It’s been a while since I last had a good rant about Spurs, but that defeat to Watford on the weekend has given me renewed anger towards seeing us lose for the same reasons time and time again.
It was only a week ago that Spurs fan Youtube channels were amalgamating the latest feature length montage of our heroic victory at Old Trafford.
If, like me, you got carried away over a beating a side that conceded 3 goals to Brighton (no disrespect), then last weekends showing away in Watford will have rapidly brought you crashing back down to earth.
The frustration is not that we have lost a game of football, every team loses football matches, it is that every time we lose it seems to be for the same reasons. Let me explain.
Kieran Trippier spoke after the game and accused his side of not playing with enough tempo. Is it just me or can watching Spurs be an incredibly dull affair at times? Especially in certain games over the last couple of seasons.
Sanchez collects the ball, he slowly trundles towards Vertonghen and rolls an uneventful pass in his direction. Super Jan briefly looks to surge down the left flank, but he checks his ambition and casually meanders back inside to square a soft ball back to Sanchez. Sanchez receives the ball on his right foot, skillfully knocking it into space and opening up his body to shape a raking long ball into the path of Lucas Moura who has made an incisive run behind the opposition left back, however better wisdom prevails and he fleetingly pokes a ball towards Alderweireld. Rinse and repeat.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. At our best, Spurs are a fluid and dynamic entity with movement, skill and precision. At our worst, we are a slow and painful zimmer assisted struggle over the zebra crossing.
What frustrates me is that at times it seems the players have been over coached to a degree, and I’m not bashing Poch here, but the amount of times you see players deciding against the risky pass for the safe one means our tempo slows and dies.
Harry Kane and Dele Alli
Everyone has noted Dele’s decline over the last year or so. I have two theories on this: the first is he is spending too much time playing video games, setting up businesses and creating silly celebrations (I only think it’s silly because I can’t do it an I am slightly jealous).
The second is that he has stopped making decisive runs into the box that made him such a threat. Why that has happened I cannot answer, but it is something that needs to be addressed. He also loses the ball an inexcusable amount of the time.
Now what about Harry Kane. Yes he slow at the start of the season, but he was slow at the end of last season, slow at the World Cup (smashing in penalties aside) and still slower now. So here’s my theory on Harry Kane.
Firstly, he’s fatigued. Spurs still haven’t signed an adequate understudy and he is simply playing too much football. This has led to him not affecting the game around the pitch like he used to. What happened to the Harry Kane that would chase a defender down, win the ball, shrug off two or three defenders and bury a long range effort into the bottom corner?
Kane has become a poacher who sits centrally and doesn’t affect the rest of the game like he used to and, to be honest, he isn’t very good at being a poacher. He does not convert enough chances, in fact he only converted 14% of his chances last season. Compare that to Aubameyang and Aguero on 26% and Jesus on 30%. Kane was not even in the top 10 in the Premier League last year for his shots to goals ratio.
These two were so pivotal to Spurs being a success over the last few seasons, but when they are not on top form we lose matches.
Pochettino and Substitutions
When we win I don’t really notice it in fairness. However, I cannot be the only one who gets immensely frustrated at Poch when he does nothing to affect the game until the 75th minute and beyond. What is the point on bringing Danny Rose on in the 89th minute? That is something you do when you are 2-1 up and not 1-2 down.
Llorente was given another 10 minutes and expected to produce a miracle, I’m sorry but that is simply not enough time for a player to affect a game on a regular basis, especially one who doesn’t get regular game time at all (rightly or wrongly).
Pochettino has to become more decisive when using bench assets or changing the way the team is playing. On the bright side, Harry Winks looked like just what the doctor ordered for all of the five minutes he was given. You never know what might’ve happened and I know he is coming back from his ankle surgery, but I’d like to see him get at least 20 next time out.
Similarly, Watford scored two goals from headers to beat us. Defending corners and aerial crosses has been a problem for us for a long time under Pochettino. I still haven’t entirely worked out what our strategy is inside our own box. Poch seems to employ a mix of three zonal defenders around the six yard box and then three or three picking stray runners. Whatever it is, both goals came from balls landing between the three centre backs with neither of them picking up the runner and instead standing still. It needs to change.
Well, that’s the end of my rant. Yes I know it’s great to see Spurs playing at such a high level, but it makes it even worse when we go and blow an opportunity to get ahead of the pack. Pochettino has been the best thing to happen to Spurs for a long time, and I have and could write many an article on how he has been so good for us. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that have to improve. Credit to Watford who were very well drilled in defence and identified a weakness of ours defensively and exploited it. Glad I’ve got that out of my system.