A picture can speak for itself and the one of Harry Kane, being surrounded by four West Ham players with two in the close vicinity, epitomises what last nights game was all about.
David Moyes set out his stall, he had gone with a team designed to nullify the Tottenham threat, presumably in the hope that his pacy players might hit Spurs on the counter. If they lost, so what it’s not the end of the world but if we get a draw bonus, a win, terrific.His pre-match TV interview was of man with the next 5 games on his mind, and last nights London Derby was not at the forefront of his thoughts. Sit deep, get out with a point [or better] and Bob’s your Uncle. Anti-football yes but it worked.
I’ve seen many today cite mitigating circumstances, the Hammers negative tactics, the brutal Swansea pitch, the fixture pile up etc but few genuinely criticising Mauricio Pochettino’s tactics.
Don’t get me wrong I like Poch, he’s a good manager and should have a good career and when things go right, like they have in recent weeks, it’s terrific but last night was the 4th time this season where a ‘lesser’ team parked the proverbial bus and we failed to get past it and for me he again got the whole kit and kaboodle horribly wrong.
Many will talk of his achievements of getting us consecutive Top 4 finishes etc, yes all terrific in a sense but We’ve had two seasons where the usual big boys have had off periods, unusually collectively, but it has happened but not this year and it shows.We’ve stood still, they’ve progressed.
Teams will go to the Top 6 contenders, sit deep like West Ham did. Against the four “lesser” teams that have held us at Wembley (Burnley, West Ham, West Brom, Swansea) the other top 6 teams have only dropped points at home or away on 2 occasions. They’ve found ways to break them down.Wembley or not, even if we were playing these teams on Joe Lewis’ yacht in the Bahamas we should be beating them especially at home. We have better players.
Moussa Sissoko is the easy go to guy to blame for everything, and yes he was a whole new level of manure last night but one man picks the team and the tactics and that buck stops with Pochettino.
The world, his wife, his mother and the cat could see what West Ham had in mind, however we persisted with the same tactics and 11 until we went behind. The crowd could see it, we at home could see it, the man on the moon could see it wasn’t working but Pochettino doggedly persisted and persisted until the Hammers went ahead.
You would admire the man to stick to his guns, but if it’s not working then you must have the guts to admit you’ve got it wrong and the tactical nous to change it. Sissoko has been involved in nearly every game this season and his overall contribution has been laughable. I implore anyone to explain to me what he brings to the team that others don’t. A lame duck would be more effective.
Clearly two up top would have drawn less attention
to Kane yesterday, he could have run the channels, or a strike partner, leaving space for perhaps Dele or Son or Kane himself to exploit, it wouldn’t have given them any other option but instead it was childsplay for them with a bit of decent concentration thrown in.
He started with two holding midfielders, Why? why show an average side, intent on a defensive strategy that much respect? It got to a point where Sissoko was spending large parts of the night getting in the way of Aurier and his night summed up when he passed a ball intended for Aurier but about 60 yards behind the Ivorian.
And Pochettino persisted with same tactics and personnel and it got to the point where players seemed to start to avoid giving it too Sissoko. Pochettino has done this on so many occasions this season and seems so intent on having no flexibility. If its working, terror if it’s not then change. I’m no football genius but it’s obvious.
For me this is a pivotal year in Pochettino’s tenure he’s has an easy ride but cannot be immune to criticism , we can use the excuse of Wembley only so much, but last night had nothing to do with the national stadium and neither did the other games against the aforementioned opposition.
If we are to retain a top 4 place he must become more tactically aware and astute, most players are now fit and he has the best striker in Europe at his disposal.
This has nothing to do with Levy’s reluctance in the market either, it’s far too easy to blame him, this has to do with a manager who needs to get back to basics, to not be so stubborn and learn from his mistakes. We laugh at the hammers and their ambition to be a top four side in their shiny new stadium, there is a distinct possibility that we’ll be playing Europa League football in ours. Wouldn’t that be an anti-climax