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15-09-2011, 06:05 AM #1
I've been playing alot of Football Manager, reading quite a few forum posts and smoking and drinking quite a bit and this has gotten me thinking.. There is no reason we cannot beat any team with basically the same starting 11..
Defenders: Kaboul/Corluka, Dawson, which ever other CB is healthiest (Kaboul, most likely), BAE
Midfielders: VDV, Modric, Sandro, Parker, Bale, sometimes THudd is relief of Parker and Sandro (or even Modric depending on starting formation)..
If we take these 11 players, say against Real Madrid, we'll have be able to start in a 4-1-4-1, with Sandro as an anchorman and Hudd as a CM, modric as CM and VDV as RM.. get a lucky goal on the counter or what have you and we could take it from there..
4-4-1-1: Modric on the right and VDV as a no 10..
4-5-1: Modric and VDV as either RAM or CAM - all of the other positions are fairly obvious..
4-3-3: Modric in Mid; VDV, RW
All of these formations are doable with the starting eleven presented and to some degree without parker (in the case of the last season) entirely. I am aware that our biggest problem last year was the inability to score, but this also falls on the midfield, we have to commit not just VDV to attacking but also the two outside midfielders (and responsible overlapping from the full backs) once we are in the final third ( 4-5-1, not just running to the byline and getting an acrobatic cross). we are trying to play with one striker but at the same time use the wings as if there are two (head to the byline and cross) - who did we expect to get a head to the ball besides Pav/Crouch and what a job they did!
Something has to be said about Harry's tactical inflexibility, but that is not where I want to go.. I know it is possible for things to get confusing with all of the shifting, but we have an intelligent squad.. There are no dummies at Spurs.. City has the best 4-5-1, United the best 4-4-2 and some midtable team the best 4-1-4-1, but we would definitely be the most fluid.. What do you think? Is this too ambitious or can we pull this off and finish top four every year like this team is capable of? At the very least we would draw with Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool both home and away, which would surely be enough even though a 4-1-4-1 is not "attractive football."
15-09-2011, 08:37 PM #2
1. We do not have a particularly intelligent squad. Of the midfielders you mentioned (VDV, Modric, Sandro, Parker, Bale, sometimes THudd is relief of Parker and Sandro), Only Modric has truly shined playing multiple positions (and only 2 at that). The rest have been sub-par playing outside their optimum roles, and sub-par is not good enough.
2. With the midfield we have, I could put them in all sorts of formations, but those formations would not get the most out of players AND they would often not be suited for our best players (e.g. Modric, Bale).
For Example: Gareth Bale, Gareth is head and shoulders better playing on the LEFT wing in a 4-4-2. In a 4-3-3 he does not have the space to run into and is less effective, similarly on the rare occasion we did play a 4-5-1 last season (as opposed to a 4-4-1-1) Bale was asked to attack more, but when forward was left isolated up the pitch (he was playing with Pav tho). When Bale has played on the right he has been less effective. So why not just leave Bale out of the squad for say Modric? Because it would take away our best LW player for a lesser player, albeit possibly suiting tactics a bit more.
Second Example: Modric, Modric plays marvelously in the central midfield and also plays very well as a narrow LW - but he doesn't make the contribution to the team on the LW that he does in the CM. He would, for instance, work well in a diamond midfield on the left. But we don't play a diamond midfield because if we did (parker,modric, hudd, vdv) we would be too slow/light defensively. The point is you want your best players - the ones that make the special plays that lead to goals - in positions that maximize their talent so they can do those special things.
3. Formations do need to be rearranged to suit opponents and player form. But unfortunately that has not been possible in recent years do to having a lot of one dimensional players. Perhaps the flexibility of Ade will do a lot to alleviate this (he likes to come out to the wings, play target man in the center, or make runs behind defenders), but time will have to tell. Man U has for years adjusted their midfield based on who they are playing. They have done this by playing 1. a holding "possession" central midfielder that stays deep and retains possession but also manages some hard tackles. 2. Wingers that can play both narrow or wide (inverted or traditional). 3. and lastly some extremely experienced players that have extensive experience playing in most midfield positions - they are used to fill the holes.
Our team currently has none of the above 3 things that makes Man U so versatile. But even with this versatility, sir alex does not change his formation up that often, he really just adjusts the roles of his wingers each game.
I have been really busy lately, and didn't get to write about last weekends game at wolves, but it was one of Harry's best tactical games as a manager (despite people's bitching about Bale playing on the right). It saw GB playing on both sides (mostly right) but more importantly saw us play a narrow game (I'll come back to that). This was only a slight change in our formation, but still it took us the whole first half to adjust, and that shows just how hard these changes can be. The choice to play a narrow game against wolves made it difficult for them to hit us on the break or play their game. This resulted in a scrappy midfield battle, which as harry counted on, the better players won. (Harry learned from trying to beat wolves playing our normal formation last season - we lost 3-1 at home, then tied 3-3 away). So perhaps, the versatility of our midfield that you talk about above, was somewhat shown last week. Though I question the extent that versatility can be pushed - Bale did have a poor game and although Niko had a very good game, our play was very rusty.
Edit: horrible spelling.
Last edited by Dustin; 17-09-2011 at 03:09 AM.
15-09-2011, 08:49 PM #3
@Dustin - Top class post. My only quibble is we actually won 3-1 against Wolves at home last year. But the year before they did the double on us, so I think your point still stands. I just remember the 3-1 win b/c we came from behind to get it and Hutton played out of his mind, earned the penalty that put us ahead and then scored a goal of his own. I remember it b/c that single solid performance led to "starting at right back: Alan Hutton" for the next four months.
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