This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
It has been a hugely disappointing season for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club to date, summed up by their shocking 7-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Mauricio Pochettino decided to go with a 4-4-2 diamond formation against the Bundesliga outfit, but it proved to be a largely disastrous decision.
The Argentine has largely chopped and changed his systems throughout the campaign so far, and according to Transfermarkt he has already utilised the 4-2-3-1, 4-2-2-2, 4-3-1-2, 4-4-2 diamond and 3-4-1-2 formations in their 10 fixtures to date.
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That lack of consistency may have proven to be an issue given some poor performances against the likes of Newcastle United, Olympiacos and Leicester City, and Pochettino’s latest call against Bayern certainly backfired.
Winks certainly wasn’t up to the task of being an out-and-out defensive midfielder at the base of the diamond, and it is clear that something else is needed – and it needs to be used continually to find that momentum.
Yes, Pochettino has used it on three occasions this term according to Transfermarkt, but it needs to be a permanent fixture again.
As things stand it appears as though the 47-year-old is trying too hard to find a formation he can fit Winks, Tanguy Ndombele and Moussa Sissoko into, and it appears to be affecting their organisation and cohesion on the pitch.
Furthermore, they have the players that can make the 4-2-3-1 so successful – Lucas Moura, Erik Lamela, Son Heung-min, Ryan Sessegnon and Christian Eriksen can all make an impact in those wide positions, while the latter, Dele Alli and Giovani Lo Celso can all feature in more of a No.10 position.
Even Ndombele showed his ability to potentially play there with some impressive dribbling and a superb through-ball to Son in the opening exchanges of the clash against Bayern.
Pochettino also needs Dier – or a new defensive midfielder in January – to play at the base of the midfield alongside Winks, Sissoko or Ndombele to really make the most of it.
While there were a few deviations, the 4-2-3-1 was still the primary formation the former Southampton boss used during the 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 campaigns which brought third, second and third-place finishes respectively in the Premier League, and now they need to use it again to rediscover the spark that is missing.