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Could this work?

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Looking at the players we have available, taking in to account the perceived weaknesses we have (Right hand side) is Anichebe good enough to be a regular starter? Is Coleman too defensively naive to be a regular starter at Right back?

The strength of the squad is sought primarily in midfield where we have a depth of talent (everybody fit) that would mean somebody missing out who is definitely good enough to start. I understand changing a system totally is something difficult and realise that it is very unlikely to happen as Moyes?s policy is generally very rigid and will usually set up in a similar manner whoever the opponent.

In order to accommodate both Heitinga and Jagielka both at Centre-Half, like it or not, Distin or Yobo has to be involved. In the modern game there are two types of centre half, one that attacks everything and dominates both in the air and on the floor. The second will drop off in to the space and clear up everything behind. Both Heitinga and Jagielka fall in to this category, Distin and Yobo the former.

As a result, Moyes will play one of each type together in a back four. Which brings me to my point: in order to accommodate as many of our best players as possible in to one system, it would make sense to play a back three. This also utilises the left / right footer on either side and should mean Heitinga should be the spare man and therefore given the opportunity to display his impressive range of passing from deep.

Distin - Heitinga - Jagielka

Playing this system also negates the defensive naivity of Coleman as he could be utilised on the right hand side as a wing-back... with Baines similarly on the left, where arguably he would be more effective. However, this may break up his partnership with Pienaar which has been so effective over the last couple of years.

Baines - Coleman

In Midfield we could then play a three fairly narrow as the width would be provided by the wing-backs. Possibly playing Fellaini holding and giving a platform for Pienaar and Arteta to get forward and create (both of which are arguably better utilised in the middle) without a massive need to get back in and defend. Obviously using the work ethic of Pienaar in particular we would have license to press a lot further up the pitch.

Fellaini
Arteta - Pienaar

Further forward, there is the opportunity to play with either Cahill/Rodwell in ?the hole? behind a main striker. Giving the opportunity to pick the ball up infront of the oppositions back four with options coming from both deep and out wide. Cahill provides a threat aerially and is notoriously difficult to pick up. Rodwell being a lot more technical I would expect could dictate the game from that position and drive forward as he did against Man Utd last season. Without getting into a debate on the merits of who should play, I would expect both would be effective in the role.

Rodwell / Cahill

Up front, there would be less pressure on the frontman to hold the ball up and wait for support as in theory there should be options wide and from deep. Therefore, Saha would probably be best deployed here as he is less adept with his back to goal than the Yak, but has a great touch, his vision and eye for goal are far and away the best we have at our disposal. So he would get the nod in this system. With Beckford able to use his pace and intelligence in behind when called upon. Also the Yak as a target if required.

Saha

Overall It seems a little far-fetched to expect Moyes to drop a system that has been so effective over the years. I just feel that, with the players we have at our disposal, this may suit what we have. I have not ignored the likes of Neville, Hibbert, Osman, Vaughan etc (that would be a different debate) but feel that the players mentioned would be the most effective in the system used.
Lee Armstrong, Surrey     Posted 13/08/2010 at 11:05:06

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Kase Chow
1   Posted 13/08/2010 at 14:03:42

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Pretty good in theory. Would be interesting to see it in practice

Can't see Moyes not keeping a back 4 though
Dennis Stevens
2   Posted 13/08/2010 at 14:14:33

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Whatever formation you choose, there will be times when players are caught out of position, if you have intelligent players capable of doing more than one job and used to playing together, as Moyes has assembled, then they will automatically cover the gap and be confident that aonother team-mate will step in and cover for them in turn. This degree of interchangeability is as important defensively as it can be to attacking with fluidity and variety.
Anthony Hughes
3   Posted 13/08/2010 at 14:20:30

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I like it, Lee; it fits the personnel we have at the club, it could be used as 3-5-2 when we're attacking and can become 4-5-1 when defending. I'd love to see it.
Bradley Nolan
4   Posted 13/08/2010 at 14:24:35

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Am I missing something or is that 11 without a goalkeeper? Something's got to give.
Dan McKie
5   Posted 13/08/2010 at 14:22:28

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You would effectivley be asking Baines and Coleman to do all of the attacking and defending down the flanks. If Coleman is to be exposed defensivley, then it would happen more so with this formation, given he wouldn't have anyone in front of him. The midfield wouldn't be spread enough to help him, and we still couldn't afford the centre-backs to cover so wide. There is probably a reason why not many teams play this formation.
Anthony Hughes
6   Posted 13/08/2010 at 14:26:44

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If one of your three centre-backs are pulled out to cover the full-back then your defensive holding midfielder drops in to the centre-half position to cover. It requires players to be intelligent and aware and not ball watch but it can be done... I think Fellaini would carry this role off well and, even if he's injured, Neville in the holding role is a disciplined enough player to do this; likewise Heitinga if he wasn't one of the centre-backs.
Terry Beeken
7   Posted 13/08/2010 at 14:31:15

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Bradley Nolan, I think Lee means Cahill or Rodwell (I read it as eleven players without a goalkeeper as well at first)
Lee A I like it; maybe Moyes could try it in the Carling Cup against the Terriers??
Tommy Gourlay
8   Posted 13/08/2010 at 14:47:34

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This sounds a perfect formation to me, it's designed so that if - for example - Coleman gets caught upfield then the furthest right Centre Back becomes right back and - as Anthony says - the Defensive Midfielder or Left Wing Back drops in to make it a back four or even five. (Fellaini as Defensive Midfielder & at the same time being able to offer his height at the back sounds tasty!)

This formation would also allow Pienaar to drift out wide when he wanted to hook up with Baines and allow Pienaar or Arteta to take turns covering for Fellaini when he went marauding forward.

Our back three would have the time to not have to hoof and if desired they could even easily pass it sideways to Johnny and let him take it from there. You can also afford to have one under-sized centre-back which would mean we could use all Hibbert's superb defending attributes without the height disadvantage being an issue.

You'd have to presume Moyes would've tried it pre-season though if he had the inkling to do it, unfortunately.
Sean McCarthy
9   Posted 13/08/2010 at 15:08:51

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Dream on.................
Anthony Hughes
10   Posted 13/08/2010 at 15:18:42

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Aye, I supposed we were getting carried away there...
Matthew Tait
11   Posted 13/08/2010 at 16:24:25

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3-5-2 and related formations are very much out of favour these days. The problem has always been that it's too easy for them to become too defensive - you've go three centrebacks, and the wingbacks still end up having to track back to cover the opposition's wingers, so you end up with 5 defenders and no width.

That said, that was the case when teams generally played 2 forwards. I can actually see an argument for using a formation with three defenders and five or even six midfield players against teams playing a 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1 formation.
Gareth Humphreys
12   Posted 13/08/2010 at 16:31:12

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I think everyone is cautiously optimistic over the new season when looking at the squad we have; however, there are a few concerns over players possibly being asked to play out of position.

Having a look at the players in their best positions, there are some obvious choices for some positions and others that we are overloaded in one area:

Goalkeeper: Howard ahead of Mucha ? that said, though, I think if you are looking at title winners, you would need a keeper who is a tad better than these two.

Right Back: Neville, Hibbert, Coleman ? Hibbert great defending; Coleman great going forward and Neville overall probably the best out of the three.

Left Back: Baines ? No obvious cover although Distin and Neville can play there.

Centre Backs: Yobo, Distin, Heitinga & Jagielka ? Looks pretty solid and the obvious choice would be Heitinga and Jagielka although I have a doubt he will play the two of them.

Left Wing: Pienaar and Gueye ? Cover can come from our newbie but Pienaar is the only one who plays his best football for us out there. Gueye maybe... time will tell.

Right Wing: big black hole and one that needs addressing. Arteta, Osman and Anichebe can all do a job there but it is a problem position.

Central Midfield: Arteta, Fellaini, Rodwell, Osman ? Oozes quality and it is going to be difficult for Moyes to go with anything other than Arteta and Fellaini. Tough to find a better pairing in the middle of the park anywhere if they are at the top of their game. Rodwell and Osman may find a bit of time on the bench.

Attacking Midfield: Cahill and Bilyaletdinov ? Tim seems to have his fair share of critics on here but I just don?t think you can ignore his goal threat and as such is pretty much sure to play when fit.

Centre Forward: Yakubu, Saha, Vaughan, Anichebe, Beckford ? A bit top heavy on numbers and a bit sparse on guaranteed goals (unless the Yak has recovered). I would go for the Yak all day long with a fair bit of competition if he is not pulling his tripe out.

Overall, I think this is the best squad we have had for some time. Two decent international keepers; eight sound defenders with the only problem area being if Baines got injured. Midfield is overload in the middle; however, the right hand side needs addressing.

Five vying for one position up top is an issue and, when funds are at a premium, I think a few of them need to be off loaded. Anichebe is never going to be prolific enough to get him a starting place long term up top. And Vaughan, I believe has lost his own confidence and that of his manager.

Could Hibbert be sold to get a decent young Left back in as cover for Baines? Could Anichebe and Vaughan be sold to get someone in half decent on the right hand side? Time will tell but I don?t think we are far off from having balance, cover and quality all over the pitch. Now... when is that cheque from Sky turning up?

Peter Griffin
13   Posted 13/08/2010 at 16:25:03

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The England match the other night paired Terry/Jags. Jagielka was like a salmon winning everything in the air. Despite Terry being the taller of the two, Jags would challenge aerially and Terry would cover.

I expect Jags and Distin to start tomorrow due to Heitinga's lack of pre-season. However, I disagree with this theory that Jags and Heitinga can't play together, especially with Fellaini in front of them.
Jay Harris
14   Posted 13/08/2010 at 16:34:27

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As Matthew #11 says, three at the back and using wingbacks had a very short existance some years ago because the opposition very quickly exploited the gap between the wing back and the defensive 3 then pulling one of your centre backs out of position.

The best tactical system is the one players know and understand and the real key is confidence and movement off the ball.

We now have arguably the most technically gifted squad in recent years.

My only concern is we have lost a bit of the "grit" we used to have and that is why players like Heitinga, Neville and Hibbert are so important.

Everyone needs a "Tiger in their tank" (sorry rip off of an old shell advert" ? the old timers will know it)..

I do think however that Distin and Yobo need replacing with a better quality CB who can defend set pieces and score goals.
Tom Bowers
15   Posted 13/08/2010 at 18:49:36

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We will all go crazy trying to second guess Moyes. Trying to see before tomorrow which eleven Moyes considers his best. We all have our favourites, as Moyes has. Don't be surprised to see Neville, Hibbert and Osman all starting. However, if by some miracle he is looking ahead and selects some new faces, then we can maybe expect a good start to the season.

Like every team, we will have injuries sometime and so giving the new faces ample opportunity early will create the pressure on those that don't play up to their maximum.

If he goes to Ewood with a negative formation, then we will come unstuck. We have to be adventurous and attack a very average Blackburn squad right from the start. I would consider anything less than a win very disappointing.

Ben Jones
16   Posted 13/08/2010 at 19:36:38

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3-5-2 is an interesting formation though for some reason, it hasn't been used at all.

Though Spurs used it against us last season at Goodison and it worked really well for the first half, we were having problems and I seem to remember Steve Round concurring this.

I quite like it, but knowing Moyes and one of his weaknesses is changes of tactics, it is 99% not happening. I'm not sure if people like Coleman and Fellaini are disciplined either.

Definitely food for thought though.
Gavin Ramejkis
17   Posted 13/08/2010 at 20:27:02

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Balloon head Allardyce will do what he always does tomorrow; alehouse dirty bastard hoofer football, try every dirty trick in the book and send his players out to kick lumps out of Everton. We need to play our game and outpass them, get early goals and not shit out from the yard dogs he will throw at us. If we can get stuck in when we need to and not back down a few goals will put this game to bed, a nice red card and plenty of yellows to them would be a bonus.
Iain Love
18   Posted 13/08/2010 at 21:35:35

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Cannot believe that no-one has said rather than 3 central defenders have 2 def midfielders, which we have in Fellaini & Rodwell (Heitinga as cover). This allows full backs to bomb forward as there will be additional cover from midfield. 3 attacking midfielders Arteta, Pienaar and either Cahill , Bily or one of the new lads, probably Gueye, behind King Louis. Now that suits our players and is not too big a change to our style, accommodates Rodwell and reduces the right wing problem as APC can and will interchange.
Iain Love
19   Posted 13/08/2010 at 21:49:53

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Sorry, forgot to add, I fully expect tomorrow's team to be:

Howard
Hibbert
Baines
Jagielka
Distin
Bily
Arteta
Neville
Pienaar
Cahill
Saha

Gerry Western
20   Posted 13/08/2010 at 23:17:08

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Sorry, Lee, not for me ? I still have vivid memories of the game at White Hart Lane last season when Heitinga partnered Distin at the back. Right from the off we were torn apart and Spurs looked as though they might score every time the ventured up the park. We looked anything but solid in defence.

Cue the changes: Jagielka replaces Johnny at the heart of defence whilst Heitinga moves to midfield and immediately makes an impact. He takes out Huddlestone who, up to that point, had been running the show. He then directs every thing from that point onward and the games turned on its head. We end up losing the game 2-1 having replied from a 2-0 deficit and are considered highly unfortunate not to have come away with all 3 points.

Heitinga for me simply has to play in the middle of the park.
James Stewart
21   Posted 14/08/2010 at 00:49:46

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Sorry don't agree with this at all. Jagielka and Heitinga compliment each other perfectly. Jagielka is the one who attacks everything. Heitinga mops up. We played our best stuff with that partnership.
Joshua Law
22   Posted 14/08/2010 at 00:58:54

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......................Howard........................
Coleman...Distin......Jags....Baines
...............Fellaini......Heitinga.............
.Gueye............Arteta............Pienaar
...........................Saha........................

I think this would be a great line-up for the weekend. We are definitely going to need some big timber in the backline with Fat Sam's 'hoof it in the box' tactics where Distin and Felli at DM can come into play.

Gueye and Coleman have been very impressive in pre-season and I would love to see them out wide playing with each other. It is so mouthwatering at the prospect of having Coleman and Baines flying forward down the sidelines in the same game!

Heitinga is more than capable of playing DM as he did last year and has great distribution, which would be evident with these players all over the pitch.

Pienaar and Baines can reunite their partnership with Arteta coming in and working with Saha (and linking with everyone around him in the hole...).

Wow, I cannot what for tonight!!!

Liu Weixian
23   Posted 14/08/2010 at 06:31:12

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Can't agree with you more, Gavin (post 17).
Chad Schofield
24   Posted 14/08/2010 at 07:00:21

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Iain,
I thought quite a few people had suggested the two DM approach which was seen so much in the World Cup.

I had a team line up like Joshua's but with Neville in for Coleman simple to fit him in and sure up defence.

As to Lee's well argued 3-5-1-1, while I see what you're saying I too fear teams like Chelsea would simply perch two winger/forwards behind Barnes and Coleman resulting in either no width for us or two CB's pulled wide leaving holes in the middle.
Lee Armstrong
25   Posted 14/08/2010 at 09:51:06

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I never said it was likely to happen nor do I expect it to... just that it would mean our right hand side would be a lot stronger....

James Stewart, we obviously never played much nice stuff last season as I cannot recall a single game when Jagielka and Heitinga were at the back together.

I'm just a little wary that this season as last and the one before we will almost definitely lack invention from the right-hand side and, if the opposition stop Pienaar and Baines, we quickly run out of ideas going forward.
Gerry Western
26   Posted 14/08/2010 at 11:51:01

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James,
Perhaps you could remind me of those games in which you thought Hetinga and Jagielka played well together in a central defensive partnership. As for my analysis of the Spurs game what exactly is it you do not agree with?

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