Spurs: We Can't Accept More Embarrassment & Humiliation
Another depressing defeat. Another spineless performance in a London derby. Another example of players shirking responsibility. Another day in the life of Tottenham’s season.
The lack of heart shown in the big games this season has been utterly depressing. The whole squad appears to have lost their cajones. It seems like there isn’t a game that goes by without half-hearted tackles, weak attempts at tracking back, fluffed efforts and stray passes.
The squad seems to lack a collective leadership and passion to supplement what is a undoubtedly talented bunch of individuals. In some respects this is surprising, as, for a young squad, there is a lot of leadership experience. Hugo Lloris is France’s captain, Vlad Chiriches captains Romania, Jan Vertonghen was Ajax’s captain - and of course there is Spurs’ own Michael Dawson.
However, it is unsurprising that many of the signings have taken their foot off the gas, especially in a World Cup year. Paulinho has pulled out of almost every challenge since Charlie Adam clattered him in December. Paulinho is a likely starter for Brazil on their own turf this summer. In the context of his career that is a once in a lifetime opportunity, whilst the games since his return to the side Spurs have been virtual dead rubbers. There should be an expectation that performances show more desire... but I can empathise with why they haven’t.
To taking a contrasting example, Michael Dawson is able to bring passion in spades but lacks the ability to lead a defence by example. He is not dissimilar to Scott Parker in this respect, a fine professional and willing to put his body on the line for the cause but unfortunately lacking the ability to marshal their area of the pitch. On Saturday Dawson got turned for pace by an intelligent run by Andy Carroll. That’s a sure sign that Dawson isn’t cut out to figure in a team aiming for the top four any more.
Jan Vertonghen has certainly got bags of ability, and last season, the passion to both inspire and lead a defence. This season, however, has been a different story with the Belgian appearing disgruntled for large periods. This seemed to stem from being asked to play left-back under Andre Villas-Boas and has not been helped by being managed a man more suited to managing Cash4Gold than a Premier League football team. He is tipped to push for a move in the summer in order to secure Champions League football. It is hard to know what impact on the squad this would have. If Vertonghen is going to continue with his current attitude then he does more harm than good in terms of mentality. However, when on song he is one of the few in the squad who combines the ability to play for a top side with genuine leadership abilities.
Whilst the loss of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric have been much discussed, that of Ledley King and Rafael Van Der Vaart have been much less mentioned. The latter, much more than the former, brought passion and leadership along with undoubted ability.
Although both had their injury issues they both undoubtedly offered an example of both passion and class to team mates. Neither offered the bellowing presence of John Terry or Steven Gerrard - but they offered leadership through direction and example. By covering the mistake by a full-back with a perfectly timed tackle or providing an impossible piece of skill when the chips were down not only were vital for results but imbued those around with confidence.
But above all you could tell that they cared. Van der Vaart’s ability to turn it up another level when we faced Arsenal was fantastic. His ‘shhing’ of Arsenal fans after scoring an equalising goal was a great demonstration of how much the club meant to him. Likewise his ultimately ill-fated prediction that Arsenal had no chance of finishing above Spurs demonstrated his passion for the club.
This squad needs some leadership back. It needs more personnel who can combine organisation with inspiration as King and Van der Vaart had. It may yet come within the existing squad. Vertonghen, Eriksen, Sandro and Lloris are capable of both organisation and inspiration but all lack consistency in some aspects of their game to inspire the confidence that King and Van der Vaart did.
A new manager with a clear tactical plan will go some way to improving the organisation of the team but the squad also needs to demonstrate much more in terms of desire in the next campaign. Another season of pathetic efforts and humiliating capitulations should not be tolerated from an undoubtedly talented squad.