Tottenham Hotspur v Portsmouth

17 January 2009 05:20
First he blamed Juande Ramos for not getting the best out of the current squad, then it was the recruitment strategy, overseen by Daniel Comolli, and now he has turned on the players, accusing some of lacking determination and character.

Although he may have some justification for those thoughts, his team selection over recent weeks suggests to me that he is unclear who his best players are, what tactical formation he should play them in and what style of football he is developing.

Does Redknapp know how he wants to play?

The formation he started with last week, against Wigan, looked good on paper. With Ledley King as the holding midfield player in front of Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson, Spurs should have been dominant in the air, while the narrow midfield of King, Didier Zokora and Jamie O'Hara ensured solidity.

Further forward, the movement of Jermain Defoe to break the offside line was supported by the trickery of Luka Modric and the hold-up play of Roman Pavlyuchenko while width was provided by full-backs Gareth Bale and Vedran Corluka.

Initially the system worked well but it soon became obvious that little work had been done on the game-plan in training and Redknapp dispensed with his formation at half-time, probably never to be seen again.

However, I believe the system could be successful, but for it to work it will need persistence on the training ground, slight changes in personnel and a couple of new acquisitions. It could also mean the end for wide players Aaron Lennon and David Bentley.

Dawson and Bale must be replaced

Dawson is needed as cover for King at the moment but Redknapp needs a better centre-half in the long term. Dawson is wholehearted, but this does not compensate for his lack of pace and game understanding.

Therefore King should drop back to centre-half with Zokora playing as the holding midfield player. This would allow Jermaine Jenas and Tom Huddlestone to play either side of him. They are Redknapp's best options at least until Wilson Palacios arrives from Wigan. Jenas will also need to be far more committed than he was against Wigan when he allowed Maynor Figueroa to head Wigan's winner.

Bale has too many defensive frailties. Last week Antonio Valencia exposed him in one-v-one confrontations, brushed him aside physically and beat him in the air. Not surprising then that Spurs are reported to be seeking a new left-back, but today O'Hara will have to fill in.

Modric and Pavlyuchenko

Redknapp needs to make his mind up about these two. Last week's system, where they played behind Defoe was used partly to accommodate them.

Modric was supposed to find space between Wigan's defensive lines while Pavlyuchenco joined Defoe when Spurs attacked but dropped deeper when Wigan had possession. By taking both off early in the second half it suggested that their manager was unhappy with their contribution, both in effort and quality. But if Redknapp wants to provide Defoe with quality service, he must continue with Modric. Pavlyuchenko on the other hand will need to show evidence that he can link up with Defoe over the next couple of matches otherwise he could find himself replicating the Spurs career of Sergei Rebrov. The offers reportedly tabled for Kenwyne Jones and Craig Bellamy does not bode well for the Russian.

Are Spurs too good to go down?

Spurs have good players but some have been purchased without thought into how they would fit into a cohesive unit. Unless Redknapp devises a game plan to suit his best players and recruits a left-back and centre-half in addition to Palacios, Spurs will be in the relegation battle right through to May.

Source: Telegraph

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