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A Walk in St James' Park

Newcastle 6 - 1 Tottenham: A down-beaten Lilywhite's reaction to the battering.

By Matthew CurtisPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 3 min read
Photograph: Alex Dodd/CameraSport/Getty Images

Thank the heavens Trippier got rinsed for Kane's goal.

Southampton's valiance on Friday evening laid something bare before a ball on Sunday had even been kicked; Tottenham are the worst coached team in the league. Spurs would surely be floundering somewhere in mid-table, as Chelsea are now, were it not for the exceptional efforts of Harry Kane. If he does not leave this Summer, I will have to conclude that he has had all ambition and belief beaten out of him by the club.

Although 5 goals in 20 minutes is hard to imagine, the writing was somewhat on the wall 1 hour before kick-off. Stellini's team-sheet revealed a change in tactic, something many of us have longed for. But why it came today, so late in the season, I do not know. The team has not played a 4 at the back consistently for nearly 2 years. If they even bothered practicing it in training, we'll never know. It had the look of a manoeuvre conjured up on a whim during the bus-trip up North.

Beyond formation and strategy, the eleven men in blue failed at all the basics. Every ball went backwards, defenders had no one available to pass to and it went backwards again, then Lloris punted the ball wherever the wind and rain blew it. That's Spurs, that's our game, and it is the worst football in the league. Off the ball, it was absolutely harrowing to behold. The sheer mayhem that erupted every time Newcastle broke through the line, played a ball forwards was simply farcical. In the last 4 years we've had more managers than we've had seasons. Now, we're onto another caretaker, who today rolled the dice after a humiliating defeat at home to Bournemouth. The players don't know what to do, because their coaches don't know either.

We've known for sometime that Eric Dier is not suited to a flat back 4. It was at the heart of a back 3 where he began to thrive, forced his way back into the England set-up. The switch to a back 4 with his position retained is a move that reeks of an operation without thorough forethought or memory. The same man conceded 5 at St. James' once already in 2016.

Davinson Sanchez's first half introduction at 5-0 down is the funniest in-game tactical tweak I've seen. It would be like putting on a condom at the ultrasound appointment. It was rivaled only by Lloris' half-time withdrawal. It is hard to lay too much blame at the Frenchman's door, though I'll admit, he should never have been beaten by the 5th. Much was said about the way the fans turned on the Colombian last week. I did not agree with how he had been singled out for heckles, but it seems for many that the likes of Sanchez and perhaps Dier, these players are representative of the problems with the club at large.

My day began reading reports of Tottenham making moves to sign players ahead of the Summer transfer window and subsequently I am left wondering; what kind of a club would recruit the players before the manager? Surely a competent director builds the team around the vision of the head coach? Why is the club focusing on the likes of James Maddison and Pedro Goncalves when the defence is in such desperate need of replenishment? These are the dominoes that fall before the scenes we witnessed last week vs Bournemouth unfold.

The fact of the matter is this: Tottenham arrived at St James' Park in the aftermath of the resignation of the Director of Football, with an unpopular caretaker manager still in-charge, setting up to play with an unfamiliar tactic and their competence plagued by a complete deficit of confidence and purpose. Newcastle are by all departments the opposite. This time last year the two clubs met mere days after their major-money makeover. The optimism around the club was euphoric. Now, with Eddie Howe at the helm, they're on the cusp of history and that blurry vision of the glory days is beginning to snap into focus. Their fans believed this would be one of the biggest games of the season. A key contest between two warring factions, both vying for a place among Europe's elite. It was a walk in the park.

Two clubs meeting at the same crossroads, put passing in opposite directions. One is on a long-awaited rise, the other on rapid decline. Given the total lack of faith I now have in the senior figures at the club, I'm no longer waiting for Summer. I'm waiting for the lottery numbers to match the scribbles on Levy's paper. An Arabian buy-out is the only way I see the confidence coming back.

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About the Creator

Matthew Curtis

Queen Margaret University graduate (Theatre and Film studies).

Currently trying to write a book.

Lilywhite, Pokemon master, time-lord, vampire with a soul, Virgo.

Likes space and dinosaurs. And Binturongs. I'm very cool.

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    Matthew CurtisWritten by Matthew Curtis

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