Defenders on Ramos' Christmas list
'The quality of Tottenham's midfield to forwards - absolutely fantastic, but we did feel that we had a chance of scoring'
'Spurs, so dangerous middle to front - absolutely fantastic players there. I always felt ... that we'd got a wee chance of scoring goals'
Not so wee, Big Eck. In two televised interviews in quick succession, Alex McLeish, the newly-installed manger of Birmingham City, hit the nail on the head regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the current Spurs team.
A 3-2 home win against Aalborg has now been followed by a 3-2 home defeat by a Birmingham side that had lost their last three games on the trot and had won away just once all season prior to this meeting. Spurs may have scored in their last twelve games in succession, but five goals conceded in the space of four days against moderate opposition signifies a worrying trend, with Anderlecht, Man City (twice), Portsmouth and Arsenal to come before Christmas.
If Santa doesn't bring Juande Ramos two new central defenders, then Tottenham fans will need to wait patiently till the January transfer window to see their wishes come true. With each week that passes, the return of Ledley King seems worryingly to be pushed further and further into the future. In his absence, Dawson once again proved fallible for Birmingham's second goal (as he did for Aaalborg's second in midweek) while Kaboul was sacrificed at half time - not literally, despite what the White Hart Lane crowd might hope for.
In fairness, the penalty that he gave away looked dubious, as did the one from which Robbie Keane equalized before being sent off - another poor decision, in this case made by referee Phil Dowd apparently in consultation with Uriah Rennie, the Younes Kaboul of officiating.
That sending-off turned the game and may also have a major impact in the short-term, as Spurs will lose their captain and top scorer for three matches. Gareth Bale also appears to have picked up another injury and if he is out for any length of time, his goal-scoring threat, especially from set-pieces, will be sorely missed.
Berbatov in particular - who really should have scored when Tottenham were 2-1 ahead - will now have to work hard to ensure that the team doesn't hit the skids in the fixtures leading up to the holiday period.
Birmingham's win, their first at White Hart Lane for 24 years, leaves them sitting in 12th place, with Spurs four places and two points behind them - and just one point clear of the sides in the relegation zone. It was ironic that, after a six-match unbeaten run, Juande Ramos tasted defeat for the first time in a game that Spurs dominated almost from start to finish. It may be a taste to which he will become more accustomed in the weeks that follow.
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