Tactic Talk – Pochettino’s subtle change in tactics proved to be the difference at Old Trafford
A historic night for Tottenham at Old Trafford when they exploited the mistakes in the Manchester United setup and comprehensively beat them 3-0. A brace from Lucas Moura and a fantastic header by Harry Kane set up the victory in emphatic style.
Talking about tactics, Jose Mourinho got it completely wrong by starting with three defense-minded midfielders, with one of them in a back-three. On the other hand, Mauricio Pochettino surprised everyone with the shape he deployed, which might just have been enough to overpower a United team which is broken into pieces at the moment.
Here’s how Pochettino’s subtle change in tactics proved to be the difference at Old Trafford:
Lucas Moura’s position
Everyone including the pundits predicted that Lucas Moura will play on either wing and cut inside from there. The opinion from them was that the Brazilian would stay wide, run the channels and stretch the United defence.
However, there was one guy who thought about this quite differently – Pochettino. The Argentine was clever here because he knew Harry Kane doesn’t have the pace to run in behind a static defensive line. So, he deployed Moura in a central position alongside the striker.
It allowed Harry Kane to position himself to win physical battles, leaving the running part to the Brazilian. This stretched the man United defence as Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Ander Herrera and later Victor Lindelof all struggled to defend against the pace of Moura.
So, there was the first surprise, and possibly the game-changing one, as the striking duo scored the three goals which won the game.
Spurs’ general formation is either a 3-4-2-1 or a 4-2-3-1 with a flat midfield two and other runners ahead of them. Against United, Pochettino deployed a diamond formation with four at the back. It allowed him to dominate the midfield, outnumbering United’s central players.
During the first half, the plan was backfiring because the home side pressed high, forcing Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen to make mistakes with their first pass. But as the game went on, Spurs had control in central areas and eventually won the game with complete supremacy.
There haven’t been many occasions when Spurs have won an away game like this. Hence, they would be cherishing this win for the time to come, and the manager must take a lot of credit for that along with his players.