistic. Whilst the wages might be the transfer fee is not. 

What now follows will be interesting. Will Luka put in the transfer request he feels uncomfortable in making? Clearly if he does so it will hurt him financially in the coming months but the extra wages from a new job will soften that blow. 

Then we have his wish that he remains playing for a London club, probably so that he can stay close to Charlie and not disturb the family. It shouldn’t work like that as we all know but with player power seeming to be what it is anything goes. The Berbatov transfer proved that in many ways with him wanting to go to United but City making a higher bid.

Naively, I hope that this is the end of the “crisis” but I doubt that will be the case. One has to hope that if it drags on other clubs outbid Chelsea so that Luka ends up considering a move to a city he doesn’t really fancy. What that bid may end up at who knows. But having watched £18 million Henderson play two games for the Under 21’s and look anonymous on both occasions Luka must be worth at least twice that sum.

If Levy is serious – and I hope he is – Luka will have a couple of uncomfortable training sessions but then life gets back to normal. Players understand these matters and whilst a couple might have felt it offered them a better chance of a game if the club gets off to a flying start it will all be forgotten pretty quickly. Luka might then understand that we too would like to win the League and with the right striker signed might make a challenge.

If we eventually cave in how bad is that? In honesty it is pretty serious but we might be able to cope. As he settled in Rafa looked comfortable in a similar role and often dropped deep to try and take charge of proceedings. That left us light up front and so a Modricless side would be able to afford two proper strikers and we would certainly have the money to buy a very good one.

The Chairman does have other problems to face this summer. His valuations of some squad members is likely to cause him problems as time passes with no Champions League money to contribute towards wage costs if they don’t move on. The squad remains large and with new faces to add quite a bit of business needs to be done.

Paper talk suggests that Martin Jol might like to take some of his former squad to Fulham and QPR were rumoured to be showing similar interest. Last year Alan Hutton could have gone to Sunderland but they were unwilling to match our price. This year that attitude will have to change if we are to do business on Hutton, Jenas, Bentley, Keane and Pav.

Typically we are in for an interesting period but once again the headlines surround one of our best players leaving rather than an outstanding one being added to the ranks.