Spurs face identity crisis
We’d actually managed to salvage some pride in Benfica.
March 24th, 2014
Never has a place in the Europa League quarter-final been so uncertain that we essentially took the only result we didn’t even consider we had in front of us; a 2-2 draw at the home of a club that have been relentless at home this year. At 1-2 we were given that usual feeling of false hope and nail-biting apprehension. We forgot for a moment that we were Spurs until that crushing full-time whistle.
What was made clear and even clearer at home to Southampton was that we’ve truly lost the identity we’d prided ourselves on so fondly not a few seasons back. I wouldn’t say we’ve taken leaps backwards, but we’ve lost a couple of the levels that helped cement the perception that we were a side attacking with flair. Teams no longer come and set up numbers to combat a relentless attack, they set up to press us deep into our own territory and camp in our final third. They prey on our continued proneness to error and pounce on our first touch.
This essentially makes us nervous. We employ a high-line with a nervy back four and a midfield that lacks any real substance or organisation and suddenly we become rabbits in headlights. We’ve died and reborn a softer touch. Although I do feel that a high line is a fundamental tactic in most successful teams and one that we did well under AVB last season, we evidently lack the organisation all over the pitch to execute it.
We press without purpose. We press in flat lines of 4 or 5 and our midfield is bypassed with relative ease. We ball-watch. We think in the moment instead of two moves ahead. We’ve a squad of chess players struggling to play draughts at the best of times this season. It’s evidently the quality of player keeping our necks above water for a Europa League spot which promotes the faith that little needs to be altered with in regards to the playing staff this summer, although the approach needs immediate attention. We’ve become very last ditch. The game appears as if being played behind us and our fitness allows us to recover in the moments we need to. I felt Tim Sherwood had made steady progress upon taking charge but it’s clearer than a cloudless sky that it is individual quality pulling us out of jail time and time again.
Our game preparation is non-existent. Our awareness of opponents appears to be something chopped along with AVB and suddenly we’ve become too focused with our own set-up under current management than considering our opponents’ threats. We’re clueless at the system our opponents will play. The focus therefore turns to our own game yet, despite this, we struggle to stamp any form of authority in games this year – especially at home. The Southampton game papered over the many cracks and holes within the management, but we know that. We’ve lost our identity and there’s no telling if and when it’ll make a return.