Date: 27th November 2017 at 2:51pm
Written by:

Opening Up A Defence; An Open Begging Letter to Pochettino.

Getting past defenders and using the line or getting to the by-line is an essential part of the game, it can create space which in turn can create opportunities and chances. Pace is not just about having ‘space to run into` as some seem to think. Do a coaching badge, watch instructional videos that disassemble a winning coaches tactical changes; watch what high press teams do against deep lying teams and almost without exception you will see them undone by overlapping, even under lapping pace that leaves defences stranded a few yards behind them.

Pace at the top level is the attribute that kills. It is why we are already missing Walker so badly.

If you are set-up to play with wing-backs, it is an absolute necessity that you must master and have the players capable of doing it. Trying to do it without it is akin to walking up a ski-slope in your dress shoes (not be tried, unless like me you have lost your marbles to drink and were willing to try the stupidest idea for a laugh, ever).

What I can guarantee you is the inability to get past a defending force slows you down and kills momentum; along with stifling movement off the ball by your team, which in turn means your choices are limited to one-two`s, playing slow moving triangles, or the long diagonal ball (which we are using more and more, in fact I swear at times Daws is now back coaching our back three) against the massed ranks of Premier league footballers, this kills playing space and forces you to play through the middle or take pot shots from distance – the stats for successful pot shots from outside the box even at the highest level of football are absolutely abysmal – of course when they go in, they are spectacular, but relying one a 1:250 movement to gain an advantage is about as sensible as playing chicken on the M1, at night, with a blind fold on.

I have often been told and still read that some posters think that pace is overrated.

Oddly at Premier league level, it`s amazing how effective it can be and how much we revere players that have it. Of course this all assumes that they have both pace and some skill and occasionally can demonstrate footballing intelligence i.e. when to dazzle and dribble and when to lay off and move – and it is that combo that is still seemingly in short supply, in our case that shortage is now becoming critical.

I am despairing, on a wider longer pitch this season, we have become bogged down in and around the opposition area more than ever have since Poch came and turned us around, of course we can now point to that we are (points wise) exactly where we are last season, but that misses the point, last season the momentum was with us, after a tricky start, now it`s not – at least not in the Premier league and worst of all the mood has changed, and whilst I often get angered by how short-sighted or knee jerk reactionaries our fans behaviour can me, we must focus on the trend and the persona that our players and the club are projecting, and at the moment, it just smells of a club that needs to put a few fires out and think strategically again.

It seems to me that Poch must know this too, we`ve had a short line of wingers starting with N who supposedly had pace, and in the brief patches we saw them, they did too – it seems however that the other basic bare essentials are lacking; if our scouts do not have a check list by now, then someone needs to give them one. Our seemingly complete inability to buy an up and coming wing player with pace, guile, skill and intelligence is our single biggest failure.
Either all our scouts are utterly useless, or our Chairman will not spend the money, or our coach cannot work out how to use and play them.

I am at a loss to explain why and what brings this situation about.

All I can do is believe that this window our coach, our scouts and our chairman will see the bleeding obvious and finally get it through their heads that if you are going to change your tactical formation and manage a game to effect a different outcome, you have to have different players to that what you already have and of course you have to have the nous as to when to make these changes.

Not so long ago one of our posters ‘dogeatdog` pinioned that we were ‘over-coaching` youngsters to the point that the very reason they were being signed was being coached out of them, and I have seen it for myself.

Individuality is frowned upon, players that take risks by dribbling in tight areas or ‘wrong` areas of the pitch are lampooned. Individual skill levels become more and more timid. We as a Country, as a Premier league are producing ‘safe` players and until that changes, our success won`t change.

I hoped that Poch not withstanding his career in defence would pay homage to flair players given some of the greats from his country he played side by side with, but so far he and we have singly failed to buy one, let alone two.

If it was two Argentinian flair players; what I would give to see their likes in a lilywhite shirt.

It was as a 7/8 year old kid that they captured my imagination and a life long unhealthy obsession (some would call it a curse) with all things Tottenham began.

When fans do see an exciting player, we crave for them to be given a chance, even though most of us know they`re not ready; we are desperate to have a player that will take on a defence, give them a problem and most of all create the unexpected.

I cannot help myself now, I know I am now clutching at straws, but what I wonder would Marcus Edwards might have done in the last 15 minutes against West Brom?

I cannot imagine we would have been worse off and he may even have surprised everyone and perhaps just as importantly it would have been a statement of intent from Poch, a commitment to taking risks that we seem to have given up on going forward.

Apparently to some, maybe even our highly esteemed coach, our high pressing, high tempo game (when we turn on and turn up) negates the need for out and out blistering pace, of course when we change out tactics and sit deeper and play on the counter rather than try and possess and pass the life out of our opposition, then it seems to me, at times simply hoping that they will tire to the point of giving up chasing the ball and filling space is, as teams have had to learn how to beat and frustrate our tactics, a forlorn hope.

It is in a games tactical situations like this you need pace to get down the wing, to get past the last man and do it regularly to the point of forcing your opposition onto the back foot and to unpack them and commit them to a wider area; do that and chances happen.

To achieve this the coaching 101 courses say that you have to become a tactical thinker and be prepared to take game risks, you have to change your shape and create fresh pressure points in your attack, unfortunately against the ‘lessor` teams (can we call them that anymore?) we just are not doing it, instead we are now hitting an away team that park the team coach, and we run into brick wall.

It might be a huge surprise to some, but the rest of the Premier league has worked us out.

Those that come to play we beat, or play credibly well against. Those that come to frustrate, now know how to do it and do it well.

Please wake up Poch, smell the coffee, shake the tree, get wing players that are not French and not beginning with N, or get wingbacks that have pace, if not, change formulaic formation and start with a 4-4-2 or 4-5-1, or even a 4-3-3 at home, but for all our sakes, change the approach or our season could yet turn into a domestic decline and with your contempt for domestic cups it may well cost us our faith and reason and you your job.

You have shown that you know Levy as well as anyone, thinking that he will not find a scapegoat if you lose the momentum or have a portion of the fans lose patience will end badly for us all, and I for one still believe that your attributes are so strong, so solid and so right for Tottenham that correcting this blind spot could be the catalyst to filling the dusty cob webbed Tottenham Trophy cabinet once again.

So please Poch, put Spurs money where it is needed, before its too late and embrace the change, I am begging you…


8 Replies to “Opening Up A Defence; An Open Begging Letter to Pochettino.”

  • Actually if there are players defending deep with no space to run into you can’t beat them with pace. You can beat them with trickery or a change of pace. Trickery is simply having the ball skills to take a man on and go past him. A change of pace is what Gascoigne had. You’d never back him in a 20 meter sprint but he could go past a player effortlessly with a sudden rapid acceleration and give himself a meter. In either case if he’s out wide the player then needs to get in a decent cross immediately before he’s closed down again. Then you need bodies in the box, preferably players who can head a ball.

  • I’ve been saying since last season that we can’t break down a well organised defence and nothing has changed a year later, We are toothless against a well organised packed defence.
    I also said last season that we had been found out and I got slated for it.
    How come I see can these things months ahead of everyone can, else so that when I say them I get slagged off, then months later when a so called popular poster puts almost exactly the same thing up they get praise for being so on the ball when they missed things by a year or so. Our attitude stinks as regards the Prem and domestic cups as we are concentrating on the C L and nothing else, how do you instil a winning mentality if you tell the players that the domestic honours aren’t worth fighting for because you tell them that and they won’t try hard enough because it isn’t important, so all along they coast until it becomes the natural thing to do unless we are playing a C L match then we switch it on and then switch it all back off again for the domestic games. Pathetic way to think because it instils a doctrine of complacency and not going for the win, which is where we are at now.

  • Chrishove123, if you’d frequented the forums you would have seen that I have been an advocate for a plan ‘b’ that involves speed/pace on our wings for over a year. So we may well have been saying the same thing, perhaps differently, but essentially the same – it doesn’t make it any less valid, except of course last season we finished 2nd and this (at the moment) I think we’ll be a massive fight for 4th spot.

    As for our ‘concentration’ on the CL and the PL – you should recognize that it is an exceptional rarity to see a PL cope well with the Champions league, we blew it last year and clearly within the camp is the belief that we CAN cope with both, I too think we might, but as I said pre-season, we simply don’t have the squad depth and quality to win one, let alone both, as for de-focusing on the domestic cups, I think saying that was a mistake – just a sit was when AVB and Harry said virtually the same thing. We need to build a winning mentality and beating one of the top 6 in the final of either of our domestic cups is a HUGE challenge.l

  • As I made clear in the article; it’s pace + skill + guile. As a midfielder when I was up against attackers with pace and skill, you had to change tactics, sitting on their back, didn’t and doesn’t work – you have to stand off or have two of you tracking his movement – the moment you do that you create spaces either in the middle or the flanks – even if you are parking the bus, you open up space to and on the byline – and running at defenders or going past them forces a defender to make a decision and that often leads to an error, a foul or even a penalty. Pace kills, as any manager, coach you can find and parking the bus isn’t a defense against quick skilled players.

    The key reason we struggle with packed defences is we don’t have the pace when we play Davies and Trippier to get behind them or through them, all they have to do is close down space and virtually remain static and rigid – these are basic concepts of coaching, and are all included in our FA coaching courses, backed up by mountains of written/oral and video evidence at St.Georges.
    Poch has done incredibly well, but apart from changing formations during a game, we have to change the emphasis of pressure and thrust as well as create thinking problems for the opposing team – and we just aren’t that good at doing that, as our struggles against the ‘lesser’ teams attests.

  • Spot on Spursex. Keep an eye on Marco Silva, his forwards are playing with more pace & flair than ours. Somebody at Watford spotted Richarlison [only £11 mill.] Just the sort of player to open up a packed defence. I’ve a horrible feeling Silva will replace Wenger one day.

  • Greavesaboveall, if Poch isn’t careful, Silva will replace him – we ALL know how fickle Levy can be when expectations have risen and results slide a bit – and Poch MUST be aware of that? It would be tragedy if come the end of the season we’ve had a great CKl adventure only to finish 5th or 6th and no silver, and under that scenario, I just know what Levy would do to deflect flack…

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