View From The South – Spurs Clipped
Posted on March 6, 2008
Filed Under Articles By Bazza
Bazza kindly contributes to this blog most weeks and his contributions really are appreciated despite my tardiness in posting them. I can only apologise and hope that the people who visit enjoy his input as much as I do.
I did wonder on Saturday morning just what effect the winning of the League Cup would have on Tottenham, a team whom I rate as superb going forward when in full flow. The human mind is a complex thing and vulnerable to all sorts of conflicting factors. Why does the golfer on the green see the hole the size of a bucket one day and microscopic the next? Why does the scrum half play the expansive pass to lay on the picture book try when in the next game when faced with an identical set of circumstances, he hesitates and is clattered to the ground? Did I hear the word confidence? Confidence is a fickle thing; a beauty who bestows her favours lavishly only to spurn the recipient so cruelly in the next instant. Now you would think that our girl confidence would be smiling brightly on the men of Tottenham Hotspur having won something tangible. Their fans were clearly set to crow like their emblem cockerel in expectation of a comfortable win. The predictors on the internet on Friday suggested victory for Spurs by a margin of at least two clear goals.
However, there is a bit more to it than confidence when it comes to football. There is for instance, the so called hangover effect that can affect a team that has just basked in a deserved and glorious victory; securing European participation in the process. The tendency to drown in a mixture of champagne and your own adrenaline is very great and I hoped that it may have been the case on Saturday. The recent form of Spurs has also had something to do with the acquisition of Woodgate and the return of Ledley King. They are two of the best central defenders around and there were clear signs of improvement from the moment they came together. No longer were the Tottenham defence the soft touch of earlier in the season. However, neither was available! In addition to confidence a team needs luck and this was a significant stroke of good fortune for Birmingham City Football Club. Hope springs eternal I thought and set off for the 125 miles journey to St Andrews. Little did any of us know what was to follow in the afternoon?
The game did of course result in an unexpected and resounding victory for Blues and much as the result of some truly dire defending by the patched up Spurs back four. Before getting too carried away we should reflect on several factors both positive and negative. That Birmingham deserved their win is beyond dispute. Forssell was imperious and sharp as a pin, McFadden was outstanding in the way he lead the line and Larsson’s beautifully flighted free kick for the second goal capped another excellent performance from him. The back four and midfield quartet deserve great credit for their hard work in making Spurs play most of the game in front of them. It was a shame that another Liam Ridgewell mistake should be punished right at the end to rob the team of a clean sheet and we must be grateful that it was not a tight game. The points we have lost in just those sorts of situations this season do not bear thinking about and we would be sitting comfortably mid table with a bit more diligence. Nevertheless, there is definite improvement in the organisation and tracking over the last few matches which can only help OUR confidence. The little cameo from Zarate was a delight and I cannot remember feeling this excited about a player since I saw the 16-year old Trevor Francis make his debut. However, the word ‘pass’ needs to be explained to him as he had a glorious opportunity to put the recently unsung Cameron Jerome clean through with his first touch. Never mind the two mazy runs he did go on nearly resulted in goals in their own right. Boardroom, if you are reading this; BUY THIS MAN!
Talking of unsung heroes, Damien Johnson was solid and industrious as ever and put in another excellent performance. The main disappointments were Gary McSheffrey who looked a man struggling for confidence and form and also clearly not fully match fit. The other was Fabrice Muamba who kept winning the tackles and promptly giving the ball back to the opposition. On this point, I don’t know whether anyone has noticed the recent statistics of how little of the possession we have had in the last two games. In Arsenal’s case it is obvious; ten men playing against the best passing side in the league. In the case of Spurs it may be because we are allowing the opposition the ball as long as it is in front of us. Weaving pretty triangles doesn’t necessarily result in penetration and goals as Spurs found to their cost on Saturday. Just to clear one thing up; I, like many, thought that Berbatov had handled the ball in the first half before unleashing a shot that smacked off the post. MOTD showed clearly that he had used his chest and the effort was therefore fair. On another day Spurs could have had two goals with that one and the one that clipped the post in the second half. It would have been undeserved and the Gods of football smiled on us. Another statistic worthy of mention is our ball retention and pass completion rates which hover around 60 – 65%. Only Derby has a worse record! This needs to be addressed for next season if we survive. I believe we will. Finally, an interesting site has attempted to predict who the sides going down will be. Check it out by clicking here.
The predictor interestingly enough suggested Bolton or us to join Derby and Fulham. However, the big flaw in the prediction scoring system is the failure to weight with regard to the quality of the opposition faced. We have after all faced both the north London giants (Arsenal twice), West Ham, Manchester United and Chelsea in the last ten games and have achieved more than perhaps could be expected. One or two observers have pointed out this flaw and have defended Blues suggesting that other candidates in the seven clubs other than the bottom two have positions more precarious. All we can do as fans is cheer the lads on and hope that we can find the points we need to survive. If we continue to play like we have done the last month or so, we’ll be alright.