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Our Creativity Problem


Marka Ragnos
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If there’s one fundamental problem with Villa at the moment, it may be our lack of creativity.

What does any Villa manager or squad need to do to cultivate more creativity on the pitch? 

What do we mean by the term “creativity” when we’re talking about football? ( For me, it’s an almost indefinable ability to make things happen in ways that are simultaneously surprising and inevitable.)

What are things that a manager can do at Villa in training to inspire more creativity?

Who are our most creative players at the moment? Who are our least?

Where does the quality come from exactly? Is it in the mind? Is it motor skills? Is it player to player “telepathy”?

What does it look like? 

Edited by Marka Ragnos
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Lot of big questions here.

Our creativity comes from our attacking players and our full-backs. 

I don't think there's a problem with our creative players, other than Coutinho who's gone back to being mystifyingly average. The problem for me, quite simply is playing Ramsey and McGinn together in midfield. If either of those doesn't start against West Ham, I'm sure we'll win and be plenty creative enough. 

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2 hours ago, Marka Ragnos said:

What does any Villa manager or squad need to do to cultivate more creativity on the pitch? 

1. Among current midfielders, play Dougie as an 8.

2. Buy another midfielder.

3. Play Buendia more.

 

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2 hours ago, Marka Ragnos said:

If there’s one fundamental problem with Villa at the moment, it may be our lack of creativity.

What does any Villa manager or squad need to do to cultivate more creativity on the pitch? 

What do we mean by the term “creativity” when we’re talking about football? ( For me, it’s an almost indefinable ability to make things happen in ways that are simultaneously surprising and inevitable.)

What are things that a manager can do at Villa in training to inspire more creativity?

Who are our most creative players at the moment? Who are our least?

Where does the quality come from exactly? Is it in the mind? Is it motor skills? Is it player to player “telepathy”?

What does it look like? 

Agreed, we’ve struggled with our creativity and don’t create enough clear cut goalscoring opportunities.

I’m sure you don’t need me to explain but since you asked:

Creativity… ultimately or simply, is the ability to create goalscoring opportunities. After all, the aim of the game is to score the most goals. It’s the process of creating those goals.

Whether that’s through intricate patterns of play (I wish we could do and develop this - high quality coaching is required) or quick incisive passing, whether that’s an accurate long ball, crosses, through balls, sequences of short passes or one twos… it’s how you lead to getting the ball into the net, as effectively and frequently as possible. The build up to a goal.

The more chances you create, the higher likelihood of scoring goals. But the quality of service makes such a difference too… accuracy of pass, weight of pass, awareness and intelligence…

We have it in this squad. I think the best guy we have is Buendia, he is amazing imo. It’s important to bring out the best in him and set up the team to allow him to thrive and to get on the same wavelength as him (understanding, support him, make intelligent runs and get into good positions so that he can supply the goalscorers). Plus, he’s a player on the way up rather than on the way down. He’s our greatest asset imo…

Then, of course, we have Coutinho. The most technically gifted and successful player in our squad. He’s been there and done it… 

For me, these pair are key and if we could get them both into the side while solidifying it (need to sort that midfield out and get defenders/fullbacks to prioritise defending over attacking) then we can become an entertaining and successful side. 

I believe Bailey can contribute a lot, Luiz too…

McGinn and Ramsey can do it too but I see them more as runners or “action types” rather than creators…

Fullbacks play a part too but it’s not something I personally favour too much… I don’t like them being prioritised over attacking midfielders or forwards. Plus, their main method is crossing and that can be an inconsistent and even unreliable method… especially when it’s aimless as it has been with us…

Everyone has opinions, many different ones. But I prefer the ball on the ground rather than in the air…

 

Anyway, what you need is a blend of quality (technical prowess) and effective and even imaginative coaching.

I don’t believe that we have the latter… as sad as it is… but I’ll try not to go off topic 🤣

You have to work on patterns of play in training and come up with ideas… different avenues to goal, encourage the players to pass the ball with quality and not cheaply lose possession… fast tempo can be very effective but even slow build up can be efficient if the quality of pass, vision and awareness is exceptional…

One of the best examples is Barcelona… the sides with both Xavi and Iniesta in them were truly exceptional and rated as the best ever in football…

But they are not the only ones… there are plenty of sides and plenty of players that have excelled in creativity. One of my favourite ever players is Pirlo… a master… vision, composure, awareness, class and style in abundance…

 

Anyway, I hope this made sense and I don’t consider myself any kind of expert anyway but it’s a very appealing and interesting subject so I couldn’t resist 🤣

Edited by Jas10
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1 hour ago, Laughable Chimp said:

I'm less concerned about our creativity and more about our defense. Only Forest and West Ham have allowed a higher xG than us so far

I think it's linked. The way we rely on all attacking width from full backs, stunts our creativity and leaves us horribly exposed. 

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Ohhh, good topic! 

I think it is the combination of technical skill with the ability to see lines and patterns of play others do not, creating an element of surprise in a pass or move. Look at Haaland for example, and the runs he is capable of to create space for himself and others. That is amazing creativity without the ball. You need vision to actually see those. 

And as @Jas10mentioned, creativity can be seen in a collective as well in build up play. Going the slow and steady route demands something incisive at a moment when the opponent has grown tired, lost concentration or has had it's shape pulled apart by movement. It takes creativity to realize when that momenthas come and release the ball into the right space.

One of the best things to do if you want to cultivate creativity is to allow mistakes. Make players comfortable with trying to express themselves without fear of repercussions and they will do it more often. Coaches must encourage players to utilize their strengths. This is something Swedish hockey is trying to encourage. Letting kids and youth players play to their strengths instead of trying to make them great at everything, because that rarely works. 

If someone is a great dribbler, let him or her dribble. A great shooter? Encourage them to shoot! That way they will develop their strengths even further and truly stand out.

It's the same with creativity in general. It has to be allowed to be expressed, or the player will just shrink and not even dare to try.

I think our standout creatives are Coutinho and Buendia from what I've seen so far. 

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2 hours ago, Laughable Chimp said:

I'm less concerned about our creativity and more about our defense. Only Forest and West Ham have allowed a higher xG than us so far

But creativity is a major issue as we simply aren’t scoring enough, or even creating enough good opportunities. Defense is and issue, but it’s not like we’re conceding 3-4 goals every game, over the last 30 games we mostly lose by the odd goal.

Even with the defensive issues, I think a lot more people would be happy if we were scoring for fun,  at least it would be entertaining.

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8 hours ago, Marka Ragnos said:

If there’s one fundamental problem with Villa at the moment, it may be our lack of creativity.

I'd say the fundamental problem is our defence. Solve that first. We got 15 clean sheets with virtually the same defence 2 seasons ago.  Now we never get clean sheets.

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The creativity problem is easily resolved by stopping attacking with our fullbacks.

We have 2 very gifted no.10’s and (had) some very gifted wingers.  There’s no bloody need to have Cash running 80 yards to crash the ball into the first defender every time.  Even when the ball does get into the area, we don’t have a Calvert-Lewin in the box ffs.

Let our fullbacks be normal fullbacks.

That stops our midfield getting dragged apart in desperate attempts to cover for their ‘Marauding’ runs.


I would much rather have McGinn or Ramsay putting in the balls than Cash for gods sake.

 

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For me it's simple, our creative players do not get the ball enough because the midfield cannot control a game.

Creative players might waste the ball 4 times out of 5, but they need to keep being fed.

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Wow, SO many actually amazing responses here. Learning much. I guess three standout common themes I’m reading are that 1) creativity is crafted, and it involves quality coaching in intricate patterns of play. It’s not just some mysterious magical quality. 2) it requires players to have freedom to be themselves and 3) the way our defense is working in some cases may be another underlying issue. 
 

A pleasure to read all these thoughtful posts.. 

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5 hours ago, Thug said:

Let our fullbacks be normal fullbacks.

That stops our midfield getting dragged apart in desperate attempts to cover for their ‘Marauding’ runs.

These days, it is normal for fullbacks to attack.

The problem was that SG was relying on them as the sole source of width. The whole point of attacking fullbacks is to overload the side and to keep the defence guessing about where the attack will come from. When it's predictable that Cash or Digne will bring the ball forward every time, it defeats the purpose. Furthermore, if we're attacking with 6, I agree, it's foolish to send the FBs forward every time and do all that running while two MFs retreat to cover for them every time and do no running. All you do is wear out the FBs and you still end up with a four-man back line. You may as well just swap positions.

But making runs some of the time is smart and pretty common these days, and if you're going to attack with 7, at least one of the players has to come from the back line. It's simple math.

 

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Our shape is horrible, we don't overload any positions, we don't set traps, we don't flood the box. We uh cross the ball, a lot. We play like someone heard about Jürgen Klopp's style at Liverpool and tried to recreate it on FIFA.

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6 minutes ago, Keyblade said:

Our shape is horrible, we don't overload any positions, we don't set traps, we don't flood the box. We uh cross the ball, a lot. We play like someone heard about Jürgen Klopp's style at Liverpool and tried to recreate it on FIFA.

not modern fifa tho, its 1993 fifa.

Dont see any Claret & Blue in this midfield, checks out ok from what i can see.

 

image.png.82ffd729efab49fa69e4ac8203e9d3bb.png

 

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We are probably the least physical team in the league...

Creativity comes from your creative players, but those players need the space and support to be creative and because our midfield shape is shocking and we are playing with inverted wingers that is not happening.

Currently we have a non existent Midfield and our Defensive line seems to have gone backwards.

Fix those problems and we will be half way there to being a decent team on the pitch and not only on paper

Edited by OLDVILLAIN
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With the squad we have I struggle to understand why we lack this - to be honest I do blame the manager for this.

I believe Buendia should be told he has the next 10 games to nail his place, he is easily the best player we have and deserves this little slice of luxury - I also feel that Watkins doesn’t help with a lot of his rash decision making imo

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We look creative when we become compact and play in triangles.  This allows our flair players to do what they do best:  use other players, create space, make incisive passes, etc.

Our huge problem that I've been watching this season in the 2nd and final 3rd is our midfield is completely vacated.  They are either:  spread wide to cover for the FBs which leaves a huge middle hole with only Bouba.  Or the two 8s surge forward like strikers and become stagnant, once again leaving a huge hole in the middle with only Bouba.  Either scenario forces our no10 to come back into the hole to receive the ball.  He then turns and has ZERO options.  Our no10s are not gifted with pace and the 1v1 breakaway ability- that is not really their style imo, they need multiple passing options around them to create passing angles, lanes, 1-2s, etc.  The 2nd half against Bolton we saw alot of that occuring, and we created many chances- quicker passing, scoring chances, etc.  Obviously against lower level- but the whole 2nd half our no10 had TWO midfielders near him at all times.  Luiz and another.  This is the key for us imo.  Luiz MUST be in the 1st 11 as an 8.  SJM or JJ has to sit.  Personally I'd sit SJM, his form has been poor for a long time, but that won't happen.

Better ball control in midfield and another ball control option will also help our defense tremendously playing out of the back.  It will help ease the loss of Carlos.  The better ball control will also just help our defense overall as well.

my 2 cents.

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Yep as everyone has said, it basically boils down to our LB and RB being told to do what they are doing.  If they could just be normal defenders, then midfield stays in shape and that allows attacking players to flourish.

Edited by ender4
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2 hours ago, OLDVILLAIN said:

We are probably the least physical team in the league...

Creativity comes from your creative players, but those players need the space and support to be creative and because our midfield shape is shocking and we are playing with inverted wingers that is not happening.

Currently we have a non existent Midfield and our Defensive line seems to have gone backwards.

Fix those problems and we will be half way there to being a decent team on the pitch and not only on paper

That’s because we have a policy of signing midgets.

It used to be young midgets.

Now it’s old midgets 

 

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