Time to Sack the Manager?

In a word: No.

When Pochettino was appointed in the summer there was the silly jokes and comments from the Media and fans alike saying “How long will this one last?” but it’s time that Levy actually stands up to his side of the bargain and backs a young talented manager. Getting rid of Pochettino will only take up back two steps from where we want to be, not anywhere closer to it.
We all know Levy has a trigger finger when it comes to losing his patience with his managers (if he was to get rid of Pochettino now that will be our 3rd manager shown the door in 12 months – who are we? Fulham?) But now is the time to put his faith in his appointment and give him the time to succeed.

Levy can’t expect the manager to make the tough targets that he sets out for them if he is not willing to back them and put the extra money out there for them to get the players they wanted. The last time he pushed the boat out we signed a string of players that included Modric, Bale, Van Der Vaart, Berbatov just to name a few. And apart from Van Der Vaart and Berbatov who both hit the floor running, the others didn’t find their best form until one and maybe even two managers later because Levy hadn’t given his man any time to create a team.
I believe that if Levy was the Chairman of Liverpool he would have got rid of Brendan Rogers after his first season, when they finished 7th, only one place higher than the previous season and without any silverware (they won the League Cup the season before). But then look how close he got to creating history last season with them? Rogers was given the chance and (putting a completely neutral hat on here) was so unlucky not to win the League. Sticking with Liverpool, it’ll be interesting to see whether Rogers is given the time to “rebuild” after losing a player of Suarez’ talent (unlike AVB when Bale was sold).

Yes we are 11th after the weekend’s results and yes the last two seasons at the same point we were 4th. What we seem to forget is that Pochettino took over a team who seem very low on confidence and he was going to have to rebuild a lot of the confidence in each player, not just in one or two. He’s also not been given the targets he wanted. For example he wanted Morgan Schneiderlin but got Benjamin Stambouli (who is a very good player, but not the player the manager wanted).
Pochettino has to be given time, we are still playing some good football with what I see as possibly our worse squad in 8/9 years. We have players who are not living up to their potential, and others who are just not good enough. This was never going to be fixed in one transfer window. Give the manager time and maybe the patience will be rewarded with more than a League Cup win once a decade or a brief flirtation with the top 4.

Rome wasn’t built in a day…

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Worst Premier League XI

I decided to do this after putting up my greatest PL XI, so here is my worst Premiership/Premier League XI. I’ve given a little explanation as to why I’ve picked them and I’d like to see what you guys think. Please agree/disagree in the comments below and leave your worst XI.

A few rules:

1. They can’t play for us now.
2. They have to have played for us in the Premiership/Premier League.

Goalkeeper: Ben Alnwick

He made his only Premier League appearance in our colours against an already relegated Burnley, and he shipped 4 goals to add to the 3 he had conceded against them in the league cup semi-final the season before. Thankfully he never made another appearance for us.

Full Back: Gilberto

Just a Spurs career that should never have happened, he was terrible. Made a mistake for a goal on his debut and never really recovered from it…

Full Back: Ben Thatcher

What he lacked in talent he made up for in aggression (and no, that is not a good thing). Very limited in his ability and quite a liability at times, there was just point to him playing for us.

Centre Back: Ricardo Rocha

He was awful wasn’t he? Was brought in as cover for Ledley King but we would have been better off not bothering at all. In his final season he didn’t make a single appearance and was release soon after, thankfully.

Centre Back: Callum Davenport

He was supposed to be brilliant. It was supposed to be him, Dawson and King as our three top centre backs. But Davenport was clumsy and not very good.

Centre Midfield: Hossam Ghaly

Had such an ego that even the best player in the world would get a bad rep from it, but no talent to back it up. He apparently refused to do a basic training routine during his medical at Birmingham which saw the transfer collapse (“what was the basic routine?” I hear you ask. It was running… I shit you not). Throwing the shirt on the floor in anger after being subbed was the straw that broke the camel’s back and he never appeared for us again. Redknapp tried bringing him on once as a sub but everyone booed so loud that he was told to sit down!

Centre Midfield: Jason Dozzell

I personally don’t remember too much about Dozzell as I was quite young when he played for us, but I do remember my Nan and Uncle referred to him as “Donkey Dozzel” (the “Donkey” nickname only came out for one other player – Tony Adams, which goes to show what kind of company he kept in their eyes…). He said he was going to be our new Glenn Hoddle but he was clumsy and didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded him when he signed.

Left Midfield: Stéphane Dalmat

He had the ability and scored a couple of goals for us, but he was injury prone during his brief time with us and was apparently a bit of a nutter off the pitch. Never lived up to the hype and we didn’t make his loan move permanent.

Right Midfield: David Bentley

He should have been brilliant (that’s becoming the tag line for this article). He will be remembered for two things which are both at either end of the scale: That goal against Arsenal and his penalty miss in the League Cup final (unless you want to add his ability to kick a ball into a skip from a balcony…)

Striker: Sergi Rebrov

Depending on whether you believe the gossip Rebrov was signed to try and convince his international teammate Andriy Shevchenko to follow him to the Lane. Rebrov wasn’t the worst ever but with a (at the time) record transfer fee paid on him he should have done better.

Striker: Grzegorz Rasiak

He was described as “a tall target man, a hardworking, honest player with a good goalscoring record” when he signed – he only made 8 league appearances for us, netting 0 goals.

I’m not going to go in depth about these “near misses” but here are some un-honourable mentions:

Justin Edinburgh, Paolo Tramezzani, Gary Doherty, Heurelho Gomes, Jose Dominguez, Paul Konchesky, Hélder Postiga, Goran Bunjevčević, Ramon Vega,

So that’s my Worst Premiership/Premier League Spurs XI. Let me know yours in the comments below.

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Time to shut them up?

So we are a day away from the Premier League kick off and we start with a tricky game against West Ham, who we all know beat us three times last season (let’s not get started on their “treble” t-shirts… it puts Levy’s DVDs to shame)

With it being quite a big rivalry to start the season, we can’t expect anything other than an all-out attack from West Ham, who will be hoping to put the boot in on us before Pochettino can even get his feet under the desk. Like we did last summer, West Ham (at the time of writing) have made 7 new signings in the off season, and being in the position of knowing a few West Ham fans, they are excited by them.
Spurs being Spurs haven’t exactly been quiet in the transfer market, but what was refreshing was the signing of 3 young promising defenders, two who can make an impact this season (DeAndre Yedlin is staying at Seattle until the end of the MLS season and then getting a nice long break after a full MLS season and World Cup before joining us for the start of next season). We’ve also signed a brilliant goalkeeper in Michel Vorm, who will keep Lloris on his toes and make a brilliant deputy.

Our pre-season went very well, but as we all know pre-season can be very wrong for what happens once the League gets underway (anyone remember thrashing Roma 5-1? Yeah exactly), but it is still very promising, with the likes of Kaboul finding some form once again, Lamela looking good and Soldado actually scoring from open play. I believe that we will see a lot more from Lamela this season, with Pochettino being a fellow Argentinian it may help the young wonder kid settle better and find his feet after an injury plagued first season in North London. Soldado has to get better, a player with his scoring record doesn’t go bad overnight (unless their name is Torres… it might be a Spanish thing…) and as much as I don’t think we’ll see the volume of goals he got in Spain, I do expect him to be a lot more free scoring, as long as he gets the chance.
Lewis Holtby has played very well in pre-season, so I’d expect him to get the nod over Dembele and Paulinho to start the season, both who played in the World Cup anyway and could probably use a little longer rest time. I’m also going to go with Capoue starting ahead of Sandro, just as the Beast hasn’t played much of the pre-season and his apparent lack of fitness could hinder him against a rival team.
I would like to see Soldado start, as it would do his confidence the world of good and it would give Adebayor a little bit of a rest having not long recovered from a bout of malaria. But I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Adebayor starts ahead of Soldado

On the injury front, we have a couple missing. According to physioroom.com, we have Dawson, Walker and Chiriches missing for the trip to Upton Park.

My team to play West Ham would be:

lineupVsSpammers

Subs: Vorm, Rose, Dier, Dembele, Paulinho, Adebayor, Kane

I’m going for a 2-0 win with Soldado scoring both (we can dream about them both being from open play eh?)

I’ve also set up a fantasy football league for the blog on fantasy.premierleague.com. The league name is THFC1882.com and the code is 1246752-475148. Come join in the fun!

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Tottenham Hotspur’s Greatest Premier League XI

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I want to put MY best Premiership/Premier League XI on here, give a little explanation as to why I’ve picked them and then see what you guys think. Please agree/disagree in the comments below and leave your best XI.

A few rules:

1. They don’t have to have been the best players, just have made a connection with you.
2. They can’t play for us now.
3. They have to have played for us in the Premiership/Premier League.

I’m also not thinking of the XI as a team dynamic, so if I have 6 all out attacking players from midfield up don’t slate me for not having anyone defensive.

Goalkeeper: Paul Robinson

Some may think this is an easy choice but (don’t laugh) I was tempted to put Ian Walker in his place (I just LOVED his curtain hair style back in the mid 90s – probably why I would have put him in…). “Englands Number 1” got that title for real while playing for us and for the better part of two seasons was brilliant. I also met him when he signed for us, which gave him extra points in this case.

Left Back: Christian Ziege

For me he came to Spurs when we were in transition. We were signing good players who were a bit older but still had quite a lot to offer and mixing it with some nice young talent. Ziege scored some nice goals for us (YouTube them) and in my eyes was our best left back in the PL era.

Right Back: Stephen Carr

I remember Stephen Carr mainly for his goal against Man Utd (again, YouTube it) but I also remember him being a very reliable Right Back. He was quick and put his foot in when needed. When we had him he could have easily played for one of the “bigger” teams in the League and in some ways he got that with his move to Newcastle (who at the time were a bigger club then us).

Centre Back: Ledley King

I don’t think anyone’s “Spurs Best PL XI” would miss this man out. The King of White Hart Lane gave his whole career to Tottenham and when fit was arguably the best Centre Back in the country. In my opinion if he had stayed fully fit it would have been a question of who would partner him for England out of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand rather than those two being England’s first choices. He also our Captain when we won the League Cup, our only piece of silverware through the 00’s.

Centre Back: Gary Mabbutt

Our last Captain to win the FA Cup (before the Premier League started I know) and was in the team when we last won the UEFA cup, Mabbutt captained the side until he retired in 1998 after breaking his leg. A no nonsense player and he was also the first Tottenham Captain I can remember.

Centre Midfield: Luka Modric

We all know how good this guy was, and still is. He was brilliant in a Spurs shirt and even though he pretty much forced a transfer from us, he never let it stop what he was doing on the pitch and when he crossed the white line he was a top professional (WHEN he crossed the white line).

Centre Midfield: Rafael Van Der Vaart

When we signed Van Der Vaart I was beside myself with excitement! He was one of those players we only ever signed on Football Manager! Yet here he was in a Spurs Shirt! I loved his time at Spurs and was disappointed when we sold him as I think he still had much to offer. Added bonus for his place here was his love of scoring against Arsenal (4 goals in 4 NLD in the PL)

Left Midfield: David Ginola

I absolutely LOVED Ginola when he was at Spurs. He was so skilful and elegant on the ball. When he had control of the ball you expected something special was going to happen – a feeling I didn’t have for a player again until Berbatov and then Bale played for us. I was gutted when we sold him as I thought he still had a lot to offer us and our Left Midfield never looked the same until the previously mentioned Bale started shining there.

Right Midfield: Darren Anderton

Anderton (when fit) was a brilliant player. An England regular until the emergence of David Beckham he could have actually stumped Beckham’s progression if he had signed for United when they came knocking. He didn’t and stayed at Spurs, something that makes me like him even more. Another player (like King) who could have been remembered by other fans much more fondly if it wasn’t for their injury problems

Attacking Midfield/Support Striker: Gareth Bale

I couldn’t leave him out and I could have put him in several different positions, but I’ve gone for the role he played under AVB in his unbelievable season where he racked up 21 Premier League goals – our first player since Jürgen Klinsmann to score 20+ goals in the league. I wish he had stayed longer but you can’t deny him a move to Real Madrid when they offered us such silly money and he went on to help them win the Champions League in his first season, which just goes to show what kind of player he was/is.

Striker: Jürgen Klinsmann

He was one of the best strikers in the world when he first signed for us, and his partnership with Sheringham was arguably the best in the league at the time (and the best we would see until Berbatov and Keane). But I remember him more for his second spell with us, where he pretty much kept us up by himself. He didn’t have to come back, but he did and he was still just as brilliant second time around. His 4 goals against Wimbledon kept us up and for that he will always be one of my favourites.

Some of the picks were hard to make and some players were hard to leave out. I’m not going to go in depth about these “near misses” but here are some honourable mentions:

Ian Walker, Steffen Freund, Teddy Sheringham, Simon Davies, Michael Carrick, Jonathan Woodgate, Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe, Dimitar Berbatov

So that’s my Greatest Premiership/Premier League Spurs XI. Let me know yours in the comments below.

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Don’t worry there is always next year (and then another one after that)

Even the most optimistic of fans will have now consigned this season to the bin. It is not that the points difference is insurmountable, but that we all simply feel we won’t do it. Whether you blame AVB, Levy, Baldini or Sherwood doesn’t matter anymore. So let’s just enjoy what is left of the season as much as possible. We can still dream of a night in Turin, well for a few days at least. Perhaps without expectation the players may well show what they are capable of – just me then.

Sherwood’s post match chat has been the focus of much debate. Should he have kept it all in house like Hoddle suggests? I don’t know, most fans want the honesty to come out as we all like to see passion and hurt, it helps us relate to him. Sherwood was clearly upset and incredibly angry; he didn’t want to be there and perhaps we are fortunate he was holding back a lot due to being in front of the camera.

There were two points where I think he may have overstepped the line:

  1. His comment that he could rely on some players but not others. This could clearly be disruptive and divisive within the team and will lead to much debate about who he was referring to in the stands – it is probably not as obvious as it appears.
  2. Saying the club needs to wake up if reference to fourth place. If we had been continually finishing 6/7/8th then perhaps he would have a point but that has not been the case. To be fair, he may have come across wrong – more meaning that for this season fourth is not achievable and the club should wake up.

Sherwood also mentioned our inability to beat the teams currently in the top four, this is reminiscent of when Jol took over. There is clearly some form of mental block in place. Yes in some of the games events have conspired against us. A chance missed by ourselves that would clearly have affected what happened only moments later. We have conceded 37 goals in 29 games so far this season, 22 of them goals have come in the 6 games played against the top four. We have also scored 37 goals so far but only 2 have come in those same 6 games. One point from the eighteen available – it simply isn’t good enough for our apparent ambitions.

Hopefully that record improves in our favour this coming Sunday. I’ll be there to hopefully see some pride restored.

Sherwood clearly knows (or at least realises) that the likelihood of him staying as manager beyond the summer is close to nonexistent. Perhaps this is what fuelled his comments in papers regarding ‘silence is deafening’ in terms of support from Levy and the apparent touting of himself as the technical director. Is that not what his role was before? Albeit only up to U21 level. Given how quickly Levy can pull the trigger, Sherwood must be on his last legs if he starts having a pop at the board.

Apparently Ian Broomfield (chief scout) is back after leaving when Redknapp did. Having listened to this Greg Stobart interview I would suggest it is a little quick to say Baldini is gone. Essentially, Greg says that Balidini is a great people person who will get the deal done but scouting is not his strength. So why not Broomfield the scout with Baldini the deal broker? But who knows what goes through Levy’s head!

The problem next year is with a world cup in the summer, any new manager will not have the time to get his idea’s across prior to the season starting. Players will have time off after their exertions in Brazil and if the new manager is LVG, he’ll be having his own holidays. Next season is already looking like a slow starter…

So Benfica are next, let’s hope Tim did really give them one hell of a lashing after the game. Let’s hope the players respond in a positive manner. Let’s hope that this season of discontent can finish with a glorious flourish. Ok, still just me then!

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AVBs tactics working as we thought they should

Inverted wingers, high defensive line, a defensive midfielder and a lone striker, surely that reminds you of our Portuguese friend during his time at the Lane. The two key differences I saw was the inverted wingers not looking to shoot all the time and the speed at which the whole team looked to get things done.

The pre match meltdown on personnel chosen was again evident but perhaps a little more understandable given the 4 central midfielders in the line up (and Naughton at left back). Perhaps that was why the official twitter account felt the need to specify what was happening:

The official account also went on to add that Rose and Defoe were new injuries in addition to the already known absentees (Sandro, Lamela, Siggy and Chiriches). This explained Rose’s absence but didn’t explain why Fryers was not picked in his place. As it was, Newcastle didn’t seem to target Naughton when they did have the chance.

Spurs, for a change, started quick and were pressing Newcastle high up the pitch. This did, on occasion, fail which meant the opposition outnumbered us on a few occasions at the back however with practice this should become less frequent. And I would take high energy pressing over standing off any day of the week regardless of the chance of being outnumbered.

Capoue was great at winning the ball back but, in the first half at least, was a little wasteful once he had the ball back. The second half was much improved. The biggest benefit of Capoue playing appeared to be the freedom it gave Paulinho and Bentaleb, both were pressing high up the pitch and getting involved in attacking the final third, with Paulinho grabbing himself another goal and Bentaleb providing a couple of assists.

Much has been made of the apparent reluctance to play a defensive minded midfielder since Ferdinand’s comments. I agree with Ferdinand that the midfielders should be clever enough to see that if someone goes forward then they may have to hang back and cover them however if you have someone who will predominantly hang back then it is easier for the midfield to understand who should attack 90% of the time (therefore do it quicker) and then cover the defensive minded player on the odd occasion he does make a foray forward.

This was also true of Capoue covering his defence if one of them had the chance to bomb forward or was caught up field, Kaboul did this a few times. Kaboul was back to probably give the central defence pairing most would choose. His pace was crucial on a few occasions so it was great to see him back in the team. Hopefully he does not have any adverse reactions to it.

It was a good performance from the team, much more like what we want. Shots on target obviously helped the situation and, while we could have restricted Newcastle a little better perhaps (we did have Lloris to thank on two or three occasions), it will do the teams (and fans) confidence the world of good.

But we have been here before this season, I recall the good performance against Norwich that was also a joy to watch. On that occasion it was Norwich’s tactics that made us look good, I just hope we made Newcastle look far worse than they actually are rather than they made us look good.

The break may be a good thing as it will give Tim more time to get his methods across to the players – assuming they don’t get the weekend off to go get plastered somewhere. The next two league fixtures are crucial – Norwich away and Cardiff at home. City’s trip to Norwich showed they will be tough to break down while our home form makes the Cardiff game trickier than it should be.

However it is the games following these two that make them must win games – Chelski away, Woolwich home, Southampton home and Liverpool away – all before the end of March. Whatever happens, it certainly feels better chasing teams above us rather than trying to defend a top four place – feels like there is more freedom to the situation. We are heading into the Redknapp fall off period now – let’s hope Tim didn’t pick that bug up from Harry.

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Is it really the end of the world every time we don’t get three points?

That’s how it seems currently when gauging the reaction to a Spurs result. We seem to expect to win 95% of our games (annihilating the opposition while we are at it) like we have been champions for the last 5 years unchallenged. It is a sad state of affairs.

Confidence in the team is an asset – this is generally what happens away from home leading to one of the best away records in the league. Expectation simply leads to debilitating pressure – this is White Hart Lane at the moment.

There are always problems and Spurs seem to have more than others but this is relative. We have problems in relation to our position – our problems are nothing in comparison to say Fulham.

When AVB was in charge it was persistence with inverted wingers, the pedestrian pace or freezing out Ade (though many at the time were more than happy with Ade being nowhere near the team). Now, with Tim, it is his persistence of selecting Bentaleb over other more established players, how there are not enough bodies in the midfield or why did he leave us short up front once Defoe leaves.

We do love a moan and that is despite our results (in the league at least) appearing to have picked up – faster tempo, more goals, more points than prior to Tim’s appointment. These were all things that everyone wanted – even if you were pro AVB like me.

It feels bad, we cannot deny that. But this was due to expectation, assuming that because other teams were in a state of transition we’d be in a good state. The opening appeared to be there but we failed to take advantage of it.

Problem is we had our own transition of losing Bale and signing so many. If Bale had stayed we would have had that bit extra but would he have played as well if his heart was set on leaving? We’ll never know…

So what happened up north?

Hull, to their credit, have only conceded 9 goals at home so far this season – that is half as many as we have and yet we are considered top four potential while they are relegation contenders. Hull have gained one more point at home than we have managed at home. They were never going to be spanked at the KC.

We didn’t play well but was this because Hull played well or simply an off day on our part? In reality it was probably a bit of both. Long was a thorn in our side, Dawson always struggles against the small quick players while Vertonghen was always going to struggle with so little match practice under his belt.

Despite playing poorly there were a few glimpses of slick play that, given time, will grow into the style of play we all crave. Our goal was fortunate but at least it was taken, yet again we struggled to get shots on target.

Soldado is a broken man, confidence has been drained to the point where he’d probably miss an open goal. Is there a solution? I don’t know but he needs to keep playing otherwise we will never know. Perhaps he is simply not suited to the Premier League. Whatever happens we won’t recuperate anywhere near our outlay on the man so we can but hope he turns it around.

Lennon has reverted to being a passenger again but with the lack of natural wingers fit he is the only option. He kept appearing inside too often, it was almost as if the ghost of AVB was haunting him, telling him to play inverted. I am surprised Sherwood didn’t change it to 4-3-3 with Ade, Eriksen and Soldado as the front three with Paulinho, Bentaleb and another central midfielder.

The question in most people’s minds was ‘why were there no substitutions?’ Paulinho was knackered, Soldado and Lennon ineffective – surely a change was needed? Surely Kane or Chadli could have been given a go in place of Soldado for 15-20 minutes. But then Soldado does need to be on the pitch if he is to turn his fortunes around…

Next game is Everton at home, let’s hope some of the nearly fit guys are back. If they are then I think Bentaleb and Lennon may be benched for that game.

Enic out

Enic and Levy are getting a fair amount of stick at the moment, some of it justified but to say they should sell up is an overreaction. They have made mistakes like StubHub but have also provided us with a state of the art training complex.

News on the stadium is slow and tedious but that is the nature of development within London. This more than any other reason would be why the club pursued the Olympic stadium so strongly – it was a mistake to do so but in their eyes it was a quick(er) and cheap(er) way of increasing matchday revenue and subsequently the wage bill. And then hopefully success…

However, despite me saying it is too soon to want them out, they are at the tipping point. How they act over the coming 12 months will determine how fans truly react. The StubHub deal was a three year agreement so we have another two years of that but the club could announce now they will sever ties at that point. You would expect some movement on the Stadium situation over the timeframe mentioned and if Enic show they truly mean business here then fans will come round to them again.

The summer is when I truly see Enic going one way or the other in relation to how the masses perceive them. What happens to Sherwood and do we sell our best players. If say Lloris, Vertonghen or Sandro go, even for stupidly large fees, it will re-enforce the notion that we are no more than a feeder club – a stepping stone for players before they get their ‘big’ move.

Sherwood has said he needs fourth to remain in the job, seems harsh but this opens the door for Levy to get rid of Tim. If he gets a manager that can unite the fans then there will be a honeymoon period where we will be able to get on with improving with the full support of the fans.

Otherwise the infighting will continue and inevitably affect the players. AVB was divisive due to his Chelski links and the cloud he left under. Sherwood is divisive because of how he was appointed and being almost a polar opposite to AVB in perceived approach to tactics. The only way I see Sherwood uniting the two camps is by getting 3rd (or fourth easily) and winning the Europa League – unlikely.

So is it time to panic again? Is it time for ENIC to move on? What will it take to unite White Hart Lane with everyone pulling in the same direction?

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It was bad but we’ll learn

It was a bad result last night. City looked like world beaters while we looked like lower league opposition. Except had we been lower league then City would not have gone all out to annihilate us.

The opening exchanges were one way traffic, City glided through us with ease with our midfield being totally ineffective against the opposition. Misplaced passes and dallying on the ball being the biggest problems in our midfield along with City players easily finding space. The wide players simply didn’t have a chance to get involved.

The first goal from Aguero was a class finish – you can’t help but think that if Levy had succeeded with his audacious bid for him before City got him we would have somehow ruined him. Some are suggesting that Lloris should not have dashed out to meet him but that is Lloris’ game and probably works more often than fails.

Staying put on his line may have helped but Aguero would have simply smacked it rather than his delicate dink and Aguero has incredible power as his shot that hit the post testifies. Also once he is in that position there is very little defenders can do as they are flat footed and Aguero is sprinting.

After more City pressure and a ludicrous save from Lloris we started to edge more into the game. It was pleasing to see that the players did not let their heads drop and kept at it – even though for this game (or at least that half) they were not very good at ‘it’. Set pieces appeared to be our best bet as City looked suspect from them and a moment of controversy from one.

Dawson put the ball in from an Eriksen free kick but was ruled offside. BT Sport apparently asked the linesman what decision was given and the response was ‘Dawson offside’. What this didn’t address is whether it was directly from Erkisen’s free kick or from a flick from Ade. Now we know from replays that Ade did not touch it and that Dawson was not offside from the kick. It could be argued that Ade was interfering with play given he was directly in front of the keeper but if that was the case then most free kicks would result in an offside – plus the linesman explicitly said Dawson offside.

BT also showed a view from the linesman’s position (after the game) – don’t know how accurate that was but if they were using decent software then it should be pretty accurate. Dawson and Ade completely blocked his view of the City defender playing Dawson onside. We have got to be honest here and say that the linesman can only give based on what he can see. The decision was wrong and clearly a goal back would have changed the prospects of the game but to crucify the linesman for that decision is a little harsh.

Capoue coming on at half time was an obvious choice but perhaps it would have been Bentaleb had Dembele not picked up a niggle. Capoue quickly set about letting the opposition know that he was there the rough them up a bit and should have been booked early on. Spurs looked better and more composed at the beginning of the second half but then the second moment of controversy struck and it clearly had an effect on the game.

Rose tackled Dzeko in the area from behind, clipping the ball and Dzeko. Linesman (same as the offside decision) decided he had seen enough to give a penalty – the ref was unmoved by the challenge which is strange as from his position it would have been harder to see Rose’s touch on the ball. Rose was sent off for his efforts.

Now as a Spurs fan he got the ball therefore it was not a foul. Problem is football is not played that way now, the lino saw it as a tackle from behind (which is pretty much outlawed even if it is not reckless) in which Rose clipped Dzeko and was therefore a foul in his eyes. With my Spurs head on, it was a great challenge. My general football head says it was 50-50 and lady luck was elsewhere last night. What I really take offence with here was the red card, that was overkill and a penalty was punishment enough even though it was a little harsh. The red card decision however was totally the ref’s decision – just because a foul occurs in the area does not mean it was a red card.

After that there was only going to be one result. City got their third and eased off. Capoue, who run around like a nutter for the rest of the game and often the furthest forward, got one back from a corner. Fernandinho looked like he tried to block with his arm but missed, it would probably have made a better game had he blocked it with red card and penalty. However, some people suggest that the intent of an action is just as bad a carrying it out…

City are by far and away the best attacking team in the league and we can only thank Lloris for numerous saves preventing this from being a truly awful result. The players will learn from this (especially the younger ones) as will Sherwood. We just need to hope that they learn quick enough to ensure the rest of the season is a positive one.

The biggest fear is that if we miss out on Champions League football again then some of the players that have been here a few years may well leave, namely Jan and Hugo who both are pretty much irreplaceable. Three points though is nothing with 45 points still up for grabs.

I must also say that I am very surprised that none of the players returning from injury were on the bench last night, I can only assume that Tim is waiting for them to be fully fit and didn’t want to risk them in that game.

So what next

Well there are less than 48 hours left in the transfer window and while many of us predicted a quiet window for Spurs, the rumours are still flying around. Problem I see is if Levy does plan on moving Sherwood on in the summer then how can he possibly back him in the transfer market.

Despite Holtby and Capoue both featuring last night, both are still being linked with moves away. I am not saying they will not happen but I find it strange that Spurs would risk injuring them if they wanted to ship them out.
Berbatov coming in also keeps hanging around. He is not the player we sold and I still don’t see how he would fit in to any system Sherwood has used so far. That being said we do need another striker with Defoe’s departure so the rumour of a straight loan swap with Holtby makes some sense. It would give Holtby the league exposure he may need and gives us another striker.

The most recent rumour, which may have more to do with another club being linked , is Konoplyanka – he scored against England once. He is apparently a left winger predominantly but you would think with Chadli, Townsend and Lamela all trying to make that position their own (I am assuming Lennon is nailed on the right) that another player really is surplus to requirements. It would be very Spurs though to sign another one.

I still personally think that nothing will happen this window…. Don’t bother heading to the stadium/training ground kids, let the Sky Sports News man report nothing in peace.

So what do you think? Linesman was wrong but decisions understandable? Any movements in or out?

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Will anything happen this January?

Well it is here, panic buy Season is in full swing but will Spurs do anything this year? The last few times Spurs have installed a new manager before January but after August has resulted in a relatively large splurge of cash but this time is different. This time we are not flirting with relegation but we are considered to be underperforming by most.

I think that any spending will be a simple result of someone else leaving or long term injury. Unless someone amazing makes it clear they want to come to Spurs, I doubt any massive names or fees will be happening at the Lane this window. Having said that, this is Spurs and they do a like a surprise now and then.

Had AVB still been in charge I would have been a little more confident of some spending happening but we have already seen evidence of Sherwood’s faith in the youth setup in his short time in charge. This could well be a window of no incoming players!

Goalkeeper

With Lloris we have an undisputed number one, there is no challenge so I would not be surprised if one of Friedel or Gomes left. Friedel is at the age now (42) where he knows he is unlikely to be first choice anywhere in the Premier League so I don’t think he would leave in January unless a lucrative MLS offer comes in. Gomes on the other hand is probably in the period where goalkeepers are considered in their prime. He will clearly want a chance of making the Brazil world cup squad and would need first team opportunities. Given he has pretty much been trying to leave for years I would say Gomes is finally going to get his wish.

I only see incomings here if both Friedel and Gomes leave which I doubt the club would allow but both are out of contract in the summer so that is when I would expect some real movement. Looking for a Lloris mk II…

Defence

Had AVB still been in charge I would have said left back was nailed on for some transfer activity given Rose’s long layoff and the reluctance of Vertonghen to play left back. But I think Sherwood has more faith in Fryers than AVB which is good for Fryers. Many will say we should still be signing a left back but I don’t think Rose has done anything majorly wrong to be shunted from first choice. His recent apparent poorer performances have occurred with Eriksen ahead of him providing very little help, often outnumbered two to one.

Luke Shaw would be most people’s choice (mine included) but why would he leave the south coast. They are having an amazing season so far, beyond most expectations. Given his age he has the luxury of hanging around for a few seasons before thinking he needs to move somewhere else to realise his footballing dreams. He also would not come cheap, this is just a pipe dream.

Coentrao was heavily linked at the beginning of the season and has played a grand total of four games for Real this season. You would expect him to want out but he is probably on mega wages and I don’t think there is much chance of him not being in the Portugal squad for the world cup. Also with Utd apparently keen he will probably opt for them given the better wages and few Champions League games available.

I don’t think we are short at left back with Fryers seemingly trusted under Sherwood and I see no reason why he or Rose will be sold/loaned. If Sherwood really feels left back is an issue then I think he will simply recall BAE but I don’t think he is any better than Rose.

Right back is fine with Walker as first choice and Naughten/Fredericks as backup. Walker has been linked with a move to the big boys in France, they do have plenty of cash to spend so it may tempt Levy to cash in but I don’t think he will – summer perhaps if Fredericks is considered good enough. Naughton is far better at right back (as opposed to left back) if not as adventurous as the other two, I doubt we will see him on the left under Sherwood again unless we are really desperate.

Centre back is only currently an issue due to injuries however Kaboul currently appears to be permanently regaining match fitness. He may well be a lost cause which is a shame given the really good season he had prior to getting injured in AVBs first league game. His contract is apparently up in the summer so the clubs faith in his ability to get back fully fit (and subsequently a contract extension) probably rests on the next few months. He doesn’t have the link with the club that King did so I don’t think he will simply just have his contract renewed, he would have to earn it.

Given the questions around Kaboul it was no surprise to be linked with Lescott on loan. This would be a sensible move as it provides the central defence cover we need in the short term before getting someone that Sherwood wants in the summer. However, Lescott is currently cover at City so why would he move to be cover at Spurs – if he did come (though now unlikely) it would be to play regularly.

I think if we do sign anyone permanently at centre back then it will be similar to Chiriches. By that I mean a young player who many have not really heard of but again there will be youngsters that Sherwood knows about within the club, Veljkovic was on the bench for a couple of home league games.

Midfield

The midfield, on paper at least, is an area where you would think we are covered and shouldn’t really need looking at unless someone exceptional is available. However, you cannot dismiss that many of the midfield are yet to click properly and find some form. There are glimpses but never consistency.

If there is one thing that I think is lacking, even on paper, it is a deep lying passer. Someone who can see a pass quickly, whether it be short or long, and make it more often than our current batch. Problem is we have an abundance of central midfielders, especially if Sherwood does go down the route of a more traditional 4-4-2.

Pirlo was touted a bit. Again the question is ‘why would he leave?’ Juventus are clear title challengers and have won the league the last two seasons. The only reason I can see him leaving is that he is getting on a bit and wants to try playing abroad for a swan song. He is class and I would love him playing alongside Sandro but I would question whether his legs will cope with the speed of the Premier League. Perhaps Carroll will be recalled…

Tom Ince is another name continually linked but cannot help but feel this link has come about from how we went about transfer business a good few years back. Buy young British talent. However with the amount of players that can play as winger I would be incredibly surprised if anything came of this link.

In terms of outgoings from this area many have been linked but I don’t think any will be allowed to leave, especially if they were only signed in the summer. Lamela is the one currently being talked about most given he is apparently pining for Italy. I am not surprised given his lack of league football, 3 starts and 6 sub appearances. He needs to adapt so hopefully his South American counterparts can help him do that as well as some more playing time in the league.

Forwards

With AVB gone and the apparent reintroduction of Adebayor (long overdue in my opinion) a lot depends on the formation that Sherwood will utilise as to whether any business is done in this area. If one up front comes back in (as I think it eventually will but as part of a 4-3-3) you would assume someone would have to be shipped out before any new arrivals come in.

It would be highly unlikely that Soldado would be leaving given his recent arrival and Adebayor is clearly in favour under Sherwood. Defoe is being heavily linked to the MLS, it almost seems nailed on and is quite a deal for the MLS. It is no surprise he is leaving, in the league he has not performed both this season and last. He has been a great servant but the time is right. I’d expect Kane to be involved more unless we sign someone.

The supporter’s interest in Benteke appears to have cooled a bit given his lack of form so far this year. He does however still tick a shed load of boxes when it comes to the kind of presence you need when playing a solitary striker.
Playing one up front is why I was always confused a little by the links with Hernandez. He doesn’t strike me as someone who could lead the line by himself and, while a better player, is essentially a younger Defoe in my eyes. Definitely needs a partner to play with.

Berbatov is another name that has been doing the rounds quite a bit, short term contract would be the only way he would return. You cannot deny his ability when he wants to play (a little like Adebayor) but where would he fit in?

Big spending

I actually think there is a massive possibility that there will be no money spent this January. The squad is still good and while a little light at the back given the injury proneness of some, simply needs some confidence instilled in them. That can only come from winning and support, not more integration issues.

Everyone wants that superstar signing but with the current negativity around the club, recent sacking and current league position it is unlikely to happen. Some would say that Sherwood lacks the pulling power to lure a bigger name and while this is true, it is less of a factor when the director of football is so heavily involved.

So will we spend anything in the window? What outgoings will realistically happen? Get the youth more involved?

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It’s all 442’s fault

Well another North London Derby done and another defeat to the wanderers. We didn’t play spectacularly poorly but we didn’t play well either. We went with confidence given the three wins we have had under Sherwood, particularly after the away win at United. Perhaps that contributed to our downfall. Not saying we should not have gone looking for a win but perhaps a little too confident given we were visiting the league leaders.

4-4-2 is what is looks like on paper given there are two recognised strikers. In reality, as I have mentioned previously, it is rarely a flat 4-4-2. One of the strikers always comes deep but the positive with two strikers on the pitch is that you have a more natural tendency to get in the box and score within the team. The problem with two natural strikers is when you do not have the ball as you are relying on these naturally final third minded players (well at least one of them) to drop back and help out in the middle third of the pitch in a defensive manner when playing teams with a five man midfield – that is not so natural.

Comparison

Below are images (from whoScored.com) of the average positions of players in both North London Derbies – Spurs are in orange and the first image is the FA cup game…

FA Cup – 2-0 under Sherwood
sherwood v ar

League – 1-0 under AVB
avb v ar

The first thing to notice is the formations don’t appear to conform to what was described by pundits and media, in the league game under AVB it was said to be 4-2-3-1 but looks far more likely a 4-3-3. In the cup under Sherwood it was described as 4-4-2 but with it so congested around the centre circle you cannot really make any traditional formation out of it.

The second thing I noticed was the chasm in the cup game between defence and midfield and how the opposition midfields average positions seem to be in that gap. This was due to a lack of a natural holding midfielder, something that the opposition clearly targeted but with Capoue either out of favour of severely lacking match fitness (and Sandro injured), Sherwood had little choice.

Third was simply how deep Chiriches was in relation to Dawson which makes the gap appear even bigger however, from looking at Walcott’s position, it was probably due to being worried about being done in behind.

Finally, Rose was well and truly exposed again with Eriksen infield so often. It will be interesting to see if Sherwood persists with Eriksen out wide once Townsend or Lamela return to fitness. I don’t mean that Eriksen has been playing poorly but for the good of the team against difficult opposition.

I think that while Sherwood was technically correct in that we were not outnumbered in central midfield, given how infield Eriksen was, the lack of a deeper defensive midfielder gave the appearance that we were overrun as they simply found more space available to them than our midfielders did.

It is clear to see that AVB’s team was clearly more rigid in their formation compared to Sherwood’s. However this is skewed by Eriksen’s natural tendency to be centrally positioned. It is a shame that AVB wanted his wide men to cut in rather than stay wide once they received the ball as width is what most fans have been calling for all season…

So what next

Personally, I think we should stop worrying about whether it was 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 or some other concoction and worry more about the players playing well, something that was lacking at the weekend, too many players underperformed. Every team has injuries but that is why we have such a large squad, to deal with these situations and looking from what was available at the weekend, only Bentaleb for Capoue was the questionable decision.

I was one that didn’t want AVB to go, I think he would have worked out his issues with formations and attacking fluidity. Was his spat with Ade silly? Yes but I am sure Ade wasn’t a saint in the situation. And yes I have always wanted Ade in the team as I always thought he was the striker most suited to AVB’s style.

I haven’t seen anything that says we have taken a step backwards under Sherwood so far despite his two defeats coming against the teams I despise the most. Nor anything really suggesting a leap forwards. Given time, support and a fully fit squad I am sure he will get things right with whatever system he chooses to play. The key is that we give him the time even if you believe he is a stop gap until the summer.

You can follow the blog on twitter, @thfc1882dotcom and “like” our facebook page! We are even on instagram. If you are really bored you can follow my ramblings about anything and everything on twitter (@waddiealex) as well…