The end of Kaboul
I fondly remember the joy of walking into a classroom at school to see an unfamiliar adult stood behind the desk. It was substitute teacher time, the generic rule of how to behave disappeared and for the next 45 minutes the class was a free-for-all. Anything that could be launched across the room was, the backs of people’s blazers would be “dusted” and fountain pens would be swung above our heads like a 1960s football rattle with navy blue droplets of ink raining down on everything. The teacher had no authority here, it was survival of the fittest.
My joy at tormenting substitute teachers though, waned as I grew older and more perceptive to the despair of fellow humans. I remember vividly one afternoon where a female substitute teacher broke mentally and physically in front of me. Defeated by our inability to follow any request or take any threat seriously, she pulled out some shades from her bag, popped three pills, sat down and used her straw handbag as a shield, as a wave breaker from the chaos of twenty five students deep in the throes of a puberty imitating a chimpanzee’s tea party that had got well out of hand.
However, in among the chaos and attempting to skewer a classmate with a compass, a moment of clarity hit me and for a few seconds I actually saw the teacher. Her broken face, her crumpled body and spirit forced pity to wash ever so briefly over me. Last night the same feeling swept across me.
[linequote]As Vertonghen turned and squared up to Kaboul, in front of 1882, that piece of elastic around his arm meant nothing[/linequote]
I was just as surprised last night as I was nearly two decades ago at school. The feeling was a deep sadness mixed with pity. It was strange to be hit by this emotion, especially as I had spent the previous 20 minutes telling anyone that would pay attention that he was drunk, but last night something broke for Kaboul. As Vertonghen turned and squared up to him, in front of 1882, that piece of elastic around his arm meant nothing. The shift of power was there for all to see. Kaboul had been at fault and there was nothing that was going to stop Vertonghen from letting his captain know publicly that it was his fault.
However, it wasn’t just the outburst from Vertonghen that signified that the short reign of captain Kaboul is over, it was the immediate reaction from those in and around block 35. The song that rang out next was about Vertonghen, it was a clear message to everyone. We don’t want to see a fight, but if it kicks off the Belgian, a man whose loyalty and dedication we have questioned on countless occasions, it is his back that we have. In fairness a few individuals piped up with “Kaboul is on fire” but the song didn’t stick, even in a group of individuals who continue to sing when even when they are losing to Dnipro or like last night being two down in ten minutes, supporting Kaboul never happened or even came close to happening.
Perhaps looking back we were wrong to not offer him the support he should have had as a custodian of our shirt and armband, but occasionally regardless of an ethos or a dedication to pure support, something bigger gets in the way. The reaction towards Kaboul was a culmination of rumours regarding a split in the dressing room, trying to undermine Pochettino, a failure to celebrate our goals and a change in attitude from Vertonghen.
These issues combined with a steep decline in football ability from the French man, have led a feeling of disappointment/anger towards Kaboul. Last night’s reaction looking back was harsh, but it was fair, however, just like that day with the substitute teacher, I felt uncomfortable seeing someone dissected so publicly, well I did for a bit, I was soon back signing with the rest of the block.
[fullquote]The reaction towards Kaboul was a culmination of rumours regarding a split in the dressing room, trying to undermine Pochettino, a failure to celebrate our goals and a change in attitude from Vertonghen[/fullquote]
Despite having a career at Spurs littered with peaks and troughs, last night was such a low that I don’t see any way back for him. It’s quite a remarkable fall from grace for Kaboul, a player who was our standout individual in Redknapp’s last season, quite a feat considering the squad we had at the time. Injuries, misjudgements on and off the field have led him to a place where not only is his ability questioned by Vertonghen, but also by our second choice keeper. For a centre back who forged a career on dominating moments, he is unable to dominate anything anywhere at the moment.
Many questioned Pochettino’s decision to bestow the armband on Kaboul, especially if he didn’t suit his style, but in retrospect it seems to have been quite clever. By elevating Kaboul, Pochettino has exposed him, he has allowed everyone inside and outside the dressing room to see that he doesn’t have what it takes to lead. Kaboul is unable to lead the team on the field and he is unable to lead the players into a coup d’état. Pochettino has handled a dissenting voice perfectly, AVB would do well to take note.
However, fundamentally the issue with Kaboul is his inability to play at the highest level. Watch any game featuring the Frenchman and you will see him constantly chasing. Constantly struggling to be exactly where he is supposed to be. Before injuries broke him he was able to rely on his physicality and speed, but that is no longer an option for him.
[linequote]By elevating Kaboul, Pochettino has exposed him, he has allowed everyone inside and outside the dressing room to see that he doesn’t have what it takes to lead[/linequote]
Defenders who lack the physical attributes to be exactly where they need to be when they want to be, need to be able to understand the game and be where they need to be before the danger has arrived. Watch any highlight reel of Fabio Cannavaro or Alessandro Nesta, their key skills were interceptions, getting in front of a defender by reading the game and needing to go through him or chase him. Chasing someone isn’t classy and these two showered in class.
Kaboul unfortunately has been broken by time, his body and his attitude. He is woefully short of the inspiring leadership qualities we have seen from Lloris this season, a player who at points looked depressed and broken by our performances last year, but has grown with the responsibility of carrying the armband. The time has come for Kaboul to move on, or if he is to remain to reassess his role, he can still lead, even from the bench, he just needs to accept his role as a stand-in.
Personally I would try to shift him as soon as possible, we gain nothing from him meandering through games, I would rather have Eric Dier making the same mistakes and gaining valuable experience. Kaboom has gone pop, lets remove him before the shrapnel starts flying.
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