How Michel Vorm will work in the Pochettino system

Michel Vorm arrived at Spurs along with Ben Davies and looks to be an excellent fit for Mauricio Pochettino’s system.

At 30-years old, Michel Vorm is still in his goalkeeping prime and fits all the hallmarks that our new Argentine coach requires. He is an athletic shot stopper, controls his rebounds and is an excellent distributor of the ball, all traits that will be needed at Spurs.


The key for any goalkeeper working for Mauricio Pochettino is his ability to accurately distribute the ball. Our new coach requires his man between the sticks to be able to play with the ball at his feet and to hit four key regions on the pitch:

1. The centre backs that split very wide.
2. The defensive midfielder who drops between the two centre backs.
3. The full backs who are pushed up extremely high
4. The centre forward either through the air or with a lower driven ball to feet when he comes short.

We can see a good cross section of these four zones from Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton against Manchester City last season.


Passes to CB (1), Def Mid (2), FB (3), Striker (4).

Paulo Gazzaniga pretty much hits every zone, apart from the long ball downfield to the centre forward, which is the hardest to complete. Defenders usually win the aerial headers from long downfield clearances and sometimes these passes can be hit under pressure, thus further reducing their accuracy.

We’ve already seen that Mauricio Pochettino is going to play with split centre backs and a defensive midfielder dropping between them at Spurs.


Capoue drops in to split the wide moving centre backs.

He has also pushed on our full backs. Against Toronto, Brad Friedel finds Kyle Naughton with our centre backs and defensive midfielder covered.


With short options covered, Brad Friedel looks to find Naughton.

The reason that Mauricio Pochettino targeted Michel Vorm was that he played in a similar set up at Swansea. The Swans also played with split centre backs, whilst pushing their full backs on.

If we go back to their visit to White Hart Lane last season, we can see how Michel Vorm hits a lot of these zones.


Michel Vorm passes played against Spurs.

He too finds his split centre backs, Ashley Williams and Chico Flores, with simple passes out wide (1). He also hits his defensive midfielders, Jose Canas and Jonathan De Guzman, dropping between the centre backs (2). He also looks to get the ball to his full backs, Ben Davies and Angel Rangel, but with slightly less success (3). Whilst having more luck finding the very aerially strong Michu, who was playing as the centre forward that day (4).

Vorm’s accuracy was pretty good, with the majority of failed passes (red) coming from dead ball goal kicks when we had the time to get our match-ups sorted.

His passing accuracy last season was 65.7%, the highest completion percentage of any regular goalkeeper in the Premier League. Of course the way Swansea played out from the back helped Vorm with the higher percentage. By way of comparison, Artur Boruc who Mauricio Pochettino had at Southampton completed 58.5%.

Hugo Lloris is also an adept distributor of the ball, but his completion dropped to 45% after Tim Sherwood took over and wanted him to kick long.

Vorm’s ability to hit his targets will allow him to excel in Mauricio Pochettino’s system. Our new coach has gone out and got arguably the best keeper in the Premier League at it.

Swansea used Michel Vorm almost as an eleventh outfielder in order to move the ball from the back to initiate attacks. He will be tasked with bringing this talent to do it to Spurs.

Under pressure

With Mauricio Pochettino asking his goalkeepers to play the ball and be a distributor, they can often succumb to being put under pressure.

Artur Boruc had a couple of blunders last season, floundering on the ball at the Emirates, whilst also passing it out for Hull to pounce and score.

Paulo Gazzaniga scooped this one up in the air at Newcastle trying to ping it to full back Luke Shaw. Loic Remy greatfully hoovered up the miscue, but could only hit the post with the goal gaping.


Paulo Gazzaniga slices an attempted pass to Luke Shaw up in the air.

Michel Vorm is not immune from being pressured either. Despite failing at Man Utd, David Moyes had an excellent record against Swansea. He always brought heavy pressure against Michel Vorm, stopping him going short and forcing him to kick long under duress.


Michel Vorm passes against Man Utd.

A tactic he also successfully employed whilst in charge at Everton.


Michel Vorm passes against David Moyes’ Everton.

We also managed to press Vorm in to an error, as Aaron Lennon chased him down here to force a miscued clearance, resulting in a Gareth Bale goal.


Aaron Lennon closes down Michel Vorm.

Vorm is a good distributor of the ball, but he can be got at and opponents will know this. Mauricio Pochettino is prepared to live with errors, as he knows what is required from his keeper as “that’s how we play and we want to continue because it brings us results.”

Shot stopping and rebound control

Along with being an excellent distributor of the ball, Mauricio Pochettino also requires his goalkeeper to be a sound shot stopper and control his rebounds.

Playing with split centre backs and ejecting the full backs forward can leave the side open to quick counter attacks. In this case Pochettino requires his keeper to not only be able to make saves, but also control his rebounds so that it doesn’t fall to the opposition.

At six feet tall, Michel Vorm is not the biggest keeper, but he is tremendously quick to get down to low shots and read where the shooter will be going. This allows him to make saves, but he also keeps any parried shots either close to him so he can get the rebound or pushes them out wide to safety. This will be of great benefit, as often the opposition can have numbers over if they break quickly off a turnover.

What Michel Vorm brings to Spurs

Michel Vorm really is an excellent signing, especially when we already have Hugo Lloris. Vorm sees himself as more than just a backup, claiming that every side needs “two top goalkeepers” and he is indeed right.

We are competing in four competitions this season, but also injury is a distinct possibility, especially as Hugo hurtles from his line.

Mauricio Pochettino struggled last season without Artur Boruc who was sidelined for a long period. He had to use a mix of the inexperienced Paulo Gazzaniga and veteran Kelvin Davis in his place. Southampton took only 5pts from a possible 24pts in the eight Premier League games without their regular number one. Pochettino therefore knows the importance of having a good second option, especially if Lloris takes another hit like the one he did from Lukaku at Everton.

Being able to bring someone like Michel Vorm in to the line-up is an excellent alternative. The Dutchman is also one that would provide some consistency if Hugo Lloris does decide to leave next summer.

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4 Responses to How Michel Vorm will work in the Pochettino system

  1. SomeDude 1st August 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Sweet article, it has been said that the team with the best goalie usually wins the league, which seems to hold up for the last couple of seasons (maybe not the very last one though.) Personally I feel the high-line sweeper-keeper is a really effective strategy and as we have one of the best in the world so it seems like a great turn to get such an experienced keeper as probable back-up. That works out great in the long run too because it also puts us into a better negotiating position with Hugo and means we wouldn’t have to panic buy if he decides that somebody else is better suited to him. My only real concern is that he did himself a mischief on Lukaku’s knee and that the medical staff think he might be on the downhill. To be fair though that is probably just me projecting since I get annoyed when concussed players try to keep going.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 1st August 2014 at 3:08 pm #

      Agree about having the best goalie. For Pochettino it also means he doesn’t have to change his system when he switches keeper, as both Vorm and Lloris can play the high line, whilst Friedel when he was backup couldn’t. What’s more, like you say, it means we don’t have to panic buy if Hugo does leave next season. Plus, with him having signed a 5-year deal, means Levy can command top dollar for his services.

  2. AnythingButPenalties 3rd August 2014 at 9:10 am #

    A goalkeeper’s distribution of the ball is often missed in mainstream analysis of their qualities. Very interesting. I just hope it’s not a sign Lloris is off next year.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 3rd August 2014 at 12:05 pm #

      I often think its becoming one of the most important facets for a keeper. Much in the way that defenders have now had to evolve in to ‘ball handlers’ rather than just shot blockers and tacklers.