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RH's tactics


David Hodgson

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For those that want a sensible positive discussion on the manager only -

 

My view is that RH has evaluated what he's got in the squad and is coming to the conclusion that a variation on the 'diamond formation' in midfield will best suit this squad. On paper its not to dissimilar to Chelsea's approach when trying to accomodate Lampard, Essien, Mikel, Ballack and sometimes Deco in the same midfield.

 

I think he feels that we don't have any wingers worthy of the name, so we're better off using a system that accomodates our best players in the same team at once. It's a nice idea, but it's going to take work. It necessitates a shorter passing game, and a good deal of understanding between the front 6. The movement and passing need to be right, and playing merely percentage balls, or being aggressive won't work.

 

If it comes off, before the wheels do, then I think we'll be a sophisticated and attractive unit. Much depends on whether RH will survive the journey getting to where he wants the team to be.

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I think the 'diamond' midfield relies on having full backs who are capable of getting forward and providing width. Johnson can do this, but he's playing like a bit of a donkey at present. None of our left backs can.

 

Hodgson's tactics leave too big a gap between the midfield and the striker and leave us too congested in midfield. We don't have sufficient passing ability in the midfield to play our way through and Gerrard and Cole are 'impact' players who will suddenly burst past a player and slip a ball into someone else. This doesn't really fit a slow, patient passing game. It doesn't suit Torres either. We have seen for Spain what happens whenever he plays in a team like this. He needs to be released early and one of the key facets of Torres' success before was that Gerrard hit the ball early to Torres and it got us up the field and attacking in an instant. It scares defenders.

 

With a slow passing game, it's easy to defend against because we'll have six players all occupying the middle part of the pitch. All the other team have to do is sit in, sit tight, keep their two banks of four and nip the ball off us when we try and play our way through.

 

I believe a 4-2-3-1 in the Rafa-mould is the way forward, with Gerrard supporting Torres, Kuyt wide right to provide width and work with Johnson and Cole left. This doesn't solve the problem of our zero attacking threat down the left, but in the absence of a proper winger or attacking full back there's little we can do. Aurelio can do a reasonable job of this, but he's never fit and even if he was Hodgson would probably favour Konchesky anyway.

 

As such, I don't think the formation you have suggested will work and would instead make us easy and predictable to play against us. It would deny us space, it would deny us the ability to break through with speed and it would nullify the attacking threats of Cole, Gerrard and Torres.

Edited by MFletcher
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I don't mind having a sensible discussion about the manager with you, however, positive is going to be almost impossible.

 

We don't have the players for this defend deep, surrender possession and soak up pressure game that he has shown no signs of dropping. He might have got away with it with Sami in his prime.

 

From my perspective we have not tried to play a diamond yet, or a short passing game. We surrender possession and counter quickly.

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Yes, there's an active policy of surrendering possession and 'sitting in'. We should be looking to control the ball and dominate possession. It tires the opposition out but, more importantly, they can't scare the s*** out of mediocre defence if they don't have the ball. We should be implementing a high pressing game to try and get the ball back. This will make us difficult to play against us and prevent the opposition from passing the ball around at will whilst we jog around on the D-line.

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For those that want a sensible positive discussion on the manager only -

 

My view is that RH has evaluated what he's got in the squad and is coming to the conclusion that a variation on the 'diamond formation' in midfield will best suit this squad. On paper its not to dissimilar to Chelsea's approach when trying to accomodate Lampard, Essien, Mikel, Ballack and sometimes Deco in the same midfield.

 

I think he feels that we don't have any wingers worthy of the name, so we're better off using a system that accomodates our best players in the same team at once. It's a nice idea, but it's going to take work. It necessitates a shorter passing game, and a good deal of understanding between the front 6. The movement and passing need to be right, and playing merely percentage balls, or being aggressive won't work.

 

If it comes off, before the wheels do, then I think we'll be a sophisticated and attractive unit. Much depends on whether RH will survive the journey getting to where he wants the team to be.

 

Shorter passing game, pressing the opponents, getting the best out of Torres and a defence with Agger in it ? Nope, can't see him discard a system that he believes in,

 

Have a straw on me, though.

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From my perspective we have not tried to play a diamond yet

 

No we haven't and Chelsea look much better since returning to more of a 4-3-3 despite having Essien, Lampard and Ballack they struggled at times. We have Poulson, Lucas and Meireles.

Edited by D.Boon
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I think the 'diamond' midfield relies on having full backs who are capable of getting forward and providing width. Johnson can do this, but he's playing like a bit of a donkey at present. None of our left backs can.

 

Hodgson's tactics leave too big a gap between the midfield and the striker and leave us too congested in midfield. We don't have sufficient passing ability in the midfield to play our way through and Gerrard and Cole are 'impact' players who will suddenly burst past a player and slip a ball into someone else. This doesn't really fit a slow, patient passing game. It doesn't suit Torres either. We have seen for Spain what happens whenever he plays in a team like this. He needs to be released early and one of the key facets of Torres' success before was that Gerrard hit the ball early to Torres and it got us up the field and attacking in an instant. It scares defenders.

With a slow passing game, it's easy to defend against because we'll have six players all occupying the middle part of the pitch. All the other team have to do is sit in, sit tight, keep their two banks of four and nip the ball off us when we try and play our way through.

 

I believe a 4-2-3-1 in the Rafa-mould is the way forward, with Gerrard supporting Torres, Kuyt wide right to provide width and work with Johnson and Cole left. This doesn't solve the problem of our zero attacking threat down the left, but in the absence of a proper winger or attacking full back there's little we can do. Aurelio can do a reasonable job of this, but he's never fit and even if he was Hodgson would probably favour Konchesky anyway.

 

As such, I don't think the formation you have suggested will work and would instead make us easy and predictable to play against us. It would deny us space, it would deny us the ability to break through with speed and it would nullify the attacking threats of Cole, Gerrard and Torres.

 

 

you see the bits i've highlighted here. well, the first 2 bits i've highlighted were the problems we had last season. last season you were defending this system as our only option because of confidence and who we had to pick from. its impossible to take you seriously if you are going to slaughter a man for having the same problems and making a lot of the same mistakes that Rafa made yet you defended everything Rafa did and excused every mistake he made with such enthusiasm.

 

the last bit i highligted, the system Rafa employed last season with the personnel he had last season was actually the problem. playing 2 holding midfielders who both were very limited in what they could do, neither great passers and neither getting forward, was what was causing the gap between midfield and forward as players like Kuyt and Gerrard were having to drop deeper and deeper to collect the ball and leaving the striker isolated. that was why we struggled so much away from home and why we scored so few goals away from home after Christmas.

 

 

for us to improve, IMO, we need to rip up the tactics employed by Rafa last season, and Roy this. we need to play to the strengths of our best players. we need to play to the strengths of Torres, gerrard, Cole and Meireles. play to their strengths, because what we are doing at the minute, and what we did last season too, was try and over compensate for the weaknesses of our worst players, Insua, Skrtel, Carragher and Lucas. the same thing is happening this season. the team is geared up around not exposing the weaker players. its safety first, and although i'm not advocating a Keegan style all out attack mentality, i do believe we need to get Agger in at CB, we need to get Johnson to get his head sorted, and we need to attack through midfield with quicker passing and more running off the ball. because when we move it quick, when we play like this, as we have shown in glimpses, we are a very hard side to play against.

 

For that reason, i'd start trying to introduce Shelvey into CM, initially with Meireles or Gerrard, with Cole on the left and Babel (yes yes i know) on the right to provide pace and width, with one of Gerrard or Meireles (whoever isnt playing in CM) supporting Torres, and go out and attack teams.

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It's not a diamond formation it's tucked in wide men and he played the same way at Fulham. http://www.zonalmark...urg-0-0-fulham/

 

This sounds depressingly familiar........

 

"Fulham's wide midfielders played a mainly defensive role, sitting in front of their full-backs and forming two banks of four. It was difficult for them to provide much of an attacking threat as they were generally picking the ball up 70 yards from goal.

 

Fulham's main route of attack, therefore, was to knock long balls to Bobby Zamora"

Edited by D.Boon
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Without wishing to go over old ground for about the 300th time, I have already explained why I defended Rafa. One need only look at the way the team was setup in the last few months of 08/09 to know that he had a far more positive, attacking, excellent setup which he was capable of implementing. Not just again s*** teams like Blackpool, but against giants of the game like Real and Barca who were practically steamrollered when they came to Anfield (how the latter won that game I'll never know).

 

Last season was an aberration, not the status quo.Therein lies the difference. If Roy had a record of steamrollering teams in the way Rafa's teams were capable of, I'd be the first person in the queue to say 'give him more time and show some bleeding patience - we know what he's capable of and he needs to be allowed time'. Unfortunately this is what Hodgson is capable of and, unlike Rafa, I see no light at the end of the tunnel. We need a better approach which takes advantage of our best players and instead we're playing Fulham-style tactics where draws and picking up points here and there will do - and this is all going on against a backdrop of media comments which consistently imply that Hodgson is content with the performances and thinks this is our level. Whether he believes it or not I don't know, but it's insulting to be told that we shouldn't be expecting much from going to Birmingham and the setup and subsequent performance on the day reflected that.

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Without wishing to go over old ground for about the 300th time, I have already explained why I defended Rafa. One need only look at the way the team was setup in the last few months of 08/09 to know that he had a far more positive, attacking, excellent setup which he was capable of implementing. Not just again s*** teams like Blackpool, but against giants of the game like Real and Barca who were practically steamrollered when they came to Anfield (how the latter won that game I'll never know).

 

Last season was an aberration, not the status quo.Therein lies the difference. If Roy had a record of steamrollering teams in the way Rafa's teams were capable of, I'd be the first person in the queue to say 'give him more time and show some bleeding patience - we know what he's capable of and he needs to be allowed time'. Unfortunately this is what Hodgson is capable of and, unlike Rafa, I see no light at the end of the tunnel. We need a better approach which takes advantage of our best players and instead we're playing Fulham-style tactics where draws and picking up points here and there will do - and this is all going on against a backdrop of media comments which consistently imply that Hodgson is content with the performances and thinks this is our level. Whether he believes it or not I don't know, but it's insulting to be told that we shouldn't be expecting much from going to Birmingham and the setup and subsequent performance on the day reflected that.

 

yet you still want to go back with a Rafa style 4-2-3-1. with these players. despite it not working last season, and not working not because of the system but because the players we had couldnt play it. for that system to work, you need the 2 sitting midfielders to be able to pass the ball. and i dont mean 2 yards sideways or back to Reina, i mean setting attacks up. but then we had a player who could make that happen, and after unsuccessfully trying to offload him 2 years ago, managed it last summer and the entire system went to s***. yet, nothing was changed. we perservered with the system trying to fit dodecahedron pegs into hexagonal holes. and you want to go back to that because you think it will be success? it wont be a success with these players, not now, not ever.

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for us to improve, IMO, we need to rip up the tactics employed by Rafa last season, and Roy this. we need to play to the strengths of our best players. we need to play to the strengths of Torres, gerrard, Cole and Meireles. play to their strengths, because what we are doing at the minute, and what we did last season too, was try and over compensate for the weaknesses of our worst players, Insua, Skrtel, Carragher and Lucas. the same thing is happening this season. the team is geared up around not exposing the weaker players. its safety first, and although i'm not advocating a Keegan style all out attack mentality, i do believe we need to get Agger in at CB, we need to get Johnson to get his head sorted, and we need to attack through midfield with quicker passing and more running off the ball. because when we move it quick, when we play like this, as we have shown in glimpses, we are a very hard side to play against.

 

For that reason, i'd start trying to introduce Shelvey into CM, initially with Meireles or Gerrard, with Cole on the left and Babel (yes yes i know) on the right to provide pace and width, with one of Gerrard or Meireles (whoever isnt playing in CM) supporting Torres, and go out and attack teams.

 

 

I agree and have been saying this for ages.

Two holding midfielders have been used because the defence is not as strong as it was a few seasons ago. It's why i think it strange that Rafa signed Johnson and decided to have us playing with two attacking fullbacks. I realise he tried to sign a centre half but the centre half should have been the priority and the first signing. Johnson was a luxury we could not afford at the time.

 

Three in the middle - Gerrard, Meireles and Lucas / Shelvey

Two behind Torres playing the old inside left / right positions.

 

And play football. For too long we've been worrying about the opposition too much. Hodgson is making the same mistakes as Rafa but applying tactics even less suitable to the players we have. And if people thought Rafa might have poor motivational skills, then what does that make Hodgson ? His comments to the press and his ineptness during matches must be affecting the players

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It's easy to defend against us, because we're so slow in moving the ball from defence to midfield and attack. It takes ages for us to realize it. And most of the time we lose possesion anyway. Problem is that we don;t have quality enough (anymore), but that's clear.

We lack some key attributes to deploy a certain system. We have a bit of all, but just not enough. Most of our players are needing to much time on the ball to controll it. And we don't have wingers who can run at players, go past them and cross it.

Our defence is also slow, so it is natural that they sit deep against our own box certainly when we're playing on a larger pitch. Sort the defence out and press the opposition on their half and not ours. Put Gerrrard close to Torres, because he's the only one who can launch him in an instant second. Put Mereiles in CM with the approval to attack. Kuyt on the right would be no problem because his lack of pace wouldn't be restricting him anymore. And maybe Johnson would improve as well, but I prefer Kelly there coz Johnson can't defend.

Left side is a serous problem though. My first choice would be Aurelio as left back, but he's never fit. Left midfield i honestly wouldn't know who to put there. Jova and Cole haven't got the pace. Cole keeps crowling inside there for not using the width of the pitch and allowing the opposition to make it narrow.

Edited by Gerrardrules
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I think the 'diamond' midfield relies on having full backs who are capable of getting forward and providing width. Johnson can do this, but he's playing like a bit of a donkey at present. None of our left backs can.

Insua. One of the best attacking left backs in the PL last year, with 5 assists and according to some independent rating system, behind only A Cole and Evra (and ahead of the likes of Clichy and Bale).

 

What about defensively?

 

What are the tactics there?

HBHR at RAWK identified it as 2 banks of 4, yielding the flanks and midfield and challenging the opposition to play through the compact formation. Which is theoretically ideal against someone like Arsenal who like to play though the middle, but chronically vulnerable against anyone with wingers as the CBs are s**** in the air.

 

I agree and have been saying this for ages.

Two holding midfielders have been used because the defence is not as strong as it was a few seasons ago. It's why i think it strange that Rafa signed Johnson and decided to have us playing with two attacking fullbacks. I realise he tried to sign a centre half but the centre half should have been the priority and the first signing. Johnson was a luxury we could not afford at the time.

 

Three in the middle - Gerrard, Meireles and Lucas / Shelvey

Two behind Torres playing the old inside left / right positions.

 

And play football. For too long we've been worrying about the opposition too much. Hodgson is making the same mistakes as Rafa but applying tactics even less suitable to the players we have. And if people thought Rafa might have poor motivational skills, then what does that make Hodgson ? His comments to the press and his ineptness during matches must be affecting the players

The set up last year was actually moving towards a one size fits all steamroller ideal. A midfield 2 that yields to no-one. Wide forwards who support the centre. Attacking full backs on both sides. The only thing that was missing was the high defensive line. Have a look in Inter forums and you'll see the same debate there about Mourinho's deep defensive line vs Benitez's high line, how Benitez's ideas sacrifice defensive solidity in return for more attacking fluency.

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If we want to play a short passing game we need players who move the ball quicker than Pouslen, Lucas and Kuyt. All three are terrible for getting the ball and turning towards our goal.

Lucas and Kuyt are actually good at the short passing game. Getting the ball and turning towards goal isn't the most important aspect of the short pass and move game.

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4-2-3-1, definitely with a high defensive line. I know we will ship more counter attack goals, but the defence will also be subjected to less pressure as we will have the impetus in attacking.

As for Gunga's pronouncement that we don't have the players, we didn't last year. I think with Meireles we do now.

 

Ideally,

Johnson and the other guy as attacking fullbacks, (I think Hodgson should swallow his pride and try and get Insua back.)

Agger and another as cb's

Lucas and Raul as out midfield two, one to sit and one to link play, but alternating though think it would be more of a 20:80 in favour of Raul

Cole, Gerrard, Kuyt as our attacking three with Torres as the spear.

 

Attacking subs are easy at this point - we have Jova, babel, maxi and pacheco for any attacking three position, we still need that back-up striker for Torres though, as much as I rate N'Gog, he is unsuitable as a lone striker at the moment.

 

Edit: Spelling

Edited by yuriska
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yet you still want to go back with a Rafa style 4-2-3-1. with these players. despite it not working last season, and not working not because of the system but because the players we had couldnt play it. for that system to work, you need the 2 sitting midfielders to be able to pass the ball. and i dont mean 2 yards sideways or back to Reina, i mean setting attacks up. but then we had a player who could make that happen, and after unsuccessfully trying to offload him 2 years ago, managed it last summer and the entire system went to s***. yet, nothing was changed. we perservered with the system trying to fit dodecahedron pegs into hexagonal holes. and you want to go back to that because you think it will be success? it wont be a success with these players, not now, not ever.

 

I think sticking Meireles in for Masch changes the dynamic of the team (Ideally you'd still have Masch there alongside him but that's another issue). It also has to be said we were a different side with Aquilani in it at the end of the season, we moved the ball much better. That system wasn't the problem, it was the same one that got us to 2nd the season previous. I said at the end of last season that us finishing 7th had as much to do with the general air about the club as the mistakes made by the manager, we still have that air about the club but not we have a poorer manager making more mistakes than his predecessor.

Edited by Maldini
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yet you still want to go back with a Rafa style 4-2-3-1. with these players. despite it not working last season, and not working not because of the system but because the players we had couldnt play it. for that system to work, you need the 2 sitting midfielders to be able to pass the ball. and i dont mean 2 yards sideways or back to Reina, i mean setting attacks up. but then we had a player who could make that happen, and after unsuccessfully trying to offload him 2 years ago, managed it last summer and the entire system went to s***. yet, nothing was changed. we perservered with the system trying to fit dodecahedron pegs into hexagonal holes. and you want to go back to that because you think it will be success? it wont be a success with these players, not now, not ever.

 

You're forgetting Meireles, who is more than capable of passing the ball well from the centre. He also has intelligence and movement and would be capable of supporting the attack whilst Lucas sits.

 

Quite why we continue to waste him on the right hand side of midfield I really don't know.

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