Is Pochettino too stubborn for his own good?

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

A picture can speak for itself and the one of Harry Kane, being surrounded by four West Ham players with two in the close vicinity, epitomises what last nights game was all about.

David Moyes set out his stall, he had gone with a team designed to nullify the Tottenham threat, presumably in the hope that his pacy players might hit Spurs on the counter. If they lost, so what it’s not the end of the world but if we get a draw bonus, a win, terrific.His pre-match TV interview was of man with the next 5 games on his mind, and last nights London Derby was not at the forefront of his thoughts. Sit deep, get out with a point [or better] and Bob’s your Uncle. Anti-football yes but it worked.

I’ve seen many today cite mitigating circumstances, the Hammers negative tactics, the brutal Swansea pitch, the fixture pile up etc but few genuinely criticising Mauricio Pochettino’s tactics.

Don’t get me wrong I like Poch, he’s a good manager and should have a good career and when things go right, like they have in recent weeks, it’s terrific but last night was the 4th time this season where a ‘lesser’ team parked the proverbial bus and we failed to get past it and for me he again got the whole kit and kaboodle horribly wrong.

Many will talk of his achievements of getting us consecutive Top 4 finishes etc, yes all terrific in a sense but We’ve had two seasons where the usual big boys have had off periods, unusually collectively, but it has happened but not this year and it shows.We’ve stood still, they’ve progressed.

Teams will go to the Top 6 contenders, sit deep like West Ham did. Against the four “lesser” teams that have held us at Wembley (Burnley, West Ham, West Brom, Swansea) the other top 6 teams have only dropped points at home or away on 2 occasions. They’ve found ways to break them down.Wembley or not, even if we were playing these teams on Joe Lewis’ yacht in the Bahamas we should be beating them especially at home. We have better players.

Moussa Sissoko is the easy go to guy to blame for everything, and yes he was a whole new level of manure last night but one man picks the team and the tactics and that buck stops with Pochettino.

The world, his wife, his mother and the cat could see what West Ham had in mind, however we persisted with the same tactics and 11 until we went behind. The crowd could see it, we at home could see it, the man on the moon could see it wasn’t working but Pochettino doggedly persisted and persisted until the Hammers went ahead.

You would admire the man to stick to his guns, but if it’s not working then you must have the guts to admit you’ve got it wrong and the tactical nous to change it. Sissoko has been involved in nearly every game this season and his overall contribution has been laughable. I implore anyone to explain to me what he brings to the team that others don’t. A lame duck would be more effective.

Clearly two up top would have drawn less attention
to Kane yesterday, he could have run the channels, or a strike partner, leaving space for perhaps Dele or Son or Kane himself  to exploit, it wouldn’t have given them any other option but instead it was childsplay for them with a bit of decent concentration thrown in.

He started with two holding midfielders, Why? why show an average side, intent on a defensive strategy that much respect? It got to a point where Sissoko was spending large parts of the night getting in the way of Aurier and his night summed up when he passed a ball intended for Aurier but about 60 yards behind the Ivorian.

And Pochettino persisted with same tactics and personnel and it got to the point where players seemed to start to avoid giving it too Sissoko. Pochettino has done this on so many occasions this season and seems so intent on having no flexibility. If its working, terror if it’s not then change. I’m no football genius but it’s obvious.

For me this is a pivotal year in Pochettino’s tenure he’s has an easy ride but cannot be immune to criticism , we can use the excuse of Wembley only so much, but last night had nothing to do with the national stadium and neither did the other games against the aforementioned opposition.

If we are to retain a top 4 place he must become more tactically aware and astute, most players are now fit and he has the best striker in Europe at his disposal.

This has nothing to do with Levy’s reluctance in the market either, it’s far too easy to blame him, this has to do with a manager who needs to get back to basics, to not be so stubborn and learn from his mistakes. We laugh at the hammers and their ambition to be a top four side in their shiny new stadium, there is a distinct possibility that we’ll be playing Europa League football in ours. Wouldn’t that be an anti-climax

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  1. Spot on.

    I was there. It was more than horrible to see Dier and Aurier and Sanchez and Sissoko aimiably passing the ball to and fro across the centre circle.

    This WASTES TIME. We know that W Ham want to waste time. A 0-0 draw is a great result for them. So why help them?

    Fine for a few minutes to see what's going on. But when that's clear, change plan. Bring on Winks/Lamela/Dembele to have people who GET THE BALL FORWARD QUICKLY so that the passing is near if not in the enemy penalty area.

    Look at M City or even Liverpool. They take more risks. Stupid risks are bad. But given the blatant total pessimism of the W Ham approach and the limited talent they had on the field, it's vital to get at least one first-half goal to draw them out. Otherwise the risk is on us. They cling on and hope for some sort of freakish late goal, as indeed happened…


  2. I would agree with everything you have said. It is very frustrating to watch.

    You expect Poch to always make changes at 60 mins – however last night is was 75 mins – when it clearly wasn't working in the first half! Going to Wembley this season, mostly has been a poor watch – with the exception of the Liverpool, Southampton (EPL) and the CL matches vs Madrid and Dortmund. We have had a better bench this season than last for the most part, and still you look and see that there is nothing there to effect change on a match when teams come to defend like West Ham, West Brom and Swansea, etc etc.

    I cannot see us winning a trophy anytime soon, despite all the positive comments from players, they will leave eventually. Then what?

    Now Barkley is going to Chelsea when we could do with another strong midfielder, instead of that waste-of-space Sissoko, apparently losing interest (despite his absence and liking for Poch)!

    Rant over!

  3. I really do get tired of reading all across the blogs and articles regarding the performance of the club, team selection, individual players etc. We on the outside do not have all the information needed to make suggestion's as to what should and shouldn't be done at the club. The total crass ignorance of some of the utterings beggars belief sometimes. We as supporters need to recognize that Spurs are one of, if not the best run clubs, not just in the UK, but globally.

  4. I think the stubbornness may come because Poch had a lot to do with the signing of Sissoko. The performance against West Ham wasn't a one off, he has been the worst player in every game he has played this year. I would like to see his passing stats this year, would be mightily surprised if more than 10% were forward passes and if more than 50% went to a Spurs player

  5. Excellent article and totally agree. This has happened far too many times. I want to know why we think it makes more sense to go sideways and backwards only to send a misplaced pass forward when are far easier and more effective option is to chip the ball into Kane (and Llorente)? It puts average teams under pressure and they make mistakes or we may get a penalty.I can't see top 4 this season. Very disappointed in MP this year. Would Ferguson have let his players stroll around aimlessly?

  6. I agree with nearly everything said. Poch does seem stubborn when things aren't going to plan. Llorente coming on far earlier would have given Kane more freedom from the West Ham shackles, and, although Son scored a great goal, it was clear that the Korean was having another of 'those' games (lots of running, but too little thinking). We shouldn't be rescuing points like this in these games. If our timing re passes had been a little better we could have been 3 up at halftime. We should have been out of sight (and also Reid was determined he wasn't going to give even one of 3 clear penalty shouts). Kane was pulled around just as he was about to fire close in (hardly mentioned by the pundits). But this was a far greater foul than the innocuous one Sanchez committed on the edge of the penalty area against Swansea, when there was no danger, and for which he received a booking.
    Sissoko surely has to go ..but with Dembele looking more and more like a busted flush, and Winks having 'stalled' a bit in his development, I guess we need him in certain games until the summer. This wasn't one of them though. One prior strength we are lacking is our flank play. Our best system (especially with Toby around) is when we play with wingbacks in a 5 3 2, or 5 3 1 1 …but the (one season too early) sale of Walker, and Rose's long injury (plus he's still nowhere near his best form) has affected us badly in this 'Wembley' season.. I really do not think, at 25, Aurier can improve, or is up to it in this team, and I wish the reliable Trippier had been asked to go the extra mile last night, with Aurier playing Sunday against Wimbledon. Aurier, his odd good moments, like the well thought out header nearly finding Kane, apart, struggles to get up and down like Walker used to (so he's caught out of position too often), he rarely beats a man with skill and pace on the wing, he fails often to get in crosses, even with time and a standing position, he passes back too much even when he is found by a team-mate in a good advanced space, and he looks desperate when making tackles. Oh, but so many Spurs fans thought he'd be an upgrade on Walker (poor deluded sods).
    I agree that our main PL rivals would have found a way to win this game, and Poch (yes we love him but he does need to have options on hand quickly rather than leaving things too late) has to look at his 'managing' skills ..even though his coaching is beyond question. We've missed out on Barkley, but there is someone else we should seriously consider. Shaquiri. Stoke probably won't release him or they'll slap a huge fee on his head, but he is exactly what Tottenham need as an option. Fast and strong on the wing (I mean compare this man with Nkoudou), puts in great crosses, has a great shot, and works his socks off etc.. I'm not saying he'd be a regular starter ..but he'd be a hell of an addition. When it's clear that teams are playing in a certain way against us, and we're struggling to break them down, then hope or faith alone in our unbending system/tactics is not enough. We need our manager to think and come up with alternative plans quickly.

  7. As a life long spurs fan we are allowed an opinion! We can question what the manager does as collectively we all want the same thing! I don’t buy it when you have winks/Lamela/Wanyama all on the bench….listen fella that sissoko is the worst professional footballer I’ve ever seen in my life….you can see our own players avoiding giving him the ball…just take time to look at his positioning/passing/dribbling it’s truely woeful. He cost 30M and Barkley has just been sold for 15M…I can’t go on my head hurts COYS

  8. I also agree with everything you have written.

    I would like to see Sean Dyche as our new manager. He’s tactically far superior to Pochettino and

    more honest when things are not right. Just look at what he has achieved with a ram of unknowns.

    In addition to Pochettino lack of tactics our set pieces are a complete waste especially considering the number of corners and free kicks from outside the box. At the other end our defending is all at sixes and sevens. Remember the two headed goals by West Ham in Cup Competition.

    If Pochettino has the final say in all transfers then his judgment needs reviewing. Sissoko,Llorente

    and the two wide French players.

    Yes, Mr Pochetino is Flawed.

  9. Totally agree with almost all you’ve said. I just don’t like Poch, never have. Found the appointment very strange from the beginning as we had the makings of a decent side that required an experienced manager with a winning mentality. Yet we gave the job to a young inexperienced manager who had just finished 12 points behind us (and we had had a poor season) and not won a thing with any club. Now, having been made some sort of messiah by the fans, he appears to be void of any criticism when he is clearly losing the plot. Losing out on Barkley is the beginning of the decline. This lad will undoubtedly gain full fitness and would have suited us to a tee. Right age, English and the nearest thing to a Gascoigne. Please don’t insult us aged supporters by suggesting he wouldn’t be an improvement on Sissoko or Winks. The former will never be a ‘Spurs’ player and the later , whilst a good young player is simply just that. Lets face it , if Jack Cork can be capped for England, there’s hope for anyone which is why young Winksy has been given match time. A I’m being realistic not disrespectful. A fit Wilshire will take his England place any day of the week. A fit Barkley would take both places and that’s what we’ve just handed to Chelsea. We should have smashed West Ham yet we are still under orders to play out from the back bearing in mind we have a goalie with the distribution ability of a rhino and defenders with the desire to reach 500 passes from within our own half. We are rapidly turning into Arsenals twins : very good at keeping the ball and getting to nigh on 800 passes per game without any end product and a reluctance to compete in the transfer market for that ‘top’ player. Oh well, should be interesting to see how many of us are going to be quite as enthusiastic to grab a seat at the new stadium next season, on a Thursday night !!!

  10. Well into the fourth season of Pochettino’s Five Year ‘Project’, and I really don’t see much prospect of a trophy anytime soon. Maybe the FA Cup, if City can’t be bothered with it? The CL? Miracles sometimes DO happen, as Leicester showed in 2016, and Chelsea in 2012, when they pinched the CL after getting rid of the possession-obsessed AVB (strange how so many posters in support of Pochettino were staunch AVB fans a few years ago), but both those unexpected triumphs were based on a team spirit and belief which we seem to have lost. Our current manager clearly is stubborn, clearly has favourites, clearly is very thin-skinned, clearly has a very patchy record on transfers, and maybe the group of players who were supposedly his hero-worshippers a season or two back, have grown up enough to see that he’s by no means ready to be ranked with the Guardiolas or Mourinhos now, if ever. Many, no doubt, are thinking of only of their own careers rather than team success, especially after seeing how Walker’s prospered so rapidly, both financially and on the pitch, and while I hope further progress under Pochettino is possible, we certainly seem to have fallen back from last season both relatively and absolutely, and I fear that we’ll eventually look back on the last two or three seasons as the longest and most disappointing of the false dawns that ENIC seems to specialise in. Prove us doubters wrong, Pochettino FFS!

  11. Agree with almost everything you have written. The only exception is I don’t think Pochettino is a good manager. Apart from his stubborn, poor selection and poor tactics, I wonder what he’s done during the training?

    What he said about the referee made fans angry indeed.

  12. I entirely disagree with the last comment. Pochettino is our best manager since at least the 1960s: when any of us have taken the team, despite spending far less than our rivals, to 3rd and then 2nd in the League — and, I think, on course to repeat that this year — then we can criticise him. I know that Sissoko offers less than other midfielders, although often times he isn't that bad either — and our supporters getting on his back quickly doesn't help anyone; but Pochettino will have his reasons for playing him. Similarly there'll be good reasons why we haven't ultimately gone for Barkley — who would have struggled to get in the team.

    I thought we were excellent against West Ham and just unlucky that we couldn't find a way through — bar Obiang's freak goal, I am very confident we would have won.

  13. Not breaking the wee teams down is the spurs way we drew with big guys or late winner for big teams against us we jump teams around us and we drew or get beat off teams below us

  14. Poch is s real.mixed bag – has clearly achieved some good results and an upturn with two CL qualifications.

    But – he is a pretty negative manager who can play 3 CBs and 2DM.

    I think our recent upturn is a blip and we will slip back. This is mainly down to Levy/Enic.

    Levy will never change, we will always buy a Sissoko or Llotente on deadline day.

  15. Why do our wing backs pass back so much. Go past the defender and get the right centre over not just kick and hope.take players on more often and go past them.also let us play more one touch football as it catches teams out and is so much more entertaining to watch than pedestrian football. We love you Tottenham.

  16. Why don't our wing backs go past defenders instead of just passing back most times.when we do get our crosses over should it not be just kick and hope but a measured pass.lets have more one touch football not only does it catches defenders out but it is more entertaining c.o.y.s.


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