Results for Tactics

The new Archibald and Crooks

8:30 am

A few stories have thankfully been put to bed, stories that were never real stories or where was only ever an outside chance of a signing, not that you'd believe that from reading the media and other websites.

The world and his wife knew Zlatan Ibrahimović was going to Manchester United to be reunited with Jose Mourinho, Tottenham were never in the hunt to sign him, we can't afford his wages. Pay him an astronomical sum and every player would be knocking on the door for a wage increase.

We have the silly stories about Spurs offering Harry Kane £100,000-a-week to fend off Manchester United, there is no fending off to do. Kane has made it perfectly clear Spurs is where he wants to be, the press seems to have forgotten that or conveniently ignored it so they can peddle rubbish.

Then there is Marc Bartra, we tried, Pochettino phoned, but we simply don't have enough to offer. Toby Alderweireld was standing in the way, the guy wants to play, not sit on another bench. We haven't missed out on him because we never really had a chance. Missing out sound like we could have done something about it, we couldn't.

Our striker search and Pochettino's throwaway comment last season may well mean we are slightly changing our system next season. A throwback to the days of two goalscorers, of medal winning Archibald and Crooks.

Are we going to have Harry Kane and another playing as a pair? We have seen Kane play the number 10 role, will he be there next season, will he be the striker with a new number 10?

If so, would that not push Dele Alli wide left and Eriksen over to the right. You can't drop Dier and Dembele so do you drop Lamela or do you have a striker sitting on the bench who wants to play all the big games but is second fiddle to Kane? If we bought Batshuayi, do you see him sitting on the bench, playing the weaker Premier League games or games after a Champions League game?

Pochettino knows what he wants, at the moment we don't. Pre-season might give us some answers, just as it did with Eric Dier last summer.

The new Archibald and Crooks The new Archibald and Crooks Reviewed by THBlogNews on 8:30 am Rating: 5

The real reason Spurs improved fast

8:00 pm

The Real Reason Spurs Improved Fast

The real reason Spurs improved fast

Mauricio Pochettino took Spurs back to basics to make the improvements in the club we so sorely needed. We had hit a buffer, we were relying on the players to prodiuce something individual to make the difference, when it didn't happen we struggled.

Kyle walker gave a very revealing interview recently and there was a lot to take from it. I have spoken of the mentality and the desire to improve oneself as a footballer, but he also revealed something else. The key to Tottenham improving has been larning to run off the ball, learning that it is more important when you don't have the ball than when you do.

"We can all play football, but one of the basics of this game is that you need to run about and work for each other. That’s what’s pushed us on to the next level." 

We saw it last season when Christian Eriksen was on the ball, there was no movement, no interchanging of the front four and therefore he had no passes to make. It made him look like he was having a bad game, but there was in fact little he could do apart from trying hlow percentage balls that would most probably would give the ball away.

The players have larnt the system better nowm they have larnt where to run when they don't have the ball, how to give the man on the ball options. There is no standing around admiring a pass, it's pass and move for a potential return, always looking for or looking to create space for someone else.

Harry Kane makes a lot of selfless runs, he pulls central defenders or the defensive midfielder out of the middle to give Dele Alli space to work in. Pulling an oponent where you want them to be and not where they want to be is a key part of our movement.

We overload the opposition with decisions to make and we make them make rushed desicions. Any player that arrives has to learn how we do things so fans have got to get used to giving a player time to adjust. Simply buying a player doesn't mean an instant difference. Son Heung-min has had the season others had last season so we can expext better next season. He will still be with us as the club like what they see and Pochettino wants to keep him, he is happy as well so is going nowhere.

It is great to watch some of our one touch play at times when we attack fast. It is dependent upon running off the ball, players are learning to instinctively know where a player is going to be, they know there is going to be someone running into space, which means the player on the ball doesn't have to panic.

As players play the system more we will continue to improve, while I don't want this season to end early I can't wait for next season to start.

The real reason Spurs improved fast The real reason Spurs improved fast Reviewed by THBlogNews on 8:00 pm Rating: 5

We struggled against 10 men, why?

3:30 pm
Against Watford we played against 10 men for 27 minutes plus 4 minutes of injury time, so 31 minutes in total. To be frank, although we won, we didn't play very well against them, we hardly created anything.

There are two things you can do is you are playing against ten men, stretch them or let them have the ball. That may sound ludicrous but let me explain. If you are a side who have gone down to ten men then your most likely method of scoring is from a set-piece, apart from that your objective is to defend and not concede, assuming of course that you are not already losing.

The way to defend is to retain your shape. A solid defence is difficult to break down, even with a man sent off you still have your full compliment of two banks of defence, one bank of four, one bank of five. Your players must always stay goal side of the ball. When you tackle it is with cover and you get up immediately to get behind the ball again. Players must eliminate spaces, track runs, stay disciplined and defend their designated zone.

Jose Mourinho made a telling quote when he was the manager at Inter Milan after his 10 men had knocked Barcelona out of the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League at the semi-final stage.

“We didn’t want the ball because when Barcelona press and win the ball back, we lose our position. I never want to lose position on the pitch, so I didn’t want us to have the ball. We gave it away.”

It makes perfect sense. The words of the then Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino spring to mind.

“We are an attack-minded team and always want to push forward, and it’s not such a big deal if we concede a goal when we are pressing really high to get a goal for ourselves as well. But to concede a goal when there are ten of my players in my own area, in my own box, and concede a goal like that, I can never tolerate that.”

Playing with ten men is a bit like that, if you all do your job properly the opposition shouldn't score unless it is a fluke goal. We have phases where we pass sideways when met with a packed defence. We either have to find a way through, eye of a needle style, or we have to stretch the defence to widen the gap between players to exploit, making bigger eye of the needle holes.

I noticed when Danny Rose received the ball inside the Watford half with miles of space in front of him he didn't attack it and draw a defender out, he stopped waited and passed inside thereby allowing the defence to retain their shape, the opposite of what we needed. Our goal came because Trippier overlapped and drew players out to him, Son then exploited the space.

the other option is to draw the opposition out by letting them have the ball so you can exploit them when they do lose their shape. Teams are drilled for playing with a man down though so you have to quickly judge whether letting them come on to you is actually going to work.

It seems to me to be an area we need to be a little more aware of what we are trying to achieve.

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    We struggled against 10 men, why? We struggled against 10 men, why? Reviewed by THBlogNews on 3:30 pm Rating: 5

    Spurs Inverted wingers, wrong personnel or wrong tactic?

    7:00 pm
    Have Tottenham got it right with the inverted winger system that seems to be employed to a far greater extent than the traditional winger, which seems to be dying a death at the moment.

    Spurs Inverted wingers, wrong personnel or wrong tactic?

    It isn't of course it's just not in fashion at the moment, the inverted winger is all the rage and if it is used correctly then it can be a potent weapon. Messi has played the role for Barcelona from the left, Neymar from the right, Ronaldo scored 61 goals for Real Madrid from the left last season and Arjen Robben is a master of the art at Bayern Munich.

    To suggest it doesn't work is foolish, clearly it does so why are Tottenham struggling with it at the moment? If you look to the right and Townsend or Chadli there is no goal threat and Chadli doesn't score many goals cutting in from the left, he pops up all over the place to score, almost as a number 10.

    We were given a lesson in how to play the role at Leicester, compare how Mahrez played the role to the way our wide men play the role and there is a significant difference, our inverted wingers cut infield far too early. Defences are better organised against the tactic so a winger has to keep the full-back guessing which way he is going to go.

    When was the last time you saw Lamela go outside his man, or Chadli or Townsend in a Spurs shirt or Eriksen when he plays there? You'll be hard pressed to recall many examples I'm sure. Arjen Robben goes both sides of his man, he attacks the penalty area because inside it a defender has to be very careful, outside he can simply foul you.

    It is almost as if our inverted wingers have been told you mustn't cross the ball, that is the job of the full-backs, yet our best crosser of the ball, Eric Dier, is playing as a defensive midfielder. If a wide man cuts in early then the defender can simply tuck in close to his centre-back and there are no holes to thread passes through, thus creating is difficult, which evokes constant sideways passing, which also is too slow to catch the opposition out.

    Played correctly, when a winger cuts in the full-back should be in two minds whether to go with him or leave him to a midfielder, if you cut in too early it is easy for the defender and midfielder to work together close to the centre-back, the result a speculative shot from 22 yards or a sideways pass..

    It's an area we need to put a serious amount of work into, Mousa Dembélé will do a decent enough job out there, but he isn't a winger, he isn't going to beat a man with speed, he'll do it with skill, but it will be slow and the defence will have time to organise. If you look at the player we are said to be targeting, Yannick Bolasie, he plays a fast wide direct brand of football under Pardew, he makes the defender make decisions, the more decisions a player has to make the more chances he'll make a mistake.

    Bolasie plays though as a more traditional winger, not the role he would have to play at Tottenham so you still don't know whether he can operate as an inverted winger successfully. At the prices being mentioned he would be a gamble and the idea is to take as much of the gamble out of a transfer you can for the type of player you want.

    Attack him going towards the penalty area and he has to foul you to stop you, when on a booking you should have the beating of him, without pace though your threat is somewhat nullified. They work if you have a player who knows the role inside out and can play it effectively, at the moment you have to question whether the wide men at Spurs are the right players for the position.

    Dembélé and Eriksen are both central midfielders, yet both are shoved out there to accommodate them which suggests we don't have the right blend of players yet at the club.
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    Spurs Inverted wingers, wrong personnel or wrong tactic? Spurs Inverted wingers, wrong personnel or wrong tactic? Reviewed by THBlogNews on 7:00 pm Rating: 5

    The change in Spurs approach is taking effect

    9:00 pm
    A couple of years ago I started writing about Eric Dier, while he was at Sporting Lisbon and advocated we should buy him, a year later we did. We had been watching him for a while and I compared Iberian football with Northern European football and the differences in approach.

    The change in Spurs approach is taking effect

    I looked at how Dier was taught and how youngsters were taught in this country. For me it was a no brainer that we had to buy him so obviously I was delighted when we did.

    While we were within the Andre Villas-Boas era I wrote that we needed to change our whole playing approach and since then that we need to keep making small continual improvements that create a large scale improvement over time, which we appear to be doing with the training facilities, lodge, staff restructuring and appointments.

    I advocated that we needed to change to the Iberian way of playing football, that is to put the team ethic first, rather than rely on individual skill to win games. There is no doubt Spurs were a one man team under Gareth Bale and that reliance on one player is unhealthy, it's not a recipe for sustained success because that player will move on. To replace them you'd need a top class talent but we don't have the income to afford the wages for such a player and if you bought one that didn't work out for any reason then that would be the end of success.

    Basing the whole club more on a Benfica or Sevilla type team based approach was and is the way forward. The idea being that you assemble a squad of young players who all grow together, yes some will leave but then you just slot someone into their place. No one component is so important that the team falls apart if they are missing or sold.

    That requires a style of play throughout the club that doesn't change, when a youngster rises through the levels he is playing the same way, he knows what is required of him already. If you produce a team like that then you can build sustainable success and not just the odd one-off.

    It is an approach Tottenham adopted and looked for a head coach who could build a team, the club, in such a way. Andre Villas-Boas was hired but that didn't work out as hoped and so Mauricio Pochettino was brought in to continue the work, after Tim Sherwood had been used to ascertain a few home truths about the players assembled. His short tenure showed the club it could play youth like Nabil Bentaleb and Harry Kane so there were clear positives to come out of it.

    An example of how Pochettino is putting the team ethic first is in his use of Ryan Mason. He is not a superstar and many fans can't see what he does, but Spurs had a major problem with build up play, it was simply too slow. Mason has come in and immediately he plays the ball wide quickly, when he receives it from one side he doesn't delay on the ball it is swiftly moved. That was one of the key improvements Pochettino wanted to make and players like Dembele have had to learn to move the ball quicker, you'll note now he is taking players on around the box instead of the halfway line.

    After the WBA win Christian Eriksen, who is benefiting form this new approach, spoke of the same team ethic,

    “Hugo is always there when we need him, he’s a world-class goalkeeper and he showed it again. Everyone was needed today, we worked hard, created chances and scored the goals. I’m on a good run but I play for a team and if I get the chance, I score for the team. That’s what I’ve done.”

    Even when he spoke of himself he was still looking for those improvements that matter. His father revealed his son felt we should have scored more goals against Sheffield United and we should score more goals in general. He repeated that again suggesting Spurs relaxed a little too much.

    “I was thinking which corner to go for, thinking if the goalkeeper might know where to go, but I chose the short corner and luckily it went in. Overall, I thought we played really well. We started sharp, created good chances and scored two early goals. After that, perhaps we relaxed a little too much but then we played much better in the second half.”

    Harry Kane,Nacer Chadli,  Christian Eriksen, Hugo Lloris and the centre-back pairing of Fazio and Vertonghen are taking the plaudits but that just shows the shift to the more team orientated approach. In any team there are going to be unsung heroes and for us it's the midfielders who leave the attacking to the attackers.

    Tottenham now have the basis to build from, the process is in it's infancy and the summer will see further changes in personnel who fit that team ethic, what your name is, what your reputation is doesn't matter, if you can do a job then you have a chance of joining the journey, if not then wait for the train that allows you to blow your own trumpet. We no longer seek the nme player to appease a few fans, we seek the right player so that in the long run those fans won't need appeasing.

    The change in Spurs approach is taking effect The change in Spurs approach is taking effect Reviewed by THBlogNews on 9:00 pm Rating: 5

    Spurs Premier League shot stats expose a big problem

    12:30 pm
    If we want to be a successful club then we have to look at ourselves objectively and ask in what areas can we improve. As I have pointed out with the players each must be looking to improve their game with minor improvements that add up. If every player does that then have a significantly better team.

    Spurs Premier League shot stats expose a big problem

    The club staff need to do the same and Mauricio Pochettino has to look at the team and decide who can do the job I want them to do better than a player I have now or will in a short space of time be better performing a role than an existing player.

    There are several areas of our game that need upgrading and shooting is one of them. We lag significantly behind Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, three stalwarts of the top four in shots per game. It makes sense that if we want to join them on a regular basis then we have to create more and take more shooting opportunities, obviously the more you shoot the more opportunity you give yourself to score.

    Shots Per Game
    1. Manchester City 17.4
    2. Chelsea 16.3
    3. Arsenal 16.0
    4. Liverpool 15.6
    5. QPR 15
    6. Tottenham Hotspur 13.5
        West Ham United 13.5
    8. Stoke City 13.0
    9. Everton 12.9
    Ten come: 10th Southampton (12.7), 11th Manchester United, Newcastle United (12.5), 13th Swansea (11.9), 14th WBA (11.8), 15th Burnley (11.6), 16th Leicester City, Crystal Palace (11.1), 18th Sunderland, Aston Villa (10.5), 20th Hull City (10.2)

    If you look at a few more stats then we can clearly see a problem we have to solve to improve our chances. We take the 6th most shots in the Premier League and in the accuracy table we sit 5th. Those stats are not too bad but the next one is rather damming and points to not enough creativity.

    We shoot from an average distance of  20.6 yards, which puts us 17th in the table, that is nowhere near good enough for a team pushing top four. Gareth Bale in his final game with us shot from distance 19.6 yards with an accuracy of 48%, however his replacement, Erik Lamela spent the same period in Italy taking on defenders more often to eventually shoot from just 11.4 yards, from that distance it's hardly surprising his scoring stats looked good, but that is not how we play the game, we are set up with inverted wingers to shoot from distance.

    We don't have people in the box so we don't cross the ball and don't have the movement to create chances. We showed what we can do offensively against Chelsea, with the right movement we can create but compare that with the lack of movement against Sheffield United last night. That would suggest we have some players intelligent enough to think forward and create through movement and some players who lack that ability and wait until the ball is at their feet before they start to decide what to do.

    This is the major difference between sides from Spain and Portugal and sides like ourselves from Northern Europe, team based play vs individual based play. We are trying to build a team as opposed to a team that relies on individual brilliance, yes there is a place for that but that player has to also be able to play to the team ethic as well.

    Think of a player like Andros Townsend, everyone says how talented he is, but when he got into the Spurs side it was all me me me, he got the ball and all he ever did was shoot, passing was a reluctance, he has had to learn to pass the ball and be more creative. It's all well and good a player being individually eye catching but if he doesn't fit the team ethic style of play then he is actually detrimental to the side and a lesser player may make the whole team perform better.

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    You could argue that that is the situation with Ryan Mason and Mousa Dembele, Mason who has just signed a contract until 2020, is the first choice because he fits the team ethic, he performs the role he is asked to perform, move the ball quickly forward, better than Dembele who has had a wake up call. He has now had to take on board what Pochettino wants from the role not how he thinks it should be performed and we are starting to see that happen. That urgency could even be the key to unlocking the potential Dembele still has.

    Many fans say we don't play a system that suits Soldado, but we probably do play a system that suits him, we just don't have the right players playing it yet, or not enough of them. The summer will see us revamp the playing staff and fill it with players Pochettino deems can play the system better and that will not mean paying big money for flashy publicity seeking transfer stories.

    If a big money player is all about individual skill then if he doesn't fit the team ethic he would be a bad buy and if he combines both then he is probably out of our financial wage league anyway. It's Paul Mitchell's job to unearth that player that has been missed by others or that other are still mulling over, while he is still cheap enough.

    Spurs Premier League shot stats expose a big problem Spurs Premier League shot stats expose a big problem Reviewed by THBlogNews on 12:30 pm Rating: 5

    Spurs start to master off the ball running

    6:52 pm
    The difference in the last few weeks for Tottenham has been startling from the relegation fodder that was being served up before. Internal problems with certain players not buying into Pochettino's philosophy, preferring to just do what they have always done, meant results where not we have come to expect.

    Spurs start to master off the ball running

    The problems, which stem from the wrong mental approach, were mainly in attack where the attacking players were not creating much meaning we posed little goal threat. The Pochettino way was that the front four were all capable of interchanging. When we did that we could create and Nacer Chadli was popping up all over the place to score. However that interchanging stopped and we were left with the midfielders staying behind the ball meaning we had nobody apart from a striker to pick out. Whenever we got into wide areas there was only one player in the box so the percentage for success if the ball were crossed was minimal. As a result we we were just recycling and moving the ball across the field again, our attack was reduced to long range shots.

    The last few weeks however have seen the three attacking midfielders making runs beyond the ball again and this has transformed us into an attacking threat. Movement is fundamental to creating goals so it's no surprise.

    When a midfielder runs beyond the striker it changed the whole dynamic of our game. It causes central defenders problems and the midfielders sitting in front of the back four have tough decisions to make, do they track the runner and get pulled out of shape or leave them and retain their shape, usually two banks of four or a bank of four and a bank of five. Equally though, movement in midfield has allowed us to move the ball forward instead of simply across the park searching for non-existent openings.

    The key to playing with movement is to be able to think ahead. You have to read the game, read where the space is going to be, read if you play a ball to a team mate where you can move to to give him the option of a return pass. Also though you must be able to see what options he has before you pass to him, if you pass to a player with limited or even no options you are simply putting him under pressure and you'll find a move breaks down perhaps two passes later. The fault is that instance lies not with who lost the ball or misplaced a hurried or speculative pass, but two passes earlier when a player was given the ball with no options. You will often see this when the ball is played to a full-back by a centre-back, if the centre-back is advanced level with them.

    The instance that springs to mind immediately id the Kyle Walker back-pass at Anfield, that Lloris should have cleared but didn't. The error was the ball by Michael Dawson to Walker on the touchline. With no options he made an attempted back pass but he shouldn't have been put in that situation in the first place. It just highlights why intelligent players are crucial. Sir Alex Ferguson used to buy players who he felt were intelligent so they could play various systems, the player who can only do his thing in one system is limited, however good at what he does within a system that suits him.

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    In an attacking sense in the 4-2-3-1 system when the striker runs towards midfield the centre-back has two options, he can stay allowing the striker to receive the ball in space or he can go with him leaving space behind for a runner to utilise. In a 4-4-2 system the strike partner uses that space but in our 4-2-3-1 system it opens the area for one of three attacking midfielders. In today's game there is more focus on ball retention so the movement of the attacking players becomes crucial.

    The difference between the Tottenham that moves and the Tottenham that doesn't is stark. The lone striker role has changed from simply being a hold-up role to an off the ball movement role. Jermain Defoe against Manchester United at Old Trafford a couple of years back highlighted the importance of off the ball running creating the space for Jan Vertonghen to score in our victory. He was instrumental in the goal but didn't touch the ball, rather shows that assists don't mean everything.

    The attacking players are fairly settled together with the defensive midfield so everyone can play on the same wavelength and understand the movement others may make. That understanding will improve over time so Tottenham are very definitely in an upward curve.

    Spurs start to master off the ball running Spurs start to master off the ball running Reviewed by THBlogNews on 6:52 pm Rating: 5

    Offside or not offside that is the question

    2:30 pm
    Offside used to be simple, now it's different from one person to the next. Take the Manchester City verses Tottenham Hotspur game recently at the Etihad Stadium.

    Was Frank Lampard offside when Manchester City scored their first goal against us?

    According to Manchester City fans he was not blocking the sight of Hugo Lloris, which unless Aguero was to his left, remember Lampard was facing away from our goal, is impossible. In any other circumstance as the ball passes Lampard it is invisible to Hugo Lloris.

    The nearer Lampard stands to Lloris the greater area he bocks our through lines of vision. Lampard then jumps in the air, which is a deliberate attempt to fool a keeper that the ball is coming at him and thus means he is interfering with play.

    If he is not interfering with play why is he there? Why is he jumping in the air? Why doesn't he move out the way?

    If you play the video and watch Lampard carefully you will see he is deliberately trying to get in the line of the ball to hindr Lloris, he moves to his left to do as as Aguero moves to his right, concliusive proof he intent was to interfere.

    Perhaps John Cleese will be able to explain it.

    Offside or not offside that is the question Offside or not offside that is the question Reviewed by THBlogNews on 2:30 pm Rating: 5

    Our play is twofold

    10:30 am
    Our play at the moment basically can be broken down into two areas, one counter attack football and two breaking play high up the pitch to attack quickly.

    Defensively we are not strong enough at the moment but we are set up to defend and then counter attack, however we have no pace in the side. Our counter attacks have to therefore be through speed of movement of the ball, the passing has to be fast and accurate. It is that skill that we are struggling with in midfield and why Mason has been brought in.

    Capoue is one paced and is a better box-to-box midfielder than he is an out-and-out defensive midfielder, the role we are using him in at the moment. Our midfield passing broke down on too many occasions, we were certainly more direct than usual so that's a positive but the passes were just too hard, just to far ahead, just unable to be taken in stride, it was all just off.

    When we have the opportunity, and you have to pick your moments, then we high press and swiftly attack from deep inside the opposition half. Our goal was a case in point. Mason saw an opportunity and robbed the City guy, we suddenly had three on two, again thanks to Mason's intelligent run to Soldado's left ensuring the defenders couldn't move across to cover Eriksen.

    His role went unseen, it was more than just a tackle and that shows a player worth persevering with, mentally there is something there to go with the skill.

    With both Eriksen and Lamela in the side the midfield looks lightweight, skillful but lightweight. There were players passing ball to a team mate who was in no better position they they were, passing responsibility on to them.

    There was an incident approximately 10 seconds before 32 minutes when we had 4 men go for the same ball which the City man flicked forward over their heads, all 4 were now out the game playing catch-up. That's a lack of clear head thinking, it's panic thinking and panic thinking is no good when you need to pass the ball at speed.

    This is where you separate the men from the boys, players with equal talent can be on different planes simply through mentality, not enough of ours are mentally good enough to play the way we want to the level we want.

    Our high press can be effective, we have seen it but have we seen the quick attack from the back through passing lead to a goals yet? We get a point where we seem to want to lay a Hollywood ball, that gets cut out or are slow in moving the ball, we are incredibly slow moving the ball wide for overlapping full-backs.

    I look forward to getting a look at Stambouli in midfield alongside Mason but we need competition for the central midfield attacking role, which presumably means competition for a wide berth thus having Lamela and Eriksen fight over the same berth.

    Our play is twofold Our play is twofold Reviewed by THBlogNews on 10:30 am Rating: 5

    Pochettino needs to help Dier at the end of games

    4:30 pm
    After the draw against Besiktas Hugo Lloris looked distinctly disappointed and afterwards said when you are 1-0 up, even if you are not paying well you have to find a way to win.

    Pochettino needs to help Dier at the end of games

    That is what top teams do and if we want to be a top team that is what we must do. Unlucky wins nothing, unlucky is for losers. Football is a tough results based business, you get the result or you don't, there is no in between.

    “Today was a really tough game against a big team. They showed that on the pitch; but it’s one more point and hopefully we’ll improve in the next games. They put in a good performance collectively. We have to learn from this game because when you lead 1-0, maybe when you don’t really deserve it, you have to win that kind of game.”

    No we were unlucky nonsense, no the words of a winner, you have to win those games, we have to learn how to do so.

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    Chiriches to fly to the rescue

    Fast forward 3 days and Tottenham are playing Southampton at White Hart Lane is the Premier League. The score is 1-0, we are closing the game out and what happens, they create a guilt edge chance in the centre of the goal, 6 yards out and the striker hopelessly misses a sitter. We nearly blew two 1-0 leads in the space of 3 days.

    I talk about the mental side of the game and being clinical because they are so important. Switch off mentally at the end of the game when you think you have done the hard work and bang, you've blown it. Yes the opposition are going to press but that is when you have to concentrate just as hard if not harder to prevent mistakes and avoid them creating clear cut chances.

    Of course if we were clinical, we would have been 2-0 up against Southampton instead of hitting the post. That was a prime example of why I say we must learn to be clinical at the end of games when we are 2 or 3-0 up instead of playing keep ball, then at times like this we wouldn't be counting ourselves unlucky we would be celebrating a second goal.

    It's a mentality thing, I've done enough verses I can do more. Only one attitude achieves greatness and that is what we should be striving for.

    Preventing chances at the end of a game is a collective thing. Yes Thursday was an individual howler but Sunday was a team effort, not defending as a team or a partnership to prevent dangerous crosses. Southampton were attacking and having some joy against Eric Dier and sides are going to do that each week if Kyle Naughton is out until next year. We got away with it this time, next time we need to prevent it from getting to that stage.

    The right side of midfield in those situations becomes important and for all we want to develop Erik Lamela and keep him on the field, which is clearly what we are trying to do, there is a case for bringing on Aaron Lennon to help Dier with his defensive duties. So far Lennon has had 107 Premier League minutes, all of which I would suggest have been for his defensive work rather than attacking work.

    If that is the role Pochettino is currently using Lennon in on the left, then he may as well use him in that role on the right as well, he'll do a better defensive job than Lamela or Eriksen on the right when we need to close a game out and perhaps Dier will not get beaten as easily as he has been at the end of games. He is a centre-back, is only 20 and at times needs the help of someone experienced in front of him instead of someone also trying to learn the ropes in the Premier League.

    The result is everything as Lloris says. Prevention is better than cure.

    Pochettino needs to help Dier at the end of games Pochettino needs to help Dier at the end of games Reviewed by THBlogNews on 4:30 pm Rating: 5

    VIDEO: 6-1 Pitch eye view, worth seeing Eriksen goal

    8:30 pm
    A supporter in the crowd has posted a 9 minute video that gives a pitch eye view of the Tottenahm Celtic game. It includes a very good shot of Christian Eriksen scoring from his free kick, you get to see the pace and curl he puts on the ball. The video also includes Emmanuel Adebayor scoring a penalty.

    Watch Christian Eriksen score from a free kick

    It always looks so different from ground level so take a look at 9.24 minutes worth and you'll see aspects of our formation and play in action.

    Towards the beginning you'll see Ben Davies wide stretching play when we have the ball is on the other side of the field and running back inside when we lose it. With the ball played back to Friedel Kaboul and Fryers go wide, defensive midfielders in front of them and advanced full-backs in front of them.

    This is a standard set up so a poor clearance from Friedel is won in midfield our full-back look out of position, they aren't, that's just how the modern full-back plays. They need speed to sprint back which is when you hear cry from fans on forums moaning Walker for instance, is out of position. Against Celtic they were Naughton and Davies during this video.

    Also early on one pass shows why we have found another player in Ryan Mason wearing number 38. Fans have remarked on his passing but one pass to the far side of the field showed why he looks a good passer of the ball, vision.

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    A player should be constantly looking to see and remind himself of where everyone is, opponents and his own players, Mason appears to know where his teammates are. He receives the ball from Davies and immediately turns to ping a cross field ball to the right wing without the delay of looking to see what his options are. Players like that stand out from the crowd, they appear to have longer on the ball than anyone else but all it is is vision.

    VIDEO: 6-1 Pitch eye view, worth seeing Eriksen goal VIDEO: 6-1 Pitch eye view, worth seeing Eriksen goal Reviewed by THBlogNews on 8:30 pm Rating: 5

    Spurs finally figure it out

    4:30 pm
    Well how pleasing was that, a new and different Spurs, yes it was only pre-season, yes it was only against second string Celtic but there were the first signs of a new mental approach.

    Spurs finally figure it out

    Tottenham scored six, yes folks they didn't give up after three, they scored six.

    I have been saying for 2 years our problems in front of goal are our own doing so what joy to see a change. When Tottenham go 2-0 up or 3-0 up as far as they are concerned they have won, that has been the past thinking. The important element though is that the players have then created more chances but through lazy wastefulness don't capitalise. They miss easy goals at the end of games because it doesn't matter.

    Then when it does mater they can't score. Naturally not they haven't ingrained it in themselves to keep sticking the ball in the back of the net. The top sides crush teams when they are 3-0 up, they get 4, 5, 6. We don't, or we didn't. Our 43-year-old goalkeeper Brad Friedel begin the point.

    “It was really good from an attacking standpoint. It’s the first time Ade’s had a run-out and he got himself on the scoresheet with the penalty and Christian Eriksen scored a wonderful free-kick – not to mention all the other goals. 
    “Andros also showed his skill and pace on the first goal with some really good passing and movement as he picked out Harry. When you score a lot of goals, it gives the attacking players real confidence.”

    That's exactly what I was saying pre North American tour in a couple of articles.
    Soldado pre-season goals are vital and Soldado & Lamela self-confidence the key

    For Lamela and Soldado goals from open play were vital so Soldado's against Celtic was more significant than any of the others but for the team notching 6 is hopefully a sign of things to come. The players could have simply knocked the ball about as Spurs do. You usually see Adebayor drop into midfield and just keep playing sideways passes when we are 3-0 up, trying to score 4 has been an alien concept to us by and large.

    Being clinical is a vital component of success so continuing to knock in goals was a welcome sign, it's a step in the right direction. It's about always striving for better, don't rest on what you have.

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    The players seem, and all reports coming out of the club, are that the players are happy, that they are enjoying life under Mauricio Pochettino. This may well be that they are excited by the possibilities that lie ahead. If a new found clinical nature in front of goal is going to be a part of it then so am I.

    “It’s more minutes under the belt with each match and I think all the lads are adapting really well to Mauricio’s tactics. We’ve got one more game before the big kick-off against West Ham, so every 90 minutes matters for us.”

    Brad has been in the best vantage point possible, he has been involved in training but then been standing in goal watching it all from behind. He can see everything that is happening and the players do seem to adapted well as expected. They had a sample of these tactics under Andre Villas-Boas so Mauricio Pochettino's tactics are simply a slight change with the addition of what to do in the final third.

    With each passing game you want the next one to arrive, a bit like the goals that have now started arriving. We now need to see that clinical approach taken into Premier League games at the end and 4-0, 5-0 score lines more often.

    It's a small mental change but it's an ever so important one.

    Spurs finally figure it out Spurs finally figure it out Reviewed by THBlogNews on 4:30 pm Rating: 5

    Is versatility killing our game?

    8:30 am
    I remember back to my youth playing Scouts football and I was number 8, inside right in those days. Now that may be a position unfamiliar to many of the readers of this blog given the number of you below 35.

    The formation was a "W', two wingers and a striker, two inside forwards who teamed with the winger and assisted the striker, a deeper midfielder and then your flat back four.

    Inside forwards disappeared from the game and 4-4-2 took over. Rarely seen now we have 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-1-4-1, 3-5-1 and other permutations. Have we over complicated the game? Do players actually know where they are playing now?

    We life in a football age where, for those of us who can still remember what a proper tackle was, tackling is virtually banned. Yellow cards come out for the most ridiculous things. You'd have been laughed at for some of the things today's cheat feign injury over. Does anyone ever get tackled without being mortally wounded? They roll over and over, a sure sign it's a con, and clutch any part of the body available.

    Anyway, back to the point of the article. Tottenham have an abundance of midfielders bought to play a system we have hardly ever played. All the talk now is of a 'Number 10', that used to be a striker, now it's the play maker or a secondary striker, the creative hub of the team playing 'in the hole'. We have one so we play him on the left wing!

    Do wingers exist, we have a traditional one in Aaron Lennon but without a traditional centre-forward do we in fact need one? Inverted wingers, wide midfielders, wide left, left of a front three, sitting, attacking, defensive, link player, box-to-box. Aren't we just giving fancy names to the same position to try and make a mystery out of it or are we pandering to a few egos to make them think they are a specialist and indispensable?

    We have full-backs who can't defend who now play in front of central midfield and centre-backs who spend half the time playing left and right-back with the defensive midfield as a third centre-back.

    We have wingers we have inverted so they can't actually play as wingers anymore and play central players wide because the wide payers we have tried to make play central.

    You look through our squad and have to ask do we have too many jack of all trades, master of none types in the squad. We have Zeki Fryers at 21 and nobody knows where he plays yet! Versatile seems to be one of our prime requirements.

    It's a bloody simple game, kick the ball into the other net as often as possible. We seemed to have lost that art. Now it's play it around and try to look good.

    The strikers job is to stick the ball in the net, not to contribute to beautiful build up play, how many strikers have we had that haven't a clue how to do that in recent seasons and now we have one we don't pass to him! Robbie Fowler, Jimmy Greaves, Michael Owen where are you now.

    Has coaching turned more to producing footballers that can then be moulded to whatever you want rather than producing footballers that are experts in their area. You look at the England squad and there isn't a decent defender amongst them. They can all play going forward but as for defending, well they are all poor.

    Isn't it about time we figured out what Gylfi Sigurdsson is, Christian Eriksen, Nacer Chadli, Mousa Dembele, Paulinho. What's wrong with saying that's your best position so we'll play you there!

    Let's have a bit of simplicity to the squad shall we.

    Is versatility killing our game? Is versatility killing our game? Reviewed by THBlogNews on 8:30 am Rating: 5

    Spurs First-Half Weakness Strikes Again

    11:00 am
    Spurs first-half weakness struck again last night which prompted Gary Lineker to have a pop at Roberto Soldado on Twitter. His performance is partly down to our style of play and Tim Sherwood naturally came to his defence, even if his words are rather hollow.

    "I never followed Gary's career too closely so I'm not sure if he had a barren spell but sometimes it doesn't help.

    "He needs as much help as he can get, Robbie, and he will certainly be getting that from inside of our club.

    "Gary was a top player, a top player at Tottenham, so we can give him a bit of slack."

    The reality is different, the reality is that the level of relief Soldado felt when scoring 3 weeks ago was monumental. The pressure on him was enormous. When you have the opportunity to boost a players confidence after something like that you take it.

    What you do not do is leave a guy sitting on a bench for 3 weeks. If he needs as much help as he can get then why wasn't he given that help during that period? Why was he simply told to sit on a bench while a kid plays in his place. That is doing the exact opposite of boosting a players confidence, that is not giving him all the help he can get within the club.

    With the gap between midfield and Soldado far too great last night he was isolated and that is not his game. He needs players creating and giving him chances within the box, all his work was being done with back to goal outside it.

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    In the first half of the game last night we were passing slowly out of defence again and when pressed by Benfica we had to hurry or play back to Friedel. We needed quick passing but that is difficult for a side who have never played together before. Just like the first leg Benfica were getting 9 men behind the ball very quickly.

    We didn't look like scoring, we had created only one chance that Soldado snatched at when a mistake by Townsend at both ends of the field led to the Benfica goal. As at White Hart Lane they counter-attacked, this time forcing a corner off the excellent Bentaleb who immediately turned to give Townsend a mouthful and gee him up. Once again it was our left sided weakness that let us down.

    We generally survived set-pieces, a few mistakes but we muddled through. Benfica playing a zonal marking system looked well drilled and showed how it can work done properly. We found it difficult to have any impact. A simple block and our man marking gets undone.

    Spurs First-Half weakness strikes againGylfi Sigurdsson was not comfortable defending in central midfield, he kept getting caught and much preferred attacking. To play the role he was asked you need to be good defensively as well so in that respect he was no threat to Mousa Dembele claiming his place back when fit. Sigurdsson however can create more at the other end if the ball is moved quickly enough.

    Benfica knew where Spurs strength lay, out wide on the wings so concentrated defeding the wide areas which nullified both Townsend and Lennon.

    That pass it quicker message seemed to have been delivered at half-time as in the second half longer passes were being pinged wide or pass and move in midfield to create space. That pass and move football was absent in the first 45. The second half was all about pride and preventing 3 or 4 goals, or so we thought.

    With Chadli central, we didn't give him headers to win but when Kane and Eriksen came on we were suddenly playing balls in the air to him and his head created or assisted in both our goals.

    Two goals and we had chances to win it, from open play or from what should have been a penalty. Benfica were panicking. Because we now had a threat through the middle, our wide men had more room and they suddenly became a threat.

    Before the Chelsea game I produced table to show how slow we are at starting. The only team in the Premier League not to have scored in the Premier League, we sat 11th in the table. In the second half we transform and last night was more of the same, why can't we start the first half like we play the second half? Fear of losing?

    That is a dilemma we need to resolve because it has cost us this season, it's been the difference between being in the top four and being out of it.

    Spurs First-Half Weakness Strikes Again Spurs First-Half Weakness Strikes Again Reviewed by THBlogNews on 11:00 am Rating: 5

    Spurs are no longer chasing Liverpool

    2:49 pm
    With the toughest month of the season coming up with Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool to play as well as Benfica in the Europa League last 16 Spurs can ill afford any more injuries.

    Kyle Walker missed the Cardiff game after also missing out on Thursday and although he has reported for England duty he will not be playing on Wednesday against Denmark because of his hip injury. Spurs Head Coach Tim Sherwood has already admitted he won't be fit enough to represent his country but is hopeful he will be fit enough for the Chelsea fixture coming up next.

    Kyle Walker misses another England game
    Kyle Walker misses another England game

    Andros Townsend will sit out England training today after playing yesterday and Christian Eriksen has a back injury and will not be fit enough to play for Denmark Sherwood also confirmed.

    "Kyle won't be fit to play for England, he's not fit to play here today so he won't be fit for England either."

    He was asked if Walker would link up with the England squad as they are training at Tottenham's magnificent new training complex.

    "I'm not sure but he probably will as they will be training at our complex in the early part of the week.

    "We're just hoping to nurse him back to fitness for next week, so we'll see how that goes.

    "Christian Eriksen won't be ready for Denmark either by the way, after his back problem."

    Sherwood is also hopeful of having Younes Kaboul back for the Chelsea game but is less certain on Eriksen being fit.

    "We're getting healthier in the squad. Hopefully by next week Younes Kaboul and Kyle Walker will be fit enough, and possibly Christian."

    Tottenham continue to hand on by their fingertips in the fight for fourth, sneaking a nervy 1-0 win on Sunday in another unconvincing display. Tim Sherwood has not given up hope and why should he with 3 big coming up that will decide the season.

    "That's our goal [Top 4] but its huge ask and we are not giving up, we believe we can do it. Its tough, we are in the fight, Everton, even Newcastle probably. What we want to do is muck up as many other people's seasons as possible and enhance our own and we are going for it."

    Has he forgotten Manchester United or just decided they are out of it!

    With 10 games to go things are hotting up, time is running out. Spurs are no longer chasing Liverpool, it's Arsenal in their sights now. Both sit 6 points above Spurs who actually need 7 points to overtake them.

    For that to be a realistic possibility Spurs have to beat Arsenal and or Chelsea and Liverpool. A minimum of 7 points will be requires in these 3 games to close the gap and start applying some pressure.

    A solitary point against Chelsea, and none against Manchester City, Liverpool or Arsenal plus a Cup defeat when clearly second best is not encouraging.

    "Sometimes when the expectation is not with you, it can make it a little bit easier" Sherwood said.

    "In those games against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, perhaps the pressure is off us a little bit and we can cause a surprise. We’re looking to mess up as many people’s seasons as we can, and enhance ours at the same time.”

    Should he then just stick to one system for those games. Paulinho had another anonymous sideways and backwards game, why has he started passing back to the half-way line instead of passing forwards?

    Townsend did what Townsend does, shoot into the stands when he should pass, it can't be match fitness anymore. He just seems more interested in playing for himself than the team and that is a bit of our problem.

    Zeki Fryers is new in the team and whilst his positional play defensively was better than Rose he at times kept giving the ball away and once smashed it into Dembele. The players half the time simply don't know what they are supposed to be doing.

    There doesn't seem to be any plan. It is almost as if eleven men have been sent on the field to go and do your own thing. Fortunately we have some quality within the team and occasionally it comes to the surface.

    A bit of individual skill, although this time it was a team move, and we score but we still do not create enough. A shame after his mid week performance that Eriksen was injured. It can't help though chopping and changing the system all the time. Sherwood has started games with a 4-4-2 approach, used a 4-1-4-1 and also a 4-3-3.

    Tim Sherwood keeps changing systems
    Tim Sherwood keeps changing systems

    That is asking a lot of the players. Put them in a system and they know what to do, they can adjust and improve as they go. Keep giving them new systems and it's like starting all over again.

    “The system depends on the personnel,” Sherwood said. “Andros Townsend and Aaron would be more comfortable with 4-4-2, because they like to get the ball wide and run at defenders.

    “But it depends. I’m very flexible and I can adapt with the players who are available. Sandro wasn’t ready to start today. I didn’t want to risk him because we’ve seen him break down in the past."

    It is alright devising a system to beat an opponent but continually changing means players can't get used to playing one way. We saw a whole lot of passes going astray where players weren't on the same wavelength. You can't have players stopping mid match to think what day of the week it is, oh yes Tuesday, it must be this system.

    Let's hope for a bit of individual skill to win us the 3 big games.

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    Spurs are no longer chasing Liverpool Spurs are no longer chasing Liverpool Reviewed by THBlogNews on 2:49 pm Rating: 5
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