Football Tactics for Beginners: Multi-Functional Players

Introduction:In times gone by, multi-functional players may have been viewed less glamorously. No-one would wax lyrical about the right back who was able to...
Aadil Khan
Interested in tactics from Root One to False 9 and everything in between. Likes people who do not use SMS language.

Latest Posts

Do Premier League Players Have a Say in Their Transfers?

Americans know that in sports, there is a widespread culture where players don’t have a final say in their destinies, with exceedingly rare exceptions.However,...

The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and it’s impact on Football

Not in Kansas AnymoreA century ago, amidst the poultry and pig farms in a small corner of Kansas, a local doctor became inundated...

The Best Football Books of 2020

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2021, we have compiled a list of the best...

Big Sam’s tactics against Liverpool show the template to stifle Klopp’s side

Two complete opposites came up in the congested Christmas fixture list, as Liverpool in great form sitting at the top of the table look...

The Meteoric Rise of RB Leipzig: From Tier Five Football to the Champions League

The best football clubs in the world usually have a storied history, years of success, and generations of fans. However, one of the best...

4 players Man United can target in January transfer window to challenge for the title

Manchester United after an up and down start to the season find themselves 5 points behind Liverpool with a game in hand. After being...

The Return of Strike Partnerships in the Premier League? Part 1

No matter the make-up, the notion of a strike partnership – two out-and-out attackers, often with very different strengths and calling cards, working seamlessly...

Football Books

The Best Football Books of 2020

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2021, we have compiled a list of the best...

Foul- The Beautiful Game, An Ugly Truth [Book Excerpt]

The clip-clop of football boot studs on concrete echoed through the tunnel over the hum of distant crowd noise. A drenched team of players...

Best Football Analytics Books

We have compiled a list of the best football analytics books for the casual football fan. Football analytics and data science/machine learning in general...

The Best Football Books of 2019

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2020, we have compiled a list of the best...

The Best Football Books of 2018

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2019, we have compiled a list of the best...

Why it makes sense for England to switch to a back three formation

England labored their way into the World Cup after beating Slovenia in the most depressing match involving a Slovenian since Melania married Donald Trump. The game was so boring that crowd decided to entertain themselves. First with the sumptuous long-range effort, landing a paper plane onto the goal, which was followed by a pitch invader interrupting the game. It’s understandable when people find ways to entertain themselves sitting through a boring match, but pitch invasion should not be encouraged. The invader had no business being there, but enough about Oxlade-Chamberlain and let’s get on with the analysis.

England going three at the back

Gareth Southgate adopted a three-man at the back system in England’s last qualifier game against Lithuania, as the match had effectively turned into a friendly. And voila! England produced their most boring performance since their last game.

After another poor performance in a different system, it is easy to think that England lacks the quality players to play entertaining football, but these players are capable of playing good football in a high pressing 3-4-2-1 system for their clubs. So, in theory, given enough time and the right coaching, they should be able to do that for England.

In that light, it is encouraging to see that the England manager has committed to playing three at the back during next summer’s World Cup having identified the system as “a better option”. He will use the friendlies over the next eight months to familiarize his players with the formation. This is a refreshing change, and perhaps for the first time, England are embracing a modern revolutionizing system since the all-conquering long ball captured the imagination of the footballing world in the 1950s.

Why the system makes sense

The decision to switch to a high pressing 3-4-2-1 system would make England a better side. There are a few good reasons to believe that, at least on paper, but paper never won a football match, so we will see how it goes.

Previous Performances

England have previously tried this system in the friendlies last year and mustered arguably their most impressive performances under Southgate using the system; a draw against Spain where they were leading 2-0 till the 89th minute, followed by narrow friendly defeats at the hands of Germany and France.

Better Fit

In an ideal scenario, England would prefer a ball playing midfield maestro at the center of the park, a player who can link up the play and pick a pass, but in reality they have Jordan Henderson, a player who cost Liverpool £20m, and even in today’s market with players going for £50m+, the £20m still seems a total waste of money.

Apart from this misfit, the system seems to be a better fit for almost all the important players at Southgate’s disposal. Starting from the back all the way through to the front, almost all the members of the squad are comfortable in playing a high pressing three-man at the back system for their clubs.

At the back, John Stones has played in a three-man defense at Manchester City and is perfect for bringing the ball forward whereas Gary Cahill captains the league champions Chelsea from the left-center role of a three. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have played in a three-man defense for Manchester United, albeit occasionally, and should have few problems adjusting.

At the wing-back positions, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker are accustomed to playing in the system for their clubs, while their deputies Ryan Bertrand and Kieran Trippier are more than capable of adapting to a wing-back role.

England’s weakest outfield position has been their dire midfield with Henderson, excuse the pun. However, even these midfielders are capable of playing in a high pressing fluid system and should be able to perform better.

Up front, Harry Kane can lead the line with two of Delle Alli, Adam Lallana, Marcus Rashford or Raheem Sterling providing the supporting role. Each of these players is familiar with the demands of a three-man system. England’s other forward options, the likes of Danny Welbeck and Jesse Lingard have also performed well in the system for their respective clubs.

 

Important Partnerships

Another advantage of this system is that it allows players to play with their club teammates in crucial positions in a system they are accustomed to. England captain Harry Kane of Tottenham continues to play up front, with his closest support from club teammate Dele Alli, playing as an inside-left. While Kyle Walker and Danny Rose provide familiar support to the Spurs men up front from the wings.

On the other hand, Dier and Walker would work better defensively on the right side of the midfield, while the two Liverpool men, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson link up for the offensive transition from midfield. This should help bring the fluidity often lacking from England’s play.

If the last two World Cups have taught one thing, it’s that having club team-mates playing together at crucial positions in a system that is well suited for them is the key to playing well in a major international tournament. England doesn’t have the luxury of the previous winners Spain and Germany in terms of quality, but these partnerships across the pitch give them a chance to perform better than they have done in the previous international tournaments.

How England can set up

 

England should set up in a fluid high pressing 3-4-2-1 system, with the forwards pressing high up the pitch supported by energetic midfielders.

In defense, John Stones can be used in the libero role, bringing the ball from the back and acting as a spare man in defense, while Phil Jones and Gary Cahill can play the stopper’s role either side of him.

At the center, both Henderson and Dier can provide the pressing in the midfield, while also covering the half spaces between the wing back and central defender on their respective side of the midfield. Eric Dier will have the additional responsibility of shielding the back three when opposition is in possession

The wingbacks will push further up, allowing Alli and Lallana to drift inside. The team will benefit from the width provided by the wingbacks, allowing the front men to interchange positions. The quality of the wingbacks is crucial for this system to work. They must be able to defend narrowly and burst forward when in possession.

Up front, England should look to press high up the pitch with impressive Harry Kane leading the line, while Delle Alli and Lallana playing behind the striker. Lallana is England’s key man because he offers something different, a creative quality lacking elsewhere. He takes up intelligent positions, quickens the tempo and forms passing triangles in dangerous zones. Another vital player for the English is Harry Kane, who not only scores tons of goals but also has the ability to move laterally, creating space behind him for runners, especially, Dele Alli to surge late into the box.

 

What to expect

England have always been accused of being slow to catch-up on footballing trends. With Southgate trying to adopt a system that is in vogue, it is certainly a step in the right direction. However, whether he has the tactical nous to implement such a system remains to be seen.

In the end, it will be refreshing to see England try something new and interesting in a major tournament, and then obligatorily fail to qualify from the group stages after playing three drab 1-1 draws. After all the euphoria surrounding the World Cup and expectation from an exhilarating new system, that will be a perfect English way to go out from a major tournament.

Related

France Boss Didier Deschamps Seems To Be Confused Over Chelsea Striker Olivier Giroud

Less than a month after warning Olivier Giroud he could lose his spot on the France national side if he doesn’t play more minutes...

China – The Relationship Between Society and Football and Why the Two Must Adapt to Progress

In 2012, the current President of China, Xi Jinping, stated his desire for the country to set its sights on a World Cup trophy,...

Promising Teams We Wished Made it to The Euros

The European Championship is considered one of football's most distinguished trophies, with teams battling it out for untold glory.But what of the teams who...

The Healing Powers of the World Cup

In this modern world in which we dwell it has become far easier to dismiss than to believe. Faith is at an all-time low...

France Vs Croatia- The game will be in decided in midfield

France and Croatia will face off in the FIFA World Cup 2018 final after both of them won their semi-finals by beating Belgium and...

World Cup Final Tactical Preview: The keys to the cauldron may lie on the left.

 The World Cup final on Sunday pits two teams against each other who both play variations of the 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 formations. At first glance this...

Playing 2 upfront proves to be England’s bane again

This was a strange World Cup for the England national team and their fans. For the first time in a really long time, there...

Immigrant experiences and National Identity in London through the lens of the World Cup 2018

World Cup: London from AlleyCat Films on Vimeo.A short documentary exploring immigrant experiences and national identity in London through the lens of the World...

Who will win the Golden Ball at the FIFA World Cup 2018?

The FIFA World Cup 2018 has been one of the most thrilling World Cups in the recent past. There have been wonderful goals, brilliant...

Latest Posts

Do Premier League Players Have a Say in Their Transfers?

Americans know that in sports, there is a widespread culture where players don’t have a final say in their destinies, with exceedingly rare exceptions.However,...

The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and it’s impact on Football

Not in Kansas AnymoreA century ago, amidst the poultry and pig farms in a small corner of Kansas, a local doctor became inundated...

The Best Football Books of 2020

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2021, we have compiled a list of the best...

Big Sam’s tactics against Liverpool show the template to stifle Klopp’s side

Two complete opposites came up in the congested Christmas fixture list, as Liverpool in great form sitting at the top of the table look...

Don't Miss

Football And Alcohol

“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”Football and booze go a long long way back, in...

Cruyffism through Spain

Spain has developed a unique commitment to technical football which has put them in good stead to make the past decade a period of Spanish dominance. The story to this dominance begin decades before hand when Cruyff decided that Barcelona would be the club he would next manage after his time at Ajax was over. He would create a cohesive identity for the club which kept the vision while finding success. This vision began with a number of manager who came before Cruyff but after Cruyff left, there would be many managers in Spain who would use his methods to discovery their own success.

How Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona Reinvented Total Football

Arrigo Sachi, the mastermind of the Milan side of the 80′s, had once staked a claim that the next tactical revolution in the game,...

Lifted Over The Turnstiles: Scotland’s Football Grounds In The Black & White Era

This most comprehensive book about old Scottish football grounds ever published, Lifted Over the Turnstiles contains almost 200 photos of 42 football stadiums here...

‘The Diamond demolition’ in the Kolkata derby

The year was 1997, and on the 13th of July, the stage was set for the biggest clash in Indian football – the Kolkata...

Football History

FC Start and The Death Match

“Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we must not forget those acts of courage with which men have lived.” – John...

Lifted Over The Turnstiles: Scotland’s Football Grounds In The Black & White Era

This most comprehensive book about old Scottish football grounds ever published, Lifted Over the Turnstiles contains almost 200 photos of 42 football stadiums here...

The Forgotten story of the Basque in South America

This article is sourced from a string of Twitter posts by Impedimento, translated by the author.Exactly 80 years ago, a French steamer called SS...

When Sir Alex Ferguson Lost by 9 Goals in back to back matches

I'm shattered, I can't believe it. It was our worst ever day. It's the worst in my history, ever. Even as a player I...

The Football match which started a war

Plenty of football stadiums have statues standing outside of them. There's strange one here and there (Michael Jackson formerly outside Craven Cottage springs to...