Spurs are the whole cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Another abjectly dismal performance from Spurs away in a “big game” as they played exactly the same game that saw them humiliated in the NLD, as they lost 2-0 to Man United.
The only problem with Spurs is their McMurphy is the McMurphy at the end of the film.
Conte got the starting formation right, he went with two up and a central threesome. Unfortunately his personnel was a bit off. Doherty has exactly screamed to be picked in his previous two outings, due to Emerson’s suspension – you just know the Brazilian will be back at the weekend – while Davies is just so dull.
He also got the tactics totally wrong, if this is how he sent them out to play, if it isn’t then they’re not listening to him. It was the same pattern as the NLD, sit back, invite pressure, don’t handle the pressure, allow them to run all over you.
Conte has obviously watched his country play. Italy do this sit back and invite the opposition on but they do it in such a way that with a couple of passes they’re through the press. While Spurs do it the way England do it. In a state of blind panic.
United are a team to get at. Shaw and Varane are flaky, got a howler in them if you get at them. And with a crowd already dismayed at Ronaldo not starting, getting at ’em was the best option. A disgruntled crowd, a bit of panic, you could have them floundering quite easily.
But no – Shaw was an easy out ball for United all night, no one got within yards of him to put him under any sort of pleasure. Conte chose to do that fannying about at the back as Spurs camped out on the edge of their box. Invite them on and not be able to handle the pressure, that blind panic sets in, give up the ball, gift them chances. All of a sudden the crowd have forgotten about who is on the bench and are right behind their time, getting louder and louder as Spurs are getting worse and worse.
Within minutes they were full of confidence, while Spurs had none. It started the moment you see that ridiculous sight of Dier and Romero stood behind the ball when Lloris is taking a goal kick. That set the tone for the whole game. It was like watching 11 Winks on the pitch as the ball was repeatedly played backwards or at best sideways.
A truly awful display that saw United set records for shots in the first half, while Spurs had a couple of close efforts, from Bentancur and Doherty, but it wasn’t until seconds before the fourth official lifted his board to show how much added time there was to be that they registered their first attempt on target. It was one of only two they managed all game. Compared to 10 of the hosts 29 attempts. Hard to score when you can’t get away from your own box or string two passes together.
The only surprising element was how long it took them to score the opener. What with Spurs playing balls blindly back to Hugo, that could so easily have been cutoff. Or the defenders playing the attackers onto their preferred foot. I mean Antony is another Mahrez all left foot and one idea, have a shot. And yet Davies kept showing him onto his left. Hey, mate, have a free shot on me. While on the other side Rashford is gonna try and get it onto his right to shoot, so why are you letting him with ease?
A Fred shot deflected off Davies. So far so Spursy – I mean… Fred. Maybe that would kick ’em into life. No.
Asked by someone watching it with me what will Conte do? I said he’ll bring on Moura for Bissouma go back to the old formation. He’s nothing if not predictable, Conte. He did it. Dier and Doherty making was as well. Which meant Sanchez was on. Oh joy, while Romero moved to the centre of the back three. The rest of the game showed why he should stay on the right, as he looked so one footed as he kept getting himself in the wrong position, with the ball on his left.
This happened after United had their second and the game was done and dusted. Again a wholly preventable goal. Dier had a shocking game, he wasn’t alone, but he was one of the worst. He was a statue when the was slightly tapped at him for it to bounce out to Fernandez for an easy shot as the statue barely moved.
Conte made more changes just before full time. Djed Spence actual brought some life to proceedings. Actually ran at their defence. It didn’t last long before they were back to passing backward – this ain’t rugby, lads.
Conte saw this strategy not work at Arsenal, he’s now seen it not work at United but come the next “big game” what chances he’ll ask them to play a different way? No, we’ll see those split centre-backs at goal kicks and 15 sideways balls later they won’t be outside their box.
Yes, the players look overawed – why? – and yes their passing was atrocious, but if you know this as Conte is hinting at with his post-match comments, then why ask them to play this game? And when you see this not working at half-time, why continue doing it after the break?
Yes the players were crap – bar Lloris, who bar one fumble kept them in the game with some outstanding saves – but this is all on Conte. He’s the one that wants this dullard football even though he knows he hasn’t got the players to play it.
To Dare is To Do is now… Too Scared to Do.
Though of course it might just be an Amazon curse. How many times now have Spurs been riding high only for the next game to be live and exclusive on Amazon and they haven’t turned up, ending up with an awful, embarrassing performance and loss.