Thanks to John Ellis for his comments and picture
Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Newcastle United
What a frustrating game of football…
For the first half an hour, Tottenham took the game to Newcastle and played some lovely progressive football. Oliver Skipp ran beyond the strikers, broke through defensive lines and brought so much energy to the side. Spurs seemed to be getting shots in at will. Son had three attempts on goal in the opening eight minutes. He was then put in for a one on one with the keeper by a delightful Kane pass. It seemed a matter of time before Spurs would open the scoring.
Momentum and confidence though has such a massive impact on a match. The goalkeeper and defence started to pass the ball around at the back and as happened at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, mistakes were made.
Dier over-hit a blind pass back to Lloris which if it had been on target would have been an own goal. Instead it went for a corner but more importantly sent a telling message to Newcastle… The Spurs defence could be got at and struggles under pressure. This was shortly proven to be the case. A simple ball over the top caused chaos in the Spurs defence. A fine shot stopper Hugo Lloris may be but sadly his ball playing skills and judgement are his Achilles heel and so it proved once again today to gift Newcastle the lead.
The atmosphere turned toxic and the players felt the pressure from the fans.
Sessegnon was torn apart by the pace of Almiron, Lenglet didn’t provide any cover and suddenly it was 0-2. It felt a mess entirely of our own making. As poor as the last 15 minutes of the first half had been though, after ten successive home wins, it felt crass to boo the players off (yet again) at half time.
We demand loyalty from the manager and players but alas it surely has to be a mutual arrangement. The fans licked their wounds at half time and got behind the team in the second half.
Early in the second half, Kane pulled one back with a trademark back post header off a corner and it felt as if Spurs could turn the match around.
The Australian referee Jarred Gillett had seemed to let the game flow under some robust challenges to the extent it seemed he was refereeing an Aussies Rules match.
He was ill-equipped to manage the match and was cleverly manipulated by the Newcastle United players who took it in turns to fall down almost by the minute to waste a couple of minutes without the need for a trainer. Substitutions were milked.
Then there was Nick Pope who was allowed to waste time every time the ball was in his possession. It was a travesty that it took well into the the last ten minutes for a yellow card to be produced.
It was a surprise to see a Eddie Howe team adopting such tactics. In truth, he didn’t need to, as Newcastle could have scored more against such a porous Spurs defence. Gillet lost control to the extent that even at throw-ins, Newcastle stole ten yards at a time.
Whilst not the reason Spurs lost the match, they managed to do that with their own errors, it was anti football from Newcastle almost akin to the levels of Atlético Madrid.
Given the amount of time wasting, the number of substitutions and the time taken by VAR, five minutes added time seemed a ridiculously short recompense for the time taken out of the game.
Fans pay a lot of money to be entertained and especially in the current economic climate where people are struggling to pay the bills, football authorities need to stamp out this cancer which has crept into the game during the course of 2022.
Maybe the idea of the ball having to be in play for a minimum of 60 minutes is the answer?
When Guardiola first took over at Manchester City, he insisted on players playing his style of football. In those days, Spurs thrashed City at White Hart Lane, who were continually caught in possession in their own half. Guardiola persisted and was given the budget to bring in his own players.
This feels very much the situation at Tottenham. Conte is wedded to a style of football which his goalkeeper and most of his defenders are unable to play. The same mistakes are being made time and again.
Allied to this, these same players are being asked to be the creative force of the side and they are ill-equipped to do so. Passing the ball around at the back in the closing minutes or a poor forward ball caused a lot of moans and jeers.
Skipp after such a long absence was understandably substituted shortly after the hour mark from which time, Spurs lost control of the midfield and the initiative. The options off the bench were to say the least limited.
After Skipp’s departure, Newcastle were able to pass the ball around, draw free kicks, win throw-ins and killed the game.
Spurs were playing the ball around in their own half and all too often losing possession. Add to this a lack of creativity and final ball from players incapable of providing either of these attributes, and Newcastle adopting appalling time wasting tactics, the weak referee made for one hell of a frustrating afternoon.
Spurs need their attacking players back and quickly as well as Romero at the back and Hojbjerg in the middle to replace the ineffectual Bissouma who is taking time to settle into being the player we saw dominate games for Brighton.
It has been a disappointing few days and unfortunately when this style of football fails, there is little joy to be found in a performance.
A big game awaits on Wednesday. The fans can play a big part in driving the club into the Champions League knock out phase.
· Spurs Odyssey match report
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