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Why Premier League bosses are going crazy for the inside-out wingers

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06 Mar 2010 01:16:50

Why Premier League bosses are going crazy for the inside-out wingers

Stewart Downing does it. Adam Johnson and Damien Duff like it. Even Ashley Young, Steven Pienaar and Luka Modric are at it. And that's just to name a few. Right-footed wingers playing on the left and left-footed wingers starring on the right seem to be the new fashion in the Barclays Premier League. But why are managers playing their stars supposedly out of position and does it do any good? ALEX KAY asked some bosses and former players what's behind the latest craze of the inside-out wingers. THE MANAGERS' VIEWAll right now: Stewart Downing mostly plays on the right for Aston Villa - despite being left-footed ALEX McLEISH Birmingham City It's a new take on the traditional winger in England but it has been used for a while now in Europe. AC Milan, for instance, had Clarence Seedorf on the left and Gennaro Gattuso on the right. They were not going to beat any full back on the outside, so they had to be industrious inside. Wingers are now encouraged to come in and play a lot more. That's why it helps if you have a left-footer playing on the right. They will link up using their stronger foot. Look at the goal Fulham's Damien Duff scored against us a couple of weeks ago when he cut in, played a one-two at the edge of the box and hit it with his left foot. Coaches are looking for players to come into little holes and pockets. There is also the added benefit of having an in-swinging cross on occasion that could go out for a corner or even better end up in the net. You don't get that with traditional wingers. The angles are different. Look at Arsenal's team that won the league. Robert Pires was brilliant at it, making those runs. I remember speaking to Arsene Wenger about it, asking him whether he was bothered that teams could counter Arsenal down the line. The right stuff: Damien Duff scored against Birmingham cutting in from the right wing STEVE BRUCE Sunderland Cloughie played John Robertson, who was right-footed, on the left. Some players without pace find it a bit easier because they can't go down the outside and beat a man and they feel sometimes it is easier when they are coming inside to beat somebody and shoot with their stronger foot. With Duff at Fulham, Roy Hodgson obviously feels now he does not have that blistering pace to take him down the outside, so maybe that is why he is playing there. Some people would say the best position for Steed Malbranque is on the left and he played there a lot at Spurs. I can understand that because he does not have the kind of pace to get past people on the right. But I am not one for putting square pegs in round holes. I believe if you have a genuine right winger, you play him on the right. But I can understand why teams do it because there are not many players like Duff, Charles N'Zogbia and Adam Johnson. It is not bad sometimes. THE CENTRE BACK'S VIEWMARTIN KEOWN Ex Arsenal, England The first thing to do defending against this type of player is to not drop too deep. Otherwise your keeper is crowded out and there's a sea of players in the box - which can lead to nasty deflections. You need to push out, press the winger and offer assistance to the full back who is marking him if he comes inside. If you are in the box when an in-swinging cross comes in, it is tougher to deal with as you have to deal with deeper runs from the midfield as well as the man you're picking up as any glancing touch can lead to trouble. At his most dangerous? Ashley Young (left) crosses from the byline - from where Aston Villa's strikers such as John Carew could most benefit, says Andy Gray THE FULL BACK'S VIEWVIV ANDERSON Ex Nottm Forest, England In my days, you used to guide players down the line but when you've got a right-footer playing on the left coming inside or vice-versa, it's dangerous to do that. If you take that route, you need to make sure one of your midfielders is covering the inside because if they're not there it gives the winger a lot of scope to cross and shoot. It's particularly difficult with players like Ashley Young and Stewart Downing who are good with both feet. But I think it's still best to channel them down the line, where you're quickest and strongest. If you show them inside, they can get a shot away or it opens up acres of space out wide for attacking full backs like Ashley Cole or Glen Johnson. THE KEEPER'S VIEWJOE HART Birmingham (on loan) The problem with in-swinging crosses is that anyone can get a touch. You have got to be brave with your decisions. It would be easy to rush off your line but bravery sometimes means that you just have to stand your ground and accept the ball is not yours. If you come and someone gets a deflection, you can look stupid. It's very different from when I was growing up when the wide players used to stand the ball up and leave it to the attackers, centre halves and the keepers to fight it out. THE WINGER'S VIEWMARC OVERMARS Ex Arsenal and Holland As a right-footer, I was always much more comfortable playing on the left wing. In fact, when Arsene Wenger started me on the right for Arsenal, I would say to myself that I'd be able to give a six out of 10 performance. But when he put me on the left, I knew I would get at least an eight. The reason for that is that when I was on the right, I felt there wasn't enough space between the ball and the touchline for me to make things happen - there was little room for manoeuvre. Playing on the left allowed me to get the ball out from my feet quicker and easier and also be more effective going forward. When you pick the ball up on the left wing with your right foot, you can knock the ball forward with you first touch. But on the right, the first thing you have to do is control the ball and you've therefore already lost time. Also from the left I could cut inside, which made me more dangerous and meant I could get shots away. THE STRIKER'S VIEWANDY GRAY Ex Aston Villa, Wolves, Everton I don't get it with Aston Villa. With great headers of the ball like Emile Heskey and John Carew, you would think they would want Stewart Downing and Ashley Young in the best positions possible to put crosses into the box which they can attack. They want wingers to be going to the byline. Wayne Rooney loves Antonio Valencia doing that. But I understand some managers like it because the winger can get on his strong foot at the crucial time while the full back is then on his weaker side.  EXCLUSIVE: Joe Cole faces Chelsea exit as Roman balks at wage demandsWright blasts Cook after City baulk at wage demands of son Shaun In Theo I trust! 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