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. brasil_spur
    Brilliant post Rob and i'm completley in agreement with you.

    I honestly wouldn't be suprised if Jenas has something in his contract about the number of matches minimum he plays per season when fit, as i can't remember seeing our midfield play without him for more than 2-3 games in a row since he joined us, and there have definitley been times where his form has not warranted a start for us.
  2. Revan
    I think Levy should get rid of Raos and Com and bring back Terry Venables!!!
  3. martinj
    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...
    SPURSMADDAVE I know you were being facetious but there is some truth in this approach to the 4-5-1 / 4-4-2 argument. We have several players who can play as support to a main striker as well as a winger/wide midfielder : G2S, Bentley, Lennon, Modric, Jenas ( if he gets his act together ) and Taraabt ( if Ramos hasn't completely given up on him ). In a flexible system we could play one front man with several fast attacking midfielders able to either deliver from the wings or move centrally to support and score from the striker's knock-down or hold-up play. What numerical system we describe this as is academic and ( provided the team develops some understanding and co-ordination and don't all rush in together ) could make the most of our skillful attacking midfielders whilst minimizing the scarcity of true front men in our line-up.
    The critical point which was painfully illustrated on Sunday is that if we don't have someone in midfield who can start the attacks, deliver the ball accurately and have the tactical nous to see potential attacks then all the skill up front is wasted. No amount of Jenas, O'hara and Zokora passing sideways or backwards will help whichever number system we adopt.
    Modric was bought specifically to fill this role which was also badly lacking last season and was probably cause of a lot of Bulgarian moaning. I am still hopeful that Modric will get up to speed and could in a free "sixpence in the pudding" role join the dots between a lot of talented but unco-ordinated players. If this doesn't happen we're likely to flap around with little hope until we can buy and bed in someone else
  4. Arjuanchivas
    I still can not figure out why nobody blames Levy / Comoli.. We were going places under Jol.. building something beautiful. Then all off a sudden at the end of the second year (5th) they started looking for a new manager.. rumours about Ramos.. Klinsmann.. but FFS why? Because of a bad spell of games?

    Ramos (Good manager) came and won the cup with Jols (better; Arnesens) team.. So the team we had had sufficient potential to win trophies. It just needed small changes. We were so close!!!

    But now we are back at square one. We have lost all positive feelings.. We´re bottom of the league.. what we have built is completely gone. Thanks to Levy / Comoli in my opinion..

    Ramos is a good coach.. and I stand behind him... but if we go on like this (sacking good managers after bad spells, sell players without taqking care of proper replacements) we will never ever ever become a top team.

    I am so dissapointed.. in the board
  5. SpursMadDave
    Completely agree....

    With just a bit of belief and a midfield made up of Modric + 2 from (Zokora/Jenas/Hudd/O'Hara) 2 pacy wingers from (Lennon/Bale/Dos Santos/Bentley - ok no pace at all) and a hard working centre forward (Pav or Bent) we CAN win games and dominate.

    I didnt think we played that badly first half against Pompey, then 2 bad bits of luck, Jenas waving at his b/f in stand giving away a penalty and then the referee tripping over his guide dog and missing Diarra doing the same! Confidence ZERO!

    In fact Diarra played just how I would like Modric to play, he was at the centre of all that Pompey did.

    COYS!!!! (please... im getting seriously pissed off with the WHU fans I work with.....)
  6. 2bearis2do

    I agree.

    I've posted far too many times on this site to repeat all my grievances. But we are one rudderless, useless ship at the moment with a big feck off hole in the engine room. I see what Ramos is trying to do and with time it may well work. But the timings of buying and selling players has really fecked up our and indeed his season and for that and the few extra mill we got, one can only blame the board.
    Every point we drop, every place we slip down the table (not possible now!) is half a million down the tubes. Was it really worth fecking up our whole season to hang on to Berbs for a few extra million, until the last minute of the season? With no proper replacement? I think not.
    Make a few million, but we don't spend a few million extra on someone like Arshavin? Unbelievably bad business from the Spurs board. Of course we want to balance the books, but the real profit is made in having a successful team, well I don't see it happening with this current squad. The January transfer window will back this theory up.

    Bent. Kaboul, KPB....30million...great business?!? Commoli, you're having a larf.

    We won't get relegated, we'll improve, but just like the Geordies we have another wasted season to look forward to after another summer of incompetence. Depressing, annoying, frustrating and all part and parcel of being born a Spurs fan.
  7. Pat Rice Spurs fan
    Hutton Woodgate King Bale
    Bentley Corluka Modric Lennon
    Pavluychenko Bent

    Goalkeeper - we all seem at least fairly happy with Gomes

    Fullbacks - need to be fairly speedy to attack as well as defend. So not Corluka but possibly Zokora (R/L). Preferably Hutton (R) & Bale (L) but always happy with Gunter (R/L)

    Centrebacks -Woody & Ledley both fit would be perfect. Corluka is good cover for either. Dawson, not so good but not always so bad either. Zokora can also cover here if we're desperate but only with Woody & Leds (& maybe Corluka but we don't know quite how well he'll take the lead role just yet).

    Centre midfield - Modric must play - if not why the hell did we pay all that money. Along side him I want a solid player who reads the game well and is neat and tidy. So far this season I've not seen one, other than flashes from O'Hara, Jenas & Zokora - and all while we're playing 3 in the middle which isn't good enough. I'm told Corluka can play there and he certainly has all the attributes (like Leds). He's best mates with Modric and they should have an instant understanding.

    Wide players - Playing 4-4-2, we work best with one true winger and one wide midfielder (Lennon & Davids anyone). So, Bentley (again, we paid a fortune so get him played) and either Lennon or Giovani. We have other options out here if these players are unavailable, Bale (playing Gunter or even BAE behind him), Jenas (the only way he should get a game), Campbell or even Modric (though who then fills his centre role is currently beyond me).

    Strikers - Pavlyuchenko has shown signs that he could be just what we need and along side him, either Bent or Campbell. I don't understand Gus saying Pav & Bent are too similar. Pav is a big target man with a good touch and Bent is a speed merchant who plays off the last defender. It's your classic 'little & large' combination except Bent isn't that little. And if it needs mixing up, there's always Campbell (why oh why wasn't he even on the bench on Sunday).

    So, this looks like a pretty good side to me. (The right) two new players in January and it will be awesome.
    I still assume we got Pav with the expectation that Arshavin would follow.
    Then, it seems we had all our holding midfield eggs in Veloso's basket and he turned us down, so we threw a last minute £15m at Portsmouth for Diarra. Either would have been a good buy but add to that Palombo, De La Red, Albelda or even Jimmy bloody Bullard (and there must be dozens that I don't even know the names of). Surely, we could get one of them (better still 2) in January.

    This team could win the league.

    Hutton Woody King Bale
    Bentley Palombo Modric Lennon
    Pavlyuchenko Arshavin
  8. hodspurs
    ramos has said himself he wants to play 4 4 2.and i hope he starts awith that at the weekend. with no pav on thursday and it being a euro away game i expect we will go 4 5 1.
    gunter king woody bale
    bentley jj zokora o'hara

    sunday back to the prem against a team that could bully us,so 4 4 2...
    gunter corluka woody bale
    bentley jj zokora lennon
    ....campbell pav (or bent since they cant plasy together).....
  9. hodspurs
    i could not believe what gus said about pav and bent,they are totally differant players in my eyes.bent can play on the last defender while pav holds the ball up or flicks it on...strange..:shrug:
  10. rooster1
    Yep. I agree with all of that.
    Another thing is that when the Jan window comes we are going to be out muscled by the likes of citeh or maybe even the barcodes when it comes to getting the quality we need.

    Funny ol world isn't it.
  11. Pat Rice Spurs fan
    Or, if we get bought out by some mystery billionaire Far East investor (as the Guardian suggests), we could be the ones to out muscle everyone else.
  12. rooster1
    Erm. I prefer your suggestion of a funny ol' world Pat rice Spurs fan.:grin:
  13. palestinian yid
    at the moment i'm almost amazed at how bent is overlooked for pav. personally i think its a little odd. i don't really think anyone knows how good pav is but he seems to be our new messiah.
  14. Pat Rice Spurs fan
    And I agreed with the rest of your post too!
  15. Pat Rice Spurs fan
    I'm guessing that no one's mentioning the defence because Hutton's been injured so far and the rest have changed every game. We kind of assume Ramos knows his best defence (Hutton, Woody, King, Bale) but hasn't been able to play them, whereas he's had all the midfield & stikers avaiable and not been able to find a preferred combination.
    And, as far as conceding no more that 38 goals, surely that's not just down to the keeper & defence. We all saw how much more solid we were with Carrick & Davids in the side.

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