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Tactics Tuesday: No Defense

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Two more fullbacks hurt means this may be the way forward for AC Milan!?

Tullio M. Puglia

For a few years I had to endure reading tactical pieces about how Pep Guardiola was going to kill the #9 and the CB. He was going to make a team of merry midget midfielders who were going to pass the ball around for 87-88 minutes. At that time he would shout, score now! The opposing team would be so tired the ball would roll happily into the net and Pep would smile hug his tiny team. Sad World it would have been, which is why I created my own tactical plan. Now you can laugh or scoff, but as my final presentation prior to receiving my USSF C License I presented this in a full plan tactical plan, I called Anti Tiki-Tika, and with the rash of injuries for Milan defense I think it may be time I dust it off!

My plan was simple, what better way to counter-act the incessant east-west passing than with a handful of destroyer type midfielders who could break up play and complete 5-10M passes. At that time I said you can give me nine Rino Gattuso's, the 2006 vintage, and one Zlatan and that would be my team. They would line up in a 4-5-1, and while the games would most likely end in a goal less draw, a moment of brilliance from Zlatan and the consistent defensive badgering could keep my team from dropping points! You can never lose if you keep the opponent at zero!!!!

It was madness, it was extreme, it got me my C-License! The reason was simply the tactical idea I put forward tthat the modern game was going away from defined and set roles, ie a #9, #10, #5 or #6. While Pep was obsessed with the possession passing, his notion of total football is not lost on me, he just wanted it to be "pretty" while I wanted it to be mean and steely. Players anywhere on the pitch should pressure, players anywhere on the pitch should be able to pick up their head and advance the ball simply and efficiently! It was not who does what, it was who does everything and when. As I progressed my own teams from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-3 and eventually a 3-5-1, I started to see both the positives and negatives in my formation. Where it could be deployed and where it caused problems, like all tactical systems there is no right and wrong, just execution.

So as I noted above Milan lose two more fullbacks, you have to ask yourself is my 9+1 idea something that could be accomplished? Not with this team, in fact not sure what this team does. The terrible move of management to not reinforce the defense leaves some interesting choices for Max. If the team scrapes by, everyone is happy, if not he will be crucified. Does he switch formations? Does he play guys out of position, say Poli and Urby? I guess we find out on Saturday...