In a short space of time, manager Tim Sherwood has started to remedy the goal scoring problems of this Tottenham team after the departure of Andre Villas-Boas. One of Tottenham’s bigger summer signings that has been under intense scrutiny is Roberto Soldado. The Spaniard was unveiled at White Heart Lane as the answer to the recent lack of top quality strikers at Tottenham, coming from Valencia with an impressive strike rate. However despite being given ample time and opportunities by AVB, the striker failed to ignite immediately, apart from a sure fire conversion rate from the penalty spot. It should be expected a transition from the Spanish to the Premier League would take time for the player, but perhaps the problems do not lie with Soldado himself.
Soldado is a poacher and thrives on the ball in the box, something that was painstakingly lacking from the system and style employed by Villas-Boas. The slow building style of possession football meant the opposition defenders has plenty of time to mark and double mark the lone striker. Despite having a healthy choice of several creative players in Eriksen, Holtby, Sigurdsson and Lamela, the emphasis was never on getting the ball into Soldado and so the Spurs side lacked potency and never looked like scoring many goals.
Another feature of the AVB project was the insistency to invert the wingers, to play the left footed Townsend on the right, and the right footed Lennon on the left. But whichever player was put on the wings, there was an inexcusable lack of crosses into the box. This was partly due to the rise to prominence of Townsend, which saw the young lad set up for Spurs on the right wing, as a left footed player. This continually saw Townsend cut inside and shoot rather than take it to the line and whip in crosses. Townsend’s ability to beat his man with a blend of skill and pace is impressive, but he needs to learn to mould his talent to benefit the whole team. He could be much more useful if played on the left, in supplying the Spurs forwards with crosses, chances and assists.
No one can blame Soldado for not scoring if he has to retreat back into midfield to simply receive the ball. You have to get the ball to the forward in the box to score goals, a relatively simple concept AVB failed to grasp. When the Spaniard was given the supply he needs, he proved his ability as a quality finisher with a hat-trick against Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League, albeit them being a generally weaker team.
The interim boss Tim Sherwood has done well to add bite to the Tottenham attack, a brave attacking minded formation and starting XI against Southampton saw Spurs blaze to a 3-2 victory away from home. Although in a remarkable turn of fortunes the star man was Emmanuel Adebayor. Ade flourished into contention with a goal against West Ham and a brace against Southampton, displaying his strength, pace and presence in the box. Sherwood deserves praise for taking a chance on Ade and also for going with two forwards. Sherwood opted for the obvious recipe for goals in the 4-4-2 formation, and an Adebayor – Soldado strikeforce is not to be sniffed at, the pair linking up well for the first goal against Southampton and throughout the match.
However, the change to a more attacking style and emphasis is the most encouraging thing to take from Sherwood’s brief influence on the Spurs team. Last Sunday saw Tottenham get forward, deliver balls into the box and swiftly shift the ball up the field to the strikers. It saw the team put three goals past a decent quality side, a breath of fresh air for a Spurs team that seemed it could play for hours without a goal under AVB.
Sherwood has given this Spurs side a new attacking focus and has got the team scoring goals. It’s a positive move for whoever will start up front, be it the clinical Soldado, the on-form Adebayor or a partnership of the two. Indeed, the 1-1 draw against West Brom shows there is still much to do. But Sherwood has taken the first steps in getting Spurs back to playing their classic attacking brand of football that is so desired by the White Heart Lane faithful.
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