Occasional Spurs Odyssey correspondent Ivan Cohen offers some questions for Glenn Hoddle following two dismal away performances at Burnley and Sunderland:-
It is usually my custom to leave a job to the professional concerned: I do not perform medical surgery on myself, for example. However, I have recently become concerned about your team selection, that I feel beholden to put pen to paper (or more accurately, fingers to keyboard) and drop you a line. It might well be the case that you have recently been unable to see the wood for the trees, and I am hopeful that my amateur observations from a distance might afford you the perspective that has been missing.
I will admit that I have been quite impressed with Spurs during much of this season, with the serious exception of the past week in particular. An ignominious loss at Burnley was followed up by a completely hapless display against Sunderland. Yet for the observer at a distance, it is not difficult to discern the reasons for these two displays of utter ineptitude: your team selection. I cannot begin to understand the rationale for bringing back into the first team at one time so many players who have been out of contention for lengthy periods with injury.
Let us take this past Sunday against Sunderland: you chose to play Poyet, Anderton and Freund, none of whom had yet regained first-team fitness. Of course, I would agree that the only way to gain such fitness is to play in the first team, but when you play three players below par in the midfield you are simply asking to be over-run by the opposition. Indeed, that was what happened. The midfield struggled creatively (poor old Robbie Keane; by the time your midfielders provide him with a decent service, he will have decided not to wait any longer and move on to the next club...). They were unable to play any kind of transition game, often leaving the Spurs defence with a thankless task. I am certain that some sections of Spurs' supporters will unjustly be criticising several Spurs' defenders, when the fault lies with your team selection in midfield!
Glenn, we are all quite aware of the horrendous record of injuries at Spurs, and it does seem that the hoodoo is still alive with the recent losses of Matty Etherington and Les Ferdinand. Nonetheless, earlier in the season you were quite enamoured of (eg) Acimovic; why was he not preferred to the more statuesque Poyet, for example. Why did you not shift Bunje into midfield? At least these two eastern Europeans would have given us significantly greater mobility, and it would have helped continue their transition into football as it is played in the Premiership.
There is no doubt, Glenn, that Spurs' supporters are generally behind you. We appreciate the contributions made by players such as Poyet last season. But a rickett of the magnitude of Sunday away to Sunderland erodes supporter confidence. A team performance that is lacking in mobility and apparently in desire has to be laid at your feet. If you must bring players back from injury, then please use the commonsense approach of using one at a time, and perhaps begin them with an appearance from off the bench.
I hope you will find the time to listen to my suggestions, and perhaps take them on board. I wish you luck with the remainder of the season, and hope that you can still fulfill our early promise.
Ivan K. Cohen, Ph.D.
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