Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Growing dissatisfaction

I am also beginning to see this dissatisfaction that Jamie Hamilton mentioned to in his latest post, “STRANGE TRIANGULATIONS”, translate into matches. His entire post echoes my same thoughts.

We are now entering a moment when just such an alternative is beginning to be seriously considered by coaches and clubs operating at the highest levels of football. There is a growing dissatisfaction with the universalisation of possession styles underpinned by a nagging suspicion that Positionism might not have fully optimised football just yet. While he stopped short of explicitly attributing it to ‘Positional Play’, Guardiola’s assistant Juanma Lillo penned a now infamous polemic against the homogenisation of the global game during the Qatar World Cup.

You have teams that are on the forefront, the early adopters, like Bologna or Malmö pushing the boundaries, showing what is possible. But I’m starting to see signs from teams like Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea, Inter Milan, and more that are putting things into practice that they normally would not. Players breaking from position, more rotations, more freedom being given.

A lot of the change comes down to trust. I’ll use Manchester City as an example. Pep Guardiola in the past could not trust his back-line to play out-wide, play in the midfield, and for the midfield to know how to effectively cover for the defense. We see rotations now, but they don’t include the defenders. At most, it’s just the midfield and forwards rotating.

The will need to slowly train or obtain defenders that can play as holding midfielders and fullbacks. Being a defender is not just about defending anymore, just like goalkeeping isn’t just about stopping shots. You will have to be able to perform like a midfielder.

What I think is stopping them is trust. These managers are control freaks, and if they don’t trust certain players they won’t feel comfortable relinquishing control. Once they gain trust in the defenders, I think the floodgates will open. A greater reliance on parts of relationism will become the new meta because the patterns of play that develop from it has its advantages when breaking down rigid static structures.

I put the most emphasis on Pep Guardiola because he is the godfather of this current era we live in of positionism. I don’t think bringing back Juanma Lillo to Manchester City last summer was a coincidence. It would be fitting if he flipped the script and beat the very beast he created.

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