Has possession football reduced Spurs' attacking threat?

White Hart Lane 4

Louis East looks at whether Tottenham Hotspur's change of playing style over the past few years has reduced their threat in the final third.

'The Spurs Way'. Something that Tottenham Hotspur fans always want to see, but an almost unexplainable style of play that the White Hart Lane faithful have been missing since Harry Redknapp left the club in 2012.

During Redknapp's four-year tenure as Spurs boss, he led the team to a League Cup final, a Champions League campaign and two fourth-place finishes.

The Lilywhites have not enjoyed successes like those since he was sacked in 2012, and their change of playing style and footballing philosophy on the pitch may be the reason why.

Andre Villas-Boas replaced Redknapp at Spurs and wanted his side to play possession football, with a high defensive line but the players never fully took to his tactics.

Gareth Bale was an exception, and his individual talent helped Spurs pull through the 2012-13 campaign with the club's highest-ever points tally in the Premier League.

The Welshman then left and Spurs struggled to inspire last season, as possession football seems to have allowed opposing teams to hurt Tottenham by playing the style that they used to play under Redknapp.

The patient build-up play allows defences to get behind the ball and they become very difficult to breakdown, before hitting Spurs on the counter-attack.

Mauricio Pochettino is now at the helm, and he has made a bright start to life as Spurs boss, but last weekend's 3-0 loss against Liverpool has raised question marks about the team's quality once again.

Liverpool allowed Spurs to have the ball in the middle of the pitch on Sunday, before winning it back and hitting them on the break time and time again.

Tottenham used to do just that against opposing sides using the likes of Bale and Aaron Lennon as pace outlets on the wings.

Pochettino undoubtedly has the quality at Spurs to succeed, but the club's success has traditionally come from playing fast-paced counter-attacking football that gets the fans off their seats.

Slow, possession football may look like Tottenham dominate games, but ultimately there is no point in keeping the football if you're not going to score a goal.

Their fourth goal in the 4-0 win against Queens Park Rangers two weeks ago showed that Spurs can still play 'the Spurs way' as they broke quickly down the left and Danny Rose's cross was tucked away by Emmanuel Adebayor.

They did score an excellent team goal before that as Nacer Chadli's second goal came after 48 passes in the build-up, but that is likely to be the only time Spurs score such a goal this season.

If Pochettino can get the right balance of possession football alongside counter-attacking play, the Lilywhites will be a greater threat going forward as possession football alone is not making Tottenham any more dangerous in attack.

 

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