Farcical Tottenham season reaches defining low

The north Londoners lost Younes Kaboul to a red card on 25 minutes but showed an alarming lack of fight as West Ham recorded their first victory in a month
By Liam Twomey at Upton Park

Tottenham have endured worse scorelines in this relentlessly wretched season, but few more miserable days. 

West Ham secured their Premier League status by wrapping up their third consecutive victory in this fixture - and a first Premier League double over Spurs since the 1998-99 season - inside 45 minutes.

Even worse, they barely had to break sweat.

Tottenham's season of humiliation
Oct 6
0-3 v West Ham
Nov 24 0-6 v Manchester City
Dec 15 0-5 v Liverpool
Jan 29
1-5 v Manchester City
Mar 8 0-4 v Chelsea
Mar 30 0-4 v Liverpool
In mitigation, the visitors were compromised from the moment Younes Kaboul clumsily felled Stewart Downing as the winger raced through on goal in the 25th minute. The last man, Phil Dowd had no choice but to fish out his red card.

West Ham made the most of Tim Sherwood's delay in sending on Vlad Chiriches to plug the defensive hole, with Andy Carroll stinging the palms of Hugo Lloris with a fierce free-kick before meeting Mark Noble's corner with a firm header which cannoned off the unfortunate Harry Kane and into the net.

But it quickly emerged that Dowd's decision had deprived Spurs of their fight as well as their French defender. The home side swarmed all over them, with Andy Carroll particularly effective in his patented 'false nuisance' role, drifting wide and deep to win his aerial duels and bring team-mates into play. He encountered little resistance.

Tottenham had earlier created the best chance of a lively opening period when a flowing counterattack allowed Christian Eriksen to find Emmanuel Adebayor in position to take a free shot at Adrian.

The Togo international's attempted finish, a glorified back pass which the Spaniard claimed easily, set the tone for what was a startlingly limp and disinterested personal display.

The nadir came a minute before the break. Danny Rose's overhit pass allowed Mark Noble to run unchecked at Michael Dawson, who was forced to shoulder him unceremoniously to the floor some 25 yards out. Downing stepped up and unleashed a free-kick at waist height which should never have harboured a hope of even reaching Lloris.

But Paulinho and Adebayor were in charitable mood. They twisted their bodies sideways, cleaving the Tottenham wall in two and creating the space for Downing's effort to fly through and beat their goalkeeper at his near post, winning the game. It was the West Ham man's first goal in 39 Premier League matches, and one he had no right to expect.

At the interval it became clear that the toxic home atmosphere which has threatened to topple Sam Allardyce in recent weeks had been replaced with an air of delighted bemusement at their opponents' sheer haplessness.

Even Sir Trevor Brooking, pitchside interviewee and a man who almost always governs himself with diplomatic restraint, could not resist a gloat: "Poor old Spurs, eh?"

The second half brought no greater humiliation, but only by the grace of Lloris. The Frenchman was exceptional, pulling off a string of impressive saves to ensure that at least one line of the Tottenham defence gave off an air of defiance. As the man himself stated in no uncertain terms last month, he deserves a better team than this one.

Sherwood has publicly castigated his team for less insipid performances this season, making his philosophical attitude in his post-match dealings with the media all the more mysterious.

He insisted Spurs had not been out-fought - "I don’t think so. The game changed on the red card" - and refused to single out Paulinho or Adebayor for their dereliction of duty on Downing's free-kick. "It wasn’t great but I spoke to them," he added. "I pointed it out to them but they don’t need me to point it out, they know it’s an error."

The change of tack was remarkable and baffling. Sherwood's willingness to call out his underperforming players is one of the few aspects of his media persona which chimes with Tottenham's disgruntled fans. His public defence suggested a man who still believes he can keep this job. Spurs' apparent public courtship of Frank De Boer suggests otherwise.

But Tottenham supporters have bigger concerns. While not disastrous, a season which once promised so much has ultimately left the sense of a club which does not know where it is going.

On days like this it appears the only conclusion.

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