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Tottenham Hotspur

Typically Tottenham

It’s a classic Spurs story – the promise and momentum of that battling point at Chelsea quickly turned to the rubble of a mediocre home defeat to Aston Villa. Any hope had by fans before the season started, be it unrealistic aspirations of the top four or simple dreams of a strong start to the campaign, have now evaporated into misery at the plight of this famous old club.

Its not as if the two-one reverse last night was even a decent performance. Only Darren Bent’s late scrambled goal gave Spurs the undeserved privilege of having a notch on their scorecard. Tottenham were limp, unimaginative and disappointing. The players didn’t seem to have any idea of what they were aiming at. They appear to be a team in need of unification – in need of a real leader to take charge and kick some proverbial behinds.

Before anyone crows that that man should be Robbie Keane, remember the awful start last season first. The man they need back the most is Ledley King. His injury troubles over the past year are ridiculously well documented but his appearances against both Sunderland and Chelsea gave hope that he was on his way to a consistent fitness. He may still be but his absence last night was strongly felt. Michael Dawson, King’s replacement, has gone terribly backwards as a footballer and isn’t really capable of doing the same job as the erstwhile Tottenham captain.

If King can’t be there to motivate them in every game, then manager Ramos should be. The English barrier provides a bigger problem then many at White Hart Lane want to admit. Previous boss Martin Jol was never short of a word or two in the players ear and, while there is no doubting Ramos’ pedigree as a coach, one has to concede that things would be better if he could provide a smattering of English in the media here and there. Presumably he does behind closed doors but obviously there are words lost in translation – step up please, Gus Poyet.

Ramos did at least play Darren Bent up front with a partner, something fans have been crying out for all season. Roman Pavyluchenko did okay but, in his first game, was unable to provide the X factor so badly missing by the team. The midfield looked confused. Jermaine Jenas, the vice captain, wasn’t even played which was confusing after his great display for England in Zagreb. As it happened, he came on after twenty odd minutes for the injured Luka Modric, who again looked slightly off the pace. Fans must be desperate that the talented Croatian will pick it up sooner rather than later.

Didier Zokora and Tom Huddlestone in the middle looked to be too much the same player and the midfield became overly congested as a result. The one tiny, flashing positive was Aaron Lennon’s slightly better performance than what we had come to expect from the diminutive winger – although this is severely clutching at straws. And, although Heurelho Gomes made some exceptional saves, he made the key mistake of the night in letting Ashley Young’s tame shot squeak past him. Without wishing to curse the Brazilian, thoughts inevitably drift to Paul Robinson’s error strewn performances of last year.

What next? At the moment, I would not rule out relegation. It sounds extreme but until they get the wins under their belt they cannot be sure of anything. A top six position is still in reach but not without one hell of a turnaround. Ramos must instil some realism into his players – they need to be aware of what could happen if this carries on. The bottom of the barrel hasn’t been found yet but we’re not far away.

Spurs fans are not alien to this type of crisis. We’ve seen false dawn after false dawn, glimmers of hope replaced by piercing bullets of failure. The talent is so obviously there and this appears to be a psychological problem rather than an ability based one. Spurs are badly needing a leader and a sense of togetherness. They would do well to look at their opponents from last night and take a lesson or two. Whereas teams like Newcastle and West Ham are complete jokes off the pitch, Tottenham are quickly becoming a joke on it.

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