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Shaun Farrell continues his series of articles looking back at the 2009/10 season, over to you Faz:

Whilst I don`t claim to be any type of Statto (though I do look like him when I`ve got my glasses and dressing gown on), I have been brought up around the game. I`ve also spent my life watching and to a lesser extent playing football whilst also devouring every morsel of info I can get about the game. Therefore I`m probably not the best in the world at tactics but I could hold my own.

Now some of you will be reading this and thinking what Tactics? Yes I agree that most of the season we have seen the same 541 or 433 as Roberto calls it which in some games has served us well whilst on others has been sloppy and ineffective. Well I`m going to take a look at this whilst also pondering some other ideas.

The 541 433 4231 or whatever you want to call it has been our main tactic all season. What it means is that we play our 4 defenders, 2 defensive midfielders, 3 attacking midfielders and a striker. In theory what should happen is that the 2 defensive midfielders should be able to control the ball and break down attacks whilst the defence should be able to play the ball over the defensive midfielders to the attacking midfielders giving us 4 players attacking the oppositions defence opening up spaces.

However what has actually been happening for us is that we have either hit big cross field balls to the wingers or we have tried to play it out from the back using short balls which are easy to intercept. We have also found that because of the pace of our 2 wingers when they do make a break our striker and supporting midfielders are behind play or the big ball hit`s a winger or striker and the player is swamped by the defence before they get a chance to do anything with it.

Bobby also plays a left footed player on the right and a right footer on the left. In theory it means that when the ball gets hit from the defence the winger can cut straight in putting the defence on the back foot.

We`ve seen this tactic used well in the past with Lee mc however that was slightly different with the fact we aimed for lees head knowing how good he was in the air and the fact he was taller and stronger than most fullbacks. The problem with this tactic is that whilst it works for the start of the season players get used to it and know what is going to happen. For instance I could go out to the pitch before the start of the game with a can of spray paint and make 2 marks on either wing and you could guarantee that Rodders would cut in between them every time and zoggy 90% of the time. The rare occasions we have gone to the byline and put a cross in we have looked dangerous.

As for the striker too many times this season we have seen our player that should be scoring goals breaking up the play and slowing down attacks. Playing a short, slow striker in Scotland means that none of our attacks hit high down the middle will pay off yet we have seen that as a target man to feet Jason can hold a ball up better than any. It`s just a pity that none of our strikers have the confidence at the moment to play facing goal or take a turn to create some space and take a shot. We also have a problem playing 1 upfront in that if the striker has to come deep to pick up the ball the defence can push up meaning our fast wingers risk being off side and instead start sitting deep on the strikers shoulders rather than going past him.

Imagine it in your head, if Jason comes deep to collect the ball to feet instead of holding it up he should be playing it to Scharner, Gomez, McCarthy or whoever is in that Centre Midfield Attacking role who should then spray it fast to either the left or right wing were Rodders or Zoggy would have no one in front of them, however it always seems to be held up at Scotlands feet.

All season I`ve been waiting to see this tactic pay off and it could so easily of we had the right personnel. What should happen is that the 3 attacking midfielders should be swapping positions and interchanging so no man marking can go on. Yeah teams can defend zonal but if you`ve had a player on your wing all game that wants to cut in then all of a sudden you`ve got a player that wants to go down the line you find yourself drawn out of position and other players have to help making more space for the attacking players.

As for the striker I still stand by my comments that seeing as we played a midfield with 3 players that can score and frighten defences with speed, pace and power and a striker that doesn`t score why not play no striker at all.

460 has been used on the continent for many years with great success. It`s also been used here by Everton and Manchester Utd again to great success (in fact Utd won the league using it and Everton got to the FA cup final). The problem with it is you have to be well drilled and well trained to make the most of it. In all honesty it probably wouldn`t work with Scharner as he lacks the discipline to stay in the position.

What it actually means in layman terms is that you don`t play any out and out striker instead your attacking midfield 4 take turns in different roles. It could be for 1 attack they all play striker and the defence faces 4 strikers or it could be none of them play striker. It could be the left winger plays highest or the right or it could be 2 players take a turn as strikers.

Alternatively it could be the players have all swapped positions and drawn the defence all over the place meaning Thomas or Diame could break through the middle. It`s extremely difficult to do well but its benefits are immeasurable. The defending team has 2 choices they either defend deep or high. They can`t play zonal as 1 player could have 2 or 3 players in his zone and they can`t man mark as they get drawn all over the place. If they sit high they open up space behind them for the faster players to take advantage of, if they sit deep they are asking the attack to come straight at them.

This tactic in my eyes is the future in British football. Yeah it`s difficult to play well but if you get it right you win matches. Like I said I couldn`t see Scharner doing it as he would always want to be the striker but if we have a good summer and bring the right personnel in it`s a possibility.

Bobby has faith in the 541 and maybe it is the personnel that we are lacking to make it a success but I would like to see us having other tactics that we could use as this season we have struggled against the strong powerful teams whilst played through footballing sides.

Tactics is all about playing the right game against the right opponent. Well I don`t need to tell you that do I?

by Fazman

Faz`s other articles:

Manager and Coaching Staff

The Players

Seasonal Expectations and Targets

Transfers In and Out

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Date:Saturday May 1 2010
Time: 7:00AM


Good write up Faz and pretty much spot on. Martinez said he wanted to be unpredictable at the start of the season, and in fact we ended up very predictable at times. Having seen a good number of away games I thought we often got the tactics wrong, and our defence at times has looked under siege with little support. It’s been said many times that Bob doesn’t have a plan B when needed. Most of our best performances were when the playing style and general formation wasn’t too rigid and too predictable. The other main problem this season is that we have created many goal scoring opportunities and the stickers we have have failed to monopolise on those chances.
01/05/2010 09:31:00
Could it be argued that Scotland isn't being played as a striker? Many on here would claim something to similar effect, but for a different reason.
01/05/2010 09:33:00
haha centre i see what ur saying but scotlands led the line this year arguably with some success! I wonder if he came to us having scored less goals we would be more forgiving!
01/05/2010 12:06:00
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