I will preface this article by saying that I love Mauricio Pochettino. He is the real deal, we have struck gold by finally finding an excellent manager.
But, in the same way that even a broken clock is right twice a day, even an exceptional manager can get it wrong.
My thought before the game was that Swansea would play into our hands, they are typically a team that likes to play football, and we would be able to pick them apart as they tried to go toe to toe with us. I was wrong. What transpired was that they sat with 10 men behind the ball for 85 minutes and invited us to break them down. We weren’t prepared for this with a team that included 3 centre halves and a converted centre half playing in midfield. We had no creativity, we had no width with Son playing out of position at wing-back and wandering where he liked, and we effectively had two strikers on the pitch not receiving service (I am counting Alli as a striker, he does precious little in the midfield these days).
But, my main issue was the lack of flexibility and quickness of thought to change this. Poch’s attempt was to release Son to the more attacking role to which he is more accustomed, by moving Sissoko to wing-back. What this gave us was two players out of position instead of one. Trippier’s best attribute is arguably his crossing ability (nullified by moving to the left), and Sissoko is totally hopeless at pretty much everything he does.
What his move didn’t give us was any additional creativity or plan b to break Swansea down.
We finally brought on Llorente to give us a different method to attack Swansea, but we took off the wrong player in Son; Alli should have gone off as he was contributing about as much as me at that point. And with our new 6ft 4” striker up front alongside our 6ft 2” striker, we didn’t manage to put any real quality service into them. In the air or on the floor.
Unfortunately, these situations are reasonably common these days (a mark of how far we have progressed that teams make a plan to scrape a draw), but we still haven’t managed to work out how to get round them. Evidenced by our away record from last season, which was a good amount worse than Chelsea’s, which is why we didn’t win the league.
We only have one player who you feel regularly that he is able to create clear-cut chances out of nothing, Christian Eriksen. But he can’t unfortunately be expected to do that on his own, every week. As much as the likes of Kane, Son, Alli, Dembele, Dier etc have their own talents, we still lack another player who can see (and complete) a pass that the opposition defence can’t see coming. You may argue that this is a transfer window problem (and perhaps that of Daniel Levy, not Mauricio Pochettino), but I still feel there was a way of winning that game. Manchester City have been battering teams this season, often you look at City’s line up and wonder what shape Guardiola must be playing, surely this time he has gone too far. And then they win 6-0.
And this is where I think Pochettino got it wrong on Saturday. Other teams have raised their games and changed their plans to face us. It is about time we adapt accordingly and throw some of our pragmatism aside and really go after teams. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and all that. Because if we don’t, we may well end up in a shiny new stadium having finished 6th or 7th and having to rebuild after City, United, Barcelona, Madrid and all the rest double some more of our players wages.
What are your thoughts? Have your say below
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