False economy has, again, cost Spurs (five) points at the start of a new season. Credit goes to a battling West Brom who ably soaked up Tottenham pressure and pot-shots in the first half, to capitalise when a series of skittish substitutions in the second saw the home side cave in alarmingly.
The shadow of Daniel Levy’s tiresome transfer brinkmanship loomed large over proceedings. The (drawn-out) signing of Emmanuel Adebayor (Spurs’ first purchased striker in three years) was tempered by his inevitable lack of match fitness, allied with the unresolved future of Luka Modric and unpopular casting out of fan favourite Michael Dawson.
The match followed an all too familiar pattern for seasoned White Hart Lane watchers. A well-drilled away side sitting back, content for a battling point or joy from a fast counter or set-piece while Tottenham try to walk the ball into the back of the net. Of course, it wouldn’t be a home game without the now standard brace of disallowed ‘goals’. Had Spurs been wearing an all blue strip, they might have counted.
Spurs resembled a cohesive outfit under AVB’s starting 4-2-3-1 formation restricting West Brom to one effort of note in the first 62 minutes yet when the lacklustre Adebayor was introduced for Rafael van der Vaart the balance was lost and a large hole opened up in the midfield, exacerbated when Sandro was frustratingly substituted on 73 minutes.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s speculative opener brought joy, relief and optimism on 74 minutes, but the goal papered over fast appearing cracks. Within two minutes, Jermain Defoe who had held the ball up surprisingly well was off and replaced in favour of a dreadful Jermaine Jenas cameo. West Brom launched a full-on assault and the Spurs back-line buckled with reduced protection. As the game entered injury time, it looked as if Spurs might hold out for the win but when the ball fell kindly for James Morrison in the box he drilled in a merited equaliser for the visitors.
A few knives were out for Andre Villas-Boas at the final whistle but those holding them had drawn their weapons before the season started. Poor old Jenas, responsible for Spurs not being Champions League winners as well as common cancer, was another easy target, but an unsettled and disjointed first team was the true villain of the piece. Will Levy ever learn that the points thrown away at the start of the season carry a heinous implication at the end of it? The day the transfer deadline is brought forward to before the first game of the season I will cartwheel in ecstasy.
There were positives; the continuing emergence of Jake Livermore in midfield, a competent debut from Jan Vertonghen as well as a heartwarming reception for recently retired legend Ledley King. Those with a tendency to knee-jerk or panic will undoubtedly be on suicide watch tonight, but as a steely-eyed on-site veteran of hundreds of Spurs games (I am heavily scarred inside and out), I can assure the faint-hearted that fortunes will improve after the close of that pesky window. Remember, this time last season we had no points in the bank. One point from two games? Nosebleed territory.