Tottenham train ahead of Champions League trip to Marseille
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Peter Crouch urged Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to give set-piece coach Gianni Vio a welcome pay rise after the north Londoners topped Group D in the Champions League by defeating Marseille away from home on Tuesday evening. The hosts took a first-half lead through Chancel Mbemba but were pegged back when Clement Lenglet headed in from Ivan Perisic’s free-kick delivery to level proceedings shortly before the hour mark.
Tottenham went on to find a late, late winner through Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who fired home in the 96th minute to seal a famous victory after he was picked out by Harry Kane in a promising area of the pitch. Crouch was running the rule over the match for BT Sport and insisted that Spurs coach Vio, who was recruited by the club to help with set-pieces back in July, should be given a higher salary as a result of his importance to the way they play.
“Whoever this set-piece coach is needs a pay rise because you can see how important they are to them,” said Crouch, who went on to question Tottenham’s slow start to the game that saw them needing Hojbjerg’s dramatic stoppage-time goal to secure all three points.
“I just don’t understand why they don’t start on the front foot,” he added. “It gives teams impetus, it gives them hope and belief. When you start like that, especially away from home, you’re giving the impetus to the other team.
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“I don’t understand why you would retreat and invite pressure on, that gives the other team a hell of a lot of confidence to string passes together. There’s a potential for [a lack of trust] but defensively are they as strong? He might think that he needs to get bodies behind the ball.
“Liverpool might leave two-vs-two, Man City might leave it two-vs-two because they trust their defenders. Maybe there’s a little bit of that, but I still think there’s enough quality on that pitch to be more expansive, to go out and really take it to teams in the first half and do what they did tonight for the full 90 minutes.”
It remains to be seen how Tottenham will fare in the knockout stages of the Champions League, with their status as Group D winners meaning they will be seeded in the draw for the next round. They will come up against a runner-up from another group in the round of 16, although they cannot face another team from England or from their own group.
Tottenham’s ability to create big chances from dead-ball situations is likely to continue playing a major role in shaping their fortunes for the rest of the campaign, with their tally of nine set-piece goals having already surpassed last season’s total of eight. It seems as though their decision to appoint Vio as a specialist coach earlier this year was an inspired one, although only time will tell whether the 69-year-old’s expertise will be able to help them go deep into the Champions League knockout rounds over the coming months.
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