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Sandro, Dembele AND Parker?

In the last few days we have again debated the issue of Spurs leaking late goals and lacking leadership, but is Scott Parker the answer?

Upon the arrival of Andre Villas-Boas, fans were happily talking up an exciting 4-3-3 formation, supposedly preferred by the new manager, but as yet we have only seem a compromise 4-2-3-1 with more recently a move back towards a former favourite of 4-4-2 and despite our sitting well within the top four contenders and pretenders, are we yet to see anything but glimpses of quality and consistency that we would ideally aspire to see week in week out at our club?

Of course AVB has struggled with injuries and being unable to bring in his preferred signings, whilst some have adapted to his ideas quicker than others, and I'm sure the change from a manager who welcomed the 'go out and play' approach to one that is meticulous in his organisation and tactical expectations. Based on what we have seen so far, would any of us be surprised at changes in personnel or tactical alterations, once we get players back from injury or new faces into the squad?

After two 90 minute games for the juniors, Scott Parker could well feature in AVB's plans as soon as this weekend, whether on the bench in the short term, or even thrown in as soon as he is deemed fit enough, in a bid to add experience and organisation to the starting XI. There still remains a question mark over whether he is an AVB type of player and even if he will be at the club beyond January, but for everyone who wants or expects him to be out, there are at least the same number who feel he still has a key role to play, either as a valued squad member or even in the first XI, as he has qualities that no other player can yet match.

Whether Scott Parker is seem as having the required qualities by AVB, I have no idea, but I do see our considering adopting a variation on a 4-3-3 with him, Sandro and Dembele, as potentially the most rock solid midfield trio in the Premiership and one that would make us very hard to beat, whilst also having the balance and creativity to break down a stubborn defensive. To fit in three CM's, the likelihood is that you either lose a wide man or play a lone striker, and as a fan would you feel that perhaps dropping Aaron Lennon, Clint Dempsey or one of Defoe or Adebayor, but in doing so, perhaps unleashing Mousa Dembele from more defensive duties makes up for any lack of attacking flair.

Having three players comfortable in the centre, would you assume make us a more solid unit defensively, with Parker being a very organised and strong player to shield the back four, which also allows for a greater freedom for the full backs to press forward in the knowledge that they have such a great reader of the game covering their backsides. Sandro is an excellent player and could go on to be truly world-class, but would having Parker sit deep allow him to drive forward and break up the opponents play higher up, whilst Dembele has greater protection and energy to push forward and be the creative influence, I believe he can be.

Parker may not be pretty, he may be considered old by some, but he is a hell of a player, who makes others better at the same time. That in itself is a very rare gift that is vastly under-estimated outside of the players who benefit from his selection. It may well be considered by AVB that Parker is a little one dimensional and doesn't offer enough creatively or that his starting doesn't warrant the loss of one of the attacking players, but I feel his return will make us more solid at the back, but take nothing away from our attacking qualities, Who knows his experience and leadership might even halt the glut of late goals conceded, or is that expecting too much...

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The journalist

Writer: OxfordSpur Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday December 12 2012

Time: 8:00AM

Your Comments

Scott Parker if fully fit is a must for the team, the problem is how to play our strongest midfield line-up?? Sandro has been a beast, but it is the results business AvB is in. I just feel Parker starting will get us better Results too!!
Giving Parker the deep CM role could allow Sandro the ability to break things up higher up and also be our midfield driving force, much like Yaya Toure does for City
Would not really like to see all 3 of them play in the home games but think they could be very effective in the tough battles away from home (Everton!, Chelsea, Swansea etc)
Its swings and roundabouts, more defensively, less going forward. I can see it working if Parker operated as the sitting player, Makele style, and left Dembele and Sandro to push forward. But in the past Parker has always tried to push on, something he's just not equiped for.
As long as we haven't our best back four, we should play parker and sandro in central midfield and dembele just in front ... Dempsey siggy and Ade on the bench.
Stop taking off forwards and bringing on defenders is the answer, it's not rocket science.
You want a leader play Parker, You want someone to organise the team on the pitch play Parker, You want someone to get the crowd going play Parker, You want a ball winner play Parker, You want someone to pick the team up when things get tough dont play Parker, no wait play Parker For a young team like Spurs this guy is instrumental ability wise probably one of the least gifted but its guys like this make good teams great exactly what we need at the minute, maybe the team will focus for 90 mins instead of 80. Coys
Parker is a starter for me anytime! Parker and Sandro in a 433 is interesting however it is another new system... I think we will score more goals but the most important factor is Parker marshalling the MF!
I like the idea in principle as an option for some or part of games. It doesn't have to be set in stone which combination is used, that's the coach's job. Personally I think we need Dembele to continue to play from deep.
Love totty
@ jod, I think the requirements between a two and three man CM is different and in a two, Parker had to do his share of going forward, but in a three, I feel he could always play behind the ball and allow Sandro to drive and break up play further up, which in itself is a great asset, whilst Dembele could have a role where he is able to dictate play and go where he feels he can cause most trouble
No, Sandro will just end up dropping back and unnecessarily helping out Parker which will just invite pressure for the whole 90 minutes...and to further compound the problem in that scenario I would imagine Dembele would then also start dropping deeper. Our current system would work fine if it wasn't for the dumb defensive substitutions that again keep inviting pressure. If we were to try the 4-3-3 it should be Sandro or Parker in the holding role, Dembele as box to box and Gylfi as the creative player until he either improves or we get someone may not look as good on paper but I'd think they would hold the shape alot better which in a 4-3-3 is doubly important if you want to keep possession and still have options moving forward.
Mousa + Beast + Beam-Me-Up = less goals conceded in last 10 mins.

I don't see a 4231 as a compromise it's an effective use of the personnel available, like a 4411 also suits our players...433 we're short a few players to really make it effective....Parker in the middle of Dembele and Sandro may work as a 3 with Parker holding as you suggest but then who are our 3 up top? Bale, Ade, Lennon? for me we'll still lack creativity and goals whilst I'm also not sure how well we'd hold onto the ball!
as we saw at the weekend when we arguably changed to 433 in the last 20 mins...if you don't have the right players it doesn't work!
I find the idea of a midfield of Scotty P, Dembele and Sandro an exciting prospect. I feel that with Parkers presence we would have closed some of the games that we've either drawn or lost out. I certainly like the idea of Sandro playing a little higher and driving the team like Toure does for citeh. The way Parker reads the game is second to none and I feel that with him back in the team we can really push on. I also feel well reap the benefits of Dembele having a freer, higher role. COYS
a 433 of Bae, Vert, Kaboul, Walker, Dembele, Moutinho, Sandro, Bale, Llorente and that's a team....but i wouldn't expect the changing room to be a happy place with Ade, defoe, Lennon, Thud, Daws and Gallas hanging around...
Danny Rose looked brilliant yesterday, I think he's going to be a very good player. Certainly a better option than Naughton at LB anyway!
Who is this Sanchez i keep hearing bout past couple of days? isnt he 28 or somet!? how do we know he will settle in prem at his age...think people and media just get excited about exotic type of name ala Gilberto that left back we had COYMFS!!
HuddersfieldYiddo - wasnt it the opposite what people were saying last year when naughton was on loan n rose was at spurs? people have no patience on form or team development nowadays
NO. Sandro will need resting. When Parker gets back, it should be Parker, Dembele and Dempsey/Siggy/Ade. Personally I think that that midfield would be stronger than if Sandro played instead of Parker. It is not that Sandro does not give his all, I just feel that Parker's experience and all round game makes a more solid midfield overall. When Sandro gets enough rest, THEN I could see a Parker Sandro holding midfield work...with Dembele ahead, and Ade over Defoe. Ultimately I fear that AVB has preconceived ideas about Parker....just like the ones he had about Hudd and Daws.
AVB will not change to a 4-3-3 now. He plays it in a very disciplined and drilled way. The 3 central midfielders rotate around, as do the wingers and fullbacks. For any fans of tactics or Spurs fans who want a good idea of how AVB sets his teams up, check out this video Its a great representaion of how AVB plays his 4-3-3. But it takes time to drill, and trust from the players.
Tactically Challenge
jattyid...I was referring to alexis, the Barca player who was allegedly unsettled...not the 28year old!
Huddersfield - Judge Rose at LB in a game where his team did not ***** all over the opposition....
shedboy2 my for that sanchez cant see levy sanctioning that deal unless Bale going the other direction then maybe a deal could be struck Levy stylee
The lack of a proper LB makes all this more or less redundant. If we don't have some one who can cover for bale and allow him to play further up the park then we will not have an goal threat.
Slurms McKenzie
@ Tactically Challenge, though I would usually agree that changing anything radical mid season when things are hardly falling apart is a big risk, but would that depend on what direction the team are currently working towards? we have already altered occasionally from 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-1-1/4-4-2. would another change depend on how the players are adapting to his long term aim?
My tuppance worth!

Just because Parker is making a return does not mean he automatically becomes a starter. Paker and Sandro never gelled last season and two combined makes us too defensive. Weve missed like-for-like rotation in midfield, so imo, Parker will be worked back in to the team, replacing Sando for his well deserved rest. Furthermore, its horses for courses, i.e., Parker AND SANDRO may start in games where we are expecting to battle in the midfield and/or when we are required to batten down e.g., ManU, Everton, Pool, etc.

If we play the midfield of Dembele, Parker and Sandro, we will no doubt have more possession but will make little inroads in to the opponents penalty area. I am so glad though that Parker is nearly back. Starts to increase the depth of our squad. Just need Benny and Kaboul to follow suit. COYS!
Jatt- i can't see levy spending anymore than packet of chewing gum and two conkers...;)
I think BAE is just about ready to be eased back in, Bale another week or so and Kaboul targetting the 29th as a return date....
@oxfordspur. I don't think its a bad idea personally, I love 4-3-3, especially the way its played in the video. My point, was more that AVB will probably not risk changing anything at this point. 4-2-3-1 is basically 4-4-1-1 when you sit deeper and counter. On a personal note, I hate 4-4-2. Not that you or anyone cares, but it feels good to let it out ;)
Tactically Challenge
On a slightly un-related note, any fans of football should buy Guilleme Balague's book on Pep Guardiola. Great read.
Tactically Challenge
...You see this is where things dont add up...the article asks if Parker is an AVB style of player? When Levy brought AVB in he must have known what AVB would be looking for AVB must have explained the kind and type of football he wants the players to what exactly is an AVB player? What is AVB's best formation? and why after 16 games in the PL and 8 Games in the EL are we still asking the question about who can play to the AVB system? do we actually know what players AVB wants and why? Is Levy going to give AVB the players he wants because, if he coludn't get them in May, what makes us think Levy will get them in January? Is it a case of the players having to fit the system or the System adapting to the players? All I can say is that, at the moment there are two Spurs teams, the win ugly one and the lose ugly one, still waiting for the the box office performances we got over the last 4 seasons when WHL literally rocked!!
OyVeh Maria
OyVeh Maria. AVB has a very specific style of play, 4-3-3 attacking. But he decided that he needed to win over the players before he could implement it. So he set upon keeping the basic shape of the team, but with a few tweaks to sure it up defensively. This has lead to some less than exciting displays. Levy and AVB decided not to rip up all of Harry's work, and use this first season to build trust between AVB and the players, while using the foundation of the last 4 years to continue to get results on the pitch. He is also tutoring the players (especially the younger ones) on positional play and tactical awareness. Next season you will see a Tottenham team play similar to Barcelona under Guardiola, but with more physicality to compensate for playing in England. Watch this video to understand how AVB plays his 4-3-3.
Tactically Challenge
Benny is back !
Benny is back !




Ah season....maybe next season Jack. Glad you know what's going on TC. It's getting to be a bit like religion on here where everyone is told to have faith, despite the lack of empirical evidence to support it and any naysayers are threatened with a fatwah. Never mind, I might live long enough to see the promised land, but if I don't, it won't be because it isn't coming will it? One day. Maybe tomorrow?
harry-kari glad you see it for what it really is...a confidence trick, you either remain dellusional and think that yes this year we'll actually try and compete or turn cynical and ultimately (and this is what the owners don't bank on) stop going to matches (the demographics are changing and the tribal loyalty is on the wane). You only sell out 50k+ stadiums if you're something special. We reached the promised land of CL but failed to sieze the opportunity by investing in's the fishing equivalent of the one that got away...I just hope we get another bite some day
look forward to the return of Scott Parker and then we can rotate the midfield, but, I don't think he is the answer to us leaking goals. The 2 goals against Everton were more the fault of the back four in my opinion. I feel the return of Kaboul and Bennie could be the answer to our last 10 minutes, or at least I hope so!
...there I go being delluded again...;)
mountainyid- yep those goals should have been cleared by the CB's but the crosses from the left should have been closed down a lot quicker....STOP THE CROSS, most players will know that but the players had only just got on the pitch and were caught cold.
@Harry-Kari. Fair point. But I never promised it was going to work. And as I said above, they have kept some continuity from Redknapp's reign so we have a chance at top 4 again (which we clearly do!) But there is a longer term plan in mind, the foundations of which are being laid down in the current training sessions. Evidenced by the fact that Walker said they analyse other teams systems and styles, and spend more time learning about positional play. AVB is having to make up for the lack of knowledge young English players have when it comes to tactical understanding, something Mourinho also had to battle when arriving at Chelsea. He has the backing of Levy, so he can both organise a competitive team for this season, and build foundations for the second half of this season and onwards. Will it work? Who knows, but I intend to enjoy the ride.
Tactically Challenge
When you're in your 30's injuries can accelerate your decline, we can't be sure that Parker will be able to repeat the form he showed 1st half of last season.
you would like to think that AVB has perhaps learned from his Chelsea lesson, but also may well have the feeling that he will be given time as opposed to the demand of an instant fix at Stamford Bridge. especially when we have had so many key injuries, AVB's options to go straight from a Harry based 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 to a formation based around 4-3-3 might not of been managable straight away. with players returning and a consideration to how the players have so far adapted to his methods, I feel he wil already know how far he can push the players into altering shape or for that matter not.
TC, nice video. As i keep saying, we are building properly now for the long-term sustained success. I think AVB is being relatively pragmatic this season tactics-wise, he knows we still need short-term results, we want to do well still, but also we need to keep the media knee-jerkers happy (who either haven't got the intellect or the patience or are so blinded by their love for Redknapp to see what we are trying to do). Long-term i have no worries about where we are headed - as long as Levy or the fans don't panic. You get the feeling everyone is on the same hymn-sheet this time. There seems to be a steely determination. Just need that new stadium announcement now.
SRV, I thought we had the new stadium announcement 5 years ago, or was it 7?
I don't understand how this is the solution. We have conceded goals as of late not because we didn't defend but because we allowed so much pressure on our defense. We couldn't string 4 passes together and the teams just kept building up play and putting crosses in deeper and deeper in. It will be nice to see Parker back but we need a player who is able to control the game not another player to break up play. This will once again go straight back to not being able to connect a single pass and thus leaving us under pressure in the final parts of the game.
StillRickyVilla, its a cool video huh! Its exactly how AVB's Porto played, although with a bit more incision from his wingers. I hope he can implement this style of play next season, or as this season progresses, depending on how well the players take in his demands.
Tactically Challenge
Big C - agree with 90% of what you say on here but Parker is still one of the best DCM's in the PL. The bloke was our player of the season last year and to say he is past it is just wrong. I'd have him in my team any day mate.
Harry-Kari, yes perhaps i should re-phrase that - we need to get BUILDING the b1oody thing!
Hi guys, - after reading this forum for years, I have finally joined as a member: In a 433 formation Sandro, Dembele and Parker look quite solid, - I see Parker sitting on top of back four, - thereby allowing, - especially Dembele, - a more forward mid-field role. Even if Levy should bless us with another mid-field addition ei; Moutinho or my fellow countryman Christian Eriksen, - we need to keep the above 3 Spursmen, - its a long season, - injuries happens and it will give AVB rotation options. COYS!
Hi guys, - after reading this forum for years, I have finally joined as a member: In a 433 formation Sandro, Dembele and Parker look quite solid, - I see Parker sitting on top of back four, - thereby allowing, - especially Dembele, - a more forward mid-field role. Even if Levy should bless us with another mid-field addition ei; Moutinho or my fellow countryman Christian Eriksen, - we need to keep the above 3 Spursmen, - its a long season, - injuries happens and it will give AVB rotation options. COYS!
Welcome AllanDK. Good points you've raised in your post. Having Parker, Sandro and Dembele as a midfield 3 will work as long as our central striker is able to control the ball, hold up play and link up play. Adebayor at the moment seems to have lost his touch and hunger. JD is prolific in front of goal but his hold up play is not his strongest asset. I firmly believe our inability to hold the ball up with our attackers is why we are struggling to hold onto leads late in games. All the best teams hold on to the ball very high up the pitch as games get to the final stages. This is the area to keep the ball if we don't want to be under constant pressure. That is what Berbatov was so good at.
Allan DK after years of freedom, you have sentenced yourself to vital spurs, good luck mate and welcome, god your need it on here, be careful what you post, act thick for a few posts and then produce a real gem.
spu 4 life
Having Scott Parker back is like a new signing, good luck to him, his one hell of a player and can only make us better, it's a long way until may, we need BAE and Kaboul next, then AVB can sort out what his best team really is, apart from a winning one. COYS.
spu 4 life
As discussed above, I think it is a Falcao style forward, which Adebayor would/could be, but isn't at the moment, that is needed. If Levy is unprepared to bring in your Damiaos, your Llorentes, your Huntelaars, or your Lewandowskis, then perhaps Coulthirst should be given a shot. Size wise not dissimilar to Falcao, and has an eye for goal...maybe test out with the Coventry game? Obviously not saying he is the next Falcao or anything, but worth testing out our own players before spending over the odds (which it is on any player nowadays bar a Michu). Sandro is the fluid kind of player that AVB covets, contributing to attack and defence seamlessly, so I think Parker's defensive capabilities can be an asset rather than a hindrance in any game set-up.
if we want two defensive midfielders on the pitch and yet not lose any of our 1st-team attackers, why not do a 3-4-3?

we have a lack of quality centrebacks anyway, and lack of cover for our fullbacks. so play walker slightly further in, rotate him with Kaboul, then place one of Dawson/Gallas/Caulker, and one of Vertonghen/BAE. Sandro and/or Parker can drop deeper to support when necessary. and we'll retain Defoe and one of Adebayor/Dempsey/Sigurdsson up front, with Dembele playing in an advanced position behind them, while still employing our two flying wingers. problem solved.
i love Football Manager because it trains me to contribute to discussions like this :D
Hello, mates. I'm in Pernambuco again, thanks to the gods. Hopefully, when I'm in New York again things will be functioning there again. But for now it's sunshine on a tropical beach. As to what players should play and in what formations now that Scottie is back: I assume AVB is a smart and knowledgeable football man who will rotate players and formations depending on who is available and healthy and what the opposition is. The players and formation that are most likely to succeed vs. Man City might not be the same players and formation that are most likely to succeed vs. QPR, for example. One week we might see Adebayor and Defoe up front in a 4-2-2 and the next Adebayor might be at left wing in a 4-3-3. SAF players different players in different positions constantly and has a fairly decent (heh heh) record doing so, no?
Total knobhead

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