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"Total Football not working for Spurs"

Welcome to "Spurs Odyssey"'s latest columnist Chris Wright. Chris gives his thoughts after last night's 1-0 defeat against Charlton, and suggests that "Total Football" is not working for Spurs at the moment:-

We're pretty much playing a 3-5-2 rather than 5-3-2, as Ziege and Davies are far better going forward than defending, and spend more time upfield.

I think it's usual, when playing a 3-5-2, to have two defensive midfield players shielding the back three - we tend to just play Sherwood, with Anderton not being a good enough defensive player (despite giving it a go) and Poyet playing right up front (often ahead of Sheringham or Rebrov). Thus we get over-run in midfield, so our attack breaks down and the back three are exposed. Similarly, if the opposition go wide, one of our back 3 goes to cover it, leaving just two in the box to cover all of the attackers and runners, as our midfield try to get their old legs going and get back and assist.

Sometimes we labour our way upfield and end up with Ziege up front with Poyet and Ferdinand, Sheringham in deep midfield, Gardner somewhere down the left wing, King in the six yard box, Sherwood on his arse having attempted a tackle, and Davies and Perry filling in at the back, wondering how to defend against the 4 men bearing down on them at speed! I think it's a sort of "Total Football" where everyone just goes where they feel like it, without filling in for each other. I'm all for people making runs and popping up in the box, but we need to have the nous to cover for each other and stop them breaking on us so easily.

Mind you, at least we made about 5 excellent chances for Ziege, Poyet and Ferdinand that Kiely (and Konchesky) did VERY well to save - I do feel that yet again we were unlucky - they didn't really make and chances other than speculative headers and then we gifted them the goal, much like we have been gifting goals in other recent matches. Back in October, 3 of our 5 chances would have gone in and we'd have laughed at Charlton's pathetic consolation goal whilst singing Hod's praises. In October 1999 we wouldn't have even made 5 chances.

I suppose what we really need to do is somehow get a goal up and sit back - then when the opposition are coming at us, we can break on them and utilise the spaces and confusion to score again - when we are a goal down and the opposition just sit back like last night, we are always going to look laboured trying to find a way through.

I thought Hod was spot on to say that King made a mistake and needs to learn from these mistakes - how could he say anything different? That's not ripping him to shreds, that's just telling the truth and not hiding King behind a veil of excuses - It's better than saying "I deed not zee eet, I was watching zee uzzer playerz, it was a foul on Keeng, eet should be a freekeeck". I thought people were fed up with managers moaning and making excuses - I expected Hod to come out and say that Parker should have been sent off, as he made at least 4 yellow card worthy tackles, as did Gardner, Sherwood, Young etc. just from memory.

King and Gardner are class acts and are so comfortable on the ball that sometimes they try a thigh-trap (like last night) rather than hoofing it into row Z - they need to learn that twelve yards out it's OK to hoof it! In short, they suffer a bit from Rio Ferdinand syndrome, and could do with a bit of Jamie Carragher syndrome!

Personally if we are to persist with this system I think Rebrov needs to play in Poyet's role, with two strikers ahead of him (perhaps Iversen and a youngster against Fulham) as Poyet needs a rest and Rebrov plays very deep - but it certainly looks as though Rebrov is off judging by his body language etc as others have noted.

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