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Shack Attack

3-3-1-3

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Reading about [url=http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,12040_7028847,00.html]Marcelo Bielsa taking the Athletic Bilbao job[/url] got me thinking about his preferred formation and whether it might work for us. There is an exellent review of the formation from Zonal Marking [url=http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/06/08/marcelo-bielsa-chile-world-cup-2010-tactics/]here[/url] which gives an idea of what would be required for such a system to work.There are a couple of interesting points from the ZM piece which sem to match Paul Lamberts philosophy. Firstly "Bielsa’s 3-3-1-3 is an inherently attacking formation that aims to take

the game to Chile’s opponents, press and defend high up the pitch, and

stretch the play as wide as possible when in possession."
. A lot of that sounds like our team over the past couple of years. We certainly press high up the pitch, we have a manager who believes in attacking and (although our midfield is somewhat narrow) we like to stretch the play wide through our aggressive ful backs. Secondly is the quote from a South American blogger that "In terms of how the midfield shapes up; it is generally laid out as a diamond and is never flat". So it might not be too much of a change from our current formation.Using the Zonal Marking notes on what type of player should play where we could line up like this.                                     Ruddy             De Laet           Barnett           Ward                                     Fox              R. Martin                              Pilkington                                    Hoolahan              Bennett          Holt            VaughanNow I''m not suggesting for one minute that we will line up like this but I bet no other team in the top flight will. But then  Paul Lambert strikes me as the type of manager who would try any formation if it worked. Bielsa was given the nickname ''el loco'' back home and is one of the most innovative coaches in the world. Paul Lambert could do a lot worse than follow his lead.

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If anything, would just be interesting to see if it works in the premiership.

Although, this isn''t really the time to be taking risks.

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It would take a brave brave manager to play 3 at the back,  as it''s pretty much considered obsolete here.  Having said that, it a manager did try it and pull it off, they''d be labeled a genius.

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I like the idea and it does look very attacking but with the potential to work defensively but I would not play Pilkington as what would effectively be a wingback as he does not appear to have the right defensive attributes.If we played Tierney on the left instead and pushed Pilkington up as the left sided attacker then it would be a bit more balanced. It might not be too dissimilar to a more conventional 4-5-1 if we swapped one of the central defenders for another defensive midfielder. I would prefer to have a flat back four to deal with the pace and width that a lot of the Premier League teams have, and a bit more cover in the midfield when we don''t have the ball. This might arguably be more attacking when we do have the ball if the fullbacks get forward. Maybe something like this:in possession:                         Ruddy            Barnett            Whitbread                       Johnson                          FoxR Martin                                   Tierney                      Hoolahan          Bennett     Holt     Pilkingtonout of possession:                         Ruddy

R Martin    Barnett    Whitbread  Tierney

                       Johnson

Bennett       Fox        Hoolahan   Pilkington

                          Holt        

                     

                   

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[quote user="Frank"]I like the idea and it does look very attacking but with the potential to work defensively but I would not play Pilkington as what would effectively be a wingback as he does not appear to have the right defensive attributes.If we played Tierney on the left instead and pushed Pilkington up as the left sided attacker then it would be a bit more balanced. It might not be too dissimilar to a more conventional 4-5-1 if we swapped one of the central defenders for another defensive midfielder. I would prefer to have a flat back four to deal with the pace and width that a lot of the Premier League teams have, and a bit more cover in the midfield when we don''t have the ball. This might arguably be more attacking when we do have the ball if the fullbacks get forward. Maybe something like this:in possession:                         Ruddy            Barnett            Whitbread                       Johnson                          FoxR Martin                                   Tierney                      Hoolahan          Bennett     Holt     Pilkingtonout of possession:                         Ruddy

R Martin    Barnett    Whitbread  Tierney

                       Johnson

Bennett       Fox        Hoolahan   Pilkington

                          Holt        

                     

                   

[/quote]Now we''re practically talking about ''total football''.  If we can pull that off we''ll piss over half the teams.

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Some interesting points and alternatives raised so far. As I said in my OP I don''t believe for one minute that we will go with this system but we do seem to have the players to fit it. I went with Pilkington on the left as apparently it is common for Bielsa''s teams to line up with a wing back on one side and a more orthodox midfielder on the other. Thinking about it more he doesn''t really fit that mould so it would probably work better with either Tierney/Crofts or R. Martin/Surman as the wide players in the middle three.

 

The main reason that three at the back died out (although Napoli had some success recently with it and obviously Chile played this way in the World Cup) is the sheer number of teams who play one up front. Picking three central defenders when they only have one out and out striker to deal with is a complete waste of resources. You could probably make it work though as long as your central defenders are comfortable on the ball and can step into midfield confidently.

 

It would be great to see a team trying something different like this in the top flight. If only to see the likes of Hansen and Shearer try and work it out on MOTD [:P]

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[quote user="Shack Attack"]

 

The main reason that three at the back died out (although Napoli had some success recently with it and obviously Chile played this way in the World Cup) is the sheer number of teams who play one up front. Picking three central defenders when they only have one out and out striker to deal with is a complete waste of resources. You could probably make it work though as long as your central defenders are comfortable on the ball and can step into midfield confidently.

 

[/quote]

Good point there, Shack. As I''ve posted previously, there is nothing inherently wrong with any particular formation, the key is in its execution. Whichever way you cut it it''s still eleven v eleven. Three at the back presents more problems than most in this country because we still tend to produce central defenders who are primarily ball winners rather than ball players, and, more importantly, are not particularly good at thinking on their feet. The English model is still to produce players who are either creative or destructive, rather than an amalgam of the two skills, although we have two good footballing centrebacks in Ward and Whitbread (less sure about Leon). That said, I don''t think they would lend themselves to this formation due to Zak''s lack of pace and Ward''s tendency to have regular brainfarts.

The other key to the system is the workrate of the wing backs who have to be prepared to shuttle up and down for 90 minutes, which means another trade off between creativity and defence, the balance of which is likely to be pivotal. However, the most important thing is ball retention. If it keeps coming back this system will fail much quicker than most others.

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I suggested this a while back, I really think it could work for us, at least against weaker opposition or maybe teams with less tactically astute managers (Villa anyone?) Personally I''d stick Surman where you have Pilkington, Crofts where you have Fox and Jackson where you have Vaughan (at least if we were using this at the start of the season).

I''m not sure how Fox would play as the anchorman, as it''s more of a defensive role than he plays in the diamond, I went for Crofts as he has a bit more steel about him.

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[quote user="Shack Attack"]

Some interesting points and alternatives raised so far. As I said in my OP I don''t believe for one minute that we will go with this system but we do seem to have the players to fit it. I went with Pilkington on the left as apparently it is common for Bielsa''s teams to line up with a wing back on one side and a more orthodox midfielder on the other. Thinking about it more he doesn''t really fit that mould so it would probably work better with either Tierney/Crofts or R. Martin/Surman as the wide players in the middle three.

 

The main reason that three at the back died out (although Napoli had some success recently with it and obviously Chile played this way in the World Cup) is the sheer number of teams who play one up front. Picking three central defenders when they only have one out and out striker to deal with is a complete waste of resources. You could probably make it work though as long as your central defenders are comfortable on the ball and can step into midfield confidently.

 

It would be great to see a team trying something different like this in the top flight. If only to see the likes of Hansen and Shearer try and work it out on MOTD [:P]

[/quote]I am sure that Lambert has tried this before, if I recall we played 3 at the back against Burnley (though my memory might be playing tricks on me). On that occasion I remember Rus Martin playing the free-role at the back and that ultimately the strategy didn''t work and we changed it up at half-time.Either way, no strategy is a bad one unless it doesn''t meet the needs of the players you possess. I look at the squad, and I believe that this strategy can suit our players. As already pointed out it''s one strength is also it''s one biggest weakness, playing 3 at the back gives you great cover against a lone striker, but ultimately is very unnecessary. I''ve only seen it used twice against that alone-striker team, once for Napoli this year against a lower Europa League team and Chile against Switzerland (the Swiss lost a man early on though). Both times it work extraordinarily well. So perhaps there is some mileage to be had out there for this tactic. I''m sure if Lambert thinks it could work, we will see it tried out, as he is not a man for shying away of changing things up.On a final note, if you don''t read Zonal Marking you bloody well should! It is a great website.

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The 3-3-1-3 is certainly a fun formation, and Micheal Cox gets very excited about it.

 

I feel it is a formation more suited to International football though than the Premier League - outside of England the "flying winger" is starting to die out, all these "inside out wingers" or "denfensive forwards" are starting to mean fewer teams look to get round the outside and whip in a cross - this is certainly evident in Italian football and the International game which both have a preference for very defensive set-ups (one being cultural and one being for practical reasons).

 

Try this formation out in the Premier League and watch as Gareth Bale, Matthew Etherington, Jermaine Pennant et al have hours of joy getting to the byline and aiming for some tall lump striker to nod it in.

 

Lambert has always been fairly fluid in the way the team will switch between formations in a game when defending a lead or looking for a late goal - this is one of the main reasons for our success in the last 10mins of games, managers of opposing teams have often failed to react to the Norwich changes (doubt we will be so blessed next year). I''m guessing we will see plenty of 4-5-1 next year and the variations of it, Lambert isn''t particulary tied to the diamond, it was just the best formation to suit the team when he took over - a couple of decent strikers (remember Lambert was a big Jamie fan), an excellent midfield play maker in Hoolahan and no good wingers.

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Certainly a formation for world class players or teams who are favourites in their league. Neither of those tick our box!

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I think this suggestion has some merit. There were several home games last season where we had long spells of domination, and the ball would we worked from flank to flank by Fox and the 2 centrebacks (all central) whilst the 2 strikers, surman, crofts all lined up against the back 4 of the oppo and our 2 full backs dead wide stretching play, with Wes dropping off the front line looking to link passes.

Playing 3 at the back against teams who''d probably go one central striker with 2 wingers/inside forwards and 3 centre mids would require at least one of our centrebacks to step into midfield and almost become a second defensive mid like Fox. Certainly Whitbred and on occasions Ward look to have a decent longer range pass on them, but both seem pretty comfy passing and receiving quicker short passes, and Russell Martin could deffo do a job in a ''3'', as he''s a good tackler, pretty pacey and also happy on the ball. Quite how the front ''1-3'' bit would work I''m not sure, but Lamberts tinkered with 3 at the back before and although it didn''t exactly click we shouldn''t be afraid of trying new approaches.

Pretty sure we could outflank some dunderheads with it (Sunderland, nailed, Wes Brown dragged aots)

OPTIONS!

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isn''t this how Barca set up? ok, they interchange all the time but I''m pretty certain it is. 1 CB/1DM whilst in possession (which is a lot).

we are a great team but i think this will be a big ask getting us to play like this...especially away.

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Interesting idea, not sure how well it would work in the Premiership. Talking about the development of inside out winger, surely the next stage would be inside out fullbacks in order to combat them?

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[quote user="Largey"]Certainly a formation for world class players or teams who are favourites in their league. Neither of those tick our box![/quote]

 

I really don''t understand this type of attitude (which has also been displayed by a couple of other posters) for two good reasons.

 

1) There is no formation that only suits world class players. If a system fits the players you have at your disposal then provided you can make your players understand their roles in such a system then it doesn''t matter whether you''re playing in La Liga or the Anglian Combination. The links I provided show the type of players required for such a system and I think we have those type of players. If you disagree then tell us why. Don''t just dismiss the idea because you are unfamiliar with it.

 

2) We will not be better than established Premier League teams by virtue of buying more expensive players or paying them higher wages. Staying in the Premier League would earn us huge amounts of money and could well change our club forever. A new stand which would increase our capacity over 30,000 would give us a major advantage over the small to medium clubs in the Premier League in the long term. If we can''t compete with these teams on wages/transfer fees in the short term them the best way to beat them will be through tactical innovation. It takes a while to unpick a well drilled team who are sure of themselves. We should have learned from our last promotion from the top flight that a slow start can be very costly at the end of the season.

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Yeah I was thinking that how the zonalmarking article describes the two wider players in the second 3 of the 3-3-1-3 sounds like an inside out wingback. However the fact that they attack so much would lessen their usefulness against an inside out winger.

Maybe the way to combat the inside out winger is to play 3 CBs with the left and right being particularly pacey and able to to mark the wide men in a 4-2-3-1 whilst still having another CB to cover the striker

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". We should have learned from our last promotion from the top flight

that a slow start can be very costly at the end of the season."Isn''t that precisely why we should "stick with what we know" ? [;)]

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I love the 3-3-1-3. It just sounds and looks so crazy! To be honest, this might work in the premier league. The majority of teams still play a 4-4-2 which means you only need 3 defenders, two to mark the strikers and a spare man who may play as a sweeper. The real problem, as some posters have pointed out, is that some teams play with only one striker and five midfielders, this means that you have a surplus of defenders (One to mrk the striker and a spare) and a lack of midfielders, making the high pressing game that is inherint with the 3-3-1-3 basically impossible. Against certain teams it could work, mainly those playing a 4-4-2, but another formation would be required to play teams with one upfront, like a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-2-1 or any fomation with 4 defenders. Playing this formation against teams using a 4-3-3 would also be very bad as the three attackers would leve no spare man in your defence.In terms of personnel, any of Whitbred, Barnett, Ward or De laet could play the CB roles but I would say the best combination for this formation would beLCB WhitbreadSW WardRCB BarnettThe wide midfield roles, because of the need for balance, will need to be wingbacks so that means Tierney and R.Martin will take the wide left and right roles and play the game they normally do just slightly higher up the pitch. The last midfielder of the three is a defensive midfielder so any of Fox, Crofts or Johnson could take that role.The trequartista is the role Hoolahan was born to play, it''s his position and where he is most effective.The front three is now a distinct possibility with addition of Pilkington and Bennet who would play of Grant Holt, personally I would like to see them play as inverted wingers who''s main goal is to cut in and shoot, but they could easily revert to old fasioned crossing wingers.

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[quote user="spencer 1970"]isn''t this how Barca set up? ok, they interchange all the time but I''m pretty certain it is. 1 CB/1DM whilst in possession (which is a lot).

we are a great team but i think this will be a big ask getting us to play like this...especially away.[/quote]

No they play 2 CBs, 2 FBs, 1 DM, 2 CM/AM, 3 FWs.... And like you said, no one really stays in position. Barcas ''formation'' is definatly 4-3-3.

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Bielsa is a personal hero of mine and I would have loved to see him manage in The UK. His press conferences are the stuff of legend and he has moulded the current Chilean team into the best in memory. He''s a very principaled man and his departure is a massive loss to Chilean football; however I think he''s better suited to international management. That does not answer the 3-3-1-3 question though!

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[quote user="Gingerpele"][quote user="spencer 1970"]isn''t this how Barca set up? ok, they interchange all the time but I''m pretty certain it is. 1 CB/1DM whilst in possession (which is a lot). we are a great team but i think this will be a big ask getting us to play like this...especially away.[/quote] No they play 2 CBs, 2 FBs, 1 DM, 2 CM/AM, 3 FWs.... And like you said, no one really stays in position. Barcas ''formation'' is definatly 4-3-3.[/quote]

 

It''s interesting that you should mention Barca as although they are definately set up in a 4-3-3 (you can trace this preference all the way back to the Dutch sides of the ''70s, through Cruyff''s time in charge of the ''80s/''90s ''Dream Team'' and his influence on a young Pep Guardiola) it does shift to three at the back at times. Sergio Busquets often drops in between Puyol and Pique to make three defenders with the full backs (Alves in particular) pushed higher up. The 4-3-3/Dutch influence is so ingrained in the club it is difficult to see it changing (and why would you want to change something that successful!) any time soon but it definately switches to something loosely based on 3-3-1-3 at times.

 

[quote user="blahblahblah"]". We should have learned from our last promotion from the top flight that a slow start can be very costly at the end of the season."

Isn''t that precisely why we should "stick with what we know" ? [;)]
[/quote]

 

You''re probably right Blah but it''s fun to look at alternatives. Imagine running with this and confusing the rest of the league with it''s uniqueness. We''d be top by Christmas [;)]

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