All or Nothing aside, it is not often you get an in-depth look at a professional football team’s practice but Tottenham gave us just that Saturday, here is what we learned.
Weekends are typically for games and it is during games where we learn the most about a team, however, with real matches still a few weeks out, open practice is what we have. Practice is different than a game in that everyone is involved and the organization and structure are quite different. Saturday, Head Coach Nuno Espirito Santo and his staff led the team through their paces for a session of approximately one and a half hours, here is what we can get from those 90 minutes.
Tottenham have a sense of tempo and time
After some warm-ups and small drills, the team spent most of the afternoon session playing 7-aside football. There were three teams of seven with the team that conceded going off and the team scoring staying on. For anyone that has spent any time laying football, this kind of practice is likely familiar are seven-a-side is more practical than playing full-field at every practice.
By playing seven-a-side on a smaller surface, players can maintain consistent pressure on one another and work on not dwelling on the ball. We saw very little dribbling during the play, rather most of the movement came from quick passes often off of one or two touches.
Further, as soon as the ball went out, a new ball came in and the game was back on again. This lack of break-time helps with the fitness and preparing for real match conditions. While there were a few tackles, notably Eric Dier on Tanguy Ndombele once, the practice play was largely clean, crisp, and quick. Learning to play better and quicker in tight spaces should help this Tottenham team this season.
The Tottenham academy has a part to play this season
Granted, the team was missing approximately nine players that should be with the first team – Davies, Lloris, Rodon, Sissoko, Sessegnon, Kane, Sanchez, Lo Celso, and Højbjerg – but the presence of the academy and the Tottenham youth was obvious in the practice.
All three of the teams had at least one if not two younger players on them. The grey team – which appeared to be the first team – had both Oliver Skipp and Tobi Olome paired with Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Heung-Min Son, Lucas Moura, Matt Doherty, and Pierluigi Gollini. With Son, Lucas, and Dele altogether it is obvious why this looked like the first team but there was Skipp in the middle and Olome in the back with them.
The green team – which appeared to be the second team – included Nile John, Malachi Fagan-Walcott, Japhet Tanganga, and Dane Scarlett, partnered with veterans, Harry Winks, Steven Bergwijn, Sergio Reguilon, and Joe Hart.
The third team, the blue team, had even more youth, as Keon Etete, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Harvey White, and Jack Clarke, were on a team with Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tanguy Ndombele, Serge Aurier, and Alfie Whiteman. The grey team was certainly the strongest with Son and Lucas but all three competed.
All told, at least eight players are more likely than not to play in at least one developmental game for Spurs this season, with Skipp the only one of the bunch nearly assured of being with the first team. That said, it is not ridiculous to think at least one – Dane Scarlett – and likely more of the young players will have an impact on the team during the season. We know Santo has a history of developing talent and depending on how things go the next few weeks, this team may be getting a lot younger a lot faster than anyone would have thought.
Tottenham are developing a good comradery
In the last few seasons, there have been clear rifts in the Tottenham locker room. Without getting into rumors and innuendo, suffice it to say that some players have moved on or been moved on with the locker room in mind. To spend as much time together as these players do, finding success often starts in finding friendship.
Tottenham does not need to get the Dier/Dele bromance back together but the players do need to get along and genuinely like one another. This looks like a team that has that kind of vibe at the moment. Yes, a lot of meaningful players were missing but a lot were there too and the more the team builds around Son the more likely they are to be a happy-go-lucky bunch.
A lot is going to happen in the next two weeks as the season approaches but from what we saw on Saturday, Santo has this team pointed in the right direction.