The start of something for Soldado?

Love him or love to berate him; Roberto Soldado is a player dividing opinion among Spurs fans at the minute.

On Saturday at Man City he got his first Premier League start of the season and was a goal away from capping an excellent all-around performance.

The centre forward position has many functions in Mauricio Pochettino’s various systems, but at the core of his role are two main functions.

The first is to come towards the ball and be a hold up man to bring others in to play that run off and past him. The second is then to move up towards and get in the box looking for a through ball or a cross.

This should lead him to not only be a goalscorer, but also a provider of assists. It is a duel role.

At Southampton, Mauricio Pochettino had Rickie Lambert to fulfil this function. The Englishman led his team in assists in the Premier League with 10; double that of lock-picker Adam Lallana. Lambert also weighed in with 13 Premier League goals, two less than wide forward Jay Rodriguez who was the actual real threat going forward. It’s not a coincidence that our leading Premier League scorer is Nacer Chadli, who has four for us this season from the Rodriguez role.

Whilst Roberto Soldado did not develop his reputation in La Liga for being an assist man, he did play this part of the role very well.

Soldado build-up play

Roberto Soldado is not big, he’s not strong in the air, but his ability to hold the ball up and bring others in to play is extremely underrated. The Spaniard is excellent when the ball is played in to his feet or chest at bringing others in to play.

Against Man City on the weekend, we saw this as early as the seventh minute, as Soldado received a long ball forward from Federico Fazio. The Spaniard took the pass and bounced it off his chest in to the path of Christian Eriksen, setting the Dane forward in to space.

The quick improvised pass from Roberto Soldado gets his three advanced midfielders in to areas between the lines where they can run off him and attack the City back four.


Soldado’s chest pass springs runners off him.

The ball then moved from Eriksen to Lamela and back to Soldado on the edge of the City box. We’d looked in the Tottenham tactics before the game at how Man City use the edge of their 18 yard box as a guide to play their defensive line and here they were caught square.


City set on the edge of the box as Soldado finds Mason.

Soldado’s job, as it was for Lambert at Southampton, is to hit the runners off of him and here he found a cutting Ryan Mason who saw his shot saved by Joe Hart.

It was a neat passage of play of very Mauricio Pochettino –esque football.

Later in the half we saw his distribution in effect once again after Ryan Mason had stolen the ball from Fernando.

Soldado’s patience to wait for the runners either side of him to give him options was good. As was the weight of his pass in to Eriksen’s run that allowed him to strike the ball across Joe Hart first time.


Soldado shows patience to wait for his runners.

The goal was very similar to our one at the Emirates. A defensive midfielder was stripped of the ball and it was moved quickly up the pitch to a runner through the inside right channel.

Soldado’s link play and passing had been very good, especially as he was being sent a lot of long balls forward, as we can see from his passes received in the game.


Roberto Soldado passes received, Man City 4 Spurs 1.

The Spaniard was being asked to deal with these longer passes that were often in to feet, but also in to his head. Soldado isn’t the strongest when he has to jump 1v1 against someone like Vincent Kompany, but what we were doing was putting these balls in to space. In this way, Soldado could receive the pass on the run, rather than jumping in an aerial contest.

Here we can see how the ball was sent forward from Younes Kaboul behind Martin Demichelis for Soldado to run on to and head down for Christian Eriksen. Vincent Kompany is on the cover, but can’t challenge for the header in the way he would normally do by just simply overpowering the Spaniard if they were jumping from a standing start.


Soldado moves to cushion down a header on the run.

These long balls to Soldado on the run in to space were a feature of his game, but so too was his own passing.

We’ve already seen above how he set up Ryan Mason for a great chance and assisted on Eriksen’s goal, but Soldado was trying to play through balls in to the box.


Roberto Soldado passes played, Man City 4 Spurs 1.

This is what Mauricio Pochettino wants from his centre forward, the ability to pass to the runners off of him.

Soldado in the box

Whilst the centre forward needs to be able to link the play and hit runners going past him, the second part of his role is to then get up in to the box himself.

Soldado did struggle with this, but going to the Etihad and having 38% possession, we knew chances would be at a premium.

The Spaniard missed his best opportunity in the area when he had the chance to convert a spot kick. However, he came back minutes later with a great effort from another classic passage of Pochettino play.

The ball was sent forwards towards Soldado who had come short. He laid it off to his three advanced midfielders in space between the City lines, similarly to his chest pass earlier.


Soldado cushions a layoff.

This pass, as many of his layoffs were, was to Christian Eriksen, who sent the ball out to Danny Rose through Nacer Chadli. As soon as he had laid it neatly back to the Dane, Soldado turned and went for the penalty area.

Rose took a touch and sent in a low cross that found its way to Soldado who was our only player in the box.


Rose crosses for Soldado to shoot.

From his time in Valencia, Soldado was always at his best when he struck the ball first time, which gives the keeper a minimal reaction period. It’s been no surprise that both of his goals so far this season, against Limassol and Nottingham Forest, have come from one touch finishes.

Here he struck the ball without hesitation as he went to ground with his left foot, but saw Joe Hart block it with his legs.

The start of something for Soldado?

His all-round play deserved some reward.

Roberto Soldado definitely ticked the box of being able to fulfil the first part of what Mauricio Pochettino requires from his centre forward. His hold up play and being able to hit the runners off him was excellent.

The second part, and what gets focussed on for a centre forward, the ability to score goals, may just need a consistent run in the side to come to the fore.

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17 Responses to The start of something for Soldado?

  1. Brihimself 21st October 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    I hope you are correct. Soldado’s contribution against City was twice what we get from Adebayor and with some regular starts; he might well improve. In addition there are really few other choices. Kane cannot carry the strike force alone and Ade cannot carry it at all.
    From now until January – in order to have any chance of being a competitor in contention for the top of the table; Pochettino needs to start Soldado or Kane. (or try someone else as striker – e.g. Townsend)
    Ade may be able to contribute as a second half sub – but that would be all. He is inconsistent and poses no threat to competitors. They don’t even cover him very closely. He can still score – if he happens to saunter into the right place and be perfectly set up. Adebayor should never start another game for Spurs. That’s like playing with 10 men.

    • Mike Sz 21st October 2014 at 10:49 pm #

      I would tend to agree…although I suppose the broken record message here is that, if he’s pulled, Ade will be even more reluctant to put in any effort. But then, if it’s for the greater good…

      • Brihimself 23rd October 2014 at 12:50 am #

        I truly believe that Ade is finished. He has been so lackadaisical for so long that he can’t draw up the magic any more. Even when he was trying to prove a point and help out Sherwood, it was short lived and never when needed,
        He could probably get a year or two in MLS but his salary demands would probably be unreasonable. I truly don’t think Ade has the capacity to contribute.

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 23rd October 2014 at 10:05 am #

          Only a suggestion, but it may also have something to do with Man City supplementing his wages. When he signed permanently in 2012 after being on loan here, it was reported that City were still paying £40k a week of his wage to add on to the £85k a week we were paying him. That deal was for 2 years so we’d take him off their books and ran out this summer, so he may be lackadaisical as he’s had to take a massive wage cut this season.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 22nd October 2014 at 11:35 am #

      A few games watching from the bench may give Adebayor the motivation he needs.

      • Bleedlilywhite 22nd October 2014 at 5:26 pm #

        I think Ade is pretty much immune to stress related to in club competition. He is at the end of his career and he have seen it all. He could not stay at 1st tier club and now may be on the way to lesser league being unable to produce for Poch. Don get me wrong, he is very good player still, but no hunger for success in advanced age is a detriment. Both him and Soldado were great competing for areal balls in the box, but new Spurs boss prefers to deliver the ball there much closer to the grass. So in order to be part of his system both strikers (or any other as matter of fact) would play MF part getting involved in build ups as Poch wants. That approach ultimately results in reduced productivity as far as goal scoring is concerned. Strikers are paid for goals. That might explain why Soldado was a little slow to change. Once he decided to give in, the ability is there for Roberto to play somewhat different role successfully.

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 23rd October 2014 at 10:08 am #

          Some good points Bleedlilywhite. As I also said to Brihimself, i think this could also have something to do with him having to take a wage cut this season as Man City have stopped supplementing his wages now.

      • Brihimself 23rd October 2014 at 12:55 am #

        You might be right, but I do not believe ha still has the skills. Our mistake is to play him and especially to start him.

  2. John 21st October 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    Thanks for your analysis. I felt that our attack worked a lot better in this match than most others this season, and bobby was a big part of that with his passing and vision. We didn’t deserve to win but the fact we could have scored 3 or even 4 at City says something. I know he missed the penalty and has lost confidence in front of goal but I still think he offered more to the team than Ade mostly has. I just want him to have a good run of games in the team – if it doesn’t work out for him under Pochettino at least you could say he was given a chance, if he’s shipped off soon, as some people seem to think, without being given a shot then I think it would be a waste, of money and also a talented footballer. I think playing with Eriksen, Lamela, and Mason and the like will improve his game, and will likewise improve theirs.

    • Mike Sz 21st October 2014 at 10:51 pm #

      “I just want him to have a good run of games in the team – if it doesn’t work out for him under Pochettino at least you could say he was given a chance, if he’s shipped off soon, as some people seem to think, without being given a shot then I think it would be a waste, of money and also a talented footballer.”

      I’m somehow a bit biased toward Soldado…but I think this is very reasonable, pragmatic, John. Well said.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 22nd October 2014 at 11:37 am #

      They did work well together and so far Bobby hasn’t been given much of a chance to play with Eriksen, Lamela and Chadli, which is far different to having Paulinho, Lennon and Townsend operating with him in the Europa League or Capital One Cup. I think we need to give him and Kane ago as Adebayor could be off to the African Cup of Nations in January and we will need cover then.

  3. Swerve 21st October 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    Can’t disagree with Rob over Ade, but the simple fact is both are woeful. AVB must have known that the Bale dosh was misspent apart from Eriksen. Gross incompetence in any other line of work.

    Lamela, Soldado, Capoue and Paulino are incapable of improving to the extent we would need to challenge 4th. What’s that, around £80M.

    We will not finish anywhere a CL spot. Reality time – squad not good enough and Poch will not be here long if he does not deliver. Levy history backs that up.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 22nd October 2014 at 11:43 am #

      Some interesting points Swerve. For me, from what i’ve seen in the media, which is not always the best place to go off, but all most of us have, AVB only wanted a few of the players we signed, so i wouldn’t be blaming him for miss-spending the Bale money. For me it falls between Levy, Baldini and AVB. There was an interview in one paper with Juande Ramos prior to the Dnipro game last season where he said he asked for specific players and ended up with others Eg Darren Bent. So the manager, whilst he may be consulted, may not even have much of a say.

      I hope Levy does back Pochettino. By giving him a 5 year deal he would appear to be backing him (AVB only got a 3 year contract), so it would cost more for him to sack Pochettino if he still has 4 years or so to be paid out on his deal.

  4. Andy 21st October 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    Soldado has only started 1 game in front of Lamela, Erikson & Chadli – and that game was away to the Champions! He now a consistent run in the team to (try &) gain confidence. (In fact, I think we need consistent team selection all round!). Only Spurs could take a striker who has a fantastic scoring record and destroy him! I believe he is good enough but we need to stick with him – starting with Newcastle. Ade has started 7 games and contributed 1 goal – against QPR! I totally disagree with other posts that Bobby is woeful. I saw enough signs against Citeh that we could be a real attacking force with the fab four. We also have a favourable run of games now. Stick with them and who knows what is possible this season. COYS!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 22nd October 2014 at 11:44 am #

      Great post Andy!

    • JimmyG 22nd October 2014 at 7:42 pm #

      Agree with the pro Bpbby sentiment on this Blog, I really like the guy. He had a tough 1st year with all the Management BS as well as coping with living in London and dealing with his wifes miscaraige.

      I love his intelligence and vision on the pitch and his dignity and decorum off it despite dreadfully trying times.

      More importantly is that for the most part he is surrounded by a lot less intelligent players who simply can’t get a 1/2 decent delivery in let alone a good one, he must be the most frustrated strike on the planet, so starved of real opportunities, so much so that on the very odd occasion he gets he has snatched at it with poor results thus compounding the misery.

      I remain hopeful that under Pooch this guy gets his what he deserves out of his loyal, unselfish commitment to this beautiful club of ours…

      • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 23rd October 2014 at 10:06 am #

        Well said JimmyG!