Sunday 9 December 2018

Pochettino won’t change his playing style as Spurs bid to end losing run

The Tottenham boss will keep trying to play the ball out from the back.

Mauricio Pochettino will not change the way he sets his side up (Nick Potts/PA)
Mauricio Pochettino will not change the way he sets his side up (Nick Potts/PA)

By Jonathan Veal, Press Association Sport

Mauricio Pochettino is not prepared to compromise on his mantra of Tottenham playing the ball out from the back.

Spurs have lost their last three games – the first time it has happened under Pochettino – and at times have played themselves into trouble in their own third of the pitch.

In their latest defeat at Inter Milan on Tuesday, they were robbed of possession on several occasions in dangerous positions as they attempted to play short passes from goal-kicks and could not cope with the high Italian press.

But boss Pochettino stands by his tactics and says that is the only way his side can play ahead of Saturday’s visit to Brighton.

“If we put the ball in the air, and we are going to fight for the ball we are going to lose,” he insisted.

“The example is clear. Every time that the team played well, kept possession and play in the way that we want to play, we were close to winning.

“We are not a team that can play fighting like Atletico Madrid, who are so comfortable playing deeper, going on counterattack and when it is 1-0, in the last five minutes they’re impossible to penetrate.

“We are a team who are comfortable in possession, in the opposition half. That’s the team we have, the players we have, and how the squad is.

“It’s impossible to change. To change that is to change your identify and it will be so tough to win games in a different way. The teams plays how we feel.”

“Perception” and “reality” have been key words for Pochettino this season, first as he tried to dampen down expectation after the 3-0 win at Manchester United and then in response to three successive defeats.

But while the perception was that Spurs struggled to play out from the back at the San Siro, Pochettino’s reality is that they executed it well.

“We tried to play but I think the pressure from Inter Milan was more pressure than Liverpool,” he said.

“The difference is Inter provoked and forced us to play quick because they pressed so high, and we made some mistakes of course. But always the team tried, tried, tried.

ipanews_8ee071c1-67b4-4b42-a16c-76ba6578c0d1_embedded238615519
Tottenham were crestfallen after suffering a late defeat at Inter Milan on Tuesday (Antonio Calanni/AP)

“I think it was an amazing example of building from the back during the game. The problem was different – when we arrived in the offensive situation, in an amazing position to accelerate the game, we reduced the pace.

“Against Liverpool, we were so slow playing from the back and then we wanted to accelerate when we needed to be calm. It was difficult to find good positions for our offensive players.

“We were so good against Inter at moving the ball from the back, finding a very good pace and putting our offensive players in very good situations. And then we reduced the pace! That was the difference in between the two games.”

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport