It was a great performance from Paolo Di Canio’s men as they exploited the holes in the Tranmere defence, but they made it easy for Swindon, says Alex Cooke.
There are many reasons why Swindon thumped Tranmere 5-nil. Pressure and presence were vital as Town’s midfield swarmed and swamped with controlled aggression, but so was the general ineptitude of Tranmere’s defending.
Just look at the gap between the Rovers full-back and the centre-backs below. It is huge. For a forward with the mobility and speed of Andy Williams, it must have been a dream to run between them. Even Chris Martin managed it once and he is hardly blessed with pace.
The two centre-backs similarly failed to position themselves properly relatively to each other, with big spaces between them and little coordination. The full-backs, as shown here by number 14, offered no cover failing to tuck in as they should and so were often the wrong side of Town’s strikers.
The first still actually comes from just before the fifth goal, so the effect is magnified as Tranmere were caught in possession, but the disarray in defence is clear to see.
Swindon’s wingers exploited this problem by playing high and wide, making each attack about 1 versus 1 and almost exclusively attacking on the outside, rather than cutting in as inverted wingers would normally.
Contrast that with Town’s own defence. They played very narrowly, as the coaching manual would advise, with the wingers providing the protection on the flanks. But also Tranmere made it easy for them due to their narrow formation, with the number 11 in particular playing deep, centrally, and lazily.This shut down any chance of a through ball being played between full-back and centre-back.