Well, you asked for it and I didn’t give it to you midweek, so here I am with the long awaited bread player ratings theme. A shame I need to do this after a really disheartening rebound loss away to Burnley, but needs must. Maybe it’ll lift some spirits. Hmm, does anyone have Antonio Conte’s address? We should send him some bread.
The story I told in the match report after City is this: I have been making bread for over 15 years now, starting when my kids were little. But I especially like to make bread before big Tottenham matches because it gives me something to do with my hands instead of wringing them, and also it has a distracting and calming effect on me. Plus, I also know that if the worst happens and things go pear-shaped, win, lose or draw, no matter what I will always still have fresh bread at the end.
Now look, this is a HUGE category, and there’s no way I’m going to be able to capture every nuance in a Tottenham Hotspur player ratings article. I know you love your monkey bread or your favorite regional bread style that I shamelessly omitted here or that cherry-chocolate-stout gluten free bread you made last week. Cool! Talk about it in the comments! Post your favorite recipe! The world is slowly melting and people are invading each other so let’s turn this into Cartilage Bread Captain or something! (But don’t actually make cartilage bread, that sounds gross.)
Here are your player ratings for Tottenham’s 1-0 loss to Burnley to the theme of bread. And yes, before you ask, I’m putting both (American style) biscuits and croissants in the pastry category. Pastry ≠ bread.
5 stars: Baguette
The “humble” baguette is bread in its most simple and pure form: flour, salt, water, yeast. So how to the French make it so damn good? A perfect baguette has a tooth-shatteringly crisp exterior and remains fluffy and delicious on the inside, with that incredible holey crumb. I could eat this bread every day. The French DO eat this bread every day.
No Tottenham players were baguettes.
4.5 stars: Bagel
A good bagel can be a transcendental experience. Mine came courtesy of a salt beef bagel at Beigel Bake on Brick Lane in London after a 4-1 Tottenham win over Bournemouth at White Hart Lane on Easter Saturday in 2017. Sure, it was late and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, but the salt beef and mustard combined with that incredible bagel — crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside — there wasn’t a single thing I put in my mouth that was any better than that on that trip. Plus to make them you have to boil AND bake them, and it’s not that easy to get right. Bagels are the (second) best.
No Tottenham players were bagels either, and that’s a real shame.
4 stars: Sourdough
Controversy! Look, I love a good sourdough. It’s tangy and made with wild yeast meaning that you can make your own starter with just some flour, water, and time. But the flavor can be a little off-putting for some people, there’s a huge variety of variability depending on a bunch of factors, and let’s not pretend that it’s not fussy and pretentious as hell. Plus, it’s not that easy to work with, and yes I know you agree with me, Person Who Tried and Failed to Bake Sourdough During COVID Lockdown.
Eric Dier (Community — 3.0): Say what you want about the offense, but Spurs didn’t give up much at all on the defensive side, and Eric Dier actually had a pretty good match. Wout Weghorst is a load — he might be an upgrade on Chris Wood — and Dier kept him pretty quiet on the night.
3.5 stars: Brioche
In the “enriched dough” category, it doesn’t get much better than a buttery, lightly golden brioche, made by taking a basic baguette dough and further Frenchin’ it up with eggs, milk, and butter.. It’s good warmed with (more) butter. Your burger has never tasted so good as on a brioche bun. It’s a versatile bread that works with sweet and savory applications. You can try going fancier and making a braided challah. Enriched bread is amazing, it just isn’t better than the breads above it.
Dejan Kulusevski (Community — 3.0): A quieter match for Deki, which considering the weather and Burnley’s formation maybe isn’t a surprise. Even so, while Spurs didn’t do much going forward, Deki was in the middle of it the few times Spurs did. And we got to see him play wingback for a bit, that was kind of interesting.
Harry Kane (Community — 3.0): Plonked a header off the crossbar and worked hard, but got very little service and Burnley just clogged up the box. Can’t fault the effort.
3 stars: Whole wheat sandwich loaf
When I bake for my family, I usually turn to a simple oatmeal/whole wheat sandwich loaf recipe from an old Mennonite cookbook that I modify (slightly) with the addition of some whole grain. It’s dead simple (recipe provided on request), unpretentious, and turns out consistently good results. It’s not going to knock anyone’s socks off and you won’t spend all day fussing over a lavash or multiple rises, but it’ll always be good and approachable. One of the great success stories of my parenting ability was how I was able to get my children to appreciate the miracle of fresh homemade bread. And if you want to kick it up a notch, look for a good struan recipe (I like Peter Reinhart’s).
Ben Davies (Community — 2.5): I don’t think Davies did too much wrong, to be honest, though he also didn’t especially stand out.
Cristian Romero (Community — 3.0): I’d have him up higher except that he got worked on Burnley’s set piece goal. Still, not an awful performance by any means.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 3.0): Couldn’t do a thing about the goal and handled himself pretty well on a wet and windy night in northwest England. And at least he didn’t throw it into his own net.
Rodrigo Bentancur (Community — 2.5): Hard to know what to do with Lolo after he slipped on the wet pitch and presumably played through an injury until halftime. Three stars seems about right.
2.5 stars: Pumpernickel
WTF is this? Let’s take rye bread, which is good only because it’s bread and only in the context of a pastrami sandwich, add molasses and cornmeal to it, increase the density to something akin to a neutron star, and shape it like a brick. This is the anti-bread, the opposite of everything I like about a good baguette. Plus some attribute the etymology of the the name as stemming from the German “pumpern”, the verb “to emit flatulance,” and Nickel, a shortened form of Nicholas, attributed to goblins and Satan. Yes, pumpernickel is literally The Devil’s Fart. This is the Wario of the bread world. Who eats this stuff?
Ryan Sessegnon (Community — 2.0): Not an especially great outing for Sess, though you could say that his position wasn’t exactly set up to succeed. That said, I wish he had attacked more than he did, he has the tools. Hooking him in the second half was probably the right call.
Emerson Royal (Community — 2.0): He’s just not an especially good wing back right now — got into some decent positions but was let down by his final ball. Rightfully hooked in the second half.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 2.5): Got stuck in and ran around a lot, but I wasn’t impressed with how he handled Burnley’s press in midfield.
Harry Winks (Community — 2.0): Before the match I suggested he might be a good matchup against Burnley. I was pretty wrong about that. I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying he was actively damaging, but as a Bentancur replacement he didn’t bring the defensive nous and in this match he wasn’t the link between the defense and the attack the way he sometimes can be (in the right circumstance).
2 stars: English muffin
Has anyone actually eaten an English muffin plain right out of the package? No, nobody has because they’re terrible like that. A good English muffin needs to be cut, toasted, and then enhanced by liberal use of toppings, usually butter and honey. Any bread that requires you to have to add stuff to it to make it palatable is not a good bread. It is characterless, bland, and with few redeeming qualities — kind of like a Manchester City fan.
Lucas Moura (Community — 2.0): Came on as Emerson Royal’s substitute and actually made me miss Emerson Royal.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 2.5): Really struggled in this one. Found it hard to find the space, and the weather didn’t do him any favors.
Antonio Conte (Community — 2.0): Two stars for the tactical setup, one star for the insane emo meltdown in front of Sky Sports afterwards. Get yourself together, Tone.
1 star: Wonder
I was never allowed to eat store-bought white bread when I was a kid, though I begged for it because that’s what all the kids at school were eating. One time I remember my mother caving and buying a loaf of Wonder Bread, probably just to shut me up. It was gross. White bread doesn’t taste like anything, it contains highly processed flour and tons of stabilizing ingredients, and it turns out it’s pretty bad for the environment too.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating