Now before I start, I can clearly see like everyone else that Spurs’ attack is lacking genuine pace. My point, which I will hopefully get across in the blog, is that pace alone may not suddenly fix everything that has made the start to the season feel a little damp squib.
So why do we want pace? With pace you can stretch the opposition in behind, getting the opposition to turn around and face their own goal. We clearly lack this with our current attacking options, well at least in those that Poch is willing to select.
We do have a couple of wingers on the books that do (or at least did) have genuine pace, Townsend and Lennon. Both of which have had plenty of abuse thrown their way because, despite their pace, they rarely (or at least are perceived to rarely) have an end product. So for pace to work there needs to be an end product involved as well. So what other options are there along with pace that will help us break the opposition down and recreate the Spurs way of playing?
This one is always linked with passing. Yes Spurs have made a load of successful passes so far this year but if they are all in front of two banks of four opposition players then what is the point? The keep ball or tiki taka football that is currently en vogue is primarily designed to wear the opposition down (along with the point that if you have the ball then the opposition cannot score). However if all you are doing is passing the ball in front of the opposition then all they need to do is shuffle left and right as needed, not really tiring for the elite professionals.
So this is where movement comes in, you need your players to be able to move to find the space. Not simply come deep to receive the ball but find space in advanced positions that will result in the opposition having to work hard to prevent an attack. Do the attacking three behind the striker really have the level of movement required currently?
Many of you will now be saying that teams set up against us to restrict space. That is true but good movers will still find space. Also pace is generally nullified by the same concept i.e. restrict space. Now many of you will probably be saying that pace will help on counter attacks and again this is true. But unfortunately for Spurs, we are still a massive scalp to the majority of the league – as such many teams will set up against us to try and avoid being beaten which would generally mean being open to a counter attack is pretty rarely.
Being able to beat the man in front of you. Honestly, who in the players that have played so far this season have you looked at and said ‘he is going to beat the opposition here with a bit of skill’? It doesn’t have to leave the opposition on their backside but create that half a yard so they can do something useful with it.
Again it is about end product after beating the man because Dembele pretty much beats people for fun but then appears to not know what to do next. Yes if we have a tricky player the opposition would double up on them but that means there must be someone unmarked and this is where movement comes in to ensure that it is in an advanced position.
You need all four attributes in the attack
Yes there is four: pace, movement and trickery which have all been mentioned but also, and arguably the most important of all, an end product. With no end product then the advantage gained from the other three is nullified almost immediately.
If you look at City who are probably the best attacking team so far this season, they have all three in their attacking players. By attacking players I mean players who are there to score and create goals – yes they will and do defend but defending is not the priority. So far this season this has been Aguero, Silva, Sterling and Navas – clearly there is plenty of movement, pace and trickery there all combined with end product (ok you could argue that perhaps Navas and potentially Sterling may lack an end product enough of the time).
Now clearly we do not have the funds to spend £50 mil on a player but the players individually do not need all three, probably only two in reality to be able to really compete but even if you do one exceptionally well it will make a difference. The caveat is that it needs to be combined with an end product. All four in one player leads to a Messi or Ronaldo I suppose…
Now there are other issues as well at Spurs such as the lack of a specialist defensive midfielder, the individual mistakes being made and is Kane really an out and out striker but this article was purely based on the impression I was getting that pace is the ONLY missing ingredient in Spurs’ attack.
So to come back to the question that I suppose I am postulating. Is the glaring lack of pace in Spurs’ attack potentially hiding other flaws also present in the attack?
I fear it may – but perhaps not to the extent that this article has come across as. How very ‘sit on the fence of me’! I hope pace is the missing factor and that my fears are misplaced, it is early doors so there is plenty of time for me to be proved wrong.
Let us know what you think…