A point is something which might have been regarded as a good return
from a visit to the Reebok in times gone by, but things are different
now and the draw moved us nowhere in the table other than confirming our
18th position in the drop-zone. It is a little early to be talking
about relegation, but it is an indication of how far we are dropping
behind the teams who have started quickly rather than any sign that we
will be going down come May.
worrying aspect of all this is that we are not taking the chances we are
creating. There were enough efforts which warranted a decent
attempt on goal, which slipped through our fingers, but not
Jaaskelainen's. Ten shots on goal, with seven on target and eleven
corners in an away match should yield something more than a single point
against a tame Bolton side and one which was frankly woefully short on
invention. Relying on the high ball into the middle of the Spurs
defence and long-throws and set-pieces worked for them, as a solitary
Ivan Campo managed to get on the end of one and nod the ball into the
net, but the creativity was limited and I would imagine that some
players must be finding it difficult to play in this Trotters side.
The decisions of the officials left a lot
to be desired as well. Not just because the game was not allowed
to flow, but also because the decision making was poor on both teams.
I do not have any knowledge of Mr. Marriner's background, but would
suggest that he might not have played the game, as his interpretation of
a foul, just because a player falls to the ground (and this is players
on both sides), was not one which is widely accepted.
Without a number of players from
Thursday's win over Anorthosis, Spurs once more had to adapt to the new
personnel. Teemu Tainio came back into the team and did what he
does well. Run around, get in the way and trying to break forward.
Jenas did what he does well. Give lots of energy, but
occasionally, frustratingly, gives the ball away cheaply. Rocha
did what he does well. Throws himself in the way and cleared one
inviting ball in the six yard box when no-one else wanted to touch it,
but he gives away a dangerous number of free-kicks around the penalty
area, which teams like Bolton thrive on. Zokora did what he does
well, motor up and down the pitch, trying a shot that will not hit the
corner flag and then producing a sublime chip for Jenas in the lead up
to the goal.
It's not that the players are not good
enough, but it is putting it all together to produce the best mix and
the best end result. I am not sure that we have that at the
moment. With Defoe sat at home, you have to worry about when he
will get an opportunity, surely not against Middlesbrough in the League
Cup ?? Jol said Keane scores vital away goals. True enough,
but Jermain, given the right service could score equally as many and hit
a double at the Reebok back in 2004 in a League Cup tie.
Confusion spread among the crowd at the
naming of the team faster than it runs through our defence as a dead
ball is played into our penalty area.
For Tottenham to be successful and for
Jol to stay in a job, it is necessary to pick up points from games such
as these. The murmurs of dissent at the final whistle from the
home fans (such as they were, there were so many empty seats) signalled
that they felt we were there for the taking, but that they were unhappy
with their team's showing. The lack of killer instinct has cost us
already this season and did again today, as Bolton got away with it.
Their smash and grab style is effective
against fragile teams like Spurs, but you feel there might be a longer
road for them to travel than Spurs this season. Having said that,
there are still aspects of our game which need addressing.
Berbatov said in the newspapers this morning that he loves playing
beautiful football. We, as fans, love to watch beautiful football,
but not at the expense of a few wins here and there. Last season
and in the one before, there was about the right mix to get us fifth
place. This season, as has happened at Chelsea, to get a winning
formula with the entertainment factor rising up towards 100% is no easy
At the moment, Spurs are neither one
thing nor the other.
Some desperate defending saw us stop
Bolton. Dawson put a Davies cross over his own bar and later Rocha
blocked Nolan's effort, but too often, as we saw at Sheffield United
last season, set-pieces cause us no end of problems. In truth,
Robinson hardly made a decent save today and not because he was poor,
but because everything that came his way was knocked away and Bolton
could not manufacture anything to test him. When they did score,
it was Campo rising above Rocha to head home Diouf's free-kick. It
was a cheap free-kick won by Diouf and suckered the referee, who failed
to give each side a penalty during the second half.
The closest that got apart from that was
a header just after the break from Nolan that looped wide.
Spurs had many more openings, but could
not close out the game (another well-worn scenario that doesn't need
re-writing). Blocks from Miete and Andy O'Brien denied Berbatov
and Malbranque, as the Frenchman had the best opportunities for Spurs.
He had a long range lob blocked by the same player and then, late in the
game, Jaaskelainen punched out, but only to the edge of the box and
Steed volleyed back, but just too high.
Tainio curled a shot wide when he strode
forward in the first half and Dimitar Berbatov was denied by a good
save, when he threw an acrobatic volley at a deep cross. The goal
that was scored was well-worked. Zokora dinked a ball over the
defence for Jenas, who timed his run well and hit a good shot that the
goalie did well to keep out. Berba's first go was blocked, but, as the ball dropped, Keane was onto
it with a volley that beat the
defence and hit the back of the net.
Too many of Tottenham's efforts on goal
failed to sufficiently test the keeper or defence and this is something
that must be addressed. Converting a higher ratio of our chances
into goals will help secure points and if that means Jol biting the
bullet and bringing back Defoe, then that is what he will have to do.
It takes a big man to do that and I
believe Martin Jol is a big man.