Date: 9th November 2012 at 11:42am
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Okay, so many people got what they wanted and that was to see Spurs revert to a 4-4-2 and to play with both Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor together. Firstly may I remind you how many fans complained about our playing an old fashioned and limiting 4-4-2 last season. Just wondered what has changed since? Last night it seemed to work out well. both strikers worked well individually and with the team as a whole, even if it wasn’t totally obvious that they had a prefect duo understanding. what was clear last night was that having two strikers was double trouble for the opposition, but that opposition was hardly top draw in terms of quality, was it, so should we get too carried away?

Perhaps as a team our problem isn’t really about whether to play two strikers, but whether we can play them with two out and out wingers as well? To their credit, all of Bale, Lennon, Ade and Defoe put in a good shirt when not in possession and are happy to drop deep and do their defensive duties, but even if we were to have our perceived best two central midfield players available, would we be confident of playing and beating the likes of City, United and Chelsea on a regular basis?

A team of Loris, Walker, Kaboul/Caulker, Vertonghen, BAE; Lennon, Sandro/Parker, Dembele, Bale; Defoe and Adebayor, probably wouldn’t be a million miles from what many of us would pick as our best XI and that looks remarkably like a 4-4-2, but though looking great on paper, is it really solid enough against either the very best or against teams that will look to park the bus and frustrate?

To a degree, I don’t really like to get too carried away with this or that formation, but prefer to look at a teams fluidity, flexibility, fitness and function. By that I am looking at how easily a team can adapt and counter an opponents strengths and exploit its weakness. Sure on occasions you will have to look at who fits in better and maybe drop a striker to bolster the midfield, but could that be equally effective by losing a wide man and expecting more attacking input from your full backs. For example would dropping Lennon and if fit, adding Parker with Dembele and Sandro make us any less of an offensive threat?

That question was nothing to do with a lack of ability in Aaron Lennon, who for me has had a very good season, but clearly we are either looking to fit 13 players into an 11, are unrealistic or simply need to ultimately bring in or develop players that have even more versatility or at least the qualities to play the way we ideally like. For example, could Lennon be better in front of goal? Could Adebayor or Defoe work the wide areas better? Probably a yes in both cases, but unless we can bring in the likes of Hulk, Remy or whoever, we might always have this argument and never really resolve it.

On the appointment of AVB many of us were either happy to see change and also accepting that we would give him time to make them. What is never clear is whether we would be better to slowly make changes based around what we felt was a wrong and outdated system or to bite the bullet and get the team to work towards a new formation and way of playing from day one and look to bring in players to fit that system. Problem any manager has is that they so rarely get the time to take a slow approach and unless big chance offers instant success, it is usually dismissed by fans who lack the patience or vision to understand what is happening.

In recent years, fans and media have become obsessed with this or that formation and usually whatever a team is playing is wrong. As a nation we have always reverted to a standard 4-4-2 and we hear our players like it, and we all understand it, but can’t resist talking up a 4-4-1-1 or whatever, even if the change is change is minimal or we don’t ideally have the players to play it well enough. To be honest, I would be very tempted to play both strikers at City and also both wingers, particularly if Sandro is fit again. City look fragile at the back and will also probably play two strikers. Of course of we play that way and get beaten, AVB will have got it wrong and should have been more cautious. I guess the real thing here is that we need to relax and accept that a manager is only right when he is winning and even then he could be doing better…