April 6, 2016

I’m sorry, Mousa

I wanted you gone; gone to the highest bidder, probably Sunderland.

I called you a 5-a-side player.

I said that you were too niche to ever be a success at Spurs

How wrong I was. I’m sorry for doubting you.

This season, you have become a lynchpin. When you’re not in our team, I worry. I worry because you are so much better than all of our other players at protecting the ball when under pressure from opponents. You resist the press better than anyone else we can field. You complete more passes than anyone else in the squad. 90.2% if you ask; the third best figure in the league (after Ki Sung-yeung and Ibrahim Afellay).

Is it a coincidence that you missed two of our four defeats through injury? Is it a coincidence that you played just 19 minutes of one of the others? Is it a coincidence that you were playing on the right in the opening day defeat at Old Trafford?

When you dribbled with the ball in the past, it would end with a backward pass that didn’t advance us. Now you dribble with purpose. You dribble to create space for others — to suck players towards you. And they do move towards you — in numbers — because they can’t get the ball off you without two or three of them kicking at your heels, getting up your pipes. And that creates space for others, which you now know how to exploit.

You’ve got direction. You’ve got purpose. You’ve got Eric Dier alongside you. You have back-up, you have protection, you have freedom. All of these things have changed you, they’ve made you the great player that I never thought you had it in you to become.

You’ve got a working hip. And that makes a difference too, because you can trust your body now. You know that you can bounce players off and not worry about the repercussions. You’ve put a run of games together — you’ve had rhythm.

You know your place. You’re not expected to be threading through-balls, or running onto them for that matter. You’re in the middle, receiving the ball, getting it forward efficiently, and winning it back when it’s lost. You press. You press so well. You know the triggers, you know your role in the press, you know how to exploit it when you do win the ball.

And you’ve got a coach who can offer you advice and mould your game for the better. He has taken you from a decent player, to one of the best midfielders in the league.

I’m sorry for doubting you, Mousa. Will you forgive me?

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  • H says:

    Spot on. Feel the same way myself.
    I used to sit at games saying “lateral pass, lateral pass, backwards pass” every time he had the ball.
    He is a different player.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      He *is* a different player, and if any revisionists try to tell you that he’s always been like this, you just didn’t see it — ignore them!

  • Mousa Dembele says:

    No.

  • Paul says:

    Hahaha! The Moose says no! Lol! Everybody loves this Moose! Mousa Dembele is the best central midfielder in the Premiership!

  • Paul says:

    Sorry I forgot to mention! I loved this article because so many Spurs supporters have had to grovel for an apology! Thank you

  • bazza says:

    I fail to see why you should apologise, Dembele was ther most frustrating player, yes he used to hold on to the ball too long, slow attacks down, rarely scored, defensively he was always inclined to give away often needless fouls in dangerous positions. He had the occasional great game but it was rare. Consistently he just wasn’t very good. Last season he improved although there was a feeling that any third CM had to improve on a pairing of Bentaleb and Mason but the midfield with three always looked better so lets give Mousa his due. This season he stepped up and looked a far better player, far more direct, moves the ball quicker, looks around more, for me he has not been as good since coming back from injury but still this season he has overall been a much improved player and an important cog in the wheel and it’s great to see, but I fail to see why there’s any need to apologise for earlier seasons when he struggled

    • GERRYinHONGKONG says:

      I agree that his failure in the past was playing on the right(an unnatural position) and the lack of support around him(changed this season when Alli arrives and Lamela playing centrally or on the left).

      His best position,IMO, is AM on the left where he is less injury prone than a DM.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      I agree – but I do owe him an apology for doubting that he could improve this much. I didn’t think he had it in him.

  • The Ness says:

    Well said Windy. You are a knowledgable guy who isn’t afraid to stand up and be counted when proved wrong. So glad you were though!

  • Mattspurs says:

    It’s amazing how after years of struggling to find his position he final seems to have done it – every manager has seemed to struggle with his position even at Fulham.
    The form of Alli, Dier, Eriksen and Lamela have all allowed Dembele to flourish – Dembele has also allowed the others to play their best seasons yet at Spurs.
    One more player to rotate in with Dier and Dembele next season and another CF and we’ll be pushing hard for the title.

  • Hudspur says:

    To be fair, the last couple of seasons we had very few quality attacking players to pass forward to, so passing back was the best option for him. Also, if he passed back Fazio would receive it and play a delightful through ball for an opposing attacker to score against us…

    • WindyCOYS says:

      I don’t agree with that, we’ve had some quality players to pick out still — he’s never been a prolific forward passer and tbh that’s still the case now. But he gets rid of it sooner.

      • Hudspur says:

        Maybe it was trust issues. It sounds bad but when I have played semi prof I have had trust issues when passing to team mates – especially in positions where a counter attack would be deadly

  • GERRYinHONGKONG says:

    As reference to Dembele, I think Son has also been criticised unfairly. Some said his running off the ball was like that of a headless chicken.

    I believe Son is an intelligent forward who could sense when there is a scoring opportunity. He made runs which were not spotted first time by teammates on the ball.

    The congested fixture before the Europa exit probably did not allow Poch to have the team sitting down to examine the tapes of played matches, when those mid-fielders would realise they have wasted the chances a timely pass to the space in front of Son.

    I hope the team would use the summer to review all matches on tape, thus learning how to help each other better.

    • WindyCOYS says:

      Son’s running off the ball vs Liverpool was great – the amount of times he was ‘nearly’ picked out shows me that there’s a lot to come. Look out for that Dier to Son diagonal.

  • Itoe Ebeku says:

    If Spurs can fully exploit the strength and skills of Dembele, there is no doubt that Spurs have one of the best midfielders in modern European football in their hand.I am the biggest fan of Moussa but the truth is that, Dembele got the ability to be the best but unfortunately he got no problem,when he is seen as a fairly good footballer.I was hugely disapointed to see commoners like Bentaleb and Mason play ahead of Moussa last season. Note- Pochetino has not made Dembele a better player but he has just become aware of his quality.Even Pochetino needs to apologise to the Belgian beast. LOL.

  • GERRYinHONGKONG says:

    Let Leics worry in the summer about the players they will have for the CL.

    Meanwhile, we should use this summer to review all our games this season with video/tape playback:
    noting any holes in the defence and device ways to patch them;
    guide our mid-fields in finding players like Son in good positions and thus be able to practise first time passing into space ahead of that player;
    Although we love to see individual brilliance goals by Kane and Alli, there were more chances missed/mishit by our forwards and AMs. poch should compile a log and let the players see for themselves their on target percentage.
    Off the ball running has been good. Keep it up.

  • Sweetsman says:

    The key to this summer is to keep Poch and it must be at all costs. Man Utd have trained their eyes on him with Fergie gushing at every opportunity. If we have any ambition, then we must keep the reason for what this team is now, what players like Dembele is like now. I wrote some time ago that if Poch could unlock Dembele then it would be something special. Well, he’s done that and more. In fact, don’t be surprised if Lamela is the player to watch next year.
    Dembele is a thoughtful, introspective person. Poch has brought him out of his shell. Rather than apologise to Dembele, let’s thank Poch.

    • Hudspur says:

      TBH I honestly can’t se poch leaving us at all. He’s done so much work developing Tottenham to his standards/preference and to leave to a club struggling with so so much dead weight that is united would be bizzare. With a new stadium on the way I also couldn’t see any players leaving either unless they are really unhappy 🙂

  • Sweetsman says:

    That should have read “what a player like Dembele is now”.

  • GERRYinHONGKONG says:

    The team have enjoyed Monday. Now they should put the excitement behind them and concentrate on the away game at Stoke.

    KNOW THY OPPONENTS.

    I trust the coaching staff have drawn up specific plans for the Stoke game.
    Indeed our coaching staff must use their time before next season to compile a database of the 16 PL oppositions’ individual players as well as their team tactics+those of the 3 promoted sides, so that we could get off to a flying start next August, and be in a comfortable position of the PL table by the time group stage starts for the ECL.

    Another thing about our sponsor, Under Armour.
    I remember golfer Tiger Woods did really well until he changed to Nike.
    We are doing well with UA, who is also sponsor of NBA’s GS Warriors.
    A rising brand complements a rising club. We should keep the partnership with UA.

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