Optimism to follow, but it would be remiss to begin proceedings with anything other than the nasty business of a post-mortem…The Arnie Approach
In the absence of our recognised midfield enforcers, our glorious leader adopted the cunning tactical ploy of leaving the back-four without any protection to handle a City front-line so shiny and expensive they had Tevez on the bench, while the rest of our team was crammed with attacking types . While it is easy to denigrate in hindsight, I must admit that ‘Arry’s decision to go for a tackle-lite but flair-heavy central midfield combo of Kranjcar and Modders earned him a whole-hearted and meaty up-raised thumb from the denizens of AANP Towers pre kick-off, on account of its stirring levels of equally measured gung and ho. In an excited flurry of mixed metaphors we settled down to watch our heroes either live by the sword or go down in a blaze of glory, unable to criticise the manager for weighing up the likes of Jake Livermore or Kaboul for defensive midfielder vs the Nasri-Silva-Dzeko-Aguero combo, and instead deciding it would be a dashed sight more fun to watch our own Lennon-Kranjcar-Modders-Bale-VDV-Crouch combo try to out-attack City instead, while poor old Friedel et al simply sighed wearily, closed their eyes and prayed for mercy.
Alas, simply outshooting the other lot, re-loading and doing it again, until they all drop down dead and you rescue Chenny is a ploy that may have worked in wholesome Arnold Schwarzenegger action films of the ‘80’s, but in the nascent days of the 2011/12 football season such a ploy does not cut it, particularly against a City team whose gazillion pound summer outlay enables them to produce vastly superior triangles to ours. The slick little diagonal passes around our area, positional interchanging and off-the-ball movement of their front four sliced our slightly ponderous defence to ribbons. By contrast, our front-line did not have quite the same ingenuity, or speed of thought or foot, to cause similar damage. Put bluntly, our triangles just were not as good.
Poor Form, All Round
Who knows how the game might have panned out had Bale not aimed for the moon in the first half when it seemed easier to score? Crouch too might have changed the game had his flying header pinged the right side of the post, about 30 seconds before Dzeko scored his second. (The elongated one is excused criticism for that miss, for it was a jolly difficult one to have directed better – but if I see him one more time react to a miss by grinning, my lip will positively quiver with rage I tell ye).
However, the performance, as much as the result, was rather soul-destroying. Substitutes Livermore and Defoe at least showed some passion when they arrived, but of the rest possibly only Friedel emerges with any credit (although the goalkeeping pedants in this corner of the interweb think he might have done a mite better with Aguero’s goal). Worryingly, Daws produced a rather convincing Corluka impression, all lumber and awkwardness; while Kranjcar seemed to model his central midfield performance on Jermaine Jenas, with plenty of backwards passing and scant defensive cover; and the sooner Modders is given a slap around the face with a wet fish and told to jolly well buck up his ideas, the better.
Onwards. With Optimism
And in this area I still fancy us to fare relatively well. The arrival of Adebayor will offer us a darned sight more in attack, while either or both of Parker/Diarra will add some of the bite so desperately lacking in the absence of Sandro (Parker in and Palacios out is a fine trade). Royally thrashed we may have been, but in both games so far we have shown glimpses of attacking ability that suggest we will still outscore the majority in this division, and therefore challenge for the top four again.
An early preview, as I’m off gallivanting for the weekend, and for the second time in a week this all looks rather ominous. City’s charming social experiment into whether money can indeed buy you everything has turned them into something approaching the equal of the United side that so emphatically dismantled us last week.The visit of City presents us with two potential strategies: close our eyes, curl up into a small ball and panic; or get Messrs Hudd and/or Modric on the pitch pronto. Kranjcar and Livermore offer technique and enthusiasm respectively, but looked every inch our sixth- and seventh-choice central midfielders against United, and a step up in quality is desperately needed this week. It is possible that Jenas might also compete for a starting berth on Sunday, and while this chap did once play in central midfield against Brazil, his presence would not inspire confidence in anyone other than our visitors.
At the time of writing I’m a little unsure, but presume that Adebayor will be ineligible against his parent club, which would be rather exasperating after an 18-month wait for a decent striker. Given the relative toothlessness of the Defoe-VDV combo last week it will be interesting to see whether ‘Arry gives them another whirl on Sunday, but Pav’s performance on Thursday night hardly made an irresistible case for inclusion.
Elsewhere On The Pitch
While central midfield will be a critical area, Lennon and Bale could also be key, their match-ups against Clichy and Richards respectively making for a jolly lip-smacking prospect. Elsewhere, ‘Arry will have to choose between Corluka and Walker, while Friedel will presumably retain his spot.
‘Tis a measure of the deflating effects of last week, in terms of performance as much as result, that my capacity for optimism in even the bleakest situations as a Spurs fan has been all but extinguished. Pessimism abounds at AANP Towers. Even as the home side I fear we will struggle. Fingers crossed and prayers offered that our heroes prove me wrong.
Supporters’ etiquette dictates that we ought to be mightily supportive of the emergence of home-bred talent into the first team, but here at AANP Towers constructive criticism of the various whippersnappers is obscured by outrage at how unfeasibly young they all are. With their trendy haircuts and no doubt listening to music that would simply sound like noise to the bastions of AANP Towers, Townsend, Fredericks and Kane appeared to have been plucked from the fresh-faced crowds milling around collecting their GCSE results earlier in the day. As for the boy Carroll, he looked more partially-developed foetus than man. Watching these kids buzz around, all earnest verve and brio, the words of a weary Danny Glover resonated truer than ever before.On a slightly more relevant note, the younglings acquitted themselves reasonably well, although given the quality (or lack thereof) of the opposition, none of them stood at as necessarily child prodigies. Townsend and Fredericks had pace to burn on the wings, but each became a little bogged down in their little world when the time came for distributing the thing. Livermore adopted a pretty relaxed interpretation of the term “midfield enforcer” but pinged the ball around in sensible if unspectacular fashion. Carroll impressed, a nice mix of tenacity and technique, notably in the weighting and direction of his pass to create the penalty, and Kane upfront was busy and confident. Promise abounded, but all will need to improve before pushing for regular squad inclusion.
Of the older heads, Daws, Corluka, Hudd and Kranjcar at various points each demonstrated the value of experience, unfussily defusing potentially tricky situations and throwing in the occasional flash of class. Pav, by contrast, looked like he didn’t belong, and given the presence of one esteemed guest in the stands, one wonders quite how many more chances he will get to slam the ball so far from goal it heads for a throw-in.
No Modders, which was a slight shame, because it would have made for particularly cruel entertainment to have watched him single-handedly run rings against the opposing mob.
Adebayor is officially a lilywhite however, albeit on a temporary basis. Every Spurs fan in Christendom has an opinion on this one, and AANP’s tuppence worth is that it is a cracking signing. As a player, we have needed him for 18 months; as a person it’s not ideal, but the cynicism of years has worn me down, and I now struggle to believe that anyone in our current squad (bar the kids, and perhaps Daws) particularly cares about the cockerel. If they are quality players and give their all I am resigned to accepting them, whoever their previous employers.
Like the Queen visiting the troops in Helmand in a symbolic gesture to bolster morale, we lilywhites need something to raise spirits, for few amongst us found anything comforting in Monday night’s debacle and gloomy faces abound. Timely then that that Hearts are pootling along the High Road to be given the run around tonight, for another gentle, if pointless, five-nil win would be timely.Alas, the chances of another drubbing are fairly remote. With the tie already settled our heroes are hardly likely to go charging out of the blocks tonight, and our starting line-up will presumably comprise a sleepy combo of those who will be rather embarrassed to be picked for such a non-event (Bassong, Pav, Bentley etc), and kids we are unlikely to see much more of before they disappear on loan (Harry Kane, Tom Carroll).
While the odds are against the likes of Kane, Andros Townsend and Jermaine Jenas cracking it at the top level, this is at least a chance for them to demonstrate that they can handle first team football. Controversially, ‘Arry has hinted that Luka Modric may even be asked to do that for which he is paid handsomely, and play for us. Any excitement tonight will presumably be generated by such sub-plots, but levity aside we at AANP Towers hope at least to see some encouraging signs for the morrow from our children of the night, as well as maintenance of a proud European record of White Hart Lane and, of course, no more blasted injuries.
My, this is embarrassing. We wait three months – plus those tortuous extra 9 days – for our season to begin, then promptly find ourselves nestled amongst the bottom one teams in the table after being torn apart by a bunch of blasted kids. Thank heavens for the fixture-list and its remaining 37 entries.After studying numerous repeats of last night’s game in infra-red and from all manner of camera angles the crack team of football connoisseurs at AANP Towers have concluded that Man Utd are a bit better than Hearts. This was particularly evident in central midfield, rather inevitably. Poor old Livermore fought the good fight pretty well, but could hardly be said to have grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and given it a ruddy good talking to. Once United stepped up a gear, midway through the second half, they blew us away, those damn red-clad whippersnappers haring all over the place - around us, over us, beneath us, through our legs and from all angles until it was left to Friedel to do his damnedest while they queued up and peppered his goal. “They’re coming out of the walls man, they’re coming out of the goddamn walls”, Friedel would have been forgiven for musing.
Alas, instead of Sigourney Weaver with a double flame-thrower, our midfield was patrolled by Niko Kranjcar. In recent weeks here at AANP Towers I have been doing my best to ignore the Modric tommyrot and instead been bleating on about the virtues of our other Croatian midfielder. Cue a Kranjcar performance that began modestly, with a healthy percentage of misplaced passes, and gradually saw him descend into anonymity. One esteemed Croatian acquaintance of mine today opined that Kranjcar will one day fall asleep on the pitch; a little cruel perhaps, but well as some jolly lazy distribution (he was not alone in committing this particular misdemeanour) he became slower and slower in the chasing of United shadows, eventually running out of steam completely and spending 10 minutes just standing in the centre-circle panting, alongside the similarly wheezy VDV, before being withdrawn by ‘Arry and placed on a ventilator. Two players of dashed good technique, but if we ever consider sticking the pair of them together again in such close proximity in the centre, it might be worth injecting into their blood-streams some Lucozade, or Coke, or whichever Class A drugs the kids are using these days for their afternoon energy boost.
Elsewhere On The Pitch
A cracking performance too from Brad Friedel, despite conceding three. The stats may say he is 40 but one glance at his kindly, wizened visage betrays the fact that he is clearly somewhere closer to 70, and like any good grandfather he has a rather comforting presence. His shot-stopping was excellent, and he seemed to gather the odd corner with none of the fuss and bluster of a Gomes.
Lennon’s exasperatingly poor decision-making (you know the one I mean) and Defoe’s rattling of the woodwork could be rued, but we can hardly complain about the outcome. Our heroes need to get their act together sharpish, but there were first half moments – the odd one-touch passing move, the occasional dart from Bale – to suggest that things will improve soon enough.
Rejoice, all ye fellow lilywhites. Admittedly it is also with a degree of trepidation (Old Trafford will do that to a Spurs fan) but goodness me it is wonderful finally to be able to look forward to Spurs in Premiership action tonight. ‘Tis with delight therefore that I invite you to gather round and peruse with me the permutations of team selection for the evening’s festivities.Goalkeeper
BAE at left-back and Daws as half of the centre-back combo pick themselves; thereafter it becomes a bit tricky. Kaboul would be the obvious partner for Daws, given the absences of Gallas and Ledley, but what of right-back? Kyle Walker began against Hearts, but a Europa qualifier is a vastly different kettle of fish from a Premiership game away to the champions. Although I’m not quite sure where he was hiding last Thursday, I suspect that if fit Corluka will get the nod, so we can all enjoy the sight of him waddling along in the puff of smoke that Ashley Young leaves behind. Personally I’d go with Kaboul over any of the others at right-back.
Holding Midfielder? Kaboul?
No doubt ‘Arry, Joe Jordan and chums have been chuckling away to themselves at the irony of the fact that we possibly have more central midfielders in our squad than any other team in the Premiership, yet not a single one is fit for tonight. Ah, the hilarity! Livermore and Kranjcar then, I suppose. However, if ‘Arry wants someone with a bit of snap in central midfield the options are either sticking a jersey on Joe Jordan’s back and shoving him out there, or going with… Kaboul?
No Modders tonight, apparently “his head isn’t right”, which is an excuse I must try with my boss next time I just don’t fancy a day at the office. Still, where there is Bale and Lennon there is hope.
Attack? (Maybe Not Kaboul This Time)
The Other Lot
Moreover, United have thrown oodles of cash at a new goalkeeper who at best looks like he’d rather not be the chap hovering between the two big white sticks. De Gea will presumably prove his worth soon enough, but in his two appearances so far this season, as well as looking a few weeks shy of his 14th birthday and committing a crime against facial hair, he has displayed what appears to be a rather untimely allergy to ball. Apparently the lad also conceded a dozen or so goals from outside the area last season – and on a marvellously serendipitous note I read this morning that we scored more than any other team from outside the area last season…
It would be rather stretching the facts a mite to suggest that United are therefore there for the taking, but circumstances might be more favourable tonight than usual. Let the madness begin.
Old hat it may be for everyone else, but here at AANP Towers we bounce around the walls like toddlers on a strict diet of fizzy drinks and E-numbers as we await the start of our Premiership season. Still, rather than pacing the corridors, rubbing hands together in feverish anticipation until tomorrow night, it occurred to me that the time is rather ripe for making public the various musings that have echoed around the walls of AANP Towers all summer. By golly that’s right – in no particular order, it’s the All Action No Plot Ten-Point Wish-List for Spurs’ Coming Season!1. Solve The VDV Conundrum
This one moonlights under the crafty pseudonym “Get Our Strikers Scoring Again”. While he has more talent than the rest of our forwards put together, the uneasy truth may be that VDV’s presence has rather discombobulated our strikers. Like gravity and the temperature at which water boils, that Messrs Pav and Defoe prefer playing within a front two is a scientific truth. Indeed, given a weekly starting-berth and a 4-4-2 one imagines that both would be capable of hitting 20 goals a season (although maybe not alongside each other). However, playing as the lone striker supported by VDV suits neither.
The solution we’ve been screeching from the stands for over a year is the purchase of a striker capable of playing on his own, Adebayor now apparently having displaced Llorente and Rossi atop that particular list. Be it a new signing, or somehow shoving VDV into a 4-4-2 - or even as my Spurs-supporting chum Ian recommends, shoving Bale up top - we really need our strikers to hit 40+ goals between them this season.
(While there is the Crouch option, which does sporadically bear fruit for VDV, my fragile mental state is such that I may eat my own brain if I have to endure another season of his headers flying off a random angular point of his cranium and looping gently into the Paxton.)
A moot point admittedly, because if he comes ambling towards us making a heart with his hands it means a you-know-what scored by you-know-who, and we would all gratefully accept one of those each week. Nevertheless, one can hardly imagine Bruce Willis skipping off with heart-shaped fingers after capping a bad guy, or Mike Tyson acting similarly after pummelling some poor blighter back in his hey-day. Tyson bit off people’s ears dagnabbit, and while that might be a tad extreme, I hope that this season Bale produces something a bit less akin to an eight year-old girl celebrating the creation of a daisy-chain.
3. Kyle Walker to Prove He Can Defend
Having existed on a right-back diet largely comprising Vedran “Usain” Corluka and Alan Hutton last season, hopes are high for young Master Walker, particularly after his loan at Villa somehow ended up with him being shoe-horned into Fabio’s England squad. I confess I barely watched Villa last season, but Walker’s U21 exploits this summer made interesting viewing: plenty of youthful brio when flying forward, but defending remains a crucial - if oft-overlooked – facet of being a defender, and on this topic the jury at AANP Towers wandered out and is yet to return. Harking back to his occasional Spurs appearances a year or two back (Bolton/Blackburn away?) he looked promising enough, but a hardly the finished article, a soft penalty numbering among a couple of mistakes.
He will get his chances, particularly in the Europa League, and looked impressive enough against Hearts, which might help answer the crucial question: can the lad defend? Until that one is answered I’d quite happily go with Kaboul at right-back.
4. Pav to Stop Whingeing
When the mood takes him he’s a mighty fine player, one who seems to delight in scoring spectacularly from 25 yards rather than anything more mundane, but goodness me, Pav acts like a big old baby at times. He was not built for a 4-5-1, nor has he had a consistent run in the team, so one sympathises, but every time a butterfly sneezes near him he squeals and goes down, and whenever a pass is placed a couple of yards beyond him that look of pained anguish is etched across his face, tears seemingly just around the corner, and arms inevitably a-flapping. For goodness sake sir, life is not fair, it’s the same for all of us - just roll up your sleeves and get on with it.
5. Hudd to Speed Up
6. Fewer of Those Goalkeeping Clangers
Oh to have been a fly on the wall during transfer negotiations with Brad Friedel. Presumably he has not joined with the intention of warming those comfy-looking seats on the sidelines all season, yet Gomes appears the custodian as we chug along towards the belated season opener. Nevertheless, Friedel’s arrival can be interpreted as a shot of Jagerbomb at the Last Chance Saloon for Gomes: no more flapping. And that incorporates the fumbling of straightforward, straight-at-yer shots approaching with all the power generated by a sedated kitten, as well as general flailing at corners. Early signs, from the friendly vs that Spanish lot and the Europa game vs Hearts are not entirely encouraging - Gomes’ shot-stopping looked decent but one can almost hear the panic bells ringing in his head as a set-piece is delivered in his direction…
7. Don’t Sell Niko Kranjcar
dmittedly the opta stats would probably reflect that Pienaar covers about three times as much ground as Kranjcar, but while he may be a tad, ahem, languid, the Croat has undiluted magic in his boots, and given our struggles to break down rubbish teams last season he may have delivered that je ne sais quoi for which we searched in vain. On his rare opportunities last season he delivered a couple of belting strikes, and in midfield against the admittedly rubbish Hearts last week he looked imperious. Still, when Bale was absent ‘Arry seemed willing to try everyone but Kranjcar on the left, and the signing of Pienaar was about as unsubtle as it gets when it comes to ‘Arry’s plans.8. Joe Jordan to Eat Someone
Literally. Deep down he must be dying for a fight, and having restrained himself against Gattuso last season maybe, just maybe, Joey Barton or Arsene Wenger may push him just a bit too far on the touchline this season…
9. Finish in the Top Four
10. Owen Coyle to Take Over When (“If”) ‘Arry Leaves Next Summer
Controversial one this, not least because, as the pedants amongst you will have noted, an a wish-list for this season ought not to concern itself with next season. However, the chances are that when Fabio scrams in summer 2012 ‘Arry will cry God for England and St George. I admit immediately that my knowledge of up-and-coming European bosses is negligible, but of the British lot Coyle impresses me. All sorts of caveats here - not least that he’s unproven at a big club, with the cash, egos and whatnot - but he turned Bolton from a loathsome long-ball team to one that plays jolly decent passing football. Just a thought.
Five goals away from home, five different scorers, clean sheet, no injuries (I think) and run-outs for squad members and kids alike – long may this continue. It could be that Hearts are actually awesome, and we are in fact better than Brazil 1970, but a win that comfortable inevitably points to abysmal opposition. Still, our heroes could do no more than take their opponents to the cleaners, and ‘twas duly done.Life Without Modric?
Hearts’ players looked like their brains might explode as they tried to comprehend how VDV could amble with such ease from attack to midfield and just about anywhere else he pleased. Kranjcar was afforded similar time and space, and purred away accordingly. He is a particular favourite at AANP Towers, but Hearts gave him so much space and time they managed to make him look like Maradona. Those two pulled the strings, and when Hearts rallied early in the second half, VDV was withdrawn and Hudd took over to similarly rampant effect.
A glorified training game it may have been, but it was still heart-warming to see the ball pinged first-time hither and thither by every man in lilywhite. Life won’t always be this easy - other teams migh try tackling our lot - but for 90 minutes at least it looked like our midfield had the technique and craft to cope without Modric.
Kids These Days
That young Walker at right-back has pace in abundance was already well-known, but it was good to see him looking switched on for his defensive duties as well as haring to the opposite goal-line as fast as his legs could carry him. I also particularly enjoyed seeing Andros Townsend take time out from his uncanny Lewis Hamilton impressions to provide an absolutely sumptuous pass in the build-up to our fifth, weighted to perfection, and delivered inside the run of the full-back.
Elsewhere On The Pitch
A tad irrelevant in the grand scheme of things perhaps, but most satisfactory nonetheless. More of the same on Monday night and life will be just tickety-boo.
And so, finally, off we go, in the rather unorthodox settings of ITV4 and Edinburgh. It is a truth universally acknowledged that any Scottish team whose name does not rhyme with either “Beltic” or “Changers” is there for the taking, so first game of the season or not, this lot must be destroyed. ‘Arry has understandably enough made noises about fielding kids and reserves in the Europa League, but while none of us want injuries ahead of the United trip on Mon, it would nevertheless make sense to field a full-strength side tonight. The players will hardly need a rest, a competitive game will probably do them good ahead of our Premiership bow and it would be nice to put this tie to bed tonight, and rest personnel for the second leg at the Lane.My spies inform me that Modders is amongst the absentees tonight. Whisper it, but this might be the last time the name of our tiny genius crops up amongst excited pre-match natterings, for alas ‘Arry’s latest musings suggest that he is willing to cash in if he can bring in various others (although our beady-eyed chairman is displaying admirable intransigency on the matter).
Not quite as devastating is the absence of Jenas, but the Lord of All Things Sideways and Backwards is joined on the list of absentees by the Hudd, Sergeant Wilson and Pienaar, while the official prognosis for Sandro reads “out for blinking ages”. Not quite sure who that leaves in central midfield - necessity being the mother of invention, we may even be treated to VDV within a 4-4-2, which would be greeted heartily at AANP Towers and, one suspects, Crouch Mansions and Chateau Defoe. Gallas, Hutton and, inevitably, Ledley, are also crocked, but I expect we’ll muddle through.
Ave Atque Vale
But still. Let that not detract from some fine and noble contributions previously, notably in the 5-1 and Carling Cup wins, and the laudable feat of 100 goals for the club. Quite thrilled to see the back of him in truth, but good luck sir in the fulfilment of your latest boyhood dream.
What ho, and how wonderful to reconvene in such happy circumstances, for glory be, the new season will up and runneth soon enough. Huzzah! Surging left-wing runs, infuriatingly aimless headers, goalkeeping howlers, near-suicidal-but-ultimately-ok left-backery, oodles of Sky Sports stats, European adventures on Channel 5 and, of course, madcap, all-action seven-goal thrillers and the like. Again I screech from the rooftops, glory be. Emerge ye, pale and emaciated from the interminable summer months minus football, and bask in the warm glow of lilywhite once more.In common with on-pitch exploits, things in this neck of the interweb rather tailed off at the end of last season – apologies – and by way of admonishment AANP now currently swims resignedly every day against a heaving tide of spam. Still, onwards and upwards. For season 11/12 our heroes look even more polished and shinier than before, like some sort of re-booted Hollywood film series.
Massive, Gob-Smacking Marquee Transfers
Thus it transpires that despite needing a great big hulking brick outhouse of a striker capable of sticking out his rear-end, holding up the ball, elbowing aside various defensive types and thumping the little orb netwards, our transfer chiefs have instead tootled along in silence as Messrs Pav, Crouch, Defoe and even Keane return to Spurs Lodge to practise spraying the ball anywhere but the goal.
We have made one attacking signing, a whippersnapper by the name of Souleymane Coulibaly, who is reportedly fresh from scoring about 15 goals in five minutes at the U-17 World Cup. Underwhelming news for all those who have followed the careers of Tomas Peckhart, Adel Taraabt, Giovani et al. While I have dropped down on bended knee to plead to the gods of football fate that this chap does in fact turn out to be the second coming of Drogba, I am tempted to stick a fiver on him going on loan to the Championship and popping up at Lyon in four years time, before randomly appearing for AC Milan in the Champions League. Either way, this is unlikely to be his season.
Elsewhere, ‘Arry’s commitment to signing sackloads of decent players we don’t really need has extended to the goalkeeping position. Hard not to like Brad Friedel, but I’m not sure he is the solution to anything in particular. Still, if the best way to stop Gomes flapping around is to employ a genial bald yank to wheeze down his neck then so be it.
Back to the point. Difficult though it is to fathom, we would cope without him – we did a decent enough job following his early season injury vs Birmingham back in 09/10. As such, I would accept £40 mil plus Drogba, perhaps giving you all an insight into why my 9-to-5 job is a million miles removed from running a football club. However, rather than take the cash I would much prefer that Levy keeps his heels firmly dug in for the 27 days of the window, and the clean-shaven Jesus remains a lilywhite come September 1st. Just give us one more season Luka, and get us back into the Champions League…
Indeed, some would very persuasively argue that the launch of a football kit barely deserves comment anyway, but such has been the emptiness of these summer months. We seem to be in neither better nor worse condition than last season (aside from an injury to Sandro, which has me shaking an enraged fist at the screen on my computer box). Still time for changes in personnel, but for now the focus is presumably to get through 90 minutes against Deportivo without fresh injuries. Fingers crossed.