Shaky back 4? Back 8 you mean!

The general consensus seem to be that our back four is a bit off, and the blame for this has fallen on virtually every player to figure in our defensive lineup.
Upson doesn't care, Ilunga doesn't track back, Tomkins is not what he was last year, Spector lacks speed and talent, Gabbidon is still not match fit, Collins is gone, Da Costa is still not quite up to the English (?) game. My favorite objection so far is one that I picked up at KUMB, Faubert is .... French!
Even though I have agreed with most of the above at one time or another (I mean Faubert is French isn't he?) fortunes (or Clarke/Zola) hasn't made it easy for us.

In the first 14 games this season 8 defenders and eleven (11!) different defensive lineups have been tried! Eleven! Only Faubert has been used in only one back-four position (but then he's been used as a winger...).
No back 4 lineup has been fielded more than twice!
To put this in some perspective, Burnley started the last 5 games with the same 11 players.

The reason for a finding is usually the most interesting part of it and here is a discussion in place.
The "bare to the thread squad" is a given reason and the sale of Collins is another, and related, reason. We just don't have decent backup, forcing us to play people out of position.
Spector is one example and when I read that he relished the opportunity to play in the center of defence with the US squad I almost panicked!

But does Zola and Clarke have a part in this?
My impression was that they may, as I thought I remembered some unnecessary changes, but after going back and checking the lineups I'm not sure they have had much of a choice. Most changes have been forced, and giving Tomkins the chance after Collins left may well have been the right thing to do.

So, even if I think that my first pick is less than a good PL line (Spector, Da Costa, Upson and Ilunga) there is a desperate need to let whatever 4 is preferred a good chance to "gel".


Hakan said...

Spot on! A settled back four is crucial to achieve any kind of success.

Prince H said...

I do agree (maybe not Spector though) totally, but as I've said before the defense is not just the back four and against Burnley the midfield had a great game goin forward but a really bad game defensively. Collison did not help Spector enough, Stanislas hardly Ilunga and while Parker was a midfield giant in both directions it may have helped that Kovac played behind him so he dared to push forward, but looking at Kovac's back-tracking it seemed awful and he plays a bit like Mullins, too far away from the opponents. As I see it.
Reading other posts on the net there may also be something in those who suggests that we lost the plot when both Franco and Cole went off. We were not longer able to hold the ball up....
I though Clarke was a master to see this...

Joppe - said...

I started writing the post including the midfield changes but it came out too complicated. I wanted it clear that constant changes will affect our game and numbers to back up my argument.

Even though I agree that the midfield is crucial to a working defence, there is no way 11 back 4 line-ups in 14 games will not affect the number of conceded goals.

And as we've changed the midfield around as much as the defence I bet that is another reason for the shakes we get as soon as we concede a goal. - there is no safe and comfortable standard solution to use when under pressure.

But that is the next post!

Prince H said...

Well agreed! Da Costa will be fine I think. Not 100 % yet but more close that expected just after a few games. Of course I agree with you, these changes all-the-time (mainly cause of injuries) are of no benefit for a solid defence.

Anonymous said...

As Hakan said. Spot on. Ofcourse the whole team needs to work as an defensive unit but a settled back four is cruical. Zola and Clarke needs to decide who they prefer and then give them a good chance to gel as you say (they also need a break regarding injuries).

Prince H said...

I'd say that it's only the RB where Zola/Clarke has not decided whom to play. And I can understand them!
It's mainly injuries that have rocked the boat.
But I'm also willing to give the team a break regarding injuries ;-D

Joppe - said...

As I said in the original post - most changes have been forced.

Regardless, we need continuity.

Joppe - said...
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