It is entirely possible that I’m developing some anger issues. Looking over my last month’s worth of blog content, you could even say that this anger has been brewing in me for a while. Pessimism and mistrust are plaguing my outlook of the game right now, and the season’s barely even begun. Surely I’m jumping the gun a bit, right?
But after Tottenham’s 5-1 drubbing by Manchester City on Sunday morning, I now concretely feel like my anger is justified.
Everyone knew that this was going to be a pivotal season for Spurs. Last year’s monumental distraction that was the Champions League, while still fantastic/magical/sexually exciting, was one of the primary reasons why they’re not dancing in the European spotlight again this season. That long, deep run proved that the squad wasn’t deep or talented enough to battle on so many fronts and still produce performances worth the price of admission to the big dance.
But the drawn out nature of a relatively fruitless transfer season has done nothing but cast an air of uncertainty at White Hart Lane. I won’t rehash all of our transfer dealings thus far mostly because there’s not much to rehash… and I’ve already done that. It will suffice to say that with the majority of the summer spent playing the waiting game with Chelsea over Modrić, it’s unsurprising that this summer has done nothing but unsettle the entire team.
Back-to-back ass-whoopings from the Mancunian clubs have confirmed as much: they’ve shipped 8 goals in two games while netting a solitary consolation strike. Rightfully, Spurs sit rock bottom of the Premier League with just three days to a solitary day remaining until the close of the transfer window.
But it’s not just a lack of activity in the transfer market that’s hurting Tottenham right now.
Taking a look a the squad list, you’ll notice it’s decimated by injuries at the moment. When van der Vaart limped off injured against City, I was hardly surprised; the guy has rarely managed to go a full 90′ since he joined a year ago. Steven Pienaar had to have groin surgery right before the season began. Even with one foot out the door, Wilson Palacios’ other boot is planted firmly in the infirmary. King and Gallas are both out indefinitely, creating the holes that United and City were so easily able to dance/shoot through.
All of those injuries combined point a big, glowing, E.T. finger squarely at the club’s physio staff. Are these guys working for the enemy or something? While every club with internationals faces the prospect of rehabilitating their stars when they return from national team duty, a quick scan of the league shows only Arsenal are as dilapidated. What are these guys (not) doing with the squad that’s causing so many injuries to arise?
Then comes the issue of the decision making by the captain of the ship, Mr. ‘arry. Redknapp’s made some hugely questionable choices as of late, but the most glaring of them involved starting zero defensive midfielders against Manchester City’s £116 million front four (Silva, Džeko, Aguero and Nasri). While I know Spurs are a bit depleted in that department right now, Huddlestone was still fit enough to come of the bench. Let Livermore have another match, perhaps? (Yes, he’s played a lot of matches so far… but who cares!? He’s a kid. He’ll recover.)
And why hasn’t he shown Pavyluchenko the pitch at all yet? Crouch and Defoe have just as many goals this season as him: 0. He’s also not the most astute tactician: the midfield gaff last week against City shows that glaringly.
Off the pitch, Harry’s apparently playing a few mind games with the chairman. And let’s not forget about those tax fraud charges.
Hardly the actions you would want from your manager in such a delicate situation.
But to really underline the point that Tottenham are standing still while their rivals rush past, let’s take a peak back in time at a previous important match against City. Just two years ago, we successfully battled and defeated City in the race for fourth place in the second to last game of the season. Both sides were very evenly matched. And Even though Spurs took the spoils, nobody would have been surprised if City had taken fourth instead. The line-ups that day looked as follows:
May 5, 2010 – City of Manchester Stadium
Tottenham (4-4-2): Gomes; Kaboul, King, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Modrić, Huddlestone, Bale; Crouch, Defoe.
Man City (4-2-3-1): Fülöp; Bridge, Kompany, K. Touré, Zábaleta; Barry, de Jong; Bellamy, Tévez, Johnson; Adebayor.
FINAL: City 0 – Spurs 1
Now look at Spurs line-up from this past weekend against the same club (with players new to the club since the first game noted by color, * denoting a changed player that was on the squad in the first game):
August 28, 2011 – White Hart Lane
Tottenham (4-4-1-1): Friedel; Ćorluka*, Dawson, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Modrić, Kranjčar*, Bale; Crouch, van der Vaart.
Man City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Lescott*, Kompany, Clichy; Y. Touré, Barry; Nasri Silva, Agüero; Džeko.
FINAL: Spurs 1 – City 5
Please note that the only changes to Spurs’ squad were a free signing (Friedel), and the bargain busting £8 million signing of Rafa. Meanwhile, City spent a combined £147 million on the six changes to their line up (leaving out Hart, who returned from Loan). Also take note of City’s insanely more offensively oriented squad compared to the first. Sigh. The thought of being on equal footing with the Citizens today seems ludicrous to even consider.
The Dalglish revolution at Liverpool seems to be pulling them back above the Lillywhites, too. And let’s not even talk about how the Red Devils and Chelsea have re-upped their squads. Meanwhile, Levy and Redknapp appear content to let any chances of another top four finish slip away. Maybe I’m just being pessimistic and gut reacting before the transfer window can even close. I hope they prove me wrong. I need them to… I’ve been spoiled. Alright, I am finally having that panic attack I predicted a few weeks ago.
But as I rage upon my keyboard while writing this, one pleasant thought does give me some hope: at least we don’t seem to be tanking quite so bad as Arsenal.