There a few very real truth’s that the past 48 hours or so have allowed me to come to grips with.
They are as follows:
1. Leo is not going anywhere…yet…
2. Ronaldinho will still play despite poor performances, for lack of a better option, much like Seedorf last season.
3. The squad will stay as is.
With these truths firmly in place I can begin to explore the tactical side of what Leo may able to do going forward. Personally I like the 4-3-1-2, it is very similar to my preferred 4-1-2-1-2 which I currently employ as a coach. The biggest difference being that the midfield is more compact in Leo’s system and the wingbacks are given more responsibility offensively to provide width. In the latter 4-1-2-1-2 the width comes from the wide midfielders who are topped off by a creative mid and a defensive mid. By putting the onus on the midfield it relieves fullbacks from any duties forward and allows them to be more stout and stay home in the defense while allowing the “wing” players to push the issues on the flanks. This tactical setup also works because it affords Leo with options depending on the opponent.
So as an example the upcoming game against Livorno he can play as follows:
Storari, Zambro, Nesta, Silva, Antonini, Abate, Flamini, Janks, Dinho, Pato, Borriello
Abate and Janks would be the players charted with wing duty while Zambro and Antonini could stay at home in defense. Zambro is getting on in years and will benefit from a move such as this while Antonini’s preseason weakness has been lateral passing so this would keep him from being exposed as well, both players could ideally interchange on either flank. Flamini would do mop up duties as the anchor DM, which could be done by Gattuso as well in an effort to spell each other and keep that position fresh. Dinho would play CAM, with Seedorf as his backup, leaving Leo to play the hot hands up top and rotate strikers as needed based on size and shape of the defense.
If the game becomes more difficult and cagey, ie CL, he can then employ Pirlo at the bottom of the diamond and flank him with Ambro/Rino/Flamini creating a more compact diamond and having Flamini or Ambrosini be the attacking midfield options allowing the CAM to interchange flanks and positions with someone like Pato. Again it is not perfect or foolproof but it affords Leo flexibility and defensive cover while minimizing problems like being stretched on defense. The underlying idea to all this is that it is far easier to defend and destroy than it is to attack and play fluid football. A beautiful style of football is not for everyone and especially not this team of static old men, so play to the strengths of the roster and not to the preferred formation, no coach can survive with that mentality.
The other option for Leo would be go to the dreaded XMAS tree…I know, I know, many of you don’t ever want to see it again, but let’s stop and be logical for a moment. The team and personnel were built around the XMAS tree. The only piece missing is Kaka so Leo has two options, play Seedorf in Kaka’s old spot with Dinho to his left, or move Pato back into the Kaka’s spot. This would allow Pato a support striker role almost akin to RVP at Arsenal, he would not have to mix it up in the box and he could use his pace around the box to his advantage. This would keep the stubborn old vets comfortable in the back, Pirlo could assume his position of success with Rino/Flamini/Ambro on his flanks and the status quo would remain. Instead of attacks going from Pirlo to Kaka on the right they can move to Pato with Dinho in support or to Dinho with Seedorf in support. Same old shape different faces at the top…I know it is not the best option, but if it worked to some extent in the past and the personnel still exists for it, isn’t it within the realm of reason to try it if all else fails???
I hate to have to do this, but let this serve as a reminder. This perspective and opinion on tactics is mine and mine alone. It does not represent fact and if you would like to mention how you would approach this problem I would love to read it. If you want to nitpick mine and counter discuss I am all for it as well, but please do not take this as fact and a must…it seems to be a problem on blogs in general lately…end rant…so let’s hear it! What would you do?