So 2-0 up against a team that is already relegated and it seems just a matter of how many goals we’ll win by. By the end of the game we’ve lost 4-2. Welcome back Tottenham… we’ve missed you whilst you were gone.
The players really did have the minds on the World Cup/Champions League/summer holidays in that second half. Fair enough I suppose. They’ve already done far more than was expected of them.
Having said that, you can’t imagine Chelsea or Manchester United doing the same thing in similar circumstances. We’ve come a long, long way, but there is still a long way to go. It takes time to create a culture at a club, where winning becomes second nature and losing is something that can’t be stomached.
If we want to look at areas of the squad that we need to bolster for next season, this game showed some up. Alnwick for example, doesn’t look as if he’ll ever be remotely commanding enough to warrant being our second or even third choice goalkeeper.
The goals were pretty much all down to ball-watching from our full backs. For Kaboul that is somewhat forgivable considering that he’s not really a right back and we have to make sure that we’re not in the same situation next year, with him as our only back up to Corluka.
In the case of Benoit Assou Ekotto, it’s more troubling. He’s had a decent season and is generally solid enough, but whilst he’s quite possibly the most improved player at the club, that improvement came from a starting point of being considered quite hopeless. I don’t think we’ll be looking for his replacement in the summer, but if we’re to progress, then it wouldn’t surprise me if he were to be jettisoned sometime in the not too distant future. He’s not and never will be top class.
Once again it was also a game when we struggled to find a balanced partnership up front that would serve us well away from home. Our goals came from midfield and we need more of a contribution from that area next season. Modric’s strike was probably his best for the club and he needs to get in those positions more often and hit the ball like he did yesterday, rather than his normal scuffed efforts. If Bale ends up playing a full season for us, then there’s no reason to think that he couldn’t hit double figures.
Perhaps it’s a good thing to end the season on a slight downer. It will after all, remind Harry of the frailties that still exist within the side, though I’m sure he’s already got them noted.
The defeat couldn’t take the gloss off what has been a great season. It’s not often that a World Cup can be viewed as a distraction, but I for one can’t wait to get the quarter-final loss on penalties out of the way and get back to the serious and enticing prospect of watching us improve even further next season.