Disappointment. A word that as Spurs fans we know all too well but this time it feels different and I’m still trying to figure out why.
The obvious place to start is last night where our season seemed to simultaneously end both on and off the pitch. Losing to Arsenal, even if it was partly a second string side, is something we’re used to by now and while it still hurts every time it’s not as though it was unexpected. What was unexpected at the start of the season was the decline we seem to be in at the minute and that’s something I’ll discuss later in this article but first let’s relive last night for a final time.
We were missing 3 key players, let’s not forget that. King, Berbatov and Lennon are arguably the only 3 really quality players that we have and all 3 were out but we surely had enough to cope with what was an average Arsenal team. Sadly not. As soon as the team was announced it all looked wrong.
The following is a brief overview of how I think everyone performed, not just last night but over the season so far.
Robinson – Has been extremely poor this season and we’re all aware of it now. Last night he appeared to be stuck to his goal line and had absolutely no command of his area, which is even more important without King at the back. The other major criticism Robbo comes in for is his “hoof” up field. If he’s punting it up for Berbatov to sublimely control on his chest and provide an attacking threat you can see the reasoning, but kicking it over Keane and Defoe’s heads every time is a horrible waste of possession which was reflected by the stats from last night. While still a fan’s favourite and “England’s Number 1” he really appears to need resting and rumours of his inability to take advice from our goalkeeping coaches means he’s fast becoming a target for disgruntled fans.
Chimbonda – One of the few players who seems to consistently put in performances. A very solid player who adds a huge attacking threat when linking up with Lennon but with Ghaly in his place it never looks like working.
Dawson – Again a solid defender who’s maybe become slightly over-rated due to his immense partnership with King. On his own he’s not quite playing to the same standard but still easily our best defender alongside King.
Rocha – Oh dear. This guy could be quality or he could be Ramon Vega Mk II. The problem after his blunder last night is that he may not be given a chance to prove his quality to the fans who are notorious for knee-jerk reactions.
Eokotto – Put in a good performance last night and while he’s not as consistent as Lee he has shown signs of becoming a very good player in the future if we stick with him.
Ghaly – He doesn’t appear to be on form any longer and we need to realise he’s not suitable cover for Lennon. He does have pace, power, good feet and a decent tackle so it’s understandable that we liked what we saw when scouting him but as a package he just doesn’t quite work, something that could be said of Spurs as a whole.
Jenas – Just back from injury and put in a huge performance in our last game, leading to cries of joy that we finally had a decent midfielder back. Unfortunately last night he got lost somewhere between WHL and the Emirates Stadium and never made it to the game. His energy, his surging runs, his tracking back, his passing, all of them disappeared last night. When he plays well he can play very well and be a huge player for us, potentially captain material and exactly what we need in the centre. When he doesn’t play well he’s anonymous and a huge liability.
Zokora – The title of this article would seem to describe his first season at Spurs. A disappointment. I’m not sure what Comolli saw to make us pay £8 million but it’s about time the rest of us saw it. His tackling is awful, he’s not a “ball winner” by any stretch of the imagination. He slides around often through players, often missing the ball. He has an awful first touch and poor passing. His one strength is his powerful running from midfield but that’s enough to base his game around, especially if we want to build a strong midfield around with him as one of the key components.
Malbranque – I’ve been impressed by his ability but at the same time disappointed by his fitness. The same could be said of the team as a whole but he doesn’t seem to have 90 minutes in him, not yet anyway. When he does he could become a very important player for us and I feel it’s worth giving him time, whether it’s on the left wing or in the hole behind the front two.
Keane – Passionate. Petulant. Poor. Those three words seem to sum up what used to be one of my favourite players. He has the ability but he doesn’t stop complaining long enough to use it. He doesn’t fit into the long ball system which we appear determined to adopt and he certainly doesn’t link up well with Defoe.
Defoe – Partnered with Berbatov he was really starting to recapture some form that has been absent for far too long. Without Berbatov he is anonymous. His running, his link up, his awareness and especially his ability to stay onside are all awful. It’s only because of the undoubted quality of his Bulgarian strike-partner that he was performing like we all wish he would. He needs someone to do all the hard work for him, to have the vision and awareness, to draw the defenders and provide the link up player. If that’s all taken care of, Defoe can run fast and hit the ball hard and more often than not manage a shot on target or even a goal. Without a partner who plays to his strengths he’s no better than Bobby Zamora or the many other poor strikers we’ve had over the years. Remember Chris Armstrong’s superb partnership with Teddy? If Berbatov can stay fit that’s possible what we have with him and Defoe but Defoe on his own is not the answer.
Jol – One of the biggest disappointments is BMJ. Fans have been making knee-jerk reactions about him for the past year and unfortunately some of them appear to be coming true. Tactically we look lost at times. He states that Defoe/Keane can’t play together but then that’s what he resorts to and along with a poor, unbalanced midfield we really struggle because of it. I’m confident that Jol is still the man for us and can turn this around but he needs to start doing it fast with the players we have available.
Comolli – Whatever the reason, he failed this transfer window to get us the players that we needed. The disappointment here is his claim at the recent AGM that we “do not need a left sided player”. Whether this was PR spin or he really believes it, it does provide cause for concern. We arguably need another central defender to replace Gardner, a quality left sided midfielder, a creative force in the centre of the park and a target man up front. Obviously a lot to ask for but not addressing any of these areas has led to many fans wondering what he is here for. We tried to sign Young, we tried to sign Bale, we tried to sign Barnes, we tried to sign Davies. The list goes on. We obviously believe we need these positions filled as we have been trying to fill them but ultimately we’ve failed to do so.
Levy – Levy is coming in for more and more criticism lately. The problem is we don’t know the facts. Has he really seen deals we’ve needed to be completed fall through because he quibbled over tiny details and small amounts of change? Is he really threatening to sue UEFA if they don’t let us play someone rather than receive a bye? Lots of rumours appear to suggest this but we can’t judge him based on them. One thing we can judge him on is the continual awful service to the fans, in particularly from the Ticket Office. I plan to write a more detailed article on this in the future but the horror stories of how the TO is run are just dismissed by the club. The continual poor, laughable “service” is barely acknowledged and excuses from the likes of Barber are trotted out about the increase in games.
So many areas of disappointment. Can we pick ourselves up and make something of this season or will the quote that “there used to be a football club over there” ring even more true come the end of the season.