As the clocked ticked down at the San Siro in Spurs Champions League opener to Inter Milan, even a cow could see and tell you what was going to happen as they grasped defeat from the jaws of victory.
Pochettino’s pre-match cow story had the media confused, I shudder to think what he’s telling the players to have them so confused but then he seems to be confusing himself with some team selections.
Watching Spurs this season is like watching England under Southgate. The centre-backs split wide, keeper takes the goal kick sideways, they try and pass it out from the back, invite pressure, crumble under the pressure and lose the ball, all while Harry Kane never gets a look in.
It’s as infuriating as hell watching England do it, knowing they don’t have the players with the ability to do it, Spurs do but they don’t seem capable. Maybe a cow could have told Poch that after it didn’t work against Liverpool at the weekend it wasn’t going to work against Inter.
They were awful again in the first half, so awful Inter didn’t need to even try, it was all gifted to them and thankfully all spurned by Inter. Their best chance came from Davinson Sanchez. They’re pretty good at banging shots over the bar, well…
Again the only bright spot for Spurs was one player, this time though it wasn’t Moura, who was sat on the bench, but Aurier who was flying up the wing. The end product wasn’t there most of the time though. Most notably when Eriksen floated a lovely ball over the Inter defence, right onto the foot of Kane but he Sterling’d the chance, rounding the keeper and bouncing the ball off his legs.
Well, if you can’t be good, be lucky and Spurs got lucky just under ten minutes after the restart. Eriksen fighting for the ball, in the middle of the park, had a shot from just outside the area, which was saved and palmed back out, finding Eriksen again his second shot took a deflection and slowly ballooned over the keeper has his desperate attempt to save it a second time just saw him palm it into his own net.
At this point it was all simple for Spurs, hell even the dimwit were saying it was all simple for Spurs, which of course meant it was all gonna go pear shaped for Spurs.
It didn’t start with Pochettino’s first substitution, Moura for Son, just after the hour, wasn’t a head scratcher. Having the fresh legged Brazilian running at the tired Inter side was ideal and Son had tired himself in his first start for the club this season.
The next two changes didn’t make sense. Winks for Lamela first. Well Lamela had been greedy on the night but he’d got in good positions and had stretched the Inter defence. Winks passed the ball sideways. But that change was topped by the late arrival of Danny Rose for… Harry Kane. Even the cow doesn’t get that one.
The target man is gone replaced by a left back, while the starting left back stays on. Rose didn’t know what to do or where to go and the rest of the team had no focal point for an attack. It just invited Inter on as Spurs dropped deeper and deeper. Want something in the middle, bring on Wanyama. Take Harry off but bring on a striker, you know Spurs don’t do this hanging on malarkey too well.
And so it came as no surprise that an equaliser came. Five minutes of normal time left and Icardi slams it in. He’d not been seen all night and was ignored on the edge of the D because everyone had dropped back and left him feigning an injury.
It was even less of a surprise that two minutes into injury time they score the winner, or that it came from a header at a set piece. What’s it, something like 6 of the 8 goals Spurs have conceded this season have come from headers, about the same for set pieces. They can’t defend ’em. Not helped by Poch replacing tall blokes by midgets but even then there is something seriously wrong in their set piece defending. They can’t get the first ball, they never get the second.
Poch’s post-match conference saw him eschew the cow stories and talking about the media disrespecting the players. Good that he’s sticking up for the players, if a little distracting away from the things he and his coaching staff are getting wrong. Is it the players that are doing this playing out from the back on their own? Is it the players that have decided this is how to try and defend set pieces? Is it the players that have gone back to making head scratching substitutions?
Poch started the season getting things right, changing things for the good, it’s reversed over the last three games, yes I know only three but it’s the first time they’ve lost three straight under him. The pressing, passing, scoring, flying Spurs seems to have disappeared, just like that.
Just Barcelona next…