Home » Is Harry Kane dropping into the centre circle really Conte’s creative fulcrum strategy? – opinion

Is Harry Kane dropping into the centre circle really Conte’s creative fulcrum strategy? – opinion

By Harry Hotspur -

Looking at the season ahead, when Tottenham has been so busy in the market, it feels a tad churlish to appear to look for faults.

It is remarkable that Daniel Levy has been encouraged to get the bulk of his business completed so early on. Only one new signing missed the preseason jaunt to Korea.

However, if we’re to look at who we’ve bought and who remains at Hotspur Way from the existing squad, then the glaring conclusion is that Spurs are a bit thin in the attacking middle of the park. Winks, Hojbjerg, and Skipp are all defensive leaning, holding types.

If wing backs are where Conte’s mind is at, then this also raises serious concerns. Emerson Royal’s crossing accuracy in the Premier League last season was 30.5%. Sergio Reguilon’s accuracy in the same discipline was 32.9% (Wyscout)

Bentancur and Bissouma are arguably more penetrative characters, but truth be told, neither have anything in their numbers to make a case for them lifting the burden. Last season, Bissouma produced one assist.

The one fragment of hope might be Bentancur, whose career assist rate is appalling, but he made 4 last season in a Spurs shirt.

What niggles me, is that we have this supposed financial behemoth of a football club, yet there are so many mend-and-make-do scenarios at play for comfort.

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CowSpurs
CowSpurs
14 days ago

If you look at Liverpool’s midfield there is little creativity in there. Their use of Robertson and TAA is their creativity, added to their top 3.

I think we have been cursed by building our shopping centre on a Native American burial ground. ‘Man Who Cannot Cross from a Defensive Attacking Role’ really has it in for us! We’ll see if Perisic and Fiddy Spence are the answer.

I still think a creative player in midfield, when we are playing the Bournemouth’s of this world is needed. Playing with 2 holding midfielders is not always the answer.

Steve 'Killer Cushion' Williams
Steve 'Killer Cushion' Williams
14 days ago

I really don’t think our defence and wing back situation is as bad as everyone here keeps repeating..
End of last season we conceded 5 goals in the last 8 games.. We beat City and Woolwich. Drew with the Bindippers… And we did it without our best defender Romero who tore his hamstring. Credit where it’s due to each and every defender who played.
Now we have Perisic added to our wing backs, he brings guile, a great cross, a pure creative attacking threat with two golden feet..
Next priority is right wing back.. Who to keep, sell or loan out of Royal,Doherty and Spence is a difficult one..
I think we have to be looking out for the all star centre midfielder from now.. We could do with some real magic in there, imagine a Hoddle, Gazza, Steven Gerrard esq player you get my drift.
Jude Bellingham would be a gigantic statement signing.. But I think we’re 2 or 3 years away from this type of signing. We need to be winning trophies before we can attract the likes.
C O Y S.

Park Lane
Park Lane
14 days ago

The way he plays with a 343, there is no space for an creative central midfielder.

Creativity comes from the patterns of play – unfussy quick use of the ball by the centre-mids, penetration from the wingbacks, underlapping wide centre-backs, all three forwards able to operate as a 10 in their own way.

Personally i’d have Gil as Kulusevski’s understudy. That boy is going to be some player

East Stand
East Stand
12 days ago
Reply to  Park Lane

I think you’re probably right there. In Conte’s 343 two of the four are wingbacks and the other two are central midfielders. I see Bentacur and Bissouma being the first choices there (with PEH and Skipp rotated) and with Kulusevski already there and with the addition of Richarlison in the forward line, where does a playmaker or specialist ‘number 10’ fit in? That’s why they’re probably done with incoming transfers this season.

A bit of a short term fix to help Conte get on with his job, but no seismic shift of any sort…

Last edited 12 days ago by Easty
Hallenbeck
Hallenbeck
15 days ago

Another thought. Given our relatively weak WB situation, getting in a world class AMF would make sense. Most reports talking about links with Maddison, Zaniolo, Barella, keep prattling on about how they wouldn’t fit in Conte’s 3-4-3 system. But they completely miss the fact that Conte is a master of 3-5-2. So getting in an AMF would make perfect sense because it would unlock 3-5-2. This would would be a huge tactical advantage. Our reliance on 3-4-3 has been a weakness in the past, with inferior teams setting up against us safe in the knowledge they know our tactics. Tactical flexibility makes perfect sense, an excellent AMF makes sense, and it seems to make more sense than hoping our doubtful WBs pan out.

Hallenbeck
Hallenbeck
15 days ago

Been thinking the same Harry. 3-4-3 requires grade A* wingbacks. They provide the creativity, the edge, the bite. Which we categorically do not have. With less-than-stellar wingbacks, 3-5-2 has got to be the formation of choice. But we lack the AMF for that. It all feels like it’s a jigsaw that doesn’t quite fit together so far. I can see the picture, but it doesn’t feel right.

Last edited 15 days ago by Hallenbeck
East Stand
East Stand
15 days ago

I think Kulusevski is going to be creative attacker, he did that fairly well last season. Then the addition of another forward gives the option to use Kane more as the a creative force. Still think we need a specialist playmaker though..

Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid
15 days ago

New Amazon documentary, a modern day interpretation of the Odd Couple, Antonio Conte and Tanguy N’dombele are the Odd Couple. When a lazy wage thief is forced to move into the home of his gruff and demanding gaffer, hilarity ensures. Watch with amazement as ‘Tonio wakes him with an air horn at 0500 to run sprints. You’ll howl with delight when Tony hides Tanguy’s monster munch and forbid chips and crisps. Don’t miss “Tony and Donkeybelly” Thursday nights at 10pm on BBC Three.

Steve 'Killer Cushion' Williams
Steve 'Killer Cushion' Williams
14 days ago
Reply to  Billy the Kid

LOL. This reminds me of when Maureen was photographed and fined for training Fatpants in Hyde park.. When it was lockdown at the peak of the pandemic!. It’s like a bad joke.

East Stand
East Stand
12 days ago

It wasn’t Hyde Park, it was some green area near Hadley Wood close to where he was living.

JimmyGrievance
JimmyGrievance
15 days ago

We’ve lacked creativity in the middle since Dembele and Eriksen left us. But I’d also add we’ve lacked defensively since messrs Rose, Walker Toby & Jan left us. I agree, the make do & mend strategy has seen us stumble through managers and competition for too long.

The issue around HK has never changed. Finding and keeping a suitable back up has failed over and over again. I’d say him dropping into a deeper role is one that would suit him, but, not at this moment in time. In two years when he hits 30 then yes, I can see him in that role.

I can see him dictating play and playing the Capt’s role to great effect. He has a great range of passing and a great ability to read the game.

In the present of course. We have a plethora of defence minded MF’s With Levy’s new found get business done early strategy we have to hope that before a ball is kicked we get the player that Kane will eventually become.

But don’t hold your breath. We’ve been here many times before and does a leopard really change his spots.

Plantagenet
Plantagenet
15 days ago

I stumbled across this guy, Domenico Berardi. Plays for Sassuolo in Serie A. His goals and assist stats are great. I’ve never heard any club being linked with him.

Cabspur
Cabspur
15 days ago

Its not perfect Harry coming back to provide for others but when he does a 40 yard diagonal reverse pass with pace it is a sight to behold.

Legoverlass
Legoverlass
15 days ago

We needed to sign another proven goalscorer, a world class creative atttacking midfielder , two quality additional central defenders and two proven quality wing backs.We are still lacking in all these areas and with five substitutes next season and four competitions I think we need possibly 3/4 additional players to have any chance of delivering the success Conte needs to stay longer. We still have a bucket load of crap that we need to shift out the door as well. Yes we moved quicker but I am not overly impressed with what we have done todate and any injuries to Kane or Son and we are really going to struggle yet again. I will be very interested to see what the net transfer spend is when the window closes. I have a feeling it may be no where near the figure spun by the pre season ticket sale deadline Levy and ENIC pr machine

Last edited 15 days ago by Legoverlass
Tellie the Truth
Tellie the Truth
15 days ago

Unfortunately or fortunately Harry Kane is not only one of the best in World football up top but also one of the greatest midfielders as well
We all worry there is too much reliance and burden on Kane to make things happen.
Lo Celso and Ndombele created nothing
Maddison would be the genuine answer
Were no good at free kicks either so he would add far more than we think

Sandro
Sandro
15 days ago

I wonder if Maddison’s style is a bit too languid for Conte’s system? I think Zaniolo is the preferred option with Maddison as back up perhaps. Not sure where either fit into our starting 11.

coys1882
coys1882
15 days ago

I think it is fair to say we are a work in progress H. Clearly we are not the finished article yet (Rome wasn’t built in a day, etc!), but a number of our off-season acquisitions are definitely an upgrade on the personnel they are replacing. This influx of quality is also boosting the morale of our existing stars and providing competition for places which is always healthy.

I concur with you that the two most apparent needs, as yet unfilled, are a top-notch, creative, attacking midfielder and a proven RWB. The third would be a world class CB to supplant Dier. I suspect that Zaniolo is the chosen target at AM and the hope would be for Spence to ascend to the RWB spot, albeit Lucas may also be a stop-gap in the regard. Regrettably Royal, although I like the boy, is not the answer.

CowSpurs
CowSpurs
14 days ago
Reply to  coys1882

Rome did get built though! We will never be a finished article. We are more like Bath.

Marbella Spur
Marbella Spur
15 days ago

I completely agree with this synopsis. I have commented several times that although our transfer business has been much improved and certainly much earlier in the window, there are obvious weaknesses in the squad and we have done little to correct them. The RB weakness has not been solved, Doherty and Royal are not good enough and Spence is a Levy punt. Lenglet is a loan and IMO is too slow for the PL. It is a fact that the only two AMs we have are Lo Celso and N’Dombele who deserve to be sold, if we can sell them, and we have never replaced Dembele and Eriksen. It’s nonsensical to suggest that any of our current crop of midfielders have much in the way of creativity and they will score very few if any goals. Wing backs are nothing more than attacking full backs and very rarely cross the ball as well as a recognise winger. The last thing we need is HK dropping deeper to search for the ball. We need him scoring goals. We lack guile and creativity in midfield which was shown on numerous occasions last season and this has not been solved. Neither am I convinced that the defence has been improved enough. In conclusion, a much improved window so far but could do better.

at large
at large
15 days ago

As for the window, I don’t think it’s churlish to find faults, but bear in mind the window is still open and I expect to see at least 4 out the door – Regy, Winky, Gio, Tanguy – and possibly more, and at least 2-3 more in once people start returning Paratici’s calls.

Archibald&Crooks (SC)
Archibald&Crooks (SC)
15 days ago

I remember a quote from Tonio during the season about this he was saying that although Harry is the complete footballer his place is in the box scoring goals not making up for the shortcomings of others.

at large
at large
15 days ago

In Conte’s 343 attacking scheme, the LCB and RCB often fill the role of attacking center mids, with the 2 CDMs dropping back to cover defensively, especially PEH. Take a look at a heat map of Davies and particularly Romero, who seems to spend more time in the opposing half. So attacking mids are not quite the necessity as it appears.

Regarding wingbacks, everyone is quick to slate Emerson, but playing next to Romero requires someone that can cover the right side when Cuti saunters upfield. So Emerson on the right side is not as detrimental as it seems. Yes I wish he can cross the ball better, but he does provide width.

I’d actually like to see a lineup with Lucas at wingback, Emerson inside him at RCB and Romero sliding over to replace Dier and Lenglet in for Davies against teams that ptb so we can offer a more attacking lineup and even play 2 at the back at times.

Billy Tonsils
Billy Tonsils
15 days ago
Reply to  at large

Quite handy to allow Harry to drop deep and bring Richarlison in if nothing else is working ..nice option.

at large
at large
15 days ago
Reply to  Billy Tonsils

I agree. Richarlison was exactly the type of player we needed. Basically another Sonny. Bissouma will be a great add too.

I think the preseason work will help a lot this year as hopefully Spurs move the ball much faster this season, one-touch stuff that can take advantage of opponents not knowing whom to cover on the runs forward because different people are breaking.

Sandro
Sandro
15 days ago

Perhaps the current “mend and make do” has more to do with players availability / willingness to come to Spurs or The Prem. It seems the leopard has changed his spots and we are now buying early and with the managers blessing. I expect this is part project (Rome wasn’t built in a day) and part having a squad that can compete now. If FP and AC are still around this time next year I expect to see fewer new additions but perhaps more ready made quality.Having said all that IMHO;
Forster > Gollini
Perisic > Reguilon
Bissouma > Winks
Lenglet > a right footed -back (Rodon or Sancez) playing on the left
Richarlison and Spence = remains to be seen

SpursGoliath
SpursGoliath
15 days ago
Reply to  Sandro

Richarlison > Bergwijn simply because Conte had decided Bergy was done and never played him. Conte will play Richarlison for his work rate and aggressive defensive play alone

Spence > Doherty you have to hope, that’s a low low bar

James McKevitt.
James McKevitt.
15 days ago

Now you have me worried Harry.

Jammy Greaves
Jammy Greaves
15 days ago

I’m not sure why we have effectively 4 holding midfielders in Skipp, PEH, Bentacur & Bassouma (and Winks!), yet no creative attacking midfielders. I suppose if Conte wants to play counter attacking wingbacks, with 2 midfield tacklers to press and help defend, then there isn’t room for another midfielder on the pitch. It’s also no doubt easier to find someone to convert chances created by Kane, rather than someone to create the chances….At least half our league games won’t require 2 ball winners in the middle or even allow counter attacking.

It’s the eternal issue of finding someone to cover Kane, who isn’t going to play with Kane. But to challenge in all competitions and aim for more than 4th place scrap we definitely need another creative player; Maddison, Zaniolo etc. Hopefully we are still working to recruit them and another CB too. I think we did well to secure most of our transfers early but it should come as no surprise that some will drag on until the end of the window, as lots of clubs become involve in the buying chain when trying to secure replacements.

VincentianMagic
VincentianMagic
15 days ago

We are fortunate that Harry is so adept at link-up play and dropping deep with his passing range. However, like you, I would much rather see some creativity purchased and Harry play right up top where he does most damage.

I get why we didn’t go for Eriksen as he wasn’t much use the last 12 months or so of his time with us, and critically he doesn’t suit Conte’s system – he cannot play as one of two in CM, nor out wide. He’s also possibly the worst tackler I’ve ever seen.

Zaniolo would be a decent bet as he is big, strong, and can play in a number of attacking positions. He has, however, already had two major injuries.

I like Maddison too, but like Eriksen, he isn’t a natural fit for Conte’s system.

Should Conte switch to three CMs (with one further forward of the other two) then it could work. Bentancur and Bissouma, with Maddison sitting in front would be more than useful. That would leave Son and Kane as a front two, with width provided by the wing-backs…

…but then you need really good wing-backs to make this work.

I’ve mentioned it previously, but I do also believe we are one quality CB short. Any injury to Romero leaves us vulnerable IMHO. An ugly player like Skrinier would improve us noticeably.

So, AM and CB issues are still outstanding.

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