As nightmares go, Sunday’s 1-0 home calamity against Fulham must sit up there with one of the biggest humdingers we’ve had all season. A 5-2 spanking away to the hands of the Arse, it most certainly was not. But the timing of it couldn’t have been worse. Not one single bit.
Like your ex-wife and dirty bit on the side coming back to haunt a perfectly stable relationship, Big Martin Jol and Dimitar Berbatov played their part in ensuring Andre Villas-Boas was in the doghouse with the majority of the fans. And that’s putting it mildly following the second bizarre tactical outing in consecutive games.
It’s worth noting that before everyone mercilessly throws AVB to the dogs after Sunday (if they haven’t already done so), that the Portuguese was woefully, woefully let down by his men. However you want to frame that starting line-up, we could have had a team of Lionel Messis against the Cottagers yesterday, but it would have counted for very little if they played with the same amount of urgency as that starting XI exhibited.
Yet for as poor as the likes of Bale, Sigurdsson and (you don’t even need to say it, do you?) Adebayor were, AVB seemed to have another of his WTF moments that stirred memories of some of his vintage earlier-season displays against Manchester City and Wigan Athletic.
He seemed to approach the game with the same amount of care you imagine Chris Huhne attributes to a letter from the DVLA and the logic displayed in the starting line-up seemed to be on a similar sort of level, too.
In the wake of the defeat at Anfield, this was a game we simply could not afford to loose and categorically not one to start experimenting with bizarre tactical innovations – if that is indeed what you can call that starting line-up.
Did fatigue from the San Siro mauling play a part in the thinking behind the line-up? With both Parker and Dembele in the side, there’s an argument that perhaps the engine room was lacking but with only five of those who played the whole 120 minutes in Italy starting on the weekend – needless to say the likes of Lewis Holtby, Tom Carroll and Clint Dempsey to tinker around with on the bench – it feels difficult to justify tiredness as a main factor in the defeat. Similarly, as it is in regards to Disco Benny’s salvo as a left-winger.
What’s done is now done however and as important as it is for us to offer just critique and a solid post-mortem into what was a bitterly disappointing defeat, it’s equally important to move on, leave it behind and focus on the next game. Indeed, if the Fulham game was supposed to be a ‘must-win’, then the Swansea game is looking like a cup-final. Not meaning to put the fear of God into anyone, of course.
Despite the doom-mongering and prophecies of another self-destruction, we still remain above the Arse in the battle for fourth and with eight games to go, there’s an awful lot of scope for change. We might face a tough run-in, but they’re still going to drop points. It’s worth noting that Arsene Wenger’s men won nine out of ten going into April last season and for as bad as we were, they started showing league-winning form when it counted. Hard to see them putting a run together like that this time around.
On the other hand however, we’ve got to match their results and that starts this weekend. Simply put, after they went to the Liberty Stadium and won, so must we and without trying to go all Sky Sports on the hype machine, nothing less than three points will do.
The now already eradicated seven-point gap may have afforded us a hiccup during the run-in, but if it did, we’ve already used that lifeline up. We’re not going to get another one. There can be no more individual horror shows from the players like we saw at Anfield and the same applies to the manager in regards to what happened against Fulham.
On the other hand, at least we’ve all got our old Tottenham back though, eh?