Three Different Sprints we Need to See from Tottenham Players

Tottenham Hotspur, Harry Kane, Dele Alli (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur, Harry Kane, Dele Alli (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images) /

One of the things that was questioned after the midweek loss to Chelsea was the effort from Tottenham players which looked poor. Rarely did we see players sprinting to get to the ball and make a play, let alone sprinting off the ball to create space. Fans are nearing their wits end with the team as questions grow on if the players have quit on the coach. One way to prove a player has not quit is through effort. One of the biggest ways to show effort on the football pitch is by running hard.

Do Tottenham Players Still Sprint?

If you close your eyes and think of your favorite Harry Kane moments does one of them include a masked talisman sprinting like a madman as hard as he can to make something out of a lost cause? Mine does. Chasing lost causes aside, good football teams run, they run a lot, and they run hard.

Far too often this season – particularly in the last few matches – you do not see players sprinting to run after the ball on either side of the pitch. Football is a game of endurance and running and you have to make sprints and we are just not seeing it. If players are not walking you might get the exaggerated arm movement to mimic running hard – ala Tanguy Ndombele last season – but you do not see players putting their heads down and busting a gut to get to where they need to be.

Defensive Pressure Begins with the Press

First, Tottenham need to run hard in the press. If you dare re-watch the match, you see Chelsea pass the ball as freely as they’d like among the defense as Tottenham walk around watching. The first line of defense at the start of the season was the offense, which helped alleviate the pressure on a defense with some limitations.

Are the players truly that tired they cannot run to create some pressure on the ball? As we have seen Tottenham are far too fragile defensively to allow the opponent to just do whatever they want at the start of possession. Additionally, by adding more pressure up front it can create turnovers, which is an added bonus that Tottenham really need. Running to press and pressure defensively is something desperately needed.

Spurs Showing some Heart

Second, Spurs need to run to chase balls and to get back into position in transition defensively. Back to that great moment with a masked Harry Kane, it actually happened because not one, but two Tottenham Hotspur players were sprinting down after the ball. In front of Kane getting to the ball and keeping it on the pitch was Dele Alli. It was the Alli backheel that actually put Kane into the space to create the goal.

None of that could have happened if not for the enthusiasm and love of the game that is shown through going as hard as you can. even if it does not seem like you will get there. Even if a magical offensive moment does not happen, maybe that sprint saves a goal like Serge Aurier did midweek versus Chelsea.

While I was upset that Ben Davies got burned by the give and go on the weekend, it was even more upsetting that he did not appear to be running as hard as he could at any point on the play. We need to see that running and effort on both ends from every player, because any play could be the one that turns the game on either end.

Running off the ball makes possession easier

Third,  in possession Tottenham players need to be sprinting off the ball to get into position to receive it. Spurs have not exactly been the best passing team this season. They really have not been doing themselves any favors in this department by lacking movement off the ball. This concept applies to and can help everyone on the field.

For example, Hugo Lloris has received a bit of flack this season for his poor distribution. True Lloris has not been great and has never exactly had the strongest leg. However, when was the last time you saw a player make a back pass to him and then put their head down and sprint as hard as they can to get level for a square ball?

Instead players kind of jog to provide some angle as the opposition closes or worse just stand there and all Hugo can do is boot it up the pitch. Part of the possession problem starts with defenders not sprinting to get into position to receive the ball. So now when the defender gets the ball to begin possession he is either too narrow or under too much pressure – if the ball is not just booted up the pitch.

With that the first player under more pressure than he should be, the same happens to the next player who  likely has not run to get into a better position to receive the ball. This continues from one player to the next as Spurs quickly turn the ball over after five or six passes. A big part of the passing problem is not running to get into position to receive the ball and have the time to play.

In football much of the game is won in the movement and spacing the comes off the ball. If you do not run, you will always be under pressure. That movement and spacing takes work and we need to see it from Tottenham. We need to see these players prove have not quit on themselves and the coach and more importantly we need to see, because good teams run hard to make the game easier for themselves and last I checked, Tottenham wanted to be a good team.

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