The game that TV


Used to think it couldn’t get worse than Thursday nights, Channel five, well Thursday night and not on any channel is far, far worse. As Spurs beat Limassol in their opening Europa League play-off tie.

Reduced to the radio, welcome back the 20th century, where sometimes what happens on the pitch interrupts the chat that the commentator and his side-kick are indulging in. You know there’s something happening by the crowd noise but a story about the bus ride to the stadium is far more important than any actual football.

Anyway were pictures required as Spurs pretty much followed their standard pattern. Had a load of possession, missed some chances, then conceded through mistakes. Step forward Paulinho and Vertonghen. Post World Cup no pre-season rustiness? Could be but with the Brazilian you have to ask if after last season and then his World Cup performances if he’s shot.

What followed was a typical nothing performance that we’ve seen so many times, especially in Europe over the last few seasons.

Things needed changing, needed livening up. Pochettino started with replacing Paulinho with Chadli on the hour. One much criticised player replacing another. But the while others will receive the plaudits in a way it started with the introduction of the Belgian.

The resurgence carried on with another Belgian as Dembele was brought on. It reached a higher level when the third and final change was made with just under 20 minutes to go. When Lamela was brought on for Townsend – who had been indulging in his usual shtick.

Then three players who are slagged off left right and centre – from fans, who should know better, to media who are to stupid, blinkered and xenophobic to bother – making the difference. Lamela played a glorious chip right into Soldado who slammed in the equaliser. This is exactly what Roberto required, he had missed one from six yards earlier, though it had come quickly to him.

The Spanish speaking pair, Lamela and Soldado, had linked up well apparently in pre-season, should have both started on Saturday in the league opener, with this hopefully Pochettino will realise he can’t afford to play Adebayor. That’s if it’s his choice.

Then six minutes later Lamela played in Kane, who still had a bit to do, before he slammed in the winner.

Two games where it’s looked shaky, where team selection hasn’t exactly been spot on, but Spurs have come out with slim victories. Well it started off like that last season. Pochettino has made changes during the games which have resulted in the victories, now he just has to get his starting XI right.

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