Harry Redknapp says Leicester City’s success this season proves there is another way to win than the Barcelona style people ‘got carried away with’.
Leicester moved a point closer to clinching a maiden top-flight title with a 1-1 draw at Manchester United on Sunday, with Redknapp’s former club Tottenham now needing to win at Chelsea on Monday night to take the fight to next weekend.
Leicester had just 30% possession at Old Trafford and have seen less of the ball this season than all but two teams, which Redknapp says should serve as a reminder that there is more than one way to win football matches.
‘If this season threatens to prove anything, it’s that teams can be successful without always trying to dominate the ball,’ Redknapp said in his Daily Telegraph column.
‘Leicester City have the lowest passing accuracy in the Premier League and are third bottom when it comes to possession…but it’s not just Leicester.
‘Atletico Madrid’s possession rates are relatively low for a top side, but they could end up winning both La Liga and the Champions League this season. In the Championship, Burnley could get promoted back to the top flight on Monday and you won’t see them hogging the ball.
‘Those three teams may differ in ability, but they have something in common and it’s at odds with the possession-based model that I think we’ve got carried away with at times simply because of what Barcelona have achieved. Leicester and the others have helped to remind people that there’s another very effective way of winning.
‘It’s all very well people looking at Barcelona and saying, “Wow, we’ve got to play like this”, but it’s very difficult when you haven’t got forwards of the calibre they have, when you haven’t got a Messi or Suarez or Neymar conjuring their magic.
‘I think there’s a danger that we’ve got hung up on pass, pass, pass but you’ve got to go somewhere, there’s got to be an end product to that passing. Unless you’ve got somebody who can pick the ball up and suddenly do something special, you’re just going to have a packed defence in front of you with nowhere to go and no one with the ability to unlock them.
‘Manchester United have had that problem on occasion this season. It’s why it’s refreshing to see the likes of Leicester and Atletico thriving. They’re aggressive, physical, in your face, they harass and harangue and they’re happy to play direct and have real pace on the counter.
‘Leicester only had 30 per cent possession against United on Sunday. But no team has made more tackles in the Premier League this season and no side has committed less errors in the lead up to the opposition scoring.
‘They’ve become the team no one wants to play. Opponents know they are going to be worked and worked, that it’s going to be a long, tough day against them. It’s nice to see that they’re not the only ones having success playing that way.’