Strangely, despite Sunderland turning out yet another depressing performance under David Moyes he was positive in his assessment of the game afterwards, which is odd considering how brutal and negative he usually is when speaking to the press about his team.
Though it isn't noted here in his full time email I did hear Moyes speak after the game on BBC 5 Live and all he could do is talk about how we aren't good enough to compete with the likes of Spurs at any level, which in my opinion is both baffling and appalling in equal measures. I mean, based on the performance yesterday you'd struggle to disagree but what I'm suggesting is that on any day, any team can beat any other side in this league if they have the belief that they can do so. Watford turned over Manchester United yesterday, for example. What does it tell our players when the manager refuses to be proactive in his approach to the game?
Speaking in his full-time email, Moyes said:
It was a tough game. We didn't get enough of the ball to really dictate.
We were up against it early on, but we were resilient, stuck at it and probably had the best chance.
I know they had a lot of opportunities, but we had the best one from Steven Pienaar.
I've got to praise the lads for sticking at their task and take some positives from it.
We gifted them [Kane's goal] but in the rest of the game we worked really hard to protect our goal and not give things away.
That last line struck a chord with me. Does Moyes really think we played well?!
I can't fault the work rate of the players yesterday, but much of that hard graft was undone every time we gifted Spurs possession of the ball having worked to win it back. In truth, the manager set the side up to play in a way that didn't benefit us at all - it only delayed the inevitable, which was of course a Spurs goal. It had been coming since the very first minute and quite how we made it as far as we did without conceding was baffling, because if it wasn't for the performance of our goalkeeper we would have been dead and buried just minutes into the game.
Please don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting for one minute that Moyes doesn't know what he's doing. I feel that given time he will get this right, but he doesn't help himself or the players at all sometimes with the things that he says and the way that he asks them to play.
One player who seemed to play well under the circumstances was Didier Ndong, who made his first start since arriving from Lorient on Deadline Day.
Moyes was happy with his performance, and also made a point of crediting the fans for their support:
I thought Didier Ndong played really well today. Hopefully people can see what he gives us – big energy and good legs.
We're trying to build and fathom out a way forward with a new, younger-looking side.
The fans were great. To be truthful I think they appreciated that the boys hung in there and stuck at it.
I'm inclined to agree - I was pretty happy with the way that Ndong played all things considered, and as I noted this week on the Roker Rapport Podcast I feel that we'll see the best out of him in the home games where we maybe aren't sitting incredibly deep and inviting pressure onto ourselves.
Ndong did a very good job of intercepting the ball without giving away too many fouls and we saw a brief glimpse of what he can add going forward when he played in the ball which eventually led to Steven Pienaar's chance towards the end of the second half. We were warned about Ndong's discipline on the pitch but he was incredibly unfortunate to be booked, harshly picking up a yellow card towards the end of the game having fairly won the ball.
The positives were slim coming out of this game but I certainly feel that Didier's performance was one of them, and I couldn't quite understand some of the criticism I was seeing of him on social media. It wasn't perfect - he's a young player, so expect inconsistency - but I'm fairly content with how he fared.
Wednesday might be a far more important game than you think, when you assess just how detrimental winning or losing it could be in the grander scheme of things. Despite the result at White Hart Lane, Moyes seems confident.
We're back down in London on Wednesday and we want to get it done, come down and do well in the cup.
We will go with a strong team and try to get a result.
If we win in a convincing manner then it will be a timely boost ahead of what is now an absolutely huge game against Crystal Palace at the weekend. Lose, and it makes the struggle ahead feel far, far worse.
One final note I'd like to make is on just how good Jordan Pickford played. Though Moyes failed to mention his performance in the full time email I'm sure he was thankful for Jordan's performance because without him we might have seen a far more realistic scoreline - 1-0 flattered Sunderland in truth and without the England U21 international between the sticks this might have been a far more embarrassing result that perhaps the final score suggests.
Pickford was my man of the match down at White Hart Lane last season too and I suppose it was the kind of performance he needed having cost us the equaliser down at Southampton and then conceding three last Monday against Everton. He's an outstanding player and we're lucky to have him.
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