Can he fix it?
Spurs record this season, in terms of momentum and points, is impressive. But more Premier League clean sheets than goals suggests we’re in need of a tweak, and soon.
Here’s five things I’d like Andre Villas-Boas to fix.
I’m certain that if I can list them, he can already see them. The caveat is of course a familiar one to readers of this blog. There is no way of knowing what exactly AVB is thinking when selecting players in positions that don't appear to be working currently and more so why when he retains a certain stubbornness with his selection.
A means to an end?
We can't get past 90 minutes without dissecting the game into a million pieces. You're going to hate hearing this and hate it even more that it might be true, but we might not see the best of this squad for another season. Don't worry, I'm not surrendering the 2013/14 this early. For someone so meticulous with methodology, everything seems to be deliberate and he doesn't need to quantify it beyond the usual pre and post match sound-bites. The only person that truly matters to our coach is the chairman.
That trip to the Bahamas that kicked off the summer of spending surely the most prominent suggestion that he has the backing of ENIC.
Call me an optimist, but this (currently) isn't the Tottenham side we're going to end up with.
1) Full-back support
Jan Vertonghen is class but better at centre-back than full-back. Danny Rose might not be the answer long-term but his pace gives us width, and can give us the over-lap and a far more robust attacking option on the left-hand side. Rose is still injured though so we’re going to need a top class replacement or cover. This will result with an much required equilibrium down the left-flank.
2) The flanks
Having inverted wingers only works if your wingers can invert. Aaron Lennon on the left and Andros Townsend cutting into the right to shoot with his left doesn’t work. Both are known for their pace and attacking offensive space ahead of them. Cutting in and then failing to deliver a pass to our forward leads to congestion in the middle and shots that fly wide. Erik Lamela was at times sensational for Roma out right. He’s also useful on the left and his composure on the ball means he’ll be more capable of linking with the number 10 and Roberto Soldado.
3) Start Erik Lamela
What I said above times infinity. Sure, he’s struggling to
acclimatise to life off the pitch and struggling to impose confidence on
it. Best place for him is wearing the Lilywhite shirt and working
towards an understanding of football, even if his understanding of the
English language is way off. Just needs to memorise the basics; ‘On me
head son’, ‘give me the ball’ etc. His performance in the game against Sheriff testament to the fact game time breeds confidence, understanding and goals.
4) Everyone introduce themselves to that bloke Roberto Soldado
When you have a striker you play to his strengths. Or sign a striker to play to the strengths of the formation and tactics. Soldado finds himself in isolation, in stasis until his team-mates aided by the head coach work out a way to wake him up. Through-balls, drilled crosses to his feet, balls into space in the box he can attack: none of it has any cohesive delivery because it’s not clicking on the flanks or centrally.
5) The Number 10
I love Lewis Holtby. Energetic and cultured but perhaps better played deeper rather than in the pivotal role of creator and crafter. Christian Eriksen was signed as the one to play-make. He has vision and intelligence and more importantly he can be the glue that gels together the wingers and the striker. If we want to see fluid passing movement we need to play our best footballers together.
Rather than tinker, stick with it…let it naturally come together. The tempo, urgency was superb in the first half against Everton. Decent in pockets in the second half of the Europa League game.
Retain the beast Sandro in the middle and Paulinho/Dembele running from box to box for all the grafting and it’s almost perfect.
The Eriksen/Siggy/Lamela combo in the Europa League game (second half only) displaying how much better we can look offensively when players are comfortable moving and 1-2'ing with other players that are tuned into the same frequency. This can only improve by playing to our strengths (passing football) rather than defaulting to physicality and more one dimensional positional heartbreak where players don't expressive outside of the boundaries of their space.
Eriksen still doesn't influence for long periods but then, time will surely change that.
All good problems to have. But potential headaches if we’re caught in the perpetual loop of rotation.