Terrace Talk: Another away day flop where players haven’t turned up

So I thought I’d change tactics this time. Since I started writing, these views from the away stand, Spurs haven’t won.

A draw at Arsenal, a loss at Man U, another at Chelsea. City I couldn’t do but we got a draw, despite not turning up for the first half. 

So I thought I’d change it up for a must-win at Anfield.

Owing to a long story I won’t test your patience with, I ended up in the Three Sisters pub in Amsterdam’s Rembrandtsplein watching this. 

We’ve all been in the position of having to watch a vital game from afar owing to the unfortunate juxtaposition of half-term and, well, football. 

So the good people at the Examiner sports desk said yes, why not, it’ll bring some colour. So file from the Dam.

It was a result. The jinx of me filing from the away end could be broken, while I could keep my hand in. What could possibly go wrong?

So. Virtually every screen in the pub is showing some egg-chasing event between Wales and England. 

We find two screens showing the proper football and a table almost too far away from them. We dig in, trying not to be distracted by a random screen showing a Schalke game.

Now. Ben Davies can’t help not being Danny Rose, but he’s clearly been identified as the weak link from the off as Liverpool tear into Spurs. 

Twenty minutes in that’s paid off. Davies has been turned inside out, Saido Mane is on the rampage, and once more Spurs have failed to turn up at the start of a vital away game. And it doesn’t get any better as the half progresses.

Or, as you will now know, for the rest of the game. Now, I love what this team has been doing for the past couple of seasons. And I don’t want to criticise. But sometimes you have to say it like it is.

This is a Liverpool team that has lost to Swansea and Hull in recent weeks. One that thinks defence is something you put round de garden. 

And this is a Spurs team that has destroyed Man City and Chelsea at home, is in second place and reckons it can challenge for the title. It is a very good side. 

It’s missing the best left back in the country, Danny Rose. It’s also missing Jan Vertonghen, one of the best centre-backs in the country, meaning Eric Dier has to drop back from doing what he does so well in midfield.

However, it is still good enough to at least compete with this Liverpool team, and good enough to beat it.

Why it does neither is a question for the players, who will no doubt be testing our patience by using the phrase “bounce back” several hundred times in interviews over the next week. Second in every tackle, devoid of ideas, unable to string passes together, unable to make any impact — this performance was, it must be said, abject.

Harsh? Let’s face it, this Liverpool side aren’t terrible but they aren’t that good either. If Spurs are as good as we’d all like to think, they really cannot be this poor against them. 

Perspective again — Spurs were so bad that when Lucas, every Liverpool fan’s favourite whipping boy — left the pitch , they gave him a standing ovation.

Spurs had not played well for long periods at City a few weeks back, but made some changes, showed character and forced the draw. There was none of that this weekend. 

A mystifying Winks for Eriksson substitution was followed by the introduction of Sissoko, who provided the definition of the opposite of an impact sub, and Janssen when it was too late to make any difference.

Spurs got it all wrong.

If we had turned up and lost, that would have been bearable. But we didn’t. That’s not because we did or didn’t buy this or that player, it’s not because of scouts or coaches or chairmen or wage structures. It’s because players who could do better didn’t.

The league, let’s be honest, has gone. So there are two cup games coming up this week. Yesterday’s performance at least provides a way out of the conundrum that Mauricio Pochettino has faced for some time. 

Choose the strongest available starting 11 for both games. Because the first team had this weekend off.



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