A wake up call and time now to take the cup seriously.
At full time it was heartbreak for Wycombe, and when you come from league 2, away to a top premier league side and you’re never trailing until the 97th minute it’s desperately unfortunate not to get at least a money spinning replay. At times it looked like they would get more. Leading 2-0 at half-time is never a given for a lower league team away at a big side, but once going back 3-2 in front in the final ten minutes against 10 men with the game in the minutes up to that point had started to descend into a lull the travelling support wouldn’t have even settled for a replay. The performance should be a platform for Wycombe to secure the playoff place they currently occupy.
As for Tottenham, a big scare and an opportunity for Pochettino to re-assess the selection policy for the rest of the tournament. In truth, Tottenham on the day weren’t THAT bad. They’ve scored 4 at the end of the day, 2 of those with 10 men, and dominated completely between goals 1 and 2. There is though quite rightly an expectation to see off lower league teams comfortably and that didn’t happen. The problems were defensively, and a change of the entire back 5 plus protector victor Wanyama may have contributed, but it’s alarming how weak the squad players appear when facing a spirited opposition who can mix up their attacks with a combination of wide play and high balls.
Last year was a great chance for Spurs to win their first FA Cup in a quarter of a century, when they fell in the 5th round to Crystal Palace. The onward route to the cup would have been Reading-Watford-Manchester United.
That day the team that played was weakened but a lot stronger than yesterday’s, but the common factor was an injured Vertonghen and a rested Alderweireld. Resting of players yesterday was perfectly understandable against a team you’d expect the squad players to be able to handle, and with a premier league game 3 days later.
The truth though, the Spurs squad does not have the strength in depth to make it much further in the competition if the changes are wholesale, the same can be said for most teams, and Toby Alderweireld has to play going forward. While it’s understandable leaving him out yesterday having missed long periods recently with injury, for me to be happy we are taking the tournament seriously he needs to feature and the players rested count must decrease from 9 to somewhere closer to 3.
It’s difficult to prioritise everything, and currently stuck between a title challenge and a top 4 scrap makes the temptation to rest players great for a home game against Wycombe, but now the wake up call has been landed I’d like to see us take heed and give our best shot at delivering a trophy as reward what has been a great team performance over 2 seasons. The competition will be tougher than it might have been last season unfortunately but whilst the draw hasn’t been made yet it’s not unusual for draws to open up after the 5th rounds.
It will be shame in years to come to look back on the Pochettino era and not see a trophy to reflect it. Hopefully the efforts are spread across all fronts rather than prioritising and potentially ending up with nothing but plaudits and Champions League eliminations, because at the end of the day, those are soon forgotten.
Dan De Luca