When the term ‘Angelball’ was uttered at Pedro Porro at Tottenham’s training ground, he immediately laughed.
Porro then jokingly repeats the phrase out loud before explaining why it elicits such a warm reaction from him.
“It’s a system that I’m really suited to and it works really well for me,” the Spaniard said exclusively. Aerial sports on his 24th birthday, via an interpreter.
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“It’s a new system that I’ve never played before. I play inside as a full-back, but it’s a place where I feel confident.
“I feel really happy there and I think it shows when I play.”
A beaming Porro is loving his transformation from flying winger to inverted full-back under new Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou.
“For me, it wasn’t that difficult to adapt to the new system,” he admits. “I am someone who approaches these new concepts relatively easily.
“The difference is that with five (in defense) I can have more freedom to attack, whereas with four (in defense) I often defend in a line of four so I have really worked. worked a lot on my defensive game and I think I’m improving in that area.
“It’s different, but I feel good in both systems and, really, I will play wherever the coach asks me.
“I enjoy it and more and more every day I think I have the vision.
“The coaching staff says I have the vision to take over this part of the game and the new system.”
Porro’s promising evolution into an inverted full-back was demonstrated in Spurs’ final game before the international break as they hammered Burnley 5-2 at Turf Moor.
He provided a wonderful assist – his first of the season – for Heung-Min Son’s hat-trick goal after the right-back took up a central midfield position and then bent a delicious through ball for South Korean international brand.
When Aerial sports shows Porro these stills of his inverted full-back role for the goal, the bright smile returns.
“In this particular case,” he says, “I just tried to be focused and I always try to look for spaces, because a lot of times we work on the need to be ready and be able to choose “That’s really what we work on a lot and that’s what I did here.”
His assist at Burnley combined with his last 12 third-placed starts – the most of any player in the win – reinforced Porro’s suitability for Postecoglou’s free-flowing system following doubts over his role under the Australian.
Porro joined Spurs in January to play as a right-back in Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 system, so the move to 4-3-3 under Postecoglou this summer has raised question marks over the how he would fit in – especially after making his permanent move from Sporting Lisbon for a reported £39m.
Those concerns were heightened when he was an unused substitute in the opening weekend draw at Brentford, with Emerson Royal favored at right-back as he scored the equalizer.
But Porro surprisingly started the next match against Manchester United only to receive heavy criticism from Aerial sports Gary Neville during commentary on his deployment as an inverted full-back.
“The reason why 95 percent of full-backs play as full-backs is that they cannot receive the ball on the midfield turn,” he said from the first minutes.
Neville then despaired just before half-time: “I definitely don’t have it. Honestly, Porro thinks he’s Rodri meets Xavi.
“If you’re a Manchester United player who’s putting pressure, you want them to play the ball. It almost cost them goals in that first half.
“It doesn’t work if you’re not comfortable with the ball. (Destiny) Udogie and Porro do well when they get into the attacking part of the pitch, but when it’s in the defensive half they have to get out from there because it poses even more problems.”
Porro, however, responded with a strong second-half performance that helped Tottenham record their first win under Postecoglou, and he has started every Premier League game since impressing in wins over Bournemouth and Burnley.
It wasn’t the first time Porro had to overcome criticism either, after former Spurs boss Tim Sherwood described his February debut as “incredibly bad” on Football Saturday after the 4-1 defeat at Leicester.
Asked if he is motivated by the idea of proving the doubters wrong, Porro replied: “To be honest, there is so much talk about football and the way we play.
“At first there were times where I felt a little unloved in that sense, but not because of anyone in particular, just because of the noise.
“At the end of the day, it’s up to me. I’m the one who has to change people’s minds.
I definitely won’t have it. Honestly, Porro thinks Rodri is meeting Xavi. It doesn’t work if you’re not comfortable with the ball.
“The criticism itself, I don’t give too much importance to it and I just focus on my own game because I’m the one who can change these things.”
Porro is certainly changing under Postecoglou. He is averaging more successful passes, more touches and more shots in the Premier League this season than last.
But it’s on the defensive side where Porro really needs to refine his game, with the defender spending more time in his own box this season than last, as the graph below illustrates.
After Porro’s inspection of the heat map, Aerial sports asks him if he has worked harder on his defensive game and he replies: “Yes, absolutely.
“With the five-man defense you have the responsibility to attack. You are often the reserve man to advance, whereas with the four-man defense you have to be focused all the time in defense and therefore you must always be ready when you move forward.
“You can get involved in going forward as well, but you have to be willing to go back and defend, and I know that’s something I’ve had to work harder on in my game.”
Porro’s defensive qualities will be put under the microscope next weekend when Spurs take on rivals Arsenal in the first north London derby of the season on September 24, live on Aerial sports.
But Postecoglou’s side have an ideal chance to maintain their momentum ahead of this crucial match at the Emirates Stadium with the visit of winless Sheffield United on Saturday.
Second-placed Spurs face the newly-promoted side, who are unbeaten in the Premier League and aiming for a fourth successive victory – a form which stands in stark contrast to the end of last season when Tottenham won just two of their last eight games to finishing a disappointing eighth. .
“I think it’s more the work we do as a team,” Porro responds when asked why Spurs started so well. “We’re all together and I think that’s the most important thing.”
It is a unity and a unity that is brought to life by Postecoglou in a radical change from the gloom of the last campaign.
Postecoglou’s Spurs revolution is truly in full swing and he has a major supporter and beneficiary in Porro.
“I’m really, really happy with the way things are going,” he says. “Since he (Postecoglou) arrived here, he has given us so much positivity towards the team and that is something very important for the players, and I think you can see that when we play.”
But whenever Spurs aren’t playing, it will be Porro’s dazzling smile that shows Angeball’s profound impact on this Tottenham team.
Watch Arsenal vs Tottenham live Sky Sports main event And Sky Sports Premier League September 24 from 1 p.m.; kick-off at 2 p.m.