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[Blog] Diamonds Aren't Forever?
Written by itfcjoe on Sunday, 6th Nov 2011 13:49

Sorry for lack of recent blogs, I felt like I didn't know what I was talking about when the diamond was working so well at Boro and West Ham and against an out of form Brighton but it seems to have gone the way I predicted against Coventry - so unfortunately, as it gives me no pleasure to see Town lose, we are seriously struggling and dropping down the table like a lead weight.

The diamond is a dated formation and far too easy to play against. The only width it gives is through full-backs, and if the opposition play high wingers, as Portsmouth, Palace, Millwall and now Doncaster have - we will always struggle.

The mistakes that happen in the formation are not generally down to individual mistakes but a complete lack of shape. When one of the four central midfielders gives the ball away, it is more likely that it happens because there isn't an easy out ball to play, ie a winger in space, and it is too congested and they can't pass the ball as well as Xavi or Iniesta in tight spaces!

My main criticism of Paul Jewell is that he seems too arrogant to change this shape because we had a few good results previously with it, and when he makes changes in the game it is generally too late.

Against Southampton, Millwall and again yesterday, he has waited for us to go 2-0 down before making a change - we are then left with a mountain to climb. It was clear yesterday from the fact that we hadn't been in their half in first 10 minutes that the shape wasn't working, but yet he persisted until two goals went in.

Another major criticism of Jewell is that when he realises the formation isn't working and changes it, he still doesn't go through with it fully. Last week at Millwall, Grant Leadbitter was shifted to left midfield, then back across to right midfield - square pegs, round roles.

Yesterday, Leadbitter was again shifted out to the right hand side and doesn't know how to play this role as it isn't natural to him - so drifts inside and we are still left with no width. If Jewell is changing to 4-4-2 he has to have the conviction to do it properly and not half-heartedly, as it does no one any favours.

Jewell needs to take some responsibility and stop blaming individual errors and take a long, hard look in the mirror. The defence are hopelessly exposed, Jimmy Bullard is hardly a Makelele sitting in front of them - and to claim the goals are happening due to their individual errors is grossly unfair - you attack, and more importantly defend as a team - whereas we seem to do it as a group of individuals.

We concede far too many goals, and from next match I would like to see us work from the back forwards. A back four with two midfielders sitting in front of them, Keith Andrews does this job for Ireland and I think Leadbitter should be able to act as the second player. This should give us a solid base and make us difficult to break down, conceding goals is our main problem at the moment and needs to be solved before we can even think of anything else.

I would then personally start with a front three of Michael Chopra as the central prong, and two of either Martin, Carson or JET - most probably the former two as they are more willing to work hard and track their full-backs and drop in as wide midfielders when we don't have the ball.

This leaves one further player, at home I would be tempted to play JET as a second striker/trequartista, trying to pick out balls to the front three - but away from home I would play Jimmy Bullard. He has been poor in recent weeks and the fact him being caught in possession seems to have become a habit means that he should be played in a position where when he is getting caught it doesn't lead to a direct line to our goal.

The diamond is a dated formation, and formations evolve over time - 15 years ago 3-5-2 was the in in-vogue system, but teams then started playing only one genuine striker so that there were two spare defenders and the team with one up had an extra man in a more important area of the pitch. There is a reason why no one plays the diamond any more - and the last three (arguably four) games have shown how better players in a worse system will lose to worse individuals in a good system.

Paul Jewell, in the minute chance that you read this here is my message to you, you have assembled a good squad, are a good man manager and seem a good bloke and want to be in it for the long term, but I implore you to try and work on a shape that is from 2011 and not 1996 in the international break!'


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Tractorboy24 added 09:34 - Nov 7
I agree that we need to move away from the diamond, however I think you are missing the individual errors. I agree our full backs were left exposed, but the first 2 goals were free headers from between our cbs! Also Jewell changed the system 25 mins into the game, he only has 3 subs, so making 2 at that point could leave him exposed if we were to lose players to injury.

Saturday showed that the 442 can be effective with wingers, we just have to hope that this is clear to everyone, and not watered down due to the 3-0 scoreline we found ourselves in.

RRanger added 19:42 - Nov 7
Excellent blog - I agree with everything you have said.I like PJ as our manager and want him to succeed but we have to bite the bullet and accept that we cannot play more than 2 of our 30+ midfielders at the same time . We have to go with our more pacey wide men (Martin and Carson) and personally I would like to see JET given a free role behind our strikers or striker. He is never going to give us 90 minutes but can turn a game in just a few seconds. We've paid £1.5 million for him.Lets show that he is a bargain.

8ashblue added 20:13 - Nov 7
I agree that our diamond was pointless ( more sausage shape) with no players prepared that take responsibility of supporting the full backs. It was so easy for Doncaster and as a result both Cresswell and Wabara were outnumbered.

llewej_tuo added 17:27 - Nov 13
diamond, pearl, ruby etc ....... yawn
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