Archive | April, 2011

Great De-Presh 2000 and e-lev Round-up

24 Apr

We all thought it would be alright when Huddlestone got here. We all thought that once he rinsed parliament (by which I mean his body) of Disraeli and the Tory filth (by which I mean his injury) all would be right in the Kingdom. Alas strife is a squatter.

On the face of it the return of Huddlestone has restored us to form. The games against Stoke, Real Madrid, Arsenal and West Brom saw some of our best performances of recent weeks as well as a fair return of goals. 2.7 per game in the league to be exact. If we’d maintained that over the season so far we’d have scored 88. A marked improvement.

On the other hand we’ve conceded 2.3 goals a game in that period. Extend that for the season so far and we’d have let in 77. A marked decline. However, that total includes an inordinate number of howlers (cataclysmic errors from Huddlestone, Bale, Gallas plus Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s pulled hamstring) and an inordinate number of near-wonder strikers (Etherington, Jones, Cox) . It’s simply not feasible that that ratio could be kept up over the course of a season – whilst our performances and number of shots suggest the goals tally is no fluke.

The point of the blog is optimism and I think there’s reason to be optimistic and yet…

Above these impressive displays lies aura of chaos. The frequent sucker punches reveal a team playing under massive pressure. Until Defoe goal against West Brom we were desperate; commanding and fluent but desperate when it came to the final ball. Redknapp’s tactics, despite what you have heard, are coherent in theory but unstable over the course of a game. Van der Vaart was widely judged Man of the Match against Arsenal but for significant portions of the game his contribution dwindled to nothing and, worse, his lenient interpretation of ‘right midfield’ left us woefully exposed.

The functionality of the team is fuzzy; too many elements are unpredictable, from how players operate on any given day, to the selection. Rather than things coming together for the grand finale, we’re still winging it. Despite Redknapp showing a degree of faith in Pavlyuchenko, it has not been fully vindicated so we cannot assume it will continue. Despite Huddlestone having a positive impact, it’s not been so overwhelmingly positive to guarantee a settled centre of midfield.

The rain may be easing off but it’s getting perilously close to tea-time.

Crouchometre Mania!

11 Apr

Given Redknapp had been saving Crouch for Europe (at least he’ll be champing at the bit… oh shi-) I didn’t have much hope for the big man but perhaps now he’ll be playing regularly and roboto dancing his way to the top of the Crouchometre.

Carroll did his part tonight, though there seems to be some doubt he even got a touch for his second. Could this be an asterix in the superscript of their goals tally? Add it to Suarez’s dubiously attributed first Liverpool goal and the Crouchster could be outscoring them 2 to 1.

One crouch to rule them all

The Great Depression of 2011: Wigan (away)

2 Apr

The worst thing about watching football is that it can make you feel so powerless. It’s hard to imagine another scenario where we tie our happiness to something we have absolutely no control over – At least they let you choose your lottery numbers.

Watching Tottenham in the league these days is like entering the lottery with an out of date ticket, with numbers somene else has chosen. But you go to check them anyway, just for the sake of it, only to realise that someone has cut off your hands and replaced them with Betamax players. Welcome to the great depression of 2011.

This blog was supposed to be all about positivity but this is a bad time. It’s bad chiefly because things are so good. The squad is great, overflowing with interesting players and we’re having a jolly old european adventure, being praised an lauded the world over. But it’s hard to enjoy these things knowing they’re liable to be taken away in the near future, and it’s hard to endure these dismal league performances knowing that we’re capable of so much more.

I don’t want to analyse the Wigan, it’s best to look ahead, but there is one thing I’ll mention:

Jenas – I found it hard to understand what his role was meant to play today. It’s a common problem with him. Against Arsenal, when he was alongside Modric, he was notionally the more defensive of the two yet when we conceded the second goal he’d pushed up into an excellent but innappropriate attacking position, leaving us over exposed when they counter attacked. The improvement in the second half was in part due to Gallas encouraging him to stay put in front of the defence.

Today, alongside Sandro in a narrow midfield, was surely a great opportunity for him to play on the front foot where he’s best. Yet I recall a passage of play in the first half where Modric was on the attack. He was looking in vain for options and movement from our somnambulistic strikeforce but Jenas, who had pushed forward, decided to casually jog back and reassume a position behind play. I can’t believe it was per Redknapp’s instructions and it didn’t make a lot of sense.

Jenas isn’t playing badly, he’s a relatively consistant performer, but he’s rarely ever in the right place and never at the right time – in contrast to his first couple of seasons with us. Too often he forms a a midfield axis that is less than the sum of its parts. Literally, it’s as if we’ve got two men doing the job of one.