After seeing the team he put out for the first half of the pre-season friendly against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday you can see why ‘Arry isn’t talking about winning the league any more.
It was a shuddering thought that the season could start next weekend with Pienaar and Jenas as first team picks and as the first half went on the pessimism grew. Yes it was only a pre-season job and we can’t judge what will happen when the season starts, I mean how many times have we seen Spurs rip others apart in July and August only for it to all disappear as soon as it matters. Here, with a packed midfield, they were having rings run round them by a team a week behind in preparation.
It’s pre-season, it’s only a friendly, slackness from the likes of Jenas, the useless first touch the inept passing, it could have been any league/cup game in October, January or May. Pienaar remains a mystery. Why was he bought, what does he do. It was made even worse by him being given a prominent central role when the far better Kranjcar was shoved out on the left. You could see the misery of this situation writ large on the Croats face. It’s a great surprise that Kranjcar is still at the club, he’s shown his desire to leave due to lack of games, when after all he’s performed very well, bar the odd game, when given the chance, surprising that should a good player at international level hasn’t been snapped up by anyone throughout Europe, never mind just England.
So speaking of want-away Croats. Modric, great to see the reaction from the crowd when he came on for the injured Pienaar, great also to see his reaction. We want to see Levy hold firm and for this to work Modric needs to feel wanted on the park or it’s just not going to work having him moping about.
And it showed how things turned round with his arrival, from looking to be on the end of pretty embarrassing lesson. It really changed with the other subs coming on at half-time, Bale, Defoe, Crouch and Walker. Pace from three of them brought a bit more snap and purpose.
The equaliser was quite a nice piece of work, lovely chip over the top to Bale, great cross to “back post” Crouch, who admittedly scuffed it. The winner, a bit of luck from Kabul into the box from the corner, Lennon lively onto the ball and slid it in to Defoe who actually found the back of the net.
Lennon later though let himself down with a shockingly disgraceful dive to “win” a penalty. Justice served when Kranjcar put at the right height for the ‘keeper to save. Kranjcar’s demeanour after placing the ball was an indication of this being yet another missed Spurs pen.
And through all that I haven’t mentioned the one player who looked up for it from the off and all the way through. Assou-Ekotto was a beast on the day. Fuck you Alan Hansen.
So both our strikers scored and the target on the other side didn’t really look like doing so. But yes I’d still take Llorente, rated him for Spain in the World Cup, they looked a far better side with him than his now Chelsea name-sake. It’s a gamble, so late in the transfer window, a player who hasn’t played in the league. But he’s more mobile and has more guile than Crouch, better first touch than Pavlyuchenko. Is he just more clinical in front of goal than all of them? Will he work with van der Vaart?
But then it’s only just into the second week of August so we ain’t going to be signing anyone for a couple of weeks yet.