Leeds Utd 0
Tottenham 4 (Doherty 10, Kulusevski 15, Kane 27, Son 85)
It’s getting more and more difficult to excuse or defend what we are seeing from Leeds with each new game. If you are like me, I once again turned up at Elland Road today convinced we could put the recent heavy defeats behind us, find our mojo and our confidence again, and turn this miserable season around. Pretty much as I’ve felt every game since that dreadful one-goal defeat against Newcastle really, a game which, in hindsight, should have set the alarm bells ringing.
Since that Newcastle defeat, we’ve seen odd glimpses of what we know our players are capable of – the spirit we showed at Villa Park, those unforgettable 24 seconds against Man United, even a few isolated moments at Anfield, but throughout that period we have become more and more of an easy touch and it seems every team we play now feels they know how to beat us. All of our old failings, failings that we have always known this squad suffers from, are once again coming back to haunt us. We have forgotten again how to defend corners, we have become fixated with our man-marking system to the exclusion of actually attacking the ball, we are missing those meagre few chances we create and with such a small squad of players, we are unable and sometimes it seems unwilling, to change things for the better from the bench. This has all gotten progressively worse since that heady afternoon at the London Stadium when Jack Harrison grabbed the match ball after a devastating hat trick got us the spoils against what we all thought was a top team.
The upshot now of this cumulative process is that our confidence is shot to pieces. Conceding goal after goal, 21 in just six games, and now a colossal 60 for the season, must be demoralising enough in itself but seeing how few shots we are managing to get on target – another age-old problem we’ve had – means that we are effectively now a sitting duck, ready to be picked off by any team we face.
It’s still tempting to point out that with Cooper, Phillips and Bamford missing throughout this traumatic period, the results are perhaps understandable, but I’m not sure we can put all our troubles down to that. We’ve played better than we are seeing now even without those three stalwarts of this team yet even the players who have not been injured have now lost their form, their individual ability, and inevitably their confidence.
It’s no good at this stage lamenting that we didn’t bring players in during the transfer window – everyone knows we ought to have done, the cracks in the squad were already visible for all to see - but we have to accept what we are told and if the players we wanted were not available I can accept it’s not a lot of point bringing in players you don’t want! However, I also feel that we have resources that have been underused, or at the very least not sufficiently tested, within the current squad.
Once again today we watched as our defence gave a pathetic resistance to the Spurs forwards and yet on our bench we have a young man who, on the rare occasions when we’ve seen him, has looked like a colossus! Once again we moved a full-back, a very good full-back, into the centre – because that’s what we’ve always done! Sat alongside Charlie Cresswell today was Joffy Gelhardt, another player who, every time we’ve seen him, has made things happen, yet here again three goals down, with the game gone, we leave him on that bench and bring on Jamie Shackleton for Firpo, messing about with the backline when we should either have been chasing goals or, at the very least, giving Joffy more time to prove if he could be the answer to this continued dearth of Bamfordness. It just doesn’t make any sense, at least not to me anyway.
There are rumours doing the rounds as I speak that the Club is about to part company with Marcelo Bielsa and, much as that would be a devastating blow, I would fully understand the reasoning. Asked again yesterday, Bielsa was clear and unequivocal that he will not, cannot in his opinion, do too much different from what he’s doing now, he just believes, as always, that we need to do what we are currently doing better. I can understand that too, and yet, and yet I also hold firm to the mantra that “If you always do what you always did, then you will always get what you always got!" And, quite simply, we have to try something different. No one can tell me that other teams, lesser teams than Man U, Liverpool and Spurs, won’t be watching the videos and preparing their teams to do exactly what those clubs have done to us. We are too predictable.
There is no guarantee we’ll be successful, escape the seemingly inevitable, if we do change, either coach or tactics, but surely the time, when we can sensibly change nothing, has now passed?
Leeds Utd Spurs
Possession 49% 51%
Shots 19 15
On Target 3 11
Corners 3 6
Fouls Committed 16 11