How Postecoglou’s 4-3-3 works without the ball
The key for any high-pressing team is buy-in and fitness. Any team that wants to employ a relentless high press must be physically conditioned to do so.
Postecoglou wants his team to refrain from allowing the opposition space in their half. Instead, he wants his No. 9 and No. 8 to aggressively press high, even when the opposing goalkeeper has the ball.
Again, the No. 6 has a pivotal role in Postecoglou’s 4-3-3.
He must be disciplined and prepared to be outnumbered, at least temporarily, if the press in the opposing half doesn’t work. The No. 6 must also protect the back four and buy time for his colleagues to track back and find their defensive positions.
The back four converts into a somewhat traditional backline. However, the full-backs must be ready to explode once the ball is turned over.
The challenge comes against teams that are quality in possession and can switch the play effortlessly and accurately.
Manchester City is the prime example. One of the keys to Pep’s side is how he utilizes the No. 8, who can transition play in a flash, either by a long cross-field ball or by advancing into a vertical channel.
Kevin De Bruyne is an excellent case study of how a No. 8 is perfectly deployed.
The pressing question is whether Postecoglou has the personnel to employ his fluid, enterprising system successfully. I guess that’s more of a rhetorical question, as most Tottenham supporters know the answer is an irrefutable no.
Some positions look good, while others leave a lot to be desired.
Without the right personnel, Tottenham won’t be able to espouse Postecoglou’s complex system effectively, putting the onus on the new manager to find a collective who can expertly adopt his preferred formation.
While that won’t be easy, the gaffer has a few months to find a suitor for each role.