On paper it looks as if we have one of the strongest squads in the league, but scratch the surface and it’s apparent that what we’ve got in reserve isn’t as good as we may have thought.

Harry added three fresh faces to the side that beat Inter Milan (excluding Gomes) and they all had poor games. It was always going to be difficult to get ourselves up for this one and perhaps Redknapp figured he needed to select players who had a point to prove, but the result was a muted performance.

We looked very poor in midfield. There really is no need for us to play with two holding midfielders, as we did with Sandro and Palacios, especially when neither are in good form. Sandro is still adjusting to the pace of this league, while Wilson has become a shadow of the player who so excited us when he first came to Spurs.

I was excited to see that Niko Kranjcar was back in the side, until I realised that he was playing on the right of midfield. Niko has never played well in this position for us. From the left he can cut inside and hit it with his right, but on the opposite flank he just doesn’t have the pace to get past his man and deliver with his strongest foot. Having played so little football this season, it was no surprise to see that Kranjcar looked a bit off the pace.

Bale had a pretty good game on the left, without being granted the sort of freedom that saw him rip Inter apart. Modric was also decent, but the advanced position he played in doesn’t suit him as much as the deeper role in which he was outstanding against United and Inter. It would have made more sense for Kranjcar to play off Crouch and for Modric to play alongside one of the defensive midfielders.

Who knows if we’d have fared better with a different team – the whole performance was sloppy. We defended really well against Inter, but the same defence looked frail against Bolton, even accounting for the fact that their first goal was definitely offside.

The missing Rafael van der Vaart has given us a real dilemma. We can really only play a 4-5-1 when he’s in the side, which in itself is a problem considering that none of our strikers are perfectly suited to a lone role. When VDV is not available, do we have anyone up to the task of replacing him, or would we be better off switching to a 4-4-2?

That’s exactly what we did at half-time when 1-0 down, but we still didn’t look much better. One of the most compelling reasons to stick with 4-5-1 is that without Defoe injured and with Keane in such terrible form, we can’t muster a decent strike partnership. Crouch provided more evidence that he should only play in Europe, while Pavlyuchenko gave his normal frustrating/occasionally brilliant performance.

His goal was stunning, but came just minutes after he failed to connect with a perfect David Bentley cross that a striker of the highest quality, like a Klinsmann or Lineker, would have busted a gut to get to. Pav is as good a finisher as there is around, but he’ll only score if the ball happens to fall for him and just doesn’t possess the instincts of a top striker. That said, Pav is probably the best we’ve got at the moment and he deserves a run in the Premier League, considering that Crouch can’t score against English defences.

Also scoring a stunning goal was Alan Hutton, but it was just a shame that we didn’t turn on the magic until we were already 3-0 down. I’m still not 100% convinced that Hutton is the right back to deliver us to the promised land, but his occasional moments of attacking brilliance hint at the fact that he might come good.

The beauty of supporting Tottenham Hotspur is that we can thrash the European champions and then lose soundly to an uninspiring Bolton side, all within a single week. If we want more of the former, we have to do less of the latter. Two wins from our next couple of home games are now something of a necessity to get us back on track.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. My problem is Crouch, why the hell do we play a guy who does not know where the net is, yet he puts Pav on the bench who keeps scoring (he is our current highest scorer for the past 18mths) … Redknap neeeds to dump his b*m chum, get with the program and play pav week in week out … yes he is lazy but boy can he put them in, Greaves was the same, lazy but would you have droped him? No, goal hangers are like that. thats why you have players like Modric, Bale etc. to give them the ball so they can pop it in … and also move Hutton into Lennons role, like Bale he is better suited moving on the wing.

  2. It was obvious a year ago thaty Modric is no good ‘in the hole’. He just doesn’t have a decent shot nor does he have the instict to run into goal-scoring positions.

    Without VDV we should obviously go 4-4-2.

    As we discovered last season, Crouch is only any good from the bench. How many low crosses from Bale are going to be wasted before Crouch realises that her should go towards the near post, rather than the far one, allowing several defenders the opportunity to intercept the ball.!

  3. We have one of the best squads in the league…BUT they are not motivated, my pub team plays with more heart them them!! Nico may have been rusty but he was also not bothered, Sgt Wilson gone from great to WTF, you only need a few players not being up for the fight and a team like Bolton will smell blood and go in for the kill and that’s what they did. also Crouch is simply awful, he offers nothing playing on his own……hurrey up and get back Defoe, we need you!!!!

  4. To play Palacios, Sandro and Kranjar in the same team and against Bolton was a managerial balls up of epic proportion, even then by compounding it by having Jenas Huddlestone and Bentley in reserve makes the whole thing untenable and dare I say naive, that’s from a manager with 20 odd years experience! Surely the intelligent option would be to start with players that are reliable, not either untested out of form or disinterested. That midfield selection was the reason for Saturdays disaster, they alone put pressure on their team mates, causing our single forward to back track and our defence to constantly be under pressure because none of them had the ability to hold the ball. Modric worked his socks off as did Crouch having to paper over the cracks left by these inept and ineffective players. Poor team selection (again), and according to Harry we’ve the strongest squad in the Premiership, probably Harry, provided their selected correctly eh?

  5. Essexian 76 I totally agree. Also Sandro has obviously not got used to the tempo yet but I would not judge him until he does. He needs to understand you need to make a decision on what you will do with the ball before it arrives and not the 10-15 second grace period you get in Brazil. However one thing we can all be sure of unless we are insane is that Palacios never will be any good and that is as certain as it ever will be. I have never understood people who rate him and it has probably been the worst 14million we have spent in recent years. The yellow cards and just utter useless performances every time he is on the pitch have to stop. it is like watching Vagner on the x factor. At some point it just has to come to an end. I predict a serious clean out in January and I would not be looking so much outside to replace Keane, Palacios, Jenas but would be looking to bring a few of our youngsters in to the mix such as Bostock, Rose and Naughton. They can’t do any worse than our second string did on Saturday and will at least have more energy. On the bright side Defoe will be back soon and I for one am looking forward to seeing him play with VDV. Also well done to Hutton. I’m finally seeing what the 8.5 million pound fuss was all about. A shame it is 2 years (and several massive pay checks) later but better late than never.
    Going back to Defoe for a sec, something I can’t work out. He was on the brink of groin surgery just before the ankle injury. If they knew he was going to be out for so long with the ankle, why didn’t he just have the groin surgery at the same time? I’m still not understanding that. Maybe I missed something? All I know is if he comes back and then goes down with another groin injury someone’s head has got to roll. sorry to go off topic. Good blog on the squad depth and that embarrasing performance on Saturday.

  6. In many ways Sandro is where Huddlestone was a season or two back.He too required that bit too much time on the ball and was unaware of things around him, so I’m really not judging the guy, and I understand he’ll need time, but against Bolton?, with Palacios??, who came up with that brainwave???????????. Punchbag Jenas would have hounded back to Newcastle if he’d played anything like Wilson, but recently JJ’s put in some solid performances this term, none more so than against Milan, but he’s head and shoulders better than Palacios right now.(He’ll no doubt have a stinker tonight if selected though!), but hindsight’s a wonderful thing

  7. Big club my Arse! Since Tottenham won the League it is now
    Saturday, April 29, 1961 16:40
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