under Conte and Levy.
Cristian Stellini’s 100% win record for Spurs ended with the weakest whimper, as they blew a spot in the quarter finals of the F.A. Cup and the chance of an actual trophy.
It’s almost as if either Stellini himself, or Conte wanted to end that perfect win record of the former, in order to stop all that chatter about binning the latter. Why else would you send that team out to play that way, when you’ve got a really good chance of getting into the last eight of a trophy you could just fluke?
That team. A back three that no Spurs fan wants to see, Sanchez, Dier and Davies, the leftovers from the Poch era, all with a howler in them. The front three of Richarlison, Son and Moura. Three players with absolutely no form between them, whatsoever – and almost fewer goals.
That team was the early sign, it didn’t take log into the game, before it was obviously gonna be one of those games. A struggle. The visitors coming out looking like they had that “it’s only… who is it lads?”, as they struggled to string two passes together, didn’t get on the ball, while the home team harangued and hassled them into very easy mistakes.
All so predictable.
As was the way they went about it when they actually did get the ball. It was all fannying about at the back and then if they eventually got the ball forward everything was inside, no width at all. Son and Moura cutting inside, joining up with Richarlison and the packed Sheffield defence. You know that insanity quote about repeating this and expecting a different outcome?
Son was doing what Son has been doing all season when he starts. Getting the ball stuck under his feet, before losing it while looking bereft of any confidence. Moura did what he did before, ran into cul-de-sacs. While Richarlison, well, he had that cracking shot, that almost went for a throw.
All with too many… far too many backpasses. I’m looking at you Porro. Bought to fly down the wing, he spent most of the game facing backwards and not getting forward at all. It wasn’t until after the late substitutions that he came into the game but then was taken off, in another bizarre decision.
You could also tell how things were going to go by the ref. An early foul on Dier in the box was given the other way, then the United defender, Baldock, had committed enough fouls to receive his marching orders before going through Perisic’s shin with a studs up challenge that should have seen him shown a straight red, but again didn’t even warrant a yellow, according to this ref. Followed up by a player dragging down Moura who was off on a wander, a yellow every time but not here.
It always seems the case when Spurs are playing like this that the worst player they have sees the most of the ball. And so it was, with Sanchez ranking top of that particular stat. All that fannying about at the back, which eventually brought the home side their winning goal, nearly 80 minutes in.
Played out to Sanchez, it made its way across the Spurs’ box via Dier to Davies, who did what Davies does. That Kyle Walker thing of letting the ball run across his body, waiting and waiting and waiting to play the ball, allowing the defender to close him down, until he’s no option but to just thump the ball away in blind panic and as with most of the night the ball made its way to a red and white striped shirt.
From there the ball was in and around the Spurs’ area, they had plenty of opportunities to clear the ball but didn’t and when it went loose they were always second best to it. Until the scorer picked it up turned Porro, left Sanchez, just lazily hanging out a leg, then banging his shot past the wrong footed Forster, while Dier did that… looking like you’re making an effort to block the shot while the only effort you’re making is to ensure you’re not hit by the ball, because it might hurt.
That was that. Spurs never really looked like they were gonna score all night. They had brought on the players that probably should have started, I mean these games, put out your full team get a lead then rest them, not put out a weak team get out played and have to bring them on in panic mode. Skipp made the ball go forward more than it had in the previous 75 minutes, finally Porro was getting forward but then as I said he was taken off, just as he was getting into the game, while Perisic who bar one decent cross never did. While Kane had fewer touches of the ball than Danjum who entered the game over 15 minutes after Kane.
It was all so just very predictable, you’d almost think Conte was actually there in person, prowling the technical area, inflicting his misery on the players, not just the fans.
So the season now boils down to trying to keep a top four spot… a Levy trophy…