Opta-cal
Illusion

 

He is a star. He is the most skilful player at the club. He features most prominently in the Opta Index statistical analysis (that gives points for tackles won and lost, goals scored, passes completed etc) of players involvement in the game . He scores spectacular goals. His dribbling is mesmerising. He can play like a dream, but he can be a nightmare.

We’re talking about David Ginola. The enigma from France, who was brought in to add the fantasy to the football at Spurs, but who it was thought would not fit in with Francis’ and Gross’ work ethic. There is no doubt that he does work hard, but it tends to be when he has the ball and not when he doesn’t. His mazy runs rack up the points on the Opta Index, but as far as the fans are concerned what does all his endeavor produce? For such a skilled and experienced player he should know when to release a killer ball (i.e. to Klinsmann to score against West Ham) rather than beat the same player for the third time just for his own amusement. At the moment, he is the only truly creative player in the squad; that’s why so much of the play is channeled through him. To his credit, he is always available to receive the ball, but that often involves him appearing in the back four, which is an area you definitely don’t want him taking on players. Do it where it is going to hurt them. It’s the one of the best things in football to see a player going past opponents, but when it doesn’t work it can be costly. In the home game v Leicester, Ginola’s trickery didn’t pay off and losing possession resulted in the visitors taking the lead. A similar situation cost us points when Palace came to the Lane. I’m not saying that he’s the only one who has been guilty of giving the ball away and on his day (Barnsley - home, Everton - away) he can be a match-winner.

The major quibble I have about his performances is his commitment to the team. His recent comments (although they may have been misinterpreted) about not wanting to play in Division One disappointed me as a Spurs fan. He may have meant that he wants Spurs to stay up, but it sounded like he was too good to play in a lower league and would be off if we went down. If we did, he would have been part of the team responsible for getting us into that position and we would need players dedicated to the cause to get us back up. While he is obviously trying very hard, he will need to harness his ability for the good of the team to achieve a position of safety. His attitude during the Leicester game was very poor. With Nielsen shuttling between two defenders to close them down, he beckoned Ginola to help, only to be greeted with a Gallic shrug of the shoulders. This can only cause friction between players and is unnecessary as they are all in it together. In the Palace game, the Frenchman hit a pass into touch yards in front of Carr and then berated him for not getting to the ball. It was a petulant display which may have been borne of frustration, but instances like this just don’t help.

By playing a simple ball on occasion, goalscoring chances could have been created. When the ball does not arrive, the player making a run could think twice about it next time. A supply line to our forwards is vital. In the ongoing absence of Anderton, we need quality balls to put them in on goal. Our goalscoring record this season is embarrassing and is a result of the lack of service from midfield and the continued injury situation, but it is pleasing to see Ginola sticking a few away himself. I fully admit that without them we may be down already. My main concern is that the statistics used by the Opta Index (by which Gross sets great store) are over-shadowing his contribution to the team. If we are to believe the numbers, he is the second best attacking midfielder in the country and the best player in London. If so, what does that say about the rest of our team ??

PAXTON ROWE

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