In a world full of optimistic and pessimists, we all suffer from being fairly hypocritical from time to time, whether intentionally or not. Therefore those of who called for Andre Villas Boas head for certain reasons, may not see these reasons beginning to be displayed by our ‘saviour’ Tim Sherwood.
One of Villas Boas’ biggest downfall was his ignorance and refusal to switch his formation and tactics to occupy for the players available to him. When in retrospect, Andre played a high line in defence, when with players like Jan Vertonghen, Younes Kaboul, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose is preferable, even then with Vlad Chiriches in reserve. Whilst the rest of the squad, other than arguably our forwards, is set up for the 4-2-3-1 formation, with Moussa Dembele, Paulinho and Lewis Holtby being suitable to playing deeper with either Etienne Capoue or Sandro, whilst we have a large number of options for wide men, either side of Christian Eriksen in the #10 role.
Since Sherwood has come in, he has re-installed the 4-4-2 formation of old to the squad, preferring the Emmanuel Adebayor and Robbie Soldado partnership to lead the line, whilst pushing Christian Eriksen out wide to occupy empty spaces left due to injuries, not too un-similar to when under Redknapp, our midfield of Bale-Parker-Modric-Lennon was disrupted by Aaron Lennon’s injury, so Redknapp but Bale on the right, where he was ineffective, pushed Modric wide left, where he was ineffective and had a midfield two of Scott Parker and Jake Livermore, which was as creative as a Daily Mail article.
Since the revival of the 4-4-2, we’ve played at both Old Trafford and The Emirates and luckily, Sherwood’s tactical naivety wasn’t exposed by David Moyes, due to his player’s lack of effort, however in the match against Arsenal, we were heavily outnumbered in the middle. You cannot go away to the Library and play ‘that lot’ with only two men in midfield. You have to pack the midfield and tighten the game, don’t allow the pratts to thread the passes and slowly break them down. Don’t stick two upfront and hope for the best. Nabil Bentalab was given his first start for us, and in my opinion, it was awful managing to start him in a two in midfield, against the strength that Ars*nal have in the middle will undoubtedly be a massive confidence breaker for young Nabil.
This may be Sherwood’s first venture into management, but if Levy thinks that he is good enough to match our expectation of Champions League football and at least the Semis of the Europa League, as well as managing a large group of players with big attitudes, and taking on his own challenge of promoting youth players into the first team fold, then Sherwood has absolutely no excuses for being for tactically blind. You have to change how you play, depending on who you are playing against. Thanks heavens that this match was only a cup game, but once again we are now out of all the domestic cups, we’re NOT winning the league and there are better teams in the Europa league, so we could well go another year without a trophy.
I guess when we said it was too good to be true, we were right! Hey, at least it’s January, time for the new Louis Saha and Ryan Nelson to grace the club. *Sigh*