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« Movember, day 30. The end. | Main | This is what it should look like »

Greek tragedy

Spurs 1 PAOK 2

If this was a must win game, Harry should have played our strongest side. The fact he didn't more or less tells you the importance of it. That's been the problem from the very start. It's not a priority. It's an after thought. It's something that's there that can't be ignored so it's patronised. Placing aside the emotive aspect of Europe and a cup run, the actual competition is hardly geared towards aiding you domestically due to the sheer volume of games to be played. I guess if our aspirations were different, say we sat in 8th - 6th place and that was the best we could hope for we might have sacrificed more for the it rather than simply play youth and fringe players.

Last night, what with it being a 'must win', Harry added Modric, Lennon and Defoe to the starting line-up. Bale and Walker also made appearances. Was of no consequence when the defence appeared to freeze frame on a couple of occasions in truly calamitous fashion early on in the game rendering it game over before we had a chance to make any worthy impact. I guess proving that if you call upon players that sit on the bench most days, their lack of focus/first team action can prove to be devastatingly ironic. We lost the game in the opening twenty minutes. Got to be honest. I could have walked through the Spurs defence with a kebab in one hand and an Essex bird on the other. No shocker to see an average side do the same (minus the dodgy meat and bint).

The penalty, fortunate as it was, also went a long way to suggest it was going to be an ominous night in front of goal. I could not shake off the feeling that we would dominate possession and still not hit the target convincingly - and that's basically the story of the second half. Even with 10 men, the Greeks contained us. With ample help from the officials that disallowed an equaliser for no apparent reason other than complete incompetence. Player goes down injured. Nobody (officiating) are concerned for said player, play continues, Defoe scores, the assistant referee starts to run back towards the half-way line and the other bloke (that stands by the side of the goal) hardly made an effort to gesture anything. So the ref, in his infinite wisdom, gave a free-kick to PAOK. If it was for the foul, why the delayed reaction? If it was for offside, it quite obviously wasn't offside. All very bizarre and idiotic.

It's a shame, but the reality is - Harry never believed the squad had the necessary depth to take this competition seriously. Hindrance is the vibe I get. Perhaps he thought we could get away with playing the likes of Corluka, Gallas, Bassong, Pienaar etc as they are/were first team players. But once more, if you lack recent competitive game time, it doesn't matter what the name is on the back of your shirt. It was all disjointed and mish-mashed with very little sustained quality (Modric was decent enough).

All down to mathematics now. I think Harry and co will not care too much about the formulas as they are far too tricky to contemplate. The league is the only challenge of importance to this side and retaining our current position, to be awarded with a far more attractive European prospect. Perhaps the FA Cup can give us a much missed run towards silverware.

We tried to get away with it in the Europa League. We didn't. Looking back at the group, we really should have walked it. But if you don't really want something you're not going to be scared or fearful about losing it. That was apparent through-out the group stages.

Onwards to Bolton at home. Quite obviously a game of far bigger importance to most.


Reader Comments (31)


Dec 1, 2011 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyBlue

We lost our Europa League status against two sides who wanted it more than us. Fair enough. It's happening more now in football. Arsenal, Chelsea and UTD all out of the carling cup and the latter two struggling in the CL. It's great to be honest. Good luck to PAOK and Rubin, especially Rubin who play football the right way.

Dec 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan

Not really bothered about going out of the Europa leage, except I am going to the Dublin game. Still, maybe I'll get to play! You can't expect inactive players to come on and immediately be at their best. Gallas and Corluka very ring rusty and that cost us both goals. Do we need to bring back the reserve team to allow the bench warmers to get match fit? Also, last night showed we still don't have a forward line without Ade and VDV. If we do get to the CL, much investment needed to fight on two fronts.

Dec 1, 2011 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterbob

Bit annoying to lose at home in Europe to a rank Greek side though.

Dec 1, 2011 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Baron

Well I never like to see Spurs lose of course but there wasnt the anguish that usually goes with a loss when we do. The yoof got some invaluable experience, Gallas got much needed game time Bassong shows how innatentive he can be and we are out. It wont effect our premier league performances I dont think, (must say I though Modders really looked good last night) so top 4 our priority and rightly so. With the likes of Man C dropping down from CLto the lattter stages of this comp I am glad we are out of it in a way. Its not got the Kudos it used to have as either UEFA or Cup Winners Cups had. Too many games - only good for training the youngsters and keeping fringe players fit and hey thats what we used it for. I know its silverware but if we dont get CL then we lose our best players and we dont get silverware - vicious circle, Im happy to not have the trophies right now to make sure we get CL keep our best players and then get silverware (hopefully) Would be happy with FAC run (and win - it is our trophy after all) and 2nd or 3rd at least in the PL. COYS!!

Dec 1, 2011 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterwhenarrymetdanny

After last night I would be happy if I never saw Bassong or Pienaar in a spurs shirt again, both were dreadful. Bassong seemed like he really didn't care and was majorlly at fault for both goals. Pienaar seemed to spend most of the night running in ever decreasing circles or into crowds of PAOK players. Saying that they weren't the onlu culprits, our whole defence was shocking to say the least, and the midfield/ fullbacks slowed the game to a crawling pace (Corluka who seemed intent to pass to no-one or a player in black rather than a teeam-mate in acres of space).
Watching that game reminded me of how it felt to watch spurs over the last five years, glimpses of energy skill and flair let down by too much capitulation and self destruction/ lack of final ideas. Thank god our first string are playing so much better, would have been better if Harry had stuck to the kids last night, they might have cared a bit more.

Dec 1, 2011 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterKiran

I don't think there was anything harsh about the penalty or red card. Initially I thought he'd given it for the lad who clattered JD and he was the one who'd been sent off. If it wasn't given for the handball then it would have been given for that challenge and PAOK would still have been down to 10 men.

That said, the back 4 looked like a defence cobbled together at the last minute. It surely didn't help that they had Gomes doing sod all behind them. If ever there was evidence that we should be playing in the reserve league this was it. What are we going to do if we lose King or Kaboul in the next few weeks? Gallas is well short of match practice and now won't get any, and Bassong is not to the required standard (why was he captain?).
Pienaar did nothing to clarify why we signed him.
Kane - not to the standard required. I actually thought we should have played Bale up front for the last 30 mins, taking Kane off in the process.

Credit where credit's due though - PAOK defended stoutly in the second half, not that we really created clear cut chances.
We certainly won't get the 6 goal swing in our favour as Harry will now definitely field the weakest/most inexperienced side that he can.

On reflection Harry has done the right thing with this competition. The evidence is there to show that we've benefitted in the Premier League by not getting players injured in Europe. He's also been given the opportunity to blood the youngsters and see which ones are ready to move up a level (none of them other thank Livermore).

Dec 1, 2011 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterWalkerboy

To be fair, I think it is hard for most teams in Europe to win when they play a 2nd string line-up versus a 1st team.

The following players I thought had a really bad game: Rose (poor, poor, poor, poor - will never be premiership grade), Gallas (poor), Corluka (exposed), Livermore (fairly poor), Kane (poor - destined for League 1), Pienaar (poor, poor).

Dec 1, 2011 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSval

Corluka, Bassong & Pienaar are a complete waste of space. Get rid quickly Harry!!!!!

Dec 1, 2011 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTrev

Some thoughts/ conclusions from the game:-

1. Agree that it would be difficult for players like Bassong, Gallas and Corluka who dont play regularly to step up and turn it on in a "must-win" game.

2. Harry Kane seems to lack guile. Admittedly the Greeks parked a bus in front of goal, but surely there could have been more effectively taken shots at goal. Falque, on the other hand, looked useful.

3. Not convinced at all by Pienaar. No end product. Reminds me of a combination of Keane and Jenas. Always running seemingly nowhere, and then complaining to someone about something.

4. Personally I dont feel a big loss if we do not progress in this competition. We have more important games to play. But, a little annoyed that we got beaten at home. I dont like to halt momentum (of winning), it could be a start of a bad habit. We should not assume Bolton will roll over and allow us to plough through them.

5.Not sure about Defoe. In my view, he seemed effective in parts, but again did not seem to possess the cunning to go round the parked bus. We seemed too intent on passing our way into the very overcrowded penalty box, rather than whip in one or two tasty crosses. A tad too predictable.

6. Would have liked to see the likes of Souleyman(?), Ceballos, Tom Carroll given a chance in the game. Having said that, dont we have any youth defenders? I believe Caulker is on loan at Swansea and injured, and Naughton is at Norwich, and Rose seems to be shuffled into at left-back. The rest of our promising talent seem to be either midfielders or strikers. My concern is that we lost because of mistakes at the back, and our attack could not make up for their deficiencies. So we need to groom more defensive talent, otherwise nights like these will continue to happen. (Of course we could always buy such talent but just saying...)

Dec 1, 2011 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterFocussed from Singapore

As we've seen also last season Spurs (Harry) have tactically no answer against a well organised, experienced, solid and playing in an intelligent way team.
This is an issue that Spurs is going to face again next season when playing in a European competition.
Harry's tactics look too naïve when he has to face old foxes of the game like Mourinho and Boloni.
We shouldn't forget that PAOK has only 3 defeats in his last 25 European games.

Dec 1, 2011 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterIoanX

The only thing Sppoookkkyyy thing about this game was the same Spooookkkyyyky high snappy tempo that is causing shock football all over Europe is once again in evidence even with ten men. We would have struggled with our first team because the Greeks where snapping into our players with intent too assault any player who kept the ball for more than a second. The alarm bell where ringing even before our Greek gifts the funny thing is its so bloody easy too see it coming i cant believe no fans or the managers like Ferguson said after Palace beat his weakened team 2-1i never Sean it coming. Well i will repeat my ground hogg rant the 12th man is not the ref any more or muddy pitches and raising your game its pure energy in high levels of high tempo snappy tackles breathtaking blocks saves attacking with eight players and defending with the same number for a long long time. This Football according too some of my own fans is better training better pitches boots energy drinks sport science and players being good boys not drinking and clubbing. So why is there record shocks record arrests for rape drink driving racist verbal abuse sudden death and Davspurs ranting every time is beloved Spurs get shockingly beat.This is the reality of science if you have 17 players full with endless energy that can play without fear and with bravado plus they can chase the ball like a terrier without worrying about sucking in oxygen. You then have a formidable team no matter whose name is on the back of the shirt you raise your chances of a shock result with 90 plus mins of energised Football. We are facing Bolton with elbow Davies desperate for points and trust me they will be full of eneregy blocks tackles and saves a plent we will have too rely on luck a good ref and great strikes to win this game. The worse thing after January it gets worse fingers crossed and Harry will learn the secret too this high snappy tempo causing shocks like Getafe Palace Kilmarnock the Greeks have learned up your work rate and you can shock any team even Utd at Home and Barcelona.?

Dec 1, 2011 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterdavspurs

I thought to myself as I watched the first goal in somewhat temporary disbelief. I've never seen a goalkeeper less interested in saving an attempt than yesterday with Gomes.

Negatives aside, the one positive I enjoyed from that match was; watching Danny Rose lock the right back which caused him to fall in the most entertaining manner.

Dec 1, 2011 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterBimspur

I think he should have stuck with Townsend and Caroll to be honest, they would have been far more eager to impress and would have cared a lot more as this was their only real chance of real game time for spurs this year. Just glad we didn't pick up any injuries really. Lets do it at home to Bolton, a game that matters a whole lot more.

Dec 1, 2011 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDan

Christ, Davespurs, reading your rant took more out of me than the game.
Corluka is a useless player. He wasn't interested, but even when he is he's useless. I so look forward to him going to somewhere else to display his uselessness. This whole game was depressing, except for the smiles on Bale and Modric's faces.

Dec 1, 2011 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered Commentercookiebun

Would have liked to have seen us advance to final 32 but simply for the sake of pride. As said earlier, there's abundant proof that resting our first team has paid dividends in the PL. And I'm not as concerned about Corluka, Pienaar, Gallas, and some of the other fringe players--being fit and being match fit are two entirely different things. A number of them would be quite fine in the starting XI if they had more games.

But the simple truth is for all the talk about "cutting this player" and "bringing in that quality player" in January, it's unlikely to happen. No top player wants to sit on the bench and only play Europa League or domestic cups. And in the end, I'm not sure it matters all that much: it's a common mindset for any team to believe that "we're one player short of winning a title" or "we just need to bring in one or two more quality players and we'll be set." Teams are complicated creatures, and some of the best ones are a mix of quality talent, role players, and dedicated substitutes combined with thirst and loyalty. Remember, during 09-10, we got CL with a starting XI that included Corluka, Bassong, and Crouch--guys we're too easy to dismiss now.

Dec 1, 2011 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

The defeat was dissapointing. The performance at times third rate. H didn't want to win this game, no matter what he said before and after.
Anyway onwards to Bolton. No excuses guys, sacifice made to the great God Premierskyspor.
VDV rested, Modders muscles manipulated, Defoe proving he's better from the bench, 2nd by 5 on Saturday.

Dec 1, 2011 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered Commentersinger

Never like to see us lose but, realistically, were we ever going to win the thing? Only if Harry played the 1st team...which he clearly had no intention of doing. Maybe as the tournament progressed he would've introduced more key players, but if that would've impacted the league form then I'm happy to be out of it. No one remembers it unless you win it. Fulham were in the final (that says a lot!) 2 years ago but no one remembers or cares. Bring on Bolton!

Dec 1, 2011 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered Commentertotspur

Gomes, Corluka, Bassong, Pienaar = ineffective Spurs of old. Get them out, not good enough to give us sufficient "depth" in our squad.

Kane and Rose = looked very much out of their depth.

Modders = thought he had a, relative, shocker last night. A lot of misplaced passes and no creativity to find that killer pass/create that chance.

Defoe = worked hard but ineffectual.

Would liked to have seen more of Falque as well as Townsend and Carroll.

Bit gutted that we are going out of the competition to be honest, thought we could have gone all the way.

Dec 1, 2011 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterbringbackmabbutt

Disappointing night to say the least...Harry Kane is not going to make pace and no acceleration to get away from a defender, he is always on his heels and I really dont know why we persevere with him. If he is the best of the bunch in terms of strikers from our Development Academy then we are struggling...suggest we pinch Jamie...cant think of his surname from he is a real prospect.

Dec 1, 2011 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterKev

We should have fielded a better team and bring the inexperienced youngsters in later in the match. Cudicini should have been in the goal rather than Gomes. Pienar, Bassong and Corluka were very poor. For the sake of prestige, we should not lose to teams we can beat.

Dec 1, 2011 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJOHN ADAM

Shocking: Corluka, Gallas, Rose, Kane
Poor: Gomes, Pienaar, Livermore
Passable: Bassong, Modric, Lennon, Defoe

Redknapp: Puzzling XI combined with tactical ineptitude. Putting on Bale and Walker to get around PAOK, then removing Kane, the only striker who was ever likely to get on the end of their crosses.

Dec 1, 2011 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe_Fox

After watching Livermore in few last appearances and especially the last night’s, I am now convinced that he's just a "poor man's Jenas". He is neither an attacking midfielder nor a holding one. Seems slower than Kranky with no tackling efforts. Most of his passes were back-passes and few sideways ones. He’s League 1 material at best. If Parker was rested, I was surprised that Sandro didn’t get some needed game time instead of Livermore? Anyway, I feel really bad for the Spurs supporters at WHL for getting robbed for the game fee and for being humiliated. They should get an official apology from the club, especially from HR, and their tickets be refunded. If there was no intent from the management to compete and win this home game (played 70 or so minutes against a 10-men squad), than why to charge them a regular fee? Loyalty is a two-way street.

Dec 1, 2011 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterbeetleblues

As Flav referred to him on the podcast...'half a Jenas'.

Dec 1, 2011 at 7:29 PM | Registered Commenterspooky

Does anyone have a working link to the Spurs podcast?

Also, does anyone know why my IE browser closes every time I try to open The Fighting Cock Forum page? The main page is stable but the browser collapses as soon as I click on the Forum link. It is so frustrating….

Dec 1, 2011 at 9:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterbeetleblues

We have been blessed with amazing football in the Premier League.

Our back up players are never going to be of the same standard, that's why they are back up. We should have done better last night in places but these are squad players only, and need games and encouragement to ensure they're as ready as possible whe they are needed to enter the main battle.

Dec 1, 2011 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered Commenter@White_HeartLane

Beetle - what OS you on? And what version of IE you got running?

Dec 1, 2011 at 9:41 PM | Registered Commenterspooky

Spooly, I have IE 7 on XP system

Dec 1, 2011 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterbeetleblues

Oh, I just tried to open The Fighting Cock Forum via Mozilla Firefox, and it works well. :)

Thanks for your concern, Spooky.

Dec 1, 2011 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterbeetleblues

I cringed at every hospital pass someone sent Modric's way. nooo!!!! Let them have! it's not worth it!!!

Glad it's over.

Dec 2, 2011 at 12:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterMr Spang

Hmmm, Mr Spang, it does make it more sense when you put it this way.....

Dec 2, 2011 at 1:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterbeetleblues

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