Tim Sherwood has claimed that Tottenham Hotspur head coach Antonio Conte continues to prioritise results ahead of the performance of his side.
Tottenham made the short trip across north London on Saturday to face Arsenal and left the Emirates with their tail firmly between their legs having been comfortably beaten 3-1 by their bitter rivals.
Sherwood who managed Spurs during the 2013/14 season believes that Tottenham’s game plan is to get players behind the ball and try to hit the opposition on the counter attack.
The 53-year-old suggested that Conte is firmly convinced of his style, however, referenced the fact that Tottenham have not won in an attractive manner in some time.
Conte decided to keep faith with his usual formation 3-4-3 against the Gunners but found it difficult to compete against Mikel Arteta’s side who operated a 4-2-3-1 and used their numerical advantage in midfield to pin back Tottenham’s wing backs.
Sherwood told Optus Sport: “The game plan is quite clear for Tottenham.
“It is to get bodies behind the ball, like they did today. Hopefully the opposition are not clever enough to work in tight areas and score magnificent goals. Arsenal were. The top teams are going to be able to. And it’s to rely on (Heung-Min) Son, (Harry) Kane, (Dejan) Kulusevski when he is there, Richarlison… that is the way they have been building results up until now. It has not been spectacular. That is their game plan.
They can (do something else), but it’s not the way the manager wants them to play.
“Everything is good when they’re winning, there is no problem, Jose Mourinho plays exactly like this. This manager has real desire, this is how he believes he is going to win with this team; this team has not won playing pretty football for an awful long time now. So he is going to try a different way, but it takes a manager with a lot of character to get Son, Kane, Kulusevski, world class players, to suffer without the ball, playing so deep for the team.
“The goodwill soon goes as soon as they start losing games, especially big games like this one today.
“They start losing derbies, they start listening to phone-ins, social media with the fans, there will be grumblings now. How can we play (like this) in a derby? There was no passion, we didn’t try. They did. They stuck to the game plan, but it wasn’t to run around, push high and try to get the ball up, play with the fire in their belly, it was to soak up pressure and counterattack.
“(That is) exactly how they got the penalty, exactly how they’ve been playing all season. They played at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, they got outplayed for the 90 minutes, Conte never changed, in the 96th minute Harry Kane scores from a corner, good result in the end.
It is all about results for Antonio Conte. It is nothing about possession, nothing about performance.”
Tottenham got their game plan wrong against Arsenal, however, they were still guilty of wasting opportunities in the final third and on more than one occasion could have been through on goal if a final pass had been better.
Conte now has to weigh up whether he is willing to adapt to a 3-5-2 formation and bring Yves Bissouma or Oliver Skipp into midfield, given the amount of matches his side face this month.
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