A solid game plan was negated by Jose Mourinho’s poor selection decisions yesterday in Tottenham’s disheartening loss to Wolves.
Tottenham started the match well, on the front foot and full of verve and positive intent. They bossed possession, pinging the ball around with accuracy and pace. A side currently devoid of a threatening front man even created a few chances, one of which was buried by Steven Bergwijn, his second in as many home matches.
The home side dominated possession throughout, keeping the ball for two-thirds of the match. It’s been a long time since Tottenham bossed proceedings like they did yesterday. They dictated the play and controlled the tempo, particularly in the first half.
But defensive mistakes, due to poor personnel decisions by the gaffer, cost Spurs dearly. Supporters can forgive a lot of their team’s misgivings. But they wouldn’t have okay with Spurs parking the bus at home against a side they’re expected to beat. Wolves are enjoying an incredibly fruitful campaign, so saying Spurs are expected to beat might not be accurate any longer.
Regardless, Tottenham are expected to push the tempo at home. And for large portions of the first half that’s exactly what they did. Things came crashing down in the second half, thanks in large part to individual errors by a central defensive trio that has no business lining up beside one another.
Japhet Tanganga, Eric Dier and Davinson Sánchez were split wide open on numerous occasions by Wolves’ formidable counter attack. When you control possession for over 65 percent of the game, you expect the opposition to utilize efficiently the counter.
It’s an obvious pitfall of controlling possession. Had Spurs been able to control Wolves’ counter, they would be trailing Chelsea by just two points and not five. To employ successfully yesterday’s game plan, Mourinho needed to start with a tried, tested and true rearguard, one that included Toby Alderweireld.
Of course it’s easy to point blame in retrospect, but Tottenham were beaten at their own game merely due to a few of the gaffer’s mystifying selection decisions.