5 things Pochettino must do to save Tottenham's season
It could be a long season for Spurs after conceding seven at home to Bayern Munich, but Mauricio Pochettino can still salvage things, writes Guy Giles.
Revert to 4-2-3-1
Spurs play their best football in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Their biggest Champions League wins last season – 3-2 against Ajax, 1-0 against City – came in this system, as did much of their success in the previous two campaigns.
It makes little sense, then, that Pochettino continues to experiment with the 4-4-2 diamond, a formation which totally exposes his side’s defence.
The amount of space that Bayern found out wide and between the lines was remarkable, and yet still Pochettino persisted.
A reversion to 4-2-3-1 with two holding midfielders, Tanguy Ndombele playing further forward and Harry Kane as a lone striker is the way forward for this team.
Revive the press
Pochettino was one of the first among a wave of European coaches who brought a high-pressing game to the Premier League.
It was a tactic that turned Southampton into a top-half team, and one that transformed Tottenham into title contenders and Champions League finalists.
This season, however, the press has been relaxed.
Spurs have executed fewer presses than any other Premier League side, while winning possession in the final third half as much as they did last term.
The press was evident for the first 30 minutes against Bayern, a period which saw Spurs play their best football of the season so far. Coincidence? I think not.
Bring back Dier
What has happened to Eric Dier?
The defender-turned-midfielder has gone from Pochettino favourite to Spurs outcast, with his sole appearance this season coming in their embarrassing Carabao Cup exit to Colchester.
That doesn’t sound like much of a cameo, but Dier was actually one of the few positives for Spurs in a game that many will be eager to forget.
Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko have been exceptional for Spurs over the last year, but neither are a proper defensive midfielder, and the lack of such a player has been glaringly obvious.
Dier is not world-class. He is not the answer to all of Spurs’ problems. But he can do the job they need doing: protect a frail defence. It’s time to bring him back.
Forget about Aurier
Serge Aurier shouldn’t play in a big game for Spurs again.
The right-back was at fault for four goals on Tuesday night as Serge Gnabry and co. waltzed past him with ease time and again.
Aurier is the closest Spurs have to Kyle Walker, their marauding right-back of old, but his lack of defensive awareness and concentration make him a liability.
His first-half red card against Southampton at the weekend was bad, but his performance on Tuesday was even worse.
Spurs don’t have a wealth of options at right-back, but Kyle Walker-Peters is an infinitely better option than the inconsistent Ivorian.
Invest in January
Pochettino is not a fan of the January transfer window.
In five seasons at Tottenham, the Argentine has made just two winter signings – Dele Alli and Lucas Moura.
He has already described the forthcoming window as a ‘good opportunity’ to fix their problems, which is indicative of his current desperation.
And, while winter is not normally a time for savvy business decisions, Pochettino is right to want to bend his normal rules.
Full-back is the most glaring issue, while a new holding midfielder must come in if Pochettino has lost truly faith in Dier.
It may be a case of too little, too late, but Daniel Levy must at least try to invest in the squad if Champions League nights are to return to Tottenham next year.
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