Tottenham’s effort last night against Fulham was a dismal one in the main and one which many Spurs fans would probably tell you has been coming.
Gone is the freedom and open playing style the team were playing with earlier in the season – see Man United away – and in its place is a more rigid, defensive set up, put in place purely to grind out wins.
Harry Kane is dropping deeper by the game it seems. Albeit, he did get on the scoresheet last night and could have had another.
But Mourinho’s decision to play Winks, Sissoko, and Hojbjerg, as well as Ndombele all in the same team spoke volumes. Not willing to give anything away, the Spurs boss seemed to sacrifice attacking flair and chance creation for a more solid set-up.
It didn’t work. Fulham exposed Spurs at times and could have won the game. But what was even more telling was Mourinho’s unwillingness to give the likes of Alli, Bale, and Lucas a chance to change the game off the bench.
And further to that, the performance highlighted the need for a master craftsmen to open the door. Which brings us to former Spurs star, Christian Eriksen.
Eriksen is done at Inter Milan, so it would seem. He is being linked with moves all over, including back to Spurs, where Gazzetta dello Sport claimed this month Tottenham could make a move if Dele Alli leaves.
And while it might have seemed off the table at one point, last night pinpointed exactly why Eriksen could be needed. Spurs had nothing in that number ten area. Per Whoscored, Mourinho’s men only had the six shots on goal, while they attempted – as a team – 11 less dribbles than Fulham.
Mourinho through Lamela on but he had little impact, while Kane went looking for the ball more and more as the game wore on.
Of course, the Spurs boss would need to actually pick and play Eriksen if he signed. But this is a player who can unlock doors, score goals, and provide a moment of magic from a set-piece. (8 of Eriksen’s 51 PL goals were direct from free-kicks)
Eriksen’s £100k-a-week contract might not be ideal for Spurs to pick up. But with Alli seemingly done, and the team in need of an injection, it might not be the end of the world bringing someone back who knows the script and what’s required.