Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig. – Marcus Aurelius
Perpetual gloom and doom hangs over White Hart Lane these days, at least that’s how it has felt the last few weeks. Spurs’ terrible run of form would normally be enough to drag squad and fan spirits down on its own, but Muamba’s near-tragedy on pitch last weekend was another blow to the collective despair that currently surrounds the club. The feeling is pervasive, and seems to have reached every corner of the Tottenham’s being.
Our manager has had his head turned, and predictably lost the plot because of it. Though injuries have forced his hand at times, Harry’s willingness to mess with a winning formula has been confounding. Gareth Bale is one of the world’s finest left wingers: let’s let him wander the middle of the pitch or switch him
temporarily permanently to the right. Luka Modrić is one of the most sought-after center midfielders in the game: it will be best to play him wide left where he won’t see enough touches to impact the match. We’ve been one of the best sides this season at stretching the pitch and playing direct: maybe we should play narrow and through the middle now… you know, just for shits and giggles.
Speaking of injuries, they’ve finally hit us hard enough to hurt. Though not a world-class player in the same sense as Modders, Bale or Rafa, Aaron Lennon’s absence has been very influential. His pace, when paired with Bale’s on the opposite side, is crucial to Spurs’ ability to stretch opposing defenses and make room for the more creative players to orchestrate opportunities. Without Adebayor up top, we’ve lost the target man and hold-up play a direct offense requires. That’s not to mention that we’re only another Gallas hamstring away from having a legitimate crisis at center half. And with Scott Parker looking rusty the last few matches, perhaps we can again find fault in the manager. Undoubtedly, Redknapp’s reluctance to rotate the squad earlier this season looks to have come back to haunt him.
Then, of course, there’s that pesky drop in form I mentioned earlier. A quick glance at the League Form Table over the last 8 games sees us sitting a paltry 13th, just ahead of relegation candidate QPR and just behind potential top four foe and weekend opponent Chelsea. Had it not been for van der Vaart’s last gasp header against Stoke on Wednesday night, we’d be sitting in at least 16th. If you’re at all worried about Saturday’s visit to Stanford Bridge, I would strongly recommend not having a look at Tottenham’s form over their last five away fixtures… unless you’re feeling up for a/n panic attack/aneurysm.
Some of our fellow supporters have even started turning on the players, which is equal parts predictable and deplorable. How telling the boys that they’re worth “less than poo” will benefit them or spur them on to victory is beyond me, but who am I to judge how other’s cope with such a drop in fortunes?
To make use of an overused Austin Powers phrase, it’s clear that Tottenham as a whole have “lost their mojo”. The swagger and confidence that oozed from the side and fanbased in the first two-thirds has been suppressed. But despite all of that, I’m relatively calm heading into the clash with Chelsea.
So what if the injury bug persists, likewise if Redknapp continues to experiment. Who cares if the Scum have erased the gap. Those are all worrying and troublesome, but all hope is not lost.
Firstly, of all the “Big Four” sides that we could be facing this weekend, Chelsea are ones I most prefer. As mentioned earlier, the Blues aren’t exactly in the best run of form themselves, and they’re arguably the only club in the Premier League that have had more internal drama than Spurs this season. John Terry should be missing through injury — hardly a good omen for a team who’s been defensively fragile this year — and will instead do his best to play managerial puppeteer to interim boss Roberto di Matteo. And even though Torres finally ended his 25+ hour goalless streak, his mental stability is anything but proven at this point.
Secondly, it’s not like we’ve been playing absolutely horrible football of late. There have been flashes of the old Spurs throughout this barren run. Against Stoke, Bale had a beautiful blast against the bar, not to mention we bossed possession. In fact Spurs have done surprisingly well in possession during this stretch, having only narrowly lost the statistical battle in three of the last eight matches (@Arsenal – 43%, @Liverpool – 48%, @City – 47%). They’ve also created nearly 50 more goal scoring opportunities than their opposition during the same run, which suggests that if their finishing improves marginally then they could start taking more points. The City match could have turned out differently had Balotelli been correctly sent off. Maybe we could have taken the spoils against United too, had Adebayor’s early goal not been incorrectly disallowed.
This is essentially the same squad that we’ve had all season, barring some minor personnel changes. We know they’re capable of turning in some breathtaking performances, ones that are more than enough to knock down a side in turmoil such as Chelsea. All we need is for the manager to place the players in the right formation, a little more belief, and a sprinkling of the luck we’ve missed out on the last few weeks, to help lift the gloom that’s hung over the club, the players and the supporters alike.
The ability that’s needed already exists in this Tottenham Hotspur side, they just need to dig deep within themselves to find it again.