Clear-out of fringe players at Tottenham is now inevitable after desperately poor Morecambe display

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
(Getty Images)
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Antonio Conte
    Antonio Conte
    Italian association football player and manager
  • Harry Kane
    Harry Kane
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Lucas Moura
    Lucas Moura
    Brazilian association football player
  • Oliver Skipp
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Tanguy Ndombele
    French association football player

Tottenham avoided an historic FA Cup upset, coming from behind to beat League One Morecambe 3-1, but the afternoon felt like another nail in the coffin for many of Antonio Conte’s fringe players.

Not for the first time, Spurs’ dismal second string was bailed out by their big guns, as Harry Kane, Lucas Moura and Oliver Skipp came off the bench with 20 minutes remaining to rescue the third-round tie.

Harry Winks equalised with a fortuitous free-kick, which looked like an overhit cross, on 74 minutes before Lucas gave Spurs the lead, pickpocketing a defender, running from the halfway and rounding the goalkeeping.

Kane made the game safe with a cute late finish, but the eventual comfort of the scoreline could not disguise the hosts’ deficiencies for the majority of the game.

Conte picked eight of the same XI that started the humiliating 2-1 defeat to NS Mura – the lowest ranked side in Europe this season – and Spurs were familiarly underwhelming. Anthony O’Connor volleyed Morecambe in front from a corner on 33 minutes and were short of quality, energy and ideas as they laboured to get back in the game.

Admittedly, teams often struggle when managers make wholesale changes but no team’s level seems to drop more than Tottenham’s when their stars are missing.

Watch: Antonio Conte coy on Tanguy Ndombele future after Spurs fans boo record signing

Dele Alli and Bryan Gil arguably deserve some sympathy for having to play out of position up front, although they should still have had the quality to cause Morecambe far more problems.

Tanguy Ndombele, meanwhile, was abject and booed off by his own fans, and Giovani Lo Celso, Winks, Matt Doherty and Ryan Sessegnon were short of quality on the ball and lacking fight off it, while Pierluigi Gollini and Japhet Tanganga were at fault for the goal. Joe Rodon looked uncomfortable, although may have been carrying a knock.

Lucas, Kane and Skipp immediately added more quality on the ball but, more importantly, more energy and fight. They just looked like they wanted it more.

Spurs’ second string have under-performed in cup games for over two years now but Conte’s appointment offered everyone a clean slate, and a chance to turn around their Spurs career.

It is now more obvious than ever that many of these players simply need a fresh start away from Spurs.

Ndombele’s last stand?

Tanguy Ndombele was booed off by his own fans when he was replaced by Skipp, surely hastening the midfielder’s eventual departure from the club.

Ndombele was near the far touchline when the fourth official held up his number and he trudged over towards the technical area at walking pace.

Even as the boos began, and Japhet Tanganga and then Kane, who was also coming on, tried to cajole Ndombele into speeding up his exit, he made no effort to quicken his pace, before heading directly down the tunnel.

It is not hard to find an example of the Tottenham crowd influencing the departure of an unloved character. Nuno Espirito Santo’s sacking followed boos and jeers from the crowd for the head coach during the 3-0 defeat to Manchester United.

But Spurs cannot sack Ndombele and they may not even be able to find a buyer this month, while the Frenchman is already way down Conte’s pecking order.

It is therefore not clear if the supporters’ fury will really change anything about Ndombele’s position, at least in the short-term.

Witnessing the stadium turn on the frustrating and underwhelming club-record signing, though, it did become much hard to envisage him eventually making a success of his time at Spurs.

Watch: 5 Minute Home Core Workout Without Equipment | Move At Home

Spurs lack of striker

Back in December, Conte admitted that it would be difficult for him to rest Kane for any game until the level of the rest of his squad had sufficiently improved.

Kane was finally given a rest against the Shrimps but Tottenham’s toothless display until his introduction only supported Conte’s point.

Dele and Gil did not lack effort – at least compared to some of their teammates – but neither looked comfortable playing up-front in Conte’s 3-5-2 system, and Spurs’ attacks were laboured and predictable until Lucas and Kane entered the fray.

Spurs’ lack of a second striker leaves Kane under intense pressure and hampers the side, while Dele’s chance of recovering some form and Gil’s development are also being hampered by being forced to play out of position.

Admittedly, Steven Bergwijn and Heung-min Son were both injured, but clearly if Spurs want to fight on more than one front, they cannot keep relying on just one specialised striker. Buying a new forward should be a priority this month.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting