Tottenham Hotspur vs. Fulham: Instant reaction

Richard Heathcote

In which Kevin spends 750 words getting really annoyed.

I don't even know what to say right now. I think I could have handled complete and utter capitulation. Some kind of disastrous performance with own goals and missed sitters and general awfulness. It's easy to get mad about those performances, or write them off as anomalies.

Tottenham Hotspur's performance against Fulham on Sunday was a completely different animal. Instead of making mistakes, Spurs just didn't do much of anything. It's tough to get truly mad about any mistakes going either way. It was just a horrible game in which Fulham had one nice moment of quality when Spurs' defense wasn't at the top of their game, and the Cottagers won 1-0.

Did you ever do something so stupid that, when your parents found out, they were too disappointed in you to yell at you? Remember when they just looked at you with eyes that conveyed how truly hurt they were, and you could hear them say 'I raised you better than this' before the words even came out of their mouth? This is how I feel about Tottenham right now. I'm so utterly disappointed that I don't even have it in me to be angry.

Andre Villas-Boas started with Gylfi Sigurdsson on the right wing, Benoit Assou-Ekotto on the left wing and Jan Vertonghen at left back. Emmanuel Adebayor started up top even though Jermain Defoe was fit. It didn't make any sense. Taking Michael Dawson off at halftime made even less sense, and without his leadership at the back, a reshuffled defense conceded a goal to Dimitar Berbatov.

Everyone looked lackadaisical and utterly devoid of creative ideas until Tom Carroll entered the game. He was pretty good, but everyone else proceeded to continue to do nothing. He appeared to get very annoyed with this and started playing overly ambitious through balls and diagonals to guys who weren't running off the ball out of utter frustration. At least he had some ideas and tried to make something happen. That's more than I can say about anyone else on the team.

Spurs did have one good move, a cross from Gareth Bale into the middle for Jermain Defoe. He put his shot right at Mark Schwarzer. It was one of two shots that Defoe put right at the keeper -- the other one came shortly after he entered the game. He does that a lot. It's gotten quite old. Those were our best two chances.

I don't want to say that the players didn't try, or that they didn't care, because that's never true. All professional athletes care about every game, except for those rare situations where they've absolutely quit due to odd circumstances, like that game after Manchester City fired Sven-Goran Eriksson. It's obvious when players don't try against a team that is trying at this level, because those games don't end 1-0. They end 8-0.

But, of course, there's a difference between 'trying' and playing like it's a life or death situation. For most of this season, almost all of Tottenham's players have played looking like their careers were on the line in every single game. Today, they looked like they were just doing their jobs. Maybe they were tired, or too cocky, or just had an off day. It's impossible to tell, but they didn't have their normal level of desire and intensity. This is a level of sport where a level of intensity that is in the 98th percentile for all people on earth isn't good enough. There's a big difference between 'caring', which every player does in every single game, and having a superhuman level of desire and determination.

Of course, that's all speculation on my part, though I highly doubt I'm wrong about that stuff. The more tangible aspects of the game were a problem too. AVB's tactics and team selection didn't make much sense. The goal was conceded through a Tottenham right back special. Kyle Naughton, in for Kyle Walker, was a big part of the goal we conceded in the same way Walker is often a part of Tottenham's conceded goals. He didn't make a horrible, unforgivable error, but he was a half-second slow to read the play, allowing Berbatov to get a step on him and beat him to the ball. Bale and Scott Parker appeared to have no concept of space and timing. Their passes and runs forward were hopeful, not purposeful. If they had a defined purpose, that purpose was based off of an incorrect assumption. Adebayor made the wrong runs off the ball. Sigurdsson didn't make runs off the ball. Dembele was just there. Carroll was the only player who looked fit, intense, technically proficient, aware of his tactical role on the pitch and understanding of the space on the pitch that Fulham were giving to Spurs.

Basically, everything about this sucked on every level. I can only hope that this poor performance was about fatigue and AVB trying a one-off stupid-ass team selection. If the players weren't the least bit fatigued and AVB's planning on trying some stupid shit like this again, we're in trouble.

COYS.

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