Having just wasted 90 minutes of my life watching Spurs just about managing to beat Hapoel Tel-Aviv I have firmly concluded that it was actually the worst game of football since last years completely abysmal FA Cup final. And that was really, really bad.
On paper it looks like a comfortable result for Spurs but it wasn't, it was a dull boring match with exactly 57 seconds of interesting play and the rest of it soul sapping, mind numbing rubbish.
Spurs scored two goals from the exact same play and then spent the remaining 89 minutes showing everyone just how poor a team they are.
No disrespect to Hapoel Tel-Aviv, but they are shit. And I do not say that lightly. In UEFA ranking terms Hapoel are a whopping 127th, below powerhouses such as Grasshoppers Zurich, Hearts and even the mighty Millwall.
Spurs on the other hand are ranked 55th, not exactly high flyers either but a gulf this big should mean that Spurs should be metaphorically shitting on them from a great height. You can say that Spurs have had a shocking start to the season but Hapoel have too, so much so that their manager will be out the door on Sunday if they lose and he seems to wish they didn't have to play in Europe anymore...
But instead of dominance, for the first hour of the game we had complete and utter ineptitude. They looked panicked in midfield, hurriedly shooting off half-arsed passes as soon as they were put under the tiniest bit of pressure. As for defence the makeshift assemblage which had Chimbonda at centre-back, looked as if it was going to break under the slightest pressure, if not for Hapoel's complete lack of adventure and one uncharacteristically fine save from Paul Robinson, they would have bagged at least one.
After an hour though, things somehow, got worse. Gal Shish was dismissed for a second booking and it seemed like Spurs might actually make the win look impressive, but no. Within ten minutes Robbie Keane, the only player who seemed to care, was off, and double goal provider Malbranque followed soon after.
Spurs played most of the second half with a man advantage, with three strikers on the pitch, and somehow the keeper had less to do than vegetarian in a butchers shop.
They were woeful, inept and at many times painful to watch, especially as Berbatov seemed to be genuinely trying to get sent off. What has happened? Spurs last season would have pounced on an opportunity like that to put five goals past them in style!
The problem, as Pete, Andy and I discussed in the pub, was heart. It's not that the players don't care about the team, or about winning, they're professional sportsmen and want to perform to the best of their ability. Even Berbatov seemed to care, despite the rumours that he is so lazy and malcontent at Spurs this season that heartfelt pleas of loyalty are required to try and convince the fans that he's not off in January.
Several times Berbatov shrugged with a look of "what the hell was that" when yet another pass went astray. But that was all he did and that, is the problem.
When a team are struggling with form, as Spurs clearly are, you need fire, you need leaders to step up on the pitch and make a point that you need to pull your finger out. No one on that field in Israel was prepared to do that, when Robbie Keane went off, the captain's armband went to Paul Robinson. Paul Robinson?! That says a lot about the mentality in the White Hart Lane dressing room.
Great teams have players that are never satisfied, even when all is well they are screaming, shouting, extolling and berating their team mates to sharpen things up, to push up to the next level, to make the team better.
Man United are brilliant at getting players like that. Roy Keane used to look thoroughly annoyed even when they were 3-0 up and when they were down or playing badly he would become positively psychotic. They have similar players now in Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and others who are shouting at their team mates non-stop from start to finish, embarrassing them into not becoming complacent.
Without such players, teams get sloppy, teams get comfortable, and then you start wondering why that top four finish you were targeting has turned into a relegation battle. Spurs don't have a big, angry personality to keep them in line, even the new coach seems positively taciturn no matter what is going on, and that does not bode well for Spurs this year.
But I don't really think that the Yid Army will be enjoying away days at Ninian Park next year, the sheer amount of quality in their attacking line-up combined with how poor Derby, Bolton and others are playing this year gives me hope, but that won't solve the problem. Mild mannered, aloof players with fantastic ability are great when you're winning but useless when your losing, who will stand up and fight for Spurs?