February 15, 2010
Traditional thinking of forwards are those of goal threats. When you think of great players, you think of Ronaldo who scored in his last two seasons 30 to 40 goals as an inside forward. When he is scoring goals it is easy to forget about the defensive duties performed by the likes of Rooney, Park and Tevez that allowed Ronaldo that were just as important in the play. But defending from the top of the field is something that might be worth considering.
“Without the ball we are a horrible team” – Pep Guardiola
Barcelona’s style of attacking football is all determined from what they do on the ball. Creating goals by keeping hold of the ball and scaring opposition defenders. But all of this depends on having the ball, attack being the best form of defence for Barcelona. Messi, Xavi and Henry therefore need to get the ball back quickly and will equally get themselves into tackles as much as the likes of Pique and Puyol will do and which could have be seen at last seasons Champions League final. This is a vital part to their tactics and one that can be overlooked when Messi is showing his flair and jinxing past defenders.
Defence doesn’t need to start at the back four. If your forward players are too able to get involved with defensive play it can reduce your oppositions creativity from further up the field from the likes of the defensive midfielder or ball playing defenders. Teams like Liverpool and Chelsea have in the past have proved lethal having a defensive midfielder who is able to not only win the ball but start attacks too, acting as a deep lying playmaker. Rafa Benitez has seen how much of a linchpin Xabi Alonso was to in creating creativity for Gerrard and Torres. Defensive forwards will sit even further back when he is given a supporting role adding extra pressure on to your opposition player sitting in the hole reducing the effect of players such as Alonso or Ferdinand who seek to leave the defensive line to create chances.
The way football has developed, wing backs have become much more of a prominent attacking force, Glen Johnson, Dani Alves and Patrice Evra are just a number of players that enjoy joining up with the attack and building pressure from the back four. But having your own winger will help not only put pressure on the opposition backline, which can be exploit the opposition on the counter attack, as Aston Villa do with Young and Milner. Having a defensive forward will also look to reduce the attacking threat of the wingbacks when they have the ball. Just like Wayne Rooney and Park did much of last season against wingers Maicon and Dani Alves.
How will it help you in Football Manager 2010?
Just like the examples above, within your own tactics the defensive forward and winger will be players who work hard, strong and have a little creativity to help support your balanced formation in order to have support the main goalscorer. Your defensive forward will come back into the midfield much more often, looking for the ball and supporting the defence of the midfield, which can see the shape of a 4-4-2 into a 4-5-1. The defensive winger will keep tabs on the wingbacks and chasing the ball down more often out wide. Stamina and work rate are most important attributes of this role, as you will be relying on these players to work hard and run around the pitch tirelessly. In any sort of defending intellengence in the role is a premium, especially for the forward who you will want to know will be in the right position when needing to defend or pounce on an attack.
For the lower leagues, tackling attributes up in the midfield isn’t as important in these positions as with the lack of technical skill, it is more about hassling and putting pressure on the side with the ball in order to get it back, giving away freekick here are less effective then near the box. But do be careful that your forward isn’t picking up too many yellow cards from rash challenges.
I have only just started using this role with my Southport team, as a result, I am keeping the ball much more and playing good possession football. But do you think you need to be saving your strikers, working them less so that they will be fresh to pounce when chances arise?