Spurs match reports

Spurs 0-1 Wolves: Personnel, Tactics Or A More Familiar Problem?

I’m not sure what the seven stages of grief are (or whether there are actually eight, rather than seven?) but the mood around these parts is encapsulated by nothing more than a wearied, philosophical shrug.This sort of shambles can no longer really be classified as just an isolated incident. We seem to be returning to the good old, bad old Spurs. Which is a shame, because over the first couple of months of the season I genuinely believed – fool that I am – that we might have turned a corner, and evolved into a team that routinely turned over the Premiership riff-raff and won all those “home-bankers”. Alas, not so.

Not for the first time a bunch of spoilers have turned up, defended for their lives, taken their only chance and scuttled off back up the High Road before we can even yelp “But just look at how much possession we had, dagnabbit.” When we score first (and early) in such games the floodgates tend to open, which is dandy. Generally however, that 10-man-defence-and-double-marking-of-Lennon routine is one that befuddles us. Plenty of encouragement then for other Premiership strugglers to adopt a similar mentality, and food for thought for our glorious leader, who needs to stumble upon a way to un-fuddle this problem pronto.

Despite this however, there is no particularly profound sense of morbidity at AANP Towers, just that philosophical shrug. The football we are playing is still decent, if not exactly scintillating. There was a slightly anxious resort to the long-ball once Crouch lollopped on, but generally we stuck to our principles, used the ball fairly intelligently (for this I doff my cap at Kranjcar once more) and made a handful of half-chances, against a side camping around their own penalty area. The defeat to Stoke earlier in the season, and also Man Utd a couple of months back, had me cursing far more angrily because on those occasions there seemed to be so little invention and movement. Losing at home to Wolves remains a horrendous result, but we have not become a bad team overnight.

The blow of yesterday’s defeat is also cushioned by the fact that our direct challengers generally seem to be matching us stride for stumbling stride. Villa may have overtaken us but their next faux pas is likely to be just around the corner. Man City and Liverpool both have the worrying potential to string a good half-dozen successive wins together, but neither have pulled away from us. We ought not to rely on others slipping up, but the fact is that everyone is doing it, even Chelski and Man Utd.

Disclaimer: As a fan, with no control over what happens on the pitch, I can get away with saying this. However, if any of the players adopt either of the sentiments voiced in the previous two paragraphs they ought to have limbs chopped off. Those guys ought to be busting a gut to win every time, because i ) it is within their control, and ii) they are paid to do as much.

’Arry’s Selections

As for matters on the pitch, ‘Arry sprung a bit of a surprise before kick-off. The absences of Bentley and Pav were understandable given the recent rumblings from the corridors of White Hart Lane, but while I searched high and low there was not a Jenas in sight. Interesting. Might we have benefited from the presence of his rarely-spotted alter ego – Genuinely Potent Attacking Jenas – in the second half, when Crouch was winning the occasional header but no-one was around to pick up the scraps?

Keane coming in for Crouch was an eye-catching selection. While the pointy-shouty tantrum he threw when not awarded a first-half corner was one which my two year-old nephew would have stepped back and observed in awe, that it was his most notable contribution says much.

At various points we had Defoe, Keane, Crouch, Modric, Kranjcar, Lennon, Giovani and the Hudd on the pitch, and still couldn’t score against a team that had kept only one clean-sheet all season. I am tempted to suggest that perhaps a genuine dribbler – a la Taraabt – may have helped to draw defenders and squeeze an opening (although dribbling is one of the assets Giovani supposedly brings), but the problem does not really seem to be a shortage of attack-minded personnel.

Tactically there were a couple of grumbles. We might have benefited from greater willingness from the central midfielders to get into the area for crosses, particularly when Crouch is on the pitch doing his nod-down routine. And a propos Crouch, bona fide crosses – ie from the wing, getting to the by-line – rather than long-balls from deep, might work better for the big man.

Generally however, although it’s a lazy conclusion at which to arrive, the principal problem was the same one we’ve had since the days of yore. A bloody-minded desire to accept nothing less than victory at any cost was conspicuous by its absence. Daws seems the only blighter with any leadership juices flowing through his veins. Somehow ‘Arry has to find the football equivalent of the Sword of Omens, to turn our poor lambs into a bunch of bad-ass commandoes with fire in their bellies.


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12 replies on “Spurs 0-1 Wolves: Personnel, Tactics Or A More Familiar Problem?”

Or, alternatively, ‘Arry can start picking players based on their form

It is laughable for him to say that Bentley/Roman do not deserve to be on the pitch/bench after yesterday’s performance

I’m trying to figure out why Redknapp replaced Crouch with Keane in the starting line; especially with the balance being good with Crouch and Defoe upfront. Keane has done nothing to merit and inclusion into the starting XI.

As soon as Crouch came on, we gave up trying to play football and merely tried to hoof the ball at Crouch’s head from all angles and positions. It was an admission of defeat. To me that is not balanced, it is mentally unbalanced. It was increasingly clear, even as the first half wore on, that we needed to use our greater skill man-to-man. Instead we tried to by-pass their massed ranks and failed, because we concentrated on stretching their defence with long diagonal passes. This looked as if it might work for 20 minutes or so, but the Wolves defence retreated further and further and were not stretched. We needed others rather than just Lennon to run at defenders. Defoe, Krancjar and Ekotto are all capable of this, but did not do it anywhere near enough. Keane and Defoe combined well on occasions but the end result amounted to nothing. The fact that Lennon was double and triple marked, meant that there was greater space for the likes of Corluka, but his first thought was invariably to re-feed Lennon as soon as Lennon had passed it back to him, when initially crowded out. Thus Corluka did not try to run at the defence, nor to centre the ball quickly or accurately enough.

We failed because not enough players were prepared to take on their opponents man-to-man or take part in short pass and move routines. As usual there was not enough intelligent running off the ball so that the likes of Huddlestone could thread them through. When Modric came on it looked for a short time as if this might change, but he soon faded (understandably). Giovani did not run at players as much as we know he can, but he has the same excuse as Modric.

It is clear to me that whenever Crouch is in the pitch our tactics become neanderthal. Crouch is a far better footballer on the gournd than either his team-mates or the coaching staff appear to give him credit for.

That we start playing high balls up towards Crouch is a problem I envisaged when we first signed him. It happens with England too. I’m not denigrating Crouch’s ability but his tall presence seems to flick a switch in the minds of his teammates and encourage long balls. Whilst this might work at times, it should be used as a Plan B, not our primary mode of attack.

Agreed with the decision to start Keane in Crouch’s place as the little fella needs games in order to regain his form but he was woefully anonymous yesterday. Could do with his traditional second half of season boost to ensure goals later in the year.

Overall, the result doesn’t concern me by itself as it’s clear that it’s similar to the Stoke game. A blip. But add these blips together and coulpe them with missed chances at Villa and Everton and you get a larger problem. These results appear to be simply off-days and Harry needs to ensure there are precious few more this season before we descend into mid table.

I was angrier about conceding the two goals to Everton last week than I was about the Wolves defeat.
Early goal had me thinking, that’s it welcome back the Spurs of old and as we misplaced the passes and missed the chances I was almost resigned to the defeat.
The myth about Crouch having ‘quick feet for a big man’ was created by his mum. He is cumbersome on the ground and cannot direct a header to a team-mate more than once in ten attempts.
Not enough pace of movement or thought in midfield or up front. We were not quick or clever enough to break down a defence that hadn’t kept a clean sheet all season.
The move that ended with Kranjcar missing a really good chance involving Corluka, Lennon and Modric was the only slick piece of passing in the whole match.

Or maybe it was the after effects of the Xmas party the players had in Dublin last Monday/Tuesday !! Did Harry know about this when he gave his views on SKY TV? You bet he did, it was obvious from his reaction that he was not happy.

Well written. Losing at home is out of the question…losing at home to (with all due respect) Stoke and Wolves is criminal. Kick the duffers who did not perform. Bring in youngsters. We have become a graveyard for young talent.We signed a whole bunch of them…..Taarabt (new Zidane), Hammoudie (currently among the top scorers i Holland), Dos Santos (hero in Mexico WC qualifiers), Kaboul (doing very well at Pompey), Ziegler,Dervitte (good enough to captain French U20), Bostock, Naughton (oustanding in pre-season friendlies), Pekhart (Czech U21) and god knows who else….yet none is deemed good enough to play in the first team. This is an indictment on the coaching staff who don’t seem to have the foggiest idea of developing youngsters. We sign the best and loan them out where most do very well indeed….but still never make the first team at Spurs. A fine example is Gunther. Signed from Cardiff, loaned and sold. Wenger signed Ramsay from saame team and today he is a star in the first team. Lets get rid of bums like Bentley, Pav, Jenas, Bale and others. Stop signing hasbeens like Nistelroy, A Ferdinand, Upson, C Cole etc. and give the youngsters a chance. If we are going to sign any make sure they are rising stars and not discards (especially of the top 4). If the rubbish they throw out makes up our team, what hope do we have?

Didn’t agree that Keane should have been subbed off… Defoe just didn’t seem to be with it on the day. Keane was hustling and trying to find any openings on the attack.

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