Opinion: Analysing Tanganga’s best position and how Spurs can best use him

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

If all Tottenham fans were being honest with themselves, I think we would all have to admit that our defence this season has been nothing short of woeful.

Far too many times have we seen poor individual errors lead to goals that otherwise would have been quite easily avoidable.

One shining light in the Spurs backline comes in the form of Japhet Tanganga. The 21-year-old defender came into the limelight last season at home to Liverpool in a closely-contested 1-0 loss (Premier League).

The Englishman was deployed on the right side of a back four against the eventual champions. He displayed quality and maturity far beyond his age keeping the Senegalese Sadio Mane reasonably quiet all evening.

This season, we have seen Tanganga used almost exclusively in cup games with 7 of his 8 appearances coming in Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup ties (TransferMarkt).

It was recently revealed by Mourinho that he sees Tanganga predominantly as a full-back (Football.London). However, I believe that the Portuguese manager should reconsider this and utilise him predominantly as a centre-back.

The one thing that I think holds Tanganga back from getting an extended run of games in the league could be down to his unfortunate injury record. Within the last year, he has picked up four separate injuries sidelining him for 24 games in total (TransferMarkt).

Mourinho will be looking to players he can rely on for the upcoming games as the club tries to make its way out of a rough run of form. However, the poor form of players such as Dier and Sanchez could mean that risks are taken when it comes to his team selection.

The key traits of successful centre backs to me are good awareness of surroundings in and around the box, strength and in the current world, a turn of pace.

In contrast, Toby Alderweireld has lost his turn of pace, Eric Dier seems to have lost all sense of direction when defending the penalty area and Sanchez, although unbelievably athletic, seems to lack the concentration to perform at the top level for a full 90 minutes.

Tanganga has all of these attributes at his disposal and has used them on many occasion over the last year and a half since his debut against Colchester in the EFL Cup (Wikipedia).

The use of Tanganga in the middle of the pitch rather than on the flanks could also be mutually beneficial for the club and himself due to the current resurgence in Serge Aurier’s form at right-back.

The Ivorian has racked up an impressive three goals and one assist in the Premier League this season (TransferMarkt). This change in fortune for the 28-year-old means Tanganga may find it hard to cement his place over Aurier.

Alternatively, there have been no such fortunes in the central defence department, meaning if anyone has a chance to prove themselves over the remaining games it would be Tanganga.

The sky is the limit for the young Lilywhite and I believe we could see him turn into a top-quality centre-back over the next few years, hopefully solving our problems that began with the departure of Vertonghen and the ageing of his Belgian counterpart Alderweireld.

I do hope to see Tanganga pull on the Spurs shirt more in the Premier League before the end of the season as I slowly lose confidence in our alternative centre back options (with the exception of Joe Rodon).

If we are to look towards and build for the future, I think it is time for us to forge that foundation, starting with a solid base with the aforementioned Joe Rodon and Japhet Tanganga at the heart of it.

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