Tough loss, but some encouraging signs. I won't do a match report, not my strength to be honest; but, what I do want to deal with is "the Grass Is Greener Syndrome"--a level of discourse that becomes a habit; and that habit, once started, is awfully hard to stop. But first, I want to talk about Demba Ba's goal, and how I perceive Kyle Walker's role in it.
Ba, obviously, scored a stunner, curling in a shot that resulted from an improperly cleared cross; but, what is lost in this is that Walker spotted Ba's run and did not allow him to cross his face for a free header. Last year Walker continuously let his man beat him to spots on set pieces and similar situations during the run of play. Nine times out of ten what Walker did on Saturday will work out for Spurs. In this case it didn't--give credit to Ba. He was beaten to a spot, but still challenged for the ball, knocking Walker off balance--Walker instantly complained of a shove--just enough to cause a "popup" instead of a clearance. I am of the opinion this was more Ba's excellence than Walker's incompetence.
Grass Is Greener Syndrome: n. Colloquial English
1.When a supporter of a particular sports team/club comments, post-competition, about how alternative management decisions would have changed the team/club's fortunes. Often refers to squad selection/starting lineups instead of tactics or style of play.
There have been spirited discussions about the selection of Gallas and Sigurdsson in addition to our continuing conversation about the lack of a striker, and I would like to address how they fall under GGS.
a. "Johnny Verts sleeps with the fishes"
We are all excited about Jan Vertonghen, a center back with composure, a champions pedigree, and a dreamy head of hair. We all expected him to step in and start. Instead, William Gallas got the nod, playing quite well. He had nothing to do with either of the goals scored. Not even close. Against two dangerous strikers and capable providers on the road give me a defensive shift like that 18 more times, please. If the argument is that he passed back to the Keeper too much, thus preventing us from being even more threatening, that seems on the verge of searching for a scape goat. Listen, Gallas is not going to play every match, and haven't many of us been screaming for squad rotation? Our manager seems to have effectively pulled it off in the first match, but still we question. Rest assured, Vertonghen will get games, but if he doesn't and Gallas plays this well every time out--THFC will be winners.
b. "How do you solve a problem like Rafa/Siggy?"
This tactical dilemma probably highlights GGS better than any other. I don't think anyone can argue about Rafa's passing range and vision being class--probably superior to Gylfi Sigurdsson's in fact. However, what works against Rafa is that AVB clearly wants a CAM willing to pressure the ball and close down the pitch in the opponent's half. So much so that he would relegate a technical wizard (albeit with dwindling mobility) to his bench. I think AVB is quite blunt with his tactical expectations so if he wanted Siggy to drop back sixty yards to pick up the ball (like Rafa), Gylfi would've been doing that. But that wasn't the expectation. Siggy's going to have better matches striking the ball--he would admit that--but to assume we are better with him on the bench is to ignore his importance in our execution of a tactical style that had us on the front foot for much of a difficult road opener. And the class that he displayed on his goal in NY--that hasn't left.
c. "He Cuts a Lonely Figure: The Ballad of Jermain Defoe"
This is not a critique of anyone's play, simply a comment on us having one real option at striker. Most would say that having a different striker on Saturday equates to victory. That seems a bit simplistic. Does Salomon Rondon win us that game? Luuk De Jong? Giroud? Yilmaz? The list goes on. There is basis for argument here, but the fact of the matter is that Defoe was as productive as NUFC's vaunted duo, in addition to working his socks off the entire match.
There is nothing really new here, and I am not sure if anything will happen, the window has been that weird, but I don't think there are more than a handful of strikers (that are realistic Spurs targets) that would've made a difference on Saturday. And in our furor over the lack of an assassin leading the front line, we may be overlooking how much Defoe still has to offer.
Now...is he the answer: No. Nobody is saying that. Nobody, but nobody is happy about the present situation. Regardless of him scoring, was he clinical? No. But the whole attack wasn't. We rarely are. When we are, 5-0 score lines result. Would I want many of those strikers mentioned above on our squad? Yes, my god, yes; we need to strengthen. But I think there is a large contingency out there that believe anyone new will be better. That is to believe in a false narrative. Conversely, if the argument is that "a striker" obviously doesn't matter, but "The Striker" (Sleep 2012) does, I point to the drawn out transfer of Robin van Persie. How long did it take Manchester United to get their "The"? All summer--and for a steep price considering RVP's age and injury history. And they are (four striker deep) United! Surely, this highlights the issues in acquiring The Striker.
GGS could have many names: "second guessing", "armchair quarterbacking", "hindsight is 20/20"--the list goes on. The syndrome will not go away--ever. To expect it to disappear is lunacy, and that is not what I want. But, becoming a big team means that difficult decisions will have to be made on the team sheet every week; here is to hoping the Commentariat's GGS stays proactive, even thoughtful--leaving the angst behind.