Guest author Ben a.k.a. Rien102 continues his story in the latest part of The Prodigal Daughter Returns.
Our main tactical stance will be a system based on a low block said Penny to her tactical coaching and managing staffs. She could see in their eyes that the last part of the sentence made them flinch, just like it did with Jon yesterday night.
Since we have physical players in general, who are physically imposing, we will use that. On the pitch, we will do three specific things. First and foremost, we will play a rather low defensive line with little to no pressing coming from it. We have very good jumpers overall so, we will profit from this by intercepting crosses. Two, we have good, and rather fast, central midfielders but they aren’t used to play as defensive midfielders so, to close the gap between them and the defensive line, we will compress our lines as much as possible.
We will engage the opponents only in our territory and we will harass them from behind and from every angle except for the defenders; the latter needing to stay at their position at all time. Finally, when attacking, only the six in front will be engaged directly. The defenders will have to stay back; it’s not like we can push our actual fullbacks forward because they can’t do anything offensively anyway… Penny was seeing her peoples starting to put things together now.
Penny, this means we will play long balls, right? asked Jonathan Nolet, her U23 manager.
Long balls only? No, but we will often play more direct balls from the back, that is true. Especially since we will primarily put something akin to a 4-2-4, just like in the old days. To accommodate some players, we’ll also put a 4-2-3-1 at times but mainly against weaker teams.
The key will be to play a bit narrower on defensive stances, to force the play on the wings, and then spread out on offensive phases said Jon. He got up and went to the whiteboard and started to show the set-up.
Penny sat back and let him do his bit. God does she love the connection she made with this very offence minded man. When she has brought him in, she has just arrived at Aston Villa and she needed someone who would compensate for her usually more defensive minded tactics. Over the years, she saw how good they were when both of them were putting their minds together. Her more prudent combined with his more aggressive stance was a perfect mix that, in the end, produced awesome results.
When the media called “The Big Change” with Villa, ditching the 4-2-3-1 for the 3-5-2, some of them nicknamed the pair as fish and chips. The talks between the two have been hard at the time. It finally became an exercise of balance between “being a pussy and being a lion” he once told her! It was like they were a Klopp-Buvac pair when it came to tactics while the good cop/bad cop looked, as some said, a bit like the old Clough and Taylor pair…
She smiled internally because after three years together, she discovered that they also were a great good cop/bad cop duo as well. She naturally was the bad one; she was relentless with the players, always motivating them for more effort, more commitment. She was fair, she knew it; praising when it was deserved but when not… She was, at times, rough around the edges, to put it mildly, but with Jon, she never really had to do anything about it. He was the one that would comfort the players when it was needed. He wasn’t naturally inclined to be a mum but it grew naturally in him; he understood it was needed.
The rest of the meeting went rather smoothly. Some didn’t like the low block but she didn’t mind or care; most don’t like low blocks anyway. Just like the trope in the top leagues in the last twenty years have been to put systems with lone strikers helped by a pair of inside forwards. Hence, 4-2-3-1s, 4-3-3s and 4-1-2-3s had been staples for years now. She prefers narrow formations, heavy in the midfield, with wingbacks providing the width and a strong pair of strikers in front; a real pair of strikers at that! After the fourth season with Villa, her constant results were achieved, over and over again, with a 3-5-2 that was becoming a 4-4-2 on defence. She knew, deep inside, that she would transform the club for something like that but for now, she had five wingers who couldn’t play anything but wingers so, she had to make due. When it was over, she scheduled meetings with the U23 and U18 managers to make sure both would play the same system and ask info about their respective squads. Once done, she headed off to her next meeting: the scouting crew.
When she arrived, she saw that Moonchi, the Director of football, the Head scout and the Head analyst were already there. Am I late? she asked.
No said Ramon Rodriguez, her Head analyst. We all just arrived!
Good, shall we start then?
Yep! said Gilles Grimandi, her Head Scout.
Alright, then she said as she sat down at the table. So, three small orders of business. One, the club’s shortlist? I want you guys to make me a good presentation of it for Monday afternoon. I want to know who you were watching and why. Second, I talked with the management and we will now go worldwide for all our research. Moonchi she said looking at the Director of football, …would you act on it, please? He nodded.
Finally, I want you to start by looking for wingbacks. Not fullbacks, wingbacks! I want someone able to go forward from the back, and before the transfer window closes!