Saturday, January 20, 2007

Points dropped at Fulham

We undeservedly lost 1-0 at Fulham last season courtesy of a late goal, and for a moment it looked like history was going to repeat itself today. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Spurs were on fire today, but we played reasonably well at times and a defeat wouldn`t have been fair. As it was, Chimbonda appeared at the back post to slot home with just a few minutes remaining.

After our poor away form this season, you might feel that a draw is a good result. Even though I'd predicted 1-1, I was disappointed. Not necessarily with the result, but more with the performance. Both the players' performance and the decisions Jol made. Now I am one of BMJ's biggest supporters, so please don`t think I'm moaning about him just because we didn't win. Far from, I think he's the best manager Spurs have had in donkeys years, but I do think he played his part in us dropping two points today.

But firstly the players...

Robbo pulled off a couple of great saves in the first half which will give him enormous confidence after a few below par performances. Another game goes by without a clean sheet, but at least the only way Fulham beat him was from the penalty spot.

The back four played alright. Daws looked like a leader at the back in the absence of Ledley, and Gardner was no worse or no better than Davenport in my opinion. Obviously it was great for Chimbo to score his first goal for us, and I think both he and Lee looked better as the game progressed as they continued to get forward.

The same can't necessarily be said for the midfield. Ghaly was a waste of space, Hudd was nowhere near his best with passes going astray, and Tainio didn't look like the player we saw glimpses of last season. Fortunately, Steed was Steed… he ran, tackled, hassled and put in the usual Malbranque performance. The only difference was that he was constantly surrounded by and closed down by Fulham players. They obviously remember how dangerous he can be and were determined not to let him enjoy his return.

Up front Defoe looked pretty lively but continuously got caught offside. Berbatov had a quiet game, as I think he has a tendency to do away from home against the more traditional English teams. Neither created many chances though and before Helguson was dismissed I think we'd only managed about one shot on goal.

As for the substitutes, I thought Zokora played reasonably well (but still hasn't lived up to the pre-season billing), and Lennon coming on lifted the team (either that or the fact that Ghaly was no longer on the pitch gave the lads confidence), but Keane just failed to get into the game (which was surprising because he is usually the sort of player that can come on and fit straight in).

So nothing special at an individual level… and collectively things didn't really flow either with some wayward passing and no real spark. Still we got a point from the game, away from home at that, but could we have done better?

Well I think BMJ missed a trick once Fulham were reduced to ten men. Yes the full backs starting pushing forward more, but we were in the ascendancy and I think we needed to 'turn the screw' and play more offensively. I was disappointed that JD was taken off - as was he, since it looked like he hit the dug-out in frustration. I know we were away from home, but if I was the gaffer I'd have brought Keane on and played with all three upfront. Once we went one-nil down we played with a lot more urgency - it was just a shame we hadn`t played like that for the previous 84 minutes.

I was also disappointed with the starting line-up. Why did Lennon only start on the bench? Ghaly is lucky to get a game for our reserves, so what he's doing in the starting eleven when Lennon is fit is just wrong. I'm all for squad rotation, but only when you have the depth of quality players - in the right midfield position we do not.

Anyway, enough of my moaning… Yes we got a point on the road. Yes Robbo was more like his old self. And yes we looked like the only team who were going to win it (until Fulham were awarded a penalty). But I can't help but feel that we dropped two valuable points today.

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