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« Rafa refuses to dance to Samba beat | Main | Pav scores, empty seat salutes »

We've got 99 problems but the pitch ain't one

We're missing a few centre-backs.There's continued debate about whether Defoe should start ahead of van der Vaart. 442 or 4411? Is Rafa (in his head) bigger than Spurs? Is Harry scared to drop him? Why shouldn't we accommodate a match-winner into the side even if he can only last 70 minutes? Does the team have more structure and understanding with a traditional top two up front?

There's more.

A question mark post-Newcastle as to whether we still struggle to sometimes truly lay down authority with a mixture of silk and slaughter and boss and win games we're expected too. Is Adebayor fully fit? Do we miss Lennon? Do we need Lennon? Why does Bassong have some fans choking on their hearts? Can Kaboul command the back four? Harry's left-field selection on the right for Bale - why persist with this failed experiment to provide balance? Or is it an unavoidable consequence of the right-handed quirk we possess what with no natural cover for Aaron?

Questions. All to be answered soon, you would hope. Technically speaking, none of the above should be classed as problematic. Tag them as conundrums and they are all mostly birthed from positive (be it sometimes heated) discussions. We're hardly spending the aftermath of a weekend game dissecting an obituary of a result. These are good days. Not quite hedonistic but there is continued tangible progress (that's in terms of what we expect from 'this' season). Although for some that's another arguable point; The wealth of talent in our squad. Some say a more tactically astute manager would produce more powerful performances. Perhaps we do need Redknapp to be more head strong and consistent. It's not impossible for this team to fail, but failure would be unacceptable no matter how glorious.

We have a beastly spine sprinkled with glam midfield players. Dynamic and demon. But sometimes frustrating and fruitless. What we need is that extra spark to ignite something bullish and brutal. You sense its not that far off. Injuries aside, one or two of our 'stars' are enigmatic, erratic. Still, five games unbeaten. That's good going for a team with plenty of imperfections.

Blackburn is a chicken piece in a bucket.
The fighting cockerel is nothing if it does not fight then crow.

Sandro, Parker in midfield bossing it. Modric, vdV and Bale dictating, leading and marauding. Adebayor flying. Sounds great in writing. With all the problems and conundrums we supposedly have the one place we should not be concerned with them is out on the pitch at Ewood Park. Even if most of the problems are lost in formation.

Let's try it again. Sandro. Parker. Modric. vdV. Bale. Adebayor. Hairs on back of neck should be standing.

Complacency and underachieving? No thank you. Swagger and belief? Yes please. From the players foremost. Don't leave us red faced Spurs. Never red.

I get that the media emphasis is on Blackburn and their manager and that can usually inspire in their favour against the odds. Our centre-back pairing is not our first choice. We might be put under pressure, both physically and aerially. Smash the cliché to pieces. What about the pressure we should be placing them under with ball being pushed around on the pitch, with fluid confidence?

Get the job done Tottenham. These ilk of games are equally as important as any top tier clash.

Cock a doodle doo.

Reader Comments (29)

Surely an easy win today, surely...
Boost the goals, clean sheets, this is the type of game we need to win well and show intent.

Or take a well fought point obviously

Oct 23, 2011 at 7:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpursSimon

Need to, should do...HAVE TO.

Oct 23, 2011 at 7:27 AM | Registered Commenterspooky

this is the type of game we were drawing last year. no place for defoe for me. 5 man midfield away from home to start, we have enough fire power with bale, ade, rafa, modric,as it is. we should controll tempo of the game with two holding players, we will need patients play for an easy win.

Oct 23, 2011 at 8:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterham

Bassong is a fair defender, pacy, which is always a plus. Don't under-estimate the importance of regular 1st team football. He's had good runs for us in the past but we've much more reliable defenders when fit and you can understand him wanting to leave if not playing. This season is a big one for him 'cos he's a natural leftie and we don't know what's happening with King yet so... he needs to take this chance. We're looking good. 8ish players injured, rest 9 1st teamers and STILL beat Rubin 1-0. We're looking very good and if we win today we're displaying Championship form. coyfs

Oct 23, 2011 at 8:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterjerkinmahjurgen

I am expecting a 442 with Defoe + Lennon starting. VDV could start in place of either but I think it could be his turn on the bench. Nice problem to have while Ade is fit.
Some things I will look out for.
Kaboom has to be the King of the CB pairing today, big shoes to fill but Gallas aside he is the one to do it. Chance for Bassong to show why he has badgering Harry for game time. Probably set pieces will form the major threat to them today.
Which side do Blackburn prefer to attack down. Hansen says BAE is no good and Neville says Walker is the man. Newcastle seemed to ignore the pundits but that could be for a many reasons.
RM if Rafa then Walker has to stay back a lot and work a double shift. If Lennon he will do the cover work but Walker has to return the compliment playing the ball early into the space in front of Lennon especially inside the LB like Corluka does. If Walker carries the ball to half way then dollys a pass to Lennon's feet with a man on him (like Glen Johnson did to him for England) we might as well play Lennon in goal. Lennon's strength is not technical delivery but the ability to deliver it from angles and places the defence does not have time to adjust for.
Bale could do with a really good game soon and we can probably play him as just a LM today so he should have green fields to run into and do his stuff.
Parker + Modric will probably be outnumbered in the middle but if the rest of the midfield are working hard and keeping position (especially Rafa if he is RM) they can cope. A chance to compare Modric in middle today vs Modric on the flank last week. Parker has rightly emphasised supporting Luka so far this season but at some point he will start to get forward himself.
We may get to compare Ade/JD with Ade/Rafa today. Rafa is probably the better footballer but does JD partner Ade better?
If we want to get 4th then away draws and home wins are a good platform to do it. If we want to target CFC and third or better we need to be looking to win these games. I think a 442 with Lennon + Defoe delivers a good win today but not without the odd scare, it is Spurs after all. Phew. I start typing and now look at all this waffle, anyway I think 3-1 to Spurs today.

Oct 23, 2011 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered Commentercoys

Out and out attack,two wingers Bale+Arron,two strikers Defoe+Ade,Modders+Parker mid,Walker,Kaboul Bassong A&E plus a Keeper.

Oct 23, 2011 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterperrymann

@perrymann we both left out Friedel :) If we play the ball to Lennon's feet though he might as well be in goal and try Brad at RM instead. Please Spurs play the ball into the space in front of Azza, if he fails at those chances then at least he got a chance to strut his stuff.

Oct 23, 2011 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered Commentercoys



Just a thought..........

This is ALWAYS the kind of match we usually...LOSE!!!!
If we win and comfortably then we can really say we have a good team as opposed a good eleven. After 50+ yrs of this I cannot be anywhere near as cocky as some of you are.

Oct 23, 2011 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterWill

I get that 'I get' is the new 'I understand'. Don't like it though.

As for the game. This is the opportunity to lay down our marker; to show the world that THFC are open for a right proper bit of business. We are 4 goals to the good away from dropping those Geordie slags down to 5th and reclaiming that, which on paper, should rightfully be ours.

A draw it is in then. With playground tactics from rent-a-gob being the order of the day.

Oct 23, 2011 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterTMWNN


We have the perfect personnel to make this formation work. Sandro as the deep lying holding midfielder, Parker as the water carrier, then Modric, Bale & van der Vaart creating havoc between the lines and beyond, and Adebayor up top to scare and to score.

No more sticking Modric on the right-wing, he should be playing with the existential freedom his talent deserves. No more Bale on the right, we have Walker that side to provide enough width and pace with Sandro to drop in and cover for him. Our play should be fluid.
No more knowingly and naively being out-numbered in the middle of the park.

If it all goes tits up after 30 minutes, stick Defoe on and go 4-4-2.

Oct 23, 2011 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered Commenter.

Only an amateur would start Defoe over VdV.

Oct 23, 2011 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterTMWNN

., you are completely correct.

That line-up, barring injuries, is so fucking obvious, that, if it isn't utilised, I will demand the sacking of rent-a-gob as soon as any other line-up is chosen.

Oct 23, 2011 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterTMWNN

"They found a whole barrack load of them stuck up each other... Sunk to the nuts, they were. They're gonna rename them - the Durham Bumpers. Ah, they do love an arsehole, these Geordies!" - Terry Stokes

Oct 23, 2011 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterTMWNN

Dont think lennon is fit enough to start but could come off bench last 30 mins. i think raffa causes problems because he plays he scores but the team shape is effeted and sometime he drops to deep leaving 1 man up top on his tod

Oct 23, 2011 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered Commentercraigdoc

Over a season done and Harry still can't work out how to get Rafa in the team.

Why on earth people bother to write about the possibilities of 4-1-4-1 or 4-3-2-1 is beyond me.

It's Harry, it's 4-4-2, it's our best players all on the pitch...somehow.

It's like have a plate of fine meats but no knowledge on how to serve we mash them up, form it in to the only shape we know and create Spam.

Oct 23, 2011 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnnyB

Lennon can't start, he passes the ball towards his own goal so much it's like he's on the other side.

He has no confidence, but we can't afford to let him get that back whilst playing badly for us.

I'd rather have Modric on the right and that's saying something.

Oct 23, 2011 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomst

I promised i would not talk about Tempo and i wont but i feel obliged too tell you i was the only one in my Nephew 18 bash who picked Norwich one nil down too draw. So based on my knowledge of teams in desperation who bought the chewing Yakubu i think today has all the ingredients for yet another shock. The only two players who could prevent the chances of a shock are out injured King and Huddlestone and this is the reasons wh y. Firstly we must play 442 like we did at Wolves because Ady is not 100 fit and his scoring form has slumped since Van and Harry have played 4411 or played Van on the wing. When Kranjcar played for the injured Lennon we won both games 2-0 then Harry tinkered and we won 2-1 and finally we drawn 2-2. Somtimes you can have a player who scores yet can cost your team points and we have one in Van Lennon fit offers speed and defence and away out of defence when we are getting pressed back this is why Moreno sold him. I would bring Van on in the second half Defoe needs to play with Ady to give him space too scorewith Van after he scores he stops playing and goes too deep, Secondly we are without King and our best form of defence is attack Bassong for the Ba goal run with Kaboul and left the middle exposed the other big worry Friedel stay just like Robbo did on his line for crosses and wanders of it for shots like for the last Newcastle goal. My Verdict Balckburn will be full of it overflowing with energy we must strike before it kicks in after 15 mins and ten after half time these are the times too strike and we need the refs help and luck and Gomes in goal or Samba will srike fingers and toes crossed and if all these things happen we will win

Oct 23, 2011 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterdavspurs

I think we'll win, but don't share the optimism that it'll be easy. They'll see we are struggling at centre back and absolutely bombard us with high balls. Granted we should deal better with these now we have a competent keeper, but it will be uncomfortable viewing at times. The geordies did it to us last 10 mins and the watching world wil have noticed. I'll take a 1 goal win today in a heartbeat. Home matches are for goal difference, away matches are for simply pocketing the points and moving on. That applies to us as much as it does to man u.

Bburn are on a poor run but don't make the mistake of thinking they are hopeless, especially at home. Hoilett can play, yakubu always causes us problems, samba is the kind of wholehearted player that makes spurs fans cringe. Pedersen has also caused us bother in the past. So don't pretend this will be a stroll in the park.

As for the team, I personally can't believe anyone would start without vdv. His goals to mins on the pitch record for us is simply phenomenal. We know he lacks Stamina so it's pretty obvious what to do. Start vdv, bring on defoe when he starts tiring. Dont overcomplicate the obvious.

Sandro should play which probably means no Lennon. Again, not a bad lad to bring if you need him.

Central defence worries me. Have we ever won an away game with kaboul and bas song together from the start? Can't imagine that we have. I'm still scarred by matches like Sunderland away 2 years ago and Blackpool away last season. That's why I just don't see it being in any way comfortable today.

Oct 23, 2011 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulf

We must play Sandro and Parker. Lennon in this game for his defensive work. If we boss midfield it's 3 points.

Oct 23, 2011 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered Commentercookiebun

Def Parker and sandro in the middle, I don't think it will be easy but we shud win

Oct 23, 2011 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe glory boys

I see Spurs are doing the complete opposite of my war cry article above.

Way to embarrass me Spurs.

Oct 23, 2011 at 3:51 PM | Registered Commenterspooky

Well at the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I'd I called that pretty much precisely.

I know people won't be thrilled with the performance but consider this: we are 5th with a game in hand (home to everton), have played FIVE of our 8 matches away, and have already played City, Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal. This is our best start to a season in years. I was hopeful of 4th in august. I'm raising my hopes now.

Talking of blowing my own trumpet, I also called vdv's big season. The guy is now officially avgoal machine. He makes us twice the team we'd be otherwise.

Oct 23, 2011 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul f

Winning ugly is fine with me.

At some point, we'll still need to step it up a notch. Defending wasn't exactly sparky today.

Oct 23, 2011 at 5:21 PM | Registered Commenterspooky

CBs are the key spooky. Kaboul and bassong aren't good enough as a partnership. We know this, it isn't a surprise. We can scrape by Blackburn and qpr with them, but my optimism is based on gallas Dawson and king returning soon. If they don't then frankly we'll be lucky to finish 5th, but surely we can't be that unlucky. The problem with not quite trusting your back 4 is that it starts to impact every aspect of the play. The midfield flair goes, all the joy of the attacking play starts to drop off. You can't build on sand, as any schoolboy knows. With gallas or king today you'd have seen a much better performance

Oct 23, 2011 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul f

Happy that we secured the three points today as we normally tend not to be that clinical in games such as these, how great it is to see that change. Our all round team performance has plenty of room for improvement imo, but at the end of the day we won and that's all that matters as far as I'm concerned. I'm hoping that we can maintain this forward momentum and continue to press on!

Oct 23, 2011 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered Commenteraspurusual

"They found a whole barrack load of them stuck up each other... Sunk to the nuts, they were. They're gonna rename them - the Durham Bumpers. Ah, they do love an arsehole, these Geordies!" - Terry Stokes
Oct 23, 2011 at 10:21 AM |

Love it!

Heard in the park lane when peado stood up the other week:
"sex case, sex case, hang him hang him hang him"

Good result today. Still feel we're yet to play well... this bodes well I believe.

Oct 23, 2011 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterflatearther

Agree with you spooky (defending was suspect). Hardly encouraging that I thought they'd score on every set piece. That Samba looks good, might be nice to see how he looks in a Spurs kit come Jan since he's Europa eligible as well. Guy is a menace in the air in both boxes and showed great pace to cut Bale off when in a leg race with him. No expert but given he wears the armband and seems quite vocal, seems a pretty good fit. Never sold on Cahill and we clearly need someone when Dawson, King & Gallas are out. Can't see King and Gallas being here next year.

Oct 24, 2011 at 1:46 AM | Unregistered Commentertim

Have to say I didn't get to see any of the game (other than highlights) as the UEFA and PL schedulers forgot to factor in my Mrs birthday being yesterday...but from what I've seen & read looks like we were functional if a bit shaky at the back. But we're getting the job done and steadily going about our business under the radar...5th, game in hand, 16 points from 18 and a whole raft of "winnable" games between now and Christmas. Why not aim higher than 4th? Just a thought...

Oh, sorry to bring this up as well but I couldn't help it as I've just read this from Redknapp...

"We’ve got to ­finish above Arsenal for the first time since the Premier League started if we’re going to get into the top four so it won’t be easy"

Rewriting history again...I bet Francis is fuming his glorious '94/'95 team are constantly overlooked in this way...

I get what he means though. And we will finish above them.

Oct 24, 2011 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterJH

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