As we reach the mid-season break in Holland, I want to take a quick break and reflect on a mixed start to life in Rotterdam. With basically £0 in transfer budget, I have had to focus on making the most of the players available to me at the club. In the last post I spoke about keeping our tactical approach simple and allowing the players the freedom to express themselves a bit more, and adapt the tactics as time advanced. It is an approach that I often struggle with (I love a TI), but I felt with the focus on development through the club, I had an opportunity to create an identity throughout the club from the ground up.
We started well – pre-season was overwhelmingly positive, and I had plenty of reason to believe we were on a consistent run of form. However, almost as soon as the first whistle of the league season went, we became outrageously inconsistent;
I spent a lot of time tinkering with instructions and player roles during this time, trying to get the best out of the players we had, but as we hurtled towards the mid-season break, our form went completely out of the window, and we are staring dead in the face of a tactical change.
Now, I should make the point that while i’m sitting tearing my hair out about our recent form, we are still sitting (relatively) comfortably in mid-table; after 18 games we are 9th – P18, W6, D6, L6. So really, if i’m objective about it, we are the most bang average team in the league. Given that we were predicted a 15th-placed finish and relegation, some might even say we’re over-performing.
I would agree with those people, however for me the way that we have played our football in the first half of the season hasn’t been sustainable – quite often we have been cut open in midfield, and with our attacking 4 unable to get back in time, our defence has been exposed. So while, yes, we are outperforming our pre-season goals, I want to take steps to ensure that is not a flash in the pan.
With that in mind, I have adjusted our shape to involve a Defensive midfielder to anchor a midfield 3 and provide more support to our defence. I have also changed a couple of midfield and wide roles to encourage more attacking play and ask our wingers to cut inside to create chances. Again, I have left the instructions mostly blank, with the only real instructions at this point designed to win the ball back early, and keep it
Because, as we know – they can’t score if they don’t have the ball.