The fact that Spurs are already qualified for Europe and have a trophy
in the bank seems to be weighing heavy on their performances at the
moment, but with many more showings like this 1-4 defeat to a poor
Newcastle United side, Juande Ramos might have to replace more players
than he originally thought in the summer.
A game which could have stood at 2-2 after
12 minutes, ended with the majority of the goals in the Tottenham net,
as Newcastle found some form and Spurs lost all theirs. The Toon
were not that great and Tottenham were even worse, as Ramos tinkered
with a three man front line, which never looked likely to pay off.
Probably believing that Newcastle would start with three up top, he
matched their system, rather than believing in his own, which had reaped
such good results so far.
Defensive errors were to cost Tottenham
dearly and an early one saw Beye rattle the crossbar. He cut into
the penalty area between O'Hara and Malbranque, but found Jonathan
Woodgate in his way, but the former Magpie tried to pass his way out of
the box and Beye took the ball back easily and struck a shot that left
Robinson standing and bounced out off the woodwork. A minute
later, Robbo was called upon to dive to his left to stop a weak Martins
shot, but five minutes later, he had to be more agile to fall to thwart
Joey Barton's low shot from the edge of the area.
Tottenham finally realised that they were
in a game. Keane picked out the run of Darren Bent, having a rare
start and he took the ball back onto his right foot and hit a shot
lacking power at Harper, whereas he might have been better to hit it
with his left. In the next attack, a corner was won and O'Hara hit
a low-ish ball into the heart of the penalty area and Woodgate got there
first, but Harper was in the right place to block the header and Keane
reacted to the rebound, but could only knock it wide from a couple of
feet out. Robbie showed some good footwork on the quarter hour, as
he jinked through, but his left foot effort was across goal and there
was nobody following in on that side of the goal.
On 25 minutes, Spurs went ahead, with
Darren Bent's head putting them there. A good situation was worked
on our left wing, with Zokora feeding the ball wide to Steed and his
early cross saw Bent tower over the defender to nod past Harper, who was
rooted to his line. It was another goal for the supposed
over-priced striker, but when he gets the right service he can deliver.
He almost added another, when Malbranque put him through, but the ball
was nicked off him, but only to Dimitar Berbatov, who struck his shot
hard, but too high, with a lot of players between him and the goal.
Ten minutes before half-time Newcastle
thought they had got back into it, as Barton played in a cleared corner
and Amdy Faye popped up to stroke past Robinson, but the linesman's flag
waved to rule it out for offside. But right on the stroke of
half-time, a cross was completely mis-judged by Woodgate, who went for
it with his head, but it was far too low and he shinned it out to Beye
on the Newcastle right wing. His cross went to Nicky Butt on the
edge of the box, where he did not have a white shirt within three yards
of him and his first time shot took Robinson by surprise, going through
Woodgate's legs to nestle in the side of the net to make it 1-1 at the
Little did this prepare us for what was
to come in the second half. One of the most abysmal Tottenham
performances as a team that I have witnessed. Spurs players were
second to the ball; were robbed of it when in possession too easily;
played passes to areas where players were not making a move to, indeed
if they moved at all; with the defence being easily dismantled by the
Barton's low shot from outside the box
shortly after the restart gave the team a warning, as it grazed the
bottom of the post, but a needless free-kick conceded by Michael Dawson
with a two handed push in Martins' back gave Geremi the opportunity to
find a gap in the wall and to beat Robinson.
Ramos' response was to go even more on
the attack, with Taarabt and Lennon brought on to take over from Keane
and Malbranque. Unfortunately, he played Lennon on the left, where
he had little chance to get in the game, with Adel not finding the
ability to beat a Newcastle player nor pick out a decent pass. It
was not one of Ramos' finer moments (just like BA's at Terminal 5).
Shots were swapped at both ends, with
Geremi fancying his chances from 25 yards, as did Martins, but both went
side, while Taarabt did the same at the other end. When one was on
target, as the ball dropped kindly for Viduka to swivel and hit a shot
on the hour, Robinson did well to dive and parry it aside. He also
had to be alert from the corner, as Martins ducked into head goal-wards,
with Robbo getting down quickly to block his effort.
It only delayed the inevitable, with
Martins playing Viduka in, but he left the ball and Owen curled it past
the Spurs keeper, who had little chance and the defence was all over the
place. Martins twice came close to adding to the total, before
ALan Hutton broke downt he right wing only to be halted by a late tackle
from behind by Nicky Butt. having been warned earlier in the match
for a studs-up challenge on Steed, it was somewhat of a surprise that
Bennett only regarded it as a yellow card offence. Obviously, red
is reserved for back chat.
The closest we came to making Harper make
a save came when O'Hara lifted a right wing free-kick to the far post
and it looked for a moment as if the ball would drop into the top
corner, but it landed harmlessly on the roof of the net. With 72
minutes gone, Owen could have made it four, when Michael Dawson totally
mis-judged a bouncing ball and got right underneath it, leaving Owen a
run on goal, but as the ball bounced up he hit it well, but way too high
with only Robinson to beat.
Spurs gave Newcastle a scare, as O'Hara's
corner found Berbatov's head and the ball bounced down just in front of
the line, where Harper and a defender combined to clear the danger.
It was little consolation and Berbatov had a game where he looked like
he was somewhere else, as he rarely showed any spark of involvement.
But then he wasn't alone among the white shirted players in that.
Hardly anyone came out of the match with credit and Ramos might be
thinking about wholesale changes in the transfer window.
Nine minutes left and the humiliation was
complete. Spurs had a free-kick that bounced off the wall to Adel
Taarabt. With players available to his right, he dithered on the
ball and was robbed of it. Quickly, it was moved upfield to
Martins, who went around Tainio and buried the ball past Robinson to
make it 1-4.
The season might well have ended for
Tottenham when they won the League Cup, but people pay good money to go
and see them play and the least they could do is put in some effort,
even if they are losing. Gus Poyet put it well in his post-match
interview, saying he was trying to stay clam, as he might have said some
things which he would regret. Hopefully, he will tell the players
direct and they might regret their part in this sorry performance.