It must have been a surreal experience for DeAndre Yedlin at Hotspur Way this week. Having signed for Spurs, yet playing back in Seattle, the American International got a first hand experience of what it would be like to train at our facilities.
In spite of those that say the deal is just a signing to boost our brand and presence in America, Yedlin is actually the type of full back that Mauricio Pochettino needs.
His transfer officially commences on 1st January and he could become available if his application for a Latvian passport goes through or we can obtain a work permit.
Whatever happens, he should really wait until next season before we see him in a Spurs shirt. DeAndre Yedlin does play in the manner that Pochettino requires, but bringing in a young and extremely raw talent midseason to do anything other than train and get used to the team would be a mistake.
Full backs for Pochettino
With our narrow formation and inverted wide forwards, the width needs to come from our full backs.
We’ve seen this from Danny Rose on the left. He has attempted by far the most crosses from open play by anyone in the team with 42. Second equal are Erik Lamela and stand-in right back Eric Dier with 19 attempts. Our other right back, Kyle Naughton, has just 8 attempted crosses.
This highlights part of the problem Mauricio Pochettino has, unbalance between his left and right full backs.
Eric Dier looks like a centre back playing at right back and doesn’t have the speed to get up and down, so often can’t get quickly enough in to advanced positions.
Kyle Naughton has more speed, but plays a cautious game, getting forward but just not high enough up the pitch.
If we look at his performance against Aston Villa we can see this and the knock-on effects.
The first is how directly the ball is being moved to him, with passes originating out of the centre of midfield, often over great distance. The second is that he gets almost up to the edge of the opposition box, but no higher.
This affects his crossing position, as he is putting balls in to the box from much further out. This gives defences more time to see the ball coming in, adjust their position and react.
Eric Dier at right back is similar. Again we see the amount of passes sprayed out to him from the centre of the park, but he doesn’t even get as far up as Naughton.
DeAndre Yedlin provides a much more attack-natured full back. He has great speed and athleticism to get up and down the right flank. He is yet to play at the Premier League level, but for both the American national team and Seattle Sounders he has shown a number of core competences.
1) He likes to get forward, especially on the overlap.
2) He plays with great width, often hugging the touchline.
3) He can dribble and go past his opponent, especially in 1v1 situations.
4) He provides good crossing that is difficult to deal with.
We saw this in America’s World Cup match with a highly talented Belgium side. DeAndre Yedlin spent a vast amount of the match getting in to the opposition half in order to receive the ball. The USA were chasing the game, but Yedlin took possession often directly out from the midfield, but also in to very high attacking positions.
Once there, he has a skill that both Naughton and Dier do not possess, that of being able to take his opponent on.
DeAndre Yedlin gave our own Jan Vertonghen some serious problems with his speed. So much so that Kevin De Bruyne and Axel Witsel often had to rotate over on the cover to double up on him.
What this did was allow DeAndre Yedlin to get in to good crossing positions much higher up the pitch.
Whilst his crosses may not complete on Stats Zone, they can often have other consequences, which are equally as dangerous. By that, I mean that if it doesn’t find his man for a shot or knockdown, it can often cause opponents to stretch and miss-clear, leading to second chances.
For example, a lunging Bruno Alves in USA’s group game with Portugal deflected Yedlin’s cross, which lead to Clint Dempsey’s go-ahead goal.
Against Belgium, he served up another cross that saw the ball knocked down to Jermain Jones right in front of the goal. Amidst the scramble, Jones could only fire the loose ball over the bar, which would’ve made the game 2-2.
Another example, from last season’s MLS Cup Playoffs 2nd leg match with Portland, saw him skin full back Michael Harrington from a standing start. He then delivered a beauty of a ball on to the head of Eddie Johnson.
Yedlin’s crosses are often delivered with pace in to dangerous areas and even if they don’t find a team mate’s head, they can have knock-on consequences for defences.
DeAndre Yedlin defensively
Whilst DeAndre Yedlin has a massive upside in the attacking phase, defensively in the Premier League will be where he comes unstuck if he is brought in straight away.
He is quick and can intercept the ball, whilst also able to make a tackle. His problems though are often concerned around the areas of concentration and positioning, which is completely understandable for a 21-year-old full back.
Another Spurs player, a former one this time, highlighted this in their recent meeting in the MLS. Jermain Defoe put his Toronto side in front, but DeAndre Yedlin was caught watching the ball. He was looking outside to cover the wide player, when he should’ve been closer to his centre back to not allow Defoe through the inside left channel.
The pass went straight between Yedlin and his centre back that he had become separated from, with Defoe gobbling up the chance. It was the kind of play that a wily Defoe has done to many an inexperienced defender before, but highlighted a certain naivety.
This was partly down to positioning, but also concentration, which appears to be another part of his game that needs ironing out.
Here, he switches off from a Portland free-kick, allowing Rodney Wallace to cross for Mamadou Danso to put the Timbers 2-0 up.
Earlier in the game, he also let Wallace drift by him, watching the winger move in to a high-risk area as the ball comes across the goal.
His speed can see him recover and halt opposition counter attacks. However, positioning errors and concentration lapses like this are usually punished in the Premier League.
DeAndre Yedlin should wait until the summer
With our current troubles at right back, it may be tempting for Mauricio Pochettino to bring DeAndre Yedlin in straight away, but this would be a mistake for two reasons.
Firstly it is very difficult to come in to any team, yet alone a new league that is of a much higher standard, and hit the ground running in January. It is midseason, the games come thick and fast and his confidence could get blown away if dropped in too soon.
Kyle Walker has just returned to training and although he may be several weeks away from making a full return and we won’t want to rush him in to several games on the spin, we do have Naughton and then Dier as backup. These two may not be the exact correct fit for Pochettino’s system, but they have much more experience at a higher level.
Secondly, DeAndre Yedlin is a really raw talent that needs to be coached up to the Premier League level.
In the attacking phase he looks like a serious prospect already that will need fine tuning to Mauricio Pochettino’s system.
In the defensive phase more skilled players will open him up. This is not just with the ball, but also by their movement and the speed with which play develops here compared to the MLS.
DeAndre Yedlin is still just 21-years-old and whilst he will develop in to a very capable back up for Kyle Walker, he shouldn’t be rushed in as a solution to fix a short-term problem. If he does get his passport, give him six months just training with the side, even working and playing with the development squad, to ease him in for the next campaign.
Andy B says
Surely it would be better to play Yedlin as a right winger rather than a right back. Even Klinsmann said that this could be his future position.
It could be a situation similar to Bale who moved from left back to left winger and now to versatile attacking midfielder.
If we bring in Yedlin as a right winger then it makes sense to get him in January.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Good suggestion Andy B, Klinsmann did bring him on to play as a right winger in the World Cup and he does have the tools to play there. Yedlin is still a very raw talent and requires coaching, even if used further forward. I would still see him behind Aaron Lennon for this position if Pochettino ever uses it with his love of inverted wide players.
Andy B says
I agree that Lennon still has much to offer Spurs. It is a shame that Pochettino hasn’t used him as a pacy right winger. He is great to watch when he is flying passed defenders.
I would like to see Pochettino mix it up a bit (sometimes use inverted wingers and then change to normal wing play during the game when it is needed).
I really do believe that Pochettino has tried to bring in his system far too quickly with players who are not all best suited to adapting to it. I think that it is far better to have players playing to their strengths which isn’t currently happening at Spurs because the players do not quite fit the jigsaw. It is like when Kranjcar or Sigurdsson were forced to play on the left or when Mourinho made Joe Cole play on the left which ruined him.
It would be better for the manager to analyse the players strengths and set up a system that they can play in, rather than the other way around. And then over time Pochettino can bring in and mould his own players which includes the academy youngsters and gradually change the system to the one he likes the best. This way he gets the best of both worlds – Spurs keep getting the league points and are entertaining to watch and then after a year or two they become a Pochettino styled team which hopefully will be efficient and entertaining.
By rushing his system and neglecting player’s strengths and the way they enjoy playing, he is in danger of it all going downhill. I hope he realises that and finds a way for it to work soon.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Thats an interesting point you raise as i read some quotes from Eriksen on a forum the other day saying that Pochettino was actualy scaling his system back as the players weren’t 100% getting it. Maybe he does realise after all…
Don’t you find it a bit depressing how this stuff just keeps happening. It’ll be another Holtby – we desperately push to get him in in Jan, suddenly find that him and Walker have to fight for a position. Turns out he’s not that left back who makes our entire back 4 invincible, that he’s not going to score 10 goals a season, and we’ll watch him become the next failure our supporters blame for our position.
Even your poll (I’d like to assume your readers are amongst the more reasoned fans) shows a preference for getting him in mid-season. He’s 21, coming from what most would agree is a much weaker league. How could it possibly be beneficial to his development, or the good of our team, to get him in in Jan?
Just this week we see Berahino called up to the England team rather than letting him mature in the under 21s. It’s madness and you’d think someone like Hodgson would know better – he clearly doesn’t really care about the long term for the England team. I certainly wouldn’t suggest that Gareth Southgate is a genius manager, but he certainly talks about the right things in development terms, and his team looks like a good platform to develop our young players. Shame there doesn’t appear to be any coordination with the senior team, though.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Great example Chris, rushing him like we did with Holtby would be a mistake. I can’t see too many upsides especially if we were to rely on him, such as in a situation like we currently have ie Walker out injured, Naughton suspended and Dier not keen to be a right back.
Re Berahino, this kind of thing has been going on for ages, especially with guys that could play for more than one national team. Ironically it is all about the long term prospects of the senior team. A young player emerges with great potential and so he is involved in an England squad to give him a taste, often he comes on for the last 2 minutes so he can then only represent that country and it ties him up for the future. If he goes on to become great then its good that he was locked in early, if not, he is just forgotten about.
can we not get him in and Jan loan him out to say Palace or QPR for the rest of the season or even Leicester or Villa who are not that far so he can be driven to training etc from a North London base?
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Yes, i was merely talking about his fit for Spurs. Although i’d prefer him training and learning our system, as if he went on loan he’d be training with that side.