Pochettino’s Setup

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

When Mauricio Pochettino was installed as Tottenham’s new Head Coach, chairman Daniel Levy was quick to point out that they had appointed a man who would “embrace the style of play we associate with our club”. Pochettino himself vowed to “give the supporters the kind of attacking football” that they crave.

Pochettino’s high-tempo, high-pressing game won over many supporters in his Southampton days and this is something the Argentine will attempt to replicate at Spurs. He favours an attacking 4-2-3-1 formation, a system which strikes the perfect balance between defensive stability and attacking potency. The statistics support his philosophy. Last season Southampton had on average 58.6% possession per game, the highest rate of any team in the Premier League. The Saints also recorded a pass success rate of 81.4%. It therefore comes as little surprise that they managed to keep things tight at the back conceding on average only 9.6 shots per game, the second fewest of any Premier League side.


Pochettino encourages his teams to play their way out from defence. Centre-backs must be composed with the ball at their feet. They will be asked to split wide and marshal the halfway line, allowing the full-backs to push further up the pitch. Jan Vertonghen, Younes Kaboul and Vlad Chiriches all fit the bill although Michael Dawson may struggle to adapt to the high line. This system also favours our attacking minded full-backs, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose. Both will play a vital role in the functioning of Pochettino’s setup. Crosses will need to be perfected and fitness levels high, such is the physical demand that will be placed upon them.

In front of the defence sit two holding midfielders. They act as a double pivot providing cover for the two centre-backs when the full-backs go marauding forward. These two holding midfielders should available to receive the ball at all times. Dembélé would suit this role perfectly. The Belgian has immense physical strength and is an accurate short-range passer. It is likely that alongside him would sit a more natural defending midfielder in the form of Sandro or Capoue. Both looked relatively comfortable when slotting in at central defence when called upon last season. Capoue’s stand out performance at centre-half away to Sunderland last December means he gets the nod from me.

Next we have an interchangeable bank of three. Two inside forwards and an attacking midfielder tasked with supplying key passes. Pochettino is likely to entrust club record signing Erik Lamela to fill the left-sided role. The Argentine missed a large part of the last season through back injury but managed to assist five and score fifteen for Roma in the 2012/13 campaign. Pochettino will be hoping that his compatriot is able to rediscover that form for Spurs in the coming years.

Adam Lallana was a key figure in Pochettino’s Southampton side netting nine times and assisting six goals in the Premier League last season. He occupied a floating role, often starting wide right and drifting inwards as the game progressed. Christian Eriksen is the obvious choice to fill this position. When comparing stats over the course of 90 minutes last season, the Dane created 3.10 chances compared to Lallana’s 1.98. He also found the back of the net on seven occasions in the league.

When it comes to the central attacking midfield role, Pochettino has a plethora of options to choose from. It requires a player capable of keeping possession and creating chances with defence splitting vertical passes. Paulinho’s high energy levels means he is suited to the pressing game whilst Gylfi Sigurdsson offers goal threat from midfield. However, Lewis Holtby statistics reflect favourably upon him. The German spent the majority of last season on loan at Fulham, creating on average 1.95 chances per game.

tact3Finally we have a lone striker. Ideally, Pochettino will be looking for a centre-forward in the mould of Ricky Lambert and in Emmanuel Adebayor he has one. Adebayor is one of the best around at holding up the ball, allowing his teammates to come into play. His surging runs in the channels means he occupies defenders creating spaces in other areas of the pitch. The big question mark surrounding Adebayor would be his willingness to engage in Pochettino’s notoriously rigorous training sessions.

Have something to tell us about this article?


  1. Wow, you really have never seem Spurs play in the last 12 months, have you? Rose isn't an attacking minded full-back, he is a useless full-back.

  2. Rose coudn’t attack a sandwich. Chiriches is a left sided defender, Eriksen should be playing where Holtby is and Townsend should play wide right. I would play Kane (In the absence of any major signing) as I think that Adebayor will be Ade be gone by the start of next season. We should have a new left back by then also. If not get Hughton or Justin Edinburgh out of retirement. Theuy have both played better for the Legends

  3. You've got to be dreaming. Lamela hasn't shown us anything to warrant a starting pitch, were all hoping he will come good but in reality we know nothing of the sort.

    Rose is a squad player.
    Eriksen plays off the striker, top of a diamond.
    Chiriches another good squad player but plays on the left of defence not the right.
    Sandro has to start ahead of Capue for now anyway.

    We need Koneplachenko type of player for the left side. A striker with pace, left back and centre half with premiership experience.

  4. Rose was not great last season, but who in the team was!! He actually is a very attack minded LB, which is the main reason he attracted so much criticism. I think he will be perfect for Poch's system, especially if he works on his crossing!!! :) I'd play Paulinho where the author suggests playing Dembele!!!!
    my squad for the season: 4,2,3,1
    Walker (naughton as back up at this stage, but I ould prefer to sell him and use Fredericks), Ciriches (Kaboul as back up), Verts (Daws at this stage, but hopef get s new CB), Rose (fryers used regularly)
    Capoue (or sandro used regularly depending on who we are playing and fitness) Paulinho (dembele used sometimes but he is not as good as Pualie)
    Townsend (Siggy can be used alternately here), Erikesen (Holtby used alternately), Lamela (Chadli used alterantely)
    Soldado (Rob to be our regular striker, but Ade or Kane can play this role)

    As you can see we have a very deep squad with players that are well suited to the Pochs system :D
    Happy days!!! COYS

  5. Rose is an attacking LB, he was Sunderland's player of the season when on loan with them. For some reason, his form was dreadful in a Spurs shirt (seemingly a common problem). On the basis of last season's showing, Rose has to be replaced. I would favour Lallana over Holtby and if we could get him and Shaw (unlikely, I know), that team would start to have real promise.

    Will be interesting to see whether Lamela will still be at WHL next season. If not, Konoplyanka may indeed make a good alternative.

    To his credit, Ade pulled his socks up last season, but I can help but feel that a lazy spell from him is always around the corner. Would be happy to sell him and Soldado if they don't fit into MP's plans if we can get a more dynamic and clinical pairing like Lukaku and Rodriguez.

    There are too many players that, although good on their day, I can't see taking Spurs forward. Won't mind seeing Dawson, Naughton, Rose, Capoue, Paulinho, Chadli, Holtby, Townsend, Dembele, Lamela off the wage bill if we are able to bring in better. If not, MP seems able to get the best out of players, so could prove a very shrewd appointment by Levy if he can turn their performances around

  6. Rose is an attacking LB, he was Sunderland's player of the season when on loan with them. For some reason, his form was dreadful in a Spurs shirt (seemingly a common problem). On the basis of last season's showing, Rose has to be replaced. I would favour Lallana over Holtby and if we could get him and Shaw (unlikely, I know), that team would start to have real promise.

  7. This system is almost identical to AVBs last season except the inverted wingers. Almost the same personnel in the same positions that didn’t work because they couldn’t play those positions and churned out the most boring, slow, predictable, sideways football we have ever seen!

  8. I think the comments above are about to be re-inforced by the comment I am now about to make,

    Spurs fans are now so low and so inconsolable with everything that has gone on in the last few seasons that they have now lost heart and trust in the antics of Daniel Levy and the club, WE STILL CARE but our heart and soul has been ripped out, we are beaten and broken, we know deep down our side is awful, we know deep down we are never going to make progress into the top 4, it is so far out of reach it is unreal and someone who thoroughly enjoys social media as a way of communicating with fellow spurs fans, I think this is probably the most deflating appointment I have seen, social media is deadly silent as we all come to terms with the fact that we are going nowhere fast, the fans who are normally capable of believing anything is possible and season after come back with typical spurs comments like "this season is the one" are finally shaking their heads in disbelief and have all but given up hope.

  9. Nice Article.

    I don't think Adebayor is suited to the high energy pressing required. I would sell him while his stock is high. I would also show Rose the door. He was woeful last season, defensively and going forward.

    Sigurdsson looks well suited to play in Pochettino's attacking three. He is great at pressing, full of movement and a great passer. I would put him on the left, Lamela on the right and Eriksen in the centre.

    As usual I am quite excited for next season. Will us Spurs fans ever learn!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.