Sunday, 12 February 2017

Liverpool v Tottenham: the aftermath

Scanning the forums and social media on Saturday night you would have thought Tottenham had been relegated. 

Talk was of a "weak mentality", worrying trends and even our "worst performance ever". Well, I don't buy into it.

If there is any worrying trend it is the section of fans that will never ever be pleased whatever happens at the club, and they are only too happy to whinge and whine at the first sign of trouble. 

I'm not saying the performance at Liverpool was acceptable, it wasn't. Certainly not if our aims and aspirations are as high as the club will have us think. 

There was certainly a lot of valid criticism from well-respected quarters of our support after the match. 

What I'm saying is that we are still second, you don't become a bad team overnight and sometimes people just get things wrong.

So our away record against top six clubs is not littered with wins - but look at the same record for other clubs in that group and it's really not that different. 

The reason the top six are the top six is because they are all top teams that do not give much away at home. 

It seems that just because the press pointed out our record ahead of yesterday's 2-0 defeat at Liverpool, it was presumed that now was the time we have to win at Anfield.

Liverpool plainly had more desire than us and they won both the tactical and pressing battle. 

But it's no massive issue. Liverpool are an excellent football team who, after a shock run of crappy results, absolutely had to win that football match.

They also whipped the locals into a baying frenzy by banning The Sun from their stadium 24 hours earlier. It got the fans back on side and sent out a huge rallying cry of "don't f*** with us". 

Spurs probably didn't account for that and they should have done. Anfield is a difficult atmosphere for visiting players even when at its most subdued, let alone its most raucous. 

Mauricio Pochettino knows they got it wrong. He came out and made some big admissions. He questioned the players' mentality, he insisted the club needs to learn - and you know he includes himself in that. 

Poch is determined to take this club right to the top and, yes, losing to Liverpool proves we're not there yet. 

Is that really a surprise? We're nowhere near. It's not as if we are within sight of a day when we steamroller everyone in sight. Few clubs ever reach that situation and even then it never lasts. But it seems for some fans that is the minimum expectation.

Eric Dier said in midweek that there were no superstars at Tottenham because the gaffer wouldn't have it. But in all honesty, it is also because there literally are no superstars here yet.

Harry Kane and Dele Alli have the potential to reach that level but there is a long way to go and that, realistically, goes for the club as a whole. 

We have had an amazing start on this journey but, however disappointing it might be to admit, we are punching above our weight and maybe the reality check will do us all some good.

As far as the game goes, the first goal saw Toby Alderweireld charge into midfield for a challenge he really couldn't afford to lose - but lose it he did - and the second saw Dier get picked off dawdling on a ball that should have long gone out wide.

They were bad decisions that cost us two goals in three minutes and knocked the stuffing out of us. Simple as that. 

Those saying Pochettino did not react tactically to the threat of two-goal Sadio Mane are wrong. Shifting Mousa Dembele across the midfield rendered the Senegal forward effectively useless in the second half, when he had threatened to tear us to shreds. 

It didn't make nice viewing, listening, reading or whatever but it is hardly worth the witch-hunt conducted by many in the aftermath.

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