Postmortems are for after death and while Tottenham Hotspur were not eliminated from the FA Cup yesterday, it sure felt like they were about to certain points in the match. Okay, maybe that is exaggerating a bit because even the most pessimistic of Spurs supporters probably felt that the Premier League club would eventually wake up from their doldrums and beat the League 1 club at White Hart Lane, but that was hardly comforting at the time.
Spurs came out and played horribly from the very first whistle. Gareth Bale sprinted exactly once in the first half-hour and it was more gallop than sprint. Rafael van der Vaart rode a merry go round and the club only wished that Ryan Nelsen did the same. Instead he had to go in on a stupid tackle within three minutes and give away a penalty. Tottenham were down 1-0 and it was uuuuuuugly.
It got a whole lot uglier when Michael Dawson crumpled to the turf too. The Spurs defender fell and it was obvious right away that is was a serious injury. Harry Redknapp later confirmed it was a serious injury. The world is not a fair place.
Eventually, Jermain Defoe scored, Bale got kicked hard for a penalty that Emmanuel Adebayor converted and Defoe scored again to send Tottenham onto the sixth round, but it was not pretty. It certainly did not inspire a whole lot of confidence.
Even if Spurs had looking sparkling in defeating Stevenage, nobody would have called it a good day if anyone had gone down with a serious injury. The fact that it was Dawson makes it that much worse as the Tottenham defense now looks very vulnerable for the stretch run. Toss in Aaron Lennon's 4,502nd injury of the season and there is absolutely no way this match is a positive and no amount of fine play could have changed that.
With this match, Spurs have now played poorly in all but one match since Fabio Capello quit England and Harry Redknapp was crowned his successor without actually being offered and/or accepting the job. Whether that has affected Harry and the team at all nobody knows, but the dip post-Newcastle is clear and if it is some other problem, it hasn't been identified or fixed yet.
Tottenham are onto the sixth round of the FA Cup and the hunt for a trophy continues. Bolton is up next and a run to Wembley is certainly within Spurs' reach. Everyone would love to see the club win the FA Cup, but yesterday was not a reason for celebration. Tottenham are worse off than they were before the match started. Ouch.