A small tactical suggestion you will probably hate

Discussion in 'Columns' started by Bill_Oddie, Nov 21, 2013.

  • by Bill_Oddie, Nov 21, 2013 at 3:32 PM
  • Bill_Oddie

    Bill_Oddie Everything in Moderation Staff

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    Hello. I would like Andros Townsend to play left back.

    I can imagine the skin seething at this suggestion, the scalps frothing with anger and the fingers bristling to type rancid vitriol the likes of which the internet has never before experienced outside of a Mail Online comments section about homosexual Muslim job-seeking adolescents seducing your daughter. I was going to ease you into this gently but, like ripping off a sticking plaster, these things are best done quickly.

    Let me explain.

    I don’t think he should play there long term, by the way. Good Lord no. This is very much a ‘needs must’ situation. But what the needs must at this particular moment is a left footed attacking player at left back. Danny Rose is one, but he’s injured. Jan Vertonghen is only half of one, and he doesn’t want to play there. Kyle Naughton isn’t one, and he’s not good enough. Zeki Fryers is also not really one, and he’s also injured. And not good or experienced enough.

    If you stopped at the words “attacking” in the above paragraph, this is probably not the place for you. The inconvenient truth of the AVB system is that full backs are arguably our most important attacking players (no wonder we don’t score any goals, fnar fnar). After five games this season no other player in the team had touched the ball as much as Danny Rose (2nd) and Kyle Walker (1st). They are the starting point and the pivots for a majority of our attacks. Even in the opposition half, they see more of the ball than anyone else. Walker is in the top ten players in the Premier League (and unsurprisingly the only defender) for the most passes per game. He averages more key passes per game than Aaron Ramsey, Michael Carrick and Yaya Toure.

    Our game relies heavily on getting our full backs beyond the currently-much-maligned inverted wingers. Our system needs those full backs to push up and widen the pitch, in turn making more room for Eriksen and creativity in the middle. In Sandro, Capoue or Dembele, we have the cover to stay back in case we lose the ball and get hit on the break. This system has been extremely successful defensively and the reason it hasn’t worked offensively is, I would argue, that we have not had a proper attacking left back since Rose’s injury. Our best football since has been the two halves (Everton first half, Newcastle second half) that Vertonghen got further up the pitch and repeatedly went outside the right back. Otherwise, we’re too easy to defend against as we don’t get wide and stretch the play, and teams know when it comes to us attacking down the left we never get to the byline. It’s much simpler to defend crosses that come from deep as you can organise and you are facing the right way. Until we get past the opposition right back – or at least look like doing so more frequently – we are twice as predictable.

    So, for our system to work, we need a left back who is fast, left footed, comfortable with the ball at his feet, can deliver a cross and is called Andros (okay, I made that last one up).

    It’s essentially the reverse move that Gareth Bale made. There were many who felt Gareth Bale would make a great left back. They weren’t wrong. It’s just he makes an even better attacking midfielder or inverted right winger. The arguments these people used for Bale at left back: “He can run onto the ball”, “He’ll have space in front of him to get his pace up”, “He can push back both the opposition right sided players taking them both out of the game”, “He can cross both early and when he gets to the byline”, “He has a left ruddy foot”, all these are exactly the same for Andros Townsend.

    Would we miss much of Townsend in the attacking right side spot? One accidental goal and no assists would suggest otherwise, although his fine form has deserved a better return. Moving him back to a spot he played at youth team level on occasion might give him more chance to increase that assist column. It may also come at the cost of less shots on goal, but given his shooting accuracy that might not be a terrible thing. Would you rather currently see Townsend or Lamela cutting inside and pulling back their left leg for a strike on goal?

    Which, for me, is the final factor. Townsend at left back lets Lamela – and another of our genuine star players, Jan Vertonghen - play in their preferred and best positions.

    Let the vitriol commence.
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Discussion in 'Columns' started by Bill_Oddie, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. onthetwo
    i think its a great shout myself but i dont have tactitcal autopsies unlike most SC members!
    • Like Like x 1
  2. ultimateloner
    I dont think its a bad suggestion for our offensive game.

    I do think that you completely ommited the fact that Townsend is not proven in defence; the primary purpose of a LB. We have no idea whether he can mark/head/cover like any bog-standard defender.

    I don't think improving attack at the expense of defence is a good trade so no i disagree with you.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Gb160
    Just off to get my pitch fork and effigy ;)
    • Funny Funny x 2
  4. mpickard2087
    I'm all for it, I have suggested trying the 'wingers' (as in players who hold the width, Lennon Townsend etc) at fullback on numerous occasions. What have we got to lose in games we are chasing or against weak opposition in the Europa where we get all the ball and are constantly looking to attack. For me this is a good example of where too many managers cannot think outside the box or be radical with their tactics.

    For our system we need fullbacks to provide width high up the pitch, and you want them to attack well when they get the ball. To me it makes sense to place the wide players further back into the fullback positions if this is where we want the width to come from.

    Also, it can be educational for a player. If they have to do a bit of defending they may come to appreciate the role of the fullback. When the time comes when they are playing further up the pitch again they may be more diligent in their defensive work and tracking back.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Bill_Oddie
    You people are far nicer than I gave you credit for. Hugs all round. :love:

    I just assumed the case for the prosecution would be along shortly to do that for me... ;)
  6. Kingstheman
    Can't stop... the... foaming...

    Mouth frothing...

    Raaaaarrrgh! Vitriol building...

    Andros Townsend? Left back... Does not compute... Make joke about 'left back in the changing room!'

    • Funny Funny x 3
  7. balalasaurus
    The truth is he'd probably do a better job there than Naughton
    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. Sweetsman
    I don't care about your ideas, I just want to know who the two chicks beside you are and are you a giant?
  9. DEFchenkOE
    Depends how much the hype has gone to his head, the amount he likes to shoot makes me think he won't be happy being moved from right sided forward to left back but if i remember correct the same thing also happened with Michel Bastos who played as a right sided attacker for Lyon but as a left back for Brazil. Maybe avb can sell that to young Andros.

    I wouldn't be against this idea until Rose is back but he'd definitely get caught out defensively that's for sure and we know the whl crowd is unforgiving!
  10. chrissivad
    Not in the premiership, but didnt he play there for a few cup games for us? and i think he.. or it might be Fredricks... has played there for the u21's/reserves before

    Wouldnt be playing him at LB against the Manchester clubs, and would hope Rose would be back before the end of the United game...
  11. idontgetit
    Thought about this when Rose got injured but it looks like AVB has no interest in trying. Understandable given that Townsend has been decent going forward and that it's risky using him in a back four that's playing a highly disciplined high line game
  12. JerryGarcia
    Not such a bad idea, he's always been willing to get stuck in so it might work in the short term. Not sure I'd want to try it out against City though as Navas might rip him a new one.
  13. Bill_Oddie
    To the second part - yes. I'm 6'6".

    To the first - they ain't chicks...

    It's okay. Don't fight it. You'll never know until you've tried it.
    • Funny Funny x 2
  14. eddiebailey
    Andros, was pretty ropey at left back in the Europa a couple of years ago (Fredericks was much better at right back) and I doubt he has worked much on the defensive side of his game since; but certainly it is a tactical change that could be made in those games when we are camped the opposition half and unable to score - which come to think of it is just about all of them, so why not?
  15. WestBelfast Spurs
    Has he ever played there before, would he know when to push when to stay for offside, all in all a good read
  16. E17yid
    You're fucking nuts.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. UncleBuck
    Interesting....there were a couple of occasions where Andros chased back beyond Walker and I actually thought to myself "what the hell is he doing there".....
    Maybe he could, certainly a valid point for it but *unfortunately* I can't see AVB even trying it in a Europa game.
    It would give him so much more space to get them afterburners on though which is what we are lacking!
  18. Sweetsman
  19. ultimateloner
    I think your suggestion is well merited for a Plan B situation (like last 15 mins if we are chasing a game). It's similar to Ramos's attempt to play Bentley at RB back in the day. But for 90 mins too dangerous. Unless of course Townsend proves us wrong and can actually defend on PL level.

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