Tim’s Tactics

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Certain tactical decisions made by Tim Sherwood are now giving me cause for concern.

Against Chelski he started with 5 defenders and yet when one was sent off – Kaboul unfairly – he chose to move our most effective midfielder – Sandro – in to Plug the gap. This disrupted our play and allowed Chelski to get a strangehold on the game, and then he blamed those players for showing lack of character, yet it was he who was asking them – Sandro and Walker in particular – to play out of position.

Last night we all knew what we were up against, a top European team brimming with goals whilst miserly at the other end. Benfica attack down the flanks at pace yet he had Naughton at left back with no-one covering in front. Eriksen was assigned the left wing role but we all know from past experience that he does not do defending – as evidenced by problems highlighted in the Cup defeat to Le Arse earlier this year.

If Eriksen has to play – and in my opinion he must whenever he is fit – he has to be allowed to roam, get into goal scoring positions and into goal creating situations. If this means deploying him as our second striker, then so be it, but free him from any real defensive duties. A left winger, Townsend, Chadli – Siggy even – would have been on hand last night and may, just may, have prevented their first goal.

The other tactical decision is: Why Kane? He is a young kid still learning his craft but he is hardly a serious goal threat at least not up against the meanest defence in Europe – prior to last night they had conceded once in their last 12 or so games. No-one would bet on Harry Kane to break that run. Mind you I doubt if any of us would bet on Soldado either!

Kane offers youthful enthusiasm, he ran and ran for the team, cropping up in unexpected areas, like central midfield where he promptly lost the ball, the shot was saved by Lloris but from the resultant corner they got their second.

But that is over, nothing much to praise last night, we were always going to find it hard going especially once Sandro had been booked inside the first ten minutes and he had to be careful in the tackle. Eriksen once again showed that he is a goal threat, even if it was a dead ball kick, but it was sublimely taken, as I said before we need to get him into that type of position more.

Next week’s return leg in Lisbon is almost a dead rubber. We need to score at least three goals and hope they have a day off – and that is not realistic.

We now need to concentrate wholeheartedly on the Premier League, and where better to start than at home to the old enemy as Le Arse make the short trip across North London.

They sit six points ahead of us, with a massive goal difference advantage (24 actually) and a game in hand, but a win for us on Sunday, followed by another win when we play Southampton next weekend will bring us level on points and bearing in mind they have to go to Stamford Bridge next they could easily lose both games.

They are without some key players – especially in midfield as Ozil, Wiltshire, Ramsey and Walcott are all out – but they still have the likes of Cazorla and Arteta who can be very effective through the middle while Oxlade-Chamberlain will be a constant pest down either flank and therefore Sherwood has to get his tactics spot on.

We have seen that we can play attractive free flowing football based on a strong defensive core – the Newcastle match springs particularly to mind. Somehow we emerged that day with a formation with Sandro protecting the defence and four hungry attack minded midfielders all surging forward and that is what I would like to see.

Utilise Eriksen as the focal point of the attack in and around Adebayor, who will no doubt need no firing up to perform against one of his old clubs. Bring in Townsend to attack at pace down one flank with Lennon on the other as both will help counter the threat of Oxlade-Chamberlain, and use Paulinho in the central box to box role.

Defence should pick itself as the options are becoming limited. Walker, Kaboul, Vertonghen and Rose would have been the back four most of us would have wanted to see week in week out at the beginning of the season yet we have never – as far as I can recall – seen it in the starting line-up his season.

This is a must win game, the players should need no extra encouragement, what they need is the backing of their Manager, the knowledge that he has picked them for their tactical strengths to go out and take the game to the opposition.

No more bickering, no more in-fighting as that obviously did not work, just get on and play.


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  1. My sentiments exactly. We need to see Eriksen in an advanced, free-roaming position without much, if any, defensive duties. Dawson has been a great servant to our beloved club, but can honestly say I am happy he is not in consideration for the derby. He is far to slow for top flight football and needs to hang up his boots. Great lad, but he suffer in defense when he plays.

  2. You forget to mention the nice lightweight 4 man only midfield of Lennon, paulinho, Eriksson, sandro. Paulinho has like a no mans role. Not effective as dm, attacking midfielder or playmaker. Eriksen and Lennon are pushovers. So sandro is alone and for some crazy reason is often upfield

    so you say tactics. Feels more like 11 players selected and told to figure it out.

    I don’t hold much hope for Sunday and I think Tim has lost the support of most of the players

  3. Looked like nobody new what they were trying to do!!!! Thank goodness Dawson wasn't playing, would have been worse. Naughton is not up to the job and would be good if Paulino knew which goal he was attacking. Rant over.COYS

  4. Watching Spurs last night was a microcosm of our season, and (but for Bale) a bit like last season too.
    We have some fine players but we don't have KEY players anymore who can bring out the best in those around them.
    Hence we are at our most vulnerable for 5 years ..because we simply don't have a team!
    Last night we looked like strangers running abaht, missing simple passes let alone cutting ones, playing into positions where no one was, with no one reading the play and with second guesses that never came off. There was energy and a degree of commitment, but it is obvious that the players have been confused since the season started and have no settled pattern of play, either under AVB or Tim. Often the ball arrived like a hot potato to players. That first touch (mostly clumsy) then became a quick lay-off to the easiest person available (back or sideways). Creativity in the final third has done for us all season, so it wasn't new to see this lamentable show against a well organised and quick Benfica team. How the last two years has changed everything, because for a couple of years up to early 2012 we looked capable of giving ANY TEAM a game (remember those wonderful wins against the Milan clubs and others in the CL and our exploits in the PL with Bale and Modric controlling things, until Harry lost focus). Now we try to possess the ball just for the sake of it. However, we look dull and ponderous, and rarely open the opposition up because we have no one with vision (Eriksen needs to play the central playmaking role ..not wing ..as that would be a start), and when we lose the ball, we don't press hard upfield to get it back (despite our often high line). Naturally you can't compare things with Barca but if you watch that team it's like a 6th sense with all of their players (not because they're all world beaters). They do seem to know, however, as if by telepathy, where a player is going to be without even looking up at times, and they pass 'forward' far more often than sideways and back. They 'welcome' the ball to feet or to run onto, and they pass quickly, cuttingly and with pace and purpose. They act like one unit with all it's moving parts working in unison, whereas we are now the opposite. Of course they have the best player in the world, in Messi, but you have the feeling that even without him, they'd each know exactly what to do. The sad thing is that we have bought top players in the past few years, and some of them even now would possibly slot into a Barca or RM set-up (like our obvious 'greats', Bale and Modric) but they are wrong (in a way) for this current Tottenham squad, because we don't have any players in the side who can make these 'additions' even better ..and/or at least worth their transfer fees! Moreover until we find a proper left flank who can take pressure off the right (just look at the congestion there last night as we struggled to keep getting down that side) we need to slot Rose and Townsend there, and stick with it. It might backfire but it will help ease the pressure on Lennon and Walker and give us some balance (another hugely important thing that we've lacked since Modric left).
    Move Eriksen inside behind the striker, to roam, and play him alongside Dembele (who is definitely only at his best when playing next to a playmaker). Our holding midfielder should then be Sandro (who seems to be the only player amongst all our DMs who actually knows what is expected of him), in front of a central defense of Kaboul and Verts with Daws/Chiriches backing. Striker? ..either Ade (but there's some worrying signs of that dip in form and attitude again) or Soldado, who I believe will be the main creditor when we finally inject proper creativity into the team. One thing's for sure, we can't keep playing as if we're playing through treacle! Paulinho and Bentaleb? .. they are neither creative or holding DMs, and they slow things up negatively during a game. If we are leading comfortably in games, which rarely happens these days, then their play wouldn't be such a luxury ..but currently it is.
    I'd also sell Chadli. He is not the right player for us. Neither is Sig (who is neither winger, DM or playmaker). Capoue? ..good cover for Sandro and the centrebacks and can get better depending on others around him. Fryers ..decent potential. But I'd definitely get good l/b cover for Rose (damn the stupid decisions to loan out BAE, and sell Caulker) plus one more playmaker to take the onus off Eriksen. We can do nothing if we're not creative ..look at the number of creative midfielders that Chelski, Arsenal, Liverpool, City and Utd. have ..and then look at us!

  5. I completely agree with most of the article: I was so annoyed when against Chelsea after Kaboul was sent off we didn't switch to playing the four defenders we already had on the pitch as defenders. Walker RB, Dawson & Vertonghen at CB, Naughton at LB was the obvious solution, but Tim was so taken with his original idea of Walker in midfield he didn't do it. And then blamed the players for mistakes. Doesn't it occur to him that player are more likely to make errors in unfamiliar roles?
    Kane looked completely out of his depth against Benfica: totally the wrong game to give him a chance. Break him in with cup games against weak opposition, not one of the best defences in Europe.
    Soldado finally scores and is immediately dropped!
    And Eriksen is a number 10 – if we want to get theh best out of him he should be in behind the striker. where, bafflingly, Tim put Lennon.
    Sorry, Sherwood seems enthusiastic, but tactically he's out of his depth.

  6. You are “beginning” to question Sherwood’s tactics. & team selection ????
    What parallel universe do you guys live in?
    He is a no track record unproven joke!!!!
    LEVY GO AWAY… You have blown a season of promise clean away by sacking AVB…most points in PL for Spurs last year and best start this year when you sacked him and put this clueless idiot in charge!!!
    We now have no direction, no sense of strategy or formation and our season of promise is in ruins!!!
    Two teams have had 6 goals put past them by Man City and 5 by Liverpool this season… One teams chairman panicked and fired a young and gifted manager and the other kept the faith as they have done for twenty years , while we changed managers 15 times.
    One team has made CL once and the other has never failed to qualify .
    Sickeningly this weekend we are likely to see which club has got it right again.
    When we will ever learn that a club needs a smart businessman to manage off field affairs But that guy has to be smart enough to know that he knows Fuck All about football and leave it to those who do!!!
    I despair for my beloved Tottenham Hotspurs… 54 years of unwavering support but right now I wonder why!!!
    So so sad and angry


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