Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Seeing Those Not Believing

photo by SteveR-via PhotoRee

Ed on Spurs:

The press can beat up on Andre Villas-Boas all it likes for his errors in formation: the high line providing chances for the opposition; his inability to adopt to Roberto Mancini's back three and the flooding of the midfield; his removal of Emmanuel Adebayor for Jermaine Defoe instead of Clint Dempsey for Defoe. Unfortunately, the reality was in the personnel.

Tom Huddlestone is a decent holding midfielder. He's big and tough and not a bad tackler, but he has nowhere near the ball control skills of Scott Parker or the midfield of City. Sandro is another good holding defensive midfielder; not very creative and somewhat lacking in ball control skills. In short, the Huddlestone/Sandro midfield is all they have right now, but it's far from top of the table. Spurs are simply not good enough to be down two starting midfielders in Moussa Dembele and Scott Parker and still compete with the best teams. Could any team?

Well, yes. United and City are so chock full of expensive top class strikers that they can pull it off. United pretty much did so last year amid talk of Wesley Sneider and the unretirement of Paul Scholes. To be honest, I still don't understand why someone with his ability retired to begin with. I've said this before and I'll say it again – play until you can't play any longer. It's a game. It's fun. I still play and all I get out of it is the occasional fist bump.
The Brits like to speak about the economic disparity in the league – class warfare being a (detrimental) staple of English (and current American) politics and thinking. But in the case of the BPL and pretty much all the leagues in Europe, there are a few billionaire teams and everyone else. Occassionally a team like Spurs can sneak into the top four – very occassionally – but they begin each season with zero chance of winning the title. Or do they?

It must be odd from a managerial standpoint to be the head of a team who's goal is coming in fourth. Something I liked about Harry Redknapp was that he would trumpet that Spurs could win the title each year. I think talk like that has a valuable psychological effect on the players. First, it's a challenge to their egos: “So you think you're so good you don't have to play defense, or you should be on a better club. Well if that's true, why can't you win a title here?” Second, it's inspirational as in, “Let's go out there and see if we can actually do it!”

Crazy? I believe the alternative must be more difficult. Starting any game with the idea that you're going to lose unless you are lucky enough to pull out a draw must be awful.

So is that Spurs problem? Are they just not inspired enough? At times in Sunday's game against City I actually thought so. Panicking and giving the ball away cheaply are the tell-tale signs of players or teams that don't think they belong. I would rather a team try to win and go down in flames than watch that display of Spurs trying desperately not to lose.

But that said, I'm also not the Manager and I can speak plainly and frankly about the talent level at this Spurs team. Right now, the talent they have on the field is very mid-table. With Dembele, Parker, Younes Kaboul, and Benoit Assou-Ekotto available could they win it all? I'd like to think that they think they actually could.
This is farlieonfootie for November 14.

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