Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hard To Be Happy: Internazionale Milan 4 - Tottenham Hotspur 1

Unhappy bicycle
Photo by Salim Virji on Flickr

If James Thought He Was Having a Bad Day, Just Wait
Until He Sees What Correspondent Ed Did to His Bike

James may be back, but he's not altogether happy:

Yes, Spurs are through to the last eight in the Europa League but, make no mistake, today was a train wreck at the San Siro from the manager on down. AVB has been sterling this year for the most part and, with this team missing both Bale and Lennon, it's likely not even the reincarnation of Bill Nicholson would have conjured a solid win out of this team.

While the team has lacked width and pace with Moussa Dembele playing on the right the last two games, he has been sorely missed centrally. Scott Parker and Jake Livermore do not exactly splash the canvas like Picasso. That combined with AVB's insistence to both play a high line with over an over-40 goal tender (Brad Friedel) and center half (William Gallas, in perhaps the worst game of his career) and play a 4-4-2 with Jermaine Defoe and Emanuel Adebayor up top against a team duty bound to attack on their home ground was pure folly. Lastly, the decision to loan out Andros Townshend, who has played superbly for QPR, and sacrifice the now necessary cover for Aaron Lennon has proved costly.

But AVB was probably over confident. Doubtless, the entire squad - save Jan Vertonghen, Dembele and Gylfi Sigurdsson - played that way. They were the clones of the Inter team that collapsed at The Lane last week with one vital exception: Spurs scored a goal. Beyond that, however, one was convinced that this would go down as the one of the worst examples of Spurs-cursed karma in their long history of cursed karma.

In AVB's defense though, all but the above mentioned players put on a pure horror show. Kyle Walker has been a complete mess since his horrible goal-costing mistake against Liverpool. Naughton and Livermore were terrible, Gallas has never looked worse, and Defoe was mostly invisible as usual. At least Adebayor - as ineffective as he's been - was involved. And his goal was obviously crucial.

It is no mystery that Louis Holtby was subbed for Defoe and not Adebayor: if teams don't leave gaping space at the back, Defoe is completely useless. Ade, at least, stays in the mix (most of the time) and leaving him on, getting Holby out and shifting Dembele to the middle finally made Spurs start to resemble the team that had not lost in twelve games prior to the series of brain freezes at Anfield last weekend. Whether that will be enough to jump start the confidence of a squad that suddenly appears on a downward spiral remains to be seen. But with Fulham in the League next and no one all that imposing left in the Europa League, Spurs's opportunity for a special season is still there.

This is farlieonfootie for March 16.

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