F.A. CUP 3RD ROUND
SATURDAY 4TH JANUARY, 2003
SOUTHAMPTON 4 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)
M. Svensson, 13
A. Svensson, 56
Referee:- Mike Dean
Southampton (4-4-2):- Niemi; Telfer, Lundekvam, M. Svensson, Bridge; Fernandes, Oakley, Delap, Marsden (Capt.)(sub A. Svensson, 25); Beattie (sub Ormerod, 87), Tessem (sub Davies, 78)
Subs not used:- Jones; Williams
Spurs (3-5-2/4-4-2):- Keller; Perry (sub Anderton, 46), King, Thatcher; Carr, Davies (sub Doherty, 73), Freund (sub Iversen, 57), Poyet, Taricco; Sheringham (Capt), Keane
Subs not used:- Sullivan; Bunjevcevic
Spurs, the one-time darlings of this famous trophy, were knocked out once again in ignominious fashion, as they lost their second consecutive FA Cup game by a pathetic margin of 4-0. They lost to a team that found it impossible to fill their ground with its own fans, who stayed away in droves, whereas Spurs could have sold more than the allocation they accepted, and yet the club had settled for roughly the same figure as had witnessed the league defeat of New Year's Day. Two defeats in four days to Southampton. It really is pathetic, isn't it? I take my hat off to the Saints, I really do, because they deserved to win, and they played good football, but for Spurs fans, this is a defeat that will take a long, long time to live down.
Of course, there must have been an injury or two to deal with, as Dean Richards did not make it today. Just as predictably, Glenn Hoddle tinkered with the team and the formation, as Simon Davies returned in a 3-5-2 formation. Ben Thatcher was drafted into the back three, and Bunjevcevic was left on the bench. Why did we lose this game by such a margin? In my view the main reason was athleticism, as Southampton were clearly much fitter than us, able to race up and down the pitch in numbers, whether it was to attack or defend. Davies had a bit of a mare in the middle of the park, but he was not alone, as Poyet was rarely visible, and Freund failed to make a pass. Carr struggled to get forward, and Taricco seemed to me to be at half pace a lot of the time. The Saints had all the desire. Spurs had little. As always, Robbie Keane showed enthusiasm, but also, as is happening too much at the moment, he was in good scoring positions, but failed to make his mark. He is not getting the support he deserves though, as most of the team cannot keep up with him.
Keller made a silly mistake for the first goal, but he made plenty of saves later in the game too, so do not take too much out on him, although I suspect that Neil Sullivan may be rubbing his hands at a perceived opportunity to return.
I think it is time to point the finger at Glenn Hoddle though. At half time, he took our best defender off - Chris Perry - and put Anderton on. Spurs reverted to a 4-4-2, with Anderton on the right, and Davies on the left. As the game wore on (and defeat became an ever increasing certainty), more desperate changes were made. Freund went off and Anderton went to the middle. Iversen replaced Freund, and played on the right, whilst Doherty replaced Davies, and did nothing up front, whilst somehow the veteran element, Poyet and Sheringham, remained on the park. Now is the time to say goodbye to Gus and Ted. They must not remain as players beyond this season. They contributed nothing today.
It hurts to try and recall the game today, so I shall not even bother with a blow by blow account. Suffice to say that Saints played with the energy, ability and desire that we should be entitled to see from our Spurs. I say now, that if the Club does not make some sort of decent acquisition in this transfer window, and if we fail to qualify for Europe, then they risk seeing its supporters desert in droves. I for one, will question my sanity in spending some £3,000 p.a in home and away season tickets, and travel to watch such inadequacy week-in and week-out.
Saints took a 13th minute lead, when Bridge won a somewhat dubious free kick on the edge of the box. Beattie's chipped shot was spilt by Keller and Michael Svensson pounced to finish easily. Five minutes later, Fernandes hit a good cross to Beattie, but his header was soft and went straight to Keller. Spurs managed their first recognisable attack after 21 minutes, when Keane did get a shot on goal after an exchange with Poyet. The shot was wide of Niemi's right post.
Taricco idly expected a long pass to go out of play on the right, but Beattie was alive to the possibility of it staying in play, sending it beyond Perry, who did recover well to assist Keller is dispossessing Tessem of a scoring chance. After 33 minutes, Sheringham sent an inaccurate crossfield pass straight to Anders Svensson (who had already replaced the injured Marsden). Svensson hit a long shot, which Keller could not hold, pushing the ball out for a corner. Spurs did muster one more decent attack with some build up led by Davies from the left. Robbie Keane hit a powerful shot which was deflected dangerously to Niemi's right, but just wide of the post. The only other excitement in the first half was a spat between Thatcher and Beattie, missed by any official, despite an apparent blow from Beattie to Thatcher as he turned away after his challenge.
Spurs half-time change had no effect before the home side went two up after 50 minutes. Davies had been penalised near the half way line. The kick was taken quickly, and Beattie sent Tessem away on the left of the area. Tessem fired home a great shot to Keller's far corner. Keane then did get a couple of good chances. First of all he was through for a one on one, and Niemi saved Robbie's close range shot. The ball fell to Teddy, who also shot from close range, only to see the ball blocked then cleared. Soon after, Robbie was in front of goal again, but skied his shot way over the bar. The game was over as a competition as early as the 56th minute, when Anders Svensson was allowed to run 40 yards without a challenge. He had two players in space to his left, but went all the way alone, and hit a great shot past Keller.
This goal led to some ugly scenes involving Spurs "fans" who had to be restrained by the stewards and police, as they tried to get into the Saints' fans area to their left. These scenes are just the thing that are not needed, when the eyes of the world are on us. (The match was covered by BBC). More chances fell to Keane, but one went over the goal, and the other ended with a shot that went harmlessly across the goalmouth, with Niemi beaten. Keane had been hesitant at the start of this run, as he had thought he was offside.
At the other end, Fernandes was rounding Taricco with ease and brought a great save from Keller. The follow-up shot hit the top of the Spurs bar, but there was an offside in Spurs favour by this time. With 10 minutes to go, Beattie completed the rout, when Keller saved his header, but then Beattie provided the coup de grace with the follow-up shot.
Not many Spurs fans (including yours truly) stayed for the last rites, but you don't need me to report to you the glee with which the home fans treated this embarrassing defeat of their former manager. I have travelled some 1500 miles over the last two weeks following the side that I love up and down the country, seeing just one victory in 5 games. The only consolation I can draw at this time, is that I shall now have several free Saturdays in the next two months, and with only 7 away fixtures to go, the only long journeys I face are to Bolton, Leeds, and Middlesbrough.
I urge Glenn Hoddle to work on the general fitness of his team, and to insert youth into the side. When he is fit, Matthew Etherington will be a welcome addition. Although he does not always give a finishing pass that we want, he does have pace and an ability to hold the ball that puts the opposition under pressure. Also, why not try Ricketts or Blondel in the middle. A few weeks ago, at Spurs Odyssey, I asked a question of Glenn Hoddle, which I make no apology for repeating here - Where's the progress?
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