clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Erik Lamela Experience Week 2 - How do you solve a problem like Lamela?

How do you hold a gaucho in your hand?

I hope Erik Lamela doesn't read Twitter.

Failing that, I hope his English is really bad.

Because last Saturday hasn't gone over all that well with Tottenham fans.

A strange dynamic exists among Spurs fans when it comes to Erik Lamela. Some fans see a player with one season of elite football under his belt, but at age 23 still needs time to reach his potential. Others see a waste of money who is at best anonymous and at worst a turnover machine. Tottenham's match against Stoke will do little to bolster the arguments of the former.

It becomes very hard to defend Lamela when he is an integral part of why you lost. His constant turnovers on the right flank played a key role in undermining what had been a dominant 50-60 minutes of possession based football from Spurs.

It seemed as if he spent 30 minutes doing nothing but turning the ball over and killing attacks. Even his pressing game, which had gotten so good towards the end of last season, was nowhere to be found.

It would be hyperbole to say these games are a regular occurrence for Lamela, but they're not unfamiliar. Coupled with his other, more anonymous performances, many Spurs fans are already prepared to sell Lamela to the first Italian team that needs to launder some money and call it a day.

However, a cursory glance of twitter following the match showed a level of vitriol that is unequaled for any Spurs' player outside of Emmanuel Adebayor. And Lamela isn't criticizing the fans, making a play for more money, or a former Arsenal player, so where does it come from?

He's not a lazy player. If anything his overeagerness is at the heart of many of his mistakes.

Obviously his price tag brought along certain expectations. Lamela wasn't just a record signing, he was an exciting young player that Chelsea and Arsenal fans were mad about Spurs purchasing. The lack of production from a player who cost that much at a club that has to be smart about its resources cannot help his cause.

However, Roberto Soldado, who cost nearly as much, didn't receive anything close to the level of vitriol that surrounds Lamela. Some of this is attributable to Soldado's contrition on social media, but it is not like Lamela hasn't repeatedly expressed a commitment to Spurs and a dedication to getting better.

So what's the difference? Where's the anger come from? Turnovers.
This is a fairly representative sample of Erik Lamela's afternoon.

This is not just a bad turnover, it is a turnover that kills a promising counterattack in its crib. It is directly. This is not just bad, it is identifiably bad. You can show this clip on Match of the Day and demonstrate not only was Erik Lamela bad, but he was directly at fault for the turnover.

This is different than squandering the scoring chances like Soldado. While that hurts the team, it's not like they lead to conceding goals. At the same time, it is different from the problems that affected many of our midfielders. Take Ryan Mason for example. Often times last year, he was patient zero of a series of moves that directly led to Spurs conceding a chance. He would be out of position or fail to press. This would start a move that lead to a chance, but he was rarely the final man to get beat before the shot.

As a flair player, Lamela is constantly trying things. And when it's not coming off for him, he tries too hard for the extravagant pass when safer, better, simpler options are available. This leads to sloppy concessions of possessions and mistakes you can directly pin on him. This isn't just infuriating, it is obviously and immediately infuriating. And someone who cost £30 million shouldn't be THIS infuriating.

It is hard to say why he's this bad. Enough experts were excited about him I have a hard time thinking the pace of the English game is simply beyond him. It could be rust, he hasn't been back at Spurs for as long as some of his teammates because of the Copa America. Effort clearly isn't the issue. If I had to hazard a guess I would say the weight of expectations from his transfer fee are weighing on him. He's a guy who goes out and busts a gut and spends every week trying stuff. Judging purely from the eye test, I'd say he's trying too hard.

I have no idea how to fix this if it is confidence issue, but Spurs better figure out something fast. Or they're going to waste more than leads against Stoke.