Monday, December 31, 2007

Ramos - Tactical Genius or Lucky Manager?

Finding his team a goal down early in the second half, Juande Ramos took off central defender Ledley King and replaced him with striker Jermain Defoe. For the next ten minutes Reading spurned numerous opportunities to add to Spurs’ grief as the home side’s makeshift three man defence struggled to come to terms with their manager’s new tactical plan. Many a manager would have seen his team go under but Spurs somehow survived the Reading onslaught and equalised with Berbatov’s second goal of the game.

More inept defending from a corner, that was three goals conceded from set-pieces, and Spurs were behind again. Almost immediately Berbatov completed his hat-trick to keep Spurs alive in the game, a lovely goal from a corner when he got between two defenders and turned and passed the ball into the net.

More mayhem in the Spurs defence as Reading counterattacked to take the lead for the third time. Surely, Spurs couldn’t make another comeback. This time Steed Malbranque provided the goal to the delight and amazement of every Spurs supporter.

Was it going to be another 4 – 4 draw like the Villa game? No – Defoe scored from the rebound after Robbie Keane, previously so composed and assured with penalties, missed his second penalty in a week.

Up steps the manager to remove Keane and replace him with Teemu Tainio and resort to a back four defensive formation again. Berbatov scored his fourth to make victory secure and Spurs moved ahead of Reading in the league table.

The players showed admirable fighting qualities and endeavour to come back in a game that at one point looked lost as the defence struggled with any Reading attack and especially their set piece play from free-kicks and corners.

Ledley King looked bemused when taken off and many fans were equally confused. It makes sense to treat King carefully as he returns from injury but taking off the club’s best defender when a goal down looked foolhardy and the next twenty minutes of defensive frailties only added to that opinion. However, Spurs striking qualities and Dimitar Berbatov kept Spurs going to eventually achieve victory.

Ramos has shown in earlier games that he is willing to make substitutions in an effort to turn a game around and it worked to admirable effect against Reading. In previous games it also had the desired result where a nervy Kaboul was replaced with a more attack minded player in order to take the game to the opposition.

Are such moves the ideas of a tactical genius or is he a lucky manager?

Whatever your views, Juande Ramos is a brave manager – he has been prepared to make changes in an effort to win games rather than settle for a draw. Such dramatic changes won’t be successful every week so Ramos and Gus Poyet will be only too aware that their first priority must be to strengthen and steady the defence. The transfer window will give them the opportunity to add to that area and from a sound defensive base Ramos will hope that Spurs’ attacking options will continue to flourish.


No comments:

Post a Comment