Opinion: Leeds was a big win for Spurs – But I am doubting three at the back

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
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Conte’s second-half tactics were not only astute, but they were exactly what we needed from an encouragement point of view, against Leeds.

He clearly gave the players, who were booed off once again, a rocket at halftime, after a dismal first-half display. 

And rightly so. It was embarrassing.

The ability has simply vanished from many of these players. Among others, Harry Kane didn’t look interested in winning the ball, and to me, he looks as though he is trying to avoid an injury that may curtail any January transfer.

But Conte’s feverish attitude on the touchline ignited something in this apathetic group of players that we haven’t seen in a long time.

I think that completely crediting the win to Conte is farfetched – for if Leeds had held any degree of squad depth, they would have been able to bare their teeth in the second half.

But that’s not to say that Conte being at the helm did not partly bring about the outcome that we all saw. Let’s hope that this new gritty attitude continues from all concerned.

There is, however, one issue that has become apparent, rather quickly during Conte’s tenure thus far. I don’t see a back three working with this current squad. And there are two key reasons for this.

Firstly, the fullbacks are not good enough from an attacking point of view. They just aren’t. Both Sergio Reguilon and Emerson Royal got half-forward but were all too aware of the pace of Jack Harrison and Dan James to commit to being all-out attacking wing-backs.

Without this, we’re not going to have enough of an attacking thrust.

And secondly, this formation requires absolute stability in the centre of midfield. And we couldn’t be further from this.

Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg, despite being Tottenham’s best defensive midfielder, has let his performances slip, and Harry Winks looked like a deer in headlights, reverting back to being a sideways and backwards merchant for the majority of the game.

When Oliver Skipp is back after suspension, one would expect him to play, but this formation certainly puts pressure on his shoulders to provide an attacking threat that we haven’t yet seen from him. 

Another point to be made is that if the fullbacks aren’t effectively playing as wingers, then we may need slightly further attacking players in midfield, thus bringing more pressure on our already porous defence. 

I’m not saying that Spurs can’t play this way. But we need to address these two key areas if this formation is to prove a success.

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