Jump to content

Case FOR the Defence


limpid
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • Administrator

written by gmvillan

So many of our fans are looking at our recent defensive frailty as a problem with the performance of the back-four alone, and the absence of Laursen. I think there's more to it than that, and here's a list of reasons why:

    [*:8a4c57d764]The absence of Laursen has coincided (more or less) with the return of a second fit forward (Heskey/Carew) and a return to a 4-4-2 formation. Our midfield two of Barry and Petrov, neither of whom are known as the greatest defenders in the world, are now covering far more space on the pitch. Look at the number of times that opposing players are running untouched through the middle of the park, and straight at our back-four. On Saturday the West Ham right back went sixty yards untouched after cutting inside. Much of the responsibility for these glaring gaps must rest on the shoulders of our two international midfield players - they should be communicating and looking to ensure that they don't both get caught too far upfield. One of them should always be sitting a little deeper...

    [*:8a4c57d764]Milner and Young in the same side is a great attacking idea. However, both of them work a fifteen yard space between the touchline and the centre-circle. Any time that a team plays in the channels we have no cover. When Reo-Coker or Gardner have played on one side or the other, their natural tendency was to come inside and provide extra cover in that area. Don't get me wrong, Milner and Young should be playing when fit, but need to be coached to tuck-in and get behind the ball when it is on the other side of the pitch.

    [*:8a4c57d764]A settled back-four is a huge asset to any team. Since Laursen got injured we've used four right-backs, three centre-backs and two left-backs in a multitude of different combinations. When you have an understanding with the players around you, you know what their tendencies are and adjust accordingly. A case in point is Laursen himself - he gravitates towards the ball when it is in the air, almost to a fault - so Davies and Friedel had to learn to drop-off when the ball was in the air to compensate. When you think about it, with the exception of a few Davies performances, none of our defenders or our GK have been particularly poor individually. But collectively it's a different story.

    [*:8a4c57d764]A tendency in recent times (although patented by T. Morley/R. Saunders in 1980) is for wingers to played on the opposite side to their strong foot and have the ability to cut inside. Obvious examples include Pienaar, Ronaldo, Malouda and our own Ashley Young. This immediately puts full-backs on their weak side. I wasn't in the "you're playing him out of position" brigade regarding Luke Young because I think he was excellent on the left. Since he has moved back to the right he has been beaten numerous times by players cutting inside - the most obvious examples being Pienaar's goal for Everton and THAT goal by Macheda. Talking of patents by R. Saunders - think Kenny Swain (converted midfielder), Allan Evans (converted forward), Des Bremner (a right midfielder who played centre-back when needed), Gary Williams (played at right back on numerous occasions), Colin Gibson (a left-back who played left-midfield for half his Villa career). I think we get far too hung-up on "out of position" players. Specialists are great, if they are good enough! The return of Nicky Shorey has not (as I predicted) coincided with better collective defending. Playing centre-backs (Cuellar, Mellberg) at right-back may seem foolish, but at least they are conditioned to defend with both feet and are used to dealing with players cutting inside.

    [*:8a4c57d764]Confidence is a delicate thing. When I hear the Villa fans away from Villa Park it sends a shiver down my spine - they are loud, positive and back the team for 90 minutes. At home those same fans are outnumbered by whining, moaning nay-sayers who jump at the first opportunity to get on individual players' backs. We can't say it's a modern issue, because I can recall Kevin Gage getting "the treatment" at Villa Park over fifteen years ago - and he was a grafter in the Paul Birch mold who always gave 100% in the shirt.... How would we perform in our individual jobs if we knew that any time we had a bad day that a few thousand people would start telling us how crap we were and that we weren't worthy of the job? It certainly wouldn't motivate me to do my job! And yes they are paid much better that you and I - this is MARKET DRIVEN, nothing else. The players are
    human, they will make mistakes. As supporters we should understand this. No matter how big your pay packet, you'll make mistakes!

    [*:8a4c57d764]The game is always changing. Tactics, fitness levels, match analysis etc etc. MON has his right hand men (Robbo and Steve Walford). Both, I am sure, are great coaches with encyclopedic knowledge. But are they modern thinkers? Are they in touch with the new technology that is available and match analysis tools that are available? Are they tactically innovative? David Moyes recently hired Steve Round, a young insightful coach. Ferguson brough Mike Phelan through to the first team at Man Utd. Both clubs have benefited from that fresh perspective and the ideas that new faces bring to the training ground. Brian Little was at his best with the young and energetic John Gregory and Allan Evans as his sidekicks. Graham Taylor had Steve Harrison. Ron Atkinson had Andy Gray and Jim Barron. Is it time for MON to bring someone young and intelligent onto his backroom staff? I'm not saying get rid of who you have, but add someone to freshen things up a little...

    [*:8a4c57d764]Rob Styles - is an idiot who loves being the centre of attention (just thought I'd throw that one in there..). The premier league requires clubs to submit kit color/design TEN DAYS before the match. Oh, and when you strike the ball with your hands it's against the rules....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not quite sure who you are defending here ........

Are you saying the defence is ok - but the rest of the team is to attack minded thus leaving us exposed ?

Football isn't nearly as complicated as you suggest - some of the players in that defence aren't good enough,(Cuellar) , Cutis Davies has at times played very well , but is still young, and can not yet command a defence on his own. As you imply loosing Laursen was a big blow. But not unexpected - but the players MON brought in as cover Knight, Cuellar are some way short. Knight I can accept has a role as a squad player - however I see nothing in Cuellar to suggest he can cut it in the premier league - he's 28 as well - so he isn't that young.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not quite sure who you are defending here ........

Are you saying the defence is ok - but the rest of the team is to attack minded thus leaving us exposed ?

Football isn't nearly as complicated as you suggest ...

His first two sentences give an absolutely clear statement of the purpose of the piece.

And I don't see anything in the rest of it that's proposing an unnecessarily complicated explanation where a simpler one would work better (unless you think the only answer is "they're just not good enough").

Good article, well explained, and some thought-provoking comments.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for taking the time to do this. Some very good and well reasoned points. I think we play better as a middle 5 particularly away from home and I would like to see Reo providing some cover for Barry & Petrov. But at home I can see why Martin would be reluctant to play just one up front as teams tend to sit back more, although neither system has worked consistently for us at home this season. Some good points about the team of the early 80s and the way Ron played players out of what had been their previous positions although I think the difference now is that players like Cuellar, Young and Reo were filling in on a temporary basis rather than told to adapt to what would be their role now and in the future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • VT Supporter

...I thought it was a well presented article and I accept your playing players out of position arguement as sceptical.

Your play analysis is interesting and feasible.

I'm not sure I agree with your points about the crowd.Mental strength has to be acquired in this profession and complaining about your customers was never a prerequisite of any successful business in any field.... you have to win them over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't remember Des Bremner playing centre half

It was in 81/82 I believe - he filled in when Allan Evans was injured/suspended. Only happened about three times...

Mental strength has to be acquired in this profession

I agree to a point - players have to be able to cope with anything, but typically they get enough abuse from opposing fans.... MON, on the other hand should expect to get some heat (which I think he does). The only time he has spoken out against the crowd was when he felt his young players were being targetted - you can't blame him for that, all managers should protect their players....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...
Â