Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at the big picture, 78Spur from our forum adds some context to Spurs current situation.
‘Context’, do you often find that people use that when trying to excuse poor performance or frame a situation that’s not ideal to make it more palatable? ‘Yes I may have shot him but it was self defence and he had a knife like object that turned out to be a spoon which set irony at Alanis Morrisette levels’.
And yet for Spurs, there is almost too much context. There are so many reasons why we should be looking like a mid-table team. We are not playing in a ground that had given us a season of being unbeaten and had to adapt to an ungodly bowl and very different playing surface, we have had large chunks of the season without Victor Wanyama and Toby Alderweireld and the form of some of our key players has dropped, most notably Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele (though I think fitness is possibly more his issue). All of this happening while the likes of Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea are either consolidating or strengthening.
There are so many reasons why we should be looking like a mid-table team
I term myself as being a long term supporter and I have seen many incarnations of Spurs squads, most of which being nowhere near what we have now, so for our inconsistencies and occasional woes I still have to say this is a genuinely great squad. It’s one that’s proven to beat the best teams in Europe and genuinely excite, at its best Spurs have made Wembley tolerable and in the Real Madrid game created something which I truly believe we’ll look back on as being iconic.
At worst, it’s a side who can’t handle teams who turn up and play 2 deep banks of 4 and lack the guile to get behind it and create the vital chance. The home games to Swansea, Burnley and West Brom proved that a certain way of playing can severely limit our scoring chances. If we concede the first goal we do look like we’re going to go through an uphill battle to get something from the game. In these sort of games there were certain characteristics, Dele would have these fine trick touches which would either lose us the ball or nothing good would happen, we would pass the ball from side to side, but too slowly to create an overload or genuinely stretch the play, very limited counter attacking would be possible because of the defensive nature of the other side, added to this the opposing keeper (Ben Foster, I’m looking at you and calling you names I’m not going to repeat here!) would take an eternity to take the goal kick, throw ins would seem to be longer too, all in an effort to frustrate the rhythm of the game.
I can’t really blame the likes of West Brom playing the way they did, it worked for them and when you compare it to Stoke, Southampton or even Liverpool, when they played open against us we really did unleash an impressive attack. If you can stymie a good attacking team and get a point where you wouldn’t expect it, that’s a major bonus when the margins of failure and success are so tight and the consequences are dramatic. We are still going to have these kind of games and we need to find the discipline and the flair to beat a defensive team, hopefully shoring up our defence with players coming back should ensure we’re not losing this type of game, getting Dele back on form and maybe adding some new attacking options should help too.
Our problem is really that we have players that aren’t easy to replace, there is not a ‘Harry Kane Mk2’ or Mousa Dembele because they have, when on form, characteristics that are incredibly rare. An on form Dembele glides, he slows play down and no one gets him off the ball, we haven’t seen enough of that this season and it’s very difficult, in fact impossible to replace, we have to change the way we play using Winks as a link up player but not someone who tends to spend time on the ball. Likewise very few strikers in the world see chances and take them like an in form Kane and if they were at his level, why would they want to sit on the bench when they could literally play for any team in the world they’d like?
Very few strikers in the world see chances and take them like an in form Kane
There is talk of Barkley and he may prove to be a very useful string to add to the midfield bow but I still think our style of play will continue to evolve and he will need to adapt, he’ll need time. The same could be said for Sessegnon, he looks an excellent prospect, perhaps at left-wing, perhaps at left-back but I think you have to say it’s unlikely Rose will be leaving this window, he is trying to regain fitness and though I think it’s getting to the end of his tenure at the club he can certainly do a job till the close of the season.
So I’m not quite sure what to expect from Spurs in the second half of the season. Some believe the top 4 is pretty much sewn up already, I don’t buy that for a moment, I think Man City are clearly the best team in the league by a country mile but United and Chelsea are easily capable of dropping 6 points over the next 18 matches. There is everything for us to play for and yet there is always that dastardly context getting in the way.