"The better reputation you get as a team, the more teams go away from home and make it difficult for you. If you are going to be a top team you have to find a way of breaking them down, that's what the top teams do, but we just couldn't unlock the door."
Harry Redknapp's post-match remarks were no doubt intended to accentuate the positive, but unfortunately contained no answer to the conundrum posed by the home defeat against Wolves. Following on from Stoke's victory in October, another physical, workmanlike team has left White Hart Lane with all three points by virtue of greater muscle, organization and desire.
The tactics employed by Mick McCarthy were entirely predictable, especially after Doyle's early goal. 30% possession for Wolves and five bookings for their players (compared to none for Spurs) tells its own story as to how the game played out. Yet as their manager quite rightly observed, "Marcus Hahnemann's not been diving around making saves everywhere. I expect my keeper to have to make saves when we go to Spurs." In fact, Ebanks-Blake came close to making it 2-0 as the game drew to a close.
There are any number of reasons to explain why Spurs had so much possession and yet remained toothless in front of goal, against a side who had kept only one clean sheet all season. To give credit where it is due, Berra and Craddock were outstanding at the back for the visitors on this occasion. The threat posed by Lennon and Defoe was snuffed out, while several other normally influential players - Assou-Ekotto, Palacios and Kranjcar - were below-par. Robbie Keane's contribution is not open to similar criticism, since he performed at the same level as he has done all season long. Failing to rouse himself even against the club where he started his career, he was inevitably taken off before the end. Keane must be embarrassed by the situation he finds himself in - a player whose touch, form and confidence appear to have disappeared almost entirely, a captain who cannot inspire or even finish out a game. For his own sake, as well as the club's, Keane should go if, as rumored, Celtic come calling in January.
There also appears to be little future for Pavlyuchenko and Bentley, both of whom failed to make the bench against Wolves, following unsatisfactory performances in a midweek practice match. Redknapp described their attitudes thus:
"They're fit. I left them off the bench. There was no incident, he [Bentley] just played in a practice match and didn't deserve to be on the bench today, nor did Pavlyuchenko. Other players have worked hard all week to get in the team, put in 110 per cent, I have to send a message out to them as well sometimes."
The prospect of the Russian striker getting a run in the side seems very unlikely, even if Keane was to leave. Bentley, meanwhile, seems to be a permanent resident of the last chance saloon.
Let's end with some optimism. Modric came on to a rapturous reception and, although just back from injury, spent half an hour showing what the team has been missing in his absence. Spurs may have fallen to fifth, but other clubs at the top end of the table also continue to drop points. One of those, Man City, is up next. Spurs should welcome the opportunity to pit themselves against a footballing side who will not be coming to White Hart Lane looking for just one point.