Date: 19th February 2018 at 11:32am
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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The game against Rochdale highlighted the problems any manager of a successful club has in managing his squad.

We saw wholesale changes with many players at less than 100% as they came back from injury while Moura, who looked to me like a physically much stronger version of Aaron Lennon, was making his first start for the club.

We probably paid for that with the draw.

Some fans have an easy solution, just pretend players can play twice a week for most of the season and run your starting eleven into the ground. The reality is its not enough to have a strong squad (and ours is a lot stronger than it was a couple of seasons ago) you have to manage that squad so as to get the most out of it.

You are between a rock and a hard place, overplay your best players and they will eventually be running on empty, rotate and you risk losing games.

Sir Alex Ferguson once explained it as not trying to put your best eleven out every game but trying to put out an eleven that’s strong enough to win every game while giving your players enough rest so that they last the season.

To me Pochettino is still figuring out how to make the best use of the players he has. The strange thing is there are positives out of the draw. Players who needed time on the pitch got it.

Alderweireld, Winks and Wanyama are all that much closer to full match fitness. Moura got his first game under his belt and looked the real deal, Foyth showed he’s a central defender who can bring the ball out of defence in the making. The downside is we saw once again that Llorente isn’t the player we need as Kane’s back up, although I think we already knew that.

No doubt people will want to change the team for the replay, I’d play virtually the same eleven.


26 Replies to “Between A Rock And A Hard Place”

  • “Sir Alex Ferguson once explained it as not trying to put your best eleven out every game but trying to put out an eleven that’s strong enough to win every game while giving your players enough rest so that they last the season. ” Hadn’t seen that before, but a very good point made. Sir Chewalot had a lot of wisdom. It’s a tough one isn’t it? For my team, priority is promotion but I still felt totally peed off we ‘threw away’ a bit of a run in the FA Cup. But then even if we’d had a run, we’d (chances are) not have actually troubled the finals and then the manager would be blasted if we had knackered players and didn’t get promotion. Trouble is for so many of a certain generation, the FA Cup was THE Cup. Now it appears to be just another cup.

  • Agree with jod. I’d play the same team and give them the opportunity to get the win, the 2nd time around. The only thing I’d add to the article is that some of our squad management problems are of our own making. MP has, on a number of occasions, either waited very long before making changes, or failed to use all 3 substitutions, in lots of games (sometimes despite the fact that the result was already in the bag). It can’t be a surprise that some players lack match fitness if we don’t give those players minutes, seemingly even when the situation could allow for it. Some players could be fresher than they are if we took a longer term view to the season.

  • BelgianSpur – Good point, as I said I think Poch is still figuring this out. Ferguson used to tweak the team, rarely playing the same eleven in more than a couple of consecutive games but avoiding wholesale changes. Poch seems to almost play with two teams which I’m not sure is the best way to do it. As you say he’s also reluctant to make changes even when games appear won. Hopefully he’ll manage it better as he gets more experience of working with a strong squad, which I think we now have.

  • Sorry jod, Aston Villa won the tootle with only 14 players … no excuses, had 8 days rest between games now 7 due to replay … when you play the likes of sissoko and llorente…. you are effectively playing with 9 men both of them are not fit to wear the shirt … he should of kept a spine to the team…

  • Don’t give Poch the excuse he is still trying to figure it out he as been at the helm for 4 years nearly l…. as good as he is he needs to not rest on his laurels or this tripe happens

  • I agree with jod and BS too. I’d play the same 11 again for the replay …. but, with a youngster replacing llorente!

  • E17 …. And most of the Double team played in every league and Cup game, unless injured …. 49 games (I think). Just saying ….

  • Not gonna defend Poch either for yesterday, although not knocking him for the long term job he’s doing. It’s so clear at this stage that Llorente and Sissoko are square pegs in round holes for the way Spurs play. It is pure damage limitation with them to the transfer window. They should not be starting games in any circumstance other than a long injury list. We shown before that we can use combinations of Son and Dele and not play with a true number 9. If Kane needs a rest, we should be prepared to go back to that. We Also have the option of playing 3 at the back in these tricky away games but never use it nowadays. It’s very naive to think you can change all eleven players and have things go smoothly.

  • muttley – The thing is though that in order to that you need to play more first choice players, probably paying for those extra minutes on the pitch further down the line. I don’t think its so much things going smoothly as making the least bad choices. Poch has already said he’s not prepared to risk the league or the champions league for the FA Cup so from his perspective what he did made sense. Personally I don’t like wholesale changes but if you don’t want to that you can’t play your strongest eleven often in a season, you have to make one or two changes each game the way Ferguson did. I actually thought Sissoko had a decent game for once, he was actually carrying the ball forward and though his tackling was poor he was at least trying to win the ball. There were certainly worse performances from some of our players.

  • It was easier for Ferguson to rotate because he had a second eleven that was probably good enough to compete for a top 4 place. Now that Poch has a fully fit squad he has better options. I think if the opposition was stronger (on paper) yesterday and we hadn’t had a midweek trip to Turin (on the back of three tough EPL games) he would have fielded a stronger team yesterday. Nonetheless, even if you make allowances for fitness, wholescale team changes etc., yesterday’s team should have been good enough to win and without having to rely on Kane, Dele and Lamela.

  • The one good thing about the replay is that our match against Palace has now been brought forward to Sunday which means we now play before Chelsea. If we win and go two points clear of Chelsea it heaps pressure on them for their match at Old Trafford.

    To offset that though Man City play at home to Chelsea the following weekend. They (City) were scheduled to play away to Arsenal next weekend but they’re meeting them in the Carabao Cup instead. Their EPL match has now been rescheduled for the Thursday before the Chelsea game. Let’s hope they have something left in the tank for the Chelsea game.

  • Jod – As for the point about the so called 1st teamers getting worn out, that’s a tricky one. Have we seen combinations of Vertonghen, Sanchez and Toby alternating? No. Have we seen combinations of Wanyama, Dier, Dembele and Winks? No. Have we seen combinations of Eriksen, Son, Lamela, Moura and Dele playing? No. The more important question is will we going forward? For two thirds of the season Poch has had injuries that have impeded his selections. He can legitimately say that he hasn’t been able to rotate one or two players per game. Add to that the accumulation of Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and Juventus and we’ve had a cluster of very tough matches close together. He has probably thought that sticking with his strongest eleven was the way to manage through that and the results have been fantastic so he is right. What I was very surprised about yesterday was 11 changes. Take Lamela who didn’t start in the NLD, played against Juve but came off close to the end. Could he have notched up another game knowing that Poch wanted to rest our most creative player, Eriksen? I think so as he came on as a second half sub anyway. We have 7 days until our next game and I wouldn’t mind betting that quite a few of the first teamers would have wanted to start yesterday.

    As for the Sissoko / Llorente debate, have a think about where they both were when Trippier got caught in possession. Were they offering Trippier an out ball? Sissoko’s lack of football brain and Llorente’s lack of mobility / fitness cost us there. I also saw Moura sprint past Llorente in the first half to go and compete for a long ball forward in the air. Llorente only had to move about 10 yards and it was clearly his header to win. That to me was simply lazy and I have no time for it. I’d rather see Shayon Harrison give his all than see that.

  • muttley … I agree with you on this. The other point that needs to be considered is that, with the amount of players not quite match fit and the apparent non-effort of Llorente, the other players were unable to play the way they wanted. The result was that the whole team was affected one way or another …. except for Moura, who isn’t used to playing with any of them and so tried to fit in where he could. And he certainly did that well. It would be naive to expect the players to look like a well balanced ‘team’ under these conditions.

  • muttley – Fair enough as regards Llorente who was very poor but you could criticise other players as well. Toby in particular had a very poor game. In the past there has always been a section of our support who seem to need someone to hate and would just have a go at that particular player regardless of what happened on the pitch. I’d hoped that was consigned to history but with the attitude to Sissoko it does seem to be coming back.

  • Its amazing how Moura, the player with the least amount of minutes played this season, in a new league/country/team, managed to be the best player on the pitch.

  • On paper that team should have been good enough to win, although the inclusion of Llorente meant that we had no central goal threat. The display as many have mentioned was disjointed with the excuse being given that these players had not played together as a team and several were recovering from injury. If Poch knew that he was going to play that line-up surely he was coaching them on the practice pitches and in training sessions to implement his chosen style of play. After all, we are not some Sunday League team who perhaps get to train once a week but a squad of full time professional players with one of the finest training facilities in Europe apparently. When looking at the line up, first half Toby was playing at left CB, not his normal position but even so he was poor. He says he is fit to play so not an excuse. Rusty yes but then he wasn’t playing that well before his injury so who knows why he was so poor, but attitude seemed to play a big part to me. He should have taken control of the defence and marshalled it effectively which to be fair he tried to do second half when he moved more centrally. Rose seemed to be playing in a bog for most of the match and either he wants to move still or his injury has greatly reduced his effectiveness, but either way his decision making and recovery runs were terrible. Wanyama also seemed in a trance and allowed himself to be bossed by a youngster who had a very good game against him and seemed to be targetting him the whole game. Again, for a top player he has had time to fully recover but he is currently a shadow of what we know he can be. Taking all this into account it would seem to me that Poch didn’t prepare these players as a team, that key individuals either were not giving everything or are not at first team level and maybe never will be again. I feel sorry for Llorente who is a complete misfit for our style of play and commend Moura who showed footballing intelligence to be very effective playing in a dysfunctional collection of players and looks as though he may be too good for our team, but then again it was only Rochdale. As for the replay, I don’t think Poch has any option but to play essentially the same team given the fixture pile-up the replay has created but he must provide an alternative to Llorente and possibly rest Son who seems to be out of form at the moment. Whoever he chooses he needs to prepare them properly for the game.

  • Harry-Kari, to be fair to Poch he didn’t have a great deal of time to prepare the team. Having said that the majority of those players have plenty of first team experience and are well-schooled in Poch’s philosophy. it wasn’t as though it was a rag bag of players thrown together. To me it looked more a problem of attitude and complacency to the game by the players.

  • (In Spanish). “Fernando. I’m going to play you again in the reply if you look like you have ME in this game then you’re done. We need energy and determination. You’re a World Cup winner. You need to be a leader out there. Come on Man.”………….that’s what i hope MP says to him…………i can see that Firth has bulked up a bit and i was impressed with sobe of his touches more than any other time I’ve seen him. ………..i thought Rose had a decent game. Part of me would like to see him play in next match with Davis as Katy of a back three and drop Dier. Just to see………i don’t think that Sissoko is going to be a Spurs legend……….I think it’s great having another game at Wembley to get a real look at the B team. I’m sure we’ll progress and it’s a winnable QF draw. everything seems to slowly be getting better and better and better. Squad. Ground. Training facilities. Most sustained period of being good in my 36 years following this club. We’re going to win something soon on this trajectory. Happy days.

  • Where are our young players coming through now that Winks and Walker Peters have been given a chance? We must have someone to replace Llorente; he cannot possibly play another game for Spurs…2 goals in 26 appearances for a striker is totally unacceptable. He has played twice against lowly opposition and looked worse than his counterparts. What is so annoying is his lack of effort and static performances. Poch cannot persist any more with this waste of space; he has now become a liability and is making our team a laughing stock.. Can he still be loaned out to save wages? What about Kasaiah Sterling or Shayon Harrison…at least they can run. Some goalkeepers have scored more than Llorente.

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