A while ago, Spurs were humbled by Arsenal at the Emirates through a three-goal and several-sitter schooling, mostly led by Van Persie and Fabregas, who made a world-class darting run through three sleepy Spurs defenders and then calmly finished the job with a curled shot around Gomes.
We can thank Robbie Keane for the addition of the laughing stock donated to Arsenal by the Pre-Match Interview. He claimed that Spurs' were totally equal to, if not better than Arsenal. That week was coincidentally the only one where Wenger talked some sense ("ze talking is done on ze peetch...").
See, you CAN hate someone while respecting them ;)
The loss did do some good for Spurs. It highlighted what was still wrong with Spurs' squad and the way in which Harry was selecting his players. But the recent trashing of Wigan has actually shown some patching up of things.
Still, I have some advice for our Gaffer which I consider to be very sound.
So grab yourself something to help you stay up; it's a long one! ;)
1) MAKE KEANE TAKE A BREAK:
Pre-Liverpool, Keane was Spurs' striker-to-beat in terms of goals and also assists.
He never wanted to stop scoring and adapted to whichever striker was playing alongside him. Whether Keane was sharing the frontline with Frederic Kanoute, Jermain Defoe or Dimitar Berbatov, he created a unique, dynamic partnership with each. Keane also dispatched penalties as confidently as Berbatov did.
These partnerships created and successfully converted many goals which rocketed Spurs up the league table under Martin Jol to secure two Fifth-Place finishes on the bounce. One of them narrowly missed out on the much-coveted, hallowed, exalted, praised and honoured "Fourth-Place" due to uncontrollable circumstances (literally ;D). That weekend would still, to this day, be difficult to WIPE from the squad's minds (sorry, but it does sound funnier as time goes by).
However, disaster struck, just as Spurs were finding their feet after the worst
league start in history, Keane had what is now surely considered by him to be a 'brainfart' and decided to sign for his boyhood club (I'm splitting my sides), Liverpool.
At Liverpool, Keane's was undeservedly wasted on the bench in my opinion. I don't know if this was an intended part of Benitez's patented 'Rotation Policy', but Keane was regularly kept out of the starting lineup due to 'tactical reasons'; just like when Rafa substituted Benayoun 20 minutes into a match for Voronin for 'tactical reasons'; or left Gerrard out on the bench against Birmingham City on Monday night for 'tactical reasons', which only resulted in a less-than-deserved 2-2 draw because of a dodgy penalty call.
Even when Keane scored vital goals to keep Liverpool up there with the other
top teams, he was still often kept on the bench. This lack of playing time may have contributed to his severe plummet in form on his return to Spurs.
There was a rhythm he had through regular starts for Spurs that enabled him to be in top goalscoring form during every game which was disrupted, partly due to Rafa's attitude towards letting him start or even play the full 90 minutes.
His return to Spurs made me split my sides at the thought that this club, with a manager who didn't treat him the way he deserved, could possibly be the one he was waiting to play for all his life; because that's also how long he was waiting to make a start and play a full game there!
On his return to Tottenham, his style and form just fell apart at the seams. He wasn't scoring the goals, or keeping the ball long enough to create chances for others.
Harry had often played him on the left wing which wasn't making things any easier,
but even when placed directly in front of goal, he was lacking the killer instinct that Defoe has retained since coming back from struggling club Portsmouth (double-take can be made here).
Every game without Keane scoring makes the 5-0 game against Burnley and the 2-0 game against Sunderland increasingly anomalous. Keane went on to epitomise his problem by taking a feeble penalty against Everton in their recent League Cup tie.
He managed to score on the rebound, but it was part of a ‘let’s-all-swipe-wildly-at-the-ball-and-it-may-go-in-the-net-if-we’re-lucky’ scramble. It is highly concerning because Spurs, with the constant flow of injuries being sustained, are now lacking the quality in front of goal. Goals mean points; and what do points make!? (PRIZES!!!)
I do have to say though, There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Keane has the leadership to carry the team through when The King is away. However, THAT is the only thing keeping him in the squad at all, and my good books. I find it extremely hard to understand how Keane, even with all his leadership and tactical brilliance cannot even pull off a decent performance himself anymore.
My advice would be to keep Keane off if Ledley King is playing. King is the actual Captain of the squad. He can lead the defence efficiently. Spurs’ backline has always been injury-prone; so any clean sheets attained by them have looked impressive (although I do hand 95% of the credit to Goalkeeper, Gomes).
Harry Redknapp just seems to have this idea that Keane is always needed on the pitch somewhere despite the fact that the actual Captain (King) has been placed in the lineup as well. I think Redknapp needs to grow his pair a bit more and say ‘Keane, you’re not starting today. It’s for your own good’.
On the weekend that has just been, yes - the game where the Jumbotron screens almost broke, we could’ve found Keane in goal when Lennon returned to the wing. I’d have then said to you all, ‘I told you it wouldn’t work’.
Keane is turning into the [old] David Bentley of the squad, leaving people unsure about whether he still wants to play for Spurs or not. Therefore I suggest Keane spends some time with the reserves to get his confidence back and then he’ll be back to normal.
It worked for Bentley. He got a lot of stick from me and others during his touch-drought in the first team. One goal against Arsenal only gains you so much credit. You have to do more than that and make an impact on the game by kicking the ball. Bentley just didn’t appear to do that.
He went off to the reserves and did wonders for them; then he had chances to redeem himself in League Cup matches and league games which, to his credit, he took terrifically. Bentley was getting more involved in the game, making great crosses, shooting and even scoring a few goals.
The ‘time-out’ period had worked and I had taken the words I said about him back and eaten them, bit by bit, in the form of the dessert every football fan has eaten at least once before, humble pie. Mmmm,mmmm,mmmmmm…
2) BRING THE RESERVES/LOANED PLAYERS BACK:
Spurs have loaned players out to what looks like an entire league’s worth of teams, some of which I really think Spurs are missing in the squad. Additionally, there are players who are currently in the reserves, but deserve a place in the first team. These players are:
- Jamie O’Hara (on loan at Portsmouth)
- Andros Townsend (on loan at Leyton Orient)
- Jake Livermore (on loan at Derby County)
- John Bostock (on loan at Yeovil Town)
- Adel Taarabt (on loan at Queens Park Rangers [QPR])
- Kyle Naughton (Spurs Reserves)
- Giovani Dos Santos (Spurs Reserves)
I have a lot of love and respect for Jamie O’Hara. Despite his limited appearances, in all of them, he has done consistently well. I don’t recall a single match that Spurs lost with him in the squad.
His tireless work ethic and positive attitude to the game are highly coveted qualities which are missing from a lot of players in the sport today. He’s not afraid to shoot from distance and makes clean, swift passes.
He has scored a few important goals for Spurs. One being a goal against West Ham at Upton Park to secure a 2-0 victory and another he scored from distance against Slavia Prague in Spurs’ 2007/2008 UEFA Cup (now ‘Europa League’) campaign.
That was the only Spurs goal of the game which took them through to the next round on aggregate. I’d happily welcome him back from Portsmouth. It’s merely a question of whether Spurs need four back-up wingers in case Lennon or Modric can’t participate in a match.
Scored a wonder-goal for Leyton Orient against Yeovil Town. He ran for 70 yards, dodging four Yeovil players and finished his run with a punchy strike which went into the net.
Whilst I grant you that this particular goal is merely one of two goals scored for the Os in 12 appearances, he is a winger, so getting a few goals like Aaron Lennon was up until his injury would be extremely useful. Plus, if any wingers are injured again
(Heaven forbid), he can have an opportunity or two to make a name for himself.
Made his presence immediately known at the pre-season Wembley Cup match between Spurs and Barcelona. Livermore came on as a substitute and scored a goal to equalise against Barcelona which brought the score to 1-1. He deserves a run in the
Has had experience at international level, making 25 appearances for England’s Under-17 squad in two years and, like Samir Nasri, been hailed as the ‘next’ Zinedine Zidane (as said by Brentford Manager, Andy Scott). Must be something there then…
I didn’t warm to Adel Taaaaaaaar…abt at first. He’d take the ball and then never give it to anybody else except the opposition when they tackle him. I bet some of his teammates were also tempted to tackle him so that they’d get a touch.
The in-form Moroccan has been loaned to QPR (twice – in a row(??)) from Spurs and has gone down a storm there. He has scored a few vital goals for QPR and with a style
all his own.
Using the confidence he gained from capturing the ball from the air, weaving around three Preston North End players for 20 yards and then hitting the target 25 yards away, he curled a low free kick around a Derby County wall into the net the following week; the match ended with a turntable victory for QPR, from 2-0 down to 2-4.
I still think he needs to pass more. THAT is the only thing which bothered and still bothers me. Otherwise he’d be an absolutely perfect replacement for
David Ginola…in skills, not looks…never looks ;D.
Then again, there’s no use in complaining. He’ll most likely stay at QPR beyond the end of the season (the end of the season being when his current loan contract expires) because he’s a fan favourite there and would be unfairly forced to rejoin
the reserve squad if he returned to Spurs. If he hadn’t hogged the ball
all the time he was at The Lane, things would obviously be different.
You don’t appreciate something until it’s…you know the rest...
…banging them in every week at the club they’re loaned to; correct.
Kyle Naughton embodies the same positive attitude as Jamie O’Hara in terms of football. He’s always first out of the gates and last to slow down. The games I’ve seen him play demonstrate a willingness to play the game and be hungry for some action (not that kind you promiscuous people).
Single-handedly/footedly (because the former would be considered as ‘handball’ of course) carrying Mexico to the 2010 FIFA World Cup Group Stage after consistently brilliant individual performances. In their match against Costa Rica, Dos Santos contributed to all three of their goals, scoring one goal from distance and assisting in the other two on swift counter attacks.
When given the chance in League Cup games for Spurs, he replicates the same classy play as if he’s still in his Mexican shirt. One run he made all by himself
against Doncaster Rovers almost ended in a goal to accompany it, but his solid strike
bounced off of the crossbar to deny him the goal.
If he can play that consistently, why doesn’t he deserve a place on the bench, if not the starting XI? Barring the fact he’s currently injured, even before he got injured, he looked ever so promising for Spurs and proved that snapping him up from Barcelona was a stroke of genius.
There is most definitely intense competition for the left-wing position with Bale, Modric and Krancjar, but Gio has just as much right to play on that team as they do. A stroke of genius for many forthcoming strikes of genius.
3) TELL DEFOE TO NOT BE A MUPPET TWO WEEKS BEFORE A DERBY MATCH!
Jermaine Defoe showed the whole world (and Fabio Capello) just how fantastic he is by knocking five goals into Wigan’s net on Sunday, making himself the fourth Spurs player in their history to do so. It could’ve been more if it weren’t for some persistent goalkeeping by Chris Kirkland.
With all that said, it doesn’t excuse him for acting like a muppet at Portsmouth. He was tangled up in a challenge by Mokoena and then cheekily (but lightly) stamped on Mokoena’s shin, getting him red carded and therefore suspended just weeks before an important match with Arsenal, which was effectively finished by half time.
Not saying Mokoena didn’t overplay it, which he blatently did, but if you know there’s a match against Arsenal coming up and you’re playing in a match weeks before it,
you should restrain yourself.
If I could wrap this up in a simplified way, it’d be in the words of a Fianna Fail Campaign Speech *shifts eyes at Willie Gannon* - “A lot done, more to do…”