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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Comments

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

  1. WalkerboyUK
    In a 3-5-2 then yes I would agree he could play as the left wing-back. Vertonghen would be the left sided CB so could cover that side when Townsend goes forward.
    However, we play a 4-4-2 and there is little/no evidence that Townsend could actually play a defensive role. Everything we have ever seen of him has been from an attacking perspective and, personally, I don't think he can tackle or be defensively minded enough to play left-back.
    He'd be about as effective as Defoe in that role.
  2. ethanedwards
  3. BillyWhizz
    At home against a weaker side yes, away against Man City, no.
  4. Spursidol
    As EddieBailey commented, Townsend played LB in a UEFA Cup campaign playing about 6 5 games at LB in 2011/12.

    He looked fine going forward (which he was doing most of the time), but he's no defender, so you'd need to assume that the 2 CB's and a DM played leaving both FB's free to attack.

    Problem would be from the SC'ers who would slay Townsend for daring to play LB and not be a top notch defender - and the opposition would target him so Spurs would look very exposed down that side. Is @Bill_Oddie prepared to wave the ban stick at the likes of BC having a go at Townsend for being played out of position ? .

    Better plan would be to ask him to switch to that position in the second half of a game where Spurs thenm spent all that half attacking, that way the opposition would not have been able to plan to target him as a weak LB.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. TheChosenOne
    Naughton needs to be left-back - At the training ground.

    But at the moment just about better than nish - And I don't mean David Nish.
  6. peteblue
    would be a idea, then Lennon could play right wing an Lamela on the left. with Eriksson being out for a while what also might be a option is playing 2 up front, although AVB doesnt like 4-4-2 very much.

    Lloris, Walker, Townsend, Vertonghen, Kaboul, Sandro, Paulinho, Dembele, Lennon, Lamela, Soldado

    Subs Friedel, Naughton, Dawson, Vlad, Capoue, Siggy, Holtby, Defoe
    • Spam Spam x 1
  7. Lufti
    By jove i think he's got it.

    Just please not against City and United!
  8. mil1lion
    Sometimes the craziest suggestions turn out to be genius ones. Sadly this is not one of them.

    Vertonghen was excellent at left back against Everton. I would just tell him to play like that.
  9. Hoddle&Waddle
    Not a bad idea, I remember Andros playing 3/4 games at LB in 'Arry's Europa Cup side, and he did well. Obviously I doubt this will happen though.
  10. 2bearis2do
    I like your post - I'm not sure the boy can tackle - but I am sure he can not pass, cross or shoot. Any suggestion that gets him off the absurdly named "inverted" wing role can only do the team some good.
  11. double0
    Why not Lemale Holtby or Dembele at left back?
  12. spud
    It's an interesting idea, and I like your reasoning. My reservation is, as others have said, that it would weaken us defensively and therefore possibly prove counter-productive. If Sandro / Capoue were to need to cover the flank it would probably expose us more through the middle.

    A change clearly has to be made to the current tactical set-up in order for us to see the benefits of our attacking players. My preference would be for AVB to play a natural winger on one side (Townsend left or Lennon right) with his inverted winger on the other (preferably Lamela right or possibly Chadli / Siggy left).
  13. Spurger King
    Definitely preferable to ever playing Naughton there again. Actually Barry White's bloated corpse would probably be preferable to Naughton.
  14. Real_madyidd
    reminds me of ramos playing Bentley as a right back because he wanted crosses coming from deep.

    can andros tackle?
  15. Atarrier
    *quickly deletes abusive message*
    • Funny Funny x 1
  16. Bill_Oddie
    YES! That's her name! I see you already know her. Get stuck in, lad. (y)
    • Funny Funny x 1
  17. Bill_Oddie
    I don't think we do. We're much closer to a 3-5-2, Sandro/Dembele slotting in between the CBs when they split and full-backs push up.


    And, to answer many other hugely appreciated and interesting points (thanks all!), the fundamental point I think is missed when we talk about full backs is that the majority of people see them as defenders. They're really not.

    Our full backs defend less than our deeper midfielders. With our possession, the emphasis is on them to change the pitch shape and size and press the opposition back. Attack is the best form of defence, innit?

    Hence the suggestion. I'm actually surprised AVB hasn't tried it, given how clearly wed to the system he is. Makes me think he either a) has tried it in training and Andros wasn't good at it; or b) Andros is still developing as inverted right attacker - both for us and England - and messing with his head could damage his development.

    Or, of course, Andre could just not be as intelligent, creative and all-round as brilliant as me... ;)
  18. Bill_Oddie
    Now you're talking!! ;)
  19. rjhotspur
    Would prefer to see him play the central Bale role for the same reasons Bale played it.
  20. Dharmabum
    Why not try Lamela as LB instead ;)

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