AVB’s bought into it, the fans have bought into it but

have the players?

We know Andre Villas Boas’ affinity with the Europa League, it’s part of what got him noticed, and we know the fans want to see a Spurs’ captain lifting a trophy at the end of a campaign but are the players bothered? They don’t look it.

Two away games now in the minor European competition and two lifeless one all draws from a Spurs side that dominated most of both games and looked for the most part a class above their hosts.

The boss put out another reasonably strong starting XI, with Townsend employed on the left as many wanted on Saturday but Spurs just didn’t get going, no urgency, no pace, very little composure and certainly no end product.

Big gaping Dembele sized hole in the middle of the park.

So big that the rather large size of Huddlestone just doesn’t fill it. He can ping a pass, he can slide one through, but he can’t run past anyone, he can’t cover at the back and he can’t defend, well enough.

First half was an ambling cruise through 42 minutes of having the ball but doing bugger all with it as everything ended up cramped together in front of the Maribor goal. The wide men kept coming inside, Lennon surely had the beating of his opposite fullback just never bothered trying to get to the byeline, Townsend played in a manner that brought thanks he didn’t start at the weekend. The fullbacks kept cutting inside, probably expected on the left where the right footed Naughton was stationed, Walker not though after Saturday he was looking for protection of the middle – would he have played if Dawson hadn’t come down with a migraine? Vertonghen on the left Naughton on the right. There was plenty of space behind the Maribor defence out wide it was never utilised.

Sigurdsson looked lost. Looking like he’s not quite sure where he should be and what he should be doing. So Defoe ended up with no service and in typical Defoe style wasting whatever ball he did see.

Sandro was the only one that looked that bothered. Always trying. Always up for the challenge. Always on the receiving end of some bloody horrible passes. Lost count of the amount of times the poor fella had to take the ball down from waist to chest height. On the back foot before he’d started.

Then three minutes from going in at the break at nil, nil the white sea opened.

Gylfi left his man who sauntered into the area where he apparently said boo to Huddlestone who ran off in fright before crossing for Beric to open the scoring. While Spurs had the domination, Lloris in the Spurs’ goal had more to do in the half than the home ‘keeper. Who again in the second half pretty much didn’t have to stretch himself.

A change at the break did work, Falque for Townsend. The young Spaniard looked more interested and up for it. He proved some much needed spark in the second half just not enough to cover for the 8 out field players – Sandro not included. Falque provided the spark for the equaliser. Expertly smacked off the defender on the line in true Defoe style to be bundled in by Sigurdsson.

Not pretty.

Naughton should have had a penalty but then Spurs should have been better. Another case of the chameleon Spurs matching the level of the opposition. With Lazio losing the lead in their game with Panathinaikos late on also lucky Spurs as the group is still wide open, still sitting third but only 2 points behind the leaders as all four teams are covered by three points and the goal differences aren’t that different.

Three games to go, two at home. Time for the players to show that this means as much to them as the it does the boss and more importantly the fans – 550 of whom travelled to Slovenia on a Thursday night.

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