We can try to find positives, but the truth is Tottenham were terrible from the off in both halves. With turnovers to immediately start both halves against West Ham, Tottenham Hotspur showed they were not ready to play football Sunday. Whether it was the first 20 seconds of the first half or the entire first minute of the second half, the sloppy play, turnovers, and poor quality showed Spurs were not ready to win.
Tottenham Started Terribly from Pass Two
If you go back and watch the highlights from the game – see below – it only takes about 20 seconds to see what kind of day it is going to be for Tottenham. The game starts like most others with a big boot down the field. Davinson Sanchez wins the initial header, which is then won back by West Ham.
Now Tanguy Ndombele steps up and heads the ball back toward the Hammers end. It is now that the comedy of errors begins. Heung-Min Son and Lucas Moura essentially run into each other trying to control the ball. Think if the Bad News Bears were professional footballers.
Since neither the Brazilian nor South Korean can get a handle on the ball, Tanguy Ndombele only a couple steps away himself, manages to control the ball and does what seems like the sensible move and passes to Pierre Højbjerg.
Højbjerg seemingly seeing a ball for the first time in his life wildly swings for the fences with his left and boots the ball about 15-20 yards up field into space to West Ham. Standing less than 10 yards away from him, square, in his line of sight is Japhet Tanganga. Instead of playing a simple square ball, Højbjerg did whatever that kick was and the ball was given away.
It would be a few more turnovers, poor plays, and minutes later that West Ham would take the lead they would never relinquish. Seeing four supposed playmakers turn a possession into a sloppy giveaway was only an appetizer for the start of the second half.
Spurs were worse to start the second half
As if it was not sad enough that Tottenham simply gave their first possession of the game away, Spurs had to top that by turning the ball over three times in the first minute of the second half. With those three turnovers, Spurs managed to find themselves out of position, out of luck, and out of the game as the third turnover led directly to the second and game winning goal.
The second half kick started like basically every Tottenham possession these days, with a back pass and then for good measure a second back pass. Spurs made up for that by then playing the ball back and forth between Dier and Sanchez and back again. Four passes and the West Ham defense has not moved because the ball has not moved, yet it is time to charge.
Dier plays the ball up the left flank to Sergio Reguilón. The ultra aggressive Reguilón then tries to force it into Heung-Min Son, but is intercepted for turnover number 1 of the half, just 17 seconds in, topping the first half folly by two seconds.
West Ham felt bad so they kicked the ball back to Pierre Højbjerg. Clearly excited to have the ball again without any pressure Højbjerg played Reguilón in down the flank.
The problem was the pass was again backwards and Reguilón was sprinting back towards his own goal. At this point, just 27 second into the half, Spurs needed someone to take charge. Always the leader Eric Dier stands-up and stares down Sergio Reguilón pointing at Lloris demanding one more back pass.
Afraid of upsetting Dier and the Portuguese chain of command Reguilón complied and passed back to Lloris. Dier turned a full 45 degrees – arm still out – and now points his stare at Hugo Lloris. There is Dier now staring through the already crestfallen Hugo Lloris demanding the Frenchman play the ball to Sanchez standing just a few feet away outside the six.
Clearly intimidated by Dier’s commanding directions Lloris now plays the ball into space in front of Sanchez outside the penalty box some 10+ yards away from Sanchez.
Sanchez goes sprinting after the wayward pass as Matt Doherty is nowhere to be found and manages to control the ball, just before Jesse Lingard came to add pressure. Now Sanchez is under pressure, out of position, with no passing angles as people stand, watch, and point.
With nowhere to go Sanchez does what he must at this point and just boots the ball long. It is another completely unforced turnover, the second of the half and we are only 35 second in.
West Ham realized the best chance to score was boot it long and wait for a mistake
Sanchez’ long ball was escorted all the way back to Lukas Fabianski in the West Ham goal. The Pole figured third time was the charm and Kane was running at him so he booted the ball all the way back to Hugo Lloris – I think Fabianski gets the hockey assist for that heads up play.
Lloris clearly shaken but not stirred after having failed with a 10 foot square ball less than 20 seconds earlier, Hugo was taking no chances and scooped up Fabianski’s ball with both hands.
Talk about making a claim!
Now Lloris gently rolled it with two hands to Sanchez like a quarterback making a handoff. Spurs were on it now!
Sanchez dribbled a couple times and then West Ham was standing there. since Doherty had sprinted up the line, Dier provided no angle, and Højbjerg was being defended Sanchez played it long up to Doherty. The Irishman did well to control the ball initially but then decided to dribble.
Two touches later, Doherty was dispossessed at midfield and West Ham had the ball for the third time at 46:02.
Tottenham had fallen just two seconds short of making it three turnovers in the first minute, but there is always Burnley. As it was for these Bad News Bears that third turnover led directly to the second goal and the three points for West Ham.
Sloppy Starts Means an Unprepared Side
If you keep watching the tape beyond 19 seconds in the first half and 1:02 mark in the second, you will just see more of the same. Poor passing, poor movement, and a few people trying to do far too much to make up for those doing far too little.
If the team cannot string together two passes to start the first half or manage more than two forward passes consecutively to start the second half, the team is clearly unprepared. The lack of spacing, the lack of passing angles, and the lack of any attention to detail or care for the quality of their work really makes you wonder what is happening here and if the players have quit on Mourinho.
Clearly the coaching is not working or the players are not listening to the coaching because a decent side of 10-year-olds can string together multiple forward passes and avoid three turnovers in the first minute.
The fact that it was after going down two goals that the effort really picked up showed Spurs are not playing for the coach, they are playing to avoid professional embarrassment. While we may get deceived again on Wednesday playing a team we will still talk up a lot – just in case – we should pay more attention on the weekend.
If Tottenham again have nothing on their first possession and no plan from the kickoff, then we know what to expect, more mistakes. The bottom line is if a player does not know what they are doing in the first minute of a match, what makes anyone think they will know what to do come minute 4 or 46 or 89.
Again all signs something is wrong at Hotspur way, the question is if anyone in a position to do anything about it, whether player, coach, or administration can do anything about it.