De Luca discusses Liverpool based on the 0-0 draw with Spurs.

The view from the Lane – Spurs 0-0 Liverpool, & why Liverpool can’t finish 4th this season

Tottenham and Liverpool played out a 0-0 draw at the lane, a game where the pre match talk was dominated by the arrival of Jurgen Klopp and the inevitable debate over whether these sides could make the top 4 this season.

I spent a fair portion of last week trying to justify my opinion that Tottenham were better placed than their match day opponents to qualify for one of the coveted 4 spots and the game on Saturday did all the talking for me.

I don’t think either side will make it of course, and despite being largely impressed by the way Tottenham are developing this season as a team, I’ve still not seen enough to change that view.

Let’s make the unlikely assumption though for a second that Chelsea do not turn around their disastrous start to the season, and then don’t spend £274m in January to try and correct their failings, one of these two sides will probably finish 4th this season and there is no way whatsoever it will be Liverpool based on more than this showing.


Jurgen Klopp will have just realised the size of the job he’s walked into if the fans need him to be the saviour of this football club because he would have seen his new team are light years away from a top 4 finish never mind Liverpool’s first title in over a quarter of a century.

Managers can’t just wave magic wands I’m afraid. Yes, the new manager effect works sometimes, but only when a team are underachieving compared to their current ability. Liverpool are not in a false position. Klopps first task is to consolidate Liverpool’s position in the top 6 for the purpose of his reputation whilst assessing the players he wants to bring with him for the long haul and implementing his style upon his new football club. Time just doesn’t stand still though. All the while the season of transition carries on relentlessly around him as his injured players suffer setbacks and the same ones that contributed to the failed second half of the Rodgers reign put in more ineffective displays. I have a belief based on gut feeling more than anything else that Klopp will improve Liverpool massively over the next two to three years, but anyone expecting anything more than a top 6 finish is wackier than the German himself. Even 5th would be an achievement.

The extra 10% that players mythically put in for a new manager was there on Saturday in all fairness, although it is not supposed to last for just 10% of the match. Even during that opening 10 minutes that Liverpool’s impressive high pressing meant Spurs could not get a foothold, no real bite to Liverpool’s attack could be identified. Injured attackers missing can’t be used as an excuse. The Sturridge problem is going to be recurring throughout this season as well you’d think and Benteke does not add to a sides creativity but more relies on it coming from behind him. After those 10 minutes where the Reds threatened only from set pieces including a scrambled effort away that flirted with the Spurs crossbar, Liverpool offered absolutely nothing. No spark, no creativity, no ideas.

Spurs’s failure to win this game highlights why they too will miss out on the top 4 places, nowhere near clinical enough when dominating several games already this season and up to 10 points wastefully dropped points already that all add up to inevitable shortcomings. Their problems end there though, whereas Liverpool’s are rife right through the spine of there team.

A bad refereeing display and some wasteful Spurs finishing meant Liverpool escaped with a point, and whilst neither of those things are Liverpool’s fault or concern, what will be a concern is the certainty that Manchester City or Arsenal would have dismantled them if they were on the other side of the pitch.

Mingolet had a rare good game at the lane, two or three solid saves kept the score goalless and although neither shot was quite finding the corner, he’s still dealt with them adequately. He’s miles short of the other 5 keepers in the top 6 and over the course of this season that I expect that to be costly.

The two centre halves were dreadful despite their clean sheet, even the experienced Skirtel was outjumped, outfought and outwitted by Kane time and time again. Sakho is an accident waiting to happen. There is no left back, Moreno standing in for injured Gomez was shocking, and whilst I’m a fan of Nathaniel Clyne he can’t save this back 4 from a defensive point of view.

Henderson is a smart player, but with suddenly a huge Steven Gerrard sized armband to fill, and as it took him a year to settle to his step up to Liverpool, I expect a little time too to adjust to his new standing in following the past skippers of this great football club. In James Milner, a player I’m a big fan of by the way, we have a guy who title chasing City saw fit to release last season. We’re hearing talks of ‘returning Liverpool to Glory’ associated with Klopp’s appointment. 30 year old castaways cannot be the answer surely? Players over 30 so rarely work in this league. Milner was so far off the pace committing 3 bookable offences, the 3rd of which was right under the referees nose, so lucky to stay on the field.

In Emre Can and Lallana we saw two of Rodgers’ Suarez signings who I’m afraid just aren’t good enough to win titles. Decent players, yes, no one is saying they’re bad, but they just aren’t good enough to be first team regulars at a side with high aspirations, and need to be ushered out of the first team to support the squad. They offered little in this match where after 10 minutes Hugo Lloris was a virtual spectator. This was the worst display by a travelling side to White Hart Lane this season.

Sturridge aside, Just Coutinho now is up to the standard, and now he knows it the weight is on his shoulders, the expectations are raised. The impact that had on sterling last year was negative and whilst I’m sure Coutinho will have another good season it is a big ask for him to replicate it exactly. With Benteke relying on him for service the stakes are so high if Sturridges injury problems continue. He can be forgiven for his poor display at Tottenham maybe, although with his opponents choosing no natural defensive midfielders you might have expected more than the only highlight being a dive to try to win a late penalty. It’s an example of how the team will struggle when he has an off day, a bit like Spurs with Kane pressure can do funny things and someone needs to step up and share the burden.

So, the ramble and possibly brutal dissection of Liverpool’s starting XI by me comes to an end, and the commencement of Jurgen Klopp’s rebuilding challenge has begun.
I’m excited by some of the players he may bring to League from his past as part of his long term objectives for Liverpool, as much as I am about seeing a lot more of him bringing his style and charisma to one of our country’s most famous clubs. But please please please be realistic if you want him to succeed, because he needs time. The squad he has inherited is not good enough to play champions league football, which is proven by the way they fared in the competition last year if not by my maybe ruthless review above.

He maybe knows after watching his team for the first time quite how big his job is, give him time to do his thing.

Spurs 4-1 Man City – Daniel De Luca gives us his thoughts…


The View From Park Lane

Kane’s goal drought has ended, Erik Lamela is fighting Messi for the Argentinian number 10 role, Vertonghen and Alderweireld are like a present day Nesta-Cannavaro, Eric Dier is the English Lothar Mattheus and Spurs are gonna win the Rugby World Cup.

4 Days is a long, long time in football.

Pochettino must have afforded himself a few smug grins on Saturday evening. At 12:45 Saturday a few, myself included, were starting to question the direction he was taking Tottenham in following his decision to go half strength against Arsenal in the cup on Wednesday. In his year and a bit in charge there had probably been to date no more than 5 good performances and the transfer window didn’t bring in the striker everyone associated with the club were desperate for.
Then BANG!! It happened. Spurs put in a performance that had everything a fan would want to see.
The philosophy seemed to truly kick in for the first time, and the result was spectacular against a team who have dished out many punishing defeats on Tottenham that our 3 previous managers could never truly recover from.
Redknapp’s career may forever be defined by the “what If’s” of spurs’ narrow 2-3 defeat at Eastlands in 2012. AVB was mauled 6-0 in 2013 and it really was the beginning of the end. And by the time Tottenham Tim was mauled 1-5 at White Hart Lane any last hope he had of securing a full time job with a cockerel on his Gillet was deteriorated.
Pochettino’s Tottenham put in very few good displays last term, a 5-3 win against Chelsea and an enormously one sided 2-1 win against Arsenal being the obvious picks. But players picking themselves up for a big derby performance at home when the atmosphere is up can happen in football. A come from behind victory in a midday kick off when the crowd are not quite so raucous is a different kettle of fish altogether. This is the type of result we have had so rarely over the last decade. The away wins at the Emirates in 2010, San Siro in 2011, and the first win at Old Trafford in 2012 are the only 3 that qualify. They were all hard fought odd goal wins, this was in the end a three goal cushion, and if the game lasted longer, Tottenham would have won by more. Manchester City were well and truly beaten and desperate for the sound of the referees whistle.
The most impressive thing about the result was that it had to be worked for. The away side dominated the first half so comfortably that spurs had trouble stringing two passes together in the opposition half, and when they fell behind to De Bruyen’s first half opener it was hard to see a way back especially with City in the ascendency and cranking up the pressure, often with a man over on either flank to lead the attacks. City had big players missing, of course that was a factor, and the linesmen might have wondered how they each failed to rule out a Spurs goal that did impact the momentum of the game, but Spurs seized the opportunity in a fashion that a lot of the players have replicated individually this season. Dier given a chance to a starting role this season out of position had grasped the opportunity with some incredible performances and his 25 yard pile-driver was just a cherry on the cake of an outstanding first half performance that kept Tottenham in the contest defensively and then gave belief in the dressing room when the ball crashed into the net just before half time. Dele Alli given the chance to start in the premier league against the league leaders at just 19 was outstanding as he has been all season. Nothing seems to phase this lad and we’ve got a player on our hands of unbelievable quality. Lamela getting game time due to Eriksens injury has improved no end over three performances this season and this was a level not seen by him on these shores and against a worthy opponent.
Momentum is a powerful thing in sport, and taking the lead just 5 mins into the second half having equalised seconds before the end of the first one (despite Kyle Walker being 3 yards offside in the build up) was ultimately the key moment in this game. Whilst the linesman shouldn’t have saved City on this occasion, stand in goal keeper Willy Caballero should have, caught in no man’s land for Alderweireld to nod in a simple header. When people criticise Tottenham’s transfer window I wonder if they forget that this guy was signed from Atletico Madrid for £11m. Most managers will tell you that to re-create football teams you have to build from the back. His partnership with Vertonghen is as solid right now as anything younger Tottenham fans would have seen. Just 6 games in I know, but Spurs have the best defence in the league right now. That is truly unheard of, even after just 6 games.
Then after an hour came the moment many have been waiting for, Harry Kane finishing the rebound of Eriksen’s fantastic free kick which crashed off the bar, won after some superb work from the unrecognisable Erik Lamela. The linesman should certainly have spotted Kane in an offside position – he didn’t and this was clearly going to Tottenham’s day. They say when a striker is in a rut he just needs a lucky break, and Kano certainly got it here to open his account over a month earlier that his first premier league goal last season. I’m not expecting a goal glut to replicate that necessarily but now the panic has gone away I’m sure the sight of Harry heading for a corner flag in celebration will become more frequent.
Watching Tottenham over the years as I have, makes me know that we are never safe, but this game felt different. Manchester City were getting some ball in attacking positions but never really threatening the score line. It was Spurs who were the more threatening and City were grateful the linesman had woken up to correctly disallow Son making it four. If he hadn’t touched it at all Chadli’s header was goal bound.
When the fourth did come it was Erik Lamela who capped his Man of the Match display with a deserved appearance on the scoresheet. Clinton N’jie looked impressive for his second successive cameo and turned superbly to lay on Erik Lamela to cooly round caballero when it looked for a moment that the chance might have gone. Spurs will be hoping Lamela can put in this level of performance with increased regularity, and in N’Jie there are signs that Spurs might have found the pacey handful that the squad has been lacking.
It’s easy to get carried away, and I think the team is missing the world class player sides need to finish in the league’s top 4 places over a 38 game season. But if you can’t get excited after a second half display like this then there probably isn’t a lot of point in supporting a football team.
I do wonder what difference Hart particularly might have made had he been fit to play and don’t think that can be underestimated, the linesmen obviously did their bit, and Sterling certainly needs to do a lot more for the amount of ball he gets in dangerous positions to justify that price tag. From Tottenham’s point of view though a winger of their own finally started to justify his own huge price fee, and nothing should be taken away from Tottenham, Erik Lamela, and Mauricio Pochettino. This was their day. Spurs are unbeaten in the league since the opening day and long may it continue.

Daniel De Luca – Spurs fan

Sunderland 0-1 Spurs – De Luca’s view

Harry Kane’s world famous goal drought again extended by 1, but Tottenham’s winless start to the season finally came to an end at the Stadium of Light.

Spurs started quickly out the blocks and were denied a clear penalty, courtesy of ‘the five minute rule’, the rule whereby to earn a penalty in the first 5 minutes of a match you probably need to have been shot by a centre half. Kyle walker was only fouled, and this was less than a minute in.

Spurs’ new look front 3 settled in quite well, full debutants Dele Alli and Son were seeing lots of ball early on but still no penetration of the opposition defence. Sunderland came into the game midway through the first half and Jermain Defoe clearly must have been busy deciding whether he was going to celebrate against his old club or not, when scuffing his finish on to the post. Lloris and the Spurs defence were beaten.
The through ball to Defoe from Lens was outstanding and might have served a stark reminder to the Spurs’ bench of what they have been missing in recent games, he was lively most of the match and Yann M’Vila also impressed me breaking up the play in midfield and keeping Sunderland moving. These two will have given Sunderland some optimism for what will no doubt be another tough season.

If fouls in the box are still penalties then Sunderland should have had one also, when Alderweireld tugged his arm in the box just before halftime. When players are not rewarded for trying to stay on their feet it’s easy to see why the diving problem in the league is getting worse before it gets better. Anyone who’s seen Callum McManamans attempt to win a pen for West Brom on Saturday will appreciate the scale of the problem.

From a Spurs perspective it’s becoming a big concern how much more threatening any opposition we face look when they have the ball compared to Tottenham’s languid, slow and inpenetrative approach. This has been a recurring feature of post-Bale tottenham.

The second half which was even albeit a bit dull was probably the first time this season I started to really worry about the season. The style of play didn’t really improve and nor did the urgency, and when you’re winless after 4 games I’d expect a bit more. Pochettino has been at Spurs long enough now to have the benefit of the doubt of ‘transition’, he needs to start picking the players up for these games. Son went completely of the boil, poor touches and unable to adapt to the pace, and was replaced by Townsend. Dele Alli who was Tottenham’s most impressive player was hooked for Lamela. This was a good display by Alli who at just 19 looks ready now to be a regular starter in the Premiership. His skillful run before flashing the ball across the face of goal shortly before he was subbed was Tottenham’s best play of the match so far. Harry Kane last year might have gambled at the far post, Harry Kane last year would certainly have connected with the cross minutes later that found him free 8 years out. This year, it’s still not quite happening for him, this was his least effective display of the season and he was far less influential linking the play up as previous matches.

In fairness to Pochettino the subs swang the game in Tottenham’s favour, Townsend hasn’t been great in a Spurs shirt over the last 18 months but he showed directness and pace and in constantly trying to get past the full back put Spurs on the front foot. It had taken 75 minutes to register the first shot on target and from then onwards the pressing paid off and Lamela was a key part of the only goal of the game with just 8 minutes left. It was a brilliant goal, a superb passing move including Lamela Mason and Kane before the Argentinian played a perfectly weighted pass beyond the defence for Mason to delicately chip over the advancing keeper. He was clattered for his troubles and substituted.

In typical Tottenham fashion the next 120 seconds was a struggle, Rodwell rattling the crossbar as Spurs tried to settle after taking the lead. Some other hairy moments were to follow but Spurs created further good chances of their own. Kane smashed straight at the keeper opting for power, Lamela missed the target with a header that should have been testing the keeper from close range. An ugly 1-0 win was just what the doctor ordered maybe, and Pochettino who prides himself on his teams’ fitness might have felt vindicated that Spurs started to dominate the final 20 minutes as Sunderland tired, but Tottenham are going to need more than that against tougher opponents. This squad is really light. No striker on the bench this week and with Mason potentially injured and Bentaleb out for a month it could be just Dier available for the 2 central midfield holding roles on Sunday. Dier is a centre half. Another summer has passed without any progress made in the transfer window.

Dier was given the MOTM award, Vertonghen played well at the back and Lamela was good after his introduction back in a central role, by far his best position, creating more chances in his 20 minutes that any player from either side, and Townsend was direct and effective, and Dele Alli really impressed me with the way he confidently tried to lead the attack. It’ll be interesting to see the starting XI next week and who doesn’t start Thursday’s Europa League game in preparation for Sunday’s game against Palace.

With this, and then City at home soon after, hopefully this win will provide confidence and kickstart the season. Spurs are certainly going to need to play better than this to add another win though.


Spurs 0-0 Everton – The view from Park Lane


The view from Park Lane – Spurs vs Everton

3 games unbeaten, 4 games without a win, the cup is starting to look half empty rather than half full though as another winnable game ended winless for Spurs at the lane.

This is quite a significant point though in the sense we have now surpassed the “2 points from 8 games” acquired in 2008/09.

I’m happy to correct a few common media led misconceptions of the last day and a half. Tottenham played well, Tottenham DID create chances, Stones did not play like Franco Baresi, and Harry Kane isn’t tired.
Kane is tireless, never stops working, never stops moving, always dropping deep to pick the ball up and drive Tottenham forward. He missed probably Tottenham’s best chance when he got in behind midway through the first half, dallying a bit before finding Tim Howard’s big left foot. After a slow start Spurs had taken control after around a quarter of an hour and it only looked like a matter of time before the lead would come. As well as Kane’s miss, bentaleb steered just wide, Mason had only the keeper to beat once in each half and failed to find the net, Alderweireld had a powerful header tipped over the bar, and Chadli, who impressed in the first 45, skied a loose ball over the ball in the second half when he had to hit the target. How many chances are people expecting? By comparison Everton’s only chance in the first came via a Walker error and culminated in a routine save for Hugo Lloris. Vertonghen and Alderweireld were by far the more competent of the centre half pairings, restricting Everton to virtually nothing over the course of the game. When Lukaku drifted out wide to pick up possession he was comfortably dealt with by the returning Danny Rose whose improvement was one the of the few positives of last season. Lukaku was by far the most ineffective of the 2 teams’ frontmen on display and was hooked by Martinez with still a quarter of the match to play.

It proved the game changing substitution, as Naismith, clearly sent on to hustle and disrupt Spurs’ flow achieved it within minutes. Featuring in a couple of flashpoints and earning several free kicks to break the rythym. The ref got caught up in the excitement with an inconsistent session of whistle blowing and card waving that aided the disruption somewhat.

Spurs never regained the momentum in the last 15 minutes and it was clear that their best opportunities to win had been and gone. Everton conjured up a late chance to steal the points when Kone glanced a header wide with Lloris along with my comrades in the Park Lane end stood helpless in hope that the ball would miss the far post, it did, and the match ended in stalemate.

A worrying points return from Spurs for the season so far especially given the fixture list could have been tougher so far. Things are far from rosy in the White Hart Lane garden but this was not the game to use an example. A good performance, solid clean sheet, and plenty enough chances created to get the elusive first win.

Of course, the Kane “drought” extends by 1, but then of every player to score 11 or more last season none of those 18 players have managed more than one league goal. The pressure on Kane to deliver for his club is a bit disproportionate. The international break will hopefully give him the chance to see the net bustle once more and he’ll return to the lane with an extra spring in his step. It was November before he scored his first Premier League goal of the season, it’ll be few more weeks before I start to hit my panic button.



Dan De Luca gives us his thoughts on Spurs capture Heung-Min Son


I didn’t jump off my sofa when the news was announced we’d completed the signing of Hueng-Min Son, I’m not on my way to the Lane to wave my retro scarf in jubilation outside the front gates.
That doesn’t mean he’s a bad signing, but not someone who makes me jump out of my skin with excitement.

Let’s look at the positives though. We’ve picked up a player who has scored goals in one of the top European leagues, his key attribute is pace, which is something that the squad is desperate for, and he’s knocked in a handful at international level including one at the last World Cup. These are all positive notes regardless of the standard.

Alright, so he’s not the big name that everyone would have wanted, but Tottenham aren’t really in the market for the real elite right now, nor do we have the pulling power or wage structure to lure one in. He’s a decent looking player with some pedigree and I don’t think there will be the same pressure placed on him as some recent signings which could be a benefit.

The price tag is still hefty at a reported £22m, and I know the fashionable thing this week is to compare everything to Pedro transfer fee, but Barcelona didn’t need him like Leverkusen need Son or indeed West Brom need Berahino, so the comparisons should die right there.

Whilst I’m not gonna rush to club shop to get Son on the back of my shirt. A lot of Koreans who don’t even know where Tottenham is have probably already placed their pre-orders with international shipping. If you’re offsetting this additional revenue against a transfer fee you’re heading back down to a reasonable value. Painful when as a football fan you’re looking at the commercial value of a transfer abroad but that’s the dark world we live in. You know Mr. Levy factored that into his equations before signing the cheque, but if that makes him see it in his heart to splash a bit of the money he claws back on a central midfielder before the window closes on Tuesday.

It’s been proved plenty enough over recent seasons at White Hart Lane that a big name and reputation doesn’t mean a thing, so the fact Son isn’t the best player on FIFA 15 doesn’t really bother me a jot. He’s got as much chance of success as anyone else. Not many people had Harry Kane in their fantasy teams at the beginning of last season, that worked out alright.

The thing that pleases me most about this transfer is that Tottenham have identified their target, quietly and under the radar, stumped up the money, and bought him to the football club. Something that hasn’t happened over the last two seasons.
It’s a positive move that may or may not pay off, but still nice to see the chairman prepared to pay what’s needed to bring a target to the squad.

Now he’s in who knows how it may work out, or whether the greatest benefits will be realised on or off the pitch. But someone at the club has got their man and will be hoping he bucks the recent trend of disappointing attackers making their way to the lane. Let’s hope his boy delivers.

Good Luck my Son…….Sorry, I’ll get my coat.



Leicester City vs Tottenham Hotspur – 22/8/2015 -Dan De Luca


Leicester City 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs’ winless start to the season continued at the KP Stadium, and the game contained all the hallmarks of a typical Tottenham display of as far back as you can remember, decent possession, nice football, no cutting edge, and soft underbelly.

The game was a lively an exciting encounter between two sides who both like to play good football with the ball on the floor and was exactly the type of away game that Spurs would have prevailed in last season. Saturday though, Tottenham took to the field without talisman Christian Eriksen, the guy who dug Spurs out of so many holes last campaign and ultimately that may have proved the difference between 1 point & 3 for Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
Tottenham as you might expect enjoyed the lions’ share of the possession playing some cultured football in the middle of the park, and Leicester broke regularly with pace & directness. Jamie Vardy often stretching the Spurs back line and the impressive livewire Riyad Mahrez constantly causing problems, particularly for Ben Davies at Left back who has rarely impressed since joining the club last summer and should be making way for Danny Rose as soon as the latter has returned to full fitness.
Leicester felt rightly aggrieved to have a strong penalty appeal turned down before half time when Mahrez jinked his way across the box only to be hauled down by the sluggish Jan Vertonghen. Atkinson waved the appeals away from less than 5 yards away, even the most rose tinted spurs fan would struggle to argue that the spot kick should have been given.
Harry Kane was instrumental in spurs taking the lead dropping deep to pick up the ball and driving at the Leicester defence, freeing Chadli to pick Dele Alli unmarked at the back post to head in his first Premier League goal. At just 19, he looks a real talent and at Tottenham should get the chance to flourish the season. Harry Kane has worked well this season so far and despite extending his goalless start to the campaign, put in another good performance. His tendency to drop deeper and wider to pick up the ball in the gaps vacated by the injured Eriksen highlights the lack of depth the Tottenham squad is suffering from this season. With Kane having to provide creativity, his presence in the box has been more infrequent than last season, and left him yet to get off the mark. The mumblings already about his goalless start are only going to add to the pressure, and despite some good displays, the unfair question marks over his start to the season will only become more prominent until that elusive first goal comes.
Having taken the lead though, most top sides would see the game out for the remaining 9 minutes. Tottenham lasted 20 seconds. Straight from kick off a high ball found its way to the feet of Mahrez who jinked into the box before curling a lovely left footed finish beyond Lloris into the far corner. A Spurs fan could be critical of the defending but in fairness it was a well taken goal and no less than Mahrez’ display deserved. Leicester could even have stolen all the points at the end when a point blank header hit Lloris when either side of him meant zero points coming back to White Hart Lane. Leicester were well worth their point in the end, and have been impressive so far this season, picking up from where they left off after their ‘great escape’ with Ranieri proving a few sections of the media wrong. Early days of course.
The situation of the team collectively conceding straight from kick off will be of bigger concern for Tottenham than the individual defensive failings in the build up to the equaliser. A strong character needs to be found in the next 7 days of transfer activity, if such a player exists within Tottenham’s tight budget. There is one game to be played between now and then though, a home evening kick off against an Everton side who performed impressively on their most recent away trip, dismantling Southampton 0-3. Last season at home to Everton was one of Spurs’ most impressive displays of the season in a 2-1. Even Roberto Soldado scored in open play which goes to show anything is possible, no matter how bad the form may appear
It’s sure to be another tight encounter which will be settled I’m sure by the odd goal. Spurs dare not lose this as confidence will sink even more and the season will threaten to run away from them before it’s even begun. Spurs will need to play better in that final 3rd to start turning some of their good performances into all important wins.

Prediction for next week
: Tottenham 1-1 Everton