I recently read an article over at zonalmarking.net'about "grading" former Barca B coach Luis Enrique success so far at implementing Barcelona's style at Roma. The author gave "ten key Barcelona-esque factors." I'd like to use those factors to see how well our Spurs could do if we were to make the transition to "their" style of play.
Here's how I would set our 11:
1: Possession and ball-playing midfielders Modric & Parker have already shown us that their capable of dominating a midfield. The addition of Huddlestone's grit in defense & long passing give this midfield versatility since all three are comfortable with or without the ball anywhere in the midfield. 8/10
2: Penetration When Bale & Lennon overlapped and/or invert wings this season good things have happened for the club. Plus their pace is now used in quick bursts to throw opposing backlines into chaos. Most EPL fullbacks have a hard enough time keeping them in check. Could you image Terry, Mertersacker or Ferdinand keeping track of them? 9/10
3: Movement As a stated before the midfield is capable (and should be comfortable) switching roles as the flow of the game dictates. Additionally, Bale & Lennon do well switching flanks. Unfortunately, VDV only wants to operate "in the hole," but fortunately the surrounding pieces are fluid & we can make up for this. 8/10
4: Pressing This is the reason why Sandro & Kaboul are in defense. If the press is broken you need that athleticism & stamina to keep up over the course of a game. As much as I wanted to it the Carticlage Free Captain in here his knees just don't fit this style of play. (Additionally, I think Dawson will do well for us in this style but Kaboul has more pace and that's crucial if things breakdown.) 7/10
5: Defenders Comfortable on the ball This is another reason why I've put Sandro in defense. He's capable of getting the ball to the midfield once we've regained possession. (If this was the only responsibility placed on the midfield I'd choose Dawson over Kaboul.) 7/10
6: Attacking Fullbacks We already do this. Hopefully, training in a possession oriented style will teach Walker to pass the ball sooner & with better development for the team. BAE already does this well & I'm confident that he could be our left-sided Dani Alves. 8/10
7: "The Busquets Role" (Deep Lying Playmaker) Huddlestone would be the one primarily filling the role of dropping deep into defense & spraying long balls. I'm confident that he could pull this off in the EPL with Modric & Parker so good at making themselves available. 8/10
8: Wide Forwards Bale is capable of being world class in this position. As for Lennon, I hope that being closer to the action from the start will allow him to better use his natural gifts & be more involved with the play via runs without the ball. For this reason, I think we see a Lennon who returns to English national form. 9/10
9: Messi Role (False 9) VDV. He wouldn't play the role in the same vein as Messi but I feel like he's a capable combo scorer/distributor. (For those NBA fans: I'd think of Messi as Derrick Rose and VDV as John Stockton. Messi/Rose create through penetration & being the the thick of things. While Stockton/VDV create outside the key/box looking for gaps of space. Both are effective in their own right. 9/10
10: Youth Products I'm not really comfortable with giving a grade to this key factor because their are to many variables involved: system is different that what we teach now, new rules governing youth development & my general lack of knowledge on the subject matter. If anyone else would like to take a crack at a score feel free... ?/10
Conclusion I think we could pull this off with our current crop of players. However, I think we could be even better if we found a athletic defender who's comfortable with the ball at his feet, a class midfielder who could fill the deep lying role better than Huddlestone and a more consistent winger than Lennon. Essentially the same players we wish we had now under 'arry's 4-4-1-1 . Average Score (minus youth Products): 73/90 or 81%
Here's a link to the inspirational article: http://www.zonalmarking.net/2011/12/14/luis-enrique-roma-tactics-barcelona/
I look forward to the comments...
P.S.: Now that there's no way we get Beckham, I can honestly admit that I only wanted him so I could have an official Beckham Spurs jersey. Footy Spice was my favorite player growing up since crossing wide-men are the closest thing soccer has to an alley-oop and he was the best.