Have Spurs Ever Played This Badly And Still Won?

Spurs managed to beat Cardiff with one of their worst performances in years, but can Tim Sherwood raise their game for the huge fixtures coming up?
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Spurs managed to beat Cardiff with one of their worst performances in years, but can Tim Sherwood raise their game for the huge fixtures coming up?

Have Spurs Ever Played This Badly And Still Won?

It is possible that Spurs have played worse than they did yesterday and won but nobody at White Hart Lane could remember seeing it. They say you can only beat the team that’s put in front of you and Cardiff are the worst in the league, yet Spurs somehow managed to make a meal of it, hanging on nervously at the end when the Welsh side got a couple of injury time corners.

The game brought two ongoing questions sharply into focus: why are the team playing so badly and how on earth does it find itself as high as fifth in the league?

Responsibility for the poverty of play is Tim Sherwood’s. The fluency, tactical subtlety and esprit de corps that the top four teams share are simply absent in this Spurs side. This is partly due to the manager’s lack of technical sophistication and partly his lame duck status. The players don’t have that extra incentive to impress him because he’s not likely to be their boss beyond the summer.

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As for how they’ve achieved their customary fifth place in such circumstances you have to look at the class of the players. Spurs are like a thoroughbred racehorse that  unseats its rider in The Grand National but keeps up with the chasing pack anyway thanks to its top drawer pedigree. With the arguable exception of Man City and Chelsea, player for player there is no better squad in the Premier League than Tottenham’s and its depth of quality has seen it accumulate a decent points tally in spite of the modest gifts of the two men that have been in charge.

Of course with a really good manager they could have achieved a tilt at the title so looking forward to next season (there’s always next season…) there are reasons for optimism because by then a high quality head coach should be in place. On top of finding the right man for the job, Daniel Levy and Franco Baldini just need to ensure that they can keep hold of the best players (disturbing rumours are already circulating surrounding the itchy feet of Loris and Vertonghen).

Meanwhile, what happens next in the league is an intriguing, not to say scary prospect. Up next are Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. If Spurs go out and play like they did yesterday against any of these teams they will receive thrashings like those already inflicted by Man City and Liverpool. But players of this calibre sometimes raise their games against higher class opponents. Just as Cardiff dragged them down to their level yesterday, these better sides might just inspire them to a higher level of play. Tottenham’s players certainly have the class to give any Premier League side plenty to think about even if their manager doesn’t.

Follow Theo on Twitter, @TheoDelaney