Fan Focus: Dustin Up All The Spurs Insight Ahead Of Monday Night.

Clive Rose

You know the drill by now, we chat to some fan or other from the opponents of our next game. We caught up with Dustin aka "Uncle Menno" from over at Cartilage Free Captain, the popular Spurs blog representing SB Nation. We're kind of like cousins.

There's a sense of shambles about Spurs at the minute. Now that seem like a remarkable thing to say considering the state we're in ourselves in comparison. We also need to remember that you're still very much chasing fifth place. Can you sum up how the season's been for you?

This season's been rough, and I won't sugar-coat it. Going into this season, the expectations were Champions League football, and maybe even (gasp) higher, even after the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. If you look at the players we brought in -- Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Christian Eriksen, Vlad Chiriches, and Etienne Capoue -- I think it's not unfair to expect big things from them considering their pedigree coming in.

But with the exception of Christian Eriksen, who has been outstanding, most of them have ranged from "meh" to disappointing.  We still have hopes that all of them will come good next season, especially Lamela who's been injured for most of the year.

Combine that with the AVB's dismissal and Tim Sherwood rejiggering the team mid-season, frankly it's a wonder we're even still in sixth place right now. Spurs are a tire fire and it's distressing to say the least. I'm anxious for the season to be over so we can retool for next year and hopefully improve. The pieces are all there. We really shouldn't be as shit as we are.

Tim Sherwood tried to connect with the fans by promising attacking, open and committed football; almost like a Harry Redknapp with even less caution. That's great when you're beating sides but it's been horribly exposed against the top sides. Is he the man for you?

LOL, no, and I think that's been made abundantly clear.  Over his short tenure, Sherwood has shown himself to be completely out of his depth, which isn't all that surprising considering he doesn't have his badges and has never coached at this level.

We're not really sure the reasons behind AVB's dismissal -- we're pretty sure, though, that it probably more to do with non-footballing reasons than on-field performances -- but clearly Sherwood was brought in as a high-risk-high-reward solution to steady the ship until a more permanent option could be found.

AVB's system was predicated on a high line combined with robust midfield pressure, and it worked remarkably well early in this season, until he suddenly abandoned the press after the Newcastle game. Spurs' performances tanked immediately afterwards. When Sherwood took over, he kept the high line, but his sides don't press in the midfield at all, which is suicidal against clubs like Liverpool, Chelsea, and City -- all teams that thumped us this season.

Sherwood doesn't seem to have a clear idea of what he wants to do tactically; he's essentially been throwing tactics at the wall and seeing what sticks, which may work against the lower half of the table but is disastrous against anyone decent. He's admitted that he doesn't really prepare for matches and has also proven that he'll throw his players under the bus when they don't play well.

Most Spurs fans gave him a chance initially -- he's young! English! Brave! -- but the bloom is off the rose now, and the vast majority of Spurs fans want to see the back of him and get in Louis Van Gaal or someone similar this summer so we can retool.

How do you see Spurs setting up this Monday against SAFC? It seems likely we'll stick with three (or five depending how you view it) at the back.

Well, it's Tim Sherwood, so we don't have the foggiest idea. Spurs have been battling injury all season, too, which makes anticipating a lineup even more difficult. We'll definitely play four at the back, and the preferred formation recently has been a double pivot that features Mousa Dembele and either Nabil Bentaleb or Sandro as a holding midfielder.  Eriksen will probably be shunted wide left for some reason with Lennon wide right, and since Soldado has a knock Adebayor will probably start up top.

Are you worried this game could be a potential banana skin? The fans will demand a result and we have nothing to lose. Is there any from our bunch of misfits that concern you?

Our home form has been terrible this season, and our motivation is essentially nil since we're out of the running for Champions League. Sunderland, by contrast, are fighting for their lives. Could this be a banana skin match? Absolutely.

Ki Sung-Yeung and Fabio Borini are both dangerous and we need to take them seriously. And Adam Johnson has at least shown that he can be good for, like, a month or so here and there.  Probably should mark him as well.  As an American I also desperately want Jozy Altidore to be good... *sob*

How do you see Sunderland as a side? Both this season and generally?

In recent years if you think Sunderland you think "mid-table." Which isn't a bad thing, per se. Sunderland have done well by themselves in recent years. They have great support, a wonderful rivalry with Newcastle, and occasionally show glimpses of wonderful football. I have nothing against Sunderland at all.

This season, however, they've been pretty much terribad. I'm not sure if it's due to DiCanio putting them into a hole they couldn't get out of or if it's due to mis-management at the club that's finally bearing fruit, but it's a shame to see. I'd much rather see a club like, say, Cardiff go down instead of you.

Prediction for the game?

I think this match is probably going to be a lot closer than most people expect. If Sunderland bring their A-game and Spurs switch off I can see Sunderland nicking a result.  I still predict a 2-1 win for Spurs, though.

We'd like to thank Dustin for his input, even if I did have an image of a young Dustin Diamond (Screech from Saved By The Bell) in my head throughout. We'll also forgive him for casually dropping the word 'terribad' into the conversation...
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