Spurs: Pure Guts & Graft Won't Be Enough Against Quality Of Liverpool
This was a memorable game as much for the hilarious defending as anything else. The first four goals were all soft with Southampton’s brace resulting from Kyle Naughton making the kind of epic blunders that shouldn't happen twice in a career let alone one game. ‘Schoolboy goals he knows that’ said Tim Sherwood afterwards ‘he was told that but it ain’t his fault, at the end of the day people do that - it happens’. Well yes people do do that and it does happen but if it wasn’t Naughton’s fault whose was it?
It was to Tottenham’s - and Naughton’s - immense good fortune that they were gifted two goals themselves and they reacted by being the better side throughout a second half that, though not high on quality, was compelling to watch and ended with Sigurdsson’s unerring injury time daisy cutter snatching the points.
Sherwood was beside himself with joy, characteristically grabbing as much of the credit as possible. ‘You know what it took?…’ he grinned ‘Guts, character spirit.’ This of course was a reference to his castigation of the team following their 4-0 mauling at Chelsea a fortnight before. ‘I think they showed that against chelsea when I had a few things to say it ain’t done them any harm because they know how to dig deep now, they know how to respond, they know how to grind out a result and thats what they did today…’ etc.
‘It weren’t silky,’ he conceded ‘it weren't fantastic flowing football but it was effective. We’ve got quality players and when we fight and work for each other the quality players show what they can do.’.
And therein lies the Sherwood plan. Get the team scrapping and grafting and hope that somehow the sheer ability of the good players will see you though. Of course to some degree this is true and was demonstrated by yesterday’s proceedings. All those pratfalls still needed to be exploited by precise and clever play from good players. In Southampton’s case it was the admirable England trio of Rodriguez, Lallana and Lambert, for Spurs it was Soldado and the excellent Eriksen. The winning goal resulted from a deft layoff from the Dane and a top class strike from Sigurdsson.
But at the top level, just infusing the team with ‘guts, character and spirit’ and relying on the ability of the better players to do the rest is not going to be enough. That’s why you don’t hear the likes of Mourinho, Rodgers, Pellegrini and Martinez giving the sort of post match interview that Sherwood does. Against the better teams, tactical know-how, subtlety and flexibility tend to come in handy.
This might explain why every time Spurs have played a top side this season it has ended in tears. Next Sunday there is an away trip to Anfield to look forward to. Unless Liverpool have one of their increasingly rare off days, Sherwood’s primitive approach could lead to another chasing. If it does, it will be interesting to hear where he places the blame.