Tottenham 0-1 Everton: James Rodriguez shows Spurs what they are missing – Jermaine Jenas analysis


Match of the Day

I was left as confused and disappointed as any Tottenham fan after Sunday’s defeat by Everton.

As good as Everton were – and they were very good, especially James Rodriguez – Spurs were extremely poor.

If they keep playing like that, I don’t know what kind of season it is going to be, but it is not going to be an enjoyable one.

Tottenham just looked like a lot of very frustrated players that did not have any direction, which is odd. Whatever you think of the way Jose Mourinho’s teams play, they are usually well drilled in every detail.

This time, their players did not look fit – the difference in sharpness with Everton was huge – but, more worryingly, they did not look like they had even worked together before, or knew what their roles were on or off the ball.

Most of the time when I watch Spurs under Mourinho, I think ‘OK, there are going to be moments in the game where things are not going well, but we are going to have a spell where we come back into this’.

But that spell never came. I don’t know why, but the Spurs players did not even seem to be that upset about it either.

Snapshot showing Tottenham's XI v Everton: 4-2-3-1 Lloris; Doherty, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies; Winks, Hojbjerg; Moura, Alli, Son; Kane
Spurs gave debuts to summer signings Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty

I am sure Jose had a plan but, for whatever reason, his players were not able to execute it.

There was no cohesion, and no idea as to what to do to get back into the game from 1-0 down. They looked lost, low on confidence and miles off anything that was even close to good.

‘Everton are heading in a different direction’

Spurs lacked everything and even Mourinho’s substitutions were poor. Taking off Dele Alli at half-time didn’t make sense to me – at least he had looked like nicking a goal in the first half.

I know what Spurs fans will do – they are going to be screaming for signings – but it is not the numbers they have brought through the door since reaching the Champions League final in June 2019 that is a problem, it is the calibre of those players.

I actually think Matt Doherty is a great signing for Spurs this summer and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who also made his debut on Sunday, is going to work out in the long-run too.

But when you compare them to Everton’s new signings, Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure, then you can kind of see which direction the Toffees are going in, and it is completely the opposite one to Spurs.

I know it was only the first game of the season, but the situation does already seem that stark.

Snapshot showing Everton's XI v Tottenham: 4-3-3 Pickford; Coleman, Mina, Keane, Digne; Doucoure, Allan, Gomes; Rodriguez, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison
Everton gave a debut to three players – Allan, Doucoure and Rodriguez

It felt like I was watching a club in Everton who have set out their stall to make a real challenge for the top four. It is going to be an exciting few months for them.

And then you have got a club like Spurs who have built a stadium and a training ground to be in the top four, but the team – whether it is how they respond to their manager or down to the individuals – just don’t seem good enough at the moment to be anywhere near it.

‘Rodriguez had the guile to do what he wanted’

Rodriguez looked an absolute world-beater for Everton on Sunday – and he is almost exactly what Spurs haven’t got at the moment.

They have got plenty of players with pace and energy in that area behind the striker but they haven’t had anyone with real guile since Christian Eriksen left at the start of the year.

There isn’t anyone in this Tottenham team who you can give the ball to that can just soak it up and say ‘let me settle this down’ which is exactly what Rodriguez did time and time again when he found Richarlison or Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Whenever the ball came up to him on the right, Rodriguez always had so much time. He never seemed rushed and it was like he was saying to Spurs left-back Ben Davies ‘you stay there, I am controlling this ball and I’m going to do what I like with it’.

Graphic showing James Rodriguez is the first Premier League debutant to create at least five chances since Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal in August 2014.
Everton’s James Rodriguez is the first Premier League debutant to create at least five chances since Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal in August 2014

He has got that star quality about him. The talk when Rodriguez signed was would he be quick enough or fit enough, but he has got the ability to see things before they happen. He just looked like he was a class above.

Everton had Rodriguez orchestrating things at the top of the pitch, they had Allan running things in the middle and they had Michael Keane in charge at the back.

Whereas I looked at Spurs and everyone was looking around pointing fingers at each other.

‘Everton have plugged the gaps’

I remember watching Everton last season and looking at their midfield and thinking ‘yes, some nice footballers but they get over-run all the time and out-worked a lot’. That was why they lost a lot of games.

The beauty of what Everton have done this summer is that they have put all of that right.

They have plugged those gaps with two players in Allan and Doucoure who are solid, strong and ball-winners, who can give the ball to the quality they have got at the top end of the pitch.

It is early days of course but things look very positive from Everton’s point of view. It shows why it is a good idea to act early in the transfer market.

I listened to Calvert-Lewin talking on Sunday about how Rodriguez and the others had come in and lifted everyone before the start of the season. Of course it makes sense to do business then, because the new players can make that sort of impact from the get-go.

Tottenham have still got three weeks until the window closes on 5 October and it sounds like they will make some signings. I don’t understand why they haven’t happened already, though, when there is a lot work to do.

Yes, it might save Spurs some money by leaving things until the last minute, like they usually do, but is it really worth it when it can cost you points in the meantime?

Jermaine Jenas was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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