AVB makes the same costly mistakes again

Posted by Dan Fitch

OK, so that was the worst half of football by a Spurs team at White Hart Lane that I can remember. I'm not saying we didn't play equally badly at times during Harry Redknapp's reign, but I must have wiped them from my memory to ease the pain. I fully hope that with the passing of time, this one disappears from the cranial hard-drive as well.

Where to start... well how about Andre Villas-Boas baffling decision to play Jermain Defoe on his own up front again? It kind of made sense against Newcastle because we didn't have anyone else and when we faced West Brom, Adebayor had only just joined. Surely though this was the time to start Adebayor? Either on his own or in tandem with Defoe.

There were other strange selections in midfield. The first two games had seen industrious but uninspiring performances from Sandro and Livermore. Again, AVB had the excuse that he had little other option, but here he started with Dembele on the bench, despite the fact that our new signing is match fit and had enjoyed a storming performance for Fulham against Manchester United last weekend.

One look at the starting XI was enough to make me groan and suggest another long afternoon. However, I wasn't prepared for quite how bad things would be. We dominated the first half in our opening games against Newcastle and West Brom, but on Saturday we just couldn't get going and it was Norwich that enjoyed the best chances.

Luckily Brad Friedel was our one player in superb form. Having signed Hugo Lloris, it might just be his last game for Spurs and if so, what a way to go out. He played so well that it seems ridiculous to speculate about him being dropped, but then you don't spend all that money for a new goalkeeper for him to sit on the bench.

It was only down to the veteran goalkeeper that we didn't enter half-time behind. Going forward there was no fluency or inspiration and made you deeply wish that the Moutinho negotiations had begun a couple of hours earlier than they were.

In the second half one of the new players we did manage to sign was brought on as Dembele replaced Sandro. He made an immediate impact as he probed forward and injected some much needed attacking intent into our midfield.

With Adebayor introduced alongside Defoe, as we switched to 4-4-2 and chased a win, it was Dembele who scored a debut goal. Just as the crowd were all shouting at him for passing it when he could have shot, Dembele was given the ball back and this time struck it cleanly into the bottom corner of the net.

For the second successive match we had managed to claw our way in front late into the game. Unfortunately for the second successive game, our new manager decided to fold when he should have kept on playing.

Huddlestone was brought on for Defoe, presumably in an effort to protect our lead. It's hard to think of a substitution that has backfired so spectacularly. As we sat back we allowed Norwich to get a foothold into the game, that was rewarded with an equaliser from Snodgrass. Then moments later Huddlestone clattered into a tackle, with the same sort of slow-motion inevitability that one imagines preceded the Titanic crashing into that big iceberg.

Huddlestone received a straight red and although replays showed that this was unjust, you do have to question the wisdom of introducing a player that only the night before we were trying to loan to Fulham in an effort to get him match fit.

The fans at White Hart Lane are not known for their patience and the pressure will soon be on Villas-Boas if he continues to make these mistakes. Our club motto is ‘To Dare Is To Do' and the Portuguese will be more popular with the crowd if his teams go down fighting, rather than getting caught out when making a cowardly retreat.

I have already heard a couple of "Bring back Redknapp's". Those of us with long memories can remember that it took Harry a good while to get us playing how he wanted and this will be equally true of AVB. Keep the faith people. Right now it's all we've got that will hold things together.

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