Spurs match reports

Fulham 3-0 Spurs: Three Tottenham Talking Points

1. Bissouma

Before spitting on one’s hands and getting into the meat of the thing one probably ought to clear the throat and make one of those frightfully dull public service announcements, along the lines that the singling out of Bissouma, Dragusin or anyone else for some forensic analysis in this instance does not mean that they are the principal rotters of the piece.

To be clear, in yesterday’s shambles the blame could be split pretty neatly eleven ways (if you want to dust off the old abacus and calculate what proportion the five subs merit, then be my guest). I pick out Bissouma because as the flames spread and the whole edifice came crashing down, the thought occasionally struck me that he was stinking out the place, but not really any more so than the rest.

Having made clear who’s responsible (all of them), and who would be welcome at AANP Towers in the coming weeks for a snifter and a few jolly back-slaps (none of them), I do want to bang on a bit about Bissouma. I suppose if this is the sort of forum in which a thesis requires one of those descriptive sub-headings, I’d maybe plump for, “Bissouma: What the Dickens Was He Contributing?”

After a pretty encouraging opening minute and a half, in which we didn’t let Fulham touch the ball, things took an abrupt slide, not so much downhill as over the edge of a cliff and to our collective doom at the bottom. Fulham kept wandering right into shooting distance within our penalty area, seemingly whenever the whim grabbed them. And not only was it one of those free-entry binges, they seemed to wander into our holiest of holies in precisely the same manner in each time: viz., some chappie lurking outside the area would dink a diagonal for a midfield runner to canter forward without any of our lot anywhere near him.

Now it’s one thing for the other lot to play a pass with a bit of dressing on it. Even as a Spurs sort since the womb, I can appreciate when the opposition unwrap a spot of the good stuff. But the notion that all present should then simply stand idly and gawp at this is decidedly off. Save the awe and wonder for the half-time chit-chat, I say. When a Fulham player pops one through the midfield and slap bang into the front-line, all in the vicinity ought to be racing to their posts, the extinguishing of imminent danger their absolute top priority.

To be clear, it’s not the case that each and every time a Fulham player snuck in and got their shots off in those early stages it was Bissouma’s man. Sarr and Dragusin, to name but two, were also responsible for rocking back on their heels and watching events unfold around them rather than taking a bit of initiative and piling in, or better still, anticipating the danger and cutting it off before it sprouted wings.

But Bissouma was definitely amongst the guilty parties, not least when Fulham got their second – which really did feel like the coup de grâce – early in the second half, the one that seemed to deflect in off the fellow’s thigh. On entering our penalty area that Chap of the Fortunate Thing (calls himself Lukic, apparently) was level with Bissouma, but our man picked a bad moment to drift off a bit, gazing about dreamily as the menace increased, and seeming to jog back on auto-pilot, enjoying the view a bit too much, rather than busting a gut to keep pace with (or indeed overtake) that Lukic fiend.

And indeed, during the genesis of that same goal, when Fulham won possession around halfway and knocked the ball into centre circle territory, the entire dashed premises appeared to have been vacated by our midfield. Once more, Bissouma cannot be chided alone, for there are at least two other midfielders, as well as two inverted wing-backs, each of whose job descriptions involve bobbing around in that neck of the woods.

Nevertheless, the complete absence of any semblance of control in midfield throughout does reflect pretty badly on Bissouma. Admittedly job descriptions in the Ange era are all a bit fuzzy, the general strategy seeming to be to invite everyone to wander off and explore any patch of land that catches their eye; but Bissouma is generally regarded as the chap all turn to for a spot of sentry duty. And yet when we were on the back-foot, I struggle to remember him making too many tackles or interceptions (which suggests that he needs to sit down with a map and compass, and position himself a bit more thoughtfully), or particularly standing out for being a bundle of energy, harassing the Fulham mob and generally bullying those around him.

Failing to match Fulham’s general energy was a collective foul-up, but once Fulham had beaten our high press and set off towards our goal, Bissouma was pretty easily bypassed. Difficult to know why his form has dipped, because in the early weeks of the season he seemed a man at the peak of his powers. Apparently he had a spot of malaria, poor cove, during his AFCON jaunt, which I can’t imagine does much for the constitution of the elite athlete, but whatever the reason he’s not really adding much to the cause at present.

2. Dragusin

Strange to say now as we survey the charred remains, but pre-match I was oozing with childlike enthusiasm, amongst other things at the prospect of giving young Dragusin the once over. The absence of VDV or course, would normally be lamented and with considerable concern, but like everyone else I’d drunk in the little video clips of Dragusin mastering various Serie A attackers, and felt appropriately buoyed.

On top of which, the fellow struck me as the sort whose drink one would not want to spill in a London nightspot, if you follow my meaning. Some bobbies, purely from appearance alone, strike you as the jolly, genial types; and some as mildly terrifying. I know into which camp I place Radu Dragusin.

Obviously most right-minded souls would exercise a few degrees of caution before passing judgement on a new signing, and as such AANP is hardly positioning himself as judge, jury and executioner after a few cameos and one 90-minute performance (particularly when that 90-m. p. involved all around him giving up the ghost and delivering solid 3 out of 10 stuff). With that caveat in mind, I thought Dragusin started fairly solidly, might have bucked up his ideas a notch for the opening goal conceded and thereafter was not really any better or worse than the rest.

One of his first tests involved him shuffling over to the right to escort some Fulham forward off the premises, and as suspected, this relying more upon brawn than brain seemed to be right up his street. He duly muscled the lad out of the way and got rid of the ball. A solid start, but on a couple of first half occasions, including the goal, I thought he might have at least pretended to care a bit more, perhaps by flinging himself full-length to block the incoming shot with one of those meaty legs. Dragusin, however, preferred to keep his legs to himself. Admittedly, if given the chance of a face-to-face interview with the young heavyweight in order to air my grievances I’d likely keep the lips firmly zipped and just agree with everything he said, the urge for self-preservation being strong in AANP, but from the safety of the armchair I’m happy to spout that he ought to have done better.

No particular blame attached to him for the third goal either, when he had a healthy swipe in an attempt to clear the loose ball, and took a chunk out of the goalscorer instead. Ideally he would have got there first, but one hardly blames him and him alone for the goal. And that sentiment rather summed up his evening – ideally he would have been a bit better, but the defeat was not really his fault.

One positive against his name was that he appeared not to be sent into a a frenzy of wild panic when the ball appeared at his feet, but generally has the good sense to pick out a nearby associate, and even on one occasion went for a stroll into Fulham territory, to see for himself. So that might be what the poets call a silver lining, but on the matter of quite how accomplished he is as a defender, we will presumably require a fair amount of additional evidence.

3. Complacency?

No doubt we will soon all be drowning in tactical hypotheses about precisely what went wrong yesterday, and apart from some superficial observations – Bissouma as mentioned above, Kulusevski continuing to fire blanks when out on the right, Udogie probably the best of a bad bunch – I don’t have much of value to add on that front.

One thought that did drift to mind as the whole bally thing fell apart in front of my very eyes was that I had rather expected our heroes to swan up and turn over Fulham, and this was swiftly accompanied by a second, related thought, that perhaps our heroes had themselves adopted precisely the same mindset. AANP has never tried his hand at shelling peas – wasn’t aware they came in shells, truth be told – nor at stealing sweets from babies, but by all accounts these are amongst the easier tasks known to man. And one got the impression that our heroes had greeted the dawn yesterday in agreement that there was a third activity to that list, that of rocking up at Fulham and collecting three points.

For a fan to think thusly is one thing. Ill-advised, no doubt, but excusable enough. But for the players to think similarly, and under-perform accordingly, is pretty rotten stuff. And the sight of them losing fifty-fifty challenges, and misplacing passes, and miscontrolling other passes – as well as failing to track runners or guard the wide, open spaces in midfield – generally gave the impression that here was a gaggle of lilywhites (albeit in natty dark blue) who were failing in what one might consider their principle duty, that of giving their every last ounce for the cause.

And it was all the more galling for serving as the sequel to the ultimately rampant performance last week, in which our lot did the hard yards in the first half and were therefore able to swan about like they owned the place by the end. I suppose it was precisely because they made such a good fist of things last week that they were so complacent this time around, presumably convinced that they would simply pick up where they had left off last week, evidently labouring under the misapprehension that life works like that.

It doesn’t, of course, so in the same way we can chalk up last week’s triumph as an example of the very best that Angeball can produce, this will serve as the polar opposite. Which presumably means that once the international break is over and everyone gears up for the final push, we can expect something in between the two extremes.

Sharing is daring:

8 replies on “Fulham 3-0 Spurs: Three Tottenham Talking Points”

Absolutely agree about Bis – can’t quite make him out. Rather like Deli, he only seems to be at his best when he’s kicking people up in the air. After a couple of red cards he doesn’t seem to be doing that at the moment and has lost his mojo.

Re the Dragon, let’s give him a chance. I thought he was well over hyped last week playing against 10 men and this week he did some OK stuff as you point out.

I’m praying for a West Ham win this afternoon – some hopes, methinks!

A free pass for Postecoglu, I see. What is it about this man that puts him above criticism for so many Spurs fans? Yes – we made a great start to the season, courtesy of the easiest possible fun of fixtures, but our record since the Chelsea debacle has been mediocre at best.
Postecoglu seems utterly unable to change tactics, regardless of how a match is playing-out, and yet we’re supposed to be grateful to have him, rather than him getting a distinctly lucky crack at the PL purely because Levy couldn’t find anyone better willing to take the gig.
We’re already guaranteed another trophy-less season, and I wouldn’t bet on anything changing under Levy and his latest stooge (whose laid-back Aussie humour seems to be wearing a bit thin of late – is the strain getting to him?).

I want to add that Fulham really found their mojo today – they were really good, maybe the strongest side we’ve met all season. I had a “Newcastle” moment from early on, we’re gonna get a damn good hiding.

We couldn’t pass, couldn’t defend, totally forgot how to play. Then Timo and Richi came on and missed sitters that they’re famous for missing. They must have been given training to hit the car park or something

Spursy is our nemesis and Ange must be scratching his head a bit how he changes our wonderful club.

A final thought on Timo and Lo Celso – please leave in the summer as it ‘aint ever going to work.

AANP – I get loads of security errors from this site, I think your security certificate has expired. I couldn’t see a contact link here and not sure you realise but it is probably limiting visitors greatly. ?

Muchas gracias for the heads up, AANP’s team of international technicians, security boffins and software specialists is looking into it. Solutions anticipated before the end of the international break.

Well, the positive outcome from Bissouma’s latest error-strewn performance is that Bentancur has his place back. That was surely signed and sealed within a couple of minutes of his coming on the pitch. Sarr by contrast has plenty of credit in the bank so let’s not judge him on one below-par game.
Dragosin, though – I rather like the cut of his jib, as you might put it; though it would be good to see said jib scampering a bit more alertly at times [- sorry, seem to be picking up an over-jocular style from somewhere]. As you suggest, he seems calm and beefy enough to do the job. Though I remember that was the early impression I had of Davinson Sanchez…
Still, give him time. Pep seems to be doing the integrate-them-slowly thing with that other much-hyped defensive acquisition, Gvardiol, who might similarly have appeared a bit “meh” thus far, and this could be the way with Radu.
Complacency – what can you mean? Once we’ve rolled over Luton, onwards and upwards for sure.

I’m finding it hard to agree with anyone.
Before Fulham scored we should’ve been 2-0 up with Sonny & Maddison missing clear chances (Fulham had also missed 1 as well to be fair). We completely controlled the 1st half but missed those 2 chances and gave the ball away too much – especially Johnson – a definite immature WIP and lucky not to be dragged at halftime – but to be replaced by Werner ….? I agree I don’t want to see Timo or Lo Celso at the Lane next year.
We had a number of players off their game – not just Bissouma ( not dure why he received special mention) the front 3 were very soft/poor and we don’t have the back-up to keep them on their game, and that is the main point – if we don’t score we put ourselves under pressure. I find hard to criticise Dragusin at all on his first outing- he looks a bit porky, he is not VDV but he is good in the air and can pass – in my estimation. Udogie is the gold standard – completely unphased by the poorer performers around him. No blame at all on Vic for any of the goals. Romero was on par as well, Porro was somewhat subdued like Sarr. Maddison was well off his game, prayers a bit by Palhinho.m, and our dependence on Maddison needs to be addressed.
I am not a believer in blaming the Manager for a poor performance (unless they are Mourinho or Conte) and it was only just a poor performance. What do we expect Ange to do when the players aren’t quite up to it? Revert to a low block (whatever?) when we drop a goal behind? We are so fortunate to have a manager who sticks to his principles- it’s the players who play – they either come up to standard (week in week out) or they get replaced. Ange is making it 100% clear about how we play and that it is in the players hands. Mr Levy will back him to improve the squad as required and more importantly imo we will improve the Academy (nearly there). Let’s be a club that is player-driven and not subject to the Manager’s PR.

Comments are closed.