Following The Hotspur Way’s weekend grievances with Kyle Walker, we thought it only fair to contrast the criticism with a dabbling of praise and in particular, shoot down one small moral panic that was beginning to arise amongst a handful of supporters.
Following the turn of the year, a time when Spurs have been heavily backed in Premier League betting markets, our dear old Mousa Dembele managed to upset a few of us by proving he was, contrary to popular belief, a human being.
Such was his alarmingly consistent ability to mug opponents off in the centre of midfield and generally serve as the glue that stuck our side together, it seemed to be a given that the man wasn’t mortal. Terminator-esque, if you will.
Unfortunately for those expecting him to bleed out unleaded and generally carry on unhindered throughout the season, it was a case of needing some clothes, some boots and a hip operation, as opposed to mercilessly destroying the opposition without the need for a break. And when he came back, somehow without the need to go under the knife, it took some time to get into his stride.
Although far from acknowledging the fact that Dembele was going to take time to get back up to speed or accept the notion he might simply be a touch out of form, a post-mortem was needed as to why he wasn’t firing on all cylinders.
Granted, on some of his more off-colour days such as the draw away to QPR and even the game away to Lyon in which he eventually went on to bail us out of, he looked very average indeed.
But in amongst the contrasting pain of loosing to Brent-don Rodgers’ bunch and the joy of a super-Jan double salvo, Dembele’s performance was one of the best things to come out of Sunday’s defeat at Anfield. The big Belgian’s back in business and he couldn’t have picked a better time to do so, either.
He looked dominant in possession, an absolute colossal in shielding the ball and yet again showed what a really quite unique talent he is within our engine room. There are few who combine such physical gifts with delightful technique and when he’s in full flow, he really is a joy to watch.
Dembele went through a difficult spell of form. The shimmies that were coming off earlier on in the season for him just weren’t happening for him and the 50/50s that he was easily overpowering opponents in suddenly didn’t seem like such foregone conclusions. But a large part of the worry people bestowed upon him was because when things weren’t sticking for him, we realized just how important he’d become for us.
Not every spell of dodgy form necessarily requires drastic long-term prognoses and Dembele is living evidence that sometimes all you need is a little patience.
Although when you perform as he did before running into a spot of difficulty, let alone manage to ride it out and find that previous level of performance, you entitle yourself to that level of extended reprieve with supporters. When you’ve performing as consistently haphazard as someone like Kyle Walker has for six months, the goalposts aren’t quite so similar.
Again, this isn’t trying to kick the man when he’s down and we said what we had to say in yesterday’s post. But Walker hasn’t received any less support than what Dembele did during his tough spell. And had Dembele been underperforming so long, our closing sentiment would also apply to him as well.
But there’s only so long you can get an arm round the shoulder before you need a little kick up the backside. The kicking’s something we must leave the manager to do, but not all players respond in the same way. The arm round the shoulder has worked well for Mousa. It could, however, be time for something different for Kyle.