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Anyone interested in or involved in football has seen the changes which occur, mainly brought in by ‘foreigners’ from Spain, Portugal and Holland. We leave the days 442 behind us, where it really is down to the players and who wants it more on the day. But as life, technology and people progress, so does football… Now a team playing 433 and 4231 is a regular occurrence. This brings me to my thoughts that occur now on modern football… Maybe even the days of positions which players take up are different. This is hard to explain without a tactics board but why does a left back have to occupy the classic left back area. Why is it not possible for him to push on slightly and leave his centre backs side and become an isolated figure? I am not suggesting this for the reason of being more attacking or to mark a player closely but just to take up this position as a base.

The tactics which I would like to use as a case study is a 3, (not tight centre backs but responsible for the whole back line) a wing back (Ashley Cole is perfect) A central defensive midfielder, a right midfielder (not a winger a more tucked in role but not quite a centre mid either… This would make him hard pick up and cause confusion for the other teams) A left centre midfielder, again basic, box to box worker… This is where it becomes fun… A top 3 the central players is an attacking mid fielder. He does not play as a striker but drops of into the whole. We then have two high wide forwards… These two guys should be Darren bent, Villa, Pedro and Ian Wright esc… They should be all about goals… Pace power and intelligent movement… These two lads are responsible for getting in behind the def by creating space with their movement or getting on the ball in advanced areas and getting at full backs in one on one situations as will be created. The centre attacking player will drop off as said. This will make the centre backs have to make a decision. They will have to either go with him which will leave the back line exposed to runs inside the full backs. If the centre back leaves him then we are really happy as this player is our ronaldinho or van der vaart he turns goes at them or has a pop. In other words HE MAKES THINGS HAPPEN.

Now imagine a team playing a 442 against this formation. We have 3 on two up top with the holding mid who will help out as well as cover the ‘full back’ areas. We have an Ashley Cole who will deal with anyone, any winger. Their midfield won’t know who to mark or where to go with. One will be getting shouted at to take the playmaker from the centre half. If he goes we have 3 on 1… Our high wide players will have one on one situations all day.  THEY WONT KNOW WHATS HAPPENING!

It is this type of thinking and studying of the game that allows us to surpass the GAA in Ireland and compete with the rest of the world. Even this thought of going forward quickly to the front men has to stop and we need to begin playing patiently, Playing the 80 20 or 70 30 passes instead of ‘lumping’ fifty balls on top of the front men. The term ‘get rid of it’ and ‘stop messing around’ have to be forbidden from the Irish coaching handbook…

This will come in the next article however. The playing out from the back will be the next topic. But what I have said here must be taken on board