How to judge the quality of a project – case study

The only way to judge the long-term future of a top club with its current manager is to look at the system he has implemented and ask yourself ‘will this team win a league with this system on the assumption the manager gets what he wants in the market?’

I applied that to Spurs.


A crucial preface is to note that Nuno has only managed a couple of games at the club so this entire thread may become irrelevant if he throws this tactic out the window, which isn’t impossible. Anyway, Spurs press high in a narrow 4-3-3 with inverted wingers, ala Liverpool.

The implementation on the ball is virtually the same as Liverpool’s with 3 athletic, ball dominant (bar Alli) 2nd phase midfielders, fullbacks high & wide, and the 3 attackers in close proximity between the lines. All fluid, but good enough to succeed with the right off-ball structure.

However, Nuno hasn’t achieved that desired off-ball structure (yet). Spurs’ press is not bad, but it’s not on par with the best teams. They’re too easy to keep the ball against because their fullbacks are far too deep and don’t support the ball-side winger & CM when pressing.

The fullbacks do on occasion, but not often enough. They are far too conservative within their positioning. If you think of Liverpool you think of their ultra-aggressive high press with Trent and Robertson pressing as high as the opposition fullback – Royal/Reguilon don’t do that.

However, Spurs’ press is still good in certain aspects (when they’re pushed really high up the pitch), but not good enough to exert true control on the game. Watford, who are quite frankly abysmal, took the game to Spurs and had lots of the ball at Spurs’ own stadium.

Earlier, against Palace, the game was essentially 50/50 at 0-0. Sure Spurs had injuries to key players which severely negatively impacted the teams dynamics with Alli in the front 3, but that shouldn’t mean the general control is weakened, but it was, because regardless of whoplays in that Spurs system they won’t be able to truly control games. They’re easy to keep the ball against.

However, despite that, I also think that with better players Spurs could become a good team in that system who’d win a lot of games over a 38 game season, but not a title.

Where they could improve within that system is individually. They were woeful technically today. The likes of Sanchez/Lloris/Roden/Winks, etc aren’t good enough technically, & the latter two aren’t good enough physically either. So their technical security/control could improve.

t their squad, it’s clear they need a lot. Those highlighted in red aren’t good enough to start, back ups who are highlighted aren’t good enough full stop (remains to be seen with Skipp, Romero, etc).

Regardless, the players signed do basically nothing for the team

Spurs have signed an ultra-aggressive CB in Romero when they needed a leader, a back up goalkeeper to Lloris when they needed a starter, and a creator type profile in Gil when they needed a Son/Mané/Salah type. They also could’ve done with upgrading in midfield (sell Ndombele).

So, Spurs have had a stand-still summer signings wise who aren’t necessary for the long-term growth of the team. This is where it becomes clear that a project will not work – the system is flawed and even without that, other holes within that squad should’ve been prioritised.

And what makes it worse is that Levy wanted about 10 different managers this summer, nearly all of which entirely deviated in style. Not only that, but, the one he did hire had not showcased the ability to 1) play and 2) win with attractive football.

Spurs’ press has waned as the game has gone on. It all boils down to what I said when Nuno got the job – his teams are too easy to keep the ball against which means they don’t have control in all controllable facets of play. 

Peep what I said RE: 1-0 “masterclasses” (City game).

So, the answer to the initial question when judging the system and the signings is quite clearly no, as was predicted before Nuno came to the club. Good manager, but a limited one who doesn’t enable his teams to control enough facets of play to challenge for league titles.


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