Stoke v Spurs - key battle - Les Ferdinand on Jan and Toby against Bony
Fri 09 September 2016, 16:30|Tottenham Hotspur
Our new feature continues as legendary striker Les Ferdinand looks at what our central defensive duo of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen might face in the shape of Stoke's likely debutant Wilfried Bony on Saturday.
39 goals in 149 appearances for Spurs - 1997-2002
17 England caps, 1993-98
Eighth in all-time Premier League goalscorers - 149
Coach at Spurs - 2008-2014
Now Director of Football at QPR
Les: "Wilfried Bony wants contact with the centre-halves he’s up against. That’s his strength. It’s all about initiating that first contact. He wants to back into the centre-halves and he’s so strong, if he does that, nine times out of 10 he’ll hold onto balls coming into him and then lay them off or hold the ball and then spin in behind. He’s using the centre-half to turn, pinning him, getting him off balance and looking to go behind."
Below: Bony holds off Antonio Valencia in the Manchester derby
'You have to play games'
Les: "I would say to the centre-halves, don’t allow him to get right in front of you because from there, you are in trouble. He’s an explosive player and that’s where he wants to be, he won't be looking for a foot race over 30 or 40 yards. You have to play games, try to push up high but if you drop off, give yourself a couple of yards and then try to win the ball if it comes in, don’t try to stand toe-to-toe with him and say ‘right, I’ll out-jump him from here’ because he’ll keep you rooted to the ground, he’s very good at that."
Below: Les holds off Tony Adams
Les: "I relished that contact as a striker but when I played against the likes of Adams and Bould at Arsenal or Bruce and Pallister at United, my game was to try to run the channels and if I could take one of them out there with me, I knew they wouldn’t be as comfortable. My game changed when I went from QPR to Newcastle because I was the lone striker for the first year I was there, so that was all about holding the ball up and bringing other players into the game - much like Bony will try to do for Stoke."
Les: "I always knew what I was up against and adapted. I was half-decent in the air, so I would give anyone a game on that front. However, if the centre-halves I was up against were also strong in the air, I’d ask myself ‘can I get in behind?’. If they weren’t strong in the air, I knew I’d have a field day!"
Les on QPR role
Les: "I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It was an area of football I always felt I could do well in, an area I wanted to explore and it’s been really interesting. I was given the opportunity at QPR and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I do miss the coaching side, but I do get out there sometimes, but I’m really enjoying this role. It’s another string to the bow!"