A penny for Adama Traoré’s thoughts.
Having flirted with serious injury after traversing the most cynical of challenges from Alderweireld, Kane, Dier and company, breaking point finally came.
Our man-of-the-match’s shoulder bore the brunt in injury time (rather than his medial or cruciate ligaments, thankfully) and he lay stricken on the turf, as referee Stuart Attwell presumably supressed a snigger. Job. Finally. Done.
Yet despite being in possession in injury time and Coady, Dendoncker and Saiss all in receipt of the ball – and their teammate in pain by the corner flag in their eye-line – they refused to kick the ball out of play to allow him treatment. Had they of, Spurs would have given us the ball back and at worst, we’d have regretted a 1-1 draw.
Instead, Dendoncker lost the ball and committed a needless foul to allow Spurs to bring on substitute Eriksen who, within seconds, delivered a dead ball to Vertonghen’s head. The rest, as is ever thus in the Premier League, was history.
At best, it was absolutely shocking game management. At worst, Adama Traoré was shunned by his teammates who decided that a prolonged period of pain was fair game, having been booted around the field for much of the match before that under the nose of a referee who seemed to dine out on the spectacle. Would they have watched Raul suffer in similar circumstances and continue passing around the half way line?
I guess we’ll never know, but after shutting up all the grudging numpties in the stands (they know who they are) with jaw-dropping performance after jaw-dropping performance, it’s a shame Adama Traoré’s teammates failed to support him at the very moment that his body finally gave way. Ergo, their cold shoulder led to the winning Spurs goal and for their complete dereliction of duty when Adama had given sweat, tears – and presumably blood – to the cause, his teammates deserve the biggest roasting going.
Maybe Adama hasn’t done enough to warrant their respect, subconsciously at least? It’s irrefutable that a few idiots who castigated him for so long for daring to be brave enough on the ball in the first place were muttering for him to ‘get up’ in the final knockings, having been clogged half to death in a throwback to the bad old days. Fans like that don’t deserve Adama Traoré. They don’t even deserve Helder Costa or Ivan Cavaleiro who they still argue are better. They deserve Tim Steele, Denes Rosa or Anthony Forde, none of whom would have the physical ability or mental agility to assume such positions on the pitch in the first place. (He’s not got a braiiiiiinn; he’s thick; stick to bodybuilding / sprinting et al). Give. Me. Bloody. Strength.
In any case, we lost because of our reaction – or lack of – to Adama Traoré, who was let down by the referee, the opposition and eventually his own teammates. As such, the footballing gods took matters into their own hands as they always used to when faced with preventable stupidity in previous eras. We lost.
For the performance in-and-around this preventable moment, we were quite brilliant, picking the pockets of a bigger side to play with panache and impudence across the park. João Moutinho , in particular, was of another world and made me pinch myself on numerous occasions to believe he’s actually one of our own. It was only in the final third where our Achilles Heel was once again revealed, whether it be quality of pass, shot, or general decision making. In truth, this game should have been over long before Traoré’s teammates turned the other cheek. Jota and Jiménez opted against simple passes to one another on two separate occasions, while the latter screwed wide in the first half too. In the second, Jiménez drew a fine save from Gazzaniga which eluded the onrushing Jota and Jonny.
But Patricio’s error in failing to find touch in the build-up to Moura’s opener was replicated in the refusal to do likewise in the build-up to the second, as our electrifying match-winner suffered one blow too many.
One might argue it was cruel on Wolves. For our number 37, it was bloody brutal.