Why we play 4-5-1 or "You don't know what you're doing"

Discussion in 'Columns' started by Rob, Sep 28, 2008.

  • by Rob, Sep 28, 2008 at 4:05 PM
  • Rob

    Rob The Boss Admin

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    As the chant of "You don't know what you're doing" echoed from the away end of Fratton Park, we were 2-0 down to what should have been a fragile Pompey side. With what looked like no chance of getting back into the game, all that was left was time for reflection on what had gone oh so very wrong in our win-less season.

    The problem may very well be that Ramos indeed doesn't know what he's doing with the personnel we have. As soon as the team was announced it seemed clear to apparently everyone apart from the manager that there were several strange choices in there. Gilberto back from the wilderness to replace the injured Bale and provide support down the left of midfield? A 5-man midfield with Pavlyuchenko again on his own up front but with no sign of our supporting midfielders? Dawson brought back into the centre of defence in replacement of King with Corluka shifted back to the right and the impressive Gunter missing out yet again.

    Does Ramos know what he's doing? All we can analyse is what's put in front of us and that's what I'll attempt to do in this column, taking a look at our season so far, focusing on the squad and the apparent deficiencies which an ultimately poor transfer window has left us with.

    As I see it, the problem we have is a complicated one. We certainly have quality players but do we have the right players? Take Zokora for example. In a 2-man midfield he’s poor at best. He often struggles with the simple pass, losing valuable possession carelessly and fails to get into space for his team-mates to pass to so rather than relieving pressure we get forced into mistakes.

    Contrast this with his performances in a 3-man midfield and he’s like a completely different player (and maybe the one we thought we were buying). With more time to sit back and read the play, his positioning in front of the defence is superb. He’s always there to receive the short pass back from his midfield team-mates when they’re under pressure and with more options in midfield in front of him to play the pass to he looks calm on the ball. When he picks the ball up from deep and surges forward with it, not only does he relieve pressure on us, he makes a significant attacking contribution.

    Sound great doesn’t it, so what’s the problem? With a 5-man midfield as we’ve put out in the last few games it means playing 1 up front and unfortunately we just don’t seem to be getting the system right. I’ll start off by saying I’m fast becoming a huge fan of Pavlychenko. He’s worked tirelessly on his own up front with shockingly bad support and shown real heart, a complete contrast to a certain sulking Bulgarian. He may not have the class of Berbatov but he’s certainly an accomplished striker as his record shows and if we manage to get things right I think he could have a far bigger impact for us than he did and become dare I saw prolific. So how do we go about getting it right?

    If we’re going to play with only 1 striker as it seems our midfield setup almost deems necessary then it’s up to the rest of the midfield to support but that’s just not happening. We have two direct players, GDS and Lennon, who despite turning around every performance when introduced Ramos seems intent on not playing and instead it takes a poor first half before they’re brought on and allowed to influence our play. Is the problem here that we have too many midfielders without having the right ones?

    Bentley and Lennon both clearly prefer the right side of midfield but are very different players. Bentley, although not showing it recently, can put in a great cross from deep and it was really expected that out front two would feed on those crosses all day. Of course our “front two” are now playing for Liverpool and Manchester United and instead we’re left with Bentley playing poorly in a system where he’s not necessarily suited. When he does put in a good cross (and these will get better as he settles and his confidence returns), there’s only the lone figure of Pavlychenko fighting a losing battle against strong defensive partnerships trying to make space for himself to get any chance at goal. In contrast, Lennon’s major weakness is his poor crossing and despite some recent improvement in this area, it’s really his pace and direct play that’s his major benefit, especially in a system where the striker needs this support running from deep. Similarly, the direct play of GDS is often a welcome addition to a side that’s simply struggling to get further forward and fill the space between midfield and attack. Thankfully, unlike Tarrabt who his style does have a passing resemblance too and despite his small frame, GDS is certainly not just a “luxury” player. He works hard for the ball, when he gets it it takes a lot to get him off it and when that does happen he isn’t afraid to come back and make amends by tacking and fighting for it. If it wasn’t for this I would be really worried that we have 3 players with only 1 position to accommodate but because of GDS’s versatility and with Lennon looking more comfortable on the left then it may not be so bad after all.

    I’m not so sure if the same can be said about our other midfield options, namely Jena and Modric). It would seem to be an easy choice between the two. While still acclimatising to the pace of the premiership, Modric is by the far the more accomplished midfielder and with a touch of the Ossie Ardiles about him, our midfield and whole system should be built around getting the best from who’s going to prove to be one of the best midfielders we’ve seen for years. The problem here is vice-captain Jenas who Ramos clearly sees something in that many fans don’t. It may just be a case of once Modric is fully fit that Jenas will play less and less of a part but for years now we’ve waited for him to reach his potential and to be fair in some games we have seen glimpses of the player he could have been for us but in my opinion it’s now time to cut our losses with him. If he was going to step up to the next level he would have done it by now and persisting with him means we can’t settle on a system or style of play that works.

    I’m trying to base my opinions here on more than the typical knee-jerk response and on the back of an absolutely awful performance against Portsmouth it might not be the right time to be critical of Jenas whilst praising O’Hara but the latter has shown far more fight and spirit befitting a captain of our club and if we do persist with a 3-man midfield I’d be more than happy for those 3 to consist of Modric, Zokora and O’Hara with Jenas being moved on.

    It’s coming to the stage of this column now where I just put all my cards on the table and name my first choice 11 but a few comments on our defence is maybe in order first. Gomes, superb. I was worried that we might be signing the “Brazilian David James” (and that’s the “dodgy” David James, not the one who just kept another clean sheet against us) and while he’s already shown a few eccentricities such as a penchant for punching rather than taking the easy catch I’m confident in saying that he’s the best keeper I’ve seen play for us (which admittedly only goes back as far as Thorstvedt or so). In front of him Woodgate is a rock and alongside King (oh Ledley, where forth art though?) forms possibly the best defensive partnership in the premiership. Unfortunately despite repeated assurances from the club with regards to his fitness, King still looks to have problems and the last thing we need now is an unsettled defence to accompany the chopping and changing with the rest of the team. Having said that, Corluka looks an adequate replacement at least in the short term and with Hutton and Bale that completes one of the strongest defences in the league. Unfortunately, and some people may forget this, we’ve been missing 3 of our first choice back 4 for much of the season with Bale and Hutton joining King on the treatment table. However, with Corluka and Gunter we have adequate backup with the only weak-link at left back where BAE still isn’t convincing many fans that he really has a future at WHL.

    So time to pick my team. I honestly feel that the team below should still be capable of finishing in the top 6 this season.


    Hutton Woodgate Corluka Bale

    Bentley Zokora Modric O’Hara Lennon


    Gunter as a temporary replacement for Hutton doesn’t weaken that line-up significantly and leaves a strong bench. GDS can replace any of Bentley, Lennon or even O’Hara in that midfield depending on the opposition but it’s vital that Modric provides the link between midfield and attack that we’ve been sorely lacking so far this season. As I explained above, whilst I dislike playing 1 up front as it leaves Pavlychenko isolated, with the personnel available in our midfield, it’s extremely understandable why Ramos is persisting with it. If we moved to 4-4-2, while the front line improves significantly with Bent and Pavlychenko both capable of running the channels and dragging defences apart, the midfield just doesn’t work. If we had a defensive midfielder who was more comfortable than Zokora (Veloso or even Diarra may be the answer) then we could revert to 4-4-2 without too many problems and whether that happens in January is something we’ll have to wait in see.​
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Discussion in 'Columns' started by Rob, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. gloryglory
    We can't play anything else. A squad with only 2 strikers (no, I don't count Campbell) can't play both of them in every game. Even if they both miraculously avoided injury all season long, they'd be knackered. But there's no scope for partnership between the two, neither will create for the other, so it's a complete waste of a player to start both. One or other - Bent for me.

    And we don't have a 2-man central mdifield combo that can win midfield battles and create chances either, so 4-5-1 is win-win. It allows us to play our three best central midfielders, Zokora, Jenas and Modric, and all of them can play to their strengths. All you need after that is support for the striker from the wingers - so that means a combination of Bentley on the left, Giovanni on the right, or Lennon on either.
  2. mil1lion
    But i for one think we can in fact play 4-5-1. Its just that, the three players that suit that formation haven't played much recently. In fact, as soon as Giovani and Lennon have come on in that formation, it looks a lot more effective. But yesterday we played with 2 of the slowest players we have out wide, in Gilberto and Bentley. The 4-5-1 would work with Giovani, Lennon and Modric. Although the biggest question is where the goals will come from. When Barca play that formation, they have several goalscorers from midfield. But more importantly, the wide players score plenty of goals. There isn't enough goals from Lennon and Giovani so we'd need Modric to chip in and Jenas to break forward and score goals too. Either that or sacrifice Jenas for a striker, but that would cause Zokor problems and we'd more likely concede too many goals.
  3. InOffMeLeftShin
    It could indeed work, but I don't see Lennon ever getting into the positions to really provide enough support to the lone striker. He will always want to come and get the ball and then attack the full backs, which is great but not really ideally suited for 4-5-1. I'd suggest it would work better with Campbell and Dos Santos flanking Pavlyuchenko. Pace, directness and an ability to get right up there and be a goal threat. We would still need a creative spark to hit the outlets.
  4. ChrisW

    Is Campbell ever going to play? I was begining to wonder if he'd been brought in to carry the brown envelope Levy got for selling Berbatov!

  5. Arjuanchivas
    Jol and his team are top of the Bundesliga... says it all to me.
  6. mil1lion
    I doubt it very much. He definately wanted Giovani, i'm sure of that. I'm sure he wanted Bentley and Gomes too. And, although possibly not his first choice from the start, he probably wanted Pavyluchenko (his no 1 targets were probably the likes of Eto'o and Villa.) But its the players he wanted up front but didn't get that have caused a big problem. Seriously, who can argue with the players we signed? They are all great additions. Its just that we also needed a defensive midfielder and at least 1 more striker too. The priority was wrong. We needed a defensive midfielder more than anymore attacking ones. And we needed another striker more than another two wingers.

    If we had signed Arshavin though, i think we would have been much better off.

    Thats the biggest problem with Lennon i have to admit. He isn't a wide attacker, which is really whats needed in a formation with one striker. But he is great at providing chances because of his pace. I think Giovani is best suited to the formation though.

    In fact, the more i think about it, the more i think towards a 4-4-2 with Modric coming in from the left, Giovani coming in from the right and the fullbacks overlapping. And Zokora and Jenas in the middle with Pavylchenko and Bent up front.
  7. mil1lion
    Yeah, says it all to me too. The Bundesliga is a lot weaker than the Premier League. And its only the start of the season.
  8. Gilzean's Hairdresser
    I'm confused (but then I am new here....) You want to play 4-4-2 with Pav and Bent upfront, but your specified 1st 11, right next to the lovely little cartoon drawings at the bottom of your post, seems to suggest a 4-5-1 with Bent on the bench. With this level of indecision, I'd leave your mobile on if I were you - you might get a call to be the next gaffer.....
  9. SelbYido
    Yep, it says Jol doesn't manage us any more & people should get over it as he isn't coming back any time soon. He's irrelevant. Top bloke, good coach but nonetheless, irrelevant.

    As for Rob's post, I mostly agree but I'd still have Jenas in above O'Hara as I think JJ's a better all rounder than O'Hara & although O'Hara may have 'fighting spirit', JJ is every bit as capable of pressing & tackling & arguably poses a greater threat to the opposition's goal.
  10. Arjuanchivas
    "Says it all to me that Jol is top of the Bundesliga".. What I am trying to say you numpty is that Jol nor Ramos is the problem. Comoli is however with his weird selling and buying strategy..

    Comoli out.. it has been enough. And the Bundesliga a weak competition? Grow up.. Congrats to Jol I say!!
  11. mickey hazzard
    unbelievable, give me the spurs job pls, for starters i would have put lennon and dos santos on from the start, why was ledley king on the bench? why does ramos and co have so much faith in jenas? ramos did a good job clearing out the riff raff and selling them on to sunderland and portsmouth though i didnt like the fact we got rid of malbranque, maybe he should of added jenas zokora and dawson to the clear out list, jenas has been with us long enough now to prove his worth, hes too inconsistent and hot and cold, u never know what kind of game u are going to get from him and that is not good enough for us, zokora is a very ineffective DM, he gives the ball away and dosent make a big enough presence in midfield, as for dawson after a promising start for us i now feel hes a liability,we will not and i repeat WE WILL NOT GET RELEGATED,far too much talent in the squad for that, but if we do not consistently select a strong team and put the players i have mentioned (jenas,zokora,dawson)on the bench more often then it will be a very close call!!!
  12. SelbYido
    Sorry mate, I'm just getting completely sick of people going on about Jol all the time, not particularly aimed at you. As I said, I've nothing against Jol at all & I wish him well.

    On the subject of Comolli, its well documented that buying & selling at Spurs is done by comittee so logically, all of that group share the responsibility for both successes & failures. Why, therefore, is Comolli more to blame than Ramos or Levy? I would suggest that Levy's brinkmanship in the Berbatov deal & Ramos' selections/tactics bear as much responsibility for our current predicament although actually, like pretty much every other Spurs fan, I don't know what actually went on in these situations & who played what role. It just seems to be a case of "If in doubt, blame Comolli..."
  13. Liquidator
    nice name, nice gag, Gilzy.

    I needed cheering up. Thanks.
  14. SpursMadDave
    I agree, I said a while back that Modric was our most important player... we need to play the 'Christmas Pudding' formation with Modric as the sixpence (appologies to Mike Bassett for that one)
    Bur seriously he is the link man and he HAS to play if fit and he HAS to perform...
  15. Mattspur
    I'd like to see:


    Hutton Corluka/King Woodgate Bale

    Lennon Bently Modric Dos Santos

  16. hansolsen
    o hara is awful jenas is amuch better player but to get the best out of him he needs to play unrestricted making forward runs.
  17. mil1lion
    Yeah, thanks for noticing how confused i am :) I am currently thinking of the 4-5-1 but i can see why 4-4-2 could also work. My initial post was for a 4-5-1 but i was just contemplating whether we could play 4-4-2, and if we did, then i would think that Modric on the left could be a good option.
  18. robbiebear
    Bring back Martin Jol. We're gonna get no where with 4-5-1. If we don't look like scoring on the pitch i.e vs Portsmouth, then we're not going to score.
  19. spurs_viola
    One of the best posts on SC I have read for a while now. It should be so clear to any objective observer and supporter who has managed to stay panic-free (which is indeed getting harder to achieve, I admit) that Ramos' vision for the team requires several differences in the squad he has to work with.

    I don't think he wanted to change almost the whole 1st team personnel in one summer - which is more or less what he has to do now. I believe the first stage of team's regeneration was to replace players who seemed to reach their limit and whose best was not good enough (Stalteri, Lee, Chimbonda, Malbranque, Tainio) with younger, more versatile players with more potential and quality; but losing Keane and Berbatov in the same summer put a huge dent in these plans, as Ramos lost both of the experienced forwards who would have provided the focal points for the new young players, so ruining the shape and the potency of the team he was trying to assemble.

    The second stage, I think, may have been the further improvements of personnel, replacing the players who after having a full season under Ramos would not have shown enough progress - and this would have included people like Jenas, Dawson, Assou Ekotto, Bent possibly going next summer or even in January if we had a good bid for any of them.

    With transfer period having concluded so disappointingly and the season starting so miserably, Ramos has to ride the tide and hope he is given time and support to realize his vision for Spurs - which is to develop the modern, fast, skillful, flexible play and make the team successful with it, competing on all fronts including Premiership top 4 - like he did with Sevilla, where he had full support and good understanding with Monchi (their Director of Football) and developed a fast, skillful, stylish and successful team who recovered from the losses of star players like Baptista, Sergio Ramos, Reyes in subsequent seasons and went on to become better.
  20. Gilzean's Hairdresser
    Whether it's 4-5-1 or 4-4-2, I don't think anyone on this site seriously doubts that Ramos is a smarter, more sophisticated coach than Jol. Although I loved Jol as a bloke, and appreciated what he did for us as a club, the decision to jettison him in favour of Ramos made some sense - if only because the continuing failure of Jol's team to win against the 4 clubs above us made progress to the top 4 virtually impossible.
    So, we needed to find a way of playing that was cuter, faster and more modern and it seemed that Ramos was the man to do it. What is now interesting - and potentially crucial for the future of the club - is how the manager handles our disastrous start to the season. Does he have the strength of character to go with his proven tactical acumen? Will he stick to his guns or buckle under pressure and seek a different way? Most of all, will he put the disappointment of an undoubtedly frustrating summer transfer window behind him and start to deal with the reality of the situation - that until January at least, the present squad is all he has to work with, whether he likes it or not.
    We can all have dreams of 'what if' and 'what might have been'. Many of mine involve me living in a New York penthouse, playing golf with the 81 cup winning team by day, before returning home for cocktails and dinner prepared by a naked Kelly Brook, who is having treatment - unsuccessful, as it happens - for her sex addiction. But the thing is - IT AIN'T GOING TO HAPPEN! We are not going to get Berba or Robbie or Carrick or Jol or Dave Bloody Mackay back, so it's all about dealing with the reality of the situation, and in the end it comes down to a few simple questions: is the man that the board moved heaven and earth to get to the club - risking ridicule and abuse from the media and rival fans along the way - is he really, truly made of the right stuff? Can he shut himself off from all the crap coming his way at the moment and stick to his principles, galvanising a group of players who, for all that they may be short in one or two areas, are really not that bad on paper? (Certainly if you look at our first choice line up and, say, that of high riding Aston Villa's, on paper I'd take ours every time.) Does he have the belief in himself to, in turn, pass on that all important sense of belief to the team?
    His body language on the touch line and increasingly erratic (bordering on bizarre) team selection suggests that, worryingly, he may be feeling the pressure and/or have lost his nerve. We had all better hope, for the short and long term future of our club, that this is not the case.

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