At the start of this season, I had a hope. A hope based on the fact that we had seemed to have recruited a good number of skilful, adaptable mid-fielders.
Or maybe, it was a rationalisation. A way to justify the fact that we didn't quite seem to have the squad that would seem to make AVB's favoured 4-3-3 system work. No playmaking, central mid-fielder. No big, hulking centre forward that would lead the line, and probably a shortage of goals from the three players between those two.
My theory was that AVB would be intent on playing with amazing fluidity. We had mid-fielders who could generally play anywhere across the park. Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon switching between the left and right wings, as we constantly changed things up to play inverted or for width, depending on what seemed to be causing the most issues. Lamela and Eriksen doing likewise shifting between the flank and centre. Holtby dropping back, as Dembele or Paulinho pushed up. Hell, we even had a bunch of talented, ball-playing backs who could regularly push up into the attack and know that we had a Sandro or Capoue to cover. I wasn't exactly sure, which way our shifting formation was going to go, but there did seem to be enormous scope with the players we had on roster to play this very dynamic style of football. The fact that we had a striker who seemed tailor-made to take advantage of this, making runs into the space created by the confusion in defence only seemed to make it such a more compelling proposition.
However, to date, we've seen little of this fluidity. Our wingers have remained perched on the respective flanks, and almost ad nauseum, have followed the script of cutting into their favoured foot. It's a game-plan we have persisted with, despite not having an overlapping left winger, that such a structure would seem to demand. As such, we've placed enormous pressure on our number ten, despite the fact that we've tended to favour Lewis Holtby, who's game isn't really suited to such demands. And so it probably should not surprise that we have struggled to create space for our strike, who still hasn't really found his feet.
Where I was expecting fluidity, we've thus far only achieved predictability and our open-play goal count is testament to that. I would suggest getting goals with this routine, is only become harder as well, as opposition teams structure their defences having a pretty damn good idea of what Tottenham is going to throw at them.
It's difficult to align this, with what we might have perceived to be the nature of our apparently swashbuckling young coach. So what to make of it?
I believe (although maybe hope is a better word) that AVB still has this fluidity of game in mind, however, having been burned by his Chelsea experience, he has a new-found appreciation for not trying to do, too much, too quickly. To date, we've kept pace with the top four by playing a simple, defence-oriented game. Fluidity can be exciting to watch, but it can also cause confusion and chaos if you don't get it right. Maybe, he sees it as too much for a team that is still getting to know each other to play the kind of dynamic game, it appeared we've recruited to play.
If that's the case, the question is when do you start turning it on. Unlikely before the tough three encounters we have ahead of ourselves, but perhaps in December, the games against Fulham and Sunderland represent the opportunity to hit the switch and go into this far more attacking, dynamic style of play.