Tottenham Club Focus - Tactics, tiredness and trust in question as Redknapp toils
Tottenham Hotspur lost 1-0 to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday evening. Spurs have now taken six points from their last nine Premier League games, and have dropped to fifth. Essentially a top four finish is out of their hands. If Arsenal and Newcastle win their remaining games then Spurs will get fifth at best.
When often going 4-4-2, despite his own admission that the formation leaves the team too open or playing too many players out of position, during the poor run, Harry Redknapp has arguably got the tactics wrong. Just two examples of this seemed apparent against QPR.
Spurs, heavily affected by injuries, including to Emmanuel Adebayor and Louis Saha, started in a 4-2-3-1 with Jermain Defoe as a lone forward. But Defoe is not suited to the role and plays off the shoulder of the defenders. However, the lone striker needs movement across the front line and to drop deep to link with the midfield. The midfield had no forward outlet - Defoe only had 31 touches the whole match - which meant momentum was lost. Surely a different formation [4-3-3] or position change such as van der Vaart [to play with his back to the defence and hold the ball up] up front with Defoe playing off of him would have suited better.
Gareth Bale was again stationed by Redknapp playing narrow or on the right. This meant a gap on the Spurs left that the QPR full-back could exploit, allowing Jamie Mackie to push past Benoit Assou-Ekoto, leaving him unable to get forward himself.
One of Spurs’ main problems is player exhaustion. That burst of pace or change of direction that got them away from opponents earlier in the season is gone. The one touch football has slowed. Tired players become more injury prone. Rotation could have helped but Redknapp has refused this. Lack of rotation cost Redknapp valuable squad players, who, frustrated at lack of playing time, left in January. Some rotation such as bringing in Jake Livermore and Danny Rose could still be made - if the manager trusts the players on the bench. His comments to TalkSport after the match suggest otherwise: “Other than that [Aaron Lennon] I couldn’t stand there and say there were other people on the bench who should be in the team or who deserved to be in the team."
Redknapp has said Spurs need to win all four games. The current run does nothing to suggest that four wins out of four is possible, especially when three matches are against teams fighting for Premier League survival. So how do Spurs go forward with four games to go?
Re-evaluate the tactics, the formation, and the shape for the players available. Simple, maybe, but not recently it seems. If players are tired, rest one or two and bring in players from the bench. If they are not trusted, what are they doing there? Spurs need to try and up the tempo on the pitch and show some urgency - such as Bale stepping into the QPR crowd to get the ball - to lift themselves. Four wins may be tough, but it is not impossible.
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