Chadli’s unable to offer much encouragement as Spurs’ season peters out
Nacer Chadli is unsure why Tottenham have “been flat” in their last two games but says the staff and players “have to sort it out”.
The majority of Tottenham’s players were understandably keen to slip away quietly on Saturday and avoid the reporters who were waiting, as usual, between the changing room and the car park.
Nacer Chadli took the time to stop – and credit to him for that because there was no obligation for him to do so.
However, he was unable to offer much encouragement after the 1-0 home defeat against Aston Villa, which had echoes of the reverses against West Brom, Newcastle and Stoke at White Hart Lane earlier in the season.
Of course, he will have been disappointed and in no mood to chat. But there was little explanation or analysis, no fire in the eyes to suggest anger at the result and nothing to buoy the Spurs fans who have already committed to next weekend’s long trip north to Newcastle, other than the admission that the staff and players “have to sort it out”.
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Faced with the cameras and dictaphones, Chadli wearily went through the motions – like many of the Lilywhites’ players during the 90 minutes that had preceded.
Two months earlier, the Belgian was enthusing that this was the fittest squad he had played with – and a number of his team-mates offered similar sentiments around that time, hailing the benefits of a gruelling pre-season and Mauricio Pochettino’s training regime.
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However, the test was always going to come at the end of the season rather than in February and, after their 51st game of the season, Spurs seem to be running out of steam, taking one point from a possible six against Burnley and Villa and failing to score in both games.
So have the matches now caught up with them? “I don’t know really if that’s the case but certainly we didn’t play well, and well enough to win the game,” said Chadli. “Villa won and then played not bad, I think. They played all the game well and better than us.
“They played on the counter-attack and we had some chances and have to do better with them. It was frustrating. We still have six games to go and we have to bounce back next week at Newcastle, and we want to win there.
“I don’t really know the reason why we have been flat but we have to sort it out, that is for sure. Probably we will talk about it this week and see what everyone has to say.
“We all have to help each other. The oldest ones need to help the youngest ones and the youngest ones need to help the oldest ones. That is how the group is working. I guess we need to have a little chat this week to sort it out.”
The frustration for Spurs and their fans is that, if they had beaten Burnley and Villa, they would now be just two points behind fourth-placed Manchester City – plus goal difference - with a home game against Manuel Pellegrini’s side still to come.
As it is, Spurs’ top-four challenge is effectively – if not mathematically – over, and they have little to play for, even if they had the energy for a fight.
What is the goal now? “The goal is to win every game and we want to do that - after that we will see where we will finish,” said Chadli.
The Belgian’s own form has been indicative of Spurs’ decline. Having scored his ninth goal of the season in early January, the 25-year-old has managed just one more in his last 16 games for his club, and his influence has generally waned.
He was used in the No10 position against Villa on Saturday but was no more productive in a team that has lost its creativity since the international break, and he was substituted just after the hour-mark.
“I was playing another role but as every player plays better I think the team will do better - maybe I will score more goals,” said Chadli.
Pochettino cut a relaxed figure throughout Saturday’s game, spending most of the game in his seat, with the animation coming from his opposite man, Tim Sherwood, and Spurs’ former goalkeeping coach Tony Parks, who is also now at Villa.
The home fans might like to see more from their head coach – some evidence of urgency or displeasure – but Chadli feels that detail is unimportant.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Even when a coach shouts on the side you don’t hear.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs