101 minutes is a terribly long time to stick by something which is malfunctioning.
In Spurs’ case that was Christian Eriksen on Sunday, Mauricio Pochettino only removing the once Great Dane deep, deep into injury time after a laboured performance.
Eriksen, without wanting to mince any words, had the proverbial shocker at Goodison Park.
He lost possession 16 times – more than anyone else on the pitch – of which 12 of those came in a truly diabolical first half.
Chances created? Zero. Shots taken? Zero. Tackles Made? Zero. Take-ons attempted? Zero. Yellow cards? One.
The most alarming take from proceedings is this was far from a one off; Eriksen’s form has gradually declined to this nadir on Merseyside.
If things had gone to plan in the summer, he would be plying his trade somewhere else and Giovani Lo Celso would be a fully integrated first-teamer by now.
Instead, Eriksen is sulking and dragging his heels while Lo Celso recovers from an ill-timed hip injury.
Even then Poch persists with his number 23, appearing reluctant to accept the reality that his teacher’s pet isn’t the player he once was.
“I don’t think the performance of Christian is any different than when we signed him five-and-a-half years ago,” the Argentine said after that drab 1-1 draw at Everton.
“His commitment is the same – sometimes we maybe look too much at whether a player has a one-year contract or a four-year contract.
“But when you see Christian and you compare him to different seasons, he is the same player.”
Can I shock you, Mauricio?
In four of his six Premier League seasons, Eriksen averaged more than an assist every three games and he has reached double figures in the last four.
In this campaign he has just one from the first 10 games.
Meanwhile Tanguy Ndombele – a player everyone wanted in the summer before Spurs won the race for his signature – has been either substituted early or reduced to cameo roles.
This is a pale imitation of the Eriksen we all fell slightly head over heels for.
No player has registered more assists (61) and created more chances (561) since his Premier League debut in 2013.
All good things come to an end and he’s not the only one that applies to at Spurs, but it doesn’t make the decline any less painful.
The concern for Eriksen is the changing approach to transfer strategy across Europe in the last few years.
According to The Independent since 2014, the average age of first time signings at Man United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and PSG – his four most likely suitors – is 24, 21.5, 23.3 and 24.8 respectively.
Eriksen will be 28 in February and the deadlock experienced by the likes of Gareth Bale and Alexis Sanchez prove that bigger clubs aren’t as prepared to gamble on elder statesmen anymore.
So who will blink first in this impasse?
Poch could submit to the fans and ostracise Eriksen, or his love child could start to rediscover his mojo.
Will Spurs persist with their ageing device or finally upgrade to a newer model?
Either way something has to give, because the current state of affairs embodies Spurs’ problems this season as things turn staler by the week.
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