Tottenham: Ex-star Woodgate says trophies needed to keep Kane
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Spurs’ interim boss takes charge for just the second time when he faces Pepe Guardiola’s side at Wembley. On Monday, Mason was appointed on a temporary basis until the end of the season following the dramatic sacking of Jose Mourinho.
The former Tottenham midfielder became the youngest manager in Premier League history aged just 29 when they defeated Southampton 2-1 on Wednesday evening.
Mourinho was sacked following heavy fan unrest over their side’s poor form.
The news was also announced the morning after Spurs had become one of 12 clubs to sign up to the controversial European Super League proposals, from which they have now withdrawn.
Spurs face a fight to qualify for next season’s Champions League, sitting two points behind London rivals Chelsea with just five matches left.
The Blues have also played one game fewer.
But Mason, a former Tottenham midfielder, must first overcome the tough challenge of defeating Guardiola’s Man City – the Premier League champions-elect.
Writing in his Evening Standard column, ex-England forward Smith has told Mason he must not try to over-complicate his tactics in Sunday’s final.
The 58-year-old believes Spurs’ players will ‘see through’ an elaborate plan.
“If it isn’t hard enough taking charge as a fledgeling coach, he [Mason] has got to get the better of Pep Guardiola, an all-time master in the technical area,” Smith wrote.
“Mason doesn’t carry the weight to be getting too technical, especially with seasoned internationals older than him.
“They’d see through that straight away. The 29-year-old must focus on keeping it simple.
“Between now and tomorrow, Mason could talk for hours to his players about trying to negate City. He could bore the lads senseless with analytical info and endless clips of Phil Foden’s movement.
“Don’t get me wrong, all of that needs addressing, but only up to a point. The big challenge for Mason – maybe still in shock after this heady promotion – is to strike the right balance between tactics and approach.”
Smith expects Harry Kane to declare himself fit having missed Monday’s victory over the Saints, earned thanks to Heung-min Son’s late brace.
The England captain is understood to have trained this morning.
Mason has been told to focus on Spurs’ attacking strengths, something he feels Mourinho did not do.
“This is where Mason can improve on Jose Mourinho, which seems like an unlikely achievement for someone so raw,” Smith continued.
“But Mourinho, we know, spent a large part of training working on defensive shape. So much, in fact, that the players grew bored of the repetition, particularly when these sessions didn’t bear fruit on matchdays.
“Because of that, Mason can easily perk everyone up with more positive and enjoyable work that concentrates on extracting the most out of Heung-min Son, Gareth Bale and Harry Kane, who I believe will declare himself fit for this Wembley showpiece.
“And that means going at City, regularly bringing those attackers into the game. After that, it’s about the whole team getting to the ball quickly, winning individual battles all over the field.
“It might sound a bit old-school, but those tasks remain central to effective sides.”
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