Spurs 2 vs Olympiacos 2

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Spurs 2 vs Olympiacos 2

Hello everyone! Definitely excited about the return of Champions League football. I was very interested to see how Spurs would lineup and approach the game. I don't have the screenshots that I love so much from THBN analyzing the game, but here are some thoughts:

Davies and Ndombele looked like a couple of guys coming back from injury/recovery. Ndombele did seem to grow into the game a little bit but not at his best. Definitely not criticizing the player having just worked through his injury for a few weeks. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looked like Ben was instructed to stay near the mid-line for the final 30-ish minutes of the game with Son taking over the space in advance on the left. I know Ben has been working his way back to fitness but the difference between his play down the left and Rose was pretty substantial in my opinion.

Winksy! I'm not always able to notice a midfielder's contribution to a game. The position asks a person to perform at such a high level that I often miss the positional nuance and strategy the game requires, but wow! Even to the amateur observer such as myself his hustle was impressive. It's almost like he knew when Eriksen was going to give up the ball and he was picking up the slack the entire time. I know THBN writes articles talking about the flow of the game (which I totally agree with) but sometimes a team also needs a hustler -or two- to provide that bit of extra effort. Winks was amazing for me.

Since I brought him up, what in the world is happening to Eriksen? Is it Ferguson's 4 year philosophical fatigue? Is he still unsettled / lack of focus? How in the world can a player believe this is the best way to show his worth to a new team? If Poch is expressing that the team didn't stick to the plan, we can speculate on what that means in regards to the offensive side of the ball or the defense...maybe both?! As a player -having found myself in many games where this happens- when the game plan goes to hell you must find a way to evolve. You must adapt. I didn't see that from Eriksen in this game and many others. Maybe I am wrong but putting any kind of defensive pressure on Eriksen really takes him out of the game. His loss of possession at the edge of our box lead to a Vertonghen reactionary step and causing the penalty for the second goal. It reminded me of Lamela stealing the ball off of Grealish for our goal earlier in the season. 22 lost possessions is not a performance to be proud of, especially when the manager has to cover for your mistakes in post-game interviews.

That leads me to my final thought. This might seem like a bit of a tangent but stick with me. I mentioned in another post I live in the states. Over here the NFL dominates everything this time of year. At this point many of the pundits are already talking about the odds of each 0-2 team, 1-1 team, and 2-0 team making the playoffs (the NFL's postseason). It's a very, very repetitive conversation. However I always think about a team's culture when this discussion comes up. Not all 0-2 records are created equal. One team that I think of immediately is the Cincinnati Bengals. I lived near the city at the time so I lived in this news cycle regularly.

The Bengals under coach Marvin Lewis made the playoffs 5 times in a row, a club record. He coached the Bengals to 4 division titles and ultimately 7 playoff appearances. The team went 0-7 in the playoffs under his coaching. Every single time the team lost Marvin Lewis talked about learning from past mistakes, growing as a team, and next year being better. It never happened. He coached the team for 16 years and they never won a single postseason game. Not a trophy...a single game.

In reality the Bengals are not an organization known for winning anything. The greatest accomplishment of the franchise was a loss in the Super Bowl to the San Francisco 49's in 1989! But when Marvin Lewis was hired the team was a complete mess having gone 2-14 the prior year. He instantly brought organization, stability, loyalty (more on this) and a better attitude to the team. In three seasons Lewis and the Bengals won their first division title in 15 years! However every single time the Bengals reached the postseason, and met head to head with a winning culture the team capitulated. 0-7. "We will learn. We will grow from this defeat. We will come back stronger."

The knock on Marvin Lewis was his loyalty. Debatable of course, but he relied on the same players, in the same situations, and he received the same outcomes. 0-7. 16 years. The one pattern I do notice with the Spurs are the responses after the fact. "We must learn from these mistakes." "We will grow from this defeat," etc. Even after this draw with Olympiacos the quote from Harry was "We are still making similar mistakes-" this to me says a lot. This is not to say panic...far from it. The people crying for PochOut and ENICOut are deluding themselves. However, the reliance on certain players, in specific moments, might be part of the reason we continue to receive similar results. To address a problem you must first be aware of the problem. The quotes from the Spurs players are encouraging because the awareness is evident. A point away at City, a point away at Gooners. These are better results than last year despite what the fanatics want to believe.

Last question, how much of the current team dynamic comes from Poch utilizing players who don't have the club's fullest intention in mind?

Thanks for reading my novel and of course COYS!