I have the good fortune of knowing a few of Hewlett-Packard's top executives so I got to watch the Swansea match today from the sponsor's seats with a sponsor's level of access. I figured I should therefore pass along what I saw and noticed that you might not know if you just watch Spurs on TV:
- I spoke to someone who wasn't just an ITK, he was properly a member of the club's business hierarchy, and he told me that Gareth Bale personally found him on Friday to say his goodbyes. The club official said he thought the deal would be done in the next few days. He mentioned that even though he had known Gareth since he was 17, he had come to terms with him leaving because of the enormity of the opportunity at Real.
- He also mentioned that he expected 2-3 more "comings" in this transfer window, one of which he strongly suggested was Erik Lamela. He also suggested that there may be a few "goings" left but was more vague on that one.
- Apparently Spurs had to bid against all the other premier league teams to be the focal point of NBC's promo campaign, such as the Jason Sudeikis bit, which means we beat all of them out!
- Etienne Capoue was fucking transcendent. A total brick wall, not just in the sense that he was physical, but that truly all attacks died once they reached his point on the pitch. Everyone in the stand agreed he was our clear man-of-the-match.
- I disagree with the CFC assessment of Kyle Walker. His marking and tracking back was OK, he made a few clever runs, but my word was his passing a mess. Sloppy balls being played by him all day long, whereas Danny Rose ripped in a few proper crosses and generally looked more precise on the ball (if not quite as electric in pace or seasoned in defense).
- This midfield is not there yet, tactically. Mousa Dembele looked uncomfortable on the ball and not particularly useful when he was positioned in the hole or higher up the pitch. He then dropped deeper as the game went along and became more of his usual self bossing the true center, but that gave us an unusually defensive look without someone to run the "point" of the attack behind the forward three. Paulinho made some excellent surging runs but isnt as creative/precise/patient as you need to be to play in that most advanced role (and was also selfish with shots). I know it has been said before, but there needs to be a tactical change in order to get the most out of these players. Gylfi wasn't great either but at the least he provided a genuine backstop for attacks and more usefulness going forward than Dembele. It was a classic example of "how" you play, not "how well" you play.
- Soldado was good, and got a rousing reception as he was subbed off. Townsend was selected man of the match for the purpose of speaking to VIPs, which I'm sure was probably due to the fact he speaks English and Etienne does not. Townsend was a fairly worthy second choice, though, and even though he was asked a few awkward questions about whether or not he was offended to be sent on loan last year, he answered "hardly, it just gave me an opportunity to play every day and earn a first team spot in a Spurs shirt." Gotta love that attitude.
- I ran into a ton of big names in the hallways (and hence didn't have much of a chance to speak with them), including Daniel Levy, Glenn Hoddle, Martin Chivers, Steffen Freund, and Roy Hodgson. I actually heard a smart ass ask Roy if there were even any English players to scout and he said "we'll find out, I suppose"