11 games in, over a quarter of the season gone & probably about time to have a serious review of where we are now, whilst also considering the much maligned “mitigating circumstances”...although this is not an apology piece
To make my own position crystal clear, I was delighted we dispensed with the previous manager and I felt the appointment of AVB was courageous, brave, bold and potentially inspired. It most certainly wasn’t a safe, comfy or obvious decision. And it was never going to be a smooth, seamless or invisible transition
“This was a Top four team last year!”
No, no it wasn’t. We were a top four club and last year’s team did of course finish in fourth (after the longest, most sustained and humiliating capitulation, collapse and choke in my Spurs supporting life of 35 years.) We started the season without two of the most creative, influential players of recent years – players that would be a loss to any team and whose replacements (in person and perhaps an adaptation of style) would naturally be expected to have more than five minutes to bed in.
In VDV we also lost a charismatic, inspirational winner who could elevate those around him (for 60 minutes...). Modric was the glue, link and lock picker who often joined the dots up – without him we have a gaping hole in the centre and a stuttering, incomplete flow from back through the middle to the front – we lost the bridge.
Of course we also started this campaign without our finest ever home grown defender – a player that even in the last fading splendour of his majesty, by simply stepping onto the pitch usually meant we’d lose far less often
Modric, VDV and King – critical and vital components of the “Top 4 Years”. This is effectively a spine transplant – if you also add in the absent Adebayor (and Kaboul) and jockeying over the No1 jersey. That’s major surgery that requires sensible recuperation and realistic expectation.
His Own Men
Who are they and did he get them? In Siggi and Dempsey as I wrote elsewhere back in September are confusing, perplexing and uncertain signings in my opinion. Neither seemed strategic purchases – both looked knee jerk and right now they both look inadequate. However, in Dempsey we have a bloke that has outscored all but two or three forwards in the last 2 seasons combined (but I don’t think he himself is a forward at all) I’m not sure we’ll see anything like Siggi’s best form until he gets a run in the side playing off a “giving” forward. Bit part cameos in a variety of positions playing “watch Defoe shift & shoot” won’t allow us or him a full view. I expect that to change quickly with the welcome return of Adebayor
But more importantly we should consider who we didn’t get but AVB most certainly wanted – in Moutinho he had his tailor-made, known, willing and able Sgt Major – for the pitch and dressing room. In yet another bi-annual game of late night Levy poker, missing out on this signing by four minutes is disgraceful negligence by the Chairman. If there was one transaction that demanded early, decisive action it was this. He effectively torpedoed AVB before the ink was dry on his contract. I expect the outrageously talented destroyer of Chelsea, Willian to arrive in January if Lastminutelevy has an epiphany and decides that the likelihood of AVB & Spurs achieving and succeeding is wholly dependent on proportionate support in acquiring the right talent
The Style of Play
This is perhaps where I have some green shoots of doubt. I’ve yet to see any evidence, bar the odd and entirely freakish 20 minutes in Manchester, of any cohesive, regular, clearly identifiable style of play. We too often look static, timid, reserved and uncertain. Players that were rampant swaggering destroyers last year have become sullen, slightly withdrawn and insular – I don’t know how much of this is confidence and adapting to new methods of tuition, coaching and drilling. But I’d really like to be swashing rather more buckles that we have so far
On Sunday as Adebayor was hauled off for Defoe I and I’m sure many thousands of Spurs knew what was coming. The immediate loss of any ability to retain the ball in the opposition half and 10 minutes of kitchen sink defending. This was compounded by the withdrawal of Lennon & the bizarre rejigging of the back four where we ended up with four centre backs. Of course what it was also certain to lead to was conceding a goal – this is becoming a very bad & destructive habit AVB seems intent on repeating game after game. In 11 league games I am struggling to think of a single substitution that has led to an improvement in the score line in our favour. In many games a late substitution has led to an opposition goal & the loss of points that were minutes from being won. He must be able to see this?
I expect the outrageously talented destroyer of Chelsea, Willian to arrive in January if Lastminutelevy has an epiphany
“But it’ll be okay when all our players are fit” Maybe. It’ll certainly be more sensible, realistic and valid to gauge exactly what AVB is all about when we can call on BAE, Kaboul, Parker & Dembele – perhaps we’ll see the exceptional Vertonghen playing in his best position, we’ll see a balanced back 4 (hopefully with the best keeper at the club finally installed as No1) We’re missing steel, leadership and guile so it’s hardly surprising and shouldn’t be unexpected that we are a too often a jigsaw that isn’t fitting. Can they really be expected to find their rhythm, style & develop into the team we all hope they can be?
Maybe what it’s all about is sensible expectation, patience and allowing the bloke the tools and time to do the job. Supporting him in this task might be an idea too
Love Your Club. COYS