Thursday, September 07, 2006

 

Lone Rangers

Although Craig Foster’s more “visionary” punditry tends to curdle the blood, his comments in more concrete situations are often accurate.

There was one such observation from the SBS analyst at half-time in this morning’s game against Kuwait, in which an under-prepared, badly-marshalled and uncommitted Australian side lost embarrassingly.

The “Dutch” 4-3-3/3-4-3, he observed, doesn’t work too well unless there are proper wingers who can beat their man; otherwise, the target man – John Aloisi in this case – can find himself badly isolated.

Foster made the further good point that the formation requires a team to compress the structure, particularly with regards to midfield and attack. In Kuwait city, Australia failed wretchedly to do this, particularly in the first half, and Aloisi was forced to feed on scraps as the midfield lagged well behind him.

Why does this obsession with the lone striker continue in Australian football?

Time and time again, the national team has started a game with a lone man up front, who sees hardly any service until the manager – in turn, Farina, Hiddink and Arnold – introduces a second frontman. Every time, the switch has resulted in a rapid improvement. Every single time.

Melbourne 2001 against Uruguay, when Agostino came on to partner Viduka. The Confederations cup in 2005, when Australia matched Argentina and then some once Viduka arrived to support Aloisi. Bahrain earlier this year, when the half-time addition of Holman changed the game. And most memorably of all, at the World Cup; belated support for Viduka won us the game against Japan, and served to create our first real chances of a frustrating second half against Italy.

In Kuwait, we did not have wingers of the calibre demanded by a 3-4-3 system. But far worse than this, Holman was deployed, cravenly and uselessly, in midfield. He seemed constantly unsure of his role, and despite a few bright moments, he made nothing like the impact he did against Bahrain, when he played as a supporting striker.

Aloisi, it’s true, didn’t have the best of nights in any case, missing horribly in injury time after a generous Kuwaiti defender had presented him with an easy chance. But he would surely have had a better chance of acquitting himself decently with some nearby support.

Let’s ditch the one-striker mentality, once and for all. We take the field not in orange, but green and gold.

Comments:
Here here.

It's a shame when we could have so many good, effective combinations up front. Holman would play off Aloisi, Viduka or Kennedy very well IMO, and Viduka can seemingly play alongside any type of striker.

It was a shame to see Holman operating so deep this morning. He may tend to be a deep striker anyway but I feel one of his biggest strengths is his poaching and natural finishing, but he wasn't really able to get into advanced enough positions.
 
Holman will have a decent crack at goal when it's not expected. When the team formation was displayed, I was initially disappointed not to see his name, but then I finally saw him effectively at left wingback and I was like wtf?

I don't think anyone's commented yet on how well the Kuwaitis played. They actually looked pretty good for a team ranked in the 90s. Their #17 striker was great. I'd love to see the match between Kuwait and Bahrain where they fight it out for the other qualification spot.
 
"Why does this obsession with the lone striker continue in Australian football?

Time and time again, the national team has started a game with a lone man up front, who sees hardly any service until the manager – in turn, Farina, Hiddink and Arnold – introduces a second frontman. Every time, the switch has resulted in a rapid improvement. Every single time."

Totally agree.

You may have heard me whinge about the state of modern coaching in recent years Mikey, but your missive above and what we witnessed in the WC from most managers is proof that this group of reactionary twats are almost singlehandedly ruining the game. If faced with two options, you can guess without hesitation a manager will almost invariably choose the
more defensive option, even if it defies commonsense.

Not only that, but there was not one true full-back in the bloody squad, removing any feasible chance to employ a conventional 4-4-2. This demonstrates to me that Arnold chose his squad based on playing with a back three, rather than picking the best (and most flexible ) squad possible, and THEN choosing which system to employ.

As with some of his selections in the HAL based squad, Arnold also chose this squad based more on reputation than actual current form and match fitness. As the Bahrain match and frendly against Liechtenstein showed, I would prefer a decent sprinkling of hungry youngsters with match fit A-Leaguers than a more heralded squad of Euro strugglers. The A-Leaguers have actually impressed with their performances in the first two Asian Cup qualifiers and have made the B-grade European players look rather foolish.

On the positive side, this could be a blessing. Better to lose a relatively meaningless game now rather than in the next two or three years. Having three completely different teams (and the resultant lack of continuity) could be deemed a lack of respect for our opposition, but a result like this will hopefully rid the FFA of their current lackadaisical attitude re: player availability. You mentioned this recently in your blog, so I won't bore you any further. ;)

This modern obsession with the lone ranger is getting beyond ridiculous.

- TFO
 
...I don't think anyone's commented yet on how well the Kuwaitis played. They actually looked pretty good for a team ranked in the 90s. Their #17 striker was great....

Yeah, credit to Tony Tannous on roundballanalyst, he picked Al-Mutwa as a quality player from the first leg, and this game confirmed it, I think. He ran rings around our back three at times.
 
...Not only that, but there was not one true full-back in the bloody squad, removing any feasible chance to employ a conventional 4-4-2. This demonstrates to me that Arnold chose his squad based on playing with a back three, rather than picking the best (and most flexible) squad possible, and THEN choosing which system to employ....

Yeah, this is very true I think. I mentioned in the original "B Team" post, IIRC, that there weren't any real fullbacks there. But was Arnie just copying Guus from the WC? We started the game against Japan with a back three and Culina and Wilkshire - neither of whom could remotely be called fullbacks - in the wing-back positions. No wonder we got nowhere in the first half.

Flexibility is a nice ideal, but we've perhaps taken it a little too far lately IMO. Put it this way, Guus was more canny at utilising it than Arnie seems to be.
 
"Flexibility is a nice ideal, but we've perhaps taken it a little too far lately IMO. Put it this way, Guus was more canny at utilising it than Arnie seems to be."

Holman and Wilkshire (for the umpteenth time) suffered quite a bit didn't they. So did Ceccoli in Sydney and the first half against Bahrain.

My opinion of Wilkshire has mellowed somewhat recently, after initially being critical. Every single time a shitkicker out-of-position role is available in the team he seems to draw the short straw. I truly feel sorry for the kid. He's done reasonably well overall considering how often he is played out of position, and the events in Kuwait City were no different.

As you've said on more than one occasion, Holman looks a VERY likely type in the 2nd striker's role. I thought history would have shown that McKain is not a particularly effective DM, but Arnie appears to think differently.

- TFO
 
...My opinion of Wilkshire has mellowed somewhat recently, after initially being critical. Every single time a shitkicker out-of-position role is available in the team he seems to draw the short straw. I truly feel sorry for the kid. He's done reasonably well overall considering how often he is played out of position, and the events in Kuwait City were no different....

Know exactly what you mean. Mind you, he was probably quite happy to play wherever he could during the Guus era, if it meant more of a chance to get himself a move out of the Brit third division.

I thought he did a bit better than most on Wednesday, considering he was out of position yet again.
 
What have you got against orange Mike? I'm a Roar supporter, and we in roadwork-orange have strikers coming out of our bums.
 
...What have you got against orange Mike? I'm a Roar supporter, and we in roadwork-orange have strikers coming out of our bums...

:-)

You can probably see why the Roar are nicknamed "the Clogs" in some quarters... ;-)
 
Indeed Mike. :) No accolades for Roar's fashion designers.
 
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