England success in Euros highlights Tottenham mistakes at right back

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Steven Bergwijn, Tottenham

Manchester City’s English defender Kyle Walker (L) vies with Tottenham Hotspur’s Steven Bergwijn, on November 21, 2020. (Photo by NEIL HALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Tottenham miss Walker and Trippier for different reasons

Both Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier are primarily right fullbacks but they are both so much more. Walker is of course fast. When we say fast, we are talking about keeping up with Kylian Mbappe fast, like close to the fastest guy in the league fast.

Walker’s recovery speed impacts games

There were a couple of instances for England where Walker recovered – when no one else could – and helped save the team defensively. His speed changes the dynamic of any team defensively, as the high line is not nearly as risky if someone can cover your backside. His work against Denmark likely kept the game level when it looked like Martin Braithwaite was in on goal.

Walker’s speed makes up for so much still today, just as it did for Tottenham when he was there, and it does for Manchester City. That is not something you teach, and it is certainly not something Tottenham has replaced. Yes, they have signed right-backs, they have not signed a speedster to cover their behinds.

Trippier can still put in a cross

Whereas Walker’s pace can change games in the blink of an eye Kieran Trippier can do the same with a single kick. Whether it is on set pieces, which he did not do much this summer for England, or on live ball crosses – something he did do a lot for England – Trippier knows how to whip that ball into the box.

The cross to Shaw for the opener in the final was pure class, with the time and space available Trippier was smart enough to pick up his head and find the open man as the defenders converged on Harry Kane. That was not the only dangerous cross he put in during the tournament and certainly has not been the only one the last two seasons, as he has accumulated 11 assists for Atletico.

Tottenham still need service and speed

This past season Tottenham struggled mightily to provide service for Harry Kane in the box, something that really was not a problem when Trippier was part of the team.

Like Walker, another back has been signed and at times Matt Doherty has hit a couple of nice crosses – including for Kane’s 150th in the Premier League – but he is nowhere near the weapon Trippier was for Spurs.

All we can do now is look back and say, well that was the wrong decision and hope that moving forward, the new footballing leadership under Fabio Paratici will make better decisions. This summer as Tottenham again needs to move players on to freshen the team, the question is will they get those decisions right, and will they replace what was lost.

 

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