All that needed to go right for Spurs to win at the Riverside, went wrong. Two sides who rarely win an opening day game battled it out and after Spurs’ initial promise, Middlesbrough became stronger and grew in confidence.
In the season’s preview, certain things were suggested that would determine Spurs’ success or failure this season:
whether the defensive problems have been resolved by the signing of a new goalkeeper.
how often Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate play together at the centre of defence.
Woodgate played and was Spurs’ Man of the Match’ but King didn’t make it off the bench, in spite of his protestations on Sky yesterday that he was fit and ready to play a full part for Spurs this season.
if Berbatov leaves, how they compensate for the loss of the forty six goals he and Keane scored last year.
Berbatov only played for the last twenty minutes and in the previous seventy minutes, Spurs didn’t really threaten the Middlesbrough goalkeeper. Berbatov showed his touch and with him on the pitch the strike force looked more dangerous without actually scoring. If it hadn’t been for Robert Huth’s own goal in added time, Spurs would have been looking at their third successive opening day game without a goal.
Darren Bent needs to reproduce his pre-season goal scoring in the more pressured world of the Premier League.
He didn’t and looked like Darren Bent of last season. He didn’t get much service but when the ball came in the air the three Middlesbrough central defenders out jumped him while on the ground his touch was poor – he neither held it up for others nor made space for himself. He didn’t put the defenders under any pressure.
Spurs’ failings of last season are still there, only it’s new players making the same errors. The defence is suspect under pressure while the creative midfield players need a holding player to allow them the freedom to roam and the strike force will never match the Berbatov and Keane goals.
Ramos has much to think about before the team take on Sunderland and with many of the players on international duty he will have little time to work with them and any negotiations for new players will be difficult to bring to a conclusion. As the season opened much of the optimism surrounding Spurs was based on the promise of who was to come in as replacements for Keane and Berbatov but as so often happens with Tottenham, deals take for ever and frequently don’t actually materialise. That result and performance at Middlesbrough won’t encourage any potential signings to put their name to a Tottenham Hotspur contract – Daniel Levy will have his work cut out for him over the next fortnight if he is to strengthen the team to make obe capable of making a challenge near the top of the league.