By battering Citeh and getting nothing out of it. OK so the first game of the season we at least got a point out of it but we also got an indication of how things would go for the rest of it.
The main difference of course was in that first game the Citeh ‘keeper was the outstanding performer saving left, right, top, bottom, anywhere and everywhere. Last night he had to use one hand once to stop one attempt, from a Pienaar header and that’s all his night amounted to.
While the possession stats were looking like the vote on AV, Spurs just were unable to finish off a team that offered somewhere in the region of bugger all. And ironies of all ironies from nearly the same spot, that nearly a year previously Peter Crouch sealed the Champions League spot he did it again, this time for them not us.
So with injuries dictating a middle of Sandro and Palacios, it was
oh god, Modric wasted on the left again. But the little Croat was given a more free role and again he was – with Sandro – excellent bar one glaring error and this is the only criticism anyone can have of Modders. Goals. He doesn’t score enough, you feel he should be a double figure season scorer, he’s got it all to be so but he’s got just the 3 in all competitions this time, to go with 3 last.
But can you complain about Modric not getting the goals when the strikers are barely in double figures for the league between the three of them? And Crouch wasn’t going to score – well for us anyway – with those floated diagonal balls to the back post, not with Kompany and Richards to muscle him out of the way. Quite frankly as someone who liked Crouch I was getting pissed off with his weak, flouncing about and falling over last night. It might have had something to do with a back injury but it was just annoying.
The only problem with Modric’s free role it meant that Danny Rose was pretty much out on his own at left-back, but again he performed well. On the other side Lennon was a bright spark – shop window? – his only problem was the player behind him, Corluka back in at right-back. All too often the Croat was so slow of thought and deed. Lennon was destroying Zabaleta, his great run and cross led to Modric’s aforementioned miss as he hit the ball just past the post. But there was far more opportunities for Lennon to be played in and Corluka dithered, then either played Lennon in to trouble or played it to him facing the wrong way or passed it back.
Palacios didn’t last long in his comeback which led to his replacement with Pienaar, and apart from the save he brought out of Hart he showed why £3million was a vast waste of money. It would have been preferable for Bassong to come on at left-back and move Rose forward or put on Kranjcar but ‘Arry has his favourites and they’ve been sidelined you feel.
The call to bench… well actually leave Gomes at home worked. No one believes it was due to injury but Cudicini acquitted himself well, one cracking save – the only shot on target in the first half. Can’t really be blamed for the goal either as that was more to do with slackness and lollygagging by all except Lennon at a corner that was taken short and quick, much like one of the Madrid goals.
Gallas showed more urgency near the end when he somehow got back to head a Viera shot over the bar. After being heavily strapped on his left thigh earlier and then hurting his right knee with a straight leg landing this was a bit of a miraculous recovery, though it ended his night.
‘Arry tells us it’s been a
triffic season, his media chums tell us it’s ridiculous to criticise him, yet with a squad they were all lauding for talent and depth we’re now below Liverpool in the table on goal difference and you can’t say they’ve had a great season can you?
So the sour grapes: Citeh will be in the Champions League next season but who will be watching. Not many if that’s what we can expect from them and there’s no reason to expect more. While Spurs entertained their way from qualifying to the quarter final, Mancini’s side will bore away like so many teams in this competition, that’s of course if he is in charge.
Well the usual loss to Liverpool next up will mean no
Thursday night Channel five.