third time lucky?
Spurs faced Norwich for the third time this season in their third tie of the F.A. Cup and didn’t get away with as they have in those previous games.
Spurs had struggled in the previous two meetings with the Premier League’s bottom side, requiring a late penalty to scrape a draw at the end of last year, while it was another late one that saw them win the home fixture, less than four weeks later.
Spurs had also struggled in the third and fourth round, to actually get here, needing a replay in each tie, to get past Middlesbrough and Southampton, both replays also being a struggle, by just one goal.
Think it was after they got past Southampton that if Jose is gonna win the cup he’s going about it the hard way. Well, he went that way again but he ain’t winning it this year.
If Spurs are gonna win the Cup, it’s gonna be back to the old year ending in one routine.
So another shift in formation and another change in starting XI, as back to a back four with Jan back, as captain and left-back. He made his impact in the 13th minute when he determined to get on the end of Lo Celso’s far post free-kick. We saw Super Jan again.
Up until then Spurs looked like they were slightly interested in the Cup. After that they sat off, let Norwich have the ball and just looked lifeless on any counter attack. It was left to Norwich’s failures in front of goal, combined with some excellent defending – for the second game running – from Dier. He was Spurs’ best player on the night.
Norwich don’t play like a team that are bottom of the league, except where it matters. They don’t score and they don’t keep clean sheets. It’s not a winning formula. But then Spurs struggle to score and struggle to keep clean sheets. Tim Krul was having his usual highlight reel game against Spurs, while at the other end Vorm was showing why he was let go at the end of last season and not why he was brought back.
When Spurs broke it was so slow. Dele and Bergwijn couldn’t beat their defenders for pace. hell their fullback was skinning Moura and Aurier. Then you’d get Winks on the ball and all forward momentum would be lost as the ball was passed sideways or back. Winks was being outplayed by Skipp in the middle. At least Skipp’s first thought is forward and not panic offload to pad his stats.
What with Spurs’ defensive shambles it just looked like even this Norwich were going to score against them. It was probably gonna take a howler from one of the home side and it duly came with less than a quarter of an hour to go. Vorm had already fumbled one simple shot, allowing it to go behind him. Luckily he scrambled to get it then. Here it wasn’t that difficult a shot, didn’t really swerve or do anything on its way to him. He wasn’t unsighted. But he totally fluffed it, palming the ball down in front of him, where the Norwich player was quickest to the ball to make enough contact to put it past the floundering keeper.
Krul wasn’t making any mistakes, the few times he was tested.
At this point Spurs woke up. They attacked more after this than at any time previously. But made the wrong choices or hit the ball near Krul.
So extra-time. Doing it the hard way. Extra time went like most of the previous 90 minutes. With Norwich players struggle, with cramp and injury, it was almost as if Jose had decided to rope-a-dope ’em. Get them so knackered you might just sucker punch them.
Jose had made his three subs during the 90 minutes. Bergwijn didn’t last long after half-time, it looked like he was given a chance to run off an injury but couldn’t, which always looks a stupid thing to do, especially when you’re moaning about injuries. So Parrott was left sitting on the bench while they struggled to play with a striker. Dele doesn’t work in that role, he plays in the spaces not up against some centre-backs. They talked about the front three rotating position throughout the match but did they? Bergwijn stuck to the left, Moura to the right and Dele up the middle.
Six minutes into extra-time and Jose could play his fourth card. To the loudest cheer of the night Parrott made his entrance. He started off well but then say less and less of the ball.
With Norwich falling to pieces and Spurs looking even more disinterested it looked like pens from very early on in extra-time. And so they arrived. Dier scored his. Vorm saved his first. But then Lamela did a stupid run up – always a bad sign – leaned back and skied his off the bar. Krul was doing his mid game, time wasting thing. It didn’t work on Lo Celso who managed to place his while falling over. That was Spurs’ last success. While Norwich made all theirs bar that first save, Parrott went for the stupid run up and failed.
Then up stepped Gedson Fernandes who looked like he didn’t want to be there at all – Parrott had seemed to put his hand up when they were asked who wanted to take a penalty – Gedson looked like his family were being held hostage. It was by far the worst penalty of the lot.
And there’s your trophy gone. I mean it’s Norwich, for a place in the quarters, where Norwich haven’t been since 1992, the year after Spurs last won the old tin pot.
All that was left to do was for Dier to charge into the crowd after some berk. Have to say it was mighty impressive the way he went over the rows of seats, not an easy thing to do and he didn’t stumble once.
Again, it’s not just losing, it’s the manner. Yes, Poch had some weak cup performances but you never felt his heart was in winning the Cup, while Jose wanted a trophy and that was what he was supposed to bring to the club. Yet for the most part the players couldn’t have looked less interested in advancing…