Odd thing, creativity. Hard to put your finger on it, to put into words what creativity is, although you’ll know it when you see it. A spark perhaps that turns ordinary into extraordinary, the imagination to see something that others have not considered.
Sometimes creativity is best defined by its absence. Yesterday Spurs did most of the right things most of the time, all that was required was a moment of ingenuity to finish the hard graft and approach play that was a feature of the second half in particular, the best Tottenham have played this season. Yet when it mattered, inspiration deserted us. A good performance but no goals, and into the international break with no wins from 4.
The team played well and individual performances were pretty good too. Mason, playing in the forward three, ran his socks off and made those lung-busting runs from deep that Pochettino is so keen on this season. Dembele had a sound first half then began the second like a man possessed, hurling himself at the defence and trying to knock down a few doors until he was stretchered off after another assault. The irony of finally playing as we hoped he could only to be injured will no doubt be lost on him as he puts up his bandaged leg this afternoon. Kane worked like a Trojan, behind him Dier mopped up most of the danger and Bentaleb got things going again. The defence was solid, restricting a busy but blunt Everton attack to only a couple of chances, one of which arose from a crass error by Walker.
This was a game for the one man who wasn’t there. Christian Eriksen, absent through injury, this match was made for him. After a close first period, the match opened up in the second half as Spurs made a concerted attempt to take the lead. Dier and Bentaleb provided the platform, the forwards the space, so Eriksen would have had the freedom to dominate his territory, between 20 and 40 yards from the opposition goal. Dier, Chadli and Mason skied good edge-of-the-box shots high into the crowd. Eriksen territory. Kane, Mason and Chadli darted into the box. Eriksen sat in the West Stand involuntarily miming knocking the through-ball in.
By far the better side, Spurs made chances but sadly missed them. Some people are deeply suspicious of creativity. You can’t measure it or quantify it. It’s not something that can be drilled into someone, whether that be in an office training seminar room or the practice pitch of a top-class football club. Pochettino decided to cover Eriksen’s absence by selecting Mason in his place. Good footballer, I like him, but it felt as if hard work was replacing originality. Mason missed two good chances, one in the second half with just the keeper to beat when his left-foot shot was as tame as could be.
Mason however made the best chance of the match and his oppo Harry Kane missed it. Gliding onto a perfect long pass, Kane had time to control it only to stutter and stymie himself, contriving to bumble the ball against keeper Howards’ legs. Four games in, no goals and until today precious little support up front, Kane is weighed down by the burden of expectation. The moment when it became too much came a few minutes earlier. Having cut inside and shot, a la first goal Chelsea last season only much weaker, he then tried another from range to ruin a decent attack when others were better placed. He dashed back and fouled through frustration.
I read a lot of Ray Bradbury when I was younger, I should take another look. Bradbury once said, “Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do them.” Being good and then thinking about what you did to be good is the biggest challenge any player faces once success touches them. Let it flow, H, just do your thing, and we can go back to supporting a young, talented footballer, because that’s what he is and always has been even when the goals came without thinking.
Before kick-off they showed a video of a nice lad wearing a Spurs shirt, Korean I’d say, enjoying an afternoon at the Spurs training ground. I couldn’t catch the commentary but it looked like he was pleased with his GCSEs and was having a day out before deciding on his options. English language and sports science?
Son will provide pace and goals, both much-needed. Another striker will be handy but an experienced defensive midfielder to protect the back four and hold the team together is essential.
Twitter is full of people adjudicating on those moments when football jumps the shark. My candidate for the clearest indication yet that football has eaten itself is the complaint from the West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace that Spurs had the cheek to bid for one of his players during the transfer window. Whatever next, West Brom buying two strikers in the same window, surely not?
Still, it did provide a first, at least for me, Spurs’ fans barracking a player, John Stones, for thinking about but not yet joining a club we don’t like. I liked the Everton riposte too: “I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy you Stones.”