All the right defenders but not necessarily in the right order?

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

We had 16 points from 18 then we had a drubbing at home followed by a lacklustre draw at Hull which we could have lost. We are now on 17 points from 24. To put that in perspective that is 71% of the possible points. If we played like that throughout the season we would end on 81 points and that would have got us first, second or third place in the past three years. What then is wrong? Why do we feel this disquiet?

Our defeat against MC was hard to take though not unpredictable. It was the manner of defeat. They probably would have won the game, but maybe not. The sending off was rescinded but the ‘goal’ that was disallowed could not be given back. We were unlucky and given the points we have surely we should be happy? The answer is we are not. We know that against Hull we could not have complained if we came home with nothing. We know we have come out of the traps slowly and we were not convincing in many of our games. We have ridden our luck just as other teams ride theirs. The problem is we have used a huge slice of it and action needs to be taken so we are less reliant on luck. True, there have been injuries, but the team is almost back to full strength, so what now?

I am working on the basis of no recalls for loan players. You can fiddle with those and with the ones I have left out. The key thing for me is formation (subject to the team turning up and playing as they should do). The latter is a separate issue as are who we should get in and so on. This is what we have, but as I mentioned, if you think Dawson or Soldado should be in, by all means put them in. On Soldado, what are we going to do? Answers on a postcard please along with answers as to how they get motivated.

Having stated I would not be discussing personnel and would focus on formation, I will mention Lennon. I have always liked Lennon and really hoped he would produce. Unfortunately it seems to be a case of flattering to deceive. There are two key complaints. One, if Lennon cannot take corners I do not want him in the team. If Lennon cannot take free kicks I do not want him in the team. If Lennon cannot finish his run with a telling cross or pass that actually finds a Spurs player I do not want him in the team. Yes, he does it, but not enough for my liking. In any event, I think you would struggle to find a place for him in my formation.

Anyway, back to the item in hand. Many goals against us have been via a simple Route 1 through the middle. This was shown again when Long netted for Hull on Saturday. We seem not that great at countering this and we know we are weak in the left back position. The formation I suggest is below, with three centre backs, no traditional left back, and no traditional right winger.

Why three centre backs? First for the reason mentioned above, our vulnerability to Route 1 attacks. Second, this allows cover for attacks from the wings. If Walker has moved forward the trio can shuffle across. With Paulinho and Sandro in front of them we would be as solid as we can be. That does not, of course, mean we would be solid. Townsend and Walker can cross the ball. They also have energy and can get up and down the pitch. There would be a lot of onus on both players, and they may need to swap attacking and defending depending on where play is positioned. I could have done some more pictures, showing a left sided attack, right sided attack, defending, etc, but you get the idea. Lamella has not had a chance as a striker. Let’s see what he can do. Can he do worse than Soldado has done so far? Erikson is yet to shine but shows touches. If not him, who else?

Sorry, I know it was supposed to be about formation but I could not resist mentioning something about the players. The reality is it is down to a mix.


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Brian has been a Spurs supporter from around 1960, so was there for the double, the FA Cup in 1962 and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963. He admits to having cried when Spurs lost to Benfica in the 1962 European Cup Semi-final and to times when he could weep when watching Spurs for the past few years (but for very different reasons). Brian has been lucky enough to see greats such as Jimmy Greaves, Pat Jennings, Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne. During the 60s, 70s and 80s Spurs won at least one domestic trophy and one European trophy each decade (with those wonderful all white strip floodlit games). It has taken Brian more than 20 years to realise that may take a while to come back, but hope lives on.


  1. how unlucky is Defoe?…whenever he’s had a chance he’s been great this season and now we’re playing 4-4-2 and old man Saha gets the nod ahead of him. Bizarre.

    Otherwise, interesting to see Kaboul get the nod over Dawson (he deserves it) and Krancjar over Lennon/Sandro (not so much!).

    Great bench!

    • Your article was exactly what the spurs back room need to be working on as its the only way forward with the current crop of players we have!!!

      Hoddle wanted to go 3 at the back and I’m really gutted we didn’t get him in as he actually has managerial experience! Even if it was only until Van Gaal is available.

      We need to face facts that no real big talents want to join us there’s always a CL side they can go to. So that means we have to be willing to buy quality players that are nearing the end of their career with no sell on value.

      Hernanes went Inter

      Diego went A Madrid on loan

      Sneijder at Galatasarey

      Kagawa unwanted at utd

      Ben Arfa at Newcastle

      Ashley Cole unwanted at chelsk

      Lescott unwanted at City

      Benteke at villa

      Martinez at Porto

      Williams at Swansea

      These are all players that we cud buy if we wanted them and excepted that we need players for the short term to get us regular top 4 then start lookin at players for the future when we are established!

      You can’t build a team around adebayor he’s too unpredictable,so Benteke or Martinez are perfect replacements.





      Ben Arfa,Diego,Kagawa














      All the above are for now!

      All the below are the future!












      The players for the future need loaning out to prem teams to get used to the league,like we did with walker,Townsend etc…

      Yes we may have to over pay on certain players and other players will have little sell on fee. But I don’t understand why managers keep gettin sacked for gettin us 5th if we are not prepaired to splash the cash it takes to break the top 4.

      If we went and got those players and loaned out the younger ones until they were ready,I think 4th wud of been ours all day long.

      Then we cud start thinkin bout bringing in quality younger talent wen we hav CL.

      It’s time to stop mucking about and do a man city but where we are starting from a lot further down the rd we wudnt have to spend as silly as they did.

  2. An interesting article. But to me it's not about a system but about getting the best 11 players on the park. When fit, my best 11 is as follows – Lloris, Vertonghen, Paulinho, Sandro, Eriksen, Adebayor, Chiriches, Lennon, Soldado, Dembele & Kaboul._The team would line up something like this:-
    Kaboul, Chiriches, Vertonghen
    Lennon, Paulinho, Dembele
    Adebayor, Soldado
    I believe Lennon is often a passenger because he isn't being utilised properly. He is our best winger but is often ignored. Soldado isn't scoring goals but he's playing well otherwise. He holds the ball up & feeds others & plays a part in many of our goals. Dawson is too slow at the back & we have a weak left side as mentioned so I go for 3 CD's all quicker & better on the ball than Dawson.
    Sandro is the perfect DM & Paulinho scores, assists & defends as good as anyone. Dembele dribbles the ball brilliantly & needs to be in a more attacking roll on the left. Eriksen will only get better as our main provider. Adebayor in his current state of mind can't be left out.
    I would have a bench of – Friedle, Walker, Rose, Capoue, Sigurdsson, Townsend & Lamelia

  3. I would only play 3 centre backs against teams with two strikers, otherwise you have redundant players (3v1) in a zone 90 yards from the opponents goal. Unless you have a hybrid player like Sergio Busquets, who can move forward to make an additional midfielder in the attacking phase, then this is not an effective system against teams playing with a single striker.

  4. With the players we have I’ve been screaming out for 3 ay the back! And It’s been the exact same system as in the article. My only changes would be on performance based ie. Drop Lamela in behind and play Soldado alongside Ade.

    I also quite like the sound of the comment made with Lennon,Paulinho and Dembele in the middle 3.

    But I also think that 4/4/2 doesn’t work in modern football,so to get 2 Strikers on u need to go 3 at the back.

    With a 3 at the back set up all our players cud get game time and be influencial!





    Soldado,Adebayor 3/4/1/2






    Adebayor 3/1/4/1/1





    Adebayor 3/4/3 (how I Wud lay us out)

    Also if u want to go more defensive u play Rose on the left and put Sandro in the middle. If u want to go more attacking u put Lennon on the right. But cud also drop Eriksen into the middle and bring Soldado on.

    Whatever happens we need to get rid of Sherwood he still thinks It’s 1993 and how the —- is Bentaleb gettin on the pitch over Capoue???? Or Holtby for that matter!

    But as everyone is supposed to be fit now,we need to pick a starting 11 and play them in the league for all the remaining games to try and gel for a quick start nxt season.

    Also Soldado is a great player and finisher jus low on confidence! Same goes with Lamela. If we don’t use Lamela now and play him into form we will regret it wen we see him in all his glory in 2/3 yrs time as Ronaldos replacement at Real Madrid!!!

    Sherwood please just play 3/4/3 with as many of the same players as possible,but definitely Lamela and Soldado till the end of the season. We cud still get 4th but not with 4/4/2 or Bentawho on the pitch!!!





    Soldado,Adebayor 3/4/1/2


    Lamela – Eriksen

    Kaboul – Dawson

    Walker – Lennon

    Townsend – Rose

    Sandro – Capoue

    Paulinho – Dembele

    Gylfi plays only in behind the strikers!!! COYS

    • nice thoughts, and i really like the idea of playing 3 cb's, BUT when defending the back 3 often are helped by the wide men, who than run back and defend on the right and left side. (Just look at Juve, as they are the best team, which uses a back 3-line) That is why Juve are playing Lichtsteiner on the right wing, because of his defensive abilities to run back and help out. Walker could do this job perfectly on the right side, but Townsend on the left?! He would leave the left side way to open and exposed.

      THAT IS WHY: the beast must play, IF we are ever going to play with 3 back cb's. Sandro could either drop back between kaboul and chiriches and allow vertonghen to defend on the left side, or when defending he could drop back to the left area and defend there. Either way, Sandro must play….

      Still i like the idea to turn things around and try something new. would be interesting if it works, but you never know until you try!!! COYS

  5. I actually think you are Ardiles in disguise ! This is a liability. Firstly Lamella is potential nothing else. He needs nurturing. Secondly Townsend cannot get up and back- his covering on whichever side he plays is woeful. The Dembele Paulinhio debate could go on for hours. Much as I don't like Walker his speed and play with Lennon is important to us and we need to get Lennon more involved – I think that is a tactic not a team formation. Sandro is the BEAST and should be in every Spurs team from here until the end of time ! Surely Mr Sherwood is only using Bentaleb as a stop gap until the beast is ready.

    • There was no need to use Bentaleb as a stop gap until Sandro returned as he had a much more capable Capoue to call upon.
      Against arsenal in the cup in a 4/4/2 it was jus plain suicide and naivety!
      And against City the way he got thrown off the ball like a little boy was embarrassing! How he was kept on for the 2nd half jus shows Sherwood is the stop gap until we finally get a manager that knows what he’s doin!

  6. Next season will be better than this one. We will rationalise the team a bit and make an informed decision. I like your back 3, although I don't believe Kaboul can be risked yet. He'll have to prove his fitness in short bursts. After two years out pretty much. Spurs so far have been an almost-team. Lots of potential not quite turning into 90 minutes of quality performance. You can barely risk a sloppy 10 minutes at this level but Spurs seem to put in a sloppy half then a decent half. But their quality is such that they can get away with it. When they find the acceleration pedal I suspect they'll find the top 4. Until then, top 6.


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