I repeat…Will the real Tottenham Hostpur please stand up. We’re going to have a problem here…
There’s the obvious question of which one the “real” reflection of Spurs is: the fantastic, everything-but-the-win game against Manchester City on Saturday to start the Premier League season; or the tepid, inept, throwaway performance against Young Boys of Berne in the Champions League playoff last night. But there’s also the more long term view.
For 20 years, we’ve been the “nearly” team. The team that goes 3-0 up to Manchester United at half time and loses 5-3 (and proving lightning can strike twice, followed that up with this 2004 FA Cup performance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e58rdYk1rPE) The team that throws away a season-long stay in 4th place on the last day of the season after some dodgy lasagna and a frustrating defeat to West Ham (cf. 2005/2006 season). Or is the real Tottenham now the one that went up to Manchester City for the penultimate game of last season and earned a hard-fought 1-0 win to guarantee themselves 4th place. Honestly, I have no idea which one will show up on Saturday away at Stoke, (my gut is telling me a 1-0 defeat) or for the second leg against Young Boys at White Hart Lane next week.
It’s the return of the “Ah wait, no way. You’re kidding, aren’t you?”
I guarantee that’s how every Tottenham fan was feeling after thirty minutes of the game yesterday. So many individual and collective mistakes had led to a 3-0 deficit which threatened to derail our Champions’ League adventure before it had ever really begun. The obvious mistake for the first goal was Assou-Ekotto, who gave away a cheap free-kick from which the goal came; but in the build up to that play Luka Modric attempted a ridiculous cross-field ball which fell way short of the intended target (Bale on the left wing) and put Spurs under unnecessary pressure.
The second goal came from the slow-motion Dawson seeming to – ahem – welcome Bienvenu through on goal. For the third, Bassong was not on his toes and a simple through ball cut the Tottenham defence to pieces. Thankfully, the rot was stopped when Huddlestone came on for Assou-Ekotto and, somehow, Spurs escaped with a 3-2 defeat despite never playing well. That first half hour was all too familiar to Spurs fans, used to Tottenham throwing away any opportunity they have been presented with to progress to the next level. Now they have an opportunity again in the home leg against Young Boys and must approach it positively, virtually any win would take us into the group stages (barring a high scoring narrow win, 4-3 etc.) Having played so badly in the first leg and got away with a not too bad result (it’s not a good result by any stretch of the imagination, it’s a loss) Tottenham must take advantage of their fortune and earn their place with the elite.
Y’all act like you’ve never played in a white shirt before
One of the most worrying aspects of last night was the fact that half of the players looked like they were playing together for the first time rather than what should be a settled, cohesive team. Palacios, tough tackler though he is, gives the ball away too frequently and last night Modric had caught that disease too. The infuriating Pavlyuchenko, who’s goal suggests such talent is hidden in there, spent the first half unable to even control the ball (and he has no pitch excuse given his time spent in the Russian league where plastic surfaces are more common). I thought Bale and Dos Santos on the whole were plus points but nobody in white really shone in this game. If last night’s game had been against one of the European elite, I dread to think what the final score had been. How many chances would Barcelona have created and scored? What about Bayern Munchen? Dare I say it, how many would Arsenal have put past us?
But there it is – a terrible performance, lots of worrying signs for Tottenham but we live to fight another day. That day is next Wednesday with the return leg at White Hart Lane and hopefully the crowd will roar the team on to overturn the deficit they created for themselves last night.
One more time, as loud as you can – how does it go?