It was only QPR

‘”It was only QPR” is a comment I have seen around the web and in other more old fashioned media today and whilst that is true to an extent, it does seem to me that some Spurs fans are not even happy when we play well. It’s as if they are not happy unless they have something to moan about, so is it any wonder that Spurs fans have a reputation for being fickle?

Whilst I do not intend to follow every match with a match report (I simply do not have the time) I will from time to time highlight things that I glean from our performances, and usually after the knee jerk thoughts have completely dissipated from my alcohol befuddled brain (The American Black IPA was ‘interesting’).

The initial knee jerk thoughts after yesterday tended to be of the ‘wow – wasn’t that great’ variety as opposed to the ‘Oh My God – Sack the Manager/players/board’ variety so often seen in recent years. After taking a bit of time to digest what we saw I come to the conclusion that it was one of the best team performances I’d seen at the Lane for a few years despite only being against a favourite for relegation.

There were many positives in the performance but one or two worries as well. We will not have many games that seem as easy as that but are we maybe doing QPR a bit of a disservice in saying that. Had Phllips equalised when Kaboul allowed him the space the game might have been different. I suspect we would still have won but maybe not so easily. That we allowed a good chance so soon after taking the lead is one area of concern. A lapse of concentration like that against one of the big teams could be very costly.

Another area of concern was how we took the foot off the pedal in the second half. That was partly because Harry changed to a more familiar 4-5-1 instead of the 3 at the back he employed in the first half, and also because we did seem to tire as the game went on. Early season fitness issues are always going to play a part when you play the game the way Pochettino wants us to. It was certainly an issue for Southampton in matches last season and with us playing two games a week (some of which will be in far flung countries no one has heard of if UEFA gets their way) it could be an issue as the season wears on.

Generally though, the performance should be summed up with Nacer Chadli’s second goal. Without wishing to glorify stats in any way the stats around hat goal tell a very pleasing story. 48 passes (two minutes of possession) in the build up to what was really a simple cross and header. If you get the chance I would urge you to watch that two minute passage of play as it shows what Pochettino is all about.

Win the ball back near the halfway line then knock the ball around retaining possession whilst looking to break with pace. If there is no easy route play the ball back and come again. Players moving and making themselves available for the ball (Capoue had 14 touches in that 48 pass sequence in different parts of the pitch). Players covering for each other so there was always defensive cover should you lose the ball or a choice of options for the player on the ball.

There was more movement in that two minutes than I have witnessed at the Lane for a long time and that bodes well for the future. Keep playing the game in this manner and it could be a very entertaining nine months.

But hey – it was only QPR apparently

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Thoughts from The Boleyn

It’s very easy to get carried away with a first result away from home in the opening game of the season against an old rival like West Ham, and to be fair it was a great feeling when Eric Diers composed finish ended up in the back of the net continuing a fine tradition of winning at The Boleyn in extra time, but there was a lot more to this game than an away win.

There was a lot of interest in how Spurs would line up and set themselves out in Pochettinos first competitive outing as our manager and some of the names in the lineup may have surprised a number of people, none less so then the eventual match winner.

We started off in a formation similar to that used by Southampton last season, with a high line, winning the ball back quickly with both full backs pressing on and looking to get the midfield involved early. And it was looking OK if not spectacular with us getting the best of the interchanges but not really posing a huge threat. But early days in a new season and there were glimpses of what was is hopefully to come. However, there were also glimpses of defensive indecision there as well culminating in Kyle Naughton getting sent off for deliberate handball and denying a clear goal scoring opportunity.

Whether it was deliberate or not is one question but given his arms were raised you couldn’t argue with the penalty call (although it took the lineman to see it). As to whether the ball was goal bound is another matter. Watching replays it did look like it but how a referee that relied on the assistant to award the penalty, or indeed the assistant could judge where the ball was going is a mystery. Harsh decision in my opinion but down to ten men and a penalty, and it looked as though this was going to be a battle from then on in but a poor penalty miss later and the gods are smiling.

West Ham then, understandably, saw much more of the ball, Capoue stepped back to centre back and our midfield lost their shape but with all due respect to West Ham, you are not going to scare many a defence with Carlton Cole at the front. Once Collins decided that the only way to stop Adebayor was to jump in front of him (trust me James, Adebayor was capable of failing to score without your help) and the numbers were leveled up, it was inevitable that we would regain control of the match. That said we did not create as many chances as we should have and Townsends introduction went some way towards giving us a credible threat.

Again, West Ham could have nicked it but a) Downing is too slow and b) Lloris is one of the worlds best for a reason. And so it fell to Eric Dier to show both sides how to remain composed when one on one with a keeper to beat.

So what did we learn? Capoue is more than capable in the protective role in front of the defence but you wouldn’t want to rely on him as one of the centre backs (although he did little wrong there to be honest). Kaboul is still prone to a gaff or two, Bentaleb tries too hard at times and can make expensive errors at key times. The midfield and front line still needs some work if this system is to work – maybe some of the missing players will help address that. We also showed a team commitment to not let the heads drop and to battle for each other whilst reduced in numbers. There was a good Team Spirit on view and that is nice to see after the attitude at times last season.

But early days – maybe a run out for some key team members in Cyprus on Thursday, if only to help get the fitness levels up – and there was not too much to be overly concerned with – yet!

I was concerned at some of the comments I have seen on various message boards and forums though. Too many Spurs fans already saying this is just like AVB. ‘Too slow’, ‘ponderous’, ‘no threat’ etc. How anyone can tell after one game in difficult circumstances is beyond me. Van Gaal really set United alight yesterday in his first game didn’t he (and Arsenal and Liverpool both looked less than convincing as well)?

It’s one game and three valuable early points – what more did we expect this early?

 

 

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