William Gallas: Late goals are jeopardising Tottenham's Champions League push
Defender warns team-mates that unacceptable errors are putting Tottenham’s hopes of a top-four finish in doubt
William Gallas today admitted Tottenham are not yet at the level of his former club Chelsea and urged his team-mates to show greater concentration after their late collapse at Everton.
Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic scored last-gasp goals 88 seconds apart to overturn Clint Dempsey’s deflected strike to propel David Moyes’s side into the Premier League’s top four and condemn Spurs to their first defeat since losing the north London derby at Arsenal last month.
Everton’s dramatic comeback, scoring in the 90th minute and then in the 92nd, continues an alarming trend for Andre Villas-Boas’s side, who have now conceded 12 goals in the final 10 minutes of matches in all competitions.
That inability to close out matches has cost Spurs nine points in the League. They have scored first 12 times in 16 matches and if all games had ended at 80 minutes this season, Spurs would be top of the table.
Gallas revealed he was at a loss to explain why they cannot replicate the more controlled performances synonymous with other top sides including his former club Chelsea.
“Football is a bit funny — I’ve seen the good quality at Tottenham but for some reason, we lose the funny games at home or away and I can’t explain it,” the centre-back told Standard Sport.
“We have to pass one more step to be on the [same level as the] top three and I don’t know when it is going to happen. I hope it will this season but it is a shame because when we get very near, something always happens and we draw or lose.
“In our squad, we have some players that have experience now so I don’t think it is about a lack of maturity. For example, yesterday we did almost everything right but they scored that goal which killed us. It is difficult to explain but sometimes you need luck.
“When I was at Chelsea, we had that luck to win some games even if we were not playing good. But Tottenham is different. I hope it will change this season or next.
“We gave everything yesterday and had no luck. If you go back, [Gylfi] Sigurdsson hit the crossbar and it would then have been 2-0 but it didn’t happen. They scored late and it is very difficult to accept. When we came here, our target was to take the three points and at the beginning of the game, we played well. Maybe in the last 10 minutes in the first half, Everton pushed a lot but we went back to the dressing room with a 0-0. In the second half we played better and we scored.
“What we have to know is that the game is never finished until the referee blows his whistle. Yesterday showed that we have to be much more focused at the end of the game.”
Fatigue appeared to be a factor in Spurs’s downfall. Eight of the starting line-up at Goodison Park also began Thursday’s Europa League victory over Panathinaikos and Villas-Boas’s determination to take the competition seriously seemed to contribute to a flat performance yesterday. Gallas, who sat out Thursday’s match, said: “Was tiredness an issue? Yes. We played on Thursday. Even if we had three days to recover, it is not easy. But when you want to win some competitions you have to play every game.
“Only big players can play all the games. We know that so when we go on the pitch we don’t think we played three days ago, we just go on the pitch and try to fight.
“However, sometimes it is not easy, especially at this time of year because we play so many games but that is not an excuse. We have to accept the defeat yesterday and we have to carry on.”
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