Caretaker boss Cristian Stellini has taken full responsibility for Tottenham’s 6-1 mauling at the hands of Newcastle on Sunday, admitting his switch to a back four did not work. The north Londoners shipped five goals in the first 21 minutes of the match in a truly astonishing combination of frenetic attacking from the hosts and woeful defending from the visitors.
Stellini had decided to go with a back four against Newcastle due to persistent calls from supporters to ditch Antonio Conte’s back three, coupled with injuries. However, his team looked ill-equipped to play the formation, with the full-backs particularly exposed by long balls forward, and the stand-in coach was forced to sub on Davinson Sanchez after the fifth goal in order to revert to a back five.
Tottenham were a little more solid in the second half, with Harry Kane netting a consolation goal before substitute Callum Wilson added a sixth for Newcastle. After the game, Stellini admitted his tactical tweak was the main issue and said: ‘It was my responsibility to decide how we play and we decided to do it differently because of the injuries. It is my responsibility, I took it and it was wrong. We were not prepared to play this type of tough game. To suffer, control the space, win duels, we were not well prepared.’
He went on to explain why he decided to change to a back four: ‘To give energy to the players because we spoke in the week it would be possible to change system, but obviously we didn’t show this. We had a good mood before the game but if you do not show this during the game. The change showed a different idea.’