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Is Balance fleeting in the Blue world?

By David Cooper :  29/12/2008 :  Comments (0) :
Having watched possibly our two best performances of the season against a woeful a Middlesbrough team and a poor Sunderland team, several things struck me… the most obvious being that putting a balanced team on the field allows players to perform to the best of their ability even if they are not playing in their so-called traditional positions.

Due to an injury list where being a striker is definitely an endangered species, Moyes (and Round?) have been forced to be creative — something that DM has not been known to be that often. But the resulting positional moves have only improved performances which previously (Wigan et al) had been dire, even if points were gained. Starting from the back, where our usual tactic was to kick it half the length of the field regardless of how often it came straight back.

When we did have 4 strikers, only JV and occasionally LS for a few fleeting moments when he was on the pitc,h actually looked comfortable attacking balls pumped forward. Certainly the Yak and BV do not relish that sort of contest. So, although we do use the long ball often from PJ, it now has some purpose and direction as someone has taught MF how to jump and challenge for the ball in the air, all they have to do now is show him how to do it without getting booked.

But with MA moved to a central position, more often than not we can actually pass the ball out of defence. The loss of JY, I think, has been a blessing in disguise. Now I love the passion and commitment and the athletic ability that JY has, but he has never been comfortable on the ball in the 7 years he has been a Blue. Why that is the case is another discussion topic all of its own...

So, with a solid central pairing of PJ and JL and a more creative outlet with LB playing at LB, and with TH playing at RB, we suddenly have a balanced back line. In the past, playing LB at LB often made us look very small in defence but for some reason that no longer seems a real problem. Is this because Fellaini adds welcome height or is it because there seem to be less “6 feet plus” teams in the PL??? Bolton, Wigan, Portsmouth all used to stack their team but this hasn’t happened this year… probably the physically biggest team is Stoke.

Anyway, playing LB at LB I think now is a definite plus as he seems more likely to link up with whoever is playing wide. JL did a great job for us but possibly now is the time to let him play in his favoured position?

As we move into midfield, depending on with 4, 5 or 6 players, the fluidity that this allows has been truly amazing as it certainly allows MA to run the show. We can now play through MF or hit it long with purpose to MF with TC and SP looking to pick up the knock downs. Suddenly everyone seems to be playing in a position that suits them, even PN in MF.

Hopefully DM has found yet another system that works. Will he continue to play it or will he revert back when injured players become fit again??? Lesson 101 from coaching says ”If it ain’t broken. don’t fix it”. Let's hope DM has read the book!!!

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