Playing ‘open’


Harry Redknapp talks about being open a lot, in fact in pretty much every interview…

I’ve got good wide men, so I play them, I want to play Gareth Bale, I want to play Aaron Lennon, and I want to play two front men because when the wingers are pulling everybody out of position, there are going to be bigger spaces for the strikers to use.

I like playing this way and I won’t be changing. I enjoy watching open football, so I enjoy watching my teams play. I’d rather be going home on Saturday night knowing that at least we gave it a go. I’d hate drawing 0-0 or losing 1-0 and knowing that we never really went for it. I think we can hurt anybody with our style and that is what I tell the players before every game. I was still saying it at half-time here. The last thing I wanted us to do was try to defend a 1-0 lead.

We have seen the benefits of our open style of play, the width created by Lennon and Bale leaves space for the likes of Modric to advance into or Van der Vaart with plenty of space to cause problems but of course there are the negatives that can be seen by the 1 clean sheet in 17 league games Spurs have played this season compared to the 10 we had last season, a Spurs record.

So what has changed between this year and last? Well the movement of Modric into the middle could be a factor, Modric is not a tackling defensive player but he does make a lot of interceptions, in most games he intercepts the more more than twice the amount of times of most players on the pitch making 30 interceptions this season compared to Jenas second best rate of 18 so positionally at least he is sound. Playing on the left hand side he also has help from Assou-Ekotto and Bale, both defensively strong players so maybe this isn’t the problem, maybe the problem lies on the other side….

On the right, predominately this season Huddlestone has played in this position. While his passing is fantastic and his ability to dictate the game has come on leaps and bounds over the last season could it be his mobility that is causing the issue? Tackling wise Huddlestone has the best success rate winning 87.5% of his tackles yet he only appears to have put in 16 tackles all season, half as many as his battling teammate Palacios and has played . Palacios on the other hand has passed the ball the least of our central midfielder players.

Bale and Lennon both put in a shift defensively as well, Bale with a massive 31 interceptions and 71% success rate in tackles compared to Lennon’s 11 interceptions and matching 71% tackling success rate. So is the open formation a problem for our defensive play?

Playing open leaves more space between players, spaces that better teams can take advantage of. A lot of the teams that come to White Hart Lane sit deep and hit us on the counter, playing so open leaves us massively susceptible to this with holes in the middle of the pitch due to the lack of a holding player/defensive anchor. This puts more pressure on our defensive line and the opposition hit the back line quicker, the term ‘like a hot knife through butter’ sits well here, due to our attacking nature and open play the gaps between lines of players can easily be breached by a well placed pass and playing at the top of the game there are many players that can do that even in the teams that are in the lower half of the premier league (Murphy at Fulham is a prime example).

The answer to not conceding so many goals would be to play narrower but this would hinder our attacking play. Against Arsenal at 2-0 down Redknapp changed the shape and played narrow with Van der Vaart coming in from the right wing and Bale tucking in slightly to help the central midfield players. This restricted Arsenal’s ability to pass and we won more balls in the centre and could hit Arsenal on the counter attack, which we did….3 times 🙂

Redknapps’ philosophy is simple, set up his team and get them to dictate the game, don’t worry about the opposition until you have to, unfortunately this season it has been a point that we have had to worry about them at half time, with Spurs winning 16 points from losing positions, more than any other team in the league.

Redknapps’ style of play is however entertaining, as clear as it is that it puts more pressure on our defense and as a Spurs fan I wouldn’t want it any other way and perhaps the defensive situation would not be such a focus if we had a better striker/s to choose from. Exclusing Van der Vaart as he is notably a midfielder despite his position on the pitch Spurs strikers have scored just 6 goals in the league this season only 2 more than the defenders. For such an attacking team this is a shocking statistic and shows where Spurs need to improve if they are to continue to play in their current open formation but who this attacking addition could be is any ones guess, drop your suggestions in the comments 🙂

4 Responses to “Playing ‘open’”

  1. 1 africanspurs

    Execllent article, totally agree. only thing that i hate is that it has now stopped the blog i was writing up……..

    But on a serious note i do agree with what you have written and i also agree on the comments you posted on…that defoe and pav took turn in pressuring the holder..something that was also evident when we played Twente.

    it would seem that this is an instruction to help the middfield but primarily against continental set up teams that cant start an attack from the flank primarily

    the thing you also have to wonder is , would you sacrifice the positive publicity and entertaining football we have now versus a more solid and defensively sound / balanced team? I would most definately consider

    for that to happen, bale would have to go to left back and we would then have to move modric to left mid. the spectacle of bale marauding would be dimished but for me the team might gain in other areas..primarily defensive solidarity……add to that a new strikers and overall i think our team woudl be pretty formidable

    • haha, sorry about that I think you should write it anyway, more evidence in the pot 🙂

      If Modric is moved back to the left he is going to come inside into an area VdV currently plays in if behind the striker, so if VdV is going to play he would have to play from the right and come inside leaving no place for Lennon and we would also lose a lot of our attacking width.

      Personally I’m not a fan of inverted wingers/both wing players coming inside because the game becomes narrow and the contest is played out in the most defended part of the pitch. Man City are a prime example of how ineffective this can be, while defensively sound they don’t score many either because their wingers come inside too much and Tevez drops deep and they all end up in a congested area of the pitch.

      • 3 Fantine

        ”Fast inte sÃ¥ mycket tits faktiskt.” Jag vet inte hur lÃ¥ngt du har spelat men… sist jag stängde av sprang jag upp för ࢣkullarna≶ pÃ¥ en halvnaken tjej 😉 Spelet har sina upp och nerförsbackar (hoho pun intended) men för mig personligen vinner varierad spelmekanik, bra kontroll och härlig atmosfär. Däremot finns en hel del annat som stör som hade kunnat göra det här spelet perfekt.

  2. 4 Danilo

    I got this web site from my buddy who informed me on the topic of this website and at the moment this time I am browsing this web site and reading very informative articles here.

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