When the mighty Spurs have been battering on the door for some time without any sign of plans B or C, how do we look to change things up? We might bring on Fernando Llorente but he needs service. Against Swansea when he came on, no one passed to him let alone crossed for him. Against Barnsley, he looked stumbling on the deck but soared like a salmon for his one outstanding headed opportunity. It makes sense to suggest a winger might be part of our alternative plans. In which case, who?
Before we look at the relative merits of Marcus Edwards and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou, we are obliged to point out that other brands of touch line hugger are available, from the exotic ghost that is Erik Lamela to the the latest breakthrough, Keenan Bennetts. We also have to ask whether Tottenham’s set up will ever truly accommodate a winger anyway.
Spurs will never pick a winger
Spurs sometimes play with a number 10 but they always play with, what we might have called in old money, two inside forwards in support of a classic centre forward. Inside forwards follow channels that roughly end on the left and right corners of the penalty box. Our personnel are highly fluid and, when we play with three supporting attackers, the third positions himself in the number 10 spot around the D.
Introduce a winger and everyone is tripping over themselves in the limited space on the flanks. When N’Koudou came on against Barnsley, there was no room between Dele and Kyle WP and they weren’t quite sure who was supposed to cross the damn thing. When Spurs last seriously experimented with a winger, in Andros Townsend, it was a case of get out of the frickin’ way, Kyle Walker’s coming through, or do your inverted winger dance across the line of the penalty area. Inside forwards and wing backs give no meaningful space for a conventional winger – it’s no surprise they never get a game.
Were we ever to embrace the possibility, who should it be? Both Marcus and GK N’K have their supporters amongst the fans who, in their recent frustrations, have been looking out for something different to try.
Bigger than Messi, Inside the Tent
Some might question whether these two have the physical presence to withstand the rigours of the Premiership but both are taller and heavier than Messi (and Poch has already led us to that comparison in Marcus’s case). GK is older than Dele and Marcus is less than a year younger than Juan Foyth who has walked into first team consideration.
We all know that Poch likes everyone to stay ‘inside the tent’ and both these individuals are guilty of young men’s errors of judgement. GK had his work ethic questioned and wore a Chelsea shirt. With Marcus it seems to go deeper. He clearly has advisers in his ear telling him he could get all kinds of deal elsewhere and you just get the feeling Poch is keen to make sure he doesn’t get above himself by resisting caving into popular demands for his (rapid?) promotion.
Marcus clearly has something very special about him. He scored the kind of individual goal against BVB U23s which you rarely see these days and he created his own penalty opportunity in the same game. He has quick feet, great balance and a powerful shot. His shtick is that of the inverted winger, dancing along the penalty box, daring defenders to get anywhere near him as he shapes to shoot with his left. This brings him more into straight competition with the likes of Erikson, Dele and Sonny (and one day again perhaps Eric). With the possible exception of Dele, they have phenomenal work rates and impressive aggression. Not sure Marcus has those supporting elements to his game as yet.
GK is older and frankly he deserves his chance. When he comes on, he seems to offer something different and something of a threat. All right, a bit like a young leggy coming on in a club cricket match, he’s liable to bowl the odd long hop. A couple of times against Barnsley he overran the ball on the way to the byline and prompted instructional input from his senior colleagues then and there. But he has real pace, quick feet, seems two footed (and so threatens the defender with going either way to cross – so much harder to be shown away). He can shoot and seems to balance well when to keep it simple and when to embrace risk – what he’s on for, after all.
So, if we were ever to accommodate a winger, I’d go GK. Am I right or am I right?
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