from a mile off?
All the stars aligned for this to be the game where the wheels came off Spurs’ good start, results wise, to the season and it came to pass with a three goal thumping at Palace.
Lads… it’s Palace.
Well, it started off with some of the South American contingent skipping off on international duty, duly being dragged off the pitch and spending their time in the Balkans under quarantine. So two centre-backs, Sanchez and Romero and one attacking option, lo Celso, were unavailable. Then during those World Cup qualifiers, three of those that have started every league game for Nuno, so far, Son, Skipp and Bergwijn picked up knocks which resulted in two of them missing the game. Only Skipp made the squad.
Of course it’s the early Saturday kick-off. The early kick-off after the internationals, so less time with the players available as they traipse in from all over the globe. It’s not like Spurs are any good in the early games, which they always seem to get after the international breaks.
Then Nuno goes and “wins” the manager of the month award for August… and just when you think it can’t get any worse… he goes and starts Winks.
Nuno… it’s Palace.
With Son and Bergwijn missing, Nuno chose to move Dele further forward, into more a 10 role, and bring Winks into the midfield three. Winks has started half of the six games Spurs have played this season, he’s started the two worst games they’ve had. And by worst I mean real stinkers, this and the first European game they played. I dunno. You play three defensive midfielders, against a Palace side that had amongst the fewest shots in the league, so far, with 20 and you let them have nearly as many in one game, 18.
It’s funny that Dele’s best moments came more in defensive roles than attacking. because… well, there wasn’t much attacking. With a Palace side who’d face 41 shots in their previous three league games, only having to deal with two from Spurs. Both from Moura, one off, one on target. As Kane didn’t have a touch in the opposition box, never mind a shot of any kind.
So why the three midfielders? Was it down to losing Sanchez, who had formed a decent partnership with Dier in the first few games? Or just Nuno showing his overcautious side? Is it what Fonseca said about Paratici wanting defence first. It brought up the question of what’s the difference between this and Mourinho’s dull worst.
There was no creativity at all from the visitors. It was screaming out for a change, from very early on, half-time at the least, but only two subs were made, both defensive players forced by incidents on the pitch. Winks off, drop Dele back and bring on Gil, was the obvious choice but as the young Spaniard was about to come on Nuno’s hand was forced to see him never used. While Ndombele was available, but did anyone really expect him to make an appearance?
The first change came early on, not even a quarter of an hour in, when stretching for a pass out from Hugo, Dier stretching for the ball took a nasty kick. He tried to carry on but eventually was partially carried off, while hobbling. So the two centre-backs that had help keep three clean sheets were now gone. Replaced by Tanganga, moved over form fullback in this game, and Rodon. Which, quite frankly is not a pairing I’m unhappy with.
The problem arose when Tanganga got into a little kerfuffle with the stroppy tart Zaha. Actually, it arose when the useless lump of a ref Jon Moss let a foul on Moura go – not the only time Moss would let a bad foul on Moura go, later on the Brazilian’s boot ended up yards from him, while Moss waved play on. Having his foot stamped on, he stayed down, the Spurs’ defender wasn’t too happy about this and as palace continued to play he pushed Zaha over. Zaha got full stroppy and laid hands on Tanganga’s face, which of course is a red card offence. Unless of course you’re a useless ref and it would benefit Spurs.
After a 21 man handbag session, both were yellow carded. It’s funny that in teh Man U game, I saw Shaw push someone over and the ref waved play on. That yellow shortly changed to red, for Tanganga. After intercepting the ball, his attempted pass was cut out and bouncing free, he lunged for the ball. Not really making much contact with the Palace player, who rolled over crying his eyes out, there was no doubt what Moss would do.
Gil was about to come on just before this but was sat down as Winks made way for Davies. 60 minutes on the pitch saw Winks attempt one forward pass,. Which was unsuccessful – Reguilon was free, in acres of space, down the left, Winks lobbed a useless ball straight to Palace.
It took Davies 15 minutes to get in on the act, when he stuck his left arm out to block a cross from Palace’s right. Penalty. Not long after Palace brought on the striker they bought in the summer. Less than 30 seconds and two touches later he’d doubled the lead, with a shot through Davies. There was time, in added time for he get his second.
It was a thoroughly abject performance from nearly all involved but especially Nuno, who got this all wrong. The thing is in the previous league games, for at least two of them, the result masked the poor performance. This performance got the scoreline it deserved and yes, I know I was generally happy with the appointment, the league position was a false one before this weekend, with Spurs likely to drop from top to 7th, as Everton should beat Burnley, I know it’s Spurs but Nuno has looked too cautious. I mean… Nuno, it’s Palace…