For those who have already looked at my blog know that sport-wise my main focus is on American Football. A big reason for this might be because I have started to find it a bit boring and frustrating. I will go into more detail in a different post. One element I do love, and I know that I am terrible for it, is being a couch manager. Picking apart the line-ups, tactics and looking at how squads are put together. The worst part is probably when I rant to people about these tactical things (I apologise to my girlfriend at this point) and they just don’t care. So instead I am going to vent on here, enjoy 😉
After that intro you might think that this will be quite a negative post, you’d be wrong. As the leagues in Europe draw to a close I will be looking at who I think has made positive impacts in their league over the year. This will be divided into 4 categories: young native players (24 and younger), old native players (25+), young international players and old international players. I will narrow these down until it is one squad and All League Team. There are only really two leagues that I still follow a little and that is the Premier League and the Bundesliga. I will start with the British League. This post is the native oldies.
I have selected the squad with two criteria in mind: who are the best players on an individual level and what would produce the best squad.
GK Fraser Forster (Southampton, 29) choosing british goalkeepers is always hard…there just aren’t any that are particularly good. Out of the few that there are Forster is one of the more decent ones.
LB Ryan Bertrand (Southampton, 27) he is an explosive player down the left side that has muscle. I like watching him play down the wings, he is a tireless runner in the prime of his game. His impact plays aren’t ideal with 5 goals set up and 2 scored but he is a solid defender who can pick the ball up and take it forward.
CB Chris Smalling (Manchester United, 27) injured a lot this season, and generally has a knack for injury. BUT when he is playing he is a leader and Captain for Manchester United. That says something. Absolute leader and one of the best central defenders the UK has when he is fit. Good for a goal as well.
CB Jonny Evans (West Brom, 29) what I like about Evans is that he plays with attitude and he plays tough. He can shut people down at the back and I really rate him as a personality on the pitch.
RB Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool, 26) similarly fast and powerful to Bertrand and an absolute staple at right back for Liverpool. I have rated him since I first saw him play and haven’t had to change my mind.
RB Kyle Walker (Tottenham, 26) hasn’t got quite as much game time as Clyne and has been splitting it between RB and Right Wing Back so Clyne get’s the nod. I would, however, put him on the same level and if you compare the two on the same amount of game time I might put walker first because he is just more mature and powerful whereas Clyne comes more through his speed.
LW Jamie Vardy (Leicester, 30) yes, Leicester had a shit first half of the season. Vardy did not show the same quality of last year. BUT, does he still have it: ABSOLUTELY. The guy is a stud with an exceptional drive for goal. In the last 10 games he has scored 7 and set up 3. The whole team were struggling in the first half of the season, but now they’ve found their groove again. I’ve listed him as Left Wing, but in this line up he is more like a left forward.
DM Joe Allen (Stoke, 27) completely underrated guy and the world saw that at the Euros. Put him in the right system, with the game in front of him, and he can mastermind the game as well as a Xavi or Iniesta (who look better than they are because of all the talent playing around them). He can move up the field from DM to OM and has a great variety of short- and long-range passes in his toolbox.
DM Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal, 26) unfortunately he was injured again for a big part of the season, but when he is fit he has a real drive into the box. Not a typical offensive midfield player but more of a 8. For the potential he has I’m going to refer back to the Euros again where he played side by side with Allen, so why not give them the nod again here.
OM Jack Wiltshire (Bournemouth, 25) similar to Ramsey but more offensive, more agressive and more muscle. The unfortunate part with him is that he is also injured a lot. If he had stayed fit over the years I think that he could be a lot better and a bigger name by now.
OM Adam Lallana (Liverpool, 28) he is having a really solid season and started to become better over the last year and a half. He has great speed and good feet to go along with it. He would fit great into this squad I have put together to be sent deep or combine into the box with the others on powerplays.
RW Andros Townsend (Palace, 25) having a decent season too. He also has great speed, with a bit more muscle behind it than Lallana, and a really strong long distance shot. Made the right move in going to Newcastle last season. Shame that they got relegated and that he had to move again.
ST Jermaine Defoe (Sunderland, 34) he has been absolutely on fire this season. Imagine where Sunderland would be if he hadn’t been scoring goals for them…well they would still be last, but would have likely been certain relegation much earlier. In a terrible team as far as attacking goes he scored three more goals than the rest of the team put together and that at 34! That and the fact that he stayed fit means a lot of respect for him, which is why he gets the nod here
When I first wrote this post it ended here. But then I had to keep thinking about how I would let them play and the tactical advantages of the formation I had chosen. So as PART 2 of this blog post I’m going to look at a couple of offence (image 1, 2 and 3) and defence (image 4, 5 and 6) plays and why I think that these play to the strengths of the players I have chosen.
Formation 1 shows two plays designed around the Left and Right Back, playing to their strengths of direct speed and power. Both plays can be applied either side of the ball.
- In the blue play Bertrand makes a diagonal burst into the area.
- Wiltshire moves out onto the wing to pull out the defender and give Bertrand a passing option, even if just for a 1-2.
- Vardy moves around the back and out to the left of the centre back, to drag the defence apart and create an opening. Alternatively he can move into a similar area to Defoe, but this can create overcrowding.
- If Bertrand has a direct line to goal he can shoot, alternatively he can lay it off to Defoe, or Lallana and Ramsey who move to the edge of the box to create options.
- The green play is a pretty standard one, which most teams use.
- Together with Ramsey, Clyne works his way down the side of the pitch and to the edge of the side of the box with speed.
- Ramsey moves off to create a passing option, Lallana has moved to the top of the box, Vardy is attacking the back area of the box, Defoe the front and Wilshere can also come flying in.
- This gives Clyne plenty of options to play the ball to.
- The key to this one is timing, because you don’t want all of the attackers in position way before the ball gets there, otherwise the defence can set itself.
Formation 2 has formations based on controlling the ball
- the blue formation is about creating triangles up to the edge of the opponent’s box until you find a gap to break into.
- it is used quite a lot today because you can be very flexible with where you move from there, you always have options open and it is ideal for small spaces.
- the formation I have chosen lends itself very nicely to playing in threes because you can very easily create triplets with the defenders moving up the side or Allen moving forward and back in the middle. As well as this you have the existing triangles with the front three and midfield three in this 4-3-3 / 4-1-2-2-1 style formation.
- the green formation is more of a counterattacking method that builds on the ball security in the centre through Allen, Ramsey and Wilshere, as well as the speed of the backs and the front three
- while in control of the ball, the middle three gradually drop back with the ball until Allen is a third centre back. Evans and Smalling move outward, pushing the outside defenders up the pitch.
- the idea is to lure the opposing team in, naturally creating space in behind them.
- then, when you get the chance you spring a pass out wide to the LB/RB who then has space to run into, you play the straight ball through to the front three (or a pass to be controlled with their back to the goal, for one of the guys who follow the pass to come on to) or manage to combine your way into a more spacious midfield to break through.
Formation 3 this was just me playing around and creating a more extensive play. It’s draws the attention of the opposing team to one direction, only to be in numbers in their back for its conclusion.
- it starts with the ball with one of the CBs, in this example Smalling. The defence moves over to the right creating a back three with the RB pushed up the wing.
- The pass either goes directly to the RB or to Ramsey who plays it into space on the right.
- After this pass is made the midfield flushes away from the action to the left with Ramsey ending up in a central position, Allen spreading over to the left wing, Wilshere at the back end of the box, Vardy on the back post and Defoe attacking the front post. With the action going towards the ball this should cause confusion with the Defenders resulting in separation.
- Lallana moves with Clyne incase he needs a player to pass to early and then becomes the pass at the top of the box.
- With a hard driven in pass you automatically have 4 options in and around the box, if the pass is over hit you end up with it going to Allen who can then make the blue plays from Formation 1 or Formation 2 (taking on the role of Bertrand) or you can make the green play from Formation 1 as Clyne.
the defensive formations are all very similar but depend on the strengths of the opponent.
Formation 4 three attacking the ball. For your average league game against an average attack.
- Allen drops back just before the two CBs, with Ramsey and Wilshere filling the gaps in front of that.
- at the same time the front three attack the ball, looking to flip it with speed to counterattack.
Formation 5 two attacking the ball. This is good against teams who only focus on breaking through the middle or mid- to top-table opposition.
- Allen drops back deeper than in the previous formation but still in between the CBs, this time making a back three with the LB/RB pushing up the wings a bit.
- Ramsey and Wilshere fall back into a more tightly interlocking unit to make a 3-4 defence (causing them to act as if they were playing the DM position) with a free roaming Lallana in front of that stuffing holes and only two guys pressuring the ball in Vardy and Defoe.
- The advantage of this one is that it still leaves a strong front two for the counter attack, Lallana can pick the ball up and run too, and you have Bertrand and Clyne already a bit further up the pitch.
Formation 6 one attacking the ball. especially good against teams that are strong over the wings
- this last formation is when you’re really being forced back by the opposition attack
- especially if they are strong over the wings you need Vardy and Lallana to work back and support Bertrand and Clyne and double people
- apart from this it is essentially the same as Formation 4, only that the defence moves closer together at the back
- Defoe keeps pressuring up front and serves as a fast outlet if the ball is won
As you can see this attack is very heavily focussed on speed and counterattacking. The speed is generated through Clyne and Bertrand from the back as well as the front three and supported through a midfield that can pick a deep pass as well as having sure enough feet to play a 1-2 to get the speedsters into space. The biggest flaw of this team offensively is height. The front three, as well as the midfield are all pretty small and none of them are known to be amazing at heading the ball.
The defence is looking to soak up pressure and be a stable unit. At the same time it is like a spring that takes in the opponent’s attack and then can make a very fast switch to counterattacking. The only concern I would have is that the midfield and attack aren’t the best when it comes to defending, but then you would hope that they can make up for that in numbers. If they did, however, act clumsily and cause freekicks they would be in trouble for the aforementioned height issues.