Tottenham Floored by Resurgent Newcastle
Cunning work from Spurs this weekend as they binned off their habit of drawing too many games and replaced it with straight up losing them. Draws are for squares, as the old saying goes. What’s really cool, is throwing away leads against teams mired in the relegation zone.
Newcastle United were the happy benefactors of this new direction. A side, who, up until their accumulator-wrecking win over Liverpool last week, looked like genuine candidates for the Premier League’s worst ever. A squad laden with radioactive levels of ennui; directionless, heroically bad at defending and led by a manager entirely bankrupt of ideas. All the key components were there.
Alan Shearer would use his time on MotD to openly criticize them, often to compelling lengths. I just cannae believe what am seein’, he’d urge, as his beloved former club circled the drain, just waiting for the merciful plop! into the Championship.
That’s the team Spurs lost to this weekend. Only it wasn’t that team. It was something different.
It’s been speculated that Newcastle’s performance levels spike when their games are televised. The idea being that the half-arsed want-away stars are so desperate for moves to bigger clubs, yet so unwilling to summon the energy that one would require, they’ll only make a token effort once the Sky cameras come rolling in.
The evidence is quite damning. Despite every game being broadcast in some capacity anyway— whether it’s in a different continent or by means of some hooky backdoor internet feed— Newcastle certainly raise their standards against the top sides. The big ticket fixtures have yielded surprisingly respectable results for them this season. Indeed, through Chelsea, Liverpool, United and now Spurs, the Magpies have accrued 50% of their total points.
Whatever the case, after a lively opening half, Tottenham were undone much too easily. There was nothing revolutionary about what Newcastle were doing after the interval and it’s rather a worry that Spurs appeared to be overcome by the breakthrough tactic of ‘running around a bit more’ and ‘trying’. With the excellent Ayoze Pérez at the heart of it. Why Newcastle hadn’t thought of this before must be a cause of great confusion for Steve McClaren.
Just a grain of impetus from them and suddenly anything is possible. Fabricio Coloccini is zipping off through-balls like Iniesta and Moussa Sissoko, perhaps the ultimate fair-weather player, has miraculously morphed into a beacon of midfield dynamism. A one-man Carré Magique.
In a sea of disappointment, Erik Lamela might’ve been Spurs’ best player. His levels didn’t dip even as the second half began to sour. While plenty around him appeared to be losing their heads— Walker failing to track his man for a golden Mitrović chance, or Danny Rose trying to execute a volleyball spike, the free-kick from which led to Newcastle’s equaliser— the young Argentine kept his.
Energetic, nimble-footed, thrifty in possession. He’s quickly turning into someone who Spurs can really depend on. He mightn’t have taken another match ball home in a club shop carrier bag, it certainly wasn’t for a lack of endeavor.