Norwegian Spur eanN17 returns to look at the post Man United fallout and discuss what happens next.
If we fail to win away to Manchester United it’s simply not enough. And other things people say describing the new modern impatience in football. But it’s really not that bad!
Every week there is a new crisis in football. In the game described as the most important of all the unimportant matters of life, tops and flops change at a manic pace. Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, City, Everton, Woolwich or Spurs. They all had periods of time, long or short, where things have been bad or looking to get worse.
The press starts singing the tune and fans are willingly dancing to it, thinking the worst, reaching foregone fatal conclusions. Once a top team starts losing they will be under a huge pressure. The press needs to sell newspapers, the TV-channels want to make sure everyone is listening. It’s a part of football these days and as the fanatics we are, we are the cannon fodder.
That’s why it’s easy to listen to reasons why United now obviously are on the way up and have turned the corner, Pep’s City are not going to find their feet in the Premier League and more importantly for the readers on this site; Spurs are nowhere the level we were last season.
All presented as fact, when it’s not.
There are simply no reasons to either throw our toys out of the pram or losing our cool. There is a lot of football to be played this season for all teams. All we know for sure is that the table won’t look like it does now, at the end of the season.
15 games in
It’s not that far away from halfway through the season, and we’re 10 points behind Chelsea. The means that a title-run will be very hard, much thanks to a Chelsea-team that is playing Catenaccio to perfection. I don’t like the way they set-up, but it when it works, it’s effective, and as with any team on a winning run, it’s hard to see where they may drop points next. At the time being, they are running away with it, they have a proper momentum – but still, it can change.
You need to look at them as the proper favourites to take it home, but we need to remember what football has taught us, it’s early days. 15 games in, is still 4 games off for the season to be halfway played. It’s clearly no longer the start of the season, but a lot can happen from here and in. The team has been struggling to live up to expectancy last season delivered.
In these 15 games, we have met United, Chelsea and Woolwich away, not with the best return pointswise unfortunately, but they are grounds we don’t have to visit again
The first league defeat came as late as a few weeks ago vs Chelsea away, the hardest ground to go to, for Spurs and every other team at the moment and on Sunday vs a United team that, when playing secure Mourinho-football is a very hard team to beat. Against Chelsea we outplayed them for 40 minutes and it took a personal mistake for the red devils to beat us the stadium that has hosted much better football teams than the current ones.
Obviously, the Gooners struggled to get a point there and hardly deserved it, but still snatched it at the death. Sometimes you get these defeats, best thing is to get back on the feet and have a go at the teams we get next. Two defeats in 15 games is not much, but for an underperforming Spurs it’s still reason enough to be left trailing due to high number of draws.
5 games in 22 days
During these 15 first games, we have met United, Chelsea and Woolwich away, not with the best return pointswise unfortunately, but they are grounds we don’t have to visit again this season. We have also played Everton away – they are currently doing the best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impression in the league, the first game of the season. A tough place to go whatever way you look at it.
The remaining away grounds include Manchester City and Liverpool, but there is no doubt that Spurs have had more tough away trips than most teams, which doesn’t mean they won’t get important wins, but it’s still not a foregone conclusion that they will. These are reasons why we need to look at the table when the fixtures evens up.
What the table does tell us now though, is that there is ground to make up and we are trailing behind the top four before the busiest time of the season. After a cruel fixture list in November and a narrow defeat at Old Trafford, the games coming up are easier on paper. We got Hull, Burnley, Southampton, Watford remaining before 50% of the season is put behind us. That is good news if we can get lot of points, bad news if we don’t. The following 5 games will be in the next 22 days and the last will be vs Chelsea at home on Wednesday the 4th.
The small and big crises
We have not really seen a crisis at Spurs, since we had 2 points after 8 games. Yes, I know we have been told that phrase enough. For the long-term Spurs is in very good hands, but the league football causes hysteria and massive reactions nonetheless.
For every win you get further away from the mini-crisis that awaits around corner every time the teams loses. For a small group of Spurs fans, or any fans of any teams I guess, there is always a full mode crisis after a defeat. And if you know where to look, there will be a lot of people telling you that the crisis has been going on far too long, only the naive ones haven’t seen it!
The Poch out group has had a tough time lately, understandably, but will always be back in force once they are strengthened by a defeat. The “I told you” brigade are sent in every direction, players are not good enough, Pochettino has no plan B and Levy should resign the next day.
The biggest change is probably the injury list, last year we avoided injury to key players, this year we haven’t
Whatever floats your boat, I guess, if you think modern football is like playing Football Manager on cheat mode. After almost 30 years as a Spurs fan I have learned an important lesson for myself, I turn off Twitter, the amount of people aching to be proved right is rather annoying. I see it as a coping mechanism and it works for me.
Spurs is a happier place when we’re winning and even if the great majority aren’t spilling their guts on the social media, you can still sense it at White Hart Lane when we’re not feeling confident. As will be the feeling on Wednesday before we, hopefully, get the first goal.
A settled Spurs team
This season have seen that all teams in the league aren’t good when they are off-form. All teams have had bad days, including Spurs. What is the difference between last season and this for Spurs? There are loads.
This season we play at a White Hart Lane lacking a corner of the ground, we played at Wembley for the Champions League and that went sour, we suddenly had core players out injured and have failed to get on a winning run. The biggest change is probably the injury list, last year we avoided injury to key players, this year we haven’t.
Lloris was out during the first few games, but Vorm stepped in and did very well. Dembele, one of the main performers last season, has been out, first he was suspended after the Battle of the Bridge, since he was injured and when he returned he has struggled to get back to form.
Harry Kane, our main goal scorer was off form, then he was injured. Lately he has been back and scored goals like we know he can. Erik Lamela has been missing for a while now and most importantly, Toby Alderweireld, the player of the season last term, was injured for two months.
On top of all that, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Eric Dier have had poor starts to the season, only showing a fraction of the levels of play they reached last season. The last few weeks have seen players returning and getting back to fitness and better form. Still a little way to go, but if we can avoid the worst injuries it would certainly help matters.
The size of squads that you would to need to cope with situations like these won’t be seen at Spurs as long as we still want to develop young players from the Academy. There are reasons to believe that this squad of players are capable of improving a lot in the next coming weeks and months. We should give them the chance to show that, after excellent last season.
So where is this all taking us?
Well, the answer will be there in May. In the meantime there are few things we need to get right. Going into the Hull game we need to be absolutely ruthless. As tough games are coming up for all the rivals we need to take advantage.
There is only so far you can get with excuses or explanations, but at the end of the day, we need to get the 3-points in the bank to make up for lost ground.
Large parts of the fans have been screaming out for Eriksen to perform better. He has been off his level, but the last 4-5 games have seen an improvement. If he can’t keep that up, we need Son or Alli to take responsibility.
Dele Alli looks a pale shadow of himself. Son is a player that is not performing well enough on a weekly basis. The only shame is that Lamela isn’t back to provide competition for the three. I wouldn’t mind putting Sissoko back in the limelight to provide said competition. If there is something we need, it’s a hungry player and Sissoko looked one in his cameo at Old Trafford. Give him the chance to prove himself, let one of the three feel the pressure and that their place in the team isn’t safe.
Money decides league positions
In 90% of the cases, the first 6 teams in the league are likely to be the 6 richest too. Of course, Leicester is a famous exception. And Spurs has been in the top 5 more times than not, despite having 5 clubs way above them in the money league. Why does it matter?
It does matter, as the wages the best players can attract are higher than what Spurs will offer. When the pundits say that Spurs is lacking a De Bruyne, Hazard or Mane for that sake, it’s mostly because of the wages these players know they can get. As long as Spurs keep the business structure they have, that won’t change much. Spurs need to build their teams buying gems like Alderweireld, Alli and Eriksen and hope we can promote excellent talent from the Academy.
My disappointment has slipped away as I have begun to realise that there is so much more to come and that there will be good times ahead
However, we beat 4 of those 5 teams in the final table last season and my money would be on us potentially beating two of them this one. It’s certainly too early to write us off.
Feeling down, but the buzz will return
Nothing is like getting back to winning ways and standing among the away fans at Old Trafford you feel there is going to be explosions of joy if we get the team back to performing the way they did last season. The chanting didn’t stop. I couldn’t see a single fan with half-half scarves, but among the United fans it was almost the trend of the day!
Many of United fans used the day to sit on their hands and were heard only a half dozen times during the game, getting sarcastic applause from the Spurs following on most occasions. Leaving the stadium I felt angry at the lack of attacking bravery from the Lilywhites and the solidity of United led by a manager I dislike. The referee was also very poor and way too lenient towards Jose’s boys by not letting the game flow properly.
However my disappointment has slipped away as I have begun to realise that there is so much more to come and that there will be good times ahead. Some of the most exciting years in the club’s history with a new stadium rising in the N17.
The club is still alive and kicking, the fans are brilliant and we have a team that made us proud last season. Hopefully, that the buzz will return and that we have a lot of fun highlights to look forward to.