Tulips of Amsterdam…
Don’t you just love a good old-fashioned Friendly International in the middle of a week? Well maybe not.
Now I am not a fan of Steve McClaren or his brand of often negative football but when watching England play an under strength Holland on Wednesday night it had me thinking of how Keane would maybe benefit from starting to vary his formation a bit more rather the varying of the personnel to a rigid 4-4-2 formation.
At this moment in time we have picked up one or two good wins but we are increasingly frustrating and we do not look like getting many goals at present. It’s maybe no coincidence that our best home performance this season was against West Brom when Quinn in a last throw of his managerial dice changed it round. We have reverted back to a 4-4-2 formation with Keane and only the performance at Elland Road has come anywhere near to matching the West Brom performance.
We have seen the likes of Whitehead, Lawrence, Hysen and Brown putting in well under par performances since that day but its maybe interesting that there performances that day were possibly their best ones of the season so far. Was it simply because of the need to impress the watching Keane or was it more to do with the formation actually suiting their styles more?
Liam Lawrence is becoming something of an enigma and is teetering on the edge of becoming the new Kilbane or Summerbee at Sunderland where the fans will simply sit silent when they do something worthwhile but as soon as they make a mistake or put in a poor cross then they soon hear about from the howls of derision pouring down from the stands. A few seasons ago “Lennie” did a superb job for us during the promotion season but then he was an unknown quantity almost whereas now his abilities are known and so its easier for the opposition to counter him (you could say he’s been found out!). But could he still have plenty to offer if used a slightly different role like he was against West Brom?
The likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard have been criticised for poor England performances over the last year or so, but the pair of them looked far more at home against Holland in the 4-3-3 formation that provided a fluid midfield and not simply a rigid formation.
When looking at our squad you start to wonder whether a change of formation would suit far better. The usual back four in front of the goalkeeper is a must, but say we then lined up with 3 more central midfield positions with two wide men who have a job to push on and support the lone front man.
We would have the option of playing say Yorke or Brown as the front man and the two “wide forward” positions could be filled by the likes of Elliott, Hysen, Murphy, Connelly, Wallace and even Leadbitter. The 3 central midfield positions could be used to get the best out of the likes of Whitehead, Kavanagh, Lawrence, Wallace, Miller or Leadbitter.
Given the way our season has gone so far it would do us no harm at all now to try out a few variations on this formation and see if it gets us not just improved results but also improved performances as we have not looked at all convincing since Elland Road.
So with the change of formation in line I’d go for: -
Nosworthy, Varga, Caldwell, Nyatanga
Whitehead, Kavanagh, Wallace
Elliott and Hysen tasked with the job of playing wider but supporting Yorke and Whitehead and Wallace with the job of being to the right and left of Kavanagh and pushing on when possible to support and back up Elliott and Hysen. Plenty of attacking intent and the goals will flow!