Minority Report - Talking Tactics (3)

Discussion in 'Bulletin Board' started by Red Rain, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. Red

    Red Rain Well-Known Member

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    This is the second of my longer pieces that deal with topics that interest me. There will be a piece before each of our home Championship games. This one deals with the 4-4-2 system and the way that Stendel uses the system differently to the standard model. I hope you enjoy it.

    Understanding the game; the reasoning behind Stendel's 4-4-2

    Part 1

    Everyone knows 4-4-2. It is the systems that we were all brought up with. It consists of 2 centre backs and 2 full backs (4), 2 centre midfield players and 2 wide midfield players (4) and 2 forwards (2). It is described as 4-4-2 in its defensive shape, but in its attacking shape, it more resembles 2-4-4 as the full backs push forward into midfield positions and the wide midfield players push forward to the forward line. Indeed, over-lapping full backs can be in advance of wide midfield players.


    So far, so obvious. When I was a kid that was as far thinking on formations had progressed. Every team played in exactly the same way, and as a result, there was no advantage to be had from the system. The attacking and defensive shapes were well understood and every player understood his role. The over-lapping full back, such a revelation when it was first introduced, was nullified when the opposition wide player dropped back mark the full back and effectively, to stop the overload. There had to be a new line of thinking to redefine the system in order to try to regain some differential advantage.


    The way that Stendel played 4-4-2 last season, our wide player often did not follow the opposition full back when he advanced, and this created an opportunity to overload on our full backs. This was often mentioned by accusatory BBS correspondents in relation to a winger not working hard enough. However, cover for the overload was often provided, not by the wide player, but by the nearest free player. That might be a midfield player or it might be a central defender, but it resulted in the rest of the defence changing position/orientation slightly in order to compensate for the covering player being dragged out of position, sometimes with a forward player dropping deeper to cover any hole that resulted in midfield. You often saw the full back on the other side of the field narrow his position in order to cover a centre back, who has in turn moved to cover his colleague who has moved to cover the overlap. This has resulted in two more changes as compared to the full back role from my youth. Full backs are now playing deliberately much narrower than they used to do, leaving the opposition wide players in more space and with more time. They do not mark the wide player closely like they did in my youth, preferring to narrow the gap between full back and centre back in order to cut out damaging through balls that sought to exploit that gap and to cover one-twos aimed at by-passing the centre backs. The bonus is that they are in a much better position to cover as described above, when the defence has to change position in order to cover any overlap. The upshot of this change of role for full backs is that full backs in the modern game are getting much taller than they once were. The reason is that in the above scenario, they are often stand-in centre backs, and as such, they have to be able to win the ball in aerial challenges. Expect this tendency to be confirmed when a new left back arrives in the January window. You see, in today’s game, defending is no longer just a job for the four who start deepest. Defending, and for that matter attacking, is for all outfield players. When a BBSer blames the defence, he is generally referring to the back four, but in truth a goal could result from any outfield member of the team losing concentration, and not doing the job that he has been assigned. The BBSer simply blames the defender closest to the player who scores, and generally, he looks no deeper than that.


    One of the problems with the system is that it potentially involves every player, and because of that, every player must be reading the game all of the time. They must recognise the triggers and they must recognise accurately what their role is in the developing circumstances. It is not easy and it takes a lot of time to learn the system properly.


    But why was the system changed? Well as I said above, the counter-measure for the over-lapping full back is just too predictable. Leaving a wide player up field creates a defensive problem, which can be overcome by good team play as I have described above, but it also creates an opportunity for us on the counter-attack when the ball is won back. When we win the ball back, our wide player is potentially unmarked. Last season, that opportunity on the counter-attack meant that in the main, our opponents at Oakwell respected our threat on the counter and did not even both to try to work the potential overload on our full backs. Many were far happier to stay in shape, and secure defensively, especially Scunthorpe who played with a back 5 that stayed as a back 5, even when they had secure possession. I am not sure that we will see the same scenario this season when our opponents will be far more relaxed about their ability to match us going forward. During his brief time in charge, Morais, who played in the same way, found that our opponents did not respect the potential danger of our wide players. We did not pose the threat on the break in the Championship that we did last season under Stendel in League 1. Morais had abandoned the psychological high ground that Stendel found much easier to occupy against weaker opposition last season. Would Stendel recognise that difference at the start of the new campaign against Fulham?


    Indeed, he did. The system changed subtly for our first home game, and the wingers went back to covering overlapping full backs. It turns out that Stendel is not fool enough to leave his wingers high and test our opponents resolve in covering the counter-attack, not against a team that played in the Premier League last season anyway.
     
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  2. Red

    Red Rain Well-Known Member

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    Understanding the game; the reasoning behind Stendel's 4-4-2

    Part 2

    The second thing that I would like to comment upon is the counter-press, and particularly the effect on the defensive line that the counter-press has. The counter-press is what any attempt to win the ball back quickly after losing it in the opposition’s final third is called. It involves putting pressure on the opposition player with the ball (usually a defender) after also marking up all his close passing options. In theory, it should not involve too much additional work, but that statement only holds good if there are sufficient players in advanced positions and close to the ball so that the press can be applied quickly and effectively. If players have to come from deeper positions, the counter-press is much harder work and it is much less likely to be effective. When it does work, it either forces the defending team into a hurried and hopefully inaccurate pass, which is easily won back, or an opponent is caught in possession and the trap is sprung. All of this is another reason why our wide players were left high, and why overlapping opposition full back were not marked.


    The previous paragraph describes how the press worked last season, but in our first game back in the Championship, the press was directed in a different way. It was mainly aimed at trying to get the opposition keeper to kick from hand, and therefore to kick away possession. It was very tiring, and as a result, it could only be sustained for 65 minutes. Eventually, we were forced by tiredness to re-adopt the traditional 4-4-2 formation, and I was left to wonder, not only whether the plan could be sustained for a full season, but also whether we had simply treated our first game back in the Championship as a one-off: a cup game. Time will provide an answer.


    The counter-press is much harder for midfield players when the press is not supported by a high defensive line because the midfield players have much more ground to cover between our defensive line and that of our opponents and consequently they have much further to run in order to cover the space and deny their opponent the time that he needs. When the counter-press works, it is very effective, but there are big problems when it does not work. It has a better chance of working when the opposition possession is left to big defenders to sort out, but when a proper footballer has possession, there is a good chance that the press will be defeated. All a good player needs is the time and space to pick the right pass and to deliver it accurately, and potentially, there is an opportunity to create a chance on the counter-attack at the other end. You see, our midfield will have been drawn too far forward in supporting the counter-press. They are out of position and potentially, they cannot cover our opponent’s midfield players as the counter-attack develops. That statement is particularly true when the opposition plays with just one forward, who plays on the shoulder of the last man in order to extend the gap on the break between our defensive and midfield lines, space that the opposition can fill with 3 midfield players against our two, two who who are already out of position. Remember the 4 basic functions that govern a team’s ability to win the ball back. The most important ones in this respect are space and supporting a team-mate, and they are virtually assured following a quick break after a counter-press. It is compounded when the high defensive line is too slow to react because a defensive player has no pace (see Liam Lindsay). The defence is in trouble, not because of anything that they have done wrong. Not even because they are not very good players, either individually or as a unit. They are in trouble because the counter-press was sprung and our midfield is out of position and outnumbered.


    In our first home game, we saw this situation develop repeatedly, even though McGeehan and Mowatt did not advance as far forward as they did last season in support of the press. There was often lots of space just beyond the edge of our box, space that Fulham failed to exploit because of either a poor final ball, or an inaccurate shot. Fulham will not always be so poor, and Barnsley will not always get away with it as comprehensively as they did in their first game. Take this as a warning, a warning that thing may not go as smoothly as they did on our first Saturday all season, and especially when we meet more clinical opposition.


    As I said in a previous piece, there is no doubt that we created chances last year as a result of the counter-press, but equally, there is no doubt that the opposition also created chances too.


    So what is the alternative? Well, in extremis, it is the drawing up the defensive line much deeper. This is the system that teams resort to when they are in trouble. When your line is deep, any pass through is has to be delivered much more accurately because the potential receiver must be able to get to the ball before it crosses the goal line, or reaches our goalkeeper. Defensively there is help from both the off-side line and the goal line. Furthermore, with the midfield line just ahead of the defensive line, there are potentially 8 defensive players very close together. In these circumstances, it is much harder to find the space and the time to make the killer pass. The pass that puts a teammate in a position to score requires perfectly co-ordination between the perfect pass and the perfectly timed diagonal run.


    In fairness, this system has been common for years. Its drawback is that it creates a siege mentality that is hard to break out of. Defending becomes deeper and deeper, and break-outs fewer and fewer, but it can be used successfully, particularly allied to very quick wide players. It was the system employed by Burton Albion at Oakwell in their 0-0 draw late last season. In fact, it was the system that we reverted to against Fulham when legs tired and we became happier to hold onto what we had, but we saw how the system encourages a gap to form between the midfield and forward players, a gap that is hard to bridge because the midfield players cannot get into position where they can support a forward quickly enough, and the forward loses the ball in the first challenge. Our inability to hold onto the ball in that final period was the reason that we managed only a 45% share of possession overall. When a team plays this way, it must usually try to win with a smaller share of possession, and although it is not unusual for teams to do that, they are going to have to score more goals from fewer opportunities.


    Most of the time, the choice comes down to how the fans would like to see the game played. Are they happy to just win, or do they want their team to win with more possession, and therefore, by providing them with more entertainment. Personally, I am not sure. I like to see my team entertain, but sometimes, the logic baffles me and I would rather that we won by allowing the opposition fewer chances. Because sometimes, that is the choice. A team creates chances by allowing their opponents to do the same, confident that they will outscore their opponents in a shoot-out. That was what happened at times last season, mainly because of the counter-press. I do not believe that it can be as successful this season, against better opposition, and particularly, against better finishers.


    In truth, most teams will use a hybrid of the two systems with a few applications of the counter-press and few occasions when the defensive line is drawn deeper. It is going to be fascinating as I watch Stendel’s thoughts develop in response to good results, and bad. After all, the counter-press was dropped for 2 months last season after a string of poor goals conceded late in games pointed to the need to practice the system more in training. Already, during pre-season games, there have been times when the team has got it badly wrong, and the press has been dropped for almost all second halves when teams have changed personnel and understanding has suffered as a result. A press that is not working effectively is very tiring, and that takes its toll late in games.
     
  3. Vesp77

    Vesp77 Well-Known Member

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    I'm not going to lie, I didn't read all of that, but it sounds to me like you're talking about the Total Football concept...

    I'll read it all when I'm more awake.
     
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  4. blivy

    blivy Well-Known Member

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    In fairness, I thought we got the counter press spot on against Fulham and don’t think we were let off the hook by poor passes etc. Mowatt and McGeehan won the ball back numerous times high up the pitch.

    When you started talking about 4-4-2 and full backs, I thought you were going to talk about the inverted full backs we used occasionally last year.
     
  5. 55&counting

    55&counting Well-Known Member

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    there's a fundamental flaw to your analysis.
    we don't play 442.
    we play 4231.
    Mcgeehan and mowatt as the central midfielders. against Fulham we had bahre wilks and Thomas as the 3 behind Woodrow....who incidentally was dropping too deep.
    we lined up the same against Wednesday and moreover we played that system the whole of last season.
     
  6. troff

    troff Well-Known Member

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    Condescending much?

    Your long analysis does make some good points I have to concede but I’m sorry some of it, I’ll be kind, is less insightful.

    As has been mentioned above, for a start we aren’t even really playing 4-4-2, despite what the sky sports app seems to want to tell us.

    And whilst in part a decent forensic analysis, it does have the smell of a post where you are trying to educate the fools of the bbs with your superior football tactic prowess. No problem with opinions or long posts but I’m not sure there’s the need for the tone.
     
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  7. John Peachy

    John Peachy Well-Known Member

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    We changed our shape last night, against supposedly inferior opposition.

    In the end two teams turn up on the field and face each other.

    Carlisle delivered their game plan & we didn't. We have played in the opening games with Bahre at no 10 & two midfielders in more of a holding role, covering the full backs.

    Mowatt was out & our other strong midfielder (McGeehan), had a nightmare.

    Hopefully this can be rectified, as it sounds like we will be without Mowatt & Dougall for at least a month now. Our central two need to be more disciplined & we need to get our shape back. Styles did better than McGeehan on the night, but both were instrumental in our defeat.

    The big worry from that performance, given that the full backs will both be dropped, (& Halme), is that the front line was generally poor. Woodrow was unlucky to hit the crossbar, but Chaplin missed a sitter & our wide men (our strength for me), were largely non existent. Woodrow, who was on fire in pre season looks like a man out of form. Where is Schmidt, if he is the replacement for Moore?

    No need to throw the baby out with the bath water, but we need to look why we won our first game & not focus on the last too much.
     
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  8. shed131

    shed131 Well-Known Member

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    Surely tone is what the individual perceives from any text that he/she reads.and not necessarily the manner in which its written. Personally I found the post to be informative and an insight into both the game and the op views... Very good read in my opinion
     
  9. troff

    troff Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough point but the quote I included I think more than highlights the OP’s view of the users of this forum.

    Perhaps I should have tried harder to look past that when reading the rest, it does have some detailed thought, but I still believe it reads a little supercilious.
     
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  10. Til

    Tilertoes Well-Known Member

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    Get rammell on
     
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  11. Row

    Row Z Member

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    Personally I thought Fulham played in a manner where they thought we were inferior and if they played their way they’d beat us. However, their first mistake was not matching our workrate or intensity. That put them on the back foot from the start.

    Secondly, because they thought they were superior (which to be fair they are!) they left space for our wide players which meant Wilks and Thomas hurt them. Our style needs the space for our wide men to exploit for it to work.

    Against Wednesday, they first matched our workrate and intensity and coupled that with experience to get the upper hand.

    They also limited the space for our wide players making them ineffective and we didn’t have the quality to break them down any other way. Both wide men are quick but the jury is out on whether they can be effective without space to work in.

    They then conceded possession to us expecting us to either lose it (see first goal) or move forward creating space for their wide men. They did it perfectly and we didn’t or couldn’t counter it.

    As long as fewer teams treat us with the respect that Wednesday did then our system should work.

    I said after the Fulham game that we will scare and batter a few teams but will also get battered ourselves. Nothing I have seen makes me change this view.
     
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  12. orsenkaht

    orsenkaht Well-Known Member

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    Question for those who were at Hillsborough (I wasn't there): did we work as hard as we did against Fulham?
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  13. Old Goat

    Old Goat Well-Known Member

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    I take exception to your assumption that I'm not a fool. ;)
     
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  14. Ste

    Stephen Dawson Well-Known Member

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    I did the same. It seemed like sexy football to me too. Only problem Barnsley have is we can't attract the Virgil Van Dyck's we end up with Halme's. When Mcgeehan drops into defence he tee's up overhead kicks for opposition strikers. That's about as sexy as it got the other night :D
     
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  15. Red

    Red Rain Well-Known Member

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    My purpose in posting these long, well thought out and well argued pieces under the heading of Minority Report is not to show how clever I am. I realise that I am not a professional and that I have much to learn about our wonderful game. My purpose is to encourage replies in the same well argued and well thought out style. If my piece is titled Minority Report, it will be in this style. If it is a piece by me that is not titled Minority Report, it will not be in that style. Ideally, I would like to have conversations on here where I state an opinion and I state my reason and logic for holding that opinion. That would be met by a response from another poster who would state a divergent opinion, and who would explain in detail their reasons for holding that opinion. Ideally, a conversation would develop from which we would both learn something.

    Now, it has to be said that this is not the usual pattern of things on the BBS, and I accept that I am the oddball here because I am trying to create something that does not currently exist, but that is why I always use the title Minority Report for this type of conversation. It is so those who do not enjoy this type of conversation can avoid it, and those who are interested in this type of conversation can find it. I spent 18 months in the wilderness because I believed that my aims were incompatible with the BBS. During this time, I published Minority Reports to a very small audience via the Private Messaging System. At the start of this season, I asked if there were any others who wanted to be part of that system. I had almost 80 replies. Clearly, the demand was greater than the PMS could handle, so I returned (warily) to the BBS. I do have my worries about whether the BBS is the right forum for my stuff, but those worries are about me, and not about the BBS. The BBS is what the majority want it to be, and it is me who does not fit in.

    If I allow it, I will be bullied, so I do not propose to allow it. I have set myself strict rules about what I will reply to, and what I will not reply to when writing in the Minority Report format. I will usually ignore personal abuse, not because I am thin skinned, although there is little doubt that I am. It is because any posts containing personal abuse can never end in the sort of conversation that I wish to engage in. The short assertion of facts, which are never actual facts and which is usually an assertion unsupported by any logic or reason is something else that can only end in pointless argument and restatement of the original assertion, rather than reasoned debate.

    I hope that I am not as you describe, but If I responded in the usual way to your description of me, neither of us would get anything from the exchange. I do not intend to fall into that trap. But if you would respond to my opening post with a reasoned argument, I am sure that we would both find the subsequent debate of interest.
     
  16. Plankton Pete

    Plankton Pete Well-Known Member

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    You're an intelligent, articulate contributor, but you've fallen into the trap of being piqued by style. Red Rain always writes like this, I don't think they are deliberately being condescending, they just had a job where writing long reports in this style was standard. Just pointing this out.

    Red Rain is also strong willed and is highly unlikely to change styles.

    I agree with you and others, that our formation is more like 4-2-3-1 than 4-4-2. I'd suggest 4-4-1-1 at a push, but it's semantics.
     
  17. bright red

    bright red Well-Known Member

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    I read your analysis with interest and 442 / 4231 not withstanding I could agree with a large part of what you are saying. You must see that most people will not have the time or inclination to respond in such detail. It is also self evident that your tone does leave some folk feeling like they are being lectured to rather than being ask to respond as an equal. Don’t worry about that. Keep posting.
    By the way, what is your response to 4231? Do you see the formation stated in traditional terms as less useful.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  18. orsenkaht

    orsenkaht Well-Known Member

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    Focussing on systems and tactics is okay so far as it goes. However two other important elements are the human angle (motivation, talent, fallibility) and the pattern of events. These aspects are also linked by confidence (or lack thereof). In horseracing you can study the form in great detail, but sometimes the pattern of events will suggest another outcome.
     
  19. Tyk

    Tyketical Masterstroke Well-Known Member

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    The point about the counter press is a good one. The issue with it is, as you rightly say, that if teams are good enough to successfully make three or four successful passes round it it can render you potentially very exposed with so many players in advanced positions.

    Fulham employed a hopeless fat blob as their front player and consequently he had neither the pace nor the brains to stretch us - the defence were able to hold a relatively high line without fear of the ball over the top hurting us. It would have been very different if Fulham had played a more mobile number 9 with a bit more craft and guile - I think the system is particularly susceptible to pacy front players as that forces you either to have the last man deeper, creating a gap between defence and midfield, or leave you exposed to the incisive through ball/ball over the top.
     
  20. Ste

    Stephen Dawson Well-Known Member

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    I backed a horse the other day that looked all over the winner two furlongs out but it got claustrophobia when the other horses came alongside. Sometimes the rail isn't the place to be.

    Just like certain players will have nose bleeds when asked to carry out tasks they aren't comfortable with. That's why total football is a flawed concept.
     

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