Saturday, September 1, 2012

Daniel Levy’s ‘Moneyball’ and the price of cheap boos

In the final week of the transfer window, Daniel Levy was throwing around more bids than a violent nursing home. This scattergun approach, inevitably, came at a price on Saturday as a disjointed Spurs were pegged back by a spirited Norwich City in front of a funereal home crowd. The money conscious Levy sold yet failed to replace Tottenham’s two main playmakers banking over £43 million in the last week of the window, but another buoyant balance sheet has come at the price of an unbalanced and underperforming team. Great business, but this is football’s ‘Moneyball’.

The afternoon’s lowlight was undoubtedly the cascade of boos at half-time with the score all square, thanks only to two stellar saves from the under-threat Brad Friedel. It was our ‘bin bag’ moment. Tottenham supporters can mock the Emirates match experience as much as they please but the emergence of the nouveau glory fan at White Hart Lane has proved cancerous to Spurs’ once vibrant home atmosphere.

These are not true fans. Most likely they are beneficiaries of the club’s new and misguided ‘loyalty’ point system where ‘support’ over four of the club’s most successful Premier League seasons is valued and rewarded. Loyal supporters in grim times past (who may now have young families and find their opportunities to attend limited) have been marginalised in recognition of these baying parasites. But I guess four years of 'support' means the nouveau fan is 'due'.

In truth, Spurs played like strangers, without the coherence of old. Partially, this was due to a feisty Norwich outfit who, on another more fortunate day, may have departed with all three points. They certainly fashioned the better chances. I would pay them greater credit, but for the endless histrionics of Simeon Jackson who in his time on the field kissed more turf than a 2008 Lindsay Lohan.

Somehow an adroit finish from debutant Mousa Dembele gifted Spurs the lead, but it was a false promise. As Norwich pressed, Tottenham capitulated for the second week in succession with Snodgrass drilling past the otherwise excellent Friedel after another Norwich free-kick.

There was still time for the dismissal of the returning Tom Huddlestone who was red carded after a 50-50 challenge with Jonny Howson. Referee Mark Halsey (who endured a slapstick final 20 minutes) will probably look back at that decision through a gap between his fingers.

After a promising but unrewarded start at Newcastle, the Andre Villas-Boas era is misfiring. Many seasoned supporters around me, including the measured ones, felt the Portuguese would be gone by Christmas. Thankfully, David Pleat is still available. Like the dizzied Juande Ramos before him, AVB is a flashy, ‘designer’ signing favoured by Levy, yet under his stewardship top class players are playing listlessly, without cohesion or understanding. His fault or Levy’s window? Like a hermaphrodite, it’s a bit of both. True Spurs fans will cheer and persevere regardless.


Tone said...

True, our creativity in the centre was lacking, just as it was after VdV was subbed last week. There was no cohesion, someone to 'ping' the ball around the different attacking options, probing the opposition defence. That was, until Dembele came on. I believe he is our new Modric, not as skilful with his feet maybe, but appears to have the vision to engineer attacking (or possession) options. Without this, we are really lost. A few games with Dembele (and possibly Parker, if he can mould himself in that vein) and the team will gain the confidentce we saw early last season.

All is not lost. Onwards and upwards!

As far as the funeral crowd goes, embarrassing.

David Patrick Carter said...

who cares Westham are the side to watch big Andy Carrol is a great singing for the Irons, just like Micheal Jackson we will always be blowing bubbles

'Lust Doctor' said...

Thanks Tone. Classic early Spurs. Slow starters as always. They will improve. Agree that Dembele will influence. Feeling a cheeky winner from 'Deuce' at Reading.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Dave, you are gayness personified. Great to see you have been released from a Spanish prison.

3BPs said...

I thought the boo-ing was for the rubbish ref - am I naive? None of the players were bad but they are not yet playing as a team. I agree with Tone - all is not lost.

onedavemackay said...

That's a good analysis of the game and the crowd.

The reality is these are very early days and whether AVB is feast or famine we can't know after 3 matches. Modric though not unique is a rare player and his departure was always going to change the way we played let alone a coach whose style is a million miles from Harry.

The other obvious point to me is that we let in those late goals without Sandro on the pitch and we badly miss Parker. I look forward to a match where both Sandro and Dembele start.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Cheers 3BPs. Some boos at the end may have been for Halsey's horror show, but the half-time catcalls, especially, were unforgivable. It was 0-0! If there is an upside to a less successful Spurs it is that we will lose the pseudo-fans.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Cheers onedavemackay, couldn't agree more. Sandro offers Spurs' backline extra protection. He seems a little burned out by the Olympics? Parker's return will add snap and bite. Dembele looks a player.

totallytottenham said...

We all knew patience would be required. Harry was not the long term solution and clearly his relationship with DL was shot. AVB remains one of the finest young coaches in Europe but will have to be afforded the time he needs fir his system to be properly implemented. We are not Chelsea we won't knee jerk. There is a plan in place to move on from Modric who clearly was nit commited. Other than missing out on Moutinho it has been a very good window. We have great flexibility within the squad now and once all players are fit we will see the benefits of a tactically astute coach and proactive system. We have shown signs of real promise in the 1st two games in particular. We had 2 points more from the same corresponding fixtures last year. Where's the crisis?

PS there is a waiting lust fir season tickets of 15,000 or so. Could anyone who participated in the booing of the team you 'support' kindly put the seat on eBay and go follow Blackburn. Look how much benefit their fans boos have brought the club!!!


'Lust Doctor' said...

Thanks totallytottenham. Agree, AVB needs time. So true about the poisonous effect of the Blackburn fans on their team. Norwich do tend to step up their game against the 'major' teams away from home so it may not be quite as bad a result as we believe...

A wandering wonderer said...

Yes, yesterday's game was far from ideal and exciting, but I really don't know who's to blame.

I apologise in advance that this reply is so long and somewhat disorganised. I'm going to take this opportunity to just put some thoughts out there:

Some people might crucify me for saying this, but I don't like Sandro. I think he is far too aggressive on the pitch (To be clear: I don't mean Roy Keane or Charley Adam aggressive), he gives away a lot of free kicks due to rash and unnecessary challenges, and I rue the day that he gets a legitimate red card before half time. I don't believe it to be a long way off. And I like to think that's why he was removed (and not Livermore) for Dembele.

As for Hudd's dismissal -- pathetic. That was a 50-50 challenge, and both slid in (did either get much of the ball?), no-one should've been sent off. But let's face it: that game stopped being ours before Hudd left the pitch.

I was seriously unimpressed with Gallas, for the second consecutive game, now. However, his defensive partner, Vertonghen, is an interesting player - very confident on the ball, and seems to trust his ability in any third of the field - a good signing, in my opinion.

Sigurdsson didn't look himself. But perhaps the pressure of filling vdV's shoes got to him. I know the lad has a lot of talent yet to showcase.

Dembele had a great game, and hopefully he can start the next one. He has the ability to dominate any midfield, and I think he'll be a great plug to fill the "Modric void". Those that say he doesn't have Mod's skill, did you see how he made the space for that goal? I think the supporters and the players should trust in him a lot more, he has the skill and passion for the game to be one of the best.

And, we should trust in AVB. Yes, our results under him have not been dream-like, but it's still early days. I admit it is bothering that the games so far have been against what some view as "lesser" teams, but that's something we are going to have to deal with in a league that gets more and more competitive every year. Nay, every transfer window. But trust in the man. I believe he has the ability. Give the team some time to gel with each other, and with the new manager. And please, even if we don't make CL, don't ask to fire him. That kind of instability is not what we need at a club trying to assert its dominance in European football.

As for the transfers, I think we did well. Although, not signing Moutinho is a hard knock, we have to live with it. Perhaps that means clinging to the hope that we sign him in January, a hope I won't abandon until February.

I'm so pleased that we managed to extend the contracts of some of our key players. That adds much needed insurance. However, I couldn't help thinking that many of the players were unusually tired yesterday, maybe because they were up as late as I was on Friday 31, in fear of their futures. So I'm glad it's over; our players can relax.

We all know we have a good team and a good manager. That's why we're disappointed about our recent results.
So let's stick with our boys. And not chant boos and sulk in silence at games. That doesn't motivate anyone.

Spurs still have 35 games to reach at least #3, and if you ask me, that's do-able. The international break might be just the break that the team needs to overcome the drama of this lacking run of form, and a far too tense transfer window.

Come on you Spurs! Let's pick ourselves up (no-one is gonna do it) and start supporting our team like they're already in the top four and playing in the Champions League.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Thanks a wandering wonderer. Many good points. Sigurdsson, like so many others, looks out of sorts so far. I think Gallas has done fine though he had a scary moment after Friedel's second top save. Kaboul is a massive miss. Not involving Dawson is plain odd when Spurs are crying out for defensive, aerial ability.

3BPs said...

Based on last two games, Gallas can only play 75 minutes then he seems tired but, by then, we don't usually have the luxury of another substitution. Would love to see Dawson up to the task.

Anonymous said...

AWW - I completely agree JV is an interesting prospect. Still a bit shaky in defence as is to be expected this early in his PL debut. But he can pick that second level pass (on the ground) that we're missing from midfield. And he can storm forward with the ball, PICK OUT A GOOD PASS (unlike Jenas, Zokora, Kaboul, Walker), and then move forward for the one-two pass (only to watch it go backwards instead).

Dembele will be good and then, I expect, sooner rather than later, great. And I think people are underestimating Dempsey's potential to pop up and score in random positions. He did score only one less goal than Ade last year. He's clever and instinctive.

Otherwise I agree with your sentiments. It's disappointing to start slow but I think change in going to come.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Thanks 3BPs. Interesting you should mention Gallas fading after 75 minutes. I think this is true of the entire team as epitomised by the conceding of three late goals in three games. I will probably be covering this fitness issue in a future blog.

'Lust Doctor' said...

Thanks Anonymous. Another important point is that this poor form under AVB is not a new thing. Spurs have won only three league games since the start of February (with Modric and VDV). The rot was already there. Dempsey is a big plus. Excellent pro.