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Going down ? On this performance we probably are. I really can't understand Peter Reid's comments about this game when he said that if we play like that we will win games and that he was excited about certain aspects of our performance. Well, let's get a few things straight here Peter. 2-1 flattered us. 4 or 5 -1 would have been a fairer result. From the first minute to the 93rd minute we were completely outplayed by an average Tottenham team without their best player and with a couple of players returning from injuries.
It's as simple as that. So what went wrong. 3 main things in my eyes.
1) No pace and lack of fitness up front.
Add to that a keeper who doesn't look the part at the moment. Every decent shot seems to go in. Ok , both goals were hit well but neither (I haven't seen them on tv yet) seemed to me to go in the top corner. I thought Robbo could have got a hand to them. He seems a bit overweight and static and it takes him an age to fly across the goal.
Up front - Smith scored a cracking goal, one of about 3 efforts we had all game and to be honest this was the only way we would have scored. Someone picking the ball up from midfield and whacking it. The reason was the lack of pace up front and the lack of creativity from midfield. Without somebody making runs and peeling off the defence up front how can you create chances ? Viduka and Smith do not do this effectively together. Against Newcastle Sakho did this brilliantly and you tended to forget how statue like Viduka is. On Saturday Sakho played as a slighly advanced left back. All his good work was done muscling Carr off the ball. He made some good tackles and showed that he can actually defend and make a positive contribution at the other end of the pitch. BUT is this what we want ? No way. Sakho is a forward and should be given a chance to play with Smith up front. Viduka - useless... actually worse than useless, pathetic! At one point early in the second half he was bent over double with mouth wide open gasping for air whilst been 15 yards off side. It was an unbelievable sight. The yids were pissing themselves. His performance was of someone who doesn't really care. Get rid.
Smith - contrary to what Rob Heath said I thought he was our best player by a mile. Let's face it , he was on his own up front against a decent Spurs defence. He scored a cracker and also showed good touch, control and determination. Just needs someone making runs around him to give him a bit more time and space. Midfield - what f'cking midfield !? A midfield of Morris , Johnson, Wilcox and Sakho can't compete in this league. We never got near the ball and just made Tarrico and Redknapp look world class. They're not - we know that ! Two games in and it's clear to me that Jody Morris isn't up to the task. We sang "You're in the wrong division" to the hapless Zamora but I was singing it to Morris. He has no pace or fitness and spends his time huffing and puffing around the pitch. Look at him closely. He's a fat, bald, pub player. I think Cardiff would have been more his level to be honest. He gives 100% - no question of that but at this level it is not good enough. Johnson - must admit I'm getting fed up of Seth under performing. A couple of times he gets the ball , surges through with power and smashes the ball goalwards. Not enough though.
Wilcox - I defended his performance against Newcastle. THis was awful and we've just brought in Pennant for 2 months. Did Arsenal ask for him to start on the bench so he wouldn't get crucified by the yids ? I bloody hope so.
When the subs came on I noticed a few things. Domi is a good footballer. He provided the moment of the game for me when he took the ball forward , nutmegged a Spurs player then played it out to Pennant who had cleverly swapped wings to the left to get involved. The cross came to nothing cos no one was in the box but it was the best midfield play of the day. He looks like a player to me. Skilful, balanced and creative. Too good for us.
Pennant - I agree about him not getting involved but I wouldn't blame him. At one point Morris got the ball and tried to play a ball to the wing to him and just found a white shirt. We didn't have the skill to get the ball and play it to him. Simple as that. He looks quick and skilful. I would have taken Morris off and played Pennant down the middle. He looks like a good pacey player to me. We need to bloody use him. Lennon - fantastic to see a 16 year old from Chapletown replace the fat boy up front. Made me proud. He got the ball and ran with it. Scared the Spurs defence to death. I'd rather watch 5 minutes of this lad than a whole season of Viduka.
Defence - by playing Matteo at left back we lose his aerial ability and his presence in the middle. How many free headers did Spurs get ? Camara and Radebe have not gelled. Camara may turn out to be a good signing. He does some things very well but he doesn't look comfortable to me. Got put on his arse too easy.
Gary Kelly - distribution f'cking terrible.
Southampton I'd go with :-
I was surprised and thrilled to find that the Totteringham game was on here in BKK.................even more so after Smith's splendid goal. But after that, I thought it was a very disappointing performance in many ways. Have only read Jabba & Reidy's verdicts on the game so far, but have to disagree with both. The second goal cannot be put down to a defensive error because Matteo made an excellent and perfectly fair tackle for which he was totally unjustly not only penalised but booked..........AND they bloody scored from the freekick. Agree with Reidy that both their goals were excellent, but the point was that we conceded so much space and possession to them after we scored that something like that was bound to happen. It was bad enough last week that we tried to shut up shop once we had the lead, and that was with what 25 mins to go.............yesterday, we did it with 86 mins to go, which was madness! Having said that, I thought we did defend well. The problem was with Viduka and, sad to say, Smithy. I disagree with Reidy's comments about our hero. I thought he scored a great goal and then proceeded to have just about the worst game I can recall him having. Neither of the strikers managed to get possession and then hold the ball up; result..........we could not keep the ball and they put us under nonstop pressure from which they were bound to score eventually. Viduka.........well, he was so bad that my computer is trembling at the prospect of what Rich Walker is going to say about him this time! Where is Bridges?
And then, 1-2 down with about 3 mins to go, and we're given a freekick midway in their half, and what do we do......play it short to Lucas "Goal Machine' Radebe to let fly from 35 yds! I'm surprised that didn't come off!
Pennant was a big disappointment. Didn't seem to be arsed, but I suppose it was rather a pressure situation. He might do better with the fans behind him on Tue, and surely must be given a start in place of Wilpasstothe opposition.
Sakho was great again, in a different way. He showed he's not just a fancy dan, but can and will track back and get stuck in. Shame we couldn't get the ball to his feet more though.
Well, after a few days of blissful optimism, this brought me crashing down to earth. There were a few - all too few - silver linings: Smudger scoring again, proving that if you play him as a striker, he will get you goals; Sakho working his socks off in the first half when we didn't have the ball; Lennon coming on as the youngest player ever in the Premiership and immediately showing more initiative than most of our other players had managed in the preceding 78 minutes.
But frankly, that was about it. As has already been pointed out by other listers, after we scored, we acted as if there were four minutes to go, not four minutes gone. We did not have the quality of player on the field to defend for that long. I WISH our coaching team would get us to defend in the opponents' half, not the edge of our area. This is a mistaken tactic we've been employing under successive managers, and we don't get any better at it.
Which brings us to team selection. I cannot understand Reid's reasoning in selecting Wilcox, especially on the right wing. Think what Pennant must have thought when he saw the teamsheet, and realized that a past-it left-footed left winger whose legs have gone was being selected to play right wing ahead of him. But it's not just Pennant. There are any number of combinations we could have played in midfield that wouldn't have required using Wilcox, and, in my opinion, would have performed better. We could have had Milner on instead, or switched Sakho to the right and put Domi on the left from the start. Not that I'm advocating it, but a strike force of Sakho and Viduka with Smith on the right wing would have gotten us more penetration than any team with Wilcox on the right wing. This was a HUGE mistake by Reid that went a long way toward costing us the match. (Just look at the way Taricco ghosted past Wilcox as if he wasn't there to score their equalizer.) Wilcox shouldn't even have been on the bench. Replacing him in the second half cost us a substitute.
Speaking of the subs, that brings me to my second major criticism. This game demonstrated that neither Johnson nor Morris has the quality and the experience to consistently receive the ball from defence, keep hold of it, move upfield and pass it to another player in a white shirt to initiate an attack. We have only one player left in the club who has demonstrated he can do that at the highest level. His name is David Batty and he should start every game. In yesterday's game, I would have put him in the position occupied by Morris, with Morris either playing in Wilcox's place, or sitting on the bench. A midfield of Sakho - Johnson - Batty - Pennant, with at least three from Lennon, Morris, Domi and Milner on the bench would have been a much better option.
Finally, what the hell has happened to Bridges? A few days ago the official web site said that Bakke and Duberry were our only two injuries. So what's going on with Bridges? We desperately need his inventiveness and eye for goal. There seem to be only three possible answers, none of which is good: (a) he's still injured; (b) he's back to fitness, but hasn't regained anything like his old form, or (c) Reid is refusing to even put him on the bench because of some personality conflict.
All in all, a depressing weekend.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 25/08/2003.
For someone who insists he is not a betting man, Glenn Hoddle curiously peppered his post-match talk with so many words like "punt" and "risk" as to suggest the opposite. And he looked every bit the knowing wagerer who had backed a winner coming home by a distance.
Indeed, Hoddle basked so much in the afterglow of victory that he could have been mistaken for the leader in the opening manager-of-the-month contest rather than the sack race. But one match does not a month make, let alone a season, as Hoddle himself pointed out in reference to the instant doom-and-gloom reaction by "ludicrous people" to his side's opening-day defeat.
Which is partly why Hoddle will not be rushing to the nearest High Road bookies to back his team to beat the standard mid-table expectations held out for Tottenham. Hoddle knows that this win says as much about an unenterprising Leeds as it does about Spurs.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 24/08/2003.
Glenn Hoddle advised would-be punters not to take the odds that favour him becoming the first Premiership manager to lose his job this season. And after Frédéric Kanouté capped his debut with a stunning goal to seal a well-deserved win over Leeds United, Hoddle's position looks a little more comfortable.
With games against Liverpool, Fulham and Chelsea coming up, Tottenham Hotspur needed their first points of the season desperately, and they got them by showing the passion and fight that has been evident all too rarely. It was epitomised by their opening strike.
If ever a team needed a goal as half-time approached, it was Spurs. Trailing to a fifth-minute strike from Alan Smith, the home side were looking distinctly anxious and the threat of unrest from their supporters was thinly veiled by a show of bravado and singing.