Town tactics v Rochdale: Tucking Turnbull in

Alex Cooke looks at how Jordan Turnbull and Fabien Robert shared the flank against Rochdale

One of the criticisms throughout this season has been of players being used out of their natural positions: Henrik Ojamaa as a wingback, Nicky Ajose as a lone forward and, most frequently, Jordan Turnbull as a left back. But on Saturday one of the more noticeable elements of the win was how Martin Ling had found a way to solve at least one of these problems.


Instead of pushing Turnbull up the field to add the width that a full-back must in the otherwise narrow  4-4-2 diamond (above), Ling allowed him to sit on the left of the diamond, almost as a spare holding midfielder (below). Instead Fabien Robert started centrally then moved up the wide position, with Brad Barry pushed up in a more orthodox way on the other side.


It seems likely that Ling preferred Turnbull over Brandon Ormonde Ottewill at left-back partly due to the conditions and BOO’s inexperience but also because of Rochdale’s 6′ 2” midfielder Peter Vincenti, who started on the right side of their team.

Getting Robert to dart into the wider position seems like an obvious move but it relies on both players being intelligent about when to make the run and when to hold. Robert did particularly well in finding space on the flank, using the position to flick quick passes (black arrow) behind the Rochdale defence for Nicky Ajose and Jon Obika to run onto. It would be interesting to see is how it works for 90 minutes against a full team, not one which was a man down for such a protracted period.


The early sending off could have been aproblem for this tactical switch as using the flanks to stretch the opposition becomes even more vital when facing ten men. Ling might even have been tempted to switch Turnbull for the more orthodox option of Ormonde Ottewill had Rochdale been more resolute – and Vincenti less wasteful after moving up front.

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