It’s felt like an age. An age of speculation, comments, no comments, deals, no deals, new faces, old faces.
One new and one old being very good moves. The new being director of football Franco Baldini who looks to have made an immediate difference to the buying policy at the club. Who knew you could sign players days, weeks, months even before the last few seconds of transfer deadline day. Then there’s the old with AVB, who bizarrely is starting his very first second season as a manager at a club, after turning down overtures from PSG and Madrid – see Gareth it can be done.
After a certain result on Saturday this looked like a classic Spurs slip up job on cards. Newly promoted team that’ll be all gung-ho, up and at ’em and all the usual clichés that go with those of limited talent. While Spurs bedding in various new boys to English football and sense of optimism.
So the first Bale-free game of the season. And the boss decides to play the right people in the right positions and the new boys aren’t hindered by the inclusion of the likes of Parker. Oh what a joy the season will be no matter what happens without the prospect of him playing a single minute. It looks like a winning formula.
Some things don’t change though as Spurs had plenty of the ball – every time I read a Tweet about the amount of possession it appears to have a Brendan Rodgers accent – without really making the ‘keeper do anything. It was all very comfortable without being overly penetrative. Fullbacks were seeing a lot of the ball and as per usual down the flanks looked the best option but a lot was squeezed into a packed centre.
Lennon was as per usual on the end of some abuse about his final ball. Well first up he made a number of abortive runs behind his opposite number but Walker didn’t play the ball through the channel that it was screaming out for. Then the killer ball was played Lennon dithered. Now as I Tweeted at the time is the dithering because he’s not used to people being in the box, especially not used to an intelligent striker being in the right place at the right time.
Last year he’d run to the byline look up and Adebayor would be moping about at the halfway line or way over on the left flank, not really making any effort to do anything. Or he’d have Defoe making for the near post when a far post run was required or vice versa. Now he’s got Soldado to find. Someone who knows what he’s doing.
The one time Lennon found his new striker he was slagged off for apparently crossing straight to the ‘keeper. He also was slagged off for a inept ball by Walker. No doubt the
reporter will be nice to his face when wanting an interview. Also he never gets any respect for his defensive covering. Another cross found Chadli at the back post just before the whistle went for half-time. Just after Chadli was eased into and eased out of heading the opener. Funny that Ian Holloway never mentioned that in his post match rant at the officials.
Olly doesn’t want to be the clown this time round. Looks like he’s going for the one eyed whinging Wenger role this year.
A bloke who used to play in the 80s is now complaining about shoulder to shoulder challenges. Chadli cleanly wins the ball while the Palace player falls to the ground – hey Ian just because a player goes to ground doesn’t make it a foul, maybe you need to stop then falling over so much – Holloway moans that the resulting penalty wouldn’t have happened. The resulting penalty that was given nearly two minutes later during which time Palace had the ball twice. Blame others or blame your own.
Wait, just a minute a penalty you say. Erm, Spurs winning a penalty how the hell did that happen? Well it happened by Clattenberk not blowing for what should have been one just before for a crude push on Paulinho in the box. But when Lennon put a cross into the area and the Palace player blocked it with his arm – if it wasn’t intentional what was his arm doing there? – he had to give it. And with that Soldado scored his second straight spot kick for Spurs. Another
Eh? moment. Can’t be a proper Spurs player, scoring pens.
The following was also a bit predictable. Spurs drop back and the team with nothing to lose pile on. Dembele didn’t see out the end of another game. A quiet, comfortable cruise through the afternoon, I can’t say I understand the substitution unless the Belgian can’t do 90 minutes. Capoue, another debutante, came on for him and immediately looked the part but I’d like to have seen maybe Sigurdsson come off and Dembele moved up. The Icelander could have made things a lot easier in the closing minutes but after a nice pass from Soldado he fluffed the shot. Defoe could also have made an impact as a sub but he also failed with a great chance.
While at the other end, after not having much to do, Lloris showed his class with some cracking sweeper ‘keeper moves. Out to tackle Kevin Phillips, priceless, and some good saves that kept the score from following a predictable routine of a late equaliser or defeat.
It wasn’t a great performance, it was enough to win – better than a home loss – and all the new boys got a good run out. All looked the part, Chadli came into things after a quiet hour or so, Paulinho quietly assured, Soldado the striker we missed so much last season, Capoue excellent half an hour of blocks and good passes. Don’t know how the boss will fit all those midfielders in there, what with Sandro not even on the bench. Kaboul got another run out and should be close to first team starter. Could be new faces on the horizon, could be one gone. Wish they’d go for Baines at left back, would just cement a cracking back four.