Make the Mackems Pay
‘written by thfc1882.com’
I’ve barely recovered from Saturday’s game as I write this. In fact, I haven’t recovered at all. In 7 days we’ve gone from ecstasy to despair. Oh the life of a Spurs fan. Thanks to the awful performance against Bolton, tonight’s game against Sunderland has taken on a whole new meaning. Is it must win? I think so, or it’s at the very least a must perform game.
We all know what this team can do when it wants to. It can strut prouder than the famous cockerel that adorns the west stand, it can pull teams apart quicker than a pride of lions ripping the flesh of a dead zebra and if it really wants to I believe it can rule the footballing landscape in the coming years (with the addition of 2-3 quality players). Unfortunately, as we’ve seen far too often this season already it can also sleep through the alarm clock and turn up half way through a game. It can leak more than the waste collection bottle under my sink and it can offer less fight than Andy Kaufman in a wrestling match (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah 😉 ). Which team will turn up tonight?
It’s bound to be a strange atmosphere at the lane tonight, with fans wondering the same. Tickets haven’t sold out and there’s a mass of people on social networks trying to flog theirs. I guess Sunderland in N17 on a Tuesday night isn’t quite the same as Inter Milan. That’s the problem though. We as fans pull our hair out wondering why the team doesn’t seem up for certain games compared to others when we’re exactly the same. The excitement surrounding the Inter game was immense. Many paying well over the odds for a ticket. I’ve heard it said that it was the greatest European night in our history. I would have to say it was enjoyable but the greatest? There are a lot of short memories out there.
So everything we did right that night must be replicated tonight. It may ‘only’ be Sunderland but it’s a Sunderland side that ripped us apart in both games last season but somehow we managed to win the home game. Thankfully Darren Bent doesn’t look like he’ll be returning to haunt us but in Gyan they’ve got a player who could just be starting to find his feet in the Premiership.
On paper, man for man, the proud cockerel should be standing tall come the final whistle but football isn’t like that. As against Inter we’ve got to fight for the 3 points. We’ve been a breath of fresh air in Europe but a damp, smelly fart in domestic competition. It’s time we changed that. It’s strange how previous results can effect the next game. The way we started the game on Saturday suggested confidence was very high and all we needed to do was go out, pass the ball in pretty triangles and we’d get our rewards. As we now know, Bolton had other ideas. Much like Sunderland will tonight. They’ll look to close us down, push us back and not give players like Bale, Modric and if he starts, van der Vaart time on the ball. The thing is, and this is the crux of tonight’s match, we shouldn’t be surprised by that.
If the Bolton game has taught us anything, and I pray it has, it’s that we’re not entitled to win any game just because of a previous performance. 90 minutes is all it takes to wipe away the memory of a great win and more importantly a terrible defeat. If we perform as we know we can tonight, get 3 points, start positively and quickly all that happened on Saturday will be put where it belongs, in the past. If we play badly, in the wrong formation with the wrong personnel and don’t get the 3 points then what? The Bolton game is suddenly brought back into the frame and questions will be asked, or should be asked.
This game really is that important. We’ve had a few blips this season but have managed to follow them up with the minimum of 3 points. Maybe not great performances but adequate ones that make us assume the previous game was just a one off.
Redknapp will be sweating on Rafa’s fitness today. With him, he doesn’t have the need to play with 2 strikers which seems to be his favoured formation at the moment. I guess he spent a lot of time watching the world cup and being told 4-4-2 doesn’t work and forgot what got us into the Champions League in the first place. Yes, it’s limited against certain teams, especially the better ones and in Europe but 4-4-2 can work perfectly well for the majority of our league games. Having only scored 13 goals in 11 games it’s plain to see where our problem lies, that and the 14 goals we’ve conceded of course. Letting in 14 goals in 11 games just isn’t good enough but last season when playing with 2 strikers we had scored 21 goals. 8 more in just 11 games. That’s huge.
There are 2 positions that will tell whether Redknapp has learnt anything from the Reebok. Assuming vdV doesn’t make it, surely we have to go 4-4-2 with Crouch and Pav? Hell, I’d even accept Keane in there with Pav but with the chances we can create in and around the box the more strikers we have to try and finish them off the better. Then there’s the right side of midfield. It’s all very well Niko and his dad coming out suggesting he might have to leave in the winter but that shouldn’t mean he gets a start. His performance for a player who should be trying to take his opportunity was shameful, especially when we’ve got a ready made right midfielder on the bench.
David Bentley did nothing wrong last season when Lennon was injured. In fact, he had a very good season. Maybe not as potential game changing as Lennon but he offers a lot to the team, especially defensively. We’ve got a very good partnership developing on the left side with Ekotto and Bale, it’s time we looked at the right. The Corluka and Lennon partnership works well because Charlie tends not to get further forward than Lennon and get in his way like Hutton can do. It’s one of the reason’s Lennon was poor in the world cup, because with Glen Johnson they were constantly getting in each others way. Imagine Hutton being able to push forward and do what he’s best at, attacking, knowing full well that Bentley will have the discipline to sit just in case we lose possession.
With any changes Redknapp makes it’s up to him to let the players he’s bringing in know that they’re coming in because of poor form and not just injury. Lennon has shown signs of returning to form but hasn’t quite got there yet so let Bentley know the position is his if he wants it enough. If he performs well, he won’t be sat back on the bench the minute Lennon returns to fitness. The same with Pav. Anyone can see Crouch is in a slump at the moment. I for one have said his game isn’t just about scoring goals but I can understand people’s frustration at his game and lack of goals. He is a striker after all. Make sure Pav know’s he can go out there and play like he did in the early part of this calender year and won’t be plonked back into obscurity. Give them the chance to claim those positions as their own.
It won’t be an easy game tonight. We could play well and still lose, but Sunderland aren’t the same team away from home as they are at the Stadium of Light. If we get it right and go out to prove a point, we should be all waking with a happy hangover and not a despairing one, and when I see we, I mean the management, the players and the fans.