Let’s do a quick ‘thought piece’ – whilst the memory of this afternoon’s events in North London are still fresh.
How many players wearing a Norwich shirt would you put into a Tottenham starting XI? Not necessarily on today’s conviction-less performance; but when you stand back and soberly assess the overall level of their capabilities as a professional football player?
I would offer one – John Ruddy.
Not that any of his colleagues disgrace the Premier League; they are just not in the same league as their opposite numbers in a Spurs shirt.
Which is, very literally, the point.
The fact that the English Premier League is divided into two leagues is becoming ever more readily apparent ever earlier in a season – to an increasingly embarrassing degree.
The financial mis-match that now exists within the top flight of the English game after years of filling their troughs with either Champions League cash or the riches of their foreign benefactors ensures that, as a sporting contest, games between the six teams in League A versus the 14 teams in League B are becoming wholly lop-sided.
Yes, Norwich were poor on the day; yes, Tottenham, were very good.
But my sense is that teams of Norwich’s ilk are going into such contests lacking any real conviction that they can ever over-turn such formidable, individual talents as are arrayed before them. It’s an exercise in damage limitation; keeping it respectable; saving yourself for the real contest ahead.
Like Aston Villa (h).
And it’s not just a Norwich thing; it’s a Palace thing; a Fulham thing; even these days a Newcastle thing.
None of those boys really believe they will get anything out of a trip to an Old Trafford or an Etihad; a Highbury or a White Hart Lane. City’s end of season win at the Etihad was a freak of the fixture list. Their hosts didn’t give a monkeys; their season was lost.
Norwich’s season – as is the case for 13 other clubs in this league – will be decided on how they fare against a Southampton at home and a Villa at home. And a Hull away. The latter was poor. Because nicking at least a point there was something that mattered.
Certainly it matters more than coming away from The Lane with nothing to show for your half-hearted troubles.
Look through the rest of today’s results and, for me, Norwich have had a good weekend.
Fulham would have banked on three points from a home game against West Brom; Hull three from a home game against Cardiff.
Villa would not have wanted to lose at home to Newcastle; already the pressure is building at Villa Park to avoid another repeat of last season’s struggles.
Sunderland look distinctly vulnerable; that’s one, unhappy ship leaking spirit and confidence.
No-one in that group would look at today’s result at Tottenham and say: ‘Hmmm… Norwich look in trouble…’ Because they would all take it as read that Spurs would win that game.
City lose at home to Villa and it is a different story.
But this is where the dysfunction grows; where it gnaws away at the very fabric of the English Premier League. It is not a level playing field.
And mentally – before a ball is even kicked in anger at an Old Trafford, an Etihad or a White Hart Lane – teams are losing games.
There are freaks; there are one-offs. Villa’s win at Arsenal. Before Wenger opens his cheque book.
The biggest games – the deciders – are the home games against your fellow also-rans.
The Southampton win was huge; as will be a win against Villa. There are 13 home games against such teams; 39 points upon which your survival will be founded.
Given events of late, those with glasses half-full will suggest that Everton (h) was two points dropped. That they are now ‘one of us’; not one of them.
But you look again at that Spurs game and money told; by and large – as in life – you get what you pay for.
Norwich look to have bought some good players; not great players. Great players will continue to be out of their financial reach – as it will for 13 other clubs in this league.
Yes, question the conviction. On the day, Norwich weren’t ‘on it’.
But I strongly suspect that for a whole clutch of players across a whole raft of teams being ‘on it’ at a Spurs (a) or an Arsenal (a) equally demands that your hosts are ‘off it’ to the same, converse degree. Everyone in such dressing rooms believes that getting anything out of such a contest is a complete bonus; that if the opposition plays to their full potential, they are in trouble…
Which – if truth be told – is pretty much the story of Manchester City (a) last season.
As ever, for the paying, away-day punter the news is not good; they turn up at White Hart Lane and the players don’t.
And you’re left to hope that the players do turn up at a Hull or a Stoke – places where survival by March, April or May will be decided.
All of which makes for a less than appealing prospect; it’s not too much to look forward to.
Quite right. Welcome to real life among the rest of the English Premier League.
Spurs fan here. You drew with us in two league encounters last season and knocked us out of the league cup, a bad performance today doesn’t mean you can’t go toe to toe with the big teams. Didn’t you beat Arsenal, United and City last season? You simply played a silly shape today.
Lol you think Ruddy is better than Lloris? Lloris is captain of France, Ruddy is behind Fraser Forster in the England pecking order!
Laurie Malyon says
Rick,I am a Spurs supporter of over 40 years. I understand where you are coming from and have some sympathy with what you are saying but it is not the whole story by any means.
Spurs have created the current team having been pretty much in a break even situation financially over the last 10 years. They have not benefitted from an overseas Sugar Daddy or Champions League money. It is true that Joe Lewis (Tottenham’s majority shareholder)is extremely wealthy but neither he nor ENIC (The company that owns THFC and is itself owned by Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy’s family)have put more money into the club than they have taken out, at least to my knowledge. In fact, profits from the THFC “business” have partly been put aside to purchase land around White Hart Lane to facilitate the new stadium.
The same can also be said of Arse..l and Man Utd. I am obviously not partisan to either club but it is clearly not the case that either of the teams on the pitch benefit from the input from foreign owners. Quite the opposite is due in both cases. In fact if you added up the Champions League Revenue those last two receive and deduct it from the amount taken out of the club in “profits” the team actually supports the owners.
Chelski and Citeh are two completely different animals and I agree with you entirely that this situation is neither fair nor healthy for Premier League football.
However, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United demonstrate what can be done by a well run club without the need for unsustainable and unfair foreign investment. Clearly there is much less chance,sadly, for a; Nottingham Forest, Ipswitch, Burnley, Leeds United or Aston Villa to achieve the heights they have done in the past. This does not mean that it is impossible though and it does not help anyone to suggest that this is so.
Doesn’t seem to me that it was too long ago that we (Spurs) were mid table whilst Norwich were enjoying euro glory nights against Inter Milan.
Your time out of the top flight has cost you, in terms of revenue and acquisition/retention of players,whilst spurs have contiued to invest in all aspects of the club. Football is now a business and spurs are run very well, so what should we do with the fruits of our labour? Give it to Norwich?
To say there are 2 groups in the league is wrong,as there are at least 3. Relegation candidates, mid table teams and the euro contenders. Without a super billionaire Arab or Russian investing huge amounts of money you cant expect to just leap to the top. You have to invest and build year on year, getting through periods of adjustment to be better than before. Norwich are doing this and I hope it continues. A rash decision at boardroom, due to a few poor performances and fans griping after spending well, would undo the last few seasons of good work, much like Wolves!
Nice read, but like you said, it’s reality, but more to do with each club’s aspirations.
Unlike the Spanish league, and other leagues, Premier league doesn’t always guarantee results.
Spurs don’t always win against lower oppositions, like previously, Norwich had some good results against Spurs, until today. If this was Spanish league, then Real Madrid or Barcelona would definitely win, very unlikely they won’t – but that’s not the point.
Lower league teams do spend money, and sometime even spend more money than the top teams. Look at Swansea, they’ve done marvelously since joining the PL.
Every team are given an opportunity to progress productively, and effectively (like Swansea), but it depends on the primary target the club has set. Are they willing to risk it and splash the cash on more expensive but better players? Or progress slowly (maintain similar level of challenge) and buy players that are affordable but lower possibility to improve the squad considerably?
Look at Aston Villa, they were challenging for top 4 several years back, but after selling some class players and brought in some expensive-to-be-poor players have driven them back massively.
There are dangers in risking to improve your team, and every team needs the courage to do it. But if you don’t risk it, it’ll eventually turn out like you said, doom before facing the top teams. As well as other teams that have risked it, are gradually climbing over you.
All-in-all, what’s important is the club’s aspiration; having a shrewd and talented chairman (and other directors, and coaches) to bring profitability to the club along with productivity of the team.
Without Daniel Levy, I don’t think Spurs would have been where they are. The profit he brings to the club and invest in players that potentially improves the club is remarkable, all that done with profit still in the bank (by selling players for unbelievable prices, e.g. Modric, Bale, Berbatov, Carrick etc.).
Michael D says
Rick, as the Spurs supporters here are saying too, this argument is too simplistic. One, City have shown in the past two years that they can compete with Spurs, and two, in the PL you have to give it a go to survive – you have to be combative in every match. And it is that healthy attitude that all three newcomer sides have shown so far, and surprised others, including us at Hull.
Yes, we recognise that Spurs are a cut or two above us in terms of quality – earned as their supporters say – but the fact that our possession was only around 33% and we lacked real conviction and self-belief that we could cause any damage, is a very different and much more dangerous thing. This changed a bit at the end, with different personnel, the one positive, but it is this that starting with Villa at home next week, is what is going to count – having the conviction and courage that we can give all sides a go, and the ability to be a nuisance even to the top ones because we have the determination to hold onto and do something with the ball when we have it!!
So we shouldn’t confuse things, nor just wring our hands and say pessimistically we cannot compete with the top sides. What we do need to do is make sure we have the spirit and passion to compete with everyone, and you can be sure, if we don’t show this next week, Villa will delight in making it three wins out of the last three visits to us. One thing their manager does do is passion, and even though I think most of us think that our present manager is probably better for us over the longer haul, the one nagging feeling that we all have is whether he does passion well enough in addition to the cerebral stuff. We have a better squad this season, but the players still need more belief on the pitch, and they will need it if we are to continue to prosper in the PL, regardless of what sums other clubs have to spend.
Now did Cardiff think they couldn’t aspire to beat man city at the start of the season? I get the feeling Hughton doesn’t see us capable of beating certain teams so we try and nick something, but his record away from home is in-excusable and points to his negativity away from carrow road hence so few points and even shots from games.
If we were to give it a go and not win I’d accept that, what I can’t accept is hughtons cap in hand when we go away from home as to suggest we’re not worthy of getting anything.
i can excuse a defeat, i can excuse a bad performance. I cant excuse such inept tactics, strict rigidity and an inability to bother to change if it’s not going well. I understand there are clubs from bigger cities that have larger resources but this can’t excuse what i saw today and what i have seen away too many times. Something is missing, i fear it is true leadership, direction and an inability to allow players to express themselves. Yet another instance of process over creativity
Norwich fan says
Two season ago Spurs came to Carrow Road and gave us the same footballing lesson. We felt then the same as Rick does today but we have competed with Spurs since. And we will again.
And we should not buy the ‘they’ve got more money than us’ complaint. As Spurs fans point out, they’ve done good business and haven’t spent much more than City in real terms, after the Bale sale.
We can’t accept anymore results like Hull (a) or poor 0-0’s against teams we should be no longer cautious of. Otherwise we may as well have stuck with last season’s squad.
As with some of the other comments, I agree that we can challenge the top teams given we employ the right tactics. Our best performances over the last 2 years in the Premier League against top sides have been when we have had ‘a real go’ at them.
The lack of creativity and passion only serves to hinder our chances of taking and points. I would rather watch a match where we lose, like against United at Old Trafford 2 years ago, but created 15 chances. This would instill more fear and in our opponents than we do now, they would respect us more, and this respect would make us more likely to come away with something to show for our efforts. Giving Spurs the freedom of 70% of possession was never EVER going to work.
Playing 4-4-2 against Spurs midfield was plain stupid. 1 down against that class Tottenham have is suicidal and it was just a good luck that game ended 2-0.
It was impossible watching yesterday’s wretched performance not to compare it with the Norwich team that won at White Hart Lane in 15 months ago. That was one of the proudest days in my 30 years of following City – a fearless, exhilarating display that had Spurs fans I know open in their admiration for. And that was with a team that had Aaron Wilbraham up top rather than an £8.5million record signing. The difference in the way that team approached playing a technically superior side to what we saw yesterday was painfully palpable. I’m afraid those of us who hoped the addition of more quality to our squad would herald a more entertaining brand of football are going to be hugely disappointed. This is what it’s going to be like all season, folks. At least I’ve still got the memories of White Hart Lane, April 2012…
Douglas Millar says
I would like to see NCFC trying to impose their style on matches as we did in the first season of the Premier League. But first we need players who can pass and also find space when City have the ball to be able to receive the ball. Both Ws and Jonny Howson try to do that. Johnson and Tettey are unable to find their man except when passing laterally or backwards.
Whitaker was exposed as a defender and cannot be an attacking threat against top class players. Turner is uncomfortable on the ball. we have th resources for the manager to mould a decent team. starting against Villa, City must create an attacking threat to worry our opponents and to give heart to RvW and hopefully Hooper.