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I''ve seen a lot of stuff about tactics this season,  from people who do know  a little - and plenty who think they know a lot.    A lot of it is speculationand gobsh*te.I''ve always been of the impression that Hughton was a manager that encourages a consistent approach and sets his teams up to play with a tactic that if put into action properly,  is  basically the same, game in game out, whoever the opposition.      That we struggled at times to put this into action this season is down to the players struggling to adapt and put it into action, imo.   Working at its best it is free-flowing and attractive as well as defensively solid.  At its worst it is dour and uninspiring - but still solid - enabling the team to pick up points.   At our worst we were still picking up points.    At our best, seen in several different games over the course of the whole season, we look excellent. The future looks bright because we will get better at playing the Hughton way and see less of the dour stuff and more of the attractive side of  things.  Why do I think that?  Because of what he has done at previous clubs - and from what we have seen from time to time this season.  A consistent and organised approach seems to be the key and the message seems to be that he will set the team up to play their way, not worry about the opposition in the knowledge that if we play well we are capable of beating anybody.   That we haven''t played well in some matches is not disputed by any of us, but what I like is the feeling that we can win - whoever the opposition.    MU,Ars,MC to name but three.  Sorry if I''m repeating myself, or if this has been done already, but my penny''s worth is that with time - which was always lacking for Hughton this season - we will see more of the balanced  football that we all want to see - good defence and good attack. We are not just up from the championship punching above our weight, but are on course to develop into a grown up premiership club - with a grown up manager who knows what he is doing.   The tactics seem quite simple.  Defend in an organised way then attack with purpose.    Not defend, defend, defend as as some would have us believe is the case - and not attack, attack, attack, as some would seem to want - but a more balanced approach.  Simple, good to watch and effective.  

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I hope he has been restricted to playing more withdrawn this season. Some of the games when we played 2 DM''s at home were questionable and we need more zip so we can counter attack better away.

I don''t think he had much choice but next season is his chance to really assert himself further on the team. No excuses next season.

As an aside, when you see West Ham shelling out probably near £15m on a new player (carroll), a repeat finish next season wouldn''t be that bad.

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"Defend in an organised way then attack with purpose"

But isn''t this the issue, were not most unhappy (and I will be honest and include myself in that) that while we did the first, we were in some games singularly failing to do the second?

I like Hughton, I think he has the potential to kick on this summer and build upon his approach. He has kept us safe and more than that in the end got us within a whisker of top ten. But many will be looking for him to improve upon the football, if not the finish position, next year and to be fair I expect him to do so.

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[quote user="Monty13"]"Defend in an organised way then attack with purpose"

But isn''t this the issue, were not most unhappy (and I will be honest and include myself in that) that while we did the first, we were in some games singularly failing to do the second?

I like Hughton, I think he has the potential to kick on this summer and build upon his approach. He has kept us safe and more than that in the end got us within a whisker of top ten. But many will be looking for him to improve upon the football, if not the finish position, next year and to be fair I expect him to do so.[/quote]

To me it was down to the pressure of the situation. Trying to rediscover a winning formula that we had before Christmas, while keeping it tight at the back.   We succeeded most of the time with the latter, but the quality was missing up front.  I don''t believe its tactics that are the problem, merely the players struggling to rediscover their form as it was before Christmas.  That they kept belief in themselves and the manager and turned it round is a credit to all of them - and the manager, for his strength of purpose. 

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I think there were three key problems:

1. Lack of pace through the team

2.Playing two wingers in many games

3. Defensive tactics in the central mid area.

 

In the games I saw (admittedly only 7) the glaring omission was in that space between Hoolahan and the DMs. It meant we had limited options up front so even when the ball went wide, unless Holt was holding position there was no target. If Holt went looking for the ball we were struggling. Pilks/Bennett/Snods played as genuine wide men, not wide mids which exacerbated the problem. This is perhaps why Surman was a good option had he been fit- he doesn''t play as wide so we sometimes looked more solid. BJ and Tettey/Howson seemed briefed to sit tight at the back, so no-one was really getting forward to fill that gaping hole. We saw against WBA and City what could happen with more licence to roam. Two consequences of all this: (1) we couldn''t support Grant effectively and (2) we conceded possession too much in the critical central area putting added pressure on the defence.

 

CH really needs to strengthen the midfield positions as his priority before we sign more strikers, and think hard about whether two out and out wingers is the right approach.

 

 

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I think part/most of the problem this season is that we haven''t got the players to determine exactly what our ''attacking purpose'' should be. We haven''t got much pace to be a traditional counter attacking side, and we haven''t got players who are good enough technically to keep the ball particularly well once we get it.

I think RVW - admittedly only from looking at youtube vids and the like - has got a bit more pace to help with getting in behind on a traditional counter and probably a bit more finesse and technique to help with ball retention than our forwards this year. Hopefully we''ll get a winger with some sheer pace to help with the counters and a central midfielder who can recycle the ball better in the middle a la Carrick to help when we decide to build slowly.

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In the Premier league you need to have enough pace to get forward and back a a unit.  We can''t hence, the disjointed nature of our play. Last year Holt had more pace and we also had the lad from Spurs who had tons of pace to get forward.That is one reason why I can''t for the life of me understand how some of the blinkers think a 31 year old Hoolahan who was average and has zero ability to get forward and back quickly, will be key next season.  He won''t.

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Excellent discussion, which highlights much of the problem mid-season as well as the success of late. I''ve always felt that CH''s approach is along the ''total football'' lines, balancing attacking and defensive responsibilities, or as Ref89, puts it: "to get forward and back a a unit". Howson struggled with this when he came into the side, but the more he played, the more he improved, particularly in the last two games. He does have pace and the ability to score goals and could be a key player next year, but City need to replace Fox with another pacey ACM who can pass as well as score goals and get back to break up play when we lose the ball. With RvW signed, the emphasis has to be on improving the midfield first and foremost.

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I don''t think a manager using exactly the same tactics against 19 different Premier League teams home and away is something to praise to be honest... (Not that Hughton has actually done this of course).

 

The problem with Hughton''s tactics this season is he hasn''t got the balance right between defence and attack - something he has often mentioned in post-match interviews - Norwich have been too rigid (the exact opposite of Total Football) and players haven''t been able to move between the lines to create space. For opposing teams it has been incredibly easy to defend against Norwich at times, with the only creativity in open play coming from Hoolahan - who has blown hot and cold.

 

Hopefully next season players will be able to use the natural ability some of them clearly posess - this season has been about survival with growth to come next season, at least this is what I hope has been the plan.

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"That we struggled at times to put this into action this season is down

to the players struggling to adapt and put it into action, imo."I think you need to select the players to fit the system at times. With Pilkington not in the team I don''t think a three pronged attack was potent enough as Bennett wasn''t able to offer a goal threat. I felt at that time we should have converted to a more traditional 4-4-2 (as against Reading) and played Holt and Kamara up front. This offered a more offensive balance to the team. (although interesting to note i am talking gobshite).

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Bethnal - I agree to an extent, but what are the reasons for that imbalance? Lambert''s side was arguably just as off-balance as Hughton''s, but in favour of the attack instead of defence. I don''t believe either imbalance is because the managers were/are getting their tactics "wrong", but is because we haven''t got the players to be able to get that balance right.

Over the last two seasons, we''ve had/got some players who are good going forward and some who are good defensively. We lack enough players who can do both to a reasonable standard. Lambert always sacrificed a defensive player or two to bolster his attacking options, and Hughton has always had to sacrifice an attacking option or two to bolster his defence. Had either manager had one or two more players who excelled at both attributes, then I think both would have had far more rounded sides.

Unfortunately, players who can attack and defend to a reasonable premier league standard cost a lot of money, and have been out of our price range - until this season perhaps?

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"Trying to rediscover a winning formula that we had before Christmas,

while keeping it tight at the back.   We succeeded most of the time with

the latter, but the quality was missing up front.  I don''t believe its

tactics that are the problem, merely the players struggling to

rediscover their form as it was before Christmas. "

So what was that ''winning formula'' if it wasn''t tactics ? Struggling to ''rediscover their form'', or teams finding us out the second time around, more like ?The tactic of falling over in front of a player to get a free kick can only work for so long, making us too dependant on dead ball situations. Likewise this defensive nonsense. Of course you are less likely to concede goals if you pack the defence and play two lines of four players in front of the goal but that gets hit when the system is so rigid that you cannot adapt to the opponents play.How many times did the defence sit off the opposition when the opposition had the ball and were running at the defence ? We conceded more goals from shots outside of the box than any other team, which might indicate how many.The simple truth is that much of the success has been in spite of the tactics being employed. Games where the players themselves chose to mix it up and exploit opportunities - as Hughton admitted after the Everton gamee -"Once you are 1-0 down and you get back to 1-1, you have to be honest and

say you settle for that. But the lads wanted something different and

showed great drive and determination to get the winner"
Sticking rigidly to a set game plan when it is not working is not going to help "
rediscover a winning formula",  it needs someone who can can mix it up a bit and change things so as to play on their weaknesses and your strengths - and that shouldn''t be down to the players wanting ''something different'' for it to happenThat it has been, is perhaps the key point (and concern here) - and I''m afraid no amount of fawning adulation will hide that fact either.

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I think the formation (which has been pretty consistent as 4-5-1) is less important than the way the players operate within it.

 

In our poor spell in Jan-March, a lot of games (especially away) there was a reluctance by the full-backs and the centre-midfield players to get forward, and even to an extent the opposite winger to get involved with attacks.  So you''d find Wes with the ball but very little support around him, or a winger with it but only Holt in the centre, hopelessly outnumbered.

 

The big difference recently, especially the last 2 games, was that the full-backs and CM players obviously had a lot more licence to get forward, and Pilks and Snoddy were both roaming to support attacks more too.  E.g. against WBA, we destroyed them on the right simply because Snoddy would be coming forwrd with RM bombing down the wing outside him, leaving their LB one-on-one with Snoddy who had a field day as a result.

 

The flip side of this approach is that FBs can get caught out, e.g. Whittaker was well upfield at Man C and Toure was able to play a superb ball in behind him and Rodwell was a bit quicker in a straight sprint, which was all it took for a goal.

 

For next season I hope we are able to go  for it a bit more, and retreat into our shell less.  And I agree that strengthening in a few areas could make it easier for us to do this.

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