Since my last update at the end of the 2013/14 season, we’ve completed our squad overhaul. In the end it ended up as less of an overhaul and more of a sale of the deadwood and the arrival of three central midfielders. Ah well.
The first two guys were planned for a while. I knew we needed a dominating presence at DM, a player who could dictate play but also act as the primary playmaker from deep. With Maher and Hiljemark at CM and both being incredibly dynamic players who push on, the DM is likely to be left to deal with opposition counter-attacks. As he was available on a free transfer, Ekdal was a no-brainer. In the previous update I said the transfer budget was largely flexible, but when you can get the same quality of player on a free transfer then you go for it. I had planned for Ekdal to be my DLP-D at the base of a ‘1-2’ shape in central midfield, but that changed later in the window due to this man..
Hi chaps, first of all I’d like to apologise for the lack of posts recently. I did an update on my Le Mans save but I’ll be surprised if anyone managed to get through all of it, so hopefully this is a tad more exciting. For the time being I’ve abandoned my Le Mans save and returned to Palmeiras where my Copa Libertadores winning team is open to tactical innovations.
But from a brief overview of the team, I decided that the role to create would be the False Eight. It’s a fairly dire coinage but I feel it most accurately describes what I’ve attempted to create. I’m sure the vast majority of my readers will have heard of the False Nine, and even the False Ten. Although for those of you who haven’t, the False Nine (for example) is a player who plays as a traditional number 9 striker in the offensive phase of play, but whilst the opposition have the ball, he drops deep in an attempt to retain possession.
As followers of the blog will know, I have something of a fascination with players contributing more to the team than they perhaps should. And [hopefully], that’s what I’ve managed to do with the False Eight.
Welcome to the second article in the ‘Exploiting Space’ series – this edition is all about the Playmaking Central Defender.
Those of you who follow the blog, or have followed me on Twitter, know that I enjoy creating roles out of nothing. The full-back was a previously underused role, so I wrote about the Inverse Wing Back – a wing back that cuts inside, often accompanied by a touchline-hugging winger playing in front of them. This drags a defense apart through its exploitation of space, and due to the relatively positive feedback I received on the piece, I thought I’d try and write another similar one.
A concept that has always interested me, in terms of football tactics, is the underutilised resources in football. Whilst the team is attacking, what do the defenders and goalkeepers do? Surely if you could find a way of getting them into the game you could gain a competitive advantage? We’ve seen the all-conquering Spanish and Barcelona teams attempt to do this with marauding wing backs and ball-playing central defenders – it’s not a new concept. Quite often, in tactics that play with high pressing, the striker is the first line of defense – they pressure the opposition defense and attempt to win possession in the opposition third. So why can’t your defensive line be properly utilised as the first line (or ‘layer’) of attack?
Creating and exploiting space is the key to any successful football tactic. Be it via keeping the ball and stretching the opposition until holes appear, or immediately counter-attacking into the open space, every single successful tactic exploits space in different ways. Over the past few months, I’ve been focusing on something I’d previously never even thought about – the Inverse Wing Back.
The full-back is an often neglected position in football, particularly in a four-man defense. Because of this, I’ve always been interested in tactics that bring the full-backs into play more effectively. So when this thread popped up, I accepted the challenge.