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[Blog] Ipswich 3-0 Coventry - Tactics Blog
Written by itfcjoe on Wednesday, 21st Sep 2011 14:22

Better going forward, same problems at the back. Don't let the scoreline flatter you on this game, had Coventry taken a couple of their chances this could have been a very different game.

There were a number of positives in this game, mainly the amount of chances we were able to create and the fact that we took a few of them, but I didn't leave the game thinking this was a vintage performance. Apologies for negativity of this blog, I just am concerned about how bad Coventry were!

First half
We again lined up with four central midfielders, this time the diamond was more evident than in previous weeks, with Jimmy Bullard at the base, Lee Bowyer on the left, Keith Andrews on the right and Grant Leadbitter at the top. We played two out and out strikers for the first time since Southampton with Jason Scotland deservedly starting alongside Michael Chopra.

Danny Collins and Ibrahima Sonko were the centre backs with Aaron Cresswell and Carlos Edwards at full-back.

We relied totally on our full-backs for width, and this led to two early goals, with Cresswell crossing for an own goal from Martin Cranie in the fourth minute and a cross from Edwards eventually finding its way to Andrews who exchanged passes with Chopra before slamming home in the 13th minute.

Our two full-backs remained valuable outlets all through the half and were basically playing as wing-backs. Some intricate passing between the midfield four, who lest we forget are all quality players at this level, led to frequent chances being created and Coventry really were on the back foot. I think the main reason for this is just that we played similar systems but we just had better players.

The few times that they did get the ball out wide, they easily got crosses in the box as Cresswell and Edwards were left with a one-v-two situation. Against a team with full-backs with more crossing ability, or a good player in the air I think we would have struggled.

In the first half, Sonko got injured - this left us again in the situation where we ended up with two left-footed/sided centre-halves. I'm not sure if this led to the horrendous marking at corners that happened twice in succession but Cranie and Cody McDonald both had free headers before half-time and we should have been punished for this.

Second half
At the start of the second half McDonald again should have punished us with a free header that he outrageously headed into the ground and over. This again looked like poor marking.

We carried on playing the way we had in the first half, with Leadbitter having a large amount of influence on the game and relishing receiving the ball between the lines and playing telling passes that led to chances being created. Our formation with the ball looked something like the below:

This formation shows a lot of players in attacking positions, which is good at home - to an extent. It allows us to bombard Coventry and showing the desire we did allowed us to create chances when going forward. My only concern is how open we are at the back.

A better side than Coventry would have put at least one winger in place which would either have pinned back a full-back or acted as a dangerous out ball for them and dragged a centre-back over leaving space to exploit through the middle.

Fortunately Coventry were poor and Scotland showed pace and ability to score a third after swapping passes with Chopra, however as the game wore on we still had to clear a chance off the line and it must be a huge concern that a side as poor as Coventry (lowest scorers in division) managed to create four or five clear cut opportunities.

The game petered out into a 3-0 win, and while the three points was deserved I think the game could easily have gone another way had Coventry taken one of their chances at 2-0 as it could have panicked us.

Goals, chances and a bit of excitement of the type that I have been crying out for. All over the pitch there were a few impressive performances - Cresswell looks a great signing, Collins is a class act at this level, Andrews has drive that brings the team on with him, Bullard looks fitter, Leadbitter had his best game for a long time in a Town shirt and Chopra and Scotland looked very sharp - although the former could do with a goal.

We still look shaky at the back, this will be worsened if one of Sonko or Ívar Ingimarsson doesn't make it back for Saturday's game. If Paul Jewell is going to persist with this formation then one of the midfielders needs to take more defensive responsibilities. Barcelona rely on their full-backs for width, but Sergio Busquets drops in as a third centre-back when they attack, so they basically go from a back four without the ball to a back three with it.

At a more similar level, last year our friends from up the road used Andrew Crofts as a very deep lying midfielder when their full-backs marauded forward. Against a good side we can't afford to give up as many chances as we did, and allow as much room for a counter-attack - our defending of set pieces needs to improve also.

Up next
Middlesbrough (A) - Top of the table away from home and a game that will be very difficult. Boro's home form hasn't been as good as their away form but we know what to expect from a Tony Mowbray side - passing, passing, passing and attacking play.

I think if we play the same way we did against Coventry there is a risk our full-backs will be pinned back and this could lead to a Southampton style game - no out ball for our midfielders, strikers isolated and no width.

It will be interesting to see if Lee Martin comes back into the team after his suspension but my hunch is that Jewell will stick to nearly the same team. The slight change in formation I would make is that Andrews would sit, in the same way he does for Ireland, and act as a third centre-back when we look to go forward and other support to our back four. It will be a shame to lose his attacking ability, but he can rekindle the role Matty Holland first played when joining from Bournemouth, ie three centre-backs with wing-backs when we don't have the ball, but a 4-Diamond-2 when we do have the ball.

Can't make this until I see the team and the system. If same as Coventry then unfortunately I predict a loss.

Joe's previous blogs on the tactics in Town's earlier games this season can be found here.

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

GTRKing added 15:20 - Sep 21
yh ur right but if we keep the same players & formation & have a CDM Which can help then defence then we should be OK but Middlesbrough are on a very good forum so lets hope we score 1st & play well I don't mind if we play really well & losses something like 3-2 that show we got hunger to win

StowTractorBoy added 15:46 - Sep 21
A very good blog but I do not believe that Coventry are as bad as you say. They passed the ball well at times and created several chances which on another day would have been converted. Against Derby the week before they looked very good against a team who were at the time riding high. Coventry are a very young side and had good movement but obviously need to learn how to go with the runners from midfield as they struggled in this department. My feet are firmly on the ground with this win because yes we could have lost this game but every win we gain will have to be worked for as this is a very difficult division. As for Middlesbrough I personally would rather be poor and get a point than play well and lose. To play well and get a result is of course the aim.

Surco72 added 16:35 - Sep 21
You say that Coventry are the lowest scorers in the league ,is this because they miss good chances ? Same as us for last two seasons create but do not put away .
And dont let the scoreline flatter us ,we won three nil and if we had taken our chances it could have been 6 or 7 by half time and the game already out of sight before they had a recovery .
Better sides may score ,but also on another day Chopra wont miss 4 good chances
And a number of very good sides use their full backs for width Chelsea being a prime example of this with Cole and Bosingwa ,Man Utd with Smalling and Evra , Barcelona the same with Alves almost playing as a winger the key to the formation is players in midfield having the discipline to put in the cover and sit with the centre backs as Makelele,Essien ,Busquets,Mascerano,Carrick,Fletcher,Anderson all have done for their clubs .
The result is by no means the great turning point but was a very good performance against a team we made to look very poor for long periods of the game as our experience showed against a young side .
I also believe a lot of the problems this season has been keeping the ball which now with a midfield with the likes of Bowyer ,Bullard and Andrews this will definately change and possesion percentage will be high as it was on Monday .

itfcjoe added 17:32 - Sep 21
Surco72 - I've used the example of Busquets in this, and said that Bullard couldn't be that type of player so therefore we can't rely totally on full backs for width as need to remain solid.

We also played Leadbitter, Bowyer, Andrews in a midfield 4 v So'ton (with Kennedy instead of Bullard) and didn't get a kick in the first half....

pmason added 18:04 - Sep 21
Team lineup and formation didnt matter ... that was coventry, a poor poor team destined for league 1 next year.
The under 18's would have beaten them they are that bad. No turning pont, just a win against a team in worse shape than us, thats it.
Dont try read into it like its some overly complicated maths algorithim, its football, not brain surgery

Kingston added 19:19 - Sep 21
Pmason your negativity doesn't help anyone, and no one wants to hear it.

I thought this was a very good blog! True what you say about playing Andrews as a defensive mid dropping to 3rd centre half, and I'm sure a fit Bullard could replicate his attacking up front!
Also noticed cresswell having words with Bowyer on monday, presumably asking him to come out wide to help him defend. I'm sure if bowyer and Andrews remember to help out cresswell and Edwards on the wing we should be ok against middlesborough and west ham.
On the plus side, this is starting to look like a team that can full it's potential!

TractorBeezer added 19:45 - Sep 21
A good blog. Another positive for me is that the team (at last) played some real football with the ball moved swiftly (usually on or near the ground) to players getting themselves into position providing good options to recieve the ball.It should also perhaps be noted that Cresswell and Edwards didn't charge ahead simultaneously so there was some degree of extra cover remaining when we attacked with the wing backs. Good point by Kingston that they will need some help from midfield when we lose possession.

Lamby95 added 21:32 - Sep 21
Very good blog and agree with what you are saying. You mentioned the Southampton game and agree with you in regards to this tactic didn't work. Both goals came from lambert pulling on to edwards and out numbering him. Against better teams I to fear that we will be overrun.

eaii added 22:14 - Sep 21
Very good blog and i will add to the 'negativity' or realism that this formation will not work. Coventry are not the strongest team but i think a little credit is due to Ipswich for destroying them for the first 15 minutes and at least matching them for the rest of the game with another very good goal later on. But I must agree with You that better teams with better/more availible players will just add width to their attack and Ipswich will have no where to go because CM will be crowded, two strikers will give us more attacking prowess IF they receive the service but with no width then how would You supply the strikers. We cannot rely on wingbacks if the opposition are playing wingers and our defence looks shaky because our wings are being outnumbered by wingers and overlapping FB's. Playing a diamond in the middle still requires left/right sided midfielders but Ipswich are playing with 4CM's. I can count (including Edwards) at least three players playing out of their orthodox position's with this formation and better teams will exploit the formation flaws aswell as players being impeded by out of position play.

mwp added 22:24 - Sep 21
Good blog and as far as tactics go I agree. However the answer to win or lose I think is a little simpler. Coventry didn't press and allowed us to play. When we get pressed and it's been that way for a while, the players panic and play poor passes or hoof upfield.

Sospiri added 06:18 - Sep 22
Whenever I read a response from pmason, I get this mental picture of Eeyore from the Winnie-the Poo books. Only even more downcast.

Kingston added 09:16 - Sep 22
There are lots of people saying this formation won't work because of such and such reason, but have you ever thought that every formation has it's weaknesses?

DanLyles added 12:29 - Sep 22
Really good blog. I agree with your point regarding the full/wing backs, if they are pinned back then the midfield does not have an outlet (other than passing straight to Scotland or Chopra, who are normaly tightly marked, plus it is not normally that simple) as was the case against Southampton. This all starts with the midfield itself though imo. If they keep possession and win the ball back quickly then the full/wing backs won't be pinned back by opposition wingers because they simply won't have the ball, not very often at least.

Looking at Andrews, Bullard, Leadbitter and Bowyer in a diamond, there certainly appears to be the all the ingredients for this to happen. They all work hard and get stuck in and they all use the ball intelligently. I think choosing which one sits and becomes the third centre back is a real dliemma for PJ though.

Finally, I am really excited about the Scotland-Chopra partnership. They linked up very well and on another day could have got 6 between them!!!

Blue041273 added 13:07 - Sep 22
I think I read that PJ decided to go with the diamond in midfield in order to match the Coventry formation on the basis that man for man our four were better players than their four. I suspect also though that this is the only formation that can successfully accommodate Bullard, Bowyer, Andrews and Leadbitter. As others have pointed out the width has to come from the full backs pushing forward and one of the most pleasing aspect of Monday's game is that both are equipped to do that. Again, as others have pointed out, our diamond shape had Bullard at the back and while he was instrumental in keeping the play ticking over going forward, he did precious little to protect the centre backs particularly when one of the full backs was out of position.

I suspect that ideally PJ wants a midfield triangle with a winger out wide to provide the wide out ball thus avoiding the full backs being too exposed. As a lot have commented, against a better team than Coventry with players who can get in behind the full backs we could struggle.

Doctor_Albran added 16:43 - Sep 22
The above formation is unlikely to work away from home and they are much more likely to set up as a 4-3-3 on Saturday or a 4-5-1 if you'd rather (as this is the collapsed/defending 4-3-3 formation.

He won't play such a narrow formation, away against a good footballing side like Middlesborough, if he does they'll simply double up on the wings and cruxify us from out wide.

The diamond formation worked against Coventry, not because they are crap, but because it was the formation they were using and allowed us to match up across the field, however, it still gave too many chances and against better opposition he'll be looking to defend first and hit on the break.


exeterblu added 17:44 - Sep 22
Excellent blog itfcjoe - more of the same please !!! :D

pmason added 15:30 - Sep 23
sospiririririri .... will you stop commenting about me, its tediously boring, im beginning to think your stalking me. Stick to your uninteresting football comments please

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