City Can Do Better With A Change Of Tactics
Sinbad sent us the following.
City's defensive shortcomings may be the most obvious this season - but to me the biggest challenge is now for City to dominate through the midfield and ensure we score goals at a much higher rate. Six games ago, with the draw at Villa, I didn't see this coming. Did you? But now it is obvious. Other than Adebayor's great 4 in 4 start and Bellamy's heroics, particularly when big Ade was suspended, City's attacking has just not been good enough.
Where is the solution? I believe it is the midfield. Last season Stevie Ireland was rampant and SWP our pocket gladiator. They have been blunted this season. They aren't scoring enough goals or creating enough. Why? Because Hughes believes so much in wing backs that the midfield is saddled with too many defensive responsibilities, attempting to cover for Bridge, Zabaleta, Richards, even occasionally Toure caught massively out of position in the wrong half of the pitch when the opposition counter. And the likes of Petrov, arguably the best crosser of a ball in the Premiership is given defensive duties and criticised for not tracking back.
Strikers and wingers who score and make lots of goals aren't being lazy or un-cooperative - or lacking in team spirit. In my view they are doing what the team needs them to do.
Why tell Petrov to track back to cover for Bridge?
Why tell Petrov to play right and SWP play left?
Why task Bridge to play as a second winger?
Why do we need Toure to become a midfielder to pull us back against Burnley?
Why has the form of SWP and Ireland been so dour?
Why is Barry looking like Phil Neville on a bad day?
No wonder Barry's form has dipped in the tactical shambles. He is the piggy in the middle along with (the vacuum cleaner) Nigel de Jong - who have to try to hold the shambles together. Oh, when it works it is great (Scunthorpe)! But when it doesn't you end up with five fraught Premiership draws on the bounce.
Hughes I think is spoiled with too many (theoretical) options. In some ways he is trying to get City's fledgling new squad to play like world beaters before they are ready. We are nowhere near that level yet.
I think Hughes could turn this around quite easily. He should look to a team where collective responsibility is based on the individuals which are best placed to perform the role. We should have full backs whose role is not to run up and down the wings like Ashley Cole on Ecstasy - but to defend. Defend and give the ball to our pacy midfielders to take forward. My recommendation would be a starting back four of Richards, Onuoha, Toure and Lescott (as left back) for the run in to January, with Bridge and Zabaleta starting on the bench. De Jong playing just in front of the defence, vacuum cleaning.
This would then free the likes of Petrov, Robinho, SWP and Ireland to get on the ball and attack, rather than covering for out-of-position defenders. Bellamy, Adebayor and Santa Cruz to track back to the half way line other than corners and free kicks… and stretch the opposition.
At least Barry would then know what is expected of him. Dominate in the centre and spray balls out to the wide men and through balls to the feet of Bellamy and the head of Adebayor. Simples! Call me Philistine, old-fashioned and unimaginative by all means. But please tell me why this would not be an improvement on the way we are playing now.