The Maribor Ultimatum

There’s no shame in losing to the Champions of Europe: that seems to be the party line to tow after last weekend’s anarchic ninety-minutes with Chelsea. You can pick through the carcass of the team selection, the individual errors, even Tom Huddlestone’s seriously-bro-this-isn’t-working afro: but when you boil down the football sauce until it’s a thick, gelatinous slew of football guck, an under-strength Spurs were bested by the League leaders who possess a staggeringly decent set of players. We feel bad for a bit; we move on.

And what better way to run away from our problems move on than fly a thousand miles to Eastern Europe to play some good ol’ timey Europa League kickball. No better way, is the correct answer.

Being a Professional Football Blogger ® (you heard) I can of course detail lots about our opponents tonight, from memory. For example, did you know that Nogometni Klub Maribor, commonly referred to as NK Maribor or simply Maribor, is a professional association football club based in the city of Maribor, Slovenia? It may also surprise you to learn that, founded on 12 December, 1960, Maribor is one of only three football clubs in the country who have never been relegated from Slovenian top flight. They are regarded as a symbol of Slovenian football, particularly in their home region of Styria in north-eastern Slovenia.

And there’s plenty more where that came from. On Wikipedia.

The big stories coming from our camp today are of who’s been left behind. New dad Gareth Bale hasn’t flown. Presumably he’s up to his eyeballs in vomit and talcum powder and decided the fun’s not about to stop anytime soon. Also among the grounded is one Emmanuel Adebayor, who perhaps has an inkling that if he were to exert himself too much in Slovenia, the chances of facing the Saints on Sunday will be even more remote than they are already. A well-timed niggle, you might say. Dembele’s hip injury has not been risked either, which appears very much a wise decision.

Spurs, then, in keeping with this whole ‘taking the Europa League seriously’ shtick, are in must-win territory. And win they must. COYS.


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15 Responses to The Maribor Ultimatum

  1. avatar seattlespursguy says:

    Team’s in:

    Lloris, Walker, Caulker, Vertonghen, Naughton, Huddlestone, Sigurdsson, Sandro, Lennon, Townsend and Defoe.

    Subs: Cudicini, Gallas, Dempsey, Smith, Falque, Livermore and Parrett

    At those Eastern Bloc types!

    • avatar seattlespursguy says:

      So it seems the message that we are taking the Ropey seriously has not really taken hold with the players.

      • avatar ruetheday says:

        Yup. Weird, innit? They really looked like a Redknapp era Spurs Europa side: pass it around, have a go, but don’t get too out of breath. We spent the last ten minutes booting it at the keeper from all angles, and struggling to test him. Simply inexplicable, but let’s try anyway…

        Possible explanations, in rough order of plausibility:
        1) Andre isn’t actually bothered – he just said he was to sell shirts and tickets or keep sponsors/UEFA happy.
        2) AVB and the players care, but they’re so arrogant they expected to waltz past Maribor, and didn’t know what to do when things didn’t go to plan.
        3) AVB cares, but the players really don’t, so they’ve decided not to try too hard.
        4) AVB overestimates the fitness of his first teamers.
        5) Actually, for all his faults, Gareth Bale IS Tottenham.
        6) AVB underestimates the draining effects of Premier League football on his first teamers.
        7) One or more of the players (Thudd?) had a sneaky bet on 1-1.
        8) The Slovenian league, and Maribor in particular, is that good that their champions can play with three key players missing and still cruise to a draw at home to us.
        9) The pitch was heavy and that Europa ball they use (which is practically a Rubik’s cube) was bobbling all over the place, so we just couldn’t play our game.
        10) We are actually that shit.

  2. avatar Longwell says:

    So, we missed some creativity and dynamism in midfield and had trouble breaking down a team that was well-organized and defended deep with two banks of four. Stop me if you’ve head this one before.

    Tom Carroll needs to start getting some minutes in these games. We need a passer who can get himself around quicker than Thud if we’re going to play AVB-ball.

    Positives for me were mainly the defense. Aside from about three totally brainless moments (their goal being one), we looked airtight. Caulker and Vertonghen were superb, and the high line was extremely effective in getting at least four or five successful offside traps that I can recall and generally giving Maribor very little space in which to attack. The pressing was also a big plus, as it has been pretty much all season. We won the ball back in their half A LOT.

    I was also intrigued by the tactical experimentation in the second half: Thud dropping in between the center backs to play as an old-fashioned libero; Caulker and Vertonghen taking it in turns to do a Mousa Dembele impression and charge through the Maribor defense from deep; Sandro and Walker blitzing forward to press WAY high up and get themselves into the box for knockdowns; the front four, including an encouraging season debut for Falque, showing fluid rotation and interchanging beautifully at times. Bangtidy!

    That was as close to a true totaal voetbal performance as I can remember seeing from our Spurs. And it wasn’t anarchic, either. Those guys popping up in unusual areas were getting adequate cover just about every time. The team was surprisingly disciplined for being so “open”. So even though the result wasn’t there, that was a lot of fun to watch. It was like AVB just decided Maribor were boring him to death and he was going to liven this shit up come hell or high water.

  3. avatar seattlespursguy says:

    I’d really like it if the boys could play more than 45 minutes.

    • avatar Aran says:

      A little early inconsistency is to be expected. AVB is still learning about his squad and the team is still learning how AVB wants them to play. But progress is certainly being made.

      If someone had told me at the start of the season that we’d be sitting in fourth place 9 games in I’d have taken that deal with pleasure – especially if I’d known we’d have beaten Man U on the way.

      Walker had a better game, it seems. They’ve become a great counter attacking side but we need more variety when seeking to break down a team that’s trying to defend. I wonder when Falque will get a game… he could give us that something different in midfield.

  4. avatar Longwell says:

    It’s strange to feel fairly glum after a win, but the tendency of this team to tuck its collective penis between its legs and play like scared little bitches whenever we get a lead is a problem that really needs to be sorted.

    Also, for the love of god, please make the Lloris the starter for league games already. Friedel’s repeated upfield punts, sometimes when Soton weren’t even pressing/marking our center backs, are going to drive me over the edge. And if his name was Gomes, everyone would be all over his ass with the clown keeper howler machine comments after he flapped at that attempted punch and got caught in no-man’s land prior to the corner that Soton scored from. Steady mediocrity may be consistent, but it’s still mediocre!

    Obscured by the desperately disappointing second half was another triffic game from Aaron Lennon. I thought he was sensational yesterday, on both sides of the ball. We did a better job of getting him the ball yesterday, but we’ve got to do that even more when he’s in this kind of form.

    • avatar seattlespursguy says:

      The Lloris situation is a strange one now. I was fully behind the “gradual introduction” approach, but this has dragged on for too long. We have a young, athletic keeper on the bench, who could very well be ranked among the top five in the world, but an elderly, fairly immobile keeper, who won’t make the list of the top five keepers in the league is favored. Brad has done a solid job, but he won’t improve us. It’s time for him to be our Thursday keeper.

      • avatar ruetheday says:

        Lloris will suffer if he spends much more time on the bench: when we have seen him he hasn’t looked 100% confident. Holding him back after he signed was a smart move, but continuing to insist Brad’s number one, when he’s playing rather badly, sends a fairly dispiriting message to the younger man. Sure, he’ll make mistakes, but so does Brad. As we all know, Hugo’s better at keeping hold of the ball, and there’s always room for more of that.

  5. avatar seattlespursguy says:

    Livermore is becoming a major concern for me. Like Walker, he is young and learning, but his last few appearances have been Jenas-esque in their invisibility.

    • avatar ruetheday says:

      I’m not sure why we haven’t offloaded him. Never really saw it – Harry threw him in to do a job when we needed some midfield muscle, but did that wonderful man-management thing of his, giving the kid buckets of confidence to play out of his skin. Sadly, he doesn’t have the pace to be a proper box-to-boxer, doesn’t have the passing or tackling to be either a creator or destroyer, and doesn’t seem to have the positional sense to really have any meaningful impact on a game. He’s got a good engine, works hard and applies his strength well when he can, and his first touch isn’t bad for a player of his physique in the position he plays, but really that doesn’t offer us much more than a man to come on and give someone else a rest now and then. AVB rates him though, and Harry brought him through, so perhaps I’m just not seeing what he does on the training ground (if it’s anything like what he was doing this time last year, fair enough), but I can’t help feeling he’s one we could get by without.

  6. avatar seattlespursguy says:

    Our team tonight vs Norwich City is: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Naughton, Livermore, Carroll, Falque, Sigurdsson, Bale and Dempsey

    And our subs tonight: Cudicini, Vertonghen, Smith, Huddlestone, Lennon, Townsend and Defoe

  7. avatar seattlespursguy says:

    OK, to take my 1st swipe at AVB, lay off the gawd damn defensive sub when we have a lead, since it seems to lead to an oppo goal within a couple of minutes.

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