NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 42
Submitted by Norman Giller
The Why Factor
Forget smug Simon Cowell’s X-Factor. After the demoralising defeat by Newcastle yesterday, Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs face the Why? Factor.
WHY did a team of so many talents fold against a Geordie side that has been described as one of the weakest in Newcastle’s proud history?
WHY did Erik Lamela look so inspirational in one match and then become almost invisible in the next game?
WHY did Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul need to make only two saves compared with the Premier League record 14 shots he had to field in the corresponding match in the AVB era last season?
WHY was there no cover in defence when Newcastle made their thrusting goal-producing raids down the flanks?
WHY did the Tottenham midfielders allow themselves to be outmuscled by the Newcastle gang of four when the second-half pressure was at its peak?
Why, why, why? I could go on and on (“You usually do,” Ed) (Ed:- Norman added the previous "Ed" remark. I added this one!)but I am not sure head hombre Pochettino knows the answers.
I cannot remember when I was last so depressed by a Tottenham defeat. If the most expensively acquired team in Spurs history can’t snuff out as mediocre a side as Alan Pardew’s Newcastle it is goodbye to any bragging rights against rivals like Chelski and the Woolwich Nomads.
All the talk on line after the stunning set-back was whether Pochettino will survive the wrath of Chairman Levy. Dan, Dan, the Deadly Axe Man.
I would argue that Mauricio needs a full season to get his methods and values cemented with the players, most of which he inherited.
But Mr Levy is not famous for his patience. He has seen off eight bosses since ENIC took control of Tottenham in 2001, and changes managers like other people change socks.
When he puts his bald head on the pillow at night I wonder if he ever lets his mind wander to the fact that HE is the man mainly responsible for the conveyor belt of catastrophes? It could not have escaped his attention that the boos and jeers raining down from the Spurs fans at the final whistle yesterday were not aimed at Pochettino but at him.
I don’t think Pochettino is in imminent danger, but we may have to revisit the topic if Spurs fail to take maximum points from their next two Premier League matches against Aston Villa and Stoke City, with both clubs currently below 11th placed Tottenham.
It seems to me that the Poch still does not know what his best team is. He needs to look carefully at the midfield engine room and decide whether it is wise and profitable to play both Lamela and Eriksen. They promise much but produce little when together, a bit like thoroughbred horses that cannot share the same harness.
Mauricio must also consider whether he is asking too much of the still raw Eric Dier, who is a central defender having to learn very quickly the disciplines of right-back play.
One thing Eric will have learned the hard way is to concentrate for all 90 minutes. It was as if he had forgotten to put his clock back and was caught asleep in the opening seconds of the second-half. He wandered out on to the pitch late and casually exchanged high fives with skipper Younes Kaboul.
Dear, dear – Dier was still in switch-off mode as substitute Sammy Ameobi raced away from him to score a Newcastle equalizer that wiped out all Tottenham’s territorial advantage of the first-half. Spurs’ fans were suddenly as silenced as if they’d had their throats cut.
Debutant Perez headed what proved to be Newcastle’s winner 12 minutes later against a Spurs defence running around like headless chickens.
If Simon Cowell had been judging this match he would have sent the Tottenham team home.
Oh, hold on, they were at home, and surrendered all three points to a team that has not won away since back in March.
We are left asking: Why?
THE saddest thing about yesterday’s defeat was that it coincided with the club’s special salute to the Master of White Hart Lane, Bill Nicholson, to mark his passing ten years ago.
Bill would have been devastated by Tottenham’s lack of style and guile, and that equalizing goal would have sent him into a rage. He sometimes had a tongue as cutting as a cleaver in the dressing-room, and I wonder if Mauricio with his limited English gets his message across behind closed doors. Then again, the majority of his team do not have English as their first language.
A tale of hope for Mauricio is that in Bill Nicholson’s first season as Spurs manager the team finished 18th in the table and narrowly escaped relegation. The directors kept faith in him and within two years Tottenham had become the first team of the 20th Century to win the League and FA Cup double.
The keyboard managers and coaches turned their guns on Pochettino after the defeat by Newcastle, and it reminded me of a quote Bill Nick gave me in his later years: “The hardest part of my job was being told how to do it by people who could not trap a bag of cement.”
Pochettino was a commanding central defender who played with distinction for Argentina and in club football in his home country and in France and Spain. He knows the game inside out and I hope he is given the time he deserves to get his ideas adopted by the Tottenham players.
But will Levy leave him alone, or will he be Levy-d out?
It is going to be an interesting run-up to Christmas. Let’s hope Father Christmas does not have need to appear with the sack.
THE GILLER TEASER
Each week here in my Spurs Odyssey home I test your knowledge of Tottenham. Last week I asked: Who was born in Tottenham, played on the wing in 193 League and Cup matches and was a member of the 1972 Uefa Cup-winning squad and also the Spurs squad that won the League Cup in 1971 and 1973?
Quite a few of you went for the wrong Jimmy, guessing Neighbour rather than Jimmy Pearce, who was a goal-plundering winger. He would have made a bigger impact but for a string of injuries that led to the discovery of a rare bone disease that forced his retirement while he was still in his 20s.
The first name chosen at random from the correct entries: Brian Johnson, of Islington, who wins an autographed copy of Lane of Dreams.
This week’s teaser features a more recent Tottenham player: Who won 84 caps and played for Chelsea and Arsenal before joining Spurs? He was primarily a central defender, and captained both the Gunners and Tottenham.
I have another copy of my best-selling Lane of Dreams book – including the autographs of Jimmy Greaves and Steve Perryman – for the sender of the correct answer whose name is randomly drawn first. Email your answer please to email@example.com.
If you would like a paperback copy of Bill Nicholson Revisited or a hard-back version of Danny Blanchflower This WAS His Life, please go to www.normangillerbooks.com. A donation goes to the Tottenham Tribute Trust for every copy sold.
Alternatively you can have either of the books delivered right NOW to your computer screen for NOTHING. If you like it, just please make a donation to the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Yes, this is really something for nothing! Thank you
Thanks for your company. COYS!
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