SN Blog 44

So, what happened on Saturday in the 58th minute of our Premier League tie against Cardiff City at Wembley has left me wondering. Have we changed the way we play or was it a one-off?

I am of course talking about the sending-off of Cardiff’s Joe Ralls, or more to the point, our role in the sending off.

I believe it WAS a sending-off, and the failed appeal by Cardiff City has cemented that view, but I also believe we, and by ‘we’ I mean the Spurs players, influenced Mike Dean into showing Ralls the red card.

Watching the various replays of the incident, it’s clear that as soon as Ralls makes the challenge on Lucas Moura (with the word ‘challenge’ used in its loosest term) Mike Dean puts his hand in his left pocket. Kane then aggressively chest-charges Ralls, grabs him and then all hell breaks loose. When it calms down Dean reaches in to his right back pocket to produce the red card for Ralls. For me that is clear evidence that the chaos we created immediately after the incident changes the referees mind from a yellow to a red card.

Which leads me on to wonder whether this was one-off or a new strategy by us, and when I say new strategy, I mean are we starting to utilise the “dark arts”?

Watching us over the years, especially recently, facing the bigger clubs, like Barcelona, Juventus and Chelsea, teams over-flowing with trophies – they can be so frustrating to watch playing Spurs because for me, they have mastered the dark arts.

I was at the Barcelona game last week and they had the referee firmly in their pocket the entire game. To the extent that Pique spent what felt like five minutes on the floor after an innocuous challenge, got up and took the awarded free-kick, all in full view of the referee. What happened to having to go off the field of play after an injury? Not only did Barcelona break up our tempo, in that incident they almost showed they were above the football laws.

It was the same when we played Juventus in the Champions League last season. After they went 2-1 up, they were falling on the floor with the lightest of contact and spending what seemed like an age to receive treatment and get back on their feet. it all helped slow the game down and really disrupt our tempo.

I thought we were starting to show we had learnt this side of the game last season away at West Ham. We took a 3-0 lead and West Ham had pulled it back to 3-2 when Llorente (a player who has played, and most likely learnt the Juventus style when he played for them) started a brawl with some West Ham players. It disrupted West Ham’s tempo and they were unable to find an equaliser.

I’ll say it again that I find teams using these tactics frustrating BUT it wins them trophies as a consequence. I’ve always felt that Pochettino is a man of morals, somebody who would want his team to play with honesty. Most definitely he wants us to play with aggression but I believe with that aggression he wants integrity in his playing style. I am starting to wonder whether he is realising that playing with integrity may just be a naïve way to play if you really want to mix it with the big boys.

Maybe, just maybe if the way we reacted to Ralls’ sending off becomes a strategy (along with the other dark arts) when we need it in games, it might just be the edge we need to push us that final step towards winning trophies again.

-Admin MC


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