the fa cup defeat and it's implications
|I don't suppose many Spurs' fans could
believe the way we threw a two goal lead away in the FA Cup 3rd round
tie at Leicester when we seemed to be coasting along and playing well
and with freedom. We simply threw it away and somehow contrived to
lose the match with conceding a goal in the last minute.
So, what went wrong ?
It is not hard to see that we defended badly, particularly in central defence and Ant Gardner had a really poor game in my view and he gave too much space to the opposing strikers and they must have thought that it was Christmas. The first and third Leicester goals were soft. The first should have been cleared and the last was a case of the defender giving the forward too much space and hence playing him onside.
So, were we up for this game ?
We put out a strong side with just a few key players out through injury and commitments. King, Davids and Mido were all sorely missed. Gardner, as I say, was poor. Rasiak lacks the quality, vision and ability to make the step up to Spurs' first team and I would have thought that he could have been able to show something of his worth against a lower Championship side like Leicester. After all, he was playing in the Championship last season and scoring goals but he did not show any of the qualities he must have revealed last season.
Did we play with the wrong tactics ?
I don't think so as we went two goals up and went for the win but missed some easy chances and defended poorly. Jol would have wanted things to be kept tighter in defence but with Lee missing as well, Stephen Kelly was played out of position as left back because he is definitely a solid right back. So with the back four weaker with the inclusion of Kelly played out of position and Gardner, we were vulnerable and it showed. We could have closed the play down and made things tighter when we were 2-0 ahead but we didn't and we did not legislate for the mistakes we made at the back.
So, what does this defeat mean apart from the fact that we are out of the FA Cup ?
It means a loss of significant revenue for the club for a start and coming on top of the early exit in the Carling Cup, it will not please the directors of the club. Even a replay will be gratefully received. I suspect we might see a hike in admission prices if things do not go well in our European quest. We have sold ourselves short on the Cup front and deprived ourselves not only of the interest in the glamour of the FA Cup involvement, but we have also reduced our ability to earn money from games in the later rounds and the spin-offs like increased programme sales and merchandising and catering revenue too.
What does this show us ?
Well, for a start it shows that Spurs are no longer just a Cup team that could raise itself for the big game but not perform consistently in the League like has been so often the case in most seasons since our successful years of the 1960s. Jol has transformed the team into one that can grind out results even in the bread and butter League games when we are not performing well like the home games with Portsmouth and Fulham and also to come from behind in away games that we would surely have lost in the past like at Charlton when we came from behind to win 3-2 and to do well at Wigan and Manchester City. We are now a very solid League side that does not concede many goals, keeps things relatively tight and keeps a high level of consistency. Jol has installed in the players the need to perform week in and week out and they have been doing it for us by and large. Some games have been very tight and there was a period when we were very short of goals but we have still managed to pick up points. Our contention for a Champions League place may have to be fought out with Arsenal. It is going to be so tough to achieve a final 4th place but we have the ability, the leadership and the quality. Arsenal have had a barren patch but they have come out of it well and they are scoring goals freely. I am sure that we all want to finish in fourth place but even a place in Europe via the UEFA Cup would be a fine achievement for our young group of players, many of whom are playing together for the first time this season and can only progress from now onwards.
We have done well in the League defensively so far but Liverpool identified Lee as one of our weaknesses and played on it. King and Dawson make a good strong central defensive pairing and Stalteri is solid at right back. We are strong in midfield but need to make more use of both flanks and get the ball more wide to create chances for the frontmen. Our three main strikers provide good options whoever is playing but we do need more strength in depth especially as cover for the central striker role. Martin Jol must be aware of our needs and he will look to redress them.
I use to look forward to the Cups so much because I knew that Spurs would invariably raise their game for them but, this season, we have seen the transition of the club into a League side and that is good for me because it is a true judgment of a side's worth when we can see consistency and continuous progress on this front. So, the quick exits in the Cup competitions could turn out for the best in the long run this season because we can concentrate all our efforts on reaching our European goal and the increased revenue that will bring.
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