Panic On The Streets Of London...?

It isn't quite time for Spurs to panic, but with an underperforming team and a manager who doesn't seem to be getting his ideas over, Nick Miller says the time may be close...

Last Updated: 25/11/13 at 09:18 Post Comment

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So if Spurs now can't prevent goals as well as not being able to score them, it's going to be a long old season at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham's fine defensive record before this game (six goals conceded in 11) was the reason they were still in a respectable league position. But they were shambolic from 14 seconds in against Manchester City, and the ease with which they were taken apart by Manchester City (Alvaro Negredo turning Michael Dawson for the fifth goal, one of a number of lowlights) will be incredibly concerning.

There are problems at Spurs, and not just ones that can be solved by recalling Emmanuel Adebayor, something that was always a cypher as the Togo striker's reputation grew in his absence. There was a reason Spurs needed to buy another striker in the summer, even if that striker hasn't exactly been a roaring success so far - Adebayor's deficiencies haven't been solved by training with the reserves.

The immediate thing that one notices about Spurs when they try to attack is how slow they are. For a team that has any number of theoretically dynamic players in it, they are troublingly un-dynamic. Andre Villas-Boas and Franco Baldini spent a considerable amount of money in the summer on players like Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Paulinho, players that along with Aaron Lennon, Andros Townsend and Lewis Holtby, really should provide Spurs with a little more constructive energy and penentration than they currently have.

It's not necessarily that they're simply running slowly, more that they are moving the ball incredibly slowly. The natural reaction from half of their players seems to be to pass sideways or backwards, after taking three or four touches to get the thing under control in the first place. It's like watching a team of Tom Cleverleys.

It's particularly strange when one considers that the theory behind Andre Villas-Boas' teams is one filled by dynamism. The oft-discussed high defensive line is not just a tactic to display Hugo Lloris' Matthias Sammer impression, it's designed to press play further up the pitch, putting pressure on the opposition and encouraging rapid attacking play. There isn't much evidence of that at the moment.

So why is it? Is this an issue relating to that ever-ephemeral and flighty notion of 'confidence'? They certainly don't look especially self-assured, with the likes of Holtby and Lamela dithering on the ball, unsure about the best course of action. That idea would seem to be backed up by City's first goal, as Spurs cautiously shifted the ball back to Hugo Lloris, straight from the kick-off, from which point he scuffed his tentative kick straight to the City midfield. It didn't get a great deal better after that.

Of course the finger of blame must be pointed at Villas-Boas for this. If his expensive players are not doing what they're capable of and what they are supposed to be doing, the manager must be responsible. As much as any of their squad, Villas-Boas has to improve.

It's not time for Spurs to panic just yet. They're still only two points off the Champions League spots and they have a squad of hugely talented players who, one would think, can only improve. However, if they don't improve - and bloody sharpish - panic might be just around the corner.

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