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Burnley 3-2 Spurs aet: The Twice-Weekly Ritual Humiliation

Wow. I thought my preview yesterday was pessimistic, but the players outdid themselves last night. 

“I foresee only a lethargic and complacent performance, until, perhaps, shaken out of ineptitude by the concession of goals… We’ll qualify, probably, but we’ll do it the hard way. I can certainly see us scraping through on aggregate by losing 3-1 or 4-2 on the night – it would be the Tottenham way.” – Me, yesterday (http://www.allactionnoplot.com/?p=276)I’m still too bewildered by it all to have a good proper moan. That feeling of incredulity and humiliation is becoming a twice-weekly ritual now. My immediate post-match summary, to whichever poor sod is within earshot on the night, that it was “Possibly the worst Spurs performance I’ve ever seen,” might as well be shaved into my head, so that when I bow my head in shame at the final whistle of each remaining game this season it is there for all to see and I can bypass the hassle of verbal comment.

Where to start? (I think, in honour of my intrepid heroes, I’ll wait 90 minutes-plus before starting). The game – Spurs’ season, so many of Spurs’ seasons – in a microcosm was the build-up to Burnley’s second goal. Some Championship player stumbled across the halfway line, ball at his feet. Zokora and Hudd backed off. The Championship player meandered to the right, Zokora and Hudd backed off. The Championship player stopped, had a cup of tea, checked his facebook page – Zokora and Hudd backed off, the fear of God in their eyes, treating the lad as if he were an entire pride of rabid lions, hungry for the meat of under-achieving, prima donnas. The Championship player eventually looked to his left, played in another Championship player (unmarked, naturally) and before you knew it half the Spurs defence had been turned inside out and the ball was nestling in the net.

I appreciate that for both Zokora and Hudd to have flown in with diving tackles might have been reckless and left yawning gaps behind them, but one of them could have seized the initiative, shown some desire and just shunted the lad sideways or something. I’m possibly being unfair now, as this might have meant a speck of mud on their nice shiny white shirts.

So, we’re off to Wemberley. Huzzah! With not a hint of dignity, the Spurs players celebrated the late escape almost as if they’d earned it. On this form, and against Man Utd, we could become the first team ever to lose a Wembley cup final by double figures. It won’t happen though. As it’s Man Utd, and Wembley, and a chance for glitz, glamour, celebrity status, a night-out in Faces, WAGs and generous tabloid exposure, the players will excel themselves on 1 March. They’ll be

unrecognisable. They might win it.As my brother said, at least they were entertaining last night.
They were awful, I countered.
Yes, he replied, but they’re comical.

More tactically…

Yes, the tactical bit. Any Spurs players, and quite possibly ‘Arry himself, will stop reading at this juncture, possibly confused by the connotations of the term, and its relevance to the celebrity lifestyle.

The Burnley players are not technically better than ours – if they were they’d be playing in the Premiership, and would have the international caps that our lot have. However, they played last night as if their lives depended on it. As if this was their cup final. Our players went if for the 50-50 challenges in perfunctory manner, because they had to.

At 18 stone and 6’ 5″ (or whatever he is) Hudd should be winning everything in midfield – he didn’t. He never does. As weren’t 2-0 and toying with the oppo, he was largely anonymous. Modric had some good touches, and didn’t seem to mind getting dirty. Bentley’s attitude was admirable, as on Sunday. Assou-Ekotto almost scored the best own-goal since Gary Doherty’s David Platt-style overhead volley vs Leicester in 2003/4. One game isn’t enough to judge Alnwick, especially as it was evidently the first time in his life that he’d played in goal.

The 4-5-1 formation ought to have brought some joy, stifling the Championship midfield, but succeeded only in leaving Defoe isolated upfront. Again, however, I commend his ability to shoot on target, and hard. Do it often enough and it will bring goals, whatever his limitations in other areas.

And one final rant, about The Mentality of The Common Sportsman. Why do players need to be staring defeat point-blank in the face, nose squashed up against its window, before they start competing? The fact that we were losing 2-0 to a Championship side didn’t fluster the Spurs players, because they were on their way to Wembley. Yes, yes, but losing 2-0? To a Championship side? Where’s your dignity, chaps? It’s the same with the England cricket team. Give them a target of 150 to chase down, and with 120 on the board they’ll be making heavy work of it. Yet, against the same oppo and on the same pitch two days later, when chasing 250, they’ll breeze past the 150 mark without any hint of difficulty (only to start falling apart at the seams at the 220 mark). Couldn’t the Spurs players have set out to win the 90-minute game last night? No chance. It wouldn’t be the Tottenham way.

 

5 Responses

  1. prakash- Says:

    Thanks, great article: the dry humour and self-deprecating asides perfectly capturing – and puncturing – the existential agony that is the eternal lot of every Spurs fan since 1967. PD

  2. Ad Says:

    I’m really liking what i read here.

    Something has been so wrong, institutionally wrong in fact, that in recent years signing for Spurs and pulling on their jersey, seems to act as a reason to take their foot off the pedal and stop trying.

    The ironic thing is, when we find a player who is willing to fight tooth and nail for the club, we sell them. Steed and Teemu being two that leap to mind. (What i’d give to have them two back now).

    I put it down to two things. We signed a lot of players in a relatively short space of time and they were brought in under different managers. So who are they playing for? Too much change is a bad thing.
    We also brought in a lot of young and in some cases British, players at the same time. They no doubt like to enjoy what most other young British lads like to do. Hit the town. What happens? They get sloppy, lose concentration but keep getting 5 figures in their accounts every week. They are also probably thinking that with all the instability at the club the manager they have right now, won’t be the manager in a year/6 months time, so why bother trying to impress him.

    My solution? Bring in Premiership proven players who are 25 or older. We don’t need any more youth. what we have can mature but they need a guide. King, as much as i love the guy, has hit the sauce since his injuries and is a bad influence on the team. Woodgate has had his indiscretions in the past and perhaps feels he is in no position to pass judgement.

  3. davspurs Says:

    Sombody needs to calm down here and look at the bigger picture here .These are the facts harry god bless him set out is team to stifle burnley and pass them off the pitch now i dont no if harry gambles but this set up and team had defeat written allover it before the game had started. I swear to you if i dident love spurs i could have made a lot of money betting on this and other games for two reasons one tactical and the other more sinaster. Lets deal with first why would you play a goaly age 22 not played before at this level in a top cup game with a team desperate in a howling gale freesing and muddy pitch a hostile crowd a sympathetic ref and media a player with a free kick as good as beckham in his heday aged 35 playing like he is 22 and on top of this two midjets upfront the stats tell a different tale to the excited media who where caught up in the words of the betting odds and the burnley manager a mounting to climb.We had twenty two shots at goal burnley had ten only four on target of the shots we had fiveteen were on target we commited six fouls they had ninteen of the fouls we did they scored two goals from them and during the first the goaly went the wrong way then when he relised it whas to late the second he dropped the ball but there whas a foul by the burnley player on woodgate or dawson and the llast goal whas ecotoo fault for leaving is man unmarked but he maid up for this with his assist if we had had the wind with us in the first half blake would not have scored also we wouldent have worried about haveng two small forwards upfront we have lost more games with one upfront this year and only works when some one gets sent of .what harry should have done whas play pav and defoe and dosantos and bentley moderic huddlestone and gone for it in the first half killed the game of then play a weakened team harry done this against wigan and blunted our attack .Then he done the same with pompy game .other thing i no is about dodgy energy and without boring every one with a long tale ephedrine is rife in footbal so when you see players looking like drug addics withdrawn and ill looking and running round age 37 and 35 like they are 22 then .it could be because has you get older you get more stamina ? or it could be what uk sport told me when i found out a top prem team had been using this in europe and now the prem and its catching on with players leaving this club and playing for other clubs .so when you call our beloved team make sure you have all the facts ..forever spurs .davspurs

  4. Phil Says:

    mike, as always well-written, entertaining and spot on. you’re fast joining the likes of football365, the onion, facebook and hotmail as essential daily clicks. good work boyo.

  5. Spooky Says:

    And one final rant, about The Mentality of The Common Sportsman. Why do players need to be staring defeat point-blank in the face, nose squashed up against its window, before they start competing?

    Always grates me this. I know its easy to say ‘pretend you’re playing Arsenal every week’ – but, well, why not? The first half against Burnley at WHL was nothing short of disgraceful. Burnley looked a second tier side yet we gifted a goal and did nothing, not a thing, in the way of wanting to win the game.

    One half time bollocking later, and we sweep them aside. So what reason do the player have for not doing it in the first 45?

    Last night wasn’t as bad as my initial knee-jerk reaction to it was, but it was still bad.

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