Inside the Opposition: Tottenham (Part 1)

The international break is finally over and the games come thick and fast over the next few weeks, starting on Sunday against Spurs at home. A fixture that many City fans used to dread has become a little more enjoyable in recent seasons. We won 2-1 last year, with Dzeko scoring in the 88th minute. At the time it felt like it might kick-start our season but it turned out to be a false dawn.

Earlier this week I caught up with Spooky, the man behind the superb Dear Mr Levy site, writer for The Metro and part of The Fighting Cock podcast to get his thoughts on the game.

It seems AVB is yet to really figure out his best side this season, am I right in thinking that?

Pretty much. There’s been some some tinkering some inconsistencies and some selection mistakes (perhaps not enough bravery at home, too defensive in midfield). However, I’m an eternal optimist and also a realist. I don’t expect the moon on a stick in a day and AVB might be stubborn but in his first season he pretty much proved he was productive with the fundamental building blocks for longevity.

We conceded late on against Everton. We stopped conceding late goals. Team spirit improved, adaptability. He gets some stick that we lack a Spursy identity but he had to deal with a Modric-less side he inherited from Redknapp with some new additions – so this season is really ground zero for him.

I’m sure a quick fire risky, Tottenhamesque thing would be to just attack attack attack and that might make everyone happy in terms of entertainment, but not sure backbone wise we’ll hold it together. He’s far more pragmatic and in some ways is taking his time in working out the best eleven.

I think most of it stems from so many new key players from abroad, all having to acclimatise to England and the pace of the Prem.

Season 3 is where we find out how good we really are and how good AVB thinks he is. Season 2 – this season – still sees as good enough to compete.

What’s the situation with Sandro? For me, he’s Tottenham’s best player, but he doesn’t appear to be an automatic starter.

His injury was a serious one. Honestly think he’s not quite 100% but not far from it. Has to play, probably the first player – aside from Lloris – on the team sheet. Absolutely pivotal to our midfield, bosses the turf like a don. Immense player with insane personality. Possible one of the most colourful players we’ve had at Spurs. Hope he settles back to the form he had pre-injury. Had he stayed fit – Spurs would have finishes 4th or 3rd – with ease.

What for you would be Spurs’ best XI and formation?

4-2-3-1

Lloris in goal.
Back four of Walker Kaboul Vertonghen Rose (or brand new spanking left-back)
Sandro and Paulinho in midfield
Lamela and Townsend/Holtby on the wings
Eriksen in the hole

Soldado up front

You’ve got an excellent squad with real depth. Is it the best squad at WHL you’ve seen?

Pound for pound, probably yes. It’s one of those questions where the answer means little if you don’t go on to achieve something. That’s both in terms of silverware but for the most part, style/tradition and just moments. Football is about moments, you want to see your side give it a right go. I think again this is where some are critical of AVB. They want the swashbuckle and the glory and the points. I’m happy we (as a consequence of everything that happened post-Jol) have a far more robust side, a team that has resolve and guile. We’ve witnessed that over the past few seasons – but we come up short. Mainly due to some mistakes we make and also the fact we never truly replaced Modric (in terms of tempo dictation) and losing Bale was massive – because the likes of Eriksen (when he returns) and Lamela will take a little time to settle.

Considering I waited 20 odd years for us to wake up and contend again, I think I can wait another 10 months to see us gel together. I hope the majority think the same and more importantly our chairman.

Who’s been your best player thus far?

Probably Lloris. World class goal keeper. Keeper and defender. Has won us points with his sweeping this season. Sandro goes without saying, even though he’s been coming back. Walker has improved this season too. I’d still give it to Lloris.

What have you made of City under Pellegrini?

Hard to judge. Actually don’t think I’m in a position to do so because your expectations are a touch different from ours. I guess with Mancini failing in the CL and producing inconsistent performances, Pellegrini’s task is what? Win the league? It’s crazy really because the squad you have means that anyone that comes in is already under incredible pressure.  So many egos and top top players, its not just coaching its man-management. On the one hand it should be easy due to the gulf of class between your squad and most of the league, but on the other the intensity levels and desire has to remain high to get good runs going home and away. Way too early to judge, probably still getting to grips with his players and the style of opposing tactics.

I found Mancini annoying so, I don’t mind this new one much.

Were we right to sack Mancini?

Yes. I’m an outsider and looking in, it felt like you were missing something. An edge. An extra dimension. He really couldn’t get to grips with Europe either. The fact you’ve spent them money you’ve spent, its almost a given (I expect) from the owners that you should not just be challenging but looking good winning everything. Be careful you don’t go down the road of Chelsea. Although most will point out they have won plenty, it all feels cheap and dirty. Some amazing coaches and managers, all hung out to dry.

Which City player would fit in best with AVB’s tactics at Spurs?

Agüero, Kompany, Yaya and Silva. Silva would give us something missing since Luka left. The rest – goes without say they would make any side stronger by miles.

Prediction?

I think everyone is expecting us to lose. I want us to show a little more bravery – but as we’re away from home, it’s likely we’re going to give it a go. Trouble is, Eriksen is out and Holtby is far better in the deep than in a more offensive role. Lamela already has heaps of pressure on him, so the preparation for this game is hardly ideal.
Which probably means Spurs will win 2-1.

Follow Spooky on Twitter

Interview by Rob Pollard

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