Jubilant Woolwich fans spent their Saturday afternoon on various social media sites proclaiming that they had beaten Spurs 5-2, again. Their joy and unmitigated delirium started mass finger-pointing amongst the Tottenham Hostpur faithful, but who is really at fault for another five-goal captiulation?
For 17 minutes we were totally in control, then one error, one badly timed and ill-judged challenge sent us spinning into an epic self-implosion. The fault should lay at the size 11 feet of Emmanuel Adebayor, but in reality there are many more individuals at fault than just the Togolese striker.
The former Manchester City man isn’t the first and won’t be last footballer to ever be sent off. Losing a player is sometimes part of the 90 minute game; although it’s significant hindrance it isn’t an excuse for defeat.
Tottenham should’ve adapted, reshaped and shown some resilience.
Footballing history is awash with tales of 10 heroic men holding on to claim a victory. These teams however all had one thing in common, they possessed a leader. When their team started to buckle, one or two individuals stepped up and held it all together.
At the Emirates on Saturday Gallas faced the weakest centre forward for many years to don an Woolwich kit. Oliver Giroud is short of pace, strength, technique and height, but still was able to dominate our captain.
With less than 30 minutes to half time Spurs needed to steady the ship. They needed someone to show a sense of duty to the cause and through his actions or words take control of the team. Unfortunately we didn’t have one.
Many Spurs fans have already blamed Adebayor, but for me the true blame is at the feet of William Gallas, Tom Huddlestone and Jermain Defoe.
These three senior players should have stepped up and ensured Tottenham held on. As the spine of the team they are perfectly placed to handle the responsibility. When Spurs where cruising for the first 15 minutes these three were happy to receive the ball, make tackles and be involved, but the moment the situation changed for the worse, not for the first time in their careers, they became anonymous.
Defoe may be a poacher and apparently a clinical finisher, but at 30 he must face up to his status of a being a senior player with responsibilities. When Spurs are under immense pressure, he must not allow himself to become isolated. By disappearing for the last 30 minutes of the first half he effectively made the game 8 vs 10 outfield players.
The England striker must add more to his game, but already into his thirties, perhaps it is too late.
Huddlestone meanwhile has been treading water, slowly, since he returned from injury. Floating in central midfield he reminds me of Carlos Valderama weeks before he retired at 43 years old, but without the skill, vision or determination. The former Derby County man, despite being capped by England on Wednesday must realize that his time as a serious central midfield pivot is over. His ability to allow a game pass him by is nothing short of incredible; the introduction of Tom Carroll only served to remind us what we had been missing and confirmed the terminal defects in Hudd’s game.
Huddlestone can no longer be trusted in a midfield duo away from home to top-half Premier League opposition.
The final cog in Tottenham’s capitulation to a mediocre Woolwich was Gallas, Tottenham Captain. With Brad Friedel finally dropped, probably to his relief, the Gallas situation remains the biggest question mark over the Andre Villas-Boas reign.
Why does he continue to persist with a centre-back that has shown at various stages (and at varying degrees of incompetence) that he is no longer good enough for a regular starting berth?
At the Emirates on Saturday Gallas faced the weakest centre forward for many years to don an Woolwich kit. Oliver Giroud is short of pace, strength, technique and height, but still was able to dominate our captain. As he showed against Chelsea a few weeks ago, we cannot rely on Gallas in crucial games.
Tottenham needed a captain on Saturday to ensure they still had something to fight for other than pride in the second half. Gallas who was at fault for the second and killer third goal, failed again to be that person.
Regardless of whether his ability on the ball is better than Michael Dawson, surely his repeated lack of defensive instinct, positioning, leadership and strength will now consign him to a spell on the sidelines?
We can take some encouragement from the second-half rally. It showed that certain players were willing to fight for the shirt and that the time has come for Carroll to start instead of Huddlestone. Whilst Daniel Levy, who spent the week telling AVB what a big game the North London derby is, may also be inspired to sign the manager the players he so badly needs.
We have to move on from here with players willing to fight and show some passion, but of course not in a clumsy two-footed challenge kind of way.