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Tactics my arse

By Jim Hourigan :  08/01/2011 :  Comments (17) :
So how do you rationalize the last 3 games? The excellence against Spurs and the dross against West Ham and Stoke!.

At the start of the season, I like many others, felt we had a squad that could do something this season, in fact for the first time ever I had a flutter on us to win a trophy, but where we are now leaves many of us scratching our heads to explain how it can be so poor. Wednesday was a breath of fresh air and raised hopes and spirits but why?

On other threads many have suggested that the change was down to playing 4-4-2, however I noticed others saying we played the same formation as usual with Saha taking on the Cahill roll and that we play 4-4-2 with Cahill anyway !! For those who long for the 4-4-2 system I think that it really depends on how you define the role of the 2 forwards. If people believe that it should be a throwback to ?a Sharp and Inchy? type system then I think you are living in the past. Playing 2 forwards is in my view essential but they have to perform in very different ways form the 80?s and 90?s. The second forward has to be prepared to drop off and link up play whilst always seeing themselves as a forward when attacking. Look at the most successful recent models ? Rooney and Ronaldo /Berbatov ? Crouch/Defoe/ Pav with Van Der Vart / Keane? Drogba and Anelka. Looking at the so called top teams who have won little recently (Arsenal, Liverpool and most recently City) all play with 1 forward and an attacking midfield player and all struggle to score regularly.

Against Spurs I would argue that we played with 2 recognised forwards and that in doing so we looked far more balanced and capable of winning ? which we obviously did. Down to Moyes?s tactics then you shout. Superficially that may look like a sound argument but dig a little deeper and I think the answer is far more fundamental. I am reminded of a quote by Cloughie along the lines that football is a vey simple game made complicated by coaches. Why were so many of us looking forward to the season and quietly confident that good things might happen?

If you?re like me it was probably down to the quality of players and the potential they had to do something. But why has it been going so horribly wrong and why was Spurs so different? Did anyone notice that after the Spurs goal we kicked off and passed the ball back, sideways, inside and then forward ? where was the ball played to the full back and hoofed forward to allow us to push up to the half way line and in doing so giving them the possession?

Suddenly the players did what they felt comfortable with ? passing the ball to each other rather than hoofing it forward. Along the same lines we had players playing in their right positions but far more fundamentally doing what they are most confident about ? passing the ball forward and looking to win a game. Defenders willing to pass to midfield, midfield passing into forwards feet, wide players looking to get beyond full backs etc etc The most significant change for me was a state of mind ? we went out to win a game because Moyes knew if we sat back we would get mullered and the players played that way ? not tactics but man management.

As I write this I am listening to the breaking news about Liverpool and start to look forward to next Sunday. Should we be worried about their players? No ? but should we be worried about the attitude that Dalglish will engender ? well that really depends upon our attitude and the man management of Moyes. Does he go there with the ?tactic? of not getting beat, playing 1 forward and 5 in midfield or alternatively does he go there to win a game, does he put his faith in the players and more importantly the way they played against Spurs.

Tactics my arse - put the right players in the right positions and much more fundamentally have faith in them and their abilities to win a game. Have faith in Fellaini and Arteta to dominate, believe that Coleman and Pienaar can get beyond and behind them, support Saha and Beckford to cause and create them problems but send them out without fear, tell them how good they are how they CAN win the game ? and heaven forbid it doesn?t work, please don?t go back to the ?tactics? of yester year.

Reader Comments

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Matthew Lovekin
1   Posted 08/01/2011 at 15:34:25

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A number of good points, but do you think that Moyes is going to be positive at Anfield and tell his players to go out, enjoy themselves and win the game?

If the last 9 years are anything to go by, it will be "men behind the ball, keep it tight".

C'mon Moyes, surprise us all!
David Hallwood
2   Posted 08/01/2011 at 15:59:36

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But Jim, you're forgetting the fine win at Eastlands, playing 4-6-0, which makes the WHU/Stoke games baffling. But I'm with you, unchanged for the RS, and I'm lifting a 10 year self imposed ban going to the dark side and going with my two RS mates-wot a laff
Ian Tunstead
3   Posted 08/01/2011 at 16:06:10

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I fully agree Jim.

Play your best players in their best positions. Moyes seems to have made the mistake of playing his best players in their best positions, but the balance of the side has been interupted by playing 3 central midfileders to do the job that 1 can do.
Charles King
4   Posted 08/01/2011 at 16:44:50

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It's always been the same, football's a simple game complicated for no good reason by coaches.

Reasonable players allowed to play perform better than good players encumbered by overcoaching, lets hope our manager is beginning to get the message.
Robert Graves
5   Posted 08/01/2011 at 17:22:17

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It's seems to me we can play against teams that come at us but struggle when teams "park the bus".
Moyes doesn't seem to have a Plan B.
Aiden Doyle
6   Posted 08/01/2011 at 17:18:30

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I've a two word riposte for anybody who says "tactics my arse": Jose Mourinho
Mike Allison
7   Posted 08/01/2011 at 17:34:18

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Its a good article but I disagree with the headline. Tactics have their place, the point of them is to minimise the oppositions strengths and maximise your own. This can be done well and it wins matches, it did for Moyes when we came 4th despite not having the 4th best set of players in the country. The problem is in over doing them and preventing your own players from playing to their strengths.

The difference you mention is confidence. For whatever reason the attitude has been different, and this is far more important than anything else. A formation isn't intrinsically positive or negative, what matters is how you play it. 4-4-2 can be defensive if both central midfielders sit deep, neither full back overlaps and the strikers are expected to chase the opposition full backs back when they overlap, likewise 4-5-1 can be attacking if the opposite happens. What has happened in the last two games is that we have played with a different attitude coinciding with having two natural strikers starting the game. Maybe you could speculate that one has caused the other, but I'm not sure how that's measurable.
Charles King
8   Posted 08/01/2011 at 18:10:39

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Aiden @ 6

Jose is very good at setting up defensive teams that's it.

Oh, and he's a good talker.
Jamie Crowley
9   Posted 08/01/2011 at 18:18:26

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I've seen people say we're still playing 4-5-1 with Saha in Cahill's slot...

Are they watching the same game I am?

It's a 4-4-2 with 2 out and out strikers up top. Just b/c a striker comes deep to receive a ball does not mean the side is set out 4-5-1.
Dominic Bobadilla
10   Posted 08/01/2011 at 19:55:45

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Wanna learn tactics? Read Mao, Lenin, Sun Tzu, and Balthasar Gracian.
Dale Hathaway
11   Posted 08/01/2011 at 19:54:38

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I have posted on other threads recently saying that our strikers have/ will only flourish under a 4 4 2 system with the strikers being allowed to be just that, strikers. Saha has now scored a couple in the last two games, why? because he has another striker to bear some of the burden of attacking the defensive line of our opponents. Saha himself did an interview after the Spurs game saying just that, he was delighted to have another striker on the pitch. His words were something to the effect of 'if JB hadn't been playing he would have been closed down much quicker and maybe not been able to get the shot on goal. FFS if that is not telling Davey Moyes why he has had so many problems with the strikers this year then God knows what it will take for him to listen. I have also said recently that I couldn't wait for Tim Cahill to trot along to the Asian Cup. As valuable as Tim is to us he is also a contributor to our negative long ball tactics. His inclusion to the team often leaves us with an extra midfielder and less attacking options than statistics may show. Delighted that Moyes has reverted to the current 4 4 2 system but very wary that this will go out the window when TC comes back...
Denis Richardson
12   Posted 08/01/2011 at 20:16:59

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Mmm... agree with most of the port but as you say ' we went out to win a game because Moyes knew if we sat back we would get mullered and the players played that way ? not tactics but man management' - if this was the case wahy did we not try to 'go out and win the game' against the likes of Stoke, West Ham, West Brom, Newcastle etc etc.

I personally think that if the Asia cup was not on, there is no way Moyes would have played with 2 recognised forwards.

Thankfully he did and IMHO the simple fact that the 11 players on the pitch were all playing in their proper positions (or positions they are comfotable in - before people start saying Coleman is a RB!) and had a positive attitude was the reason for the good result against Spurs.

I pray to the heavens that the dour scott can see the potential the side has if he actually allows them to play.....
John Vanderwerff
13   Posted 08/01/2011 at 22:21:07

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Cahill isn't a forward; he's a midfield player who scores goals. He doesn't play like a forward, he doesn't think like a forward. The problem is he isn't good in a 4-4-2 formation and Moyes wont drop him.
Paul Ward
14   Posted 09/01/2011 at 01:10:19

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Robert Graves is spot on. Moyes does not have a plan B. Moyes own pre season quote was he had the best Everton squad in his time at the club. Instead of picking the best players in their best positions he has insisted in playing players in positions that fit his one negative tactic that being don't lose.
Jamie Crowley
15   Posted 09/01/2011 at 05:03:23

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Denis @12 -

before people start saying Coleman is a RB!

Can we just say Coleman's a RM? He's proven himself. I think there's a better arguement when you say he's out of position when he plays RB. He's defensively suspect frankly.

Boy's a winger. Has verstility to be sure and can play at RB, but I'd argue he is where he belongs - his proper position, out on the wing.

I don't think you or anyone needs to even back pedal. If some smart azz wants to point out that Coleman originally was a RB tell them to go to hell.

Or you might point out Jags was originally a midfielder... is he out of position?

Please. No need to quanitfy that positional thingy with Coleman any longer.
Derek Thomas
16   Posted 09/01/2011 at 07:55:30

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Fred Pickering and Malcolm McDonald can move from fullback to Centre Forward; Tommy Wright move back from inside forward to Fullback; Ray Kennedy from CF to L.MF. John Hurst CF to CB...the list is almost endless.

Just as it ain't where you start, it's where you finish and it ain't what you do it's the way that you do it. Coleman is what he is and he does what he does and at the moment he does it very well.

Defenders hate people running at them. So long may he do it. Next season I hope we don't get a bit 2nd season syndrome.

Some of us have been saying it for some time about the RS. Get in there faces from the first min. We now know what we do best, so lets go out and do it with the same team Vs Spurs, same attitude.

We are better than them, do what we do and let the serial quitter worry about the tactics to stop us.

We have we don't need tactics, they are for the guy trying to play catch up.

The first requirement for a good coach is better players.

We got

They don't
Steve Smith
17   Posted 10/01/2011 at 16:01:42

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Don't want to piss on the bonfire about the Spurs game, I was glad we played 442 and it worked for us to an extent, but those of you who were at the game will know that on another day, we could easily have been 3-1 down before we scored our second, at times we were a bit vulnerable at the back but to be fair, not many teams will come to GP an show the attacking flare that Spurs did.

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