Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Petriix

The Evolution of Farkeball

Recommended Posts

I'd like to highlight an excellent post by @Parma Ham's gone mouldy in the thread on Farke's use of substitutes. In particular, the following stands out (remember we're talking last season in preparation for this season):

Quote

We are doing something tactically different this year. Something quite brave. It links with the issue of subs.

We are preparing for a higher level of football and have been for a couple of months. 

We have matured our game to the point where we are far from the ‘you score 4, we score 5’ rollercoaster of yesteryear - and indeed the fluid, attack-minded disrupt-you-by-attacking methodology that won praise - though few points - at the higher level. 

....

We are preparing - bravely - for a higher level. This is not ‘putting the cart before the horse’ , it is necessary transitioning and re-inforces Farke’s (and others’) observation that free-scoring promoted teams may - occasionally - keep scoring at the top level and survive a (lucrative) year, though teams that generally establish over a mid-term period (and thus are able to structurally strengthen) have far better defensive structure, are able to ‘see out’ tight games and resist ‘fear marketing’ when they are ahead. 

Like any really good (and he is excellent) coach he is managing to elegantly tessellate the immediate objectives with organic, persistent progression towards a deeper growth objective. 

Now it seems that I'm the only person making the distinction between the attacking 4-2-3-1 system we played in 19/20 and the more balanced version of the same system in 20/21. There seems to be an accepted wisdom that we get torn apart at this level when we play that way and that none of our midfielders can play the role that Skipp did last year.

We sold Buendia, we couldn't get Skipp back, so Farke attempted to adapt his system to suit the players we did have. The 4-3-3, built around the prodigious Gilmour in the middle of the park. Flanked by two athletic midfielders who would do the dirty-work, Gilmour would be the creative fulcrum.

We didn't need a number 10 any more because the two attacking midfielders would use their pace to get forward with Pukki. One of the midfield 3 would always be able to get forward and assist in attack so we wouldn't lack numbers and the extra midfielder would make it more defensively secure anyway. The fullbacks could give us width so it wouldn't be too narrow...

The 4-3-3 worked perfectly. Against Bournemouth's second string. 6-0 with the attacking talents of Tzolis and Sargent showing their potential. You could really see how the system was supposed to work.

Unfortunately we weren't up against Bournemouth in the Premier League. The midfield in that 4-3-3 were defensively frail yet also lacking a cutting edge in attack - the worst of both worlds. I don't think you can lay the blame solely on the system - although it's easy to see the holes. A significant part of the problem was the enormous turnover of players in those crucial positions. Of our previously solid midfield of Skipp, McLean, Cantwell, Dowell and Buendia, only Cantwell would feature in our opening two league games.

That seems like a massive amount of disruption to the continuity of a team which was on a roll. What about the steady, long-term evolution that Parma was talking about? What about the solid, defensive core?

Farke stuck with it. Narrow defeats to Leicester and Arsenal followed. It was almost working but, for some reason, the fullbacks were being exposed, especially down the left. The extra man in midfield wasn't compensating for the lack of tracking in the wide areas. Rashica simply didn't have an understanding of the defensive work required. Cantwell was now on the right and struggling to influence the games. So Tzolis and Dowell were given the chance but with little difference in the outcome.

Then disaster. Watford at home. Probably the easiest game of the season on paper. Kabak's in at centre back. Normann makes his first start. Sargent and Rashica get the nod in attacking midfield. It's a shambles. Rashica fails to stop a cross from deep. Kabak loses the only man in there and bang, it's 0-1. Norwich respond with Normann feeding Pukki. Finally the season is up and running. Well tear them apart in the second half...

Sadly not. Normann doesn't have the stamina and completely switches off. His man runs free, cuts it back and it's a tap in. Finally we see the 4-2-3-1 for the last 20 minutes. But it all unravels with a mistake from McLean leading to a 3rd goal. The team fall apart and Watford could have had more.

Farke concedes by going ultra defensive. 5 at the back. Still 3 in midfield. That means sacrificing another attacking player - from four under the 4-2-3-1, three in the 4-3-3 it's now two in the 5-3-2. It might have worked against Everton had Kabak not swung a leg in the box. He's certainly not covered himself in glory in those first two appearances. But Burnley and Brighton are largely kept at bay. The rot is stopped.

But Farkeball has all but gone from the team. Balls are routinely cleared long for the front two to chase. There are glimpses of fluid passing, some nice through-balls and a few great chances, but they mostly come from defensive mistakes rather than attacking play.

So, here we are. We have four attacking midfielders - Cantwell, Dowell, Rashica and Tzolis - competing for zero places in the starting line-up. Two of the three biggest signings in the club's history on the bench and arguably their most valuable remaining player not even in the squad. Gilmour, who probably provided the catalyst for the switch to the broken 4-3-3 in the first place, can't get near the pitch. There's no room for creativity in this latest Farke team.

It's looking more and more like the summer recruitment holds the bulk of the blame. Buendia was the talismanic figure who people said it would be hard to replace, but Skipp was the vital cog who held it all together. Maybe Normann and Lees-Melou will develop into the solid core we have been missing - the signs are good. But we're nearly a quarter of the way through the season with just two points on the board.

The questions remain:

  • how does this evolve to become a system which will win games?
  • what place is there for the attacking talent which has been so unashamedly cast aside?

I don't think we'll see a sudden deviation from this defensive setup. But I think it might be a panful remainder of the season. I was happy with the money received from selling Buendia, but I can honestly say that I think it's been wasted. We've signed a whole new team when we should have concentrated in a few key areas.

I still think the 4-2-3-1 could work and should be tried, after the Chelsea game. And it should be a disciplined, defence-first version of the system. I doubt we'll see it though. Farke will likely flirt with the 4-3-3 again. But, as challenging as it is to fit a number 10 in, without one, we look pretty unable to create much.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't judge a Formula One car while it's in the pits having a tyre change.  Farke is stabilising us and will look at reducing down to 2 CB's I'm sure.

There's no way he would walk away from the wide players that he clearly adores.  This is the quickest way of finding out which defenders and midfielders offer the most protection for our creative players to build from.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great, thought-provoking post.

I suspect the most likely tweak to the formation will be to go 343 to try and get two players in support of Pukki, or sticking with 352 but bringing Gilmour back into the midfield three to add a bit more creativity. 

Obviously all formations have their strengths and weaknesses but we conceded more than two goals a game with four at the back last time out in the Prem, and were doing the same this season until we added the extra defender. Since switching to the five we've conceded one goal, a slightly dodgy penalty, in three games. Clearly that's come at a cost in terms of offering a forward threat, but at least it's something to build on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thought provoking op, but I agree with Google Bot - the present formations/tactics are to stabilize the situation and a reaction to the poor start to the season.

It must be the case that as we progress, Tzolois and Rashica will be much more in tune with what is needed to comply with Farkeball - or this variation of Farkeball - and we will see much more of them.  Not sure about Gilmour, no doubt he is an excellent prospect, but can he be strong enough and disciplined enough to play as we need him to?  That remains to be seen, but I think all the rest will prove their worth over the coming weeks and we will see more from the attacking players as a whole.

But stopping the rot and getting Normann and Kabak acclimatised was crucial - and that looks to have happened.

Onwards and upwards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Petriix said:

We've signed a whole new team when we should have concentrated in a few key areas.

Good post, and pretty much agreed. But as I've said elsewhere today, we all knew we really needed 4 or 5 PL ready players. The problem was they weren't available at money we could afford and probably wouldn't have signed for us, even if we could have afforded their wages. We know we tried for Cahill; I'm sure we tried for others too.

We all thought Kabak was one - still not sure he is. He has the turning ability of a fridge at the moment, but he might get better. Most people thought Rashica was a great signing - still not sure he is. He has the pace of Placheta - unfortunately he seems to have his brain too, but he might get better. Normann does look to be one. 

I think Farke will go back to his favoured 4231 a soon as he thinks his players are up to speed. Who plays alongside Normann in the 2 is the real conundrum still to be solved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's going to be interesting to see, when we look back on the season, whether the Watford game was a crucial reality check that made us sort out our defensive formation, or an aberration that wrongly forced DF to change course (as I think Petriix suggests, apologies if I've misread that). Or neither. Maybe it'll just be that the squad isn't good enough.

Whether DF can find a workable balance between attack and defence quickly enough to give us a chance of survival is going to be grimly fascinating. After Chelsea we have four games from which we absolutely have to get a decent haul of points. It's simultaneously still early days for this team and getting to the point where we're running out of time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

18 minutes ago, sgncfc said:

We all thought Kabak was one - still not sure he is. He has the turning ability of a fridge at the moment, but he might get better. Most people thought Rashica was a great signing - still not sure he is. He has the pace of Placheta - unfortunately he seems to have his brain too, but he might get better. Normann does look to be one. 

This is the point, isn't it. Only Normann (I'd say Kabak too but am certainly not going to argue about it) has slotted in straight away, and even he struggles to last 90mins. All of the others are either taking time to get up to speed, or are not capable of getting up to speed. Clearly when you buy ten players you're going to have to accept not all of them will come off straight away. But I bet Daniel is frustrated that none of Sargent, Rashica, PLM, Gilmour and Tzolis have made themselves certain starters.

Edited by Robert N. LiM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Robert N. LiM said:

This is the point, isn't it. Only Normann (I'd say Kabak too but am certainly not going to argue about it) has slotted in straight away, and even he struggles to last 90mins. All of the others are either taking time to get up to speed, or are not capable of getting up to speed. Clearly when you buy ten players you're going to have to accept not all of them will come off straight away. But I bet Daniel is frustrated that none of Sargent, Rashica, PLM, Gilmour and Tzolis have made themselves certain starters.

PLM is clearly our second best central midfielder. I'm aware that one stat is far from everything, but this really shouldn't be scorned.

Screenshot_20211019-180713.png

Edited by 1902

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good post Petriix, enjoyed that.

It really shows how much things can change and how quickly they can change too.

I feel like there is a feeling of 'this will never end' whenever the club gets stuck in some kind of rut, I guess its down to some kind of short-term recency bias; when we are losing it feels like we will never stop losing, when we are playing a very defensive minded formation it feels like we're never going to branch out, when certain players aren't playing it feels like they're never going to get a chance. The same thing happens when we are doing well too (usually in the league below admittedly). 

You see it with Arsenal and United all the time, lose 3 games at the start of the season and the world is going to end, win 3 games in a row and all of the sudden Arsenal are back baby champions league winners 22/23 but then draw to Palace which will probably be the start of a swing back the other way. 

I think we can all be guilty for doing it and getting caught up in the emotions of what we have just seen, but it simply isn't the right way to look at things, there has to be a middle ground, or an overall picture. 

Your OP already illustrates just how much has come and gone this season. There is still so much time for us to see more of Tzolis and Rashica, for Cantwell to get a run of games, for us to experiment with 4 at the back again which I expect we will see within the next 3-4 games, for us to find a new attacking mojo following the overhaul in midfield, and for us prove the Buendia money was not 'wasted' as you fear. It's still early days!

I said it at the time and I've seen nothing since to tell me otherwise; the Watford game was the 'teething' game, we threw in our two new and probably most important signings when they arguably weren't ready and the result was disastrous. However, that has allowed us to map steady progress since with incremental increases in performance levels from that game, the Everton game, the Burnley game through to Brighton.

This is not the end of Farkeball, this change in style IMO was a necessary evil in terms of stopping the rot and picking the team up from rock bottom, trying to acclimatise our new players in a less chaotic environment and finding a new equilibrium in playstyle. I described it before as trying to turn around a large ship on a collision course, I feel like we are starting to veer away from disaster but we've still clearly got a lot more turning to do. 

Whether we will continue to improve enough to stay up, I find hard to believe right now, but we're clearly still a work in progress and it would not at all be a miracle if we did, IMO. I expect we will remain fairly competitive for the rest of the season, improve on our goal scoring and points total in 2019/20 and certainly avoid breaking any damning records come the end of the season, but maybe fall short of safety with an 18th place finish. 

I'd be keen to read another 'evolution' post in 8 games time, I'm sure we could be having an entirely different conversation then.  

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, 1902 said:

PLM is clearly our second best central midfielder. 

Yeah, fair enough, I did nearly leave him off that list. He's definitely taken time to adapt to the speed of the Prem, though, wouldn't you say? 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Robert N. LiM said:

Yeah, fair enough, I did nearly leave him off that list. He's definitely taken time to adapt to the speed of the Prem, though, wouldn't you say? 

 

Yeah I'd give you that, however thankfully for us he seems to have reached it now.

 

 

 

He is now guaranteed to have a nightmare against Chelsea.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Hank shoots Skyler said:

It's still early days!

It is. It is also almost too late. The Prem is so brutal.

Great post btw

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Farke needs †o read †he ma†ch better re; changing subs to control the tempo of the game and needs to give subs a chance to make a difference by making the changing earlier. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It does all seem to be a bit haphazard, a little bit spray-and-pray.

Given our recruits (Tzolis, Rashica, Sargent) I don't believe for one second that playing 5-3-2 was anywhere near Farke's thinking. I suspect we were led to believe Skipp was good for another season and had every intention of playing a formation that would maximise our new signings. As it happened, Skipp never came, Normann came in late and wasn't the DM Farke felt we needed for the 4-5-1, our early pummellings (coupled with the 19/20 disaster) knocked the confidence out of Farke and pushed him down a route he would never have entertained in August.

But that means we may well have blown our Buendia cash on players who don't fit the hastily devised plan. If it doesn't come good, then Webber and Farke will look more than a little foolish.

There is a lot riding on this season, both for us as a football club but also for Webber and Farke as elite level sporting director and coach. Just as plenty of players have shown they are capable in the second tier but not the Prem, so can it be for managers and directors. Football is fickle; a second abject, humiliating relegation on the C.V and all of a sudden a man being sniffed at by Man Utd soon becomes a prime target for Swansea.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tzolis should be up front with Pukki as Tzolis scores goals and has better movement and skill than Sargent or Rashica.

We could park the bus with 2 banks of 4 (no wingers) and have Pukki and Tzolis up front to score on the break.

 

Edited by Thingy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, canarydan23 said:

It does all seem to be a bit haphazard, a little bit spray-and-pray.

Given our recruits (Tzolis, Rashica, Sargent) I don't believe for one second that playing 5-3-2 was anywhere near Farke's thinking. I suspect we were led to believe Skipp was good for another season and had every intention of playing a formation that would maximise our new signings. As it happened, Skipp never came, Normann came in late and wasn't the DM Farke felt we needed for the 4-5-1, our early pummellings (coupled with the 19/20 disaster) knocked the confidence out of Farke and pushed him down a route he would never have entertained in August.

But that means we may well have blown our Buendia cash on players who don't fit the hastily devised plan. If it doesn't come good, then Webber and Farke will look more than a little foolish.

There is a lot riding on this season, both for us as a football club but also for Webber and Farke as elite level sporting director and coach. Just as plenty of players have shown they are capable in the second tier but not the Prem, so can it be for managers and directors. Football is fickle; a second abject, humiliating relegation on the C.V and all of a sudden a man being sniffed at by Man Utd soon becomes a prime target for Swansea.

The loan of - and vision for - Gilmour would also seem to fit your thesis. All disappointing if true, though yet to be disproved. 

Parma 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good post. I’m not sure there currently is “Farkeball.” I see no coherent style of play in what we are doing at present, we are just packing the defence and midfield and hoping the strikers can do something on the break or force an opposition error. 
 

I agree that recruitment is at the heart of it. A strong CDM should have been number 1 priority and first through the door. Normann is good but he’s also still not 100% that type of player. On top of that I think that the defensive issues should have been resolvable through good coaching and on the training pitch. These were mainly positional errors and carelessness. So all in all I think we’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water and whilst it’s worked a s degree with the two draws we’ve also passed up a couple of decent chances to get a win on the board and are at risk of alienating several of our talented attacking players. I also believe that the 4-3-3 system was partly (probably only a small part admittedly) a root cause of whatever situation is developing with Todd as it really didn’t suit him and saw him dropped at Arsenal. He’s not really been involved since.

So yes I agree we should never have ditched 4-2-3-1. It suits our players so much better and I am absolutely convinced that had we played it all season with two disciplined holding mids as the 2 we would have several more points.

Tgst said I still think the 3-5-2 can work and do like the extra comfort the third centre back gives. It suits Hanley and it compensates for Gibson’s lack of pace. It does though need at least 2 of Tzolis, Cantwell, Rashica or Gilmour in it. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Robert N. LiM said:

It's going to be interesting to see, when we look back on the season, whether the Watford game was a crucial reality check that made us sort out our defensive formation, or an aberration that wrongly forced DF to change course (as I think Petriix suggests, apologies if I've misread that). Or neither. Maybe it'll just be that the squad isn't good enough.

Whether DF can find a workable balance between attack and defence quickly enough to give us a chance of survival is going to be grimly fascinating. After Chelsea we have four games from which we absolutely have to get a decent haul of points. It's simultaneously still early days for this team and getting to the point where we're running out of time.

I think Watford was a really unfortunate game for us to have as our first “winnable” game as we know that for whatever reason (mainly Sarr) their style seems to work against us. In hindsight Farke should have tweaked it for that game as really all they have is that counter attack threat. Even so, that game was tighter than is made out and had we got the blatant penalty when well too then it may have played out differently. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Hank shoots Skyler said:

Good post Petriix, enjoyed that.

It really shows how much things can change and how quickly they can change too.

I feel like there is a feeling of 'this will never end' whenever the club gets stuck in some kind of rut, I guess its down to some kind of short-term recency bias; when we are losing it feels like we will never stop losing, when we are playing a very defensive minded formation it feels like we're never going to branch out, when certain players aren't playing it feels like they're never going to get a chance. The same thing happens when we are doing well too (usually in the league below admittedly). 

You see it with Arsenal and United all the time, lose 3 games at the start of the season and the world is going to end, win 3 games in a row and all of the sudden Arsenal are back baby champions league winners 22/23 but then draw to Palace which will probably be the start of a swing back the other way. 

I think we can all be guilty for doing it and getting caught up in the emotions of what we have just seen, but it simply isn't the right way to look at things, there has to be a middle ground, or an overall picture. 

Your OP already illustrates just how much has come and gone this season. There is still so much time for us to see more of Tzolis and Rashica, for Cantwell to get a run of games, for us to experiment with 4 at the back again which I expect we will see within the next 3-4 games, for us to find a new attacking mojo following the overhaul in midfield, and for us prove the Buendia money was not 'wasted' as you fear. It's still early days!

I said it at the time and I've seen nothing since to tell me otherwise; the Watford game was the 'teething' game, we threw in our two new and probably most important signings when they arguably weren't ready and the result was disastrous. However, that has allowed us to map steady progress since with incremental increases in performance levels from that game, the Everton game, the Burnley game through to Brighton.

This is not the end of Farkeball, this change in style IMO was a necessary evil in terms of stopping the rot and picking the team up from rock bottom, trying to acclimatise our new players in a less chaotic environment and finding a new equilibrium in playstyle. I described it before as trying to turn around a large ship on a collision course, I feel like we are starting to veer away from disaster but we've still clearly got a lot more turning to do. 

Whether we will continue to improve enough to stay up, I find hard to believe right now, but we're clearly still a work in progress and it would not at all be a miracle if we did, IMO. I expect we will remain fairly competitive for the rest of the season, improve on our goal scoring and points total in 2019/20 and certainly avoid breaking any damning records come the end of the season, but maybe fall short of safety with an 18th place finish. 

I'd be keen to read another 'evolution' post in 8 games time, I'm sure we could be having an entirely different conversation then.  

Improving on our points tally from last time though but getting relegated is still abject failure. We really don’t have the time to “experiment” that people seem to think and not should we still be experimenting when 25% of the way through the season. It’s ridiculous. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Jim Smith said:

Tgst said I still think the 3-5-2 can work and do like the extra comfort the third centre back gives. It suits Hanley and it compensates for Gibson’s lack of pace. It does though need at least 2 of Tzolis, Cantwell, Rashica or Gilmour in it. 

This, to me, is key.

Playing 3 at the back doesn't have to be negative but it will be if you play 3 fairly meat and potatoes type midfielders in front of them and two strikers who aren't exactly creative up top.

There is no need for PLM and McLean to both be in the team, nor is there a need for Rupp to be coming on to replace a midfielder late in the game. I can't think of a midfield 3 less likely to create a goal than Rupp, PLM and McLean.

I understand playing Sargent- he's physical and has the work rate to press teams high. However combined with Pukki you're left with a pair that aren't likely to make anything happen for themselves, isolated from a midfield trio that don't have much of a creative spark. 

For me you either drop one of PLM/McLean for Cantwell and get him in the spaces between midfield and attack or you drop one of those two AND Sargent or Pukki to play two of Tzolis/Rashica/Cantwell either side of the main striker to link with the overlapping wing backs.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a caveat be careful of ascribing too much weight to the paper formation. It is entirely flawed to think of this as the solution to all ills.

A small excerpt from the post you linked to:

‘Every piece and action is inter-connected and affects the whole. Few fans have the inside knowledge, data, direct experience, direct contact with the psychology of the players or deep understanding of how disparate parts contribute to the whole. Adding one things costs another, which diminishes another, augments a different piece, all of which suits one player , makes it harder for another, increases stress on one part of the system, strengthening another....but how does that relate to your resources, what the opposition resources are, what the variables of the day are (pitch, conditions, league position, momentum, current dressing-room psychology)?’

The formation on paper often bears little resemblance to the action on grass, or the intention of the Manager, or the overriding neural tendencies of the players on the field. 

Thus it is about how all pieces interconnect, based on deep knowledge and understanding of the players tendencies under stress and how all this combines as a unit, plus what stresses you are going to come under from the opposition actions (based on their own deep analysis and marshalling - which you are trying to second guess to make your own calculations more effective). 

It is spectacularly more complex, detailed and thought through than almost anyone on here gives it credit for.

Changing the paper formation is barely changing the texture of the fabric of the curtains. It depends on the interpretation. And that depends on how drilled the instructions are and how much they tessellate with or override (positive or negative) ingrained neural pathways of individuals. 

All that being said, there is some value and coherence to formations. Brazil played a very fluid 442 because they didn’t grow up being nurtured in boxy lines and thoughts as many English 80’s teams did. Thus a change in formation wouldn’t have affected the natural fluid tactical movement of Brazilian players, though a bit of schooling in Cruyffian 343 might well have - in time - encouraged better English players to literally have thought outside of the box shapes drilled into their minds. 

The issue here looks rather more like that which @canarydan23 has identified. 

Maybe - on paper- the dream and plan was for 4231 with Skipp alongside Gilmour and Rashica (sometimes Tzolis, sometimes both) tearing fluidly from in-to-out at teams and Sargent a great replacement for Pukki, an option driving from wide into 10 into 9 and so on…..

Be careful what you draw on paper…

Parma 
 

 

Edited by Parma Ham's gone mouldy
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, 1902 said:

Yeah I'd give you that, however thankfully for us he seems to have reached it now.

 

 

 

He is now guaranteed to have a nightmare against Chelsea.

As an aside, I think PLM is generally one of our most underrated players so far. He outperformed Normann against Brighton on pretty much every conceivable level but seems to go unnoticed by fans.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

47 minutes ago, Jim Smith said:

Improving on our points tally from last time though but getting relegated is still abject failure. We really don’t have the time to “experiment” that people seem to think and not should we still be experimenting when 25% of the way through the season. It’s ridiculous. 

But when you've had self-isolation and 2 or 3 friendlies cancelled in pre-season it's not that surprising. I still don't think we're experimenting; Farke knew confidence had dropped and had to instil some basic defensive discipline and shape - when low on confidence you're still going to get individual errors etc so you've got to simply try and minimise it which is all this shape and player selection is doing. 

Farke was hugely criticised for trying to play the same way in the Prem 2 years ago, we had an awful start to the season in terms of fixtures anyway. Farke has, as usual, done a great job at getting some of that confidence back and I fully expect Tzolis, Rashica and Cantwell (assuming personal situations are sorted) to play a lot of minutes this season.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Petriix said:

We've signed a whole new team when we should have concentrated in a few key areas.

Honestly I think our recruitment team have dined out on the success Pukki and Buendia for far too long.

When we went down we were targeting to come straight back up as first or second, we knew that Leitner, Trybull, Vrancic, Tettey and Stiepermann would never play for us again in the Premiership, yet we started the window with only McLean, Rupp and Sorenson (and wanting to ship out Hernandez and Placheta). Covid has to be factored in to some degree, but the teams that have been successful Leeds, Sheffield United and Brentford had a strong core that they could bolt a few players onto. We went up without that strong core.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Robert N. LiM said:

It's going to be interesting to see, when we look back on the season, whether the Watford game was a crucial reality check that made us sort out our defensive formation, or an aberration that wrongly forced DF to change course (as I think Petriix suggests, apologies if I've misread that). Or neither. Maybe it'll just be that the squad isn't good enough.

I'm fairly sure the balance was wrong before the Watford game, and that line-up in particular was so far removed from anything we'd ever played before: only Krul, Aarons, Hanley, McLean and Pukki had been at the club for more than a few weeks. To me that is lunacy to change the first team by that much in such a short space of time, regardless of the system we were playing. But to also be persevering with a different midfield philosophy which had seemingly abandoned the really disciplined defensive duo was asking for trouble. The frailties were already clearly exposed by the previous run of defeats.

@Hank shoots Skyler Thanks for the reply and counterpoint. I think (hope) that you're right. I just fear that we're possibly now in a no-win situation: the momentum and continuity from last season have gone, and each failed experiment with tweaking the shape and line-up set us back to square 1. It could be another few weeks before we've figured out a system which can win and, by then, we could already be too far behind.

Ultimately I'm not claiming that it's lost already, just wondering aloud how it might evolve from here. Even though we 'failed' in 19/20, we at least started off playing football that we could be proud to support. The injury crisis and Covid made for a strange season which could have been a lot better with just a bit of luck. This season has started with such a whimper in comparison, against a backdrop of the club's biggest ever transfer spend.

@Parma Ham's gone mouldy

Thanks for your post.

I totally understand the point about not getting hung up on formations. However, there are some fundamental points around who you choose to put into the team, the roles they are given and the outcomes you ascribe to them. For example any of the midfield 3 could have feasibly played in the number 10 role, or indeed part of a double pivot but, it was clear from what they were doing on the pitch, that they were either not instructed to perform such roles, or they were performing them very badly.

It's more about positional discipline than formation per se. My conjecture is that those midfield roles were too loosely defined. Consequently we saw all three of McLean, Gilmour and Lees-Melou covering larger areas of the pitch than they otherwise would if given a more disciplined role. That in turn led to a higher frequency of positional errors which resulted in opposition chances, goals and (ultimately) defeats.

Bringing in an extra centre back gives an obvious extra body in defence, which clearly reduces the danger of midfielders being caught out of position. But it doesn't address the fundamental flaw with the midfield in the first place. Your original post from February alluded to the importance of building a solid defensive core, and that we were already doing so. I maintain that the switch to 4-3-3 undid that work. I understand that you attribute this more to the loss of Skipp than to the change in formation.

Regardless of the formation, I'd hope to see three (and certainly never less than two) from Cantwell, Dowell, Tzolis, Rashica and Sargent on the pitch at any given time. They would, of course, need to work hard defensively. But they would give us the threat which we've been lacking. In order to accommodate them, we need to get a solid midfield base in place with clear and disciplined positional roles. We can't have Gilmour losing the ball by the touchline on the halfway line, or PLM going to ground in the centre circle when that leaves a clear run at our defence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Parma's use of tessellate (I had to look it up) is excellent and fits the 'mosaic' of many and varied facets of the players and combinations DF has to interweave to achieve an overall synergy, as he describes. DF identified a weakness on our left flank and set about strengthening it, not by a simple change in formation, but by rearranging that mosaic of relationships.

Kabak came in late and was adjusting to that mosaic (very different from Liverpool's last season). Gibson's lack of pace was being exposed, so DF changed to 3 at the back which accommodated those elements while also allowed Hanley to organise the defence from the centre. Playing as WBs has also brought the best out of both Aarons and Giannoulis both defensively and in support of the attack. Dimitris is now our second highest rated player on WhoScored.

The arrival of Normann brought a new dimension to midfield through his ability to play as a DM against the ball and a deep playmaker progressing the ball forward when we get it back. Both he and Kabak are still adjusting though and should have even greater impact with each new game.

The Pukki/Sargent tandem is also still developing and has been pointed out, Sargent makes our pressing stronger up front while also offering the second striker option. DF clearly feels their relationship will develop, but if it doesn't, Idah, Rashica, Cantwell and Tzolis offer other options. The overall mosaic isn't there yet, but game by game it's improving.

 

Edited by Yelloow Since 72
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't read all through but the one thing we categorically  should not have done (which has been suggested before and again here) was to spend (comparitively) big on two or three players to fill crucial positions. Do that and have only something approaching the kind of injury crisis we had last time in the Premier League, and this message-board would have shown a rare unanimity in denouncing Webber and Farke.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, hogesar said:

But when you've had self-isolation and 2 or 3 friendlies cancelled in pre-season it's not that surprising. I still don't think we're experimenting; Farke knew confidence had dropped and had to instil some basic defensive discipline and shape - when low on confidence you're still going to get individual errors etc so you've got to simply try and minimise it which is all this shape and player selection is doing. 

Farke was hugely criticised for trying to play the same way in the Prem 2 years ago, we had an awful start to the season in terms of fixtures anyway. Farke has, as usual, done a great job at getting some of that confidence back and I fully expect Tzolis, Rashica and Cantwell (assuming personal situations are sorted) to play a lot of minutes this season.

The irony is that it would have made perfect sense to start the season conservatively. If we didn't have the personnel to play 5 at the back, we could have at least played Sorensen alongside McLean as a solid, defensive base with PLM as one of the advanced midfielders. Maybe Gilmour in at number 10 and Cantwell the other AM. We could have looked to be really compact, keep it tight and hit teams on the break.

We should have gone defensive to start with, then looked to expand. Instead we started experimental and have now gone conservative against the weaker teams.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...