We had 16 points from 18 then we had a drubbing at home followed by a lacklustre draw at Hull which we could have lost. We are now on 17 points from 24. To put that in perspective that is 71% of the possible points. If we played like that throughout the season we would end on 81 points and that would have got us first, second or third place in the past three years. What then is wrong? Why do we feel this disquiet?
Our defeat against MC was hard to take though not unpredictable. It was the manner of defeat. They probably would have won the game, but maybe not. The sending off was rescinded but the ‘goal’ that was disallowed could not be given back. We were unlucky and given the points we have surely we should be happy? The answer is we are not. We know that against Hull we could not have complained if we came home with nothing. We know we have come out of the traps slowly and we were not convincing in many of our games. We have ridden our luck just as other teams ride theirs. The problem is we have used a huge slice of it and action needs to be taken so we are less reliant on luck. True, there have been injuries, but the team is almost back to full strength, so what now?
I am working on the basis of no recalls for loan players. You can fiddle with those and with the ones I have left out. The key thing for me is formation (subject to the team turning up and playing as they should do). The latter is a separate issue as are who we should get in and so on. This is what we have, but as I mentioned, if you think Dawson or Soldado should be in, by all means put them in. On Soldado, what are we going to do? Answers on a postcard please along with answers as to how they get motivated.
Having stated I would not be discussing personnel and would focus on formation, I will mention Lennon. I have always liked Lennon and really hoped he would produce. Unfortunately it seems to be a case of flattering to deceive. There are two key complaints. One, if Lennon cannot take corners I do not want him in the team. If Lennon cannot take free kicks I do not want him in the team. If Lennon cannot finish his run with a telling cross or pass that actually finds a Spurs player I do not want him in the team. Yes, he does it, but not enough for my liking. In any event, I think you would struggle to find a place for him in my formation.
Anyway, back to the item in hand. Many goals against us have been via a simple Route 1 through the middle. This was shown again when Long netted for Hull on Saturday. We seem not that great at countering this and we know we are weak in the left back position. The formation I suggest is below, with three centre backs, no traditional left back, and no traditional right winger.
Why three centre backs? First for the reason mentioned above, our vulnerability to Route 1 attacks. Second, this allows cover for attacks from the wings. If Walker has moved forward the trio can shuffle across. With Paulinho and Sandro in front of them we would be as solid as we can be. That does not, of course, mean we would be solid. Townsend and Walker can cross the ball. They also have energy and can get up and down the pitch. There would be a lot of onus on both players, and they may need to swap attacking and defending depending on where play is positioned. I could have done some more pictures, showing a left sided attack, right sided attack, defending, etc, but you get the idea. Lamella has not had a chance as a striker. Let’s see what he can do. Can he do worse than Soldado has done so far? Erikson is yet to shine but shows touches. If not him, who else?
Sorry, I know it was supposed to be about formation but I could not resist mentioning something about the players. The reality is it is down to a mix.
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