The defeat at Sheffield United was all very Brighton-y, wasn’t it?
Of course, I’m referring to Spurs’ 3-0 defeat on the south coast back in October, just four days removed from the Serge Gnabry nightmare.
Despite being knocked out of the Carabao Cup by League Two Colchester and trounced 7-2 by Niko Kovac’s Bayern Munich – who weren’t even very good at the time – in their own backyard, the capitulation at the Amex was the first time that most Spurs fans actually said, ‘reckon Poch might walk after this’.
So yeah, Spurs’ second-half display at Bramall Lane was that bad. That b*stard turquoise kit.
The weird thing is, while Spurs’ afternoon of misery at Brighton was foreshadowed by Neal Maupay’s third-minute opener and Hugo Lloris’ elbow dislocation, the Lilywhites had churned out a pretty good opening 45 minutes in South Yorkshire and there was a sense of injustice in them going into half-time 1-0 down.
Nevertheless, the eventual 3-1 defeat all but ended Spurs’ already slim hopes of securing a Champions League berth for next term, with a Europa League spot seemingly all to play for in their six remaining Premier League encounters.
But with little riding on the remainder of the campaign, it’s the opportune time for Jose Mourinho to try a few things which, you know, may just bestow a wee bit of optimism for the future.
Here are a few ideas…
As written by The Athletic: “Many of Ndombele’s team-mates believe him to be the most talented player in the squad.”
Yet we’ve just seen 19 minutes of the Frenchman since the restart.
Mourinho himself has publicly praised Ndombele’s work over the break and now it’s time for the Spurs boss to fully unleash his insanely gifted midfielder.
While it remains to be seen whether the player can consistently cope with the demands of Premier League football, there’s little doubting his ability. He’s a genuine game-changer for the Lilywhites if he’s fit and firing, with his unique but mightily aesthetic style a serious crowd-pleaser.
Ndombele’s capacity to weight his passes with the utmost precision and outfox opponents with the most unpredictable and outrageous techniques mean you pay just to watch this fella play. And if we see the Frenchman churn out the type of displays he’s certainly capable of, the optimism in N17 may well be overriding.
It doesn’t matter who with or in what system, just get Tanguy Ndombele playing football. Please.
Spurs simply can’t progress with Serge Aurier’s inefficient final third delivery and defensive liabilities anymore, but with natural back-ups Juan Foyth and Japhet Tanganga out injured, it’s time for Jose to get a little creative at right-back.
The Spurs boss has spoken of potentially deploying Gedson Fernandes in the unfamiliar role and it’s certainly an intriguing idea.
The Benfica loanee has struggled to cement a place in Mourinho’s XI since his January move and in all honesty, it’s pretty ambiguous as to what his best position actually is – probably in a midfield three. Nevertheless, Gedson may get a new lease of life in Aurier’s role which limits defensive responsibility and serves as key attacking outlet in Mourinho’s system.
In his small sample size thus far, Gedson has shown off his tremendous engine, fine delivery – see the first leg against RB Leipzig – silky dribbling ability and impressive athleticism. It’s worth a shot, Jose.
Mourinho has implemented an asymmetrical 4-2-3-1 since his November arrival which essentially morphs into a 3-2-5 when Spurs are in possession, allowing Aurier to advance and serve as the fifth attacking outlet while the left-back – usually Ben Davies – tucks in to provide greater central compactness and protection against transitions.
Now, what if Mourinho was to switch things up a bit. Instead of the impulsive Ivorian being the one to advance, why not allow the left-back to surge forward and force the right-back to tuck in?
Ryan Sessegnon may be the man to provide the width and attacking thrust down the left, while a more conservative option is deployed on the opposite flank. However, Mourinho will likely have to wait for the return of either Foyth or Tanganga to make this work.
Using the left-back as the extra attacking outlet will also allow Son Heung-min – who’s often looked isolated and forced into deeper areas since the return – to drift infield and play as an inside forward, a role alteration which should help him rediscover his most potent form.
Look, the north Londoners may not be blessed with the level of academy products of some of their rivals, but there’s nonetheless some talent there and now’s the perfect time to utilise them.
The sensible Oliver Skipp has proven to be unspectacular but functional at the highest level, while there’s a lot of buzz surrounding 18-year-old left-back Dennis Cirkin, who’s featured in the odd matchday squad this term. Could the Irishman be a beneficiary of Mourinho’s potential alteration in the asymmetric 4-2-3-1?
The highly-regarded Troy Parrott may be the most talented of them all but has drifted into the wilderness following Kane’s return, while Malachi Fagan-Walcott, Harvey White, Paris Maghoma and J’Neil Bennett are several other names to keep an eye on for potential minutes.
Nevertheless, there’s nothing quite like seeing one of your own shine on the grandest stage, as Tanganga proved on his Premier League debut against Liverpool.
In the variations of the ‘Spurs Dream Lineup 2020/21’ you occasionally see on your Twitter timeline, there’s always one constant: the use of a 4-3-3.
The idea of Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso being used as a pair of eights in front of a functioning defensive midfielder is nothing short of dreamy. However, with the lack of that required midfield screener to make the system work, it may be tricky for Mourinho to experiment in the games that remain.
Nevertheless, it’d be great to see the aforementioned Skipp get a chance in this role while Harry Winks has proven to be competent a little deeper against sides which play over shorter distances.
With the 4-2-3-1 and especially the double pivot exposed and overwhelmed by the Blades, the switch to a 4-3-3 will not only allow wingers to stay higher up the pitch due to greater coverage in midfield, but the system also suits the profiles of the majority of Spurs’ midfielders.
Whaaaat?! You can’t slander the man who was single-handedly responsible for the greatest night in the club’s modern history!
Oh I promise you. You can.
While the Brazilian has proven he’s capable of moments of pure magic with the ball at his feet, his uncanny knack of making the wrong decision in the final third and complete ineffectiveness against deep defences make him an infuriating watch at times.
There’s just no way he should be the nailed-down starter he currently is. Moura’s at his best when he can exploit the greater space afforded by tiring legs later on in the contest as an impact sub.
Mourinho simply has to tone down his love for the chaotic Moura.