Spurs reaction

It was encouraging to see the team play with a bit of zip. One touch passing was occasionally in evidence, there was a general sense of tempo. More than that there was a coherence to the play: Fulham’s players weren’t just 10 boats being blown around on a lake, they moved in concert, sometimes fast, sometimes more measured. That side of things was encouraging.

A couple of clever selections, too. Karagounis is just the kind of player to inject some spirit into a shoegazing football team. He plays every game as if it’s his last (if he didn’t it might very well be). Kieron Richardson and Darren Bent were apparently injured but their removal resulted in good things, too: John Arne Riise, whose hair suggested that he wasn’t expecting a recall, or even to be seen in public at all, had as good a game as I can remember from him. No, he wasn’t perfect, but he showed a willingness to overlap and brought presence to a defence that too often has (rightly) had the look of frightened rabbits in the headlights.

Up front Berbatov was stationed as an out and out forward and moved with more vigour than has been the case for some time. He might have scored and made Dejagah’s goal with the sort of pass that looks obvious once it’s been made, but which would have been beyond the majority of players. This is why those who have been baying for his removal had it the wrong way around: you get rid of your worst players, not your best ones.

We also had good performances from Kacaniklic, who will benefit from having time in the team and on the pitch, and from a deep-lying Parker. Dejagah took his goal fabulously well. Senderos was terrific at the back.

On the downside we allowed a couple of long-range goals, which is always disappointing. Stekelenberg had a good game and couldn’t have done much with those shots, but there is a nagging feeling that the shooter might have done less well had he been well closed down, which gets back to the team’s failing all year of being very easy to attack against. If that seems harsh then we have to realise that the margins between success and failure and currently we’re a long way on the wrong side of that ledger: the little things matter; the little things will save us.

In the cold light of day we did better but were still beaten. Spurs had 60% of the ball and managed 18 shots, which is more or less what we’ve allowed most games and remains a recipe for relegation. On the plus side Fulham managed 16 shots, a nice improvement on previous games.


11 thoughts on “Spurs reaction

  1. It was back to basics for this Fulham side last night and we looked as good as we have in a year, despite the loss.

    Simple, direct football focusing on Berba and Karagounis as our passers and Dejagah, Kaca and Kasami as our runners. I wonder how much this approach was based on Spurs high defensive line or how much this is how we are going to play from now on.

    Defensively I thought we were very solid, with Hughes looking a completely different player to the one who looked over the hill this season and Senderos was his usual solid self (including some excellent headed passes). Parker played a much more disciplined role too, perhaps because he didn’t have to force play as we had the aforementioned simple tactic of using pace and width.

    Spurs looked ‘OK’ and scored their two most difficult chances having missed their two easiest in the first half on the break. Vlad chiriches will never score another goal like that in his whole career.

    Ultimately I was elated with the effort and performance but frustrated with the result – I felt we deserved a draw tbh. Rene has given us hope, which is probably the cruelest thing he could have done.

  2. Agree with so much of the above. I was surprised at how well we sometimes sliced through, or went round the Spurs defence. Just shows that the pace and ability has always been there, but has been so under ‘trained’ ‘coached’ ‘worked on’ in the past year by Jol and his staff. Rene is beginning to bring back their confidence and above all their fitness ! Such a joy to watch dega and Sasha down that right wing in 2nd half. They really cared last night. That was good.

  3. Wow. We wait 14 PL games to finally get a performance, and yet again we’re undone by fantastic hits from outside the box. We seem to have conceded the same goal in our three 1-2 home reverses this season. Deja-vu, it’s the cruelest thing. From players we’ve never even bothered to rate before – Mutch, Shevley, Holtby. When did they learn to shoot that accurately? Can’t one of those shots just smack the bar and bounce to safety?!

    Riise was excellent as you noted Rich – he made a mockery of Jol’s dedication that Richardson was his first choice left back. I’m still convinced that Duff would offer more than Kaka, but there was a formation & pattern to the play last night that you sensed can work for Fulham and I did think the inclusion of Karagounis was excellent management. If ever there was a man for an occassion – showing desire, work rate, getting forward, making it competitive – he’s that man; our man. Shame he’s 108 years old or whatever. I’m imagining he’s still struggling to get out of bed as I type. And full credit to the fans too, a rousing appreciation at the end of the game for the effort put in by the team – you could sense there was a light toward the end of the tunnel, let’s all focus on getting there.

    Anyway. Sunday feels super important now…the result, yes of course, but can we maintain that dedication, shape & performance level? If we can, we should be able to get some momentum together & show that this is a squad of decent premier league level talent who can cope with a little bit of pressure. That Christmas run – Norwich, Hull & West Ham – looks likely to define the outcome for this season now, so it’s imperative we keep this dedication & shape into that crucial period.

    If not, it’ll be utterly horrible.

    What a rollercoaster!


    1. Holtby and Shelvey are both solid young players who are underrated in England because they didn’t set the world on fire at 19 like Wayne Rooney. Shelvey was useful for Charlton at a very young age before Liverpool rushed and discarded him, and Holtby had a solid season and a half for a good Bundesliga team before Spurs signed him and everyone else they could get their hands on without really having a role for any of them. Our midfielders (the try-very-hard-but-prone-to-being-out-of-position-as-a-result Parker and Sidwell on both occasions, I would note) should know better than to give either of them time and space to shoot.

  4. Listening to the match online, it was heartening to hear how loud Craven Cottage was. The team up’d their performance and the fans showed them the support they deserved. The applause for Karagounis as he was subbed off, I thought, was especially poignant.

    I had some Spurs supporters complain to me that they haven’t scored inside the box for a while, which would account for their relatively low goal tally this season. Given our ability to give up easy goals from corners and set pieces this season, it would seem that we’d be the perfect opponent to get their mojo back. Even though we gave up those 20 and 30 yard goals, we should take heart that patches are being made to our leaky dyke.

  5. At the end: no jeers, no whistles, but sustained applause for a team that had tried hard and deserved more. Very nice to see/be part of.

    Oh – if only Kara was a few years younger and could last the game …..

  6. I left the match satisfied that Muelensteen knows what he’s doing and I’d expect him to be fully aware of the ways in which we’re vulnerable. He’ll be working to address faults.

    Early days obviously but I suspect we’ve found Hodgson mark 2.

    1. If you haven’t done so yet, check out his review of the Spurs match on YouTube. So far he really does seem like the right man for the job.

  7. A lot to like. I have a better feeling for how Rene wants to play after one game than I did after multiple years of Jol. Everyone helped out defensively, with the midfield trio of Karagounis, Parker, and Kasami coordinating to press and trap once Spurs reached the halfway line. This was fairly effective, and went a long way towards solving our recent symptom of just conceding all the space from the center line to our own box. We had actual wide play, which unclogged the center for Berbatov.

    But at the same, we lost in the same way we’ve dropped points on multiple occasions with inferior performances. Wonder strikes are wonder strikes, but every team in the league has multiple players who can do that if you give them enough chances. (Even Fulham, as we showed against Palace.) We lack the kind of statistical background to really say for sure (except in the crudest sense, in terms of expected values of shots, etc), but at some point it seems like this stops purely being a matter of bad luck.

    Footnote: I was texting the whole game with a friend in NYC who’s a Spurs fan. We were up 1-0 when Sidwell came on. I texted, “here comes sidwell, you will win now”.)

  8. Rich – great post. Plenty of positives like you say. We’ll see how the rest of the season goes and all cross our collective fingers I guess. Agree with everything you say in this post except the Barba comment. Most people I talk to feel that dropping Barba would have been a smart move not so much because he was playing badly, but because of his attitude and the damage that not being dropped must have had on the morale of the other players. His lack of effort over the season so far has been an insult to his teammates, the staff of the club and the fans who pay good money to watch him. If a player can’t provide the minimum amount of effort then that player needs to be dropped, no matter how good they are. I’ve read numerous comments on here from people saying that they would rather see 11 technically poor players giving 100% then 11 brilliant ones who don’t care. For Jol to then promote him to captain was a complete joke.

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