Though that’s not entirely fair as in the main it was the established, so called first team, players – bar two stand-outs – that really stank the place out in Rubin for last night’s Europa League game.
The kids struggled as the Russians on their own patch were a somewhat more difficult opponents than Hearts or Shamrock Rovers at home. While they were allowed to pass it around in their own half, once the halfway was reached things clamped up, Livermore and Carroll were overrun, at times it seemed like either Spurs were playing with a man down or they had extra players on the park. Livermore’s best moment was when he tackled an pitch invader early in the game.
At fullback Townsend and Fredericks were out of position, they are wingers really, and it showed. On the right Falque looked every part a bloke on the wrong wing. He struggled down the right, cutting inside all the time, he found himself cutting down on his options as the space was just too crowded. One brief sojourn on the left led to a decent cross. More than came on the other side, in fact his best moments on the right was when getting the ball after he, or others, had lost it.
Brief mention for Dean Parrett who came on with 17 minutes to go and showed more than most of the attacking outfielders did for the rest of the game.
So the kids struggled, it shouldn’t come as any great shock when they weren’t helped out by most of the established players. In this respect one player stood out. It’ll be one way for me to wish Parker to play if the option is Pienaar. Yes he’s coming back from a layoff but then so has Ledley, Sandro and others and they didn’t suck this badly on their return. Nearly a year on and I still can’t understand why they bought him. Even at £3m Everton got the best of that deal.
Now the front pair didn’t get any service, one shot on target and one off says a lot, but they didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory. Defoe made a nice chance for Pavlyuchenko, with some determination that was lacking for the rest of the game. But that was it really, nothing there to get him in the first team in place of van der Vaart. Pav, you’d think would be trying to seal that January move. But could he have looked any less interested?
At the back Bassong, again you’d think with his determination to either play or move would have done something worthwhile. No. A slow dither in his own box and he gives away the free-kick from which Rubin’s winning goal came from.
It was tough on one of the two players that actually stood out for Spurs on the night. Cudicini did the most to keep that scoreline presentable, he had no chance with the free-kick, it was a pretty good one. There were a number of top quality saves from the Italian throughout the game.
The other player who played well and did his best to stifle Kazan was the returning Gallas – he’s returning from injury and he could do it why couldn’t you Pienaar? He had a pretty good outing. Just over 70 minutes in though he took a knee, looked to have re-injured himself but apparently it was just a precaution to take him off. Should be fit for the next league game, Fulham, which is good what with Ledley’s problems.
So from first place in the league to third, as PAOK did Shamrock. Did many expect much from this young side on a tough trip to Russia? ‘Arry chose the right match to miss.