1. Actually Not A Bad Performance
A pretty distracting feature of this latest drama was the overbearing urge to fling the head skywards and yowl away in despair. Difficult to focus on much else I mean, when beating the chest, tugging great clumps of hair from the scalp, uttering every oath known to man and similar such healthy mood outlets.
But having stared vacantly off into the mid-distance for a good few hours, Reason gradually returned to her throne, and the old silver-lining-finder in the AANP blood kicked in and started doing its thing. At least, I began to muse, this wasn’t one of those defeats in which we sat back, ceded possession and gradually dropped deeper and deeper until stuffing up the whole thing in the dying seconds.
Replaying the whole dashed thing in my mind, I actually thought that this wasn’t one of our worst performances of the season. In fact, it was probably one of our better ones – although the bar here is admittedly low. In the first half hour or so, we looked pretty threatening each time we buzzed forward, and before and after the opening goal we might have had another, if those tasked with such things had taken a bit more care.
Things drifted a bit thereafter, and by the hour mark we were behind, which is pretty poor form at home to Bournemouth, dash it; but then for the last half hour we again got our affairs in order and hammered away.
Moreover, even The Brains Trust seemed to up their game, dispensing with that back-three guff and going full Ossie by the climax, with no fewer than 5 attackers (plus two others christened by Mother Nature as wing-backs) flitting about the place. The naysayers may point out that a fat lot of good it did us, but after the negative dross of the last three years – and three managers – I don’t mind admitting to feeling a gentle thrill as one after another forward were shoved into the mix and the strategy became ever more akin to teenage AANP gaily throwing caution to the wind on Football Manager.
For all that I still thought we rather obviously lacked someone in the centre with a twinkle in their eye, but the poking and prodding around the area, and steady stream of half-decent crosses at least made us look like a team pretty annoyed to be behind and pretty determined to correct the situation. Just a shame that amidst all the excitement we rather neglected the whole business of sweeping up behind us. And frankly, with the upcoming fixtures as they are, losing this one verged on criminal negligence, but still. Nice to see us doing some attacking, what?
Nice also to see Sonny zig-zagging about the place with some of his old joie de vivre. I hesitate to suggest that he is now fully restored to his former glories, but after last week’s throwback goal, yesterday I eagerly lapped up every hint provided that his tendency to collect the ball and dribble north was slowly morphing back towards that of 2021/22.
And whether it was to do with the Bournemouth approach or some other cause, in the first half in particular it did seem to me that the Son of old was occasionally hoving into view. It helped that rather than collecting the ball inside his own half, and promptly failing to hold it up, he generally received the ball yesterday around the final third and pointing in the correct direction. After all, a Sonny jinking towards the opposition goal is infinitely more pleasing upon the eye than a Sonny trying to shield the ball when facing his own net.
He popped up with his goal, of course. Not necessarily one about which to write home, but if a recent Golden Boot winner struggling through leaner times finds a straightforward close-range opportunity thrust his way, one doesn’t ask questions. Sonny tucked the thing away with minimal fuss, and one could almost see the injection of additional confidence ooze onto his map as he wandered off for the regulatory knee-slide.
So that was welcome stuff, but as mentioned it was his general air, in the first half in particular, that brought a bit of fizz to proceedings. Those moments when he picks up the ball around 20-25 yards from goal, in an inside-left sort of channel, and then dips the shoulders this way and that, makes to duck outside, and then inside, all the while with a general air of a bumblebee that has stumbled upon a whole gaggle of flowers in bloom and can’t decide which to get at first.
At one point when Sonny scuttled off into the area he cut in and out so often, and threw in so many stepovers, that I rather fancy the Bournemouth laddie tasked with stopping him was struck with a spot of motion sickness. It would have been one heck of a goal if a defensive foot hadn’t spoiled things; but the general sentiment remained – the fellow had hit a bit of an upward trajectory.
Bar perhaps that hat-trick against Leicester, this seemed the first time all season that Sonny had looked a genuine nuisance at the top of our attack. The onus changed a bit in the second half, as our heroes took to swinging in crosses, but and of course it all fell apart fairly miserably at the end, but this at least gave reason to stride off into the next coiuple of fixtures with a bit of purpose.
I also thought in that first half that Perisic was having one of his better days. This stood to reason – if not really required to do much defending, and allowed simply to park himself in the final third, jiggle between left and right clog and swing in crosses with either of the aforementioned, Perisic becomes quite the attacking asset.
And so it transpired, at least in the first half. At this point, Porro was seemingly still adjusting to things and appeared to have received special dispensation not to get involved with any attacks until 4pm local time, so it was all Perisic.
This got my vote. The Bournemouth right-back became the latest in a pretty long stream of souls who have this season discovered that Perisic doesn’t actually have a weaker foot, so it didn’t really matter in which direction he tried to escort him. Perisic’s crossing was a constant threat in the first half, and he chipped in pretty regularly in the second too, at least until the formation switched from Wing-Backs to All-Guns-Blazing.
Oddly enough, given that all season the theory has been peddled that Sonny’s ills have been at least partly due to Perisic stepping on his toes, the pair seemed to stumble upon quite the understanding. As Son drifted infield, Perisic overlapped, a routine that, despite its breathtaking simplicity, seemed sufficient to have Bournemouth defensive brains melting, and amongst other delights brought about our opening goal.
Given the struggles of Son to date this season, I presume that the winnings pocketed by the Perisic-Son combo yesterday were at least in part due to obliging opponents; and the thought of Perisic being shoved back and forced to dig in defensively against more accomplished opponents does bring out the cold sweats; but as an attacking asset he’s a pretty handy chap to have around the place.
As mentioned, it was a while before the memo about wing-backs making merry in the final third reached Pedro Porro. Unfortunately, before he was able to crack on with this part of the routine, he made an almighty hash of things at the back, landing the collective right in it.
I’m all for our heroes trying to be proactive, and looking forwards before all else on receipt of the ball; but there’s a pretty obvious asterisk to be slapped against such recommendations: viz. that one carry out such undertakings without imperilling the entire blasted operation.
So when Porro received a pass on the touchline, deep inside his own half, one could salute his initial pivot – infield and forward, bearing all the hallmarks of a wing-back looking to inject a bit of fizz and impetus into things. At that point however, a splash of good old common sense would not have gone amiss. Red and black shirts were converging en masse. Porro had made his point, about beetling forward and showing intent and whatnot; now was the time for him to shovel the ball elsewhere and move on.
Alas, the blighter made a pretty serious error of judgement, in trying to take on and dribble through the advancing Bournemouth horde. It was a pretty wretched attempt all round actually, as he didn’t achieve anything near a successful dribble, his touch so heavy that it amounted virtually to a pass straight to an opponent. In a trice he had ceded possession to no fewer than three attackers. The rest was rather a formality, and well might P.P. have hung his head in shame.
This punctured the atmosphere like the dickens, which was a real shame because, as mentioned above, we had tucked into this one with a bit of appetite in the early knockings.
However, to his credit, Porro set about his business in the second half looking every inch a man who wanted to redeem himself. He was a pretty willing galloper to the byline, as occasion demanded; but vastly more eye-catching was the stream of crosses delivered from his right boot to the penalty area. True, one or two went a touch askew, but in general he sent them over with lovely whip and shape, and I was pretty dsigruntled to see so little fruit borne from them.
Ultimately then, for all his second half efforts, the chap ended the afternoon in debit rather than credit, but whereas some amongst our number attract a fair bit of stick for their faux pas, Porro seems the sort of egg who will make a few decent contributions to the cause in his time.
5. Davinson Sanchez
Hard not to mourn a bit for poor old D. Sanchez, what? Full disclosure, of course, I think the fellow is an absolute disaster of a defender, and ought to have been carted off the premises long ago – but to err is human and all that guff, and in fact yesterday I’m not sure he even erred so significantly.
True, his attempted challenge on the Bournemouth nib in the build-up to their second was at the half-hearted end of the spectrum, but it seemed to me that the ball’s journey from his foot to that of the goalscorer (Solanke) was as unfortunate as it was inept. It seemed fairly reasonable to expect a nearby teammate – of whom there were several – to do the decent thing and step across to hammer the ball clear.
Anyway, nobody did, and having begun that move by losing his bearings in what is unfortunately rather trademark style, he ended it by delivering the assist for the Bournemouth goal. A pretty standard day at the office, by his wretched standards.
But apparently thereafter the chap was booed when he next got involved, and that just isn’t cricket. I’m all for filling the air with a choice curse or two in a moment of instinctive reaction when a lad really stinks the place out; but to wait until his next involvement and deliberately give him the bird says more about those doing the cat-calling than the object of the cat-calls, if you follow.
I suppose the thought probably entered the Sanchez dome at that point that a spot of public support from The Brains Trust would not go amiss; but if he had set his heart on any such vote of confidence he was in for a bit of a shock. An ugly business, substituting a substitute, and unlike a mass brawl involving all 22 plus the benches, I’m not sure it is a sight that too many people genuinely do enjoy. Sometimes, however, the greater good demands these things. Tactically, one understood. On a human level, however, I did rather want to shove a consoling bourbon his way.
That said, if Sanchez never plays for our lot again, I will chalk that up as a major bound in the right direction. The long-awaited overhaul ought to start with him. His confidence is on the floor, and I get the impression he doesn’t exactly instil much steady assurance amongst those around him either. Pack him off to Ligue Un or some such, and let him start again. I’ve no idea what fate befell Monsieur Lenglet yesterday, but if he remains incapacitated a pretty sizeable call awaits for the trip to Newcastle next week. It could be sharp intakes of breath all round.
18 replies on “Spurs 2-3 Bournemouth: Five Tottenham Talking Points”
Utter bloody shower, Fawlty, utter bloody shower. Caught sight of a headline yesterday (about Lucas Moura, it turned out) that said “MLS or Saudi Arabia Next Destination”–thought they meant the entire team.
I applaud you AANP for your continuing positive take on things. I genuinely do. But let’s be honest this has been one disastrous season. Last August there were real hopes that 22/23 would yield us something, anything. But now, even the Europa league is not a foregone conclusion.
Until now I have always supported Mr Levy. Despite average/poor results he gave us the world-class stadium plus the training facility (never been there), but at my age I would like to re-live those heady days of my youth to some extent, any extent and while the aforementioned remains in place I just can’t see it. Root and branch I think is the expression.
Just one comment on yesterday’s affair, when Lenglet went off to be replaced by you-know-who, I thought “Out of the fire, into the frying pan”.
Well quite, been a shocker of a season – genuinely baffled as to how we’re so high up the table. I honestly struggle to remember us winning two games in a row all season.
Re P. Porro, I put it to you, m,Lud, that this player cost Spurs around £40m. For that sum you’d hope to get more or less the finished article – somebody who’d mastered the rudiments of defending. Energetic, positive – yes; but raw and erratic.
£40m ! Why, we could have bought KW-P from Southampton for less than that. Or that Newcastle right-back…
Trippier, absolutely; but I’m not having this KWP talk. Not a Top 4 (or 6) player.
Disagree with your valiant attempt to scrape some optimism from this Omnishambles!
Right from the start Romero and Porro in particular were giving the ball away cluelessly. This undermined what was a more positive attempt to push forward in the first half. We were smashed down the right throughout the match, regardless of Sanchez
Yet again out-chased and out-passed in midfield. Skipp and Hoj looked desperate.
Periši? did good things and plenty of sloppy things. Kulu largely ineffectual. Richi next match please – he at least added energy
2/9 points against three bottom six clubs AFTER LEADING IN EACH GAME. Wretched lack of ambition and urgency. Another season wasted.
Yes, Romero had a ragged old afternoon – not for the first time – and happy to second you on the Richarlison campaign. As for the midfield – ’twas ever thus, and will continue to be as long as there are but two bodies in there. They’re triers, both, but at present Hojbjerg and Skipp’s biggest flaw is that they’re only two people.
I honestly don’t see any cause for optimism whatsoever after that performance. Yes the ‘manager’ finally took the shackles off when we were 2-1 down, but let’s look at what actually happened yesterday.
We started pretty well. We were on the front foot for once. Son and Perisic were looking lively. Kane was dropping deep so that Son could play further up the pitch, although his passes weren’t coming off and he looked a bit out of sorts. Kulusevski was completely ineffective again, and looks really short of pace as he seems unable to beat players. He was never the quickest, but last season he seemed to have just enough to drop the shoulder and leave the defender behind. You have to wonder how bad Danjuma must be in training, or whether it was another ‘club’ signing, in which case Conte, and therefore Stellini, politically refuse to play him much, if at all, like Spence, Richarlison, and possibly Bissouma. Kulu has done nothing since the World Cup to warrant his place in the team, and the same could for said for Son until the last couple of games. Anyway…
A lovely pass from Lenglet down the inside left channel freed Perisic, who crossed for Son to score and we were ahead. 2 in 2 for Son, and he grew in confidence from being able to get into more dangerous areas rather than shielding the ball with his back to goal on the edge of his own area, which had been the norm for the majority of this season. Son and Perisic finally seemed to have a bit of an understanding down that left side, which was just as well as Romero, Porro and Kulu were having stinkers on the other flank. A great run and shot from Son nearly brought a second goal, which would have been very welcome given our tendency to sit on leads and get punished as we don’t know how to defend.
An injury to Lenglet was the turning point in the match. With Davies already out there was no other left sided CB, or even a natural left sided player with Sessegnon also injured. So surely this would be the time to abandon the god awful 3-4-3 and bolster the midfield, get a grip on possession, which we were slowly losing as we were beginning to drop deep again. But no, the system must remain, with 3 CBs, two woefully outnumbered defensive midfielders, even when we don’t have the players to make it work, and even when playing Bournemouth at home. The only options were Sanchez and Tanganga, and we already saw how bad Sanchez was at LCB last time he played, so Romero was moved over to that side and Sanchez was on the right alongside Dier and Porro. Cue disaster and it’s 1-1 from absolutely shambolic defending down our right side, and then further calamitous defending early in the second half and we’re 2-1 down. Sanchez was partially at fault for both, with assistance from Porro for the first and Dier (I think) for the second, but Sanchez bore the brunt of the fans frustrations. I think the booing and jeering was wrong and was probably misplaced anger at Levy, Conte lite and the state of the club at the moment. He shouldn’t have been on the pitch in the first place, as he shouldn’t when we were chasing a goal against Milan with 10 minutes to go, but to cheer his removal after 23 minutes was pretty despicable in my opinion, and I do feel sorry for him despite the fact that he’s clearly not good enough and needs to be moved on in the summer. Hopefully he’ll take around 10 others with him!
We brought on every attacking player we had to chase an equaliser, squeezed up the pitch and put them under pressure, getting as many crosses in as we could, without any real creativity or clever football, and it probably didn’t help that Kane was off his game and missed a few chances, but have you ever seen substitutions that leave you with one central midfielder? Because that’s what happened. Instead of bolstering your midfield to recycle possession quicker, and possibly due to lack of options, we just played with a front 5. Risky, but as we’ve been basically starved of front-foot attacking play for so long, at least they were having a go. It’s always reactionary to going behind, but after Milan, Sheffield Utd and other debacles, the philosophy was something to get behind, and it nearly paid off. Danjuma got a late equaliser, and then Richarlison, who still doesn’t have a PL goal to his name for us and had another disallowed by VAR, missed a golden chance to win the game. The downside of a front 5 with one midfielder is the huge risk of the counter attack, and with Richarlison’s miss and our inability to defend, we were sucker punched right at the death.
There are so many things wrong at this club. One decent defender, who is currently playing like he knows that everyone else alongside him is sh*t, as he’s dropping down to their level. Yet the philosophy, knowing that we have loads of sh*t defenders, is to put more sh*t defenders in the team to compensate for this, instead of focusing on our world-class attackers and making the most of them. If you have terrible defenders, surely the best strategy is a high line and keeping the ball as far away from them up the pitch as possible. Instead, our keeper, who is 2 years past his sell by date, scarily bad with the ball at his feet, and also shouldn’t be playing, is encouraged to play short passes to our woeful CBs in order to entice the opposition onto them with the intention of breaking the press by getting the ball to one of our two defensive midfielders, who are usually outnumbered in the centre of the park and don’t have a creative bone between them! And if that works then maybe we’re in business, although the passes are so slow that by the time we’ve achieved this miracle the opposition are all back behind the ball anyway. And if we do manage to get in front, whether it’s a managerial directive or not, and even if not straight away, we then proceed to drop deep, stop pressing and let our opponents attack us. It’s like we think that the brilliant counterattacks we had for a while under Mourinho, when Kane and Son were almost telepathic, still exist, but they haven’t for a very long time, probably because it’s hard for Son to be on the end of a Kane through ball when he’s on the edge of his own penalty area..:
However brilliant Kane is, and we’d probably be in relegation trouble this season if not for him, some of this is down to him. You defend from the front. If he was pressurising defenders, everyone else would push up. He’s our talisman, but you never see him shouting at anyone when we keep repeating the same lazy actions of sitting back rather than pushing for another goal. Him and Hugo must be the least passionate captains a club could have. There’s no leadership whatsoever. Nobody stopping the players reverting to type. You can only assume that it’s the instructions coming from the bench or that they really are a lazy bunch of c*nts (apologies) who want to do the bare minimum. Kane never seems that way when captaining England. Maybe he’s now just resigned to the fact that he’s got no chance of winning anything with us so why put himself at risk. That would probably explain the lack of injury this season, as he usually gets one per season, and I suppose we can be thankful for that.
Maybe Kane just can’t do it anymore. He’s too good to not build a team around if we can persuade him to stay, although nobody would begrudge him leaving after all he’s done for us, so whatever system we adopt next season will need a younger, pacier guy up top with Kane in the hole so that we can press from the front. It could be Son, who isn’t younger but is pacier, but I don’t believe Richarlison is good enough, although he is a willing runner. £60m was a lot to spend on a bench warmer.
There is so much more I could write. The players coming back from loan that nobody wants, of which there are many. The same players being churned out every week regardless of quality of performance. The abject defending despite having Italian coaches and a defensive mindset. The regression of almost everyone. The lack of attacking cutting edge football. The lack of creativity, which is the reason for the former. The reliance on Kane for goals AND assists. Dier marshalling our defence… a guy who can’t defend, yet gets picked by every single manager. Players outstaying their welcome by years, which would never happen at a club with a winning mentality. The constant ‘we need to learn from this’ bullsh*t interviews that either mean the players are thick or that they think WE are. Lloris walking back into the team despite previous poor performances and Forster actually making us look more secure and composed at the back.
Son and Kulu barely being taken out of the side despite abject performances all season, because the other players weren’t chosen by the manager. And I haven’t even mentioned our chairman, as I’ll be here all night if I start going down that road!
I don’t know if anyone is going to read this, but it’s felt quite cathartic to write it anyway. I honestly can’t wait for this season to end… hopefully with City being champions again and not the scum down the road. We need to rip everything up and start again. We have some talented players at the club and a lot of deadwood, and we need better defenders, a new keeper and some creativity at the very least. And we need a real captain. But, most of all, we need a manager who is tactically flexible to the players at his disposal, adapts to the opposition and plays progressive, attacking football. Not a glamour name who demands a team of ready-made players, but someone who really coaches and improves players and brings a hunger and will to win around the place. That could be Poch, Kompany, Nagelsman or somebody else. I really don’t care, as long as they are happy and proud to be there rather than having the opinion that they’re doing us a favour being there at all, while picking up their £15m per season.
I’d also like new owners, and we’ll probably never challenge consistently until we get them, but we’ve been so battered into submission that I think we’ll all now settle for being entertained and feeling an affinity with our club again.
All comments welcome…
Pricey, I rather like that. You don’t fancy the job, do you?
Spot on analysis.
Playing from the back with error prone defenders,keeper and no.creative midfielder is just asking for trouble.
The best summary of the state of Spurs that I’ve read, depressing though it obviously is. The knee-jerk defence of Sanchez from the usual media types and ex-pro pundits has really infuriated me – a wage-thief who’s been taking THREE MILLION POUNDS in each of his SIX wasted years at Tottenham, and can’t cope with the justified anger of those who pay through the nose to watch pantomime performances like his, and yet those fans are out of order and probably racist – he’s not a baby, even if he plays and acts like one, and his continued presence at Spurs says everything about our current state – we’re a home for footballing has-beens, might-have-beens and no-hopers, and it’s GOT to change, surely?
Picking on Sanchez was unfair and to an extent obscene. There were many more culprits who also need a kick up the arse but booing and humiliating them doesn’t help. Sanchez is only human – very well rewarded admittedly – but not for too much longer perhaps.
I guess I’m saying Sanchez (or any single player) didn’t deserve to be picked on. If we were moving to a back 4 then Porro should have come off – he was a disaster. How come Dier gets away scott-free?
What a brilliant analysis Pricey. And it was cathartic for me reading it-I agree with everything you say. I am very worried about how Levy will approach the new manager appointment. You have described exactly the right characteristics-but I fear that as with Mourinho & Conte Mr Levy will pander to the majority of fans who are demanding instant silverware. We are back to square one and on another 3 year project.
If you’re saying that the whole team deserved to be booed, then I agree. If you’re saying that fans aren’t entitled to show their opinion of yet another sub-standard performance from a chronically sub-standard player, then I totally disagree. Is it any different to an actor getting a bad review, or a politician being heckled? I very much doubt that John Terry or Graeme Souness lost any sleep over crowd abuse, but then they played in good, winning teams, not the sanitorium for failures which is Tottenham Hotspur FC today.
I suppose the tiny fee (by modern standards) that we paid for Dier is a factor, while the enormous sum for Sanchez obviously counts against him – didn’t £42 million make him the second or third most expensive defender in THE WORLD at the time? Dier also had some good years for Spurs under Pochettino, whereas Sanchez has been average at best, and disastrous in the main, and so has very little credit to fall back on. He may be a nice bloke for all I know, but he’s a poor footballer, and if booing gets another piece of deadwood out of a club clogged with it, so much the better.
Apparently Permacrisis became a new word/concept for the Oxford Dictionary last year. Anyone who has been a Spurs fan for the last 30 years may think that the word originated in N17. Clearly there have been periods of glimmer and hope but I do genuinely think we are at a very low ebb presently, similar to when NOno got sacked.
I am consistently baffled by our recruitment. Our biggest signings are Ndombele, Richarlison and Sanchez and they all look like a complete waste of money. Porro now looks like a wing back similarly over priced. Terrible at defending and only half effective going forward.
Levy is clearly worried about the fans’ reaction but I would not be surprised if we don’t win another game this season.
Hmm. Too nice what!
Sanchez. Anyone paid £70,000 per week to kick a lump of plastic for 23 mins (in his case) should be able to hack it. He can’t so booing is the least of his worries. Get rid. Bad rubbish and all that!
Kane. No fight. No noise. No interest. Possibly thinks he’s too good for this shambles now. Probably right. Stop trying to pass to him all the time when he can’t control the ball anymore. Sell him. Get the big bucks before he’s worth nothing. With H gone the others will hopefully take some responsibility.
Lloris. Sorry Old boy. Captain sensible he is not. Get rid!
Richarlison. Oops! What a waste of money!
Kulusevski. Disappeared. Keeps falling over. Shame.
Manager. Stellini? No! Conte written with an S etc. Total pants. Send him back to Italy. Whoever Chelsea decide not to go with will probably end up at the “Lane”. Could be worse.
Oh and the Chairman. Levy him out as far as possible. He sits there watching the dross with a look of non-committal on his bland face. Does he really care?
I think not!