Spurs boss considers ‘change of style’ to incorporate Chadli and Lamela
09:00 11 January 2014
Tim Sherwood believes that Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela would both be most effective in central roles behind the striker – and he is considering a “change of style” to get the best out of the pair.
Sherwood has been playing with two forwards since he replaced Andre Villas-Boas in the Tottenham hotseat last month, but he is set to lose one of his frontmen at the end of February when Jermain Defoe moves to Toronto in the MLS.
The head coach insists that will not be a problem, and that he would prefer to adapt his tactics than sign a like-for-like replacement.
Chadli and Lamela have both been vying for wide positions in the first half of the season, and they have struggled to stay ahead of the likes of Andros Townsend, Aaron Lennon and Gylfi Sigurdsson in the pecking order, while Christian Eriksen has recently been deployed on the left of midfield - albeit in a free role.
However, Sherwood feels the summer signings would both be more comfortable in the middle of the pitch - and he may soon give them the chance to prove it.
Sherwood said: “We’ve got Nacer Chadli - for me his best position is going to be off the front - and Erik Lamela. I think he will play in the hole behind the main striker.
“They haven’t played really so it’s hard to judge them. I don’t see it as a risk. I won’t be banging on the door saying ‘I need this player or that one’. Whoever you bring in would be a risk anyway because he has got to settle.
“These boys are halfway through the settling-in period so I don’t want to bring somebody else in and knock them back.
“We will crack on with what we have got – and I believe in them. I believe they can do a job and we will change the way we play, maybe.
“I’m looking for a change of style, possibly, to freshen it up - and we have the options within the squad already.”
When Sherwood was asked whether he means he is developing a Plan B, in addition to the 4-4-2 system he has preferred so far, he replied: “Not a plan B.
“A lot is made of formations. I see it quoted in papers and the pundits making a lot of it - either 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. It’s all a load of rubbish.
“It’s all about principles of how you play - shuffling across, being responsible in defensive areas, filling up in the middle of the park and having attacking options when you go forward.
“It doesn’t matter about formations. Football formations don’t win games, football players win games. I keep saying it so it’s boring, but it really is as simple as that.
“What did Manchester United play under Fergie [Sir Alex Ferguson]? 4-4-2? I think so. That’s what everybody said and they won everything.
“Arsenal, who are probably one of the best football teams at the moment, what do they play? 4-3-3? Who knows?
“When you’re out of possession, you’re always out of balance. It’s about how you shuffle back in and defend it.”
Sherwood made similar points after last Saturday’s 2-0 derby defeat at Arsenal in the FA Cup, and he went on: “I’ve seen a lot of games at the Emirates. I’ve seen teams go there with five across midfield and still get murdered. It means nothing.
“I’ve seen Dortmund go there with 4-4-2 and that was a very tough time for Arsenal. I keep mentioning these numbers but they’re just numbers and it’s about principles of how you play within those numbers.”
Meanwhile, Sherwood is yet to decide whether to recall Tom Carroll from his loan spell at QPR – but he is sure that Benoit Assou-Ekotto will stay at Loftus Road until the end of the season.
“Are we still looking at bringing Tom back? Possibly, but we’re only monitoring the situation to see who can come back to fitness here and how long it might take,” said Sherwood. “Benoit? He’ll stay where he is.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs