Let’s talk Spurs, Vertonghen, concussion and what’s next…

Date published: Wednesday 1st May 2019 8:01 - Sarah Winterburn

Thank you for your mails. You know what to do – mail theeditor@football365.com


Just returned from being off grid for a couple of months and was wondering if someone could explain why Tottenham played their home leg at the Emirates last night?

Thanks in advance,
Baz, Dublin


Let’s talk about Jan and concussion…
The most essential moment in Spurs’ loss to Ajax was not Donny Van Der Beek’s winner, nor David Neres’ shot off the post, but Jan Vertonghen’s brutal collision with Toby Alderweireld and its aftermath. That Vertonghen insisted he was fine after the game and the Tottenham medical staff stated that he had cleared all concussion protocols are proof positive of the need for independent assessment of players in the wake of head injuries.

It was plain to see, mere seconds after he re-entered the pitch, that Vertonghen was not well. His inability to stand under his own power and his retching as he was carried from the field are tell-tale signs of a concussion. Vertonghen is a competitor, and his desire to continue is commendable from that perspective. However, in light of what followed, it is evident that he should not have been given the choice and that the post-game assessment of Tottenham’s medical staff should be met with significant skepticism.

One need only look to the shameful example set by the NFL to see the critical importance of protecting players from the devastating long-term effects of concussions. Tottenham play Ajax again in 8 days, and it’s hard to overstate the importance of their best defender to their chances of success. However, the average time to recover from a mild concussion is around 10 days; Vertonghen’s concussion appeared anything but mild. To entrust his long-term health to doctors paid by the team in the build-up to their season-defining game is, at best, misguided.

It’s critical for the health of the players and the health of the sport that football’s governing bodies police this matter effectively. Assigning one or two independent doctors to games with the sole purpose of assessing head injuries and implementing an independent panel to clear players following head injuries would be a significant step towards ensuring the well-being of players and limiting the risk of both on-pitch tragedies and long-term consequences.
Andrew English (LFC in LA)


…Enough is enough. I’ve written in about this before and I will continue to do so, highlighting every incident until football sorts out its problem with concussion and head injuries.

It was so very obvious that Jan Vertonghen had picked up a concussion and yet he was nearly allowed to play on, even though the ref clearly double checked with the Spurs medical staff that he was ok before allowing him back on. Sure enough, about 40 seconds later, his legs went and he threw up on the pitchside.

People will inevitably blame the Spurs medical team, and they do share some responsibility (don’t forget, they have previous – letting Lloris carry on in a game vs. Everton when he’d clearly been knocked unconscious by Lukaku’s accidental knee to the head).

But really and truly, clubs and medical staff associated to them need this taken out of their hands – or at very least, they need time to conduct a proper assessment.

The trouble currently is that when a player goes down with a head injury, despite the best will in the world, players, the ref and fans want the game to restart asap. They all obviously want the injured player to be okay; but the thought of a 10 mins delay to the game or their team playing with 10 men while an off field assessment is done is far from ideal to them.

My solution, a simple concussion rule/substitution. After any head injury, a player leaves the field as soon as possible and is take to the dressing room, where a full concussion test lasting a maximum of 10-15 mins is conducted. A sub is allowed to replace them immediately during this time. If, at any time during this period, a concussion is proven to exist, the sub is made fully effective.

If at any point a concussion is ruled out, the player returns pitchside and can be swapped back in at the next stoppage in play.

The only issue I see with this is around yellow/red cards. Well, subs are able to be yellow carded without leaving the bench, so any card of that colour shown to the concussion sub applies to them. If a red card is shown, then this too applies to them in terms of the suspension, but during the game, it should mean the injured player is turned into an unused sub. If the team manager then decides to bring then back on because it makes sense tactically, so be it. The side will still be down to 10 men and the player who was injured isn’t adversely impacted as a result of the actions of his concussion sub; just the decision making process of his manager. This would be helpful to cover the issue of if the injured, but non concussed, player was the goalie and his sub got sent off – you’d have the ability to bring on your original goalie for another player, so avoiding the double whammy of having to play an outfielder in goal… Although I’m sure Pep would positively relish the idea of turning Dr Bruyne into his sub keeper for such eventualities and not losing any of Ederson’s passing ability!!!
Paul (Spurs) T.Wells


…Seeing how Jan Vertonghen’s concussion affected him so dramatically last night was quite worrying to see and should be the wake up call the footballing bodies need, it certainly needs to be addressed this summer by not only the FA but FIFA, a protocol similar to that is used in the NFL needs to happen, maybe also an independent doctor with no affiliation to either team who gives a final ruling if a player can reenter the field of play, concussion can be a matter of life and death and we need procedures in place for the safety of the players.
Mikey, CFC


Ajax can be hurt…
I agree completely with your statement that Spurs must look on the bright side after last night. Yes Poch cocked up his team selection and formation but once he switched that around, you could see the limitations of Ajax.

Ajax looked wonderful for the first 20 minutes and their problem may be that they didn’t score enough at that time. However Spurs seemingly allowed that to happen by setting up incorrectly with three centre-backs marking no-one.

So give Ajax the space and they’ll tear you to bits, but isn’t that the case with most teams?

They are definitely there for the taking, it just depends on whether Spurs can step up up to the plate without Harry Kane because let’s be honest, Llorente was as bad in the first half as he was good in the second. Son should be back so they’ll have a much better chance.

The main thing I noticed last night though is how well Spurs play against teams that play the passing game but man, Dele Alli is spent, and has been for a long time. I’m sure someone can be statto on this but he looks like he’s already played a full career of games.
Fat Man


Dear F365,
I have no idea what Dele Ali does.
Jonno McSchmonno


Not 16 Conclusions
1. I thought Ajax would have more shots than that.

2. Why didn’t Sissoko start? Although he wasn’t at his best.

3. Why was Vertonghen allowed to carry on? He was proper done in. Where are the concussion protocols?

4. Trippier had his best game in a while.

5. Is it time to do something about professional fouls. No hope in hell of winning the ball. They know exactly what they’re doing. If there’s no doubt in the ref’s mind then send them off.

6. I always thought Spurs needed at least 2 or 3 goals to win the tie. Where are they coming from?

7. Ajax are pretty good. The winner of the other semi might be the favourites but it’s not a foregone conclusion. Unless Tottenham have a miracle second leg.

8. Daley Blind, United reject and Ajax champions League semi final starter. Let that sink in…

9. Ajax’s better performances have been in the away leg. Spurs aren’t out yet (they are).

10. A 1-0 away win isn’t a terrible result but it isn’t great either. Spurs score in the return and it puts the cat among the pigeons. Unless Ajax score three first.

11. Poch didn’t enjoy things quite as much as he said in the press conference.

12. This 16 thing is harder than it looks. What idiot came up with that idea?

13. Giving up now….
Rob, Gravesend


A ‘vital’ away goal, you say?
Just finished watching Spurs v Ajax, and after match analysis on BT keeps referring to the ‘vital’ away goal. Do these guys not understand that there is no scenario under which Ajax will get through on away goals now. An Ajax win or any draw next week means they go through because they scored more goals, a 1-0 win for Spurs means extra time/pens and any other one goal Spurs win means they go through ON AWAY GOALS. A two goal Spurs win means they go through because they scored more goals over the 2 legs. So the only team that can go through now on away goals is Spurs. So tonight’s goal may indeed prove ‘vital’ but the away bit is irrelevant. Really, it’s not that hard to understand…..
Sick o’ Phant, Dublin


The genius of Spurs
The Spurs of Tottenham have completely hoodwinked the football community, and particularly the team of Total Football.

You see, Ajax are unfancied hunters. Their progression has been against the odds every time. They can literally only come from behind. Tottenham, in their infinite genius, by losing’ the first leg have lulled Ajax into a very false sense of security.

Spurs could have easily won the first leg by 3 or 4 goals with powerhouse players like Llorente and Trippier, effectively killing the tie off. Instead Llorente is instructed to have the touch of a brick wall, and Tripper was shown old videos of Steffen Freund shooting and was asked to cross like that. Only Tottenham knew that was the exact scenario Ajax expected, and would thrive in chasing the tie come Amsterdam.

And so the tables were turned by gifting a lead never chased! Genius! Although the subbing of two defenders for more defenders when Spurs were supposed to appear to be trying to win was a bit obvious. Careful there Mauricio, you don’t want to give the game away too easily!

Now the Dutch champions will become the hunted. They will be in unfamiliar territory defending a lead. (Builds to a crescendo) The REAL Llorente with his hippy hands and the even REALER Trippier with his, well, ok not much, he perhaps won’t play and Spurs will use a bin taped with rakes instead… but you get my drift!

Spurs to turnover the deficit in the first half hour and the Dutch champions elect to depart having been outwitted, outplayed and outlasted.
Dr Oyvind, Earth


His name is Rio and he’s not qualified…
I’m sorry but I completely disagree that playing/knowing the game counts as sufficient experience to make a person qualified for a backroom, managerial or even Director role. It’s absolute rubbish and the more we indulge the idea, the more we make a mockery of all the grafting backroom staff working their way through grassroots or lower leagues, dreaming of getting to the top.

There is absolutely no evidence that a world-class striker would make a world-class defender, so on what basis are we suddenly expecting a footballer to reach the same standards in basically a whole different job. Kane, tomorrow decides to be a CB until he retires, would anyone expect him to become one of the best in the world? This is a 6ft2 man, plays the same sport, same era, has all the necessary physical attributes, been kicking a ball his whole career, would have done a lot of the same or similar drills so far in his career, same leadership qualities, dressing room understanding, footballing intelligence, same work-rate and determination he had before. End of the day none of that defines what makes a certain player succeed in one position over another. Kante still looks a shadow of his former self and that’s after nearly a whole season of coaching in his new role. I’d even say that if were to judge Kante purely on his performances in this new role, there wouldn’t be a single mention of world class.

What’s worse is that the more we normalise the idea of ex-players being a shoo-in for these roles, the more we’re gonna end up with these ex-players turned pundit turned manager (for all of five minutes) returned pundit. And for anyone pointing over at the likes of VDS’ success at Ajax as justification for Rio (I’m looking at you F365), well done you’ve just done a Paul Ince. You’ve seen one person accomplish something and assumed that as long as you have one thing in common with whoever succeeded, you’re destined to succeed too. VDS always planned to transition into a role involving the running of a club. He got a masters in marketing before taking the marketing director role at Ajax. our years of hard work and commitment earned him the right to become CEO. Rio’s ambitions since hanging up his boots have involved: starting but then never completing any of his coaching badges, becoming a professional boxer for all of 10months before ‘retiring’, and working as a pundit. Does any of that sound like someone remotely serious or capable of Directing Manchester United.

More Related Articles