April 10, 2012

Analysis of the goals conceded against Norwich (9/4) plus my post-mortem

Pilkington’s goal – Pilkington comes off the left flank to receive the ball in a more central area, as he and Bennett did all game. He lays off to Johnson, who tries to slide a pass through to Holt. Kaboul’s interception is blocked by Pilkington, who slips in Wilbraham as King dallies. Walker challenges, but his clearance rebounds off King into Pilkington’s path, and he finishes well.

Pilkington receives the ball in the centre circle, and starts to break forward. Coming inside untracked, he has created a two vs one situation.

He lays the ball back to Johnson, as Holt looks to make a run in behind Kaboul (far right of image).

Kaboul reads the slide rule pass from Johnson…

…but as he tries to clear, Pilkington closes the ball and keeps the move alive. King is left to cover two players in dangerous positions.

Assou-Ekotto and Walker both begin to cover round as Pilkington takes possession and looks to play in Wilbraham, who is unmarked and has his arm raised. It is unacceptable that Norwich have a three against three from such a basic move.

King makes a move towards Pilkington, but doesn’t actually make a challenge – he dallies and lets Pilkington get his pass away.

The pass is under-hit, and Walker does well to cover round and make a challenge.

Unfortunately as Walker clears, the ball strikes King.

It drops kindly for Pilkington, who finishes very well – low beyond Friedel.

Bennett’s goal – Russell Martin chips a ball into Wilbraham; his touch is poor, but he is not closed down quickly enough, and is easily able to find Bennett. Unchallenged, Bennett drives forward before firing an unstoppable shot into the far corner.

Ryan Bennett has unchallenged possession at the back.

He clips a pass into Wilbraham, who was willing to receive long balls all match. This time, his touch is a little sloppy, but with Livermore the nearest to him and still yards away, he has time to chase the loose ball down.

He keeps the ball and finds Russell Martin in a wide area. The eventual scorer, Bennett, has come off the line and is between King and Assou-Ekotto.

Martin immediately finds Bennett, who has dropped deeper and has plenty of space with Lennon and Modric well up-field.

Bennett carries the ball forward largely unchallenged.

Livermore and King show Bennett down the channel, and he gladly takes the opportunity.

From there he fires an unbelievable shot into Friedel’s far corner.

Norwich’s midfield were narrow when they didn’t have the ball to keep them nice and compact, but also narrow when they did (moving more often from “in” to “out” – whereas Bale and Lennon did the opposite). Their full backs were often asked to keep the width and it is noticeable from the average position how much wider Drury (3) is than Pilkington (12) – likewise Martin (2) and E Bennett (17), who virtually made their midfield into a constant three. Both of their goals came from the wide players starting in narrow positions and helping to outnumber Livermore and Modric.

Source: WhoScored.com

Redknapp said after the game:

“It’s alright playing a 4-4-2 if it’s a tight 4-4-2 and when you lose possession, you get back into a four (in midfield).

We play 4-4-2 and we’re very open because we’ve got players who want to go forward and want to attack. That was a problem for us.”

I don’t know how to feel about this quote. In one way, it’s reassuring that he recognises what the key problem was. On the other hand, I am left wondering why he didn’t change the team shape at half time (or earlier!).

Redknapp also recognised in his post-match interview that our strikers do not work hard enough to maintain defensive shape in a 4-4-2, saying “we haven’t got forwards, really, that get back into position and play the system well enough”. This, I feel, is one of our other main failings when playing 4-4-2.

Our strikers were totally uninvolved – partly because we didn’t find them often enough, but primarily because their movement was appalling; none of them were willing to drift into wide areas regularly, and none of them were willing to drop off and receive the ball in the number 10 position. Saha had just 19 touches in the first half, and was totally abject. But his replacement, Adebayor, who Redknapp would surely have wanted to be the focal point in the second half, actually managed three touches fewer.

Defoe scored an excellent goal, but was largely a peripheral figure. He played the full 90 but only had 27 touches – fewer than any other player on the pitch who completed the 90; in fact, he only had 5 more touches than van der Vaart who played just 19 minutes. That alone illustrates why, in my opinion, van der Vaart should nearly always start ahead of Defoe (and if he’s not there, we should play Kranjcar as the number 10 to maintain the shape with five across midfield).

A tactical nightmare from Redknapp, but the lack of motivation was also critical. Norwich were hungrier, more aggressive, and Redknapp called it right when he said that their forwards “bullied” our defenders; King in particular simply could not cope with Holt, and it was very sad to see him have one of his worst matches for years.

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  • Henry P says:

    A bad day at the office all round I think it’s fair to say.

  • øivind says:

    I might be wrong here, but I thought the game was about scoring goals, not passing 100 times in your own half… take a look at vdv’s average games and see where he makes all those passes.7/10 are backwards or sideways deep in our own half.

    He also has quite a.few ball-losses in every game that create chances for the opposition…
    Vdv falls deeper and deeper because this is the only place he gets on the ball now a days…

    Everywhere else he will not be able to turn up, and forced to play a backpass…

    Defoe(top scorer and best goal/minute ratio) over vdv anyday.

    • Windy says:

      All about opinions – personally I prefer Defoe coming off the bench against tired legs. When he starts he tends to stifle our attacking play with his one-dimensional approach, whereas van der Vaart is a brilliant possession player capable of unlocking defences.

  • CharlieTHFC_ says:

    Surely Harry, or Kevin, Joe or even Clive could have looked at things like their average position before the game?!

    Norwich have built this season on Holt and less so Morison causing problems and a narrow midfield staying compact and proving difficult to break down.

    It’s painfully obvious that we showed little to no respect to Paul Lamberts team, which is unacceptable. There is clearly next to no match preperation done.

    People can say, we just worry about ourselves, not the opposition, but in the modern game, that’s so naive, especially if we are making changes from our settled/best team. And something that Harry is becoming famous for at Spurs.

    • Windy says:

      You’d have thought so, eh Charlie?

      I totally agree with your last paragraph. I get lots of people on Twitter saying “other teams should worry about us” – I think Stoke, Everton, and now Norwich show that that it simply doesn’t work like that.

    • CharlieTHFC_ says:

      Plenty of managers have, and not just this season, been able to work Harry out. It doesn’t seem to take much.

      Rough us up a bit? Stay tight in midfield and frustrate us long enough to expose our blatant weaknesses in defence, and in particular set-pieces, and take points away from us.

      We’ve all been able to see it for long enough, so why does Harry still sweep it under the carpet with the same bloody soundbites every time it happens?

      ‘One of those days.’ ‘Credit to them, they were triffic.’ ‘Just didn’t go our way today.’

      Followed, usually, by a dig at the fans about us not having had too many bad days. They’re becoming more and more regular Mr Redknapp.

  • Jill says:

    Arry for England – sorry but the stats since Capello went are no coincidence. Agree totally on VDV. Every time JD comes off the bench and scores I think why doesn’t he start, then when he plays I remember why his best role is coming off the bench. Arry blew it by playing Ade and VDV against Sunderland. If he wasn’t going to play either of them twice he had to split them up. They both (usually) work hard for the team, Saha and JD don’t. Like last year we are paying oh so heavily for failing to splash out on a top striker in January. (Or even a half way decent support striker, look at Cisse). I’m SO depressed

  • Jill says:

    That’s agreeing with Windy on VDV – he is a superb player and has to start – sorry Oivind he knits things together with real intelligence that so many of our players lack.

  • Anonymous says:

    But Harry is naive!! By no means you can call him an intelligent fellow. But I think more naive about football is Levy who hires such kind of managers!

  • Anonymous says:

    yet another very astute and simply accurate piece of analytics in an article.

    1/. Any manager that uses the following language need not be taken seriously in his capacity to grasp the reality or show any REAL knowledge of this top level of the sport..’ we have an easier run in now really, we’ve played the top teams now and have winnable games, so wer’e in the box seat’.

    These are the lazy, sound-bitten and shoddy words of an itv punk, sorry i mean pundit. (Andy townsend jim beglin territory if u will), not a premiership and or spurs manager, who has any real subtlty, respect or guile, or experience in the – winners dept;

    2/. Rednap passes the buck quicker, than an american curb crawling white collar worker in the red light district after dark..this is classically known as – cowardly unaccountable behaviour..most commonly synonymous with- cheats, slime balls, crooked pool players, untrustworthy, duplicitous opportunist merchants. The kind of person u want around your loved ones (misses’kids/favourite football team)and or personal belongings..not sure really !? as a naughty five year old would show the same lack of respect for his peers by way of manipulation of the truth , admittedly sometimes thru naivety , but often thru desperate , self indulgent and unashamed escapism.

    3/. What he makes up for in mouth movement and media presence he specifically lacks in – winners medals and or all round success rates against ‘ all of these easier games ‘. BTW – we were hammered by – Arsena;- Man city and MAn U) Not quite sure on that basis what his logic is, as we were also beaten by (norwhich- everton and blackburn) As we all should know ( i blame sky 4 mentality and the new obsessive media mind set/ ideology ) there is no such thing …these are all teams playing at a similar level which means, anyone can win the game, or else there would be no such thing as a competitive league..it stands to reason that, if you are a premiership club, then you are amongst the best in the country at that time.

    4/ now that we know the truth about players like defoe ( that if he wasn’t good enough to play with- keane/berba/ mido/ bent/ ade/gudjonsen/ vdv) then this can only mean one thing, surely ??!

    no movement , no real pace, no skills, no vision…some player ! Ade in the main has better movement, but his touch is a mere weak percentage to that of berbatov’ ilk…170k a week..no thanks!

    IF rednap focused more on being all that ge can be, instead of all he wants to be known as, maybe, just mat=ybe he could make it and in-turn as with us.. if tactics are his weak point (case in point)hire someone to help..

    coyfs – get your fingers out and get busy ffs !

  • Anonymous says:

    Why all the changes to the starting eleven?

  • wlhatwhl says:

    We also needed a strong central defender in January so that we didn’t have to rely on two experienced but injury prone defenders in King and Gallas. Last few games for Ledley King show just how difficult he’s finding it now – he simply couldn’t cope with Holt’s strength and running. Not good to see such a great player for Spurs struggling in this way.

  • Anonymous says:

    They didnt play 442 based on those positions

    433

  • Anonymous says:

    Excellent article. As after many previous games, I found Harry’s after match comments particularly hard to take. He acknowledges the obvious, without offering any explanation of why he chose a team that was likely to be unsuccessful and why he failed to change things significantly when the first half performance was so abject.

    As I took my seat in the East stand and heard the team, I almost wished that I hadn’t bothered to make the trip. It was a terrible team selection. I had hoped that with Harry’s recent comments about how a 4-3-3 suited us that we wouldn’t see Defoe starting again this season. In fact, it is my belief that Harry only went with a 4-4-2 to apease Defoe and all of the idiots in the crowd who idolise him and think that scoring the occasional spectacular goal makes up for a total lack of effort and jeopardizing the whole team shape. In my opinion, Harry should have told Defoe at the beginning of the season that we were playing with one up front and that if he wanted any starts then he had to adapt to taking up a wider role and tracking the opposing fullback. I really believe that Defoe could have made this change and been useful to the team. He can cut inside and hit tremendous shots from that position and won’t be bullied off the ball so much by a fullback as he almost always is by a centreback.

    If neither Parker or Sandro were fit enough to partner Modric in midfield then I suppose the options for Harry were a bit limited, but surely it would have been better to put Kranjar or even Giovani in the hole rather than playing two up top with only Modric and Livermore behind them. How we all wish that Pienaar hadn’t been allowed to go out on loan.

    Finally, after their repective displays against Bolton, I think starting King ahead of Nelsen was going against current form and was always likely to be a disaster. It pains me to say it, but Ledley has been a constant in our current poor run of form. Whenever he has played our defense has looked far from secure. His continued selection demonstrates a sentimental streak in Harry which has no place in a successful manager. Likewise his willingness to let players go out on loan because they want to play and can’t get in to our first team. It has left us really short of options at this critical stage of the season.

    • Anonymous says:

      Couldn’t agree more. King is clearly past it and is now a liability. Kaboul and Nelson or Kaboul and Gallas must be our first choices. A shame Dawson got injured as he has really been missed. The 4-2-3-1 was working reasonably well and it’s not clear why it was switched, just to accommodate Defoe? VdV must also start when fit because he has that fight in him even when he’s having a bad day. And does anyone think that Modric just doesn’t care anymore? After all, if Spurs don’t make the CL he’ll still be playing in it next year.

  • JimmyG2 says:

    Let’s hope that Caulker is as good as he seems to be. Dawson,Kaboul,and Caulker will be our mainstays next season with Gallas as backup.
    Testimonial and Match day job for Ledley until he gets his badges and then we’ll see.
    Do we need another CH? Probably.
    We certainly need a reliable consistent striker.
    And if Modric goes Van is a must.

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Disgraceful. City should get a points deduction for this. Say 18 points? Seems fair. https://t.co/FNmOJhK4vv
2 hours ago