Date:Thursday December 5 2013
VillerLite started a thread in our 100% Villa forum >> on Benteke and our style of play.
Here are his thoughts:
Have you ever thought that maybe Benteke is the reason Villa play so horribly on offense? Hear me out. Benteke was so good last year and scored so many goals that the team`s mindset became 'just get the ball to the big man, he`ll do the rest.` The coaching strategy also became, 'Leave Benteke up top by himself- he scores for fun. Then use everyone else back to keep the defense tight.`
[Small tangent - I have a theory that coaches lean towards playing conservatively because of the risk/reward ratio in the Premier League. There are only a small handful of teams that have the potential to actually win the league or even qualify for Champions league. After that you have mid-table teams playing for respectability and lower table teams playing to stay up. The top teams have so much more sheer talent and class that they don`t usually have to do much that would be considered radically aggressive, at least not strategically. At the very least, they are able to vary their tactics versus their competition.
The bottom/promoted teams usually play the most radically when it comes to system/strategy. Think, Stoke City physical play/long ball (especially when they were first promoted and focused on long throws), all out offense of Blackpool, Swansea`s possession obsession. The effect of these systems is usually temporary; as they say, 'class is permanent`. Either they are found out or the uniqueness of the players in their system are lost and not replenished (i.e. Rory Delap`s throws are hard to replicate). Some of the teams survived long enough to make the transition to the plodding mid-table. As the seasons passed (and in Blackpool`s case, a few games), teams figured out the systems or the systems reverted to the mean (Stoke, and soon to be Swansea).
That leaves the middle-of-the-pack. These teams have the class to stay up and don`t need the 'radical tactics` crutch to stay up. At the same time, they don`t have the class to push on, at least not on a permanent basis. They are in no-man`s land. They are afraid to be radical from a strategic point of view for fear of being sussed out and being sucked into the bottom. And honestly, their coaches also don`t want to seem to be extreme or possibly, even, desperate. It hurts future job prospects. In essence, the miniscule reward of breaking into the top 4 does not outweigh the risk of going down or even (and this is they psychological kicker) being associated with the extreme/disparate teams in a relegation battle. As a coach of a mid-table team, you have incentive to play fairly blandly - minimize losses and pick up wins where you can. If after a few years the owner is tired of going nowhere and sacks you, you can always get another job at a mid-table team.]
This brings me to Lambert and Benteke. Lambert has a big, goal-scoring striker with a very nice touch and deceptive quickness. It`s his biggest asset. He`s got a decent keeper. He`s got some speed in Gabby and a few other pieces, but not anything close to the talent and class needed to compete for top 4. He doesn`t have the money to buy the assets he needs. (With the exception of Man City and Chelsea, few teams have successfully bought their way into elite status anyway. Most end up buying older, expensive players looking to get a last big payday. To me, over the years, only Tottenham of the mid-table teams have bought well consistently, but it always seems like Levy is just stockpiling assets. They haven`t made the jump to really being a great team.)
Over the summer, Lambert probably watched a lot of game tape and came to the conclusion that many already knew - the team lets in a lot of goals. Lambert rolled the dice with some young players. (Even he knows that Benteke will not be here forever. Better buy a few more tickets from the 'Lower-league Lottery` again.) Meanwhile, the coaching staff did the logical thing and emphasized defense. In the back of both the players` and the coaches` minds, everyone just knew that Benteke would get his goals. The rest of the team just had to work to keep it tight at the back. Low and behold, that is how we have played…except for the part where Benteke runs riot with the goals. Honestly, I don`t think it`s all his fault. He`s been hurt and out of form. The creativity is just not there. It`s obvious the offensive strategy is 'get the ball to Benteke and get out of his way'. Everybody and his dog knows this. The runs in and around Benteke aren`t there.
The midfield often gets bypassed. (I`m in two minds about this. Our midfield is so bad, it probably should be bypassed. On paper, it`s the right thing to do tactically. But it`s just so hard on the eyes.) At least for at little change of pace, they might want to play through the midfield a bit. It may even be time to drop both 'target men` and play without Benteke and Kozak. It might at least force the team to do more than lump it long. Someone else has to create (note: this does require creativity, not just hopeful shots, Mr. Tonev.) Someone else has to have the skill and confidence to beat their man (through pass or trick) and make a 'moment of magic`. Villa can`t rely on Benteke forever. It is a team sport.
The full thread: click here...
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Date:Thursday December 5 2013
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