The comprehensive Carling Cup win over Burnley and the excitement following the reacquisition of Jermain Defoe were overshadowed by this defeat to Wigan, which drops Spurs back into the bottom three. Admittedly this was a much changed Wigan side from the one that Spurs knocked out of the FA Cup just over one week ago. The return of both Heskey and Zaki could have been expected to trouble the Spurs defence but Woodgate and Dawson kept clear-cut scoring chances to a minimum. In fact, it was a first Wigan goal for the Honduran defender Figueroa, who rose above a static Jermaine Jenas to head the winner.
Jenas epitomizes the problem that is currently bedeviling Spurs, at least in the manager's eyes:
"Disappointing. Can't defend a corner kick, really. Clean header, clear header. Should have been dealt with. It's desire to head the ball basically, it's nothing else. It's desire to want to get the head on it, and, you know, Michael Dawson does it, and Ledley does it, Woodgate does it, but there's a few who don't do it and that's the problem. If you had a team of people like Michael Dawson and Woodgate and King we wouldn't be in the position we're in now. We're in the position because we haven't got enough of them type of people"
While Harry Redknapp's grasp of grammar may leave something to be desired, he can clearly see the lack of desire on the field. Too many players - including Bale, Bentley, Jenas, Bent and Pavlyuchenko - are simply not making the required effort. Effort, of course, is not everything, as exemplified by Dawson, who puts in the proverbial 110% each time he is selected but remains a player of very limited talent and vision. Yet he was probably the most effective Spurs performer against Wigan, as was the busy Jamie O'Hara ten days earlier against Burnley. That game was transformed by the introduction of O'Hara, who replaced the anonymous Bentley and deservedly retained his place on Sunday.
Wigan are the Premier League's in-form side, having taken 18 points from their last seven games, and so it is perhaps a little premature to press the panic button - but only a little. Spurs are going to have to replicate something approaching that kind of form themselves if they are to ensure their survival in the top flight, and they need to start doing so soon. From the middle of March till the end of the season, half of Spurs' league fixtures are against teams in the top six - Aston Villa, Chelsea, Man. Utd., Everton and Liverpool. Now is not the time, therefore, for Harry to tinker with the 4-4-2 formation that worked so well in the second half against Burnley, with the team seemingly unable to adapt to the 3-5-2 set-up against Wigan. Now is not the time to play the likes of Jenas and Bentley and Bale if they are not going to play with any heart. Fortunately, there is some time before the end of the transfer window to bring in someone to add a measure of steel to the Spurs midfield. The White Hart Lane fans may, by necessity, have to get used to watching some ugly football for the remainder of the season.
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