Spurs: We've Gone Backwards But This Could Be A Pivotal Moment In Our Progress
It's grim up north and February’s grim too so Hull away on February 1st is about as foreboding a fixture as a football season can offer. Was I tempted to go? Was I f***. But come two o’clock a familiar craving started to get a hold of me and I found myself making enquiries about local pubs that might be showing the game via legally dubious foreign feeds. So it was that I set off with my mate Rob on the mile walk to the selected dodgy boozer.
Rob and I frequently travel to games together and so we have had plenty of time to get used to each other’s contrasting outlooks. Mine tends towards the glass half full whereas Rob’s, although he might dispute this, often sees the Tottenham vessel as on its way to empty. This dourness might be due to his being the son of a Scot (and not just any Scot, but a great one, none other than John White, chief playmaker in the great Tottenham double side).
As we walked, Rob said the last time he’d watched a game in a Spurs pub there had been a framed photograph of Harry Redknapp’s 2010 Tottenham side next to the telly and it had struck him that, despite all the spending and the management changes, in terms of sheer player quality we’d gone backwards since those heady days.
‘Here we go’ I thought.
Patiently, he walked me through it. He accepted straight away that Lloris was an upgrade on Freidel and I just about persuaded him that Kyle Walker was a superior right back to Vedran Corluka. But after that, dammit, he got on an unassailable roll. Benoit Assou-Ekotto, whilst amply flawed, was more of a finished-article left back than Danny Rose. Ledley King and a fully fit Younis Kaboul was, in its awesomeness, a far better central defensive partnership than anything available now. The midfield two, Luka Modric and Scotty Parker at the peak of his powers (he was pretty much first name on the England team sheet at the time and went on to be THFC Player Of The Year) was a dynamic duo way ahead of the many combos tried this term. It doesn’t need saying that the wingers, Lennon plus Bale, were better than Lennon plus one of the present bunch. As for the number ten, well I like Christian Erickssen but Rafa Van Der Vaart pretty much embodied the cliche ‘different class’. And up front we had an Adebayor that was in his first flush of giving a s***. Granted, he’s been back to something like the same form these last few weeks but he’s not a better player now.
I was stunned into silence and not just because I was struggling to negotiate a steep hill. Rob was right, we really had gone backwards and what followed seemed to confirm it. We drew 1-1 at Hull in a game that might have gone either way and afterwards, Tim Sherwood declared it a decent result. That’s the kind of decent result that gets you a Europa spot, not a Champions League one. The season now seems to be at a pivotal point much like Arsenal’s did this time last year after they’d lost at White Hart Lane. After that game, with Spurs way ahead of them in the race for fourth place, AVB had suggested the result might cause Wenger’s men to plunge into a ‘spiral of negativity’. As it turned out, from that day to this Arsenal have amassed more Premier League points than any other side.
Following a 5-1 home defeat with the grinding out of a point at Hull could mean that Tottenham are on the verge of their own downward spiral. Or, if the glass is half full, with expensive players starting to return from injury and becoming more acclimatised to the Premier League, maybe this is the moment that the current squad starts an improvement process that takes it alongside and then beyond the 2010 model, putting a run together like the Goons managed. The clash with exciting Everton at White Hart Lane next Saturday will provide a good early indicator.