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Tactics Please?

Tactics Please?

Everybody has their own ideas where things are going wrong at the Villa at present. Some are blaming Randy for tightening the purse strings, some are blaming the players (well certain players anyway) but very few seem to be blaming Paul Lambert.

Now before I get accused of being fickle, I'll state clearly that I am not calling for the manager to be sacked or anything so silly. What I would like though is for our much lauded manager to spend a little less time trying to show everyone how clever he is and a little more time, actually being clever.

We don't have the best of squads that much is fair, we certainly won't be knocking on the doors of the champions league any time soon but we don't have the worst squad either - on paper at least.

We spent a reasonable amount of money in the summer and if the management are to be believed more was and still is available. Our manager decided on his targets and went out and brought in a collection of foreign internationals and lower league pretenders.

I have some fairly significant issues with the man management being demonstrated by our new manager but that is not what I wanted to write this article about.

The focus of this article is as the title suggests the tactics (or lack of them) at present.

The chopping and changing of the team clearly isn't helping at present but there genuinely seems to be a complete lack of ideas out on the pitch. The players chase and harry when we lose possession but when we get the ball the lack of movement could only be increased if each player was nailed to the turf in turn.

With Christian Benteke in the side the favourite tactic appears to be hoof it forward and hope he can win the header. I don't particularly like long ball football but if that is the tactic that is going to be adopted then the tactics and instructions need to reflect it. Players need to run off of the target man bending their runs in behind whilst others take up positions in areas where the ball is likely to drop should the defender win the ball. If we are going for this direct style then wingers are redundant and three up top would be far more profitable.

Another option which we seem unwilling or unable to employ would be to use Benteke's height by service from the flanks. Unfortunately we appear to have wide men and full backs under instruction to make no forward runs under any circumstances (arguably this season has been worse than last when Alan Hutton for all his failings naturally went forward). If this tactic of get it wide and get in over is to be adopted then wide players need to be instructed to get forward making runs and overlaps down the flanks. Darren Bent would be the obvious partner for Benteke due to his predatory skills in the box and Eric Lichaj's long throw would be a weapon that could be employed to good measure.

A further obvious option would be to use the pace of Gabby Agbonlahor, Charles N'Zogbia and Bent, setting up without width but with those three up top and Stephen Ireland in midfield picking through balls and two ball winners/grafters to support him.

I'm sure there are plenty of other tactics and formations that people can think of. I'm not advocating certain players but rather looking at the squad evaluating the strengths and the assets that we have and employing tactics that suit them and the opposition.

I'd love someone to be able to show me how the team have been adopting a style of play and demonstrate the tactics being employed but unfortunately I don't see any evidence of any tactics being imparted. I don't mind losing if I can see something taking shape but at the moment the players look even more clueless than they did last year and it seems to be getting worse game after game. We don't have great players but then neither do Fulham, West Brom, Swansea etc who are all enjoying more success at the moment than we are because they are making the whole greater than the sum of the parts through tactics and formation.

Paul Lambert Forum Thread.

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Date:Tuesday October 30 2012
Time: 9:00AM


Superior tactics can only make a difference when forces are about equal. Unfortunately, whether 442, 451, diamond or Christmas-tree, the players still need to be able to pass the ball to each other. Any system should be designed to utilise a team's strengths but as things stand, apart from a willingness to battle, Villa's strengths are unknown.
30/10/2012 09:32:00
Good article. Some good points, I agree with 95%.
Pride of Lions
30/10/2012 09:33:00
Quite frankly while I appreciate the need for a decent set of tactics the only way I can think to put this is if you put A Donkey in a suit he is still a Donkey. Best comparison of other teams was shown to us last weekend . Given a choice for midfield would you have Hoolahan & Pilkington of Norwich in your midfield rather than a choice of Ireland Nzobia,Bannon, Delph,or KEA I would prefer the Norwich pair to any of them. The point I am making is we are talking about Norwich who are likely to be battling relegation not Man.Utd or Chelsea. Wigan have survived by finding a mixture of clever tactics, so yes I do take your point that tactics matter but not if the players cant or wont execute them.I believe Lambert has been trying different formations to find a system to suit what he has to choose from lets hope he strikes gold soon but I do fear he has a very limited skill base to choose from.
30/10/2012 11:00:00
We looked ok vs Swansea and Newcastle (I didnt see the Citeh game but looking increasingly like the Chelski game last season ie a one off). End of story so far. For me perhaps the scariest sight though, was how we totally lacked "tactics" for being a man down as we were for 45 mins on Sat. Surely they train for these situations (its usually a defender that gets the red card) was just a constant stream of boot it out of our half "to Bent".
30/10/2012 11:24:00
i was chatting to some guys here (none of them villa fans)... they said the game on saturday was pure ****e and the only guys worth anything were benteke, guzan, vlaar from what they could see. So if that an external persons view then I think tactics are going to mean squat if we have got quality in the side. The midfield is lacking completely.
30/10/2012 11:56:00
It is the lack of going to the flanks I agree with you about. The Norwich ed in his interview last week said the same, they used wingers to good effect but we are narrow and central. Before I thought we were relying on wingers too much. Why can't these managers mix it up a bit and do both!?
the fear
30/10/2012 12:26:00
Does only playing ten men in the second half count as tactics? If so, then surely playing eleven would be better?
30/10/2012 12:31:00
I agree with Merlin about the Norwich pair and they take up the positions I believe we need as I have a said numerous times... Pilkington @ LM is good in possession, a great crosser and is good a setpieces, Hoolahan @ AM has great movement off the ball and can spot a pass and also take guys on if needs be... Those two would bring to the team something we dont have... For me your article is a little bit harsh PL obv isnt above criticism he has made mistakes he has admitted that himself but our MF is so poor I dont believe its his fault... Yes he could set up the side with lots of pace and Id like to give it a blast but I dont think we would be any better off... I want Nzog to succeed and I think he should be given a start but unless he grabs it with both hands he will be no better than anyone else we have... I think Gabby is only good if he is surrounded with decent players the City game was a flash in the pan... With regard to longball football I would agree only we dont look to send it that way at every opportunity somebody here once said its about playing the right ball not about possession or longball.. If we dont play Ireland going long seems to be our only way forward El Ahmadi seems to be struggling for confidence, Albie is the same, Holman is a worker and for all of Delphs critics he was the only one in MF capable of doing anything... He won the ball back, he brought the ball forward, he kept the ball well for the most part and overall was better than the rest in MF which wasnt too hard but he did well... Id rather not do armchair expert on it we need more quality I would say PL overestimated the ability of Nzog and Ireland and thas why he didn bring in anybody else (along with the financial constraints)...
30/10/2012 12:32:00
The thing is Fear we have only one winger and thats Albrighton... ITs all well and good saying to Holman or Nzog stay out wide but it doesnt work... Nzogbia always comes inside doesnt matter what flank he is on and Holman does the same on the left he looked lost out there last week... Bennett and Lowton try to get forward but when you start playing the ball longer its risker for the FBs to attack... half the time when we got the ball forward just as the FBs were got up to support we lost the ball and the lads were exposed... This again is where the MF is weak it wouldn be so much of a problem if we had cover but El Ahmadi and Delph arnt Defensive MFs they are more like Box to Box players... They do a bit of everything well but dont excel at anything in particular... Petrov, Delph, El Ahmadi, Ireland would fit PLs Diamond perfectly Petrov could cover the FBs with Delph and El Ahmadi supporting both defence and attack covering lots of ground...
30/10/2012 13:21:00
If we had Messi and Xavi, we play through the middle. We haven't. People must appreciate that the long ball can take the pressure off the defence and give them a chance to regroup that it's invaluable. Obviously not ideal but to play like Arsenal or Barca will take a long time. I've said before, PL can't make wine out of water. That was MON's speciality and none of our other recent times managers have had the gift. It works in the prem as Allardyce is proving. We build from this and after the ECKSPERIENCE of last year it can't be turned round over night. It will take time. Slowly slowly catchy Gareth Bale.
30/10/2012 23:11:00
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