Tag Archives: Sandro

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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At last a decent home performance – Spurs 3 West Ham 1

After recent results and West Ham producing results to beat our points tally I fancied anything could have happened at White Hart Lane this afternoon. On previous visits I had seen Andy Carroll silenced by Michael Dawson and tweeted as much on our journey to the ground never expecting to see him named in the side.

I got a text regarding the starting line up from a golfing mate saying “AVB must have been listening to us.” “Christ”, I replied “do you think that he heard everything we said…..”

So Michael eventually gets a start and after a tentative opening I thought he had a good game, with some deft headers and decent distribution. Not only that but we seemed to have some leadership across the back and he was talking to Walker who had his best game for some time. I am no way against Billy Gallas but at his age he should be supporting the group not playing every game.

It was also interesting to see Vertonghen moving back to left back. Is this an admission that last weeks back four was misjudged? Whatever, I was a little surprised to see Huddlestone starting after Dembele came on in Rome but he did and in the second half played his best 45 minutes for some time.

At last Bale and Lennon got into the game and combined well to create goals Lennon squaring to allow Defoe to score his second when a shot might have produced a goal for himself. In the first half a great run from Bale produced a blistering shot which smashed onto the crossbar.

Our first half performance saw a number of long distance shots not causing West Ham too much trouble until Defoe who was abused by the travelling fans for most of the afternoon picked up the ball on the right and carried it before unleashing a brilliant shot which flew into the net. Answered in the appropriate manner they fell silent for a period.

Our second from Bale saw him play a deft chip over Jaaskelainen which the keeper knew had beaten him and the result but could do nothing about. The through ball was a delightful chip from Dempsey who played a much better game today. A third followed after we broke and Lennon’s pace outstripped the defence before he squared for Defoe to add his second.       

Unfortunately the clean sheet wasn’t to be after we gave the ball away in a needless manner that allowed a back stick cross that Carroll was able to loop over Lloris leaving him stranded and like Jaaskelainen before him knowing the end result. Apart from one palm out punch Lloris looked more comfortable as the game went on and came and collected more than once.  

We finished with Sandro being carried off and taking oxygen but understand that he will be available for Wednesday when he will certainly be needed. Today West Ham weren’t at their best, in fact in parts they were quite poor, but we needed a performance to clear out the memory banks last weeks defeat. We got that and during the second half Tommy was knocking it around quite comfortably in his best performance for some time.

So the positives, better tempo throughout, no sitting off and trying to protect a lead, playing more as a team than in parts of previous games and scoring some goals and some decent ones to boot. Best home performance of the season so far and we need to continue it on Wednesday night to keep the pressure on those struggling above us.

Come on you Spurs!

So near – but yet so far: Chelsea 2 Spurs 1

If its not one thing it’s the other. Having put up with another dreadful performance from Pav in the first 45 minutes Gomes takes over as only he can and allows the Chelsea crowd to draw the linesman into making a howler of a decision in awarding an equalising goal. 

Then to compound things he misses an offside decision in the second half allowing Kalou to knock in the winner on 89 minutes. During the second half Chelsea were by far the better side and put us under lots of pressure. We were lucky to survive a strong penalty shout half way through that period which would have given lots of momentum to them but without Gomes mistake the half time team talks would have been much different.

Despite sticking up for the keeper during his press conference with Andy Burton it has to be time up for Gomes for this season at least. There comes a time when defenders cannot trust the man behind them and it interferes with concentration and that point must now be reached. A dreadful parry in the second half was another example of the damage done to his confidence and if we want to press on he has to step back.

I wouldn’t have started with Pav. I know some of you think that with more playing time Pav could be the man but to be fair Gandalf could grow his beard from scratch before that point is reached; it’s just not going to happen. It can be like starting the game with 10 men and today was one of those occasions.

Within five minutes of coming on Defoe had done more to threaten Chelsea in an attacking way and at that point we were being stretched and pushed as Chelsea looked for the lead unlike the first half when we were much more competitive. I’m not saying he would have scored because he isn’t in great form but we lacked something in the final third throughout the game and you cannot win these games if that is the case.

The midweek debate we had (Berbatov or Drogba would they work at Spurs)certainly continues for Drogba finished the game string and dominant and a real handful to our defenders, if only he had been on our side at the beginning.

I wanted Sandro to start, he did and what a goal he scored. Certainly the goal of the game from Rafa’s clever overhead kick and leaving Cech with no chance whatsoever of saving it. Did Modric get a touch? If he had it would have knocked him over as it was certainly travelling. 

Harry tried to get him to sit deeper thereafter as we were giving up space and Torres was threatening and he did so winning countless challenges and breaking up play. Modric too was exceptional. He was all over the pitch but ended the game as he had started it running freely. Lennon did not. His socks were down and he looked weary but both he and Bale were cleverly marked so that when the ball came to them nine times out of ten they were standing flat footed unable to do damage. 

That left Kaboul as our attacking force down the right and whilst he started well, in the second half he was getting tackled every time and was then too far up the field. Bale was casual in conceding possession in an identical position to the Stoke game and having dropped to left back tried to take on Drogba to break out. Thankfully only a throw resulted. 

It is delightful when your players have the confidence to try these things but sometimes a little common sense has to come to play. If you are defending away from home don’t muck about get it downfield if you are the last man rather than trying to take on the whole team.

So a spirited performance which offered much but delivered little. Sky were predictably trying to suggest that this defeat will cost us £30m by missing a Champions League place but that honour has so many homes this season this is just a small step along the way. One point off Wigan, Bolton and Blackpool away, West Ham or West Brom at home and maybe allowing Arsenal to get two goals ahead before turning up. Yes today was a final nail but it is certainly not in isolation.   

We haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 1990 and whilst we were competitive we were nothing more. If we wanted to win at half time we had to score a second and I don’t recall many Spurs shots in the second half. Chelsea are rarely held to “nil” at home so a second goal is a necessity. Yes the officials got it all wrong and cost us a victory but had they not got the first goal wrong would they not have awarded them a penalty? It’s an irrelevant debate of course and not one we should dwell on. 

Chelsea are back to form and incredibly difficult to overcome on their own ground. Like all of the top teams they finish the game strongly and nothing is guaranteed till the final whistle. Certainly we were mugged and hearing Frank Lampard telling us how it was all fair does nothing to make it feel any better.

Next up Blackpool and then another tricky game at Liverpool. That may well be the decider for fifth place as even if West Ham do us a massive favour tomorrow the points gap is still too wide to catch City.