Thursday, July 30, 2009


Latest from Les

With all the uninformed diatribes about the FFA's new 4-3-3 mandate beginning to resemble the onset of tinnitus, it's good to see a mainstream football scribe with a sense of perspective wading into the debate.

As Les correctly asserts, the original 4-3-3 idea started with Brazil, not the Netherlands, and it involved two central strikers, not one. See here for a similar attempt to clarify things.

England started with a 4-3-3 in 1966, but ultimately reverted to the famous wingless 4-4-2 for a very simple reason: the wingers in the squad, all of whom had been tried in the opening round, just hadn't been impressive. It's this sort of consideration, incidentally, that worries me somewhat about the inflexibility of the modus operandi envisaged by Han Berger.

And...the Dutch in 1974. To my mind, the Dutch system in 1974 was one of roles rather than numbers, combined with an incredibly high defensive line which required a very able and alert stopper. And the Dutch had one in Wim Rijsbergen, the real unsung hero of that "Total Football" side. But the basic shape was indeed 4-3-3, and the trend obviously caught on; when the Dutch contested the final of the next World Cup, against Argentina, both sides were using the system. Quite a surprise, since it has rarely been considered a good fit for South American teams. The pendulum swung back, though, with sweeper systems becoming fashionable again until the Arrigo Sacchi-led Milan sides of the late eighties.

With all this in mind, I must respectfully disagree with Les's claim that:

...the 4-3-3, over 40 years on, remains the best and most lethal tactical strategy...

It's currently popular because it's used by the world's best side. But I've always maintained that the best and most effective strategy is simply whatever best fits the individual talents of the players at one's disposal.

Sadly, the second half of Les's piece is somewhat disingenuous, and a good example of how the SBS crew tend to back their mates to the point of gentle hypocrisy (in fairness, the Fox brigade are even worse in this regard, as a rule).

Miron, as is his boss Clive Palmer, is mightily peeved that the FFA switched Gold Coast’s opening game against the Roar from a home to an away fixture.

Les presents this as a justified grievance, but let's be fair here. The draft fixture list had the new franchise playing at home first up, and it was the Gold Coast crew who prematurely paraded this to the media. Plenty of changes are made between a draft and the real thing, and the current petulant gestures of Messrs. Bleiberg and Palmer strike me as attempts to deflect attention from the fact that they may have brought the FFA's switch on themselves, with their earlier ill-timed proclamation.

On the Minniecon thing, Miron also had a point...why should a first choice player, however young, be allowed to be taken away from his club for a youth tournament at a time when his club, and the league, needs him most? Would this happen in other prominent countries? One has to doubt it.

Erm...what happened to all the railing against the European clubs who were refusing to release Australian players for unwisely-timed and largely pointless friendlies, back in the pre-Guus era?

And to finish, some choice irony:

As for Bleiberg having to sit for new exams in order to be able to coach when he has been doing it for 30 or more years already, well, wouldn’t you too be wondering as to why? I know I would.

So would I. And so, in fact, would countless coaches at state league and youth representative level with decades of experience, who are likely to be put through several meaningless hoops...thanks to the new, erm, National Football Curriculum.

Thanks for a great post.
Brisbane v Gold Coast was meant to ensure Brisbane viability. Perhaps Gold Coast are treating their competitors like business enemies?

Les showed his colours in his autobio - he does not like Frank Farina so he supports Miron. Does anyone think Miron knows how to coach? ha ha I have talked to players. He doesn't need it is the star studed team.
To be quite accurate Brazil only 'adopted 4-3-3 from their previous 4-2-4 because Zagallo had the fitness to be both winger and mid-fielder almost a pom playing fro Brazil. He along with Garrincha was their hero in 1962.
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