Andre Villas-Boas has his work cut out ahead of two key games for Tottenham
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Norwich City 1
Andre Villas-Boas has 13 days of difficult work to do. His first three games as Tottenham Hotspur manager have not exactly showcased a team who were penalty kicks away from playing Champions League football this season.
The Spurs fans know this, and made their opinions quite clear throughout Saturday's match. They watched their second consecutive soft home draw, as Tottenham played with a worrying lack of assertion, style, fluidity, confidence or any of the other qualities required to win at home. Conceding a late equaliser to West Bromwich Albion is one thing, but when it happens against Norwich City too, with whom they drew 1-1 on Saturday, there is an obvious problem.
Left with two points from three games, Villas-Boas must know that wins in the next two league games, the far side of the international break, are non-negotiable: Reading away and then Queen's Park Rangers at home. Significant improvement, in passing, defending, movement and concentration – the basics of the game – is needed over the next fortnight.
"They showed their disappointment, which they are entitled to do," Villas-Boas conceded to the many fans who had jeered Spurs off at full-time. "We accept our responsibility. And we want to win just like them so when they react like that we just have to improve our performances to give them the win that we all want."
With the transfer window shut, and no Luka Modric but no replacement either, Villas-Boas acknowledged that improvement has to be generated from within. "We have to work on the training ground," he said. "The most important thing is not the starting 11 but getting the players to play to their maximum potential. This is what we look for as manager. When you do that you can get maximum results, maximum individual performances."
There will be some improvement with the integration of Moussa Dembélé, who did improve a dismal Spurs midfield with the goal that put them ahead. He is not Joao Moutinho but he does add drive. "He used to be a forward," Villas-Boas commented, "and can play on the wings and he now plays in that second striker position or in midfield where he is extremely good because he takes things forward with his technical ability."
Clint Dempsey should also provide some presence and danger. Whether the other deadline-day buy, Hugo Lloris, will add much soon is not clear. The France international has not come to be second choice but Brad Friedel made some excellent saves, before and after Robert Snodgrass' equaliser, and Villas-Boas acknowledged he does not deserve to be dropped.
"When you transfer it's not written in the contract that you have to play," Villas-Boas said of the £8m buy from Lyon. "He has to compete against three good goalkeepers and at the moment Brad is doing extremely well and deserves to be playing and he'll continue to do so."
Chris Hughton can be more relaxed about his business after two of his new defensive additions, Javi Garrido and Sebastian Bassong, performed remarkably well.
"I've tried to improve our squad without taking away any of the goodness of last season," Hughton explained afterwards. Bassong, bought from Tottenham, could be one of the signings of the year if he continues this form. "We're working hard every day in training to communicate," Bassong said of new partner Leon Barnett. "And we help each other. For now it's working well so I just wish it to continue for a long time."
Bradley Johnson, who nearly won the game in added time, is impressed. "Sebby's a confident lad and someone we needed in this team," he said. "He's a great talker – he's always talking with me and Jonny Howson – and a leader as well. He's come in and done terrific for us."
Spurs: FRIEDEL 8; WALKER 6; GALLAS 5; VERTONGHEN 6; ASSOU-EKOTTO 5; LENNON 4; SANDRO 6; SIGURDSSON 5; LIVERMORE 4; BALE 5; DEFOE 5
Norwich: RUDDY 6; GARRIDO 8; BASSONG 8; BARNETT 7; R MARTIN 7; PILKINGTON 6; HOWSON 6; JOHNSON 7; SNODGRASS 8; HOLT 5; JACKSON 7
Scorers: Tottenham Hotspur Dembélé 68. Norwich City Snodgrass 85.
Subs: Tott Dembélé (Sandro, h-t), Adebayor (Sig-urdsson, 56), Huddlestone (Defoe, 81). Nor Morison (Jackson, 73). Booked: Tott Bale. Sent-off: Tott Hud-dlestone (89). Man of match Sndograss. Match rating 3/10. Poss: Tott 62%. Nor 38%. Attempts on target: Tott 5. Nor 4. Ref M Halsey (Lancs). Att 36,142.
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