about all right.
‘Arry kept saying he wasn’t insulting the Europa League, after doing nothing but insult the competition since before we were even in it, by picking a bunch of
Though technically with the likes of Pavlyuchenko, dos Santos, Corluka, Bassong, Walker and Cudicini all seasoned players, all bar Carlo in goal internationals it wasn’t a complete youth team. Of the rest Livermore has been part of the first team this season, Townsend a couple of outings, Kane and Carroll featured in the last Europa game the only real new face was Juve loanee Yago Falqué.
Strangely with this
young set up PAOK decided to drop off and let the lads play. The youngsters pretty much did that. The main problem throughout the night was the insistence on coming inside and playing into a crowded midfield instead of staying wide where there was acres of space.
It was something Falqué did quite too much, had good possession out right but just kept trying to get the ball on his left foot and PAOK packed out the area in front of the box. Walker should have done more overlapping when this happened, space was all there. But Falqué looked like he has something about him. On the left dos Santos was wandering all over the place, as is probably the best thing to play him, the way he does for Mexico where he flourishes. This though left Andros Townsend, playing leftback, pretty much on his Tod on the left side.
There was some good work in the middle by Livermore and Carroll and Corluka looked far better at centreback than some of his rightback outings of late. Bassong was given the armband for the night and though a couple of dodgy moments there were touches that he showed during the season he was a major part of the set up. One thing he has to cut out is this heading the ball to his own players, it’s just not the English way, you aimlessly give the ball away by heading wildly to the opposition. Never head it to a team-mate.
Up front there was a chance for one player to show he shouldn’t be discarded. But bar one decent free-kick, Pavlyuchenko just dithered about and showed the lack of interest in what was going on that has so frustrated those that know he could be good enough.
So the game hinged on well three penalties really. First up Harry Kane, lot of running about about it really, was taken down in the box. The referee was perfectly placed to see the contact, that it was a foul decided to show Kane a yellow card for diving. Another cracking decision by a UEFA ref, that goes along with the decision by UEFA to move the 5th/6th official to the side of the pitch already covered by the linesman. Make any sense to anyone? Nope, thought not.
Of course as always seems to happen, especially to Spurs, as soon as one nailed on penalty is denied the other side go straight down and get one themselves. Cudicini claims he never touched the but how sick is everyone of seeing a ‘keeper making a mad dash out to a player wide of the goal, stay put and save any shot from a tight angle that might come in. Don’t give away cheap stupid penalties. Lino struck the first one perfectly but one of the PAOK players had stumbled into the area and technically the ref was right to disallow it, considering Cudicini was off his line, it’s really six of one, half a dozen the other. With the retake Lino went the other way, Cudicini went the right way this time but that didn’t matter as the ball was dragged wide. In the dying moments of the game Cudicini redeemed himself with a couple of quality saves.
So the kids did all right. Better opposition they will struggle more, though they coped with the atmosphere of a typical crowd in the part of the world.