The trouble with a goalkeeper offering criticism of his team, however well-intentioned, is that it tends to look as if he is excluding himself. When Tottenham's Heurelho Gomes suggested in the light of Thursday's defeat by Udinese that "we have to score more goals" and "we are not scoring the first goal in a game, this is the problem", it made him appear happy to be casting the first stone.
David Bentley and Jonathan Woodgate may have done their share of rock-slinging too, but at least they were sharing the blame for the worst start to a season in the club's distinguished history. Furthermore, once Gomes said: "We did not keep the ball enough, we have to take more possession of the ball," it was only too easy to point a finger at the man who lost possession of it to cost the first goal and change the course of the game. The Brazilian goalkeeper was that man.
Gomes seems unlikely to pay for his gaffe and some erratic handling with demotion against Bolton today, largely because of Tottenham's ill-thought-out transfer strategy, which means the only other option is a 36-year-old Spaniard who has had little time working with anever-changing defence.
"Paul Robinson would have been fine," the former Spurs manager and director of football David Pleat (who signed him) said on Friday. But Robinson is now playing for Blackburn, one of more than 20 one-time Tottenham players currently appearing for teams higher in the Premier League than their old club.
Having started so badly, Spurs cannot even fall back on the cliché that one win is all they need to kick-start the campaign. Anyone tempted to suggest that is the case should check the League table – they would still be stuck at the bottom after taking three points from Bolton – and also the fixture list: next up, Arsenal away and Liverpool.
Fortunately for Juande Ramos, there appears to be little appetite in the boardroom for all the upheaval that sacking another manager would bring. More likely to pay the price is Daniel Comolli, one of Pleat's successors as director of football. Arsène Wenger may have done wonders for the image of bespectacled Frenchmen in north London, but Comolli, once his acolyte, has been unable to enhance it. Although the position is supposed to create continuity amid occasional (or in Tottenham's case frequent) changes of manager, that depends on the occupant being expert at his job. Comolli has not distinguished himself, and if he is to be sacrificed the whole system may be abandoned.
With Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson suspended, Ledley King unable to play two games in a week and Comolli's compat-riot Benoît Assou-Ekotto hauled off after only 45 minutes at Udinese, the back four will remain in a state of flux today in front of Gomes, who added: "I don't think the big problem is with the quality we have on the pitch, I think it is more mental at the moment." It is increasingly looking like both.Reuse content