AVB formula for success

With AVB saying we are likely to continue to play 4-3-3 for most of the season we have been looking at it through a series of articles. This one looks at the Andre Villas-Boas team make up. You can fins links to previous articles at the end of this one.

Under Harry Redknapp Spurs game centered around Luka Modric and when he was sold fans called for his replacement, howver Aandre Villas-Boas has adopted a different approach that involves the team instead of the individual. Now there is a more patient probing approach to the Spurs game.

A look at the Porto side gives us the basic formula that Villas-Boas is using with a little tweak.

He coached a highly talented Porto team to an undefeated Portuguese league title, won the Portuguese Cup and won the Europa League. He had them playing a 4-3-3 system. The front three were left-footed player (Hulk) on the right wing, a goal scorer central (Radamel Falcao) and a more traditional winger on the left (Silvestre Varela, James Rodriguez).

Look at Spurs new squad and you will see similarities, Lamela, Soldado, and Chadli. One is a young, goal-scoring winger, a poacher central and a more traditional winger on the right, although perfectly capable od scoring themselves. As back up you have another poacher type in Defoe, a traditional type winger in Lennon and Townsend with an eye for goal. Adebayor offers an alternative but is a goalscorer when on his game.

His Porto three-man midfield operated in a triangle with a holding player at it's base. The key elements were movement and interchangeability to be able to transform defence into attack quickly.

When he arrived at Chelsea he amended that approach, saying: “You lose a little bit of balance in the Premier League if you play that way. Transitions here are much more direct, making the importance of the number 6 to stay in position most decisive."

The creative hub of Porto was a deep lying playmaker (Joao Moutinho) who of course we tried to sign but that approach now looks to have been abandoned with the purchase of Christian Eriksen, in favour of creativity higher up the pitch. The number 10 role behind the striker is now the creative hub with a solid defensive midfielder (Sandro, Capoue, Holtby) and an energetic box to box midfielder (Paulinho, Dembele, Holtby). Gylfi Sigurdsson it would seem is now the understudy to Eriksen in this system although Chadli can play there also. Plenty of fans like Holtby there but AVB has already said and Holtby agreed that his best role is probably as a number 6 and not a number 10.

The high line defence was a Porto trait and has been replicated at Spurs. Danny Rose and Kyle Walker are both very quick full-back able to support attack and get back into defence. Jan Vertonghen is a mobile central defender comfortable on the ball. Chiriches is in the same mold. Dawson, it is safe to say, has surprised AVB with his adaptibility and Younis Kaboul is again quick and likes the ball at his feet.

The Spurs squad now resembles his Porto squad, we can expect a similar brand of football with a tweak in midfield, the creativity moved forward. When you hear of transfer targets the first thing to do is look at the type of player they are and which position they would slot into, remembering all we are doing is replacing a cog. That will tell you if they are a genuine transfer target or just a newspaper fiction.

The midfielders must be strong and mobile to close down the middle of the field and win the ball back in positions to transition quickly into attack.

The forward and wingers who receive the ball quickly can combine with the attacking midfielder to create chances. That is one option.

The other is grind them down. Our game often seems slow and to be built on relentlessness rather than creativity. The overriding impression last season and the beginning of this one is not one of speedy attacks but more of a tank moving forward, again and again and again until something gives.

Our philosophy looks to be one of, if you sustain the pressure long enough your opponent is bound to crack eventually, and when they do, a combination of skillful attackers will play an important pass, finish a lightning-quick move, and score a goal. The possession stats seem to bear this out, 52% possession at home and 53% possession away last season.

Spurs game is no longer centered around one player but a new system approach involving the team which makes it a lot easier to replace a part, you simply slot a replacement in. If you lose a star player it won't destroy the system, it's the healthy approach rather than unhealthy centered around one player approach. There is room for individual brilliance of course there is but that is merely the cherry on top.

Within the system the squad can now be rotated, all playing the same way rather than having to change the system because a player is missing. Having said that there is still the ability for tactical flexibility, a 4-3-3 can change into a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-4-1 with very little disruption.

The other crucial and overlooked element by most fans is the mental side of the game. AVB was charged with changing the mentality of the club form we hope to achieve success to we expect to achieve success, he was asked to create a winning mentality.

During the first part of the season Spurs were regularly conceding goals, partly this was due to taking off strikers and bringing on defensive players pushing the defence back thereby abandoning the high line. This creates a negative mindset, an all hands to the pump firefighting type of feeling. When AVB realised this and after we conceded two against Everton having been in a winning position after 90 minutes, the training was changed.

Concentration had to be improved. No more were defenders brought on to hold a lead and the result was only one goal conceded after 80 minutes for the rest of the season, a penalty against Liverpool. At the other end however late goals were scored against Man Utd, Everton, Southampton and Sunderland at home as well as West Ham, Chelsea, Wigan and Stoke away. The most memorable in Europe was the Bale free-kick against Lyon with virtually the last kick of the game.

There is now a never give up mentality, a determination not to concede late that augers well for the future.

Now that AVB has the pieces in place it will be interesting to see how the system develops and performs as it is in place for years to come.

Previous Articles:
Tottenham - A Tactical Analysis
Video - The 4-3-3 Explained
Player Roles Within A 4-3-3
Players Attacking Roles Within A 4-3-3 System

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