Moving Forward With Andre

Maribor were swept away by a fine attacking performance from Spurs, capped by a three-touch hat-trick from Jermain Defoe. Feed the wingers. Bale rampaging down the left in a magnificent display of power and pace. Defoe with the cut-throat razor finish, ruthless beauty not once but three times, each one his first and only touch in the move. The only problem is deciding which one was the best.

Formations and tactics are permanently on the agenda, especially at Spurs where we don’t have a squad that obviously fits one particular set-up. Anyway, it’s not just about the right formation, it’s about the right formation for each match. Last night’s 4-4-2 throwback to the good old days with two flying wingers and an endless stream of crosses for two, ah the luxurious joy of writing it, two strikers, was perfect to take the game to our willing but limited opponents. Young Tom Carroll shone in centre midfield, ably backed up by Huddlestone who got hold of the ball then laid it off, unobtrusively and economically. Play that open set-up against City and they will demolish us.

Villas-Boas has been criticised for having preconceived tactical ideas – not so. He’s a loyal man sure of his own judgment but not to the point of inflexibility. He has stuck with Gallas at the back in the league, kept faith with Walker despite his loss of form and likes one man up front, but when change was required, he brought in Adebayor. He’s learned his lessons well from his spell at Chel**a. This new dynamic suits me – the obvious is for JD to play off Manu but the big man is mobile too and remained a focal point for attacks even when he dropped off the front.

I’d go further. It’s time for AVB to make this his team. Time to move from transition to the future. Last night the 1882 fans gave the ground a much-needed lift as well as the team. Lots of writing this week about the damp atmosphere at the Lane, the best being from the peerless Lustdoctor ‘Against Modern Tottenham’  . Partly it’s down to unrealistically high expectations – of how good we are, of how quickly a new manager can form a squad deprived of two key players and a decent striker short into true contenders.

Partly it’s down to how Spurs fans have always been. When my lifetime at the Lane began in the late sixties, one of the first things I learned from other fans and the media was that we were fickle, we turned on our own when times got rough. In those days it was the funeral slow handicap that wounded.

As a kid, as now, I questioned that. If we were so fickle, how come we kept on turning up? You can’t fool Spurs fans. We know our football and know what we want. Play the game the right way. If we see something different, that’s the origin of the grumbling. For certain there have been times when it’s been over the top. I’ve never booed a Spurs player and never will. But the grumbles come because we know the game, know who we are and what we stand for. Because we turn up year after year, decade after decade. Because we care.

We know we need another striker and midfielder. The frustration comes because for a few years we have been so close. It’s been the same since I began writing this blog four years ago. We’re close and every time we build, we lose as well as prosper. Dembele and Vertonghen will do for me, but the loss of Rafa and Luka hurts like crazy. You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone (and remember how many Spurs fans repeatedly said both were over-rated).

Enough of the comparisons with Redknapp. Bring in the new players and the new shape and let’s get on with it. Move forward. I love Friedel and Gallas. Adore them. More than just what they’ve done for Spurs, which is plenty, they embody the true spirit of football. The media bang on about how players and fans don’t care. Muamba knows we care. Those of us who were there that Saturday night or last night to welcome him home, that’s football and football as it really is. Same for Brad and Willy. Could have given up. No. Could have taken the money and stayed in the reserves. Not enough. Pride means they want to be the very best even though their bones ache and muscles complain. Total dedication.

But time for them to step back. Lloris made a horrible ricket yesterday. If anything, what worried me more was that he repeated the same reckless manoeuvre in the second half only this time the Maribor forward didn’t make the tackle. But he’s the future, so play him. Let him get used to us and us to him. For better or worse (in the long run, for better in my view), play him.

Play superjan at centre half. That’s our long term future. He’s a fine left-back but he’s our centre half. Sandro and Dembele in centre midfield. What a power combo that will be. Give Carroll more game time, after yesterday he’s earned it. Last season I noted how he looks for the ball, is unafraid to take responsiblity. That firsttime ball to Defoe – top class. But more signficantly, when the passes didn’t come off, no matter, he came back for more. Livermore has the same attitude for that matter. let them play and they will make mistakes, but let them.

Villas-Boas was right to not make wholesale changes but I have a sense that he’s like a kid playing with an older child’s toys. Make this team yours, Andre old son, and we will get behind you. Make them play the Spurs way, with a bit of defensive stuff thrown in, I grant you. Time to move forward with our man.

15 comments

  1. tcchen

    Agree with lot of what you stated.Let’s give AVB a chance and let’s get behind the team.In my opinion Walker has been poor and needs a rest.Cannot believe Gallas is getting his game after so many mistakes.Also how in Gods name you can name Livermore as a future player in Spurs colours.He can’t pass or tackle properly.Useless.As for Carroll I will reserve judgement.

    • Alan

      Gallas made mistakes against Chelsea but has won a huge percetnage of challenges in other games. Livermore may not make it but does not deserve to be rejected outright. Like carroll he is not shy of taking responsibility. He makes rash challenges that have been punished but his basic game of winning the ball then knocking it off is sound. At this level the difference between success and failure is often about cutting out mistakes, and young Jake needs to learn that more than anyone.

      Regards, Al

  2. IKnowAlanGilzean

    Enjoyable performance last night. I think you are right Alan about AVB going for the longer term now or soon at least. Carroll was good again last night and looks a real Spurs player: something of a John Moncur/Ian Crook hybrid. Let’s hope he has a proper chance to make it at Spurs, unlike Moncur or Crook, who were forced to shine brightly elsewhere. I’m an admirer of Livermore’s. When he receives and moves it on quickly, he plays good, economical pass and move football. Always a place, indeed I’d encourage it, for good homegrown players. Often in the past we’ve given up on our own too soon.

  3. Jimmy Greaves is God

    At last !!! 2 forwards on the pitch for nearly the whole game. Brought back memories of Smith/Greaves, Chivers/Gilzean, Crooks/Archibald, Sheringham/Klinsman and Keane/Berbatov. Is it a coincidence that all of our successful teams had at least 2 strikers. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, and if it is, I for one will be quite grateful

    • Alan

      It was good to see. Right for that opposition but City will take us apart if we are so open in midfield. This is the problem with Defoe and his relative lack of ability in anything other than goalscoring, although to be fair to him his support play has improved. Interesting to see Manu dropping off rather than JD – shape of things to come?

      Regards, Alan

  4. TMWNN

    How many successful teams play 442? By successful, I mean winning stuff. It’s obvious that Defoe is inept at playing the lone striker. Not his fault, he’s just too small and not a ball holder, but just 2 in the middle when up against decent sides will result in us being unable to keep the ball and will starve the strikers of service. Other teams will cut right through us (especially if it’s Hudd and one other). There is no easy solution except buying a top marksman and replacing Lennon with someone more threatening who can way in with their share of goals. 442 should suffice at home against the weaker sides, but let’s not be fooled into thinking it’s the answer. AVB needs financial backing to implement the tactics he feels will win things, not play a system that will ultimately win nothing even though it will placate some fans in the meantime.

    • Ashley Collie

      Good post TMWNN. Although, as AVB said, it really wasn’t 4-4-2 but a variation on his 4-4-1-1 but with two real strikers and Ade dropping into midfield, like Dempsey and Sigi have been trying to do behind JD. Could JD and Ade work against City or would AVB be bold enough to play Ade as the lone striker, and not JD?

    • Alan

      Yep. Part of my ‘Andre’s team’ thesis is that Levy has to buy some quality up front and in centre midfield.

      Interesting point re Lennon. He’s playing as well as he ever has but as you rightly say, with this set-up we need goals from midfield, and it’s a weakness if he does not contribute.

      Regards, Al

  5. TMWNN

    On a side note, after all the boring navel-gazing at the home support:

    “There are people out there who prayed for me. I want to thank the chairman, and to all the Spurs fans. I am grateful to them. They are awesome fans.” – Muamba

  6. spurs1947

    Spurs 3-Maribor 1
    Good to see a different attitude,was it the system?They did start very positively for the first 25 minutes or so then seemed to relax too much against a team that was struggling to stay with them.Credit Defoe,3 excellent strikes and I think all his efforts were on target.Great suport from Bale and good from Lennon.But why didn’t he shoot when clean through in the second half?Well impressed with young Carroll,he deserves more team time.What he showed was some of what we’ve missed without Modric and VDV.
    However in the second half I felt we became too casual and Hudd’s passing was off song.It was like they thought the game was too easy and as a consequence they allowed Maribor more possession and made them look better than they were.We need to be more ruthless.Score 1 go for 2 or 3,score 2 go for 3 or 4.
    Player ratings:
    Lloris-6.Sloppy with the goal but back pass let him down.Otherwise some useful stops.
    Walker-5.Not up to last year’s form.Maybe thinks he’s untouchable.Lacking concentration.
    Dawson-6.Not really troubled.Played some nice long diagonal balls to the flanks.
    Vertongen-6.Solid game,again not really troubled.Got forward on occasions.
    Naughton-6.At fault for their goal,however got forward quite well.Out of position?
    Lennon-6.Looked very lively to begin with and tracked back well.Still lacking final ball.
    Huddlestone-6.Tidy on the ball,some good long and short passing, but grow sloppy as the game wore on.Lovely ball for Defoe’s goal.
    Carroll-7.Impressive full match.Looked to create and not intimidated by bigger opposition.Great first time ball for Defoe.
    Bale-8.Always a threat and on great form.Ref.missed what was an arm into his face.Reputation preceding him?
    Adebayor-6.Link up play well,but lacked match fitness.Appeared not to try at times in the first half.
    Defoe-9.Great all round game Looked very sharp and ruthless finishing.Deserved the plaudits.
    My humble observations of the game as seen on tv.

  7. JimmyG2

    Absobloodylutely Alan.
    Take the plunge AVB , stop trying to pussyfoot around everybody, be bold, ignore the fans including me,
    except when I agree with you, put your stamp on the club, best players in their best positions, Lloris and Adebayor in, Gallas and Friedel out, youngsters in, out of form players out, especially Dempsey, bolder substitutions.
    If we’re going to be mid table lets do it in style. Build for the future and get Levy to stump up some cash in January on a back me or sack me basis.The future starts now before it’s too late. Not a moment to lose.
    No more Mr. Nice Guy

  8. Harvey The Hudd

    No word from Alan to alleviate the post-Etihad blues?! Hope all’s well Sir. The lowest of expectations going into the NLD tomorrow but maybe the boys will pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat.

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