Mails: Why would anyone leave Spurs to progress?

Date published: Thursday 8th March 2018 2:44

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Why leave Spurs?
I thought I’d wait for the expected aftermath of rival gloating, and combination of Spurs fan’s pride, disappointed and overreactions, but something’s been wrangling me for a while.

It’s when we hear ‘ahh, but the players will move clubs to win something.’ My question is: why don’t the players try harder to win something at the club they’re at?

For all Alli’s potential and fancy back heel volleys, maybe if he’d stuck the ball in the net or was more incisive in the box, he’d be in a Champions League quarter final now. If Kane wants to win something with Spurs, maybe he should raise his game to match the big-game occasions. If Dier wants to improve from ‘Good’ to ‘Great’, as Poch declared in an interview a few months back, then will he realise this under Mourinho, or under one of the brightest young managers in the game at present?

I don’t mean to sound like I’m caning the players, but someone tell me, apart from adding a Messi, Ronaldo or Costa (who was excellent first half), who could vastly improve this Spurs side? It was commented last night that the Spurs’ bench was stronger than Juve, that the players are younger and hungrier. Yes, Allegri made some astute tactical changes – something Poch has (rightly) come under scrutiny for within these walls – but the defeat last night came down to experience and attitude. Would moving to another club really change this?

I acknowledge precedents are set: Sheringham, Berbatov and Carrick moved to the red half of Manchester and won trophies. It’s a matter of time before Walker, moving the blue half, will.

Yet, why do players feel like moving another club is there only chance to win something? Maybe ten years back at Spurs, that was probably the case, but now? Because they’ll be on more money? Are they really going to try any harder, because they’re earning more? A better coach? Apart from Guardiola and Klopp, who rivals Poch as a manager a player would blossom under?

Yes, last night was deeply disappointing. Yes, the team came up short. Positives and negatives can be drawn from those two legs. Everyone likes to paint a binary view between success and failure, but I feel there’s much more in between. Entertainment, excitement, anticipation. Give me the emotions of narrowly losing against Juve in a closely contested Champions League game anytime over a League cup final win. Are Spurs fans happier and more excited to watch the team now, or ten-odd years back when they beat Chelsea to win that cup? The Champions League was a distant fantasy then, it’s an ostensive reality now and if the players realise the potential of the whole team dynamic and structure, it’s only going to get better. Or they can decide to take the easy route out, jack it in at Spurs and move to Man City or Real Madrid to have a chance of winning a trophy.

What would Kane be prouder of? Dragging Spurs to their first league title in 60 years, or winning La Liga with Real Madrid?
Andy, London (The home and away Madrid games will live long in my memory – now that’s what football is all about)


Home advantage?
If UEFA aren’t going to get rid of the away goals rule, I think they should switch around the ties for the teams that have qualified top of the group. It rarely seems like playing at home in the second leg of a tight encounter is beneficial. Even though the team wants to attack and has the ‘crowd’ behind them, the threat of the away goal stymies the attacking threat with any goal conceded highly costly.

Like Tottenham last night, even though they needed to go out for an equaliser, if Juve had scored again extra time would have been no longer possible, and Tottenham would have needed to score 3. Having watched Man Utd over the years, I had this feeling that we’d often gone out in a second leg at home, and often won in a second leg away. I did a quick check..

1998 – Out after drawing 1-1 at home to Monaco after a 0-0 first leg away. Trezeguet scored an absolute belter and I spent the next few years cursing his name despite appreciating the quality of the strike.

1999 – Treble year, but the semi-final before that had us beat Juventus 3-2 away after drawing 1-1 at home after a late Giggs strike. In that second leg we were 2-0 down inside 11 minutes but suddenly it was 2-2 thanks to the masterful work of Roy Keane and Juventus couldn’t attack us with gusto knowing that another goal for us would see them needing to score 2. Getting in the last minute was wonderful.

2001 – Out to Real Madrid, second leg at home. 2-3 after a 0-0 first leg at the Bernabeu.

2003 – Real Madrid again… this could mostly have been about Ronaldo but still, we won the game 4-3 and went out still needing 2 more goals.

2010 – 2nd leg out to Bayern on away goals. Actually the years preceding this one weren’t good for Man Utd until 2008, losing to teams such as Lille and Milan early on the stages.

2013 – Ronny came back to beat us, but again, 10 men and needing 2 goals to overcome a 1 goal aggregate score.

Anyway, I’m supposed to be working and I think I’ve attempted to demonstrate my thoughts on this for now. I think the away goal isn’t going away any time soon, but I do believe it could be updated somewhat. For instance extra time in the second leg should eliminate the value of the away goal since in the first leg the other team doesn’t get to benefit of an extra 30 minutes to score it!
CJ (Does Dybala remind anyone else of Tobey Maguire?)


Tottenham’s weakness
A lot has and will be said about Tottenham’s exit to Juventus. Whilst the focus will be on Allegri’s masterclass in substitutions and tactical adaptation, as well as Totenham’s lack of experience/mental fortitude, I believe it important to look at Tottenham’s biggest undoing over the two legs: the weakness of full backs.

Changing your two starting full backs (Rose/Walker to Davies/Trippier) is never easy, especially when their roles change substantially when the team plays 4 at the back or with wing backs. Whilst this is not a real issue against weaker Premier League opposition, the reality is that the big boys will find the weakness and (as Allegri demonstrated) exploit it.

Your article on Wesnesday about Rose lavished Davies with praise, but, whilst he has been solid offensively, he was at fault too many times against Juventus. In the first leg, he gave away a foolish penalty, in the second, he played Dybala on for the winning goal. Similarly, Aurier had a shocker of a first leg, giving away a penalty and going close to a red card. In general, there has been a common theme for Tottenham full backs: they look good running forward, but a lot less running back…

The tactical switch by Allegri was simple, but genius. Juventus were struggling with the overlapping runs of Davies/Trippier and his team were accumulating yellow cards by preventing Tottenham by any means to get that second goal. Instead of adjusting defensively, he showed that Tottenham’s sword was double edged: the full backs left Tottenham’s sides wide open. What followed is history, and highlighted the inability of the Tot team to respond to a tactical shift and their weakness being exposed.

Davies and Trippier did have their moments going forward, the latter notably providing an assist. They are still wasteful however. Davies’ crosses very rarely beat the first man last night, and Trippier similarly struggled to fin Kane when in good positions. This is the biggest issue with these Totenham full backs: they are average players. They have good moments, but their lack of discipline, attention and general ability to cope with an enemy team’s winger pushing them back will leave Tottenham found out more often than not against good teams.

Playing with 3 central defenders and wing backs alleviates this somewhat, but this limits attacking options (Son or Ali dropped). In retrospect, this was probably the switch needed when Tottenham were ahead: complements on Allegri for figuring Tot out, but Pochettino should really have identified the weakness beforehand. Indeed, to blame the players is not enough, the system used should be able to protect them to a degree.
Henry, DCFC


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And Spurs are the new Arsenal
Spurs are just the Fabregas/Van Persie Arsenal team from 2006-11. The young team, hyped by the media, that plays great football (allegedly), is building for the future, with a new stadium but never actually wins anything and always gets shown up in Europe. I wonder how many years Spurs fans will take of this before it starts wearing thin.
Matthew, Belfast


Poch is the new Brendan
Pochettino is just a less successful and less talented Brendan Rodgers but with all the same ego.

So far the only “big trophy” he’s won is the “put pressure on Leicester” trophy from the other year. And he still managed his way to 3rd that year.
Kris, LFC, Wirral


An apology from Spurs
In summary:

We’re looking good to qualify for the CL for the third year in a row- amidst tougher competition than ever (that’s what’s different about Redknapp, in a nutshell)

We qualified from a tougher group than last year, when we were pretty embarrassing.

We went out to a few slips in concentration while pushing a vastly more experienced team very close over 180 minutes.

I’m sorry if positive coverage of Spurs is annoying other fans. I’m not always delighted with it myself (particularly when it’s used to inflate pressure on us to win leagues/cups as if they were the only measure of progress in the Chelsea/City era).

But we’re in the top 16 teams in Europe on merit, with a young squad and a great manager. Hopefully they will get over the disappointment enough to improve again and have another go next year.

If not, it’s been fantastic.

Again, sorry if that’s not enough for fans of other teams. Rest assured your thoughts on things are placed appropriately on our list of concerns.
Darragh, Spurs, Ireland


…Jeeeez. Lot’s of hate for Spurs in the mailbox. My two pennies worth; as a Spurs fan I enjoyed our journey through the Champions League this season. Did we show a lack of experience, concentration and maturity last night? Probably. Are we still progressing, getting better as a team, consolidating our identity, being more consistent in the league? Yes.

We got beat, in a game of football, by a good team. This happens, even when you play better than another team – it is football. To be honest, if you had Dier and Trippier in your team would you expect to get to a quarter final of the CL? Naw, chief. We are punching way above our weight and that’s what makes it so enjoyable being a Spurs fan. Other arguments about our failure from opposing fans is simply a sign of jealousy or deflecting from what’s going on at your own club.

I am not even going to respond to the question about Spurs being any better than under Redknapp.

We play good football, have some amazing players, have just had an exciting CL effort, have a new stadium coming which looks absolute mustard, are still fighting for top four (2nd is viable) and we are still in the FA cup. Show me a genuinely unhappy Spurs fan right now and I assure you that they represent the minority.

Also, how good was Son last night.
Glen, Spur in Stratford


…The problem with those positioning themselves counter to the ‘brave Spurs’ narrative is that they assume any Spurs fans are actually pushing it. I, and the Spurs fans whose views I have encountered since last night, felt that we played well, that we could easily have equalised at the end and ultimately paid the price for a couple of sloppy ten minute spells over 3 hours which were punished brilliantly by the most streetwise team in European football. I felt our coach, in his 2nd knockout match in the champions league, erred in reacting slowly to a smart move made by a coach in his 28th. No glory in the failure, no bravery in the fall. They did well. They did not quite well enough. In their first champions league knockout match. Against, again, an incredibly experienced team.

The Redknapp comparison made me smile by the way, thank you for publishing it. You know you’re struggling when your summary includes points that completely undermine almost everything that has come before it – “defensively more solid” and a more “attractive style of football” – that does sound like one team being better than the other doesn’t it? This team is also younger, fitter, tactically more flexible and inhabits a far more stable dressing room. We could also add in the minor details that the chairman trusts the manager, the manager trusts the chairman and everybody at the club has a clear idea of the direction in which the club and team are going. There were bursts of excitement under Redknapp but isolating them, removing all the work Pochettino has done in empirically changing Tottenham for the better and suggesting there is no difference between then and now is pretty silly. It’s a bit like arguing The Beach Boys were as good as The Beatles because there is not much between Pet Sounds and Revolver. There is quite a lot of important context missing there, isn’t there?

Finally, I had no problem with Chiellini’s “history” comments. It suggested to me that they were quite impressed with what they saw from Spurs and wanted to keep them down, as it were. It was a bit of kidology and to be taken as a compliment. Juventus, Buffon and Chiellini winning the Champions League is surely the most enjoyable story on offer this year and, whilst wishing the other English teams well, I really hope they do it.
(Presumably still) Annoying Spurs fan


…The game last night was terrific and must have been great for a neutral.

I, however, am not a neutral and so found myself crushed after the defeat. But I’ve had time to assess and I have to be level-headed about what occurred and we were beaten by the brilliant tactical nous of Allegri. He made substitutes that exploited our weaknesses and Juve are the masters of tactical fouls.

And I understand the shit we get as a club for being so close and falling short. But it happens. A 4-3 aggregate against Juve in the final 16 is certainly something I would have taken at the beginning of the season. It is not an embarrassment by any means and we’ve been really entertaining to watch in the CL and I believe proved we deserve to be in the mix of that class of team.

And that’s the point in terms of us progressing as a club. We’ve made improvements from last season. The league is far more competitive than it was last season and still have a very good chance to finish in the top 4. And if we finish in the top 4, you have to say spurs have continued to improve due to our strong Europe showing, which was non-existent last season.

This is where we’ve improved and I can see progression. That’s what makes us spurs fans happy with how things are going. I know there’s still no trophies and that is what needs to start happening. And next season we HAVE to win trophies. That is the next step.

So for now, we spurs fans are satisfied with our lot. We will accept the slating from rival fans who will no doubt continue to shout ‘no trophies’, ‘small club mentality’, ‘one man team’, ‘bottlers’ because that’s the way football fans work nowadays it would seem. I, personally, think it’s bizarre as I can’t imagine getting so angry about a rival team progressing but not as much as i see fit that I want to spit vitriol about it but that’s what fans enjoy doing. I will concentrate enjoying my own team.
Tom (we’ll lose our players and manager in the summer)


Well done, Spurs. from Arsenal
You know what? Well done Spurs.

There’ll be those that will be having a pop but European football is all about getting experience and Juve are the wiliest of campaigners having been to a number of recent finals.

The players will have learned a heck of a lot from last night and if Poch can keep this group together they’ll come back stronger.

And look at it this way – Spurs were the favourites going into last night’s game against the Old Lady – that shows how far this team has come.

Tonight we head out to the San Siro and everyone expects us to be thrashed – that shows how far we’ve fallen.

So don’t be rubbing it in gooners – we’re in no position to be having a pop at anyone.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Screw you, Spurs. From United
Just a quick observation and *sipping tea* meme moment…

I am a Manchester United fan and have gone through this season listening and reading reports and comments from pundits and general fans about how brilliant Tottenham are and how they are the saviours of modern day English football and that they are going to be the next big thing and win the Champions League and everything else.. etc. etc. etc. (you get what I mean).

On the other hand, Manchester United (albeit deservedly so) have been hammered regularly this season about style of play and manager tactics etc. I am not deluded, I appreciate a fantastic team when I see one, but this sort of moral ‘put down’ of the Manchester United (THE Manchester United) in favour of a team making ‘progress’ just grinds my gears.

When United get by Sevilla next week then who will be laughing? It will just be a massive ‘F*** YOU’ to every pundit and commentator riding everything and anything about Spurs and I bloody well will love that.

After all, a famous person once said, poets don’t win trophies…


Have Spurs improved?
Hey WoodyAFC. Have Spurs improved since Redknapp? Well, in terms of pots, no. But that misses the bigger picture, and the changing face of the club and game.

Firstly, some house keeping: it was AVB that relied heavily (pretty much exclusively) on Bale. Bale came of age under Redknapp in the Champions League, he couldn’t even get in the side for quite a while (a fact the papers never fail to recycle), so to say he relied on him is inaccurate.

Secondly, Pochettino reached a league cup final too. Like, literally two years ago.

Thirdly, Son is almost the antithesis of Van Der Vaart. Dele would be a better comparison, striker-not-striker making late runs into the box.

Fourthly, while obviously Kane is a phenomenon, to focus on the one player argument ignores the fact (beyond Kane being a striker and Bale being a winger, and Kane is actually an upgrade on Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch) that Spurs are better all over the park now (Lloris>Gomes, Vertonghen>Dawson, Dembele>Huddlestone, Son>Lennon etc etc).

Spurs are actually not as reliant on individual players as many would like to have – Spurs beat Man City last season without Kane, after all, and have missed most of the squad for large chunks at a time for the last two seasons. Pochettino has the team drilled in a way that Redknapp never did, which means it can cope better which changing personnel against a greater majority of teams.

But most importantly, the club has improved. That’s what fans care about above all, as that’s what’s long term – you only have to look at West Ham (and I genuinely am sad for them for what’s happening) and see one good season and a new stadium means not a lot – and five years ago Spurs were far nearer West Ham in the financial pecking order than they are the five above them.

So many things have happened at the club and get reeled off, it all gets taken for granted sometimes, or maybe other team’s fans are just bored of it. It doesn’t mean it’s not true – incredible training ground built, genuinely outstanding looking new stadium that’s been specced and will be owned by the club on the original site, excellent academy getting better and better, no more old journeymen signings and in their place a young, hungry side that you can’t help rooting for, a clever pay and rewards structure with regular contracts that means no more players leaving for nothing, incredible commercial increases as the club grows globally, consistent European competition (not assumed that long ago, but writing off two Champions League qualifications in a row when Spurs have never done that before seems a bit stingy), all on an incredible net spend (yeah, I know, but when talking business it matters).

Spurs are narrowing the financial gap with other clubs and allowing the club to genuinely compete, while actually competing. Spurs are ahead of schedule. No one associated with the club thought we’d be where we are at this point, with such a bright looking future. Trust me, it sure didn’t look like this when Redknapp was flirting with the FA and no one at Spurs seemed to be pulling in the same direction.

Spurs absolutely need to win something to be considered a great team, I agree. But to not see why Spurs fans love this team and the club right now despite the lack of trophies is to have blinkers on. Having our pants pulled down by a grizzled old Juve side won’t change that, even if it probably stings a bit this morning. And it’s why most fan’s biggest fear is not Kane or Dele or Alderweireld leaving, it’s Pochettino. (And yes, I know he’s won nothing.)


A happy Juve fan
A couple of weeks ago I wrote in After the 2-2 draw in Turin to note that Juventus had missed solidity in the middle without Matuidi but took advantage of the wings to inflict damage on Spurs’ weak point at full back. With Matuidi in a 4-3-3 Juve were indeed more solid but Spurs still had the upper hand in midfield and Douglas Costa was being forced back to help out. It was masterful form Allegri to change the game with a couple of substitutions that gave Juve the ability to attack Spurs down the flanks. Tactical flexibility has always been a hallmark of Italian sides, and Allegri’s Juve have it in spades. Juve immediately looked more dangerous in a spell of a couple of minutes that led to Higuain’s goal.

And that’s where the European experience and mentality come in. I read somewhere that none of Spurs’ outfield players had ever won a Champions’ League knockout match, and yesterday it showed in the crucial minutes following the equaliser. They lost their heads for a couple of minutes, and that’s all it took to concede from what was, however well worked and finished, a simple ball down the middle. I don’t think they would ever have conceded that goal at any other point of the match, but they let their concession of the first goal to affect them and they were sucker punched.

In the end Spurs played very well over two legs, but Juve deserved to qualify because they delivered when it counted, and for all of Spurs’ possession they didn’t really create many more chances (even putting aside the clear penalty not given to Juve, and that Kane’s last-minute header against the post was a couple of yards offside but went unflagged).

One last word on Chiellini, my man of the match yesterday. A lot is said about defenders being comfortable on the ball and being able to pick a 40-yard pass, but that counts for nothing without core defensive attributes – positional sense, strength in the tackle, a dogged determination and a controlled aggression that stops short of outright thuggery. Chiellini excelled in all of those yesterday, ebodying a team that knows how to suffer an opponents’ pressure but still come through with the win.
James, Zug


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Foul play
That was a fun read, Lavin Achtani. Only one question though:

Why not just track back?
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Fair on Di Maria?
Calling out Angel Di Maria as a ‘fair-weather player’ is more than a bit harsh, Daniel. His performance won Real the 2014 Champions League final.

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Get your Phil
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The usual English tabloid-media overhype of an English hopeful – in the hope that they can later catalogue the ‘failed potential’ – can’t be far off now.


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