You learn more about yourself in defeat than you do in victory. Like most clichés, it’s true. Nobody enjoyed losing to Chelsea, but in the long run it could prove to be a blessing in disguise. Individual errors that have gone largely ignored during our unbeaten run were magnified and intensified, clear for all to see. However; the main thing to say after a defeat of this manner is thus – we haven’t become a bad team overnight and it wasn’t an individual player’s fault that we lost that game. We were beaten by a better side, playing more clinical football in the final third and we showed our ability and heart in responding and raising ourselves to them the way we did. I’m not wanting to labour the point regarding the online abuse of Kyle Walker post game, it was almost definitely sent from the same type of moronic whopper that was calling for Villas-Boas to be sacked two games in to the season, booing like a special child at a pantomime at every given opportunity; they don’t deserve my time, and they don’t deserve to support my club. I would normally tell them to go and look at themselves in the mirror, but they don’t need to; just go and have a quick gander at the league table and tell me how many points and places we are above Woolwich? We’re the crisis club, clearly.
Here’s a little list of aspects of our game I’ve made that I feel we can improve and build upon.
Jan Vertonghen isn’t a left-back, but he should be our captain
He’s undoubtedly the best defender at the club, and has helped cushion the blow of Ledley King’s retirement, but he isn’t a makeshift left-back. We’re missing his presence in the middle of defence, and although he can play wider on the slower paced international stage, he’s struggled there at times against the quicker players in the Premier League. To fully utilise him, he needs to be moved back in to the middle and Naughton can deputise in his place until Assou-Ekotto regains full fitness.
He has, however, shown his ability to lead by example. He has been exceptional in almost every appearance, and was showing the passion and intensity alone in the first half against Chelsea of a man who had already started to live and breathe Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. ‘Super Jan’ is our superman, and he deserves the armband.
It’s time for William Gallas and Brad Friedel to take their places on the bench
Mixing in a wealth of experience with younger players to help them and teach them to apply their trades was obviously the ideal, but thus far the elder statesmen of the team aren’t keeping up their end of the deal. Gallas has become a constant liability this season, and has been out performed by his defensive partners on almost every occasion. Against Chelsea, there were instances of Caulker tracking across to cover Gallas when his job is to do the opposite. A partnership of Caulker and Vertonghen could be one of the most dynamic in the league given the chance, and would see even Younes Kaboul have to fight for his place back in team.
Unmotivated teams that don’t like their manager don’t show that sort of spirit in the face of adversity
Brad Friedel is a solid goalkeeper, and you’re not at all worried about his ability to perform when he’s between the sticks; but that’s just the problem, his reluctance to move from his line is a massive flaw in his game. He performs the ordinary tasks of a goalkeeper consistently, but I’ve never seen him perform the exceptional. Hugo Lloris deserves to become our first choice, his form already this season in a Tottenham shirt and especially in a French one has proven that he has the ability and potential to become the best goalkeeper in the league, and our number one for years to come.
Funds have to be made available in the January Transfer Window
We’re lacking good quality cover in some positions, and it needs to be rectified as soon as possible. We desperately need a new striker of a similar level to Adebayor to challenge both him and Defoe. We need to be signing the right man, even if he costs a record a fee, and showing some real intent; some of the chances we’ve created that have gone begging just aren’t acceptable at this level.
We need cover for Lennon and Bale; just shoving either Sigurdsson or Dempsey out there didn’t really work. Lennon has a terrible injury record, and is almost guaranteed to miss some games at some stage in a season, and our width suffers so much for it. A younger, promising talent such as Zaha, or Nathan Dyer could prove to be a good investment. However, if we want SkySports to wet themselves, another punt for Willian could be on the cards.
We’re also in desperate need for cover of Dembele. The game showed that having two holding players didn’t offer enough going forward; players such as Sandro, Parker, Huddlestone and Livermore are interchangeable, but the team suffers when they’re forced to play together. We need someone in his absence that can pick up the same sort of attacking initiative while being able to defend when needed. A link between defence and attack is vital to the style of football we’re playing, and the Moutinho saga could drag on for another window.
Try as he might; Jake Livermore just isn’t good enough
Compared to our other central midfielders his defensive game is second rate and he offers absolutely nothing going forward. The only reason he plays is due to injury, and Villas-Boas rates his mobility over Huddlestone. The only difference being then, of course, is that Huddlestone has more creativity in one of his poor afro’s split ends that Livermore’s game possesses as a whole. He has shown nothing in my opinion to encourage us that his game is going to drastically improve, and his presence on the pitch is detrimental to the overall success of the football we play.
I honestly feel that he is being allowed a stay of execution and bizarre cult status due to him being a life long Tottenham fan and loving the club, but that doesn’t mean that he should be given playing time. I’d argue that when Jamie O’Hara broke in to the squad he showed more ability and potential than Livermore ever has, even when he was forced to play out of position at left-back against Ronaldo.
Andros Townsend deserves the chance to prove himself in the Premier League
There was a time when Tottenham didn’t have a left side of a midfield. Season after season we signed makeshift winger after makeshift winger and they were usually sold before they could do any further damage. Then came Gareth Bale, who has not only made the position his own, but it would seem preposterous to even entertain the idea of starting anyone else there while he’s still at the club and fully fit. However; he’s not the best injury record either, and when we were left without him against Chelsea, back came the makeshift left winger of old even though we had home-grown talent on the bench ready to play his natural position. It’s time to give Townsend a chance in the league; he’s impressed in Europe, in the cups and on his various cameos’, but he’s not been given chances from the start in the league. Rather than sending him out on loan to add to his list of clubs as long as his forehead, throw him in against a weaker league side at home and let’s all see what he can do. After all; the lord knows Gareth Bale won’t be at the Lane forever.
Jermain Defoe remains reliably inconsistent – even in the same game
Jermain managed to almost sum up his season, if not his whole career, in one performance against Chelsea. In the first half he was nothing short of terrible; he looked lost, shot on sight at every opportunity, failed to play obvious passes to players in better positions and wouldn’t know what “hold up” meant even if he was robbing a bank. In short, I would have substituted him at half time before you could say “John Terry is a racist”. However his performance early in the second half was extraordinary; shades of his performance against Manchester United this season were beginning to show and his finish was indicative of his ability to snatch goals at the near post.
That said; you can’t set a team around a player who is not only inconsistent in both his style and quality of play, but ability too. Adebayor didn’t do himself any favours when he came on, but lest we forget he had just been in Africa playing and scoring for Togo not long beforehand. I expect him to play against Maribor away midweek, and we’ll hopefully see a better performance from him then, but as previously mentioned; a new striker should be a priority in January.
Any team experiencing ‘dressing room unrest’ doesn’t start the second half like we did yesterday
None of us know what Villas-Boas said to the team at half time to provoke the immediate response in performance and comeback, but whatever it was obviously worked to an extent. Unmotivated teams that don’t like their manager don’t show that sort of spirit in the face of adversity; they perform like we did the second half of last season when Redknapp was waiting for the FA to never call, or Chelsea at the start of last season when Villas-Boas didn’t want to start Fat Frank and the convicted racist John Terry anymore. That level of response was a squad-wide middle finger to the tabloid anti-Andre campaign desperate to lazily fill unimaginative column inch after unimaginative column inch. It’s never easy beating Chelsea; especially when we’re missing several key members of our squad and they’ve just spent a summer spunking £89.2m on some of the worlds best attacking talent. The result was just a blip, we’re still moving in the right direction and we’re still looking like a team wanting to improve game on game, one match isn’t going to make me panic about our prospects. Well done to Chelsea, you bought your ‘derby’ win and you’ve had your cup final – it’s just another game for us, we’ve got bigger, scummier fish to fry. Onwards and upwards. As motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “if you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost”.