Johno’s Tactics: Town vs Crewe
After the City game was postponed, Johno cast his tactics eye over the Crewe game last weekend.
Not to be confused with the legendary ‘Townsend’s Tactics’ with Andy Townsend in the back of a white van during ITV’s The Premiership programme, but much like the former midfielder, I’ll try to assess where it went well and wrong for Swindon most Saturdays.
It may be very arrogant to think that I can watch a football league team and discuss their tactics, with Football Manager as the only place of putting tactics in to practice but anyway, here goes.
Against Crewe, We started with a classic 4-4-2 system that many teams in the football league also use. It’s an easy system to adapt to and usually (in League Two) you see two mountains at centre back, one in midfield and one up front. We however didn’t have that and therefore struggled in the early going.
At centre back we had Aden Flint who appeared to be playing like three mountains and was the reason along with Phil Smith as to why we kept a clean sheet. With Joe Devera not being the physical presence alongside Flint, Crewe took advantage with chances coming down the left hand side of Kennedy and Devera.
In midfield we struggled to put our mark on the game, sloppy passes and losing in the tackle made it tough for Jonathan Smith and Olivier Risser in the centre. It’s where so many games are won and lost, especially in the physical battle of League Two.
Up front we had less mountains and more molehills rather than the classic big man. This isn’t a disaster if you play on the ground but when we were hitting long balls up field or into the corners, Bodin and De Vita never looked like winning the ball.
These early problems though were seen and a quicker tempo, on the floor passing and a calmness in possession led to a dominant second half. We took our apparent weaknesses and used them as strengths. Good passers like Ritchie and Timlin got into the game as we played on the deck and Crewe couldn’t keep up with the movement and tempo of our play.
The tactics in the first half of chasing down the long ball weren’t working so Di Canio swapped to the on the floor and made sure every pass counted. We went on to dominate the game and by the end, we all forgot the first half had really happened.
In League Two, the long ball system and playing it into space can work, but we have already seen from Saturday that Di Canio does have a way he wants his team to play. I suspect to see lots of passing on the floor and movement.
There maybe a changes on Saturday v Cheltenham with Connell replacing Bodin as we employ a big man upfront but Connell showed he has a good touch and will play more of a role than just the big man who holds the ball up.
More of the second half v Crewe and I might find myself repeatedly praising our side, wouldn’t that be nice!
I think to discuss tactics and formation you need to look at the opposition too. Crewe’s 451 meant that they could retain the ball in the middle easily, particularly as Risser and Smith failed to put pressure on the trio early on tending to stand off or track the runner. This saw Crewe able to chip balls behind our back four. It was only when the midfielder got closer to their men that we could press and start to take control.