Asteras 1 Spurs 2: Five Things We Learned

Kane is able.
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5. Harry Kane must get a Premier League chance

Ok, so he did this miss this chance but it’s not like Emmanuel Adebayor or Roberto Soldado are putting these sort of opportunities away.

Kane did at least score with this header to record his tenth goal in 14 games. He’s not as convincing as a lone striker as he is in a deeper role, yet it’s difficult to imagine that he could possibly be worse than Adebayor and Soldado on current form. Mauricio Pochettino has nothing to lose.

Furthermore, what sort of a message does it send out if a young kid from the academy scores for fun whenever he gets a game, only to see these two bozos picked ahead of him every weekend? That’s the way to cause discontent in a dressing room and with the way Spurs are playing, that’s the last thing that Pochettino can afford.

4. The Europa League group stages are tedious rot

I was covering this game on a professional basis for two websites and yet during the many dull passages of play, I seriously considered dipping into the nearby copy of Danny Baker’s autobiography for a quick half-chapter.

You can argue that the score and the chances created in this match suggest that it was a close game. The trouble is that Tottenham were able to win the match not just while in first gear, but often hitting reverse. Meanwhile, Tripoli were playing with all the dedication normally reserved for a World Cup final.

I’ve nothing against plucky underdogs trying to better their masters, but over the course of a mini-league, quality will win out. Go back to a straight knockout and you have a simple concept that works and if there simply must be a group stage to squeeze out as much cash as possible for all involved, why not schedule it later on in the competition, where truly competitive matches would be the norm.

3. Spurs’ squad features more walking dead than a George Romero film Paulinho was brought on with 13 minutes to go. Not you suspect, because Pochettino thought that the Brazilian could make an impact on the game, but rather just to remind everyone that he was alive and kicking. The £17m signing simply has no future at Tottenham and he’s not alone.

Mousa Dembele is another expensive midfielder shown up by academy product Ryan Mason as a complete waste of money. Both will be gone within a transfer window or two, along with at least a couple of central defenders, Aaron Lennon, Adebayor and Soldado.

That points to more signings having to be made and based on recent history, the chances are that they’ll be no good either.

2. The centre-backs are all slow

Last season it was pretty apparent that the defence needed more pace. Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul ran as if wearing cement boots in quicksand, while Jan Vertonghen didn’t have the speed to compensate.

The only defender who could really run was Vlad Chiriches, but after a bright start he’s become a complete liability in the sort of transformation that we so often see at the club. With that in mind you’d expect that Spurs would have gone out and sorted the problem by signing the sort of centre-backs who could make Usain Bolt turn a head in surprise.

Instead we got Eric Dier and Federico Fazio. The former looks promising but is built like a tank and has a similar turning circle. Currently being played out of position in an aim to utterly destroy his confidence, he’s not the answer. Neither is Fazio - the sort of lumbering brute who has no need to hire a Halloween costume. For the second time in his brief spell ay Spurs, Fazio clumsily gave away a foul, giving away a penalty and being sent off.

1. Andros Townsend is not an inverted winger

Eyebrows were raised skywards today when Townsend was once again selected for England, despite his effective reserve status for Spurs. On this evidence, his first-half penalty should keep him in the squad for at least another couple of years.

Up until the moment he smashed the ball home, Townsend looked ineffective on the right as an inverted winger, but the goal signalled a switch to the left where we saw another side to him.

He’s generally written off as a one-trick, cut-inside and shoot pony, but what else is he meant to do from that position? When he cuts inside he’s normally met with the sight of a static striker, so shooting - even if it is admittedly overdone - is at least a positive response.

On the left Townsend had another option. Within minutes of moving out there he skinned his marker and delivered a perfect cross for Kane to head home. Pochettino is clearly attached to his system but he needs to be more flexible and allow his stars to play where they can shine.


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