Players are unwilling to take a chance with the pass
Maybe this is the chicken or the egg question but it is relevant for Tottenham; which stopped first, the players making the dangerous runs, or the willingness to make those passes? Either way, both have seemingly disappeared.
One of the staples of the Mauricio Pochettino era that looked like it was returning was the idea of third-man running football. However, just as you need the player to make the run, you need to have players willing to make those passes as well. Historically, players like Moussa Dembele and Christian Eriksen were willing to attempt those passes, even if it hurt their completion percentage.
At current, only the two Harry’s, Winks and Kane, seem like players willing to make those kinds of forward passes and that was the case again against Morecambe.
Harry Winks make several little chipped or clipped balls into the box trying to either find a runner or force a runner. Winks never did find that runner just right but those attempts over-the-top do stretch the defence and create more space on the pitch.
Likewise, Harry Kane was not getting the ball in positions all that different than Dele Alli – before his goal – yet he was able to make things happen that Dele could not. Kane has shown for several seasons now that he is a willing and able forward passer. Kane knows stretching the field vertically creates space and opportunity. When will others figure that out?
Opportunities are lost when passes do not come
At least twice in one five-minute stretch of the second half, players were unwilling to play the ball despite nice runs from Bryan. First Dele played a layoff to Lo Celso and Bryan went darting between defenders. Instead of a first-time ball into the space, Lo Celso took a touch and played the ball sideways.
Then a few minutes later, Ben Davies had the ball on the left flank and there went Gil again diagonally into space toward the corner flag. A simple ball straight toward the corner would have created at minimum a 50/50 chance in the attacking third for Gil. Instead, Davies dribbled in-field toward the middle and ultimately misplayed a sideways pass losing possession.
In both instances, the play was on but the unwillingness to take a chance with the pass caused the opportunities to be lost. If players are unwilling to take a chance with a forward pass against the worst defence in League One, who will they make that pass against?