July 24, 2014

Toronto FC match – some thoughts

I don’t want to go into too much detail, because Luke Balls-Burgess has done that here, and I don’t think there’s a lot else that can be said about the second pre-season friendly of the summer, but having just caught up on the Toronto game, I’ve written some brief notes. I’ve no desire to judge players or make bold statements this early on in pre-season, so these observations should be taken in context.

First half:

-Greater coherence than Saturday, especially in the first half. Unsure if that’s due to more practice or different personnel.
-Loved the way Capoue covered the left back area on a couple of occasions – something a modern defensive midfielder must do. He was a strong presence in midfield too.
-In fact, the central midfield was nicely balanced with the dynamic Mason alongside Capoue, and Eriksen adding craft ahead of them.
-If you’ve followed me on Twitter for a while, you might know that I think a lot of Mason – I genuinely think that, were it not for injury, he’d be in the England squad by now. Mason as well as Veljkovic looked perfectly entitled to be out there in the first half.
-Lamela’s intensity was highly impressive.
-Davies used the ball well from advanced areas – Naughton less so.
-Lennon was very involved, albeit not always choosing the right option.
-Lamela’s goal saw us make 11 passes from back to front – the first made by Lamela (a chest down after Kaboul’s clearance). The only players to take more than two touches in the move were Naughton, Eriksen and Soldado; Mason’s first time pass to Eriksen in particular was sublime. It was an excellent team goal.
-Soldado was rarely involved in build-up play, yet claimed two assists.
-There was a lot of fluidity behind Soldado, with Lennon, Lamela and Eriksen roaming.
-Pochettino was keen to pass instructions onto Lennon – on the face of it he seemed fairly unimpressed.
-Lamela’s second goal was a glorious finish – even if he didn’t fancy it, he had Lennon and Eriksen free in the box square of him.

Second half:

-We instantly looked less assured, and it was because of the midfield. With just Carroll holding, we looked unbalanced – it was like two separate teams of five – one in our half, and one in the opposition half.
-Holtby played a lot higher than Mason had in the first half, and this didn’t change all half so he was presumably instructed to do so.
-Rose made the cross of the match – Kane should have buried it but was caught a little on his heels.
-For the first Toronto goal, Ceballos gave the ball away when Holtby was ahead of ball – Carroll tried to jockey back to bide time, when he should probably have put some pressure on the ball. Fryers didn’t track his man – instead hesitating and trying to play offside (bad decision with no pressure on the ball!).
-Townsend has been written off by many, but he looks so different to our other players – very direct and willing to commit players. That alone makes him a useful asset. With a bit of coaching I still think he can be very good for us.
-Walker was understandably reserved in his first match back.
-Fryers’ man got the second goal too, but I think Friedel could perhaps have saved it.
-Carroll had a near impossible job of linking play, as there was a huge gap between him and the next nearest player. This reflected badly on him, but in truth when he received the ball and turned, he rarely had an option.
-What a hit from Townsend to win the game!

General thoughts:

-We’re going to complete a lot of passes in the forthcoming season, and players who are sloppy or ponderous will not be welcome.
-We’re going to need players in the final third who are productive, as I can’t see too many goals coming from central midfield.
-Dawson has received a lot of criticism for his performance, but I feel like he was hamstrung by playing alongside Fryers.

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  • dr Cockail says:

    Nice commentary. Shrewd analysis and pretty spot on. Hope we keep Holtby though, I do like his energy and enthusiasm.

  • Rolie_ny says:

    Good analysis but I’m surprised that you didn’t touch on Eriksen a bit more. I’m Afraid that Pochettino’s emphasis on having Lamela play like he used to play in River Plate (as a 10) is going to push Eriksen back way too much or push him to the wing as they did last season. Preferably I’d like to see eriksen creating through the middle and Lamela pushed up more so he can combine with soldado.

  • bonse says:

    Lamela played mostly on the right wing, although an hefty portion was spent central, but for a lot of the time eriksen was central, in fact at one point both of them and Lennon were all pretty much central, Lennon didn’t seem comfortable on the left and gave an air of someone unsure of what was expected. Would’nt worry that Eriksen is being pushed out for Lamela just yet.

    Not a big fan of Townsend but took his goal well, towards the end it seemed Poch wanted him as a Jermaine Defoe type striker rather than an advanced midfielder, can’t help thinking he may be on to something.

    Only other point i made was that Rose did work well on the left going forward, perhaps re-converting him to left wing would be the answer and at least he would have a better idea of what the left back needs in front of him, still can’t see him replacing anyone who might already play there and his biggest problem is temperment, sendings off are a bit too common for him, and i dread to think of how many free kicks he’s conceded from anger rather than lateness or clumsiness.

    Loved Holtby’s energy, he does the little, unnoticed things so well.

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