It had been coming for a while now. Having scrapped unconvincingly towards victory in the weeks previous, there was always a sense of inevitability when the slip-up duly came on Sunday. Attacking incompetence has blighted Tottenham’s Premier League charge, and for many the defeat to Newcastle was the final straw for AVB’s misdirected policy of late.
Knee-jerkism is rife in football, we all do it and those that don’t admit to it are probably lying anyway. Post-match there was definite clamouring for most radically ‘AVB Out’ and probably more reasonably towards a tactical re-think.
Clearly Spurs have the personnel to do the job, a crop of world class talent that have previously proven themselves on some of the highest stages of all. What is becoming apparent though is an obvious inability to translate this into goals; nine from Even the chances that Spurs have created so far have been far from clear cut, AVB may want to mask the problems with statistics but for me it runs a little deeper than that.
A number of fans trying to piece together what happened at the weekend have come up with what I would describe as a very English solution to the problem. Returning to a 4-4-2 in many peoples eyes would offer Spurs that final third incision that they have been missing, maybe even bring Adebayor back to help with the transition. I’m not sure if Harry Redknapp had Spurs fans brainwashed, but this suggestion just smacks of his thinking. Slapping on another striker is a lazy suggestion, don’t get me wrong 4-4-2 is a credible formation, but for too many their justification has simply been with 2 strikers your chances of scoring are doubled.
The reality for Spurs is that it doesn’t matter who is up front, you probably could have had Van Persie up top all season and I doubt the goal-scoring haul would have been too different. The problem isn’t with whose up top, more with what is going on behind.
I’m not sure where the current animosity towards 4-2-3-1 has come from, the top clubs across Europe consistently play with one up top even at home and you don’t see them having problems scoring. A lone striker isn’t a negative strategy per se; it is how you use that striker that defines the way in which you play.
At Spurs Soldado is consistently isolated and restricted to a handful of half chances per game, this is where the issue lies. It isn’t time for a formation change, more for a formation tweak.
As has constantly been the case, Spurs seem obsessed with restricting their own space. It is all well and good Dembele moaning about the pitch dimensions but for me they don’t even make best use of what they have. The second half against Newcastle was perhaps the best 45 minutes they have had all season and it was because of a totally different to breaking down the opposition. Instead of laboriously trying to pick the lock at a pedestrian speed, there was a genuine urge to attack with pace and more importantly with a bit of width.
The majority of Spurs chances, which somehow were kept out by an imperious Tim Krul, were fashioned out wide. The likes of Walker, Vertonghen, Townsend and Lennon all possess pace in abundance and it is a mystery as to why AVB hasn’t seen fit to harness this potential menace. Spending £26m on a frontman that only ever seems to get the ball with his back to goal is in my opinion tactical stupidity from a man that is regarded as one of the sharpest. Soldado scored bag of goals getting on the end of crosses and if Spurs continue to play like they did in the second half on Sunday I don’t see this drought being a particularly long one.
AVB’s problem though is an inherent stubbornness, he is as egotistical as his so called master Jose Mourinho and if he believes in a method he will stick to it. This obsession with inverted wingers and more meticulous approach to breaking down opposition needs to be scrapped soon, breaking with pace out wide is the way forward for Spurs in a 4-2-3-1 system.
The ‘AVB Out’ brigade may have jumped the gun here, but unless AVB can somehow revive Spurs’ attacking fortunes the pressure is only going to intensify in North London.
Time for a tweak or change to tactics at Tottenham?