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Spare a thought for Mousa Dembele

Discussion in 'General Football' started by Gazza, 31 May 2019.

  1. SteveAWOL

    SteveAWOL Paul Walsh

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    N’dombele and Lo Celso are both highly rated dribblers but it might be a few months until they are fully acclimatised and able to that void in midfield...

    upload_2019-8-31_6-42-3.png upload_2019-8-31_6-42-22.png upload_2019-8-31_6-46-19.png
     
    metalgear and scaramanga like this.
  2. spurspinter1

    spurspinter1 Mauricio Taricco

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    I feel like a post has been deleted, didn't someone reply to this with "Best check the treatment room" or something to that effect?

    Might be imagining things but it seems a valid yet poignant point.
     
    scaramanga likes this.
  3. DubaiSpur

    DubaiSpur Jimmy McCormick

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    Sigh. It's May 2020, and we still *brutally* miss the guy. He single-handedly defined a new paradigm for central midfielders - the way Poch utilised him basically introduced a new archetype to football, that of the press-resistant midfielder. Every major midfield player since (from Frenkie De Jong to Lo Celso, from Fede Valverde to the plethora of French midfield dribblers currently active) has borrowed from him, and has adopted his techniques.

    Before him, central midfielders tended to either be destroyers or passers - the main form of ball progression from central midfield was passing from deep. Modric excelled at this, and was the best distributor we've had at the club for the last thirty-odd years - when he was replaced by Dembele in 2012, I know a lot of us wondered what the plan was given the stark differences in playing style.

    Dembele had been a somewhat average striker at Fulham, before unexpectedly finding success in an attacking midfield role as a sort of advanced destroyer + crazy good dribbler + above-average short passer - but the difference between him and Modric was night and day. How to use a guy like him deeper in midfield? He wasn't a pure destroyer, but he certainly wasn't a particularly good long passer, either - we had intended for Moutinho to be the actual Modric replacement, but then Levy cheaped out as usual, and we ended up with just Dembele (and Clint Dempsey on deadline day).

    And truth be told, for a while, our managers didn't really know how to use him either. AVB played him as the 'middle' midfielder in the three, but he wasn't particularly good at that. Tim Sherwood didn't use him much. And even Poch, when he came in, preferred Bentaleb and Mason over him, at least initially.

    But then, in 2015/2016, Mason got injured, and Dembele was drafted in next to Dier. And the rest was, non-figuratively, history - Poch had accidentally found perfection. The key was that Dembele no longer had distributional duties from deep - ball progression was no longer the primary objective for him. Instead, passing from deep was handled by Toby, Jan and Dier - and, higher up, by Dele, Eriksen and Kane. The creative talent in the team meant he didn't have to try pinging the ball around from deep - instead, his primary role became to use his dribbling ability to essentially break the opposition press. Which he did - again, and again, and again, non-stop for two glorious seasons in 15-16 and 16-17.

    He was helped by the continent-wide tactical shift towards pressing systems in the mid 2010s - a lot of world-class deep distributors previously used to pinging passes around with minimal pressure suddenly struggled against the onset of the high press disrupting their passes. In this new environment, Dembele *thrived* - he was the press-breaker, able to evade any number of opposition players trying to press him with laughable ease and absolute contempt. And, in 16-17, when paired with Wanyama, he became the ultimate midfield general - him and Wanyama acted as a double lock, brutally destroying opponents trying to attack down the middle, winning the ball back, and then powerfully thundering upfield with it as opponents flailed helplessly.

    In his pomp, no one could touch him - he single-handedly made our press work, made our team work, and put the fear of GHod into the league. And although he slowed down a lot in 17/18, and then utterly broke down in 18/19 as the relentlessness of Poch's training finally took its toll on his knees - while he was at his peak, we were at ours. And football took note - it's not for nothing that he's viewed as one of the architects of the modern press-resistant footballer. Today, every kid is taught how to shield the ball, how to dribble, how to swerve past players. Center-backs can do it now. But back when he was active, not that long ago, that was very, very uncommon. And Dembele changed that.





    Damn, I miss having him in our midfield. We've never been the same since 16/17.
     
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  4. Grays_1890

    Grays_1890 Nick Barmby

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    That second video is poor, loads of fouls and there was a few where you see he gives ball away and they cut away
     
  5. Ade's folks are ok really

    Ade's folks are ok really Ramon Vega

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    Still holding out hope that N'Dombele will be all this and maybe more. He certainly has it in him.
     
  6. Kandi1977

    Kandi1977 Luka Modric

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    I'm confident thant Ndombele can deliver much of the same as Moussa did.
    But how good was Moussa?? Insanly good. If he had added around 10 goals a season to his performances, he'd easily be the best midfielder in the world. He was a joy to watch, and I feel he didn't get the recognition he deserved while he was here.
     
  7. fernadez

    fernadez Ronnie Rosenthal

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    I'd almost gone 24 hours without thinking about him, log into the site and see this.

    tossers.
     
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  8. fernadez

    fernadez Ronnie Rosenthal

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    DubaiSpur likes this.
  9. Daisuk

    Daisuk Christian Ziege

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    Oh, stop it. I'm shedding a tear here. If you aren't already, you should definitely be a writer. :)
     
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  10. MKSpur

    MKSpur Edgar Davids

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    Very nicely put Dubai, that double team of Wanyama and Dembele was a force of nature. Dembele had injury niggles for a while but I always felt that with at least one of them we’d do well, Dembele especially against the better teams as he was so ‘absorbent’ in what he did - think he genuinely deflated opponents.
    Ndombele looks to have the same qualities but a little more in his offensive locker, perhaps the issue is one of meteorology where Dembele relished his personal responsibility of protecting the ball rather than looking to create something.
    Genuinely unlucky to lose Wanyama out of nowhere at the same time, plus Dier’s illnesses suddenly left what I thought was our strongest area very light.
    We could do with at least one more hunk of burning love to bolster the options next season.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jun 2020
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  11. FatBloke

    FatBloke Gheorge Popescu

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    Beautifully put, Dubai. I think there's something in my eye. It's a bit dusty in here, isn't it?

    For so long, our midfield kept breaking up just when it was on the cusp of something great. Mendes leaving due to the emergence of Carrick...who was promptly poached by ManU so he could be under-appreciated by an entirely different set of fans. Modric, Bale and Van der Vaart were absolutely glorious, until Real Madrid came along...twice. Dembro destroyed all-comers...until Sandro's injury. Dembele was then the common link for a few seasons, with the DESK forward combination carrying the baton through determination alone, it seemed. But we never did replace Moussa, and it showed. If we could have kept him just a bit longer and wheeled him out for the CL final, it could have been so different. His knees were shot though.

    I so desperately want Lo Celso and Ndombele to become our next great midfield combo, and actually stick around for a few seasons. Fingers crossed...
     
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  12. mephitis

    mephitis Ronnie Rosenthal

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    5:13 sums him up for me! Love the guy!
     
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  13. DubaiSpur

    DubaiSpur Jimmy McCormick

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    Thanks, mate. I tried a lot of things in my 20s, and being a writer was one of them. Sadly, like most people in their 20s, it didn't pay the bills for me, and I've since found that being a public servant allows me to keep the lights on and write about Spurs at the same time. When the world isn't exploding because of COVID, anyway. :p

    That's a great word - absorbent. Mousa absolutely was absorbent - you could actually see oppponents pull up, throw their hands in the air in frustration, or just slump their shoulders in despair every time he piroutted past their desperate attempts to press him. :D

    I agree - Ndombele's biggest issue is in his head, and he's his own worst enemy. Somewhere in him is a second Mousa - maybe less defensively solid, but a lot more gifted at passing from deep, switching play and breaking the lines, with the same unstoppable dribbling abilities to boot.

    But the way he was playing pre-COVID makes me worry that he's an absolute liability in that midfield - and at the moment, I trust Sissoko to do a job there more than I trust Ndombele. It's up to him to disprove those doubts - and he hasn't got long, because I genuinely think Lo Celso will end up taking his spot if he isn't careful. Lo Celso can do a lot of what Ndombele can do (did wonders playing in defensive midfield at both PSG and Betis), but is also just a lot tougher and more willing to run and press than Ndombele is.

    I agree - we've just had terrible luck in midfield, always losing components just when the puzzle was coming together. As @MKSpur pointed out, one of our unluckiest (and most overlooked) blows of recent seasons may have been losing both Dier and Wanyama - Wanyama became perma-crocked almost instantly, and Dier's just faded away into an immobile, barely useful midfielder now.

    Wanyama in particular - it just seemed like one day in 2017, he went down with an injury, and that's it - poof, gone permanently. He never returned after one glorious opening season, and it pains me to think how good he could have been alongside, say, Lo Celso (or Ndombele).
     
  14. FatBloke

    FatBloke Gheorge Popescu

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    True. That season when Dier was nailed on to the teamsheet, floating between CD and CM as we transitioned between defence and attack, was special. Perhaps it was just a system that happened to suit his game perfectly -- a jack of all (well, both) trades with footballing intelligence rather than the perfect CD or CM.

    And Wanyama. It just makes me sad.
     
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  15. SteveAWOL

    SteveAWOL Paul Walsh

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  16. FatBloke

    FatBloke Gheorge Popescu

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    Such balance! like some sort of footballing Weeble.
     
  17. dnrc

    dnrc Fraizer Campbell

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    great player - untouchable for a while

    My first memory of him was his wonder goal when fulham smashed us in the fa cup, but then he came to us.

    love how many times he put players on their arse in that video with exactly the same move!
     
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  18. scaramanga

    scaramanga Teddy Sheringham Staff Member

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    Has his loan finished yet?
     
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  19. 90291Spur

    90291Spur Steffen Iversen

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    Cheeky bid?
     
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  20. Whiffler

    Whiffler Milija Aleksic

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    Might have mentioned it before, but can't remember the detail.

    He had something over 10% possession in a CL match against poor opposition.

    Can anyone place that performance using whatever stat app ?
     

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