Tottenham's motto 'To Dare Is To Do' is an inspirational one. It's at the very core of the club¹s success, but last night at the San Siro the motto should have been re-written as 'To Be Aware Is To Do'.
Having secured a fantastic 3-0 first-leg win at home against Inter Milan, Head Coach Andre Villas-Boas was brash and overconfident in his tactics and team selection on Thursday which ultimately culminated in a poor performance and the poorest tactical display in the 35 year-old's Spurs managerial career.
Why the High Line?
My biggest gripe was the high line; the conditions of the game were not conducive to such a tactic.
At 3-0 up there was no need to apply such high pressure on an Inter team that was always going to be on the front foot. There was also the matter of the 41-year-old Brad Friedel in goal; the American is not, has not been and will never be the sweeper-keeper Hugo Lloris and this put nervousness into the Spurs defence. Another veteran, William Gallas, who produced one of his worst performances in a Spurs shirt, was clearly not comfortable holding such a line and it all paved the way for Inter¹s second goal courtesy of a Rodrigo Palacio strike.
Villas-Boas misjudged the formation and team selection too. It was almost as if he had played the game in reverse: starting with an attacking 4-4-2 and ending with a solidified 4-5-1.
I could understand the logic in what the Portuguese was trying to do by playing Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor up top to secure an early away goal, but it was a risky move and one which backfired spectacularly. By starting the two front men, he reduced the numbers in midfield and therefore the team lost much-needed protection to curtail a fluent Inter side.
Playing a 4-2-3-1, or a 4-5-1, was surely more appropriate for such an occasion with Lewis Holtby, who combines work ethic with creativity, replacing, as he did in the 56th minute, either Defoe or Adebayor, who were both ineffective and showed no signs of forging a partnership this season.
Everyone, though, has a bad day at the office and Villas Boas, who thankfully hasn't had too many of those this season, was lucky that Adebayor snuck in an extra-time away goal to drag Spurs through to a quarter-final against Swiss side FC Basle.
The former Porto boss admitted to Sky Sport Italia after the game: "This was a real lesson for us and we must learn from it if we are to become great in Europe." Hopefully one of those lessons learned is that the club motto does not necessarily ring true in some situations.