It makes no difference that I’m the other side of the world, there’s no getting away from the same old Spurs. Week in, week out, the usual boxes can be ticked, just as they will be next week, and next year, and in 10 years time.Problem one. 4-5-1. Pav on his own, no support, no bite in attack – I feel like a broken record. Maybe it’s the personnel rather than the formation, but in the absence of a Drogba or a Shearer in attack, or the appropriate attacking midfielders, the infuriating 4-5-1 will not work.
Problem two. Set pieces. Yes, the element of the game perfected after a couple of 15 minute training sessions by schoolboy and amateur teams throughout the country, continues to flummox the multi-millionaires of the Lane. One can only imagine the looks of bewilderment on the players’ faces at Spurs Lodge in midweek as ‘Arry and co. attempt to outline the basic concepts involved. Furrowed brows all round, and incredulous whispers between players – “So he wants us to head the round white thing? Really? That sort of thing is really going to mess up my hair. And tell me again – the other team, it’s ok to let them get to it first, or…?”
Problem three. Conceding the late winner. Gents, if you’ve gone ten, twenty or eighty-nine minutes without conceding a goal, you are not therefore rewarded with a two-minute break from defending as the clock ticks down to 90 and beyond. Goals conceded during these late periods do still count, no matter how pleased you are with yourselves for the good work of the preceding few minutes.
It is by no means an exhaustive list – these are simply the boxes that can be crossed off the card for last weekend’s Tottenham Bingo. Mercifully, one typical problem, which could be loosely termed “Why Can’t They Play Every Week As If They’re Playing Against Arsenal”, ought not to be an issue next week, when we entertain l’Arse and duly raise our game.
Back to the humdrum of playing the sides around us in the bottom half, and while the same problems occur each week little is done in the way of tackling them in order to prevent their recurrence. Instead, the team seems to have adopted a form of pseudo-martyrdom, whereby they gallantly accept the recurrence of such hindrances as inevitable each week. The mentality seems to be that nothing can be done to prevent goals from set-pieces, or that when adopting 4-5-1 there is no option but to leave the lone striker completely isolated and the formation completely impotent. If I were to pitch up at the training ground and suggest fighting tooth and nail to prevent conceding in the dying minutes I suspect the players would look at me as if I had grown a second head. They would shake their heads and insist that fate cannot be changed. Darwin would turn in his grave to observe such inability to evolve and improve.