Seems to me that the idea is to devise a system that gets the best out of your best players, exposes the weaknesses of your opponents and ensures that you outnumber your opponents in every phase of the game. Should be simple. Lets start at the back. We are only allowed one goalkeeper. Fortunately we have a fairly good one. That’s settled.
Now then the next bit is keeping the blighters away from in front of our goal. In the old days everybody played 4-4-2 so people came up with three central defenders to outnumber their two strikers. So the cunning managers, ooh I’m being awfully polite here, switched to one striker so that we have surplus central defenders and moved their number 10’s deeper. So we went back to two central defenders and swapped the sweeper from behind the back four to in front and called him a defensive midfielder. That stops them in front of goal, what about the flanks?
Meanwhile when we had wingers, you know players who could dribble past players and put in crosses for the centre forward to head in, there also existed fullbacks designed to stop them, and we pulled our wingers back to help out and we even used a central defender if desperate.
But now we don’t have wingers to worry about. We have players who play on the wrong side and cut inside and play sneaky balls to the strikers feet. If a ball is to played to the strikers head, a forgotten art, then we rely on our central defenders to deal with it. Really it only happens at set pieces these days. They also use wingbacks who go past our fullbacks once their wide men have pulled them out of position.
And sometimes there are four strikers if they play this newfangled 4-2-3-1 so now we go back to four defenders and two defensive midfielders so that we have six men taking on their four. Oh but we really want 3 central midfielders to control the park. So that means we don’t have enough places left for strikers. At this World Cup we have seen the innovation of the defensive midfielder dropping back to become a third central defender allowing the fullbacks to move forward.
So do we have room for strikers. Brisvegas suggested the Kabbalh approach the other day. 3-3-3-1 with an attacking midfielder rather than a defensive midfielder. A very narrow system. No wingers. A similar system with seven attackers across the front is called the Menorah. But these systems are better left to rival teams, such as Spurs. A Tibetan tantric system which leaves a player in the box all day has been tried, but he never scores. The World cup exposes us to so many new ideas, including trying to win. As well as showcasing the talents of all those wonderful talents, which we can’t afford.
Anyway, lets look at our squad and see what we have. Granted we don’t have any strikers anyway. So lets go for clean sheets and hope we can sneak something. Works for Mourinho. But suppose for a moment we could buy a player or two. Now let’s not get excited it has happened.
So given all this how do we set-up for this season? My suggestion is this. Fabricio Coloccini is a very good central defender who reads the game brilliantly which is good because he is not as fast as he should be. What he needs are legs alongside him. I think that Mapou Yanga M’Biwa has had his season settling in and would be a good choice alongside him but I would want to buy a young defender with Premier League experience to make up a threesome. Micah Richards would be great. These players along with Cheik Tiote can patrol the centre of the park and prevent any nasty attacks developing.
We could then play two box-to-box midfielders who can find a pass. Moussa Sissoko is one and Jack Colback or Vurnon Anita is the other. We need two wingbacks, with Daryl Janmaat filling the right and Davide Santon on the left. That then leaves two up front. Siem De Jong and Papiss Cisse, when fit, given the lack of choice. Where do we play Remy Cabella? Drop a striker? Not if we buy a new one. Drop a defender? Have you seen our goals against column? Play with 12 players? I wish. Different set up home and away? WM; Christmas trees: Double Diamonds?
So there we are 3-5-2 with new players needed. Or 3-3-2-2 put another way. Obvious really. What we haven’t covered is the fact that people rotate during the game or are moved slightly to block opponents strengths etc etc.
Personally I like the good old days. Get Andy Carroll back and lump balls into the box. But then I was born and raised in Wimbledon, and was bought up on a system devised by Don Howe and Gerry Francis.
Ah the Glory Days. We even won the cup!