Mauricio Pochettino began, what is hopefully a successful tenure as Tottenham manager, with a hard fought, competitive 3-3 draw in Seattle against the city’s Sounders on Saturday evening. Penalties from Roberto Soldado and Iago Falque saw Spurs twice come from behind, following Lewis Holtby’s delightful header from a delicious Harry Kane chipped through ball. Spurs, without seven of their World Cup stars, started and rotated youngsters, squad players and more household names throughout the game, and much could be learned from what a was an at times feisty pre-season friendly.
The initial components of a ‘classic’ Pochettino philosophy were clear to see; full-backs wide and progressive, centre half’s encouraged to take the ball on the floor, going forward- slick, quick passing and selective pressing all round. Promising stuff as we looked for that ever illusive median between style and success. Indeed, offensively there was a notable different, especially in the second half. Passing was much faster, players shipped the ball on quicker and there was frequent interchanging of positions. In particular, Erik Lamela looked enthused- fitter, stronger and more confident, whilst youngsters Ceballos and Falque were lively too.
However, the same problems defensively reign. A high, zig-zag like offside trap meant Seattle got in behind us a number of times, a problem which was not helped by Dawson’s willingness to give the ball away in dangerous areas, coupled with Fryers and Naughton’s lack of defensive awareness and positioning. Capoue was poor in front of the back four, and Rose rather invisible- minus was superb goal line clearance. Defensive issues were not helped either in the second half with Kaboul nonsensically stepping up for the Sounders third goal.
Thus, there are many things for Pochettino and his army of backroom staff to ponder and resolve. I’d suggest, as I think most would accept, including the club itself if media reports are anything to go by, that defensive reinforcements are needed and on their way. Ben Davies medical is believed to be due in Seattle, having agreed a fee with Swansea (SkySports), which will surely see Sigurddson move in the opposite direction in the near future, following his late withdrawal from today’s match day squad. However, that will surely not be the end of our window business, another centre back at least is needed. Nevertheless, as admirable as Pochettino’s philosophy is, it may be worth noting, that without the correct players in defensive areas, it would be risky. If you don’t have the players, don’t play the system- in this respect Poch may wish to proceed with caution.
All in all mind, a solid start to the era. Defensive issues will remain until more accomplished, ball comfortable, defence minded defenders are shipped in to resolve the problem. Yet, going forward there was a lot to be positive about; sharp, creative football reared its head. It’s only a start but more of the same please.
Another two State side games remain before our real quality returns from an extended World Cup break. I believe we’re moving in the right direction, and two or so astute signings will underline this. Hope springs eternal!
What did you make of the Tottenham performance? Have your say below
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