Spurs star Danny Rose: We only found out about the formation change three hours before kick-off against Hull
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Mauricio Pochettino only told his Tottenham players that he was going to change the system and use wing-backs against Hull three hours before kick-off, Danny Rose has revealed.
Spurs struggled to create chances in their 1-0 defeat at Manchester United on Sunday, so Pochettino adopted a different formation for Wednesday night’s home game against Hull, using three central defenders and pushing his full-backs up into more attacking roles.
The move paid dividends as left-back Rose and right-back Kyle Walker each set up a goal for Christian Eriksen in the 3-0 home win – but Rose admits there was little time to prepare for the new approach.
“We had no idea until we had the meeting a couple of hours before the game,” he said. “But we know what’s wanted from us whatever formation we play, and I feel everyone did well.
“We only knew when we went to the training ground about 5pm. We haven’t worked on it or anything.
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“We can only really work on it if we’ve got one game a week. If we play Saturday-Saturday we know the Wednesday session will be a tactical session, working on how to play out from the back and different formations.
“But when it’s Saturday-Wednesday-Sunday-Wednesday we don’t do much tactical work. There isn’t much time. But whatever formation we play everyone knows their job and what’s asked from them.
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“I enjoyed it a lot [against Hull]. It gives me and Kyle licence to get forward a bit more, and we’ve justified the new formation that the gaffer put out with an assist for myself and an assist for Kyle as well.
“It’s the second time this season that we’ve done it [after the trip to Arsenal] and I enjoy it a lot. Once we start working on it a bit more I think it’ll show.
“It’s nice to have that plan B. Sometimes when we play the usual formation it’s a bit easier for teams to sit back.
“I thought we did very well against Arsenal too - we should maybe have beaten them. Last night we did well, and we needed to after a disappointing performance against Man United. We’ve got another game we want to win on Sunday [at home against Burnley] and hopefully that’ll put us in a nice position.”
Tottenham have struggled to build momentum in the last two months. They endured a seven-match winless run in all competitions between October 15 and November 6 – and a much-needed home win over West Ham was promptly followed by defeats away against Monaco and Chelsea.
Spurs then won back-to-back games against Swansea and CSKA Moscow last week and seemed to be finding their feet, only to lose at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Despite that, last night’s victory over Hull leaves them just three points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, while Arsenal and Liverpool are only one point further ahead.
Mauricio Pochettino and his players will now be aiming to put a winning together as they prepare to face Burnley, Southampton and Watford in their next three matches.
“It’s fair to say we’re probably still in third gear compared to last season,” said Rose.
“Hopefully once the new year comes we can push on. We had a good December and January last season and we’re looking to do that again.
“I’ve no idea why we haven’t hit the heights of last season yet. We know that though, and I think that’s a positive to take - we’re in the park still and we’re probably only playing at 60 per cent.
“Are we still in the title race? I don’t see why not. It’s a good position we’re in. Man City or Arsenal are going to drop points at the weekend [because they play each other] and hopefully we can capitalise on that.”
If Spurs are to accelerate in the coming weeks they will need their creative players to supply the ammunition, but Dele Alli has struggled to show the form he produced last season in his outstanding breakthrough year.
While the 20-year-old scored against CSKA Moscow at Wembley last Wednesday, while also forcing an own goal from goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, that is his only appearance on the scoresheet in the last 11 matches.
The youngster has looked tired in his last two games against United and Hull, and he was withdrawn just after the hour-mark last night.
“It’s his second season and everyone’s not giving him as much time as he had last season,” said Rose. “Dele’s still our most dangerous player. He’s not doing as well as last season but neither’s anyone else.
“I always say to Dele that I wish I was him, with how well he’s done - and he’s only 20. He’s working under the best manager and the manager will get the best out of him come the end of the season.
“Dele’s playing week in week out, he’s one of the first names on the teamsheet and he’s getting chances. There’s no panic. We know he’ll get on the scoresheet again and start scoring again like he did last season.”
Meanwhile, former Tottenham midfielder Ryan Mason returned to White Hart Lane as a member of Hull’s squad last night – and he admits it was an emotional occasion as he bade farewell to Spurs’ famous stadium, which is due to be knocked down at the end of this season.
The 25-year-old, who came through Spurs’ academy and made 70 first-team appearances for the Lilywhites before moving north in the summer, had to settle for a role as a second-half substitute.
He said: “It was obviously the first game I looked out for in the fixture list because I knew it’d be the last game I’d play at White Hart Lane, and it was emotional. I had a lot of family here. It was just one of those things.
“I was devastated [not to be in the starting line-up]. I wanted to start the game but that’s just part of football – you’ve got to be professional and ready to come on.
“The new stadium’s gone up quickly - really quickly actually. When I left – I think the Liverpool game (in August) was my last game - there was hardly anything here. It’s gone up quick and it’s an exciting time to be a Tottenham fan.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs