Home » “You’ve got to take a step back”- Paul Merson’s advice to Ange Postecoglou for Tottenham vs Manchester City clash

“You’ve got to take a step back”- Paul Merson’s advice to Ange Postecoglou for Tottenham vs Manchester City clash

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Paul Merson urges Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou to alter tactics ahead of Man City clash

Tottenham Hotspur find themselves at a crucial juncture, and Arsenal legend Paul Merson has chimed in with advice for manager Ange Postecoglou ahead of their clash with Manchester City on Sunday.

Merson emphasised the need for tactical adjustments, particularly considering Spurs’ recent struggles and their risky defending in the high-line philosophy employed by Postecoglou.

The three consecutive defeats to Chelsea, Wolves, and Aston Villa have raised concerns about the effectiveness of the current approach, especially in the absence of key players due to injuries and suspensions. The high-risk, attacking tactics that initially brought success to Spurs at the start of the season seem to have hit a roadblock.

Tottenham's high-line was ineffective against Chelsea.
Tottenham’s high line was ineffective against Chelsea.

Merson acknowledged Postecoglou’s commitment to playing front-foot football, but he urged the manager to be pragmatic, especially in the face of the injury and suspension crisis affecting the squad. Here is what he wrote in his Sky Sports exclusive column:

“There’s no way Tottenham can go and play the way they do against Man City. Great managers change things up.”

‘I like Ange, he’s a top manager. He’s come into the Premier League to a big club and said he’s going to play his way, front-foot football – and I have all the respect in the world for him doing that.”

“But when you haven’t got the players, you’ve got to take a step back. When he’s got his full team, 100 per cent play like he’s playing.”

Too high a risk

While acknowledging Postecoglou as a top manager, Merson suggested that a temporary shift in approach might be necessary given the current squad’s limitations.

The defeat to Chelsea, where Spurs ended with nine men and conceded three late goals, highlighted the vulnerabilities in the high defensive line. Merson’s advice centres on the notion that, without the full squad available, a more cautious and adaptive approach might be prudent to navigate through challenging fixtures.

The clash with Manchester City poses a significant test for Spurs, and Merson’s perspective adds an interesting layer to the tactical considerations leading up to the match.

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou cannot risk a high-line against Manchester City without a player like Micky van de Ven.
Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou cannot risk a high line against Manchester City without a player like Micky van de Ven.

For Ange to successfully execute the high line, the core of all prerequisites is a pair of quick centre-backs. With Micky van de Ven and Cristian Romero unavailable due to injury and suspension respectively, the backline will most likely consist of Ben Davies and Eric Dier or Emerson Royal. The Brazilian started the game against Aston Villa.

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How Ange adjusts his team’s approach will be closely watched by fans and pundits alike as Spurs aim to bounce back from their recent setbacks.

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