It seems that the game today has forgotten how to defend and our superstar ladened teams are all style and little substance!
Now for me defending isn't all about a back four, as any team not in possession need to have players from top to bottom that can will the ball back. Perhaps the game has moved on from the hard-men of my youth, but is that a good thing? As a kid, the likes of Ron 'Chopper' Harris, Norman 'Bite yer legs' Hunter and even out own legends like Graham Roberts, loved a tackle and battle, but how many players are there in almost any teams defensive line that could be considered to be a hard-man or someone that would put his body on the line to save his team? dare I suggest that the number os very small and shrinking every season as teams strive for technical excellence and the game gets ever more sanitised.
Perhaps when we look at Tottenham's back four on Sunday, we could easily make the excuses that we had two or three of our stronger players missing. Kaboul, BAE and maybe now we can even put Steven Caulker in that category, at least to bolster our argument, but we still started with three full internationals and a player who was an U-21 regular. Add to that we played with two defensive midfielders to protect things and we still manage to concede five! Have players become wimps? Have the rules taken away the ability to tackle or has the obsession with free-flowing attacking football made the art of defending extinct and the role of the stopper or defensive rock and position consigned to history?
To be honest, I still can't decide whether to applaud AVB for his tactical changes at half time or to be questioning why we fell apart so easily in the first half. was that due to defensive fragility or indecision? Should we have capitulated so easily at the loss of Adebayor? As a fan, I have to question why our two banks of four were breached so easily and so often. Perhaps some would have felt it a defensive change, but would we have been 3-1 down if we had simply brought on Tom Carroll or Gylfi Sigurdsson for Aaron Lennon just after the sending off? Retaining two wide men is great for a counter attack, but you have to have the ball to do that and perhaps with only Defoe in attack, bolstering the central areas would have served us better than making a radical change at HT to a system that was all about chasing a game, which was a little after the horse had bolted.
As fans, we can perhaps rightly look at William Gallas, or any one of our defenders for blame and perhaps if we were able to pick our best XI or certainly kept an XI on the field for play for more than seventeen minutes, we would all be signing the praises of AVB and his players, but instead we conceded another five at the Emirates and for once we can't blame our manager for being overly cautious. That last train of thought did bring me to thinking that AVB has buckled slightly to fan pressure, in looking to play the Tottenham way and also reverting to the now fans favoured 4-4-2? Was Saturday a game where AVB showed he was learning lessons or capitulating to fan pressure?
This season was always going to be one where we perhaps had to take one or two steps back to hopefully make a long term leap forward, and for many of us, we can't truly judge our new manager until he has several key players fit and also been able to bring in others that clearly seem to fit into his blueprint of football. I seem to recall writing something similar early in the reign of Juande Ramos, but I sincerely hope that both Andre Villas-Boas is made of sterner stuff and also that Daniel levy has learned many lessons from past experience...