View From
The Shelf

12.08.2007

With the money no longer in the bank and with the first game, sadly, under our belts, we set off on a long slog following Tottenham Hotspur in their endeavours to finish better than fifth.

Frankly, on yesterday's showing, it might be a tough enough task to replicate the placing of the last two seasons.  It was an even more frustrating experience than usual watching the match.  Expectations has built and with big money spent, it was hoped that we could start the season with a victory that would have seen us push the top sides from day one.  Having had the opportunity to sing "We Are Top of the League", albeit for a couple of hours, we blew it, as Spurs have done so many times in the past.  That honour went to the jubilant home supporters, while we had to wait for West Ham to go down to Manchester City to get us off the bottom of the table at 16.50.

It wasn't that we deserved to lose, although, in truth, Sunderland had more scoring opportunities than we did ... and they took one of them ... in the fourth minute of the three added minutes.  It revealed an old failing of not being able to

  • beat newly promoted teams (and I know it is hard in their first game up, but they were poor)
  • finish off teams when you have periods of possession/pressure
  • take the game to the opposition at a high enough tempo that they cannot live with it

It was something I thought our midfield of Zokora and Jenas might relish, as they could use their pace to turn defence into attack and stretch the play, but  Jenas had a moany day, when he looked for free-kicks instead of trying to make things happen.  Zokora was blameless, as he was strong and energetic and I think he might be one of our players of the season (African Nations Cup duty aside).  Malbranque started brightly, but when he started going infield, the play got congested and as Tainio did the same on the other flank, any opportunity to get crosses in were limited and only Kaboul's early ball in the first half looked like causing any trouble to the Black Cats' defence.  Maybe we were lacking a player who would have taken the game by the scruff of it's neck and run with it.  I am not sure Tom Huddlestone is that sort of player, as he is more of a passer than a tackler ... he's probably frightened that he would kill someone if they got tackled !!  So, when fit, it might be that Kevin-Prince Boateng will be coupled with Jenas or Zokora to anchor the midfield, although the German Under-21 international likes to get forward too,

Another reason it was disappointing was because we lost Michael Dawson with a training ground injury the day before the match.  Maybe the need for Curtis Davies is there, even with Ledley fit.  Anthony Gardner came in and did well, but he lacks the aggression to be a top class centre-half.  You rarely see him got through centre-forwards when he challenges in the air.  It's what you want from a defender to make the forward think twice before going up to head the ball ... and I am not talking about fouling them, just getting a strong aerial challenge in to knock them and let them know you are there. 

Daws' exclusion left Spurs with three left backs, a winger and two central defenders on the sick list.  Another failing in days gone by ... too many players out injured.  A failing along with not being able to score lots of goals ... or even one. The chances were not created and it wad difficult to see why not.  The team was set up well, as a solid four-four-two, but the flow was never there and allowing Sunderland to re-group behind the ball was a symptom of lacking Lennon, who can use his pace to get Tottenham into attack quickly.  While we have Wayne Routledge back in the squad, he wasn't named in the 16 and his pre-season games in this country have not been that impressive.  Surprising when he did well at Fulham last season and in South Africa.

There is still a long way to go before the final table tells the story of the season, but we are already three points behind the other front runners and three points behind where we want to be, as surely, we have to finish off teams like Sunderland if there is to be a realistic assault on moving up one place.

 

I saw a comment from a Newcastle fan on another website saying Jol will be sacked at the end of the season if we donít get CL football, as he has spent £100 million in the last three years.  What a laugh. 

Newcastle have wasted money left right and centre in their side and havenít had a sniff of anyone elseís success let alone their own and with new owners Allardyce might have one seasonís grace, but come next season, he will be expected to deliver. 

Jol has the backing of the board and the majority of the fans ... all except those who like to take the bizarre view that because he has got us to fifth place two seasons running, he should now be securing the Quadruple in the Tottenham trophy cabinet (whereís the key again ?).

Luckily, I believe that Daniel Levy takes the long view.  We are building for the future, as well as the here and now.

Look at the young talent being assembled.  Alright, you never know what development players might make or injuries they may suffer, but this summer alone, THFC have bought Darren Bent, Younes Kaboul, Gareth Bale, Yuri Berchiche, Kevin-Prince Boateng (or TPWFPFHB = The Player Who Formerly Played For Hertha Berlin), Adel Taarabt and Danny Rose.  All ones for the future, but if they are good enough, what about using them now ?  Taarabt is very skilful, but needs to learn about where and when to do his tricks and that he has defensive duties too.

Bent, Kaboul and Bale are all first team players already, Boateng not far off that, but Berchiche and Rose are the interesting ones.  Both with years ahead of them and with Rose already being given a first team squad number, he looks to be ahead of the Spaniard, who took Player of the Tournament award in an international club competition that our U18 side won. 

Put these names together with Huddlestone, Lennon, Dawson, Alnwick, Dervite, Mills, Barnard, OíHara, Defoe, Pekhart, Dawkins and if you go further into the Academy, Alex Olsen, Terry Dixon, Andros Townsend and David Hutton. 

Tell you what.  After yesterday things might have been bad, but in a couple of years the Spurs side will be brilliant.  You might win nothing with kids, but when they grow up, who knows !!

...

Keep the faith.


MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE CUPS AT WHITE HART LANE
MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE CUPS AT WHITE HART LANE
MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY OF THE CUPS AT WHITE HART LANE
AND THE SPURS GO MARCHING ON.

BRUCE CASTLE

 

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