Hold the front page, Wenger is talking about tactics

Hold the front page, Wenger is talking about tactics

By Tim Charlesworth

Amidst all the joy and celebration following the Bayern result, you may be forgiven for missing something unusual:  Wenger made a comment about tactics.  This is remarkable because of its rarity.   For some reason, Arsene doesn’t like to talk about tactics.  Perhaps he feels it gives an advantage to opponents to give an insight into his tactical thinking.  He has a pretty similar attitude to transfer plans.

 An interesting article in The Telegraph reports Wenger as saying (after Bayern): ‘I decided to drop Ozil a bit deeper to make it tighter around the box and to catch them on the break, because we have the pace to do it’

This sort of statement is very common in football, but not from Wenger.  There are two particularly atypical things about his statement:

1: Normally he is keen to keep any tactical considerations close to his chest – did he just get carried away in the moment of victory and forget himself?

2: It is very ‘unWenger’ to instruct a player in this manner.  He usually likes his players to work things out for themselves within a structure.  This quote however, suggests that he gave Ozil a very clear, almost ‘Mourinhesque’ instruction, which he expected Ozil to follow.

Wenger’s failure to discuss tactics has led to quite a lot of speculation over the years that ‘Wenger doesn’t do tactics’.  This is a bit of a silly observation, as tactics are clearly part of a football managers armoury, and even the most pessimistic assessment of Wegner must conclude that he is, at least, quite good.  It would be strange if he achieved his success without using one of the tools available to him, i.e. tactics

So what do we mean by tactics?

Tactics can be confused with analysis.  

For example, in the Bayern game, Arsenal went for fairly aggressive passing, looking to move the ball forward rather than sideways, and often going for long passes.  I don’t think that this was really a ‘tactic’ in the sense of a pre-planned strategy.  I think it was more the case that Bayern forced them to play like this.  

Bayern showed brilliant execution of one of Guardiola’s trademarks, the ‘high press’.  In a high press, midfielders and attackers  aggressively pursue the ball, rapidly closing down the man in possession, and trying to cut off the available outlets for him to make a simple pass to.  

This tactic hopes to elicit a mistake from the man in possession, thereby setting up a dangerous attacking situation.  And Bayern succeeded with this on a number of occasions, notably when pressurizing Sanchez, of all people, to lose control of the ball and give away a very good shooting chance.

When you are faced with a high press, the only real option you have is to try to ‘spring it’, by getting the ball past the onrushing ‘pressers’ and up towards your attackers and midfielders.  This means passing forwards, not sideways.  If you can do so, you are likely to have a good attacking position because the pressing team has committed players forward to the press and will now have a lot of players in front of the ball.  This will expose the opposition defenders to the space (represented by the shading in the diagram above) between the defensive line and the pressers.

So, if Wenger had talked about the ‘tactic’ of Arsenal’s aggressive forward passing style, this wouldn’t really be a tactic at all, but a natural response to Bayern’s play.  The Arsenal team may well have discussed these scenarios before the game, but the choice of passing style is not really a tactic, it is simply an inevitable response the high press.   

The decision to drop Ozil deeper however is a genuine tactic in the sense that it is a pre-planned action intended to shape the game.  The intended effect was presumably to allow Bayern to pass it around their back four more easily, but to make it harder for them to penetrate Arsenal’s reinforced defensive lines.

Indeed this is pretty much what happened.  It looked to me as if Sanchez was playing deeper as well, but this may simply have been a response to Ozil’s positioning rather than a pre-planned tactic.

How does Wenger approach tactics?

The rumours that ‘Wenger doesn’t do tactics’ may also have been fuelled by Wenger’s slightly different approach.  Like many great leaders, I think Wenger is normally the kind of person who likes to ‘ask questions’ rather than ‘furnish answers’.

An incident that has always stuck in my head, is an often repeated story about a meeting during the second double season (1997-8).  I have heard and read this story a number of times, and it has sort of drifted into Arsenal folklore.  Nonetheless, I believe it to be true, and a fairly prosaic description of it can be found on pp 116-117 in Tony Adams 1998 autobiography Addicted.  

The meeting occurred in December 1997 after a particularly dire 1-0 home defeat by Liverpool on 30th November.  Arsenal were well of the pace in the PL and looking defensively disorganised.   Arsene gave the players a couple of days off and then organized a meeting at Sopwell House, near the Arsenal training ground.  

During the meeting, the Arsenal defenders, led by Adams, got a bit irate with the midfielders (particularly Vieira and Petit) for failing to provide them with enough protection.  Vieira and Petit certainly seemed to amend their playing style in the second half of the season.  It is also true that Arsenal went on a fantastic run after this meeting, which delivered both the PL and FA Cup titles.  

The interesting point about this story is that Wenger appears to play a limited part in it.  If it was Ferguson, one might expect to hear that the manager launched some kind of verbal or physical assault on Vieira and Petit in order to get his message across.  But Wenger seems to have made no direct intervention.  All he did, was tell the players that he was unhappy.  

He then gave them a couple of days off, to let them know that they needed to do something and to give them time to think about it.  He then facilitated the meeting, but didn’t try to tell the players what the answer was.  He basically let them work it out for themselves.  This approach seems to carry two advantages:

1: The collective wisdom of the players is likely to come up with a better answer than the manager working alone.  After all, the players are on the pitch and have the closest possible experience of what is happening.  Unlike other managers, Wenger does not assume his players are fools.

2: The players are much more likely to properly implement tactics that they have worked out themselves.  If a tactic is simply instructed, players may doubt whether it is right.  This often seems to be the case with Mourinho, who seems to get frustrated that his players don’t do what he has told them to.


So what do we conclude from all this?  Wenger did something unusual in talking about his tactics, and perhaps also something unusual in the way that he instructed Ozil.  I can think of three possible explanations:

  1. Actually Wenger quite often gives instructions like this, its just that we don’t hear about it.  Perhaps he was just over excited, or maybe he was a bit too pleased with himself for getting ‘one over’ Guardiola.
  2. He slightly changes his approach in big games like Bayern and becomes more likely to ‘instruct’ players.  If this was the case, you might imagine that such instructions might carry more weight with the players due to their rarity.  Ozil certainly did look like he was sitting deeper, as requested.
  3. Wenger is changing his approach.  This doesn’t necessarily mean a permanent change.  Wenger is a thoughtful man.  Perhaps he has just decided that this team needs to be managed in a slightly different way to some of the other teams that he has had.  Over the last few years, we have seen a lot of games where Arsenal dominate possession and still lose.  Maybe Wenger has lost faith in this group of players to work out their own problems and decided to give them a firmer steer than usual.

Whatever is behind the tactical choice that Wenger made, I am pretty sure that we won’t be hearing a lot of similar comments in the future.  Even if he has changed the way that he instructs his players, I am pretty sure that he will not be talking about it so openly again.  We were all on a bit of an adrenalin high at the end the Bayern game.  It was nice to get this unusual insight into Wenger’s tactics, but you can probably expect normal service to be resumed in the coming weeks.

More anniversaries for today

  • 26 October 1938: England beat the Rest of Europe 3-0 at Highbury on a Wednesday afternoon.  Early closing of the local shops allowed 40,185 to attend.  Hapgood and Copping played.  It was the second match to be shown live on British TV.
  • 26 October 1997: Arsenal complete a 12 game unbeaten start to the season with a goalless home draw with Villa,  12th league game of the 2nd Double Season    The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.

The campaigns

The Untold Books


41 Replies to “Hold the front page, Wenger is talking about tactics”

  1. Stupid to say that Arsenal sitting back against possession-wanting teams is new. I can list 15 matches from the last 5-8 years. But we actually lost a fair number of those games.

    All our games against Guardiola fit this bill. A few games against Dortmund as well. I remember a few against Man Utd as well.

  2. Interesting article.

    I think the key thing that needs to be borne in mind is that Arsene is continuing to evolve and improve as a manager.

    I believe that he has always used tactics, of one sort or another, when he deems it necessary.

    However, decisions about when to intervene, and when to let players work things out for themselves, are probably made with much greater care & attention than ever before, simply because the stakes are bigger these days.

    Getting the balance right between the two is crucial, and something that Arsene is very good at.

  3. Tim
    “It is very ‘unWenger’ to instruct a player in this manner. He usually likes his players to work things out for themselves within a structure. This quote however, suggests that he gave Ozil a very clear, almost ‘Mourinhesque’ instruction, which he expected Ozil to follow”

    I’m sorry but I get your point but can’;t agree Tim.

    The notion that Wenger doesnt tell players what to do is nonsense. They will be working most of the week to a plan and whilst this may be as a collective, there will also be instructions given to individuals. I know the media keep circulating this myth that wenger doesnt do tactics but it is absolutely tosh. For example; when he was fighting financially and was buying players who were not the finished article, he still managed to compete us competitive. So how do you do this if you have weaker players than the opposition? You do it by the tactics you employ and how those players adopt those tactics.

    The difference between Mourinho and Wenger is the rigidity in which tactics are applied. Mourinho is a defensive tactician. Arsene is an attacking tactician. As you say, Wenger allows players a degree of freedom in their play, because of the attacking nature of his play. Mourinho will inhibit his players more. It does not mean Wenger is less of a tactician.

    In my opinion Wenger is one of the greatest tacticians – despite what the media may advertise.

  4. A manager with more than 30 years in top flight management ,20 years at Arsenal and the players he hand picked , developed and trains daily are more than well attuned in tactics than those ostriches and so called experts who come up with stupid catch phrases .
    Their asses-ments may impress ‘them’ fools and underdeveloped minds , but doesn’t wash with those of us who know that AW knows what he is doing . A man so cultured , sophisticated and matured as him would really struggle to teach the brainless ones .
    I just sit in front of the tv and leave all fancy stuff up to him . Have in truth , not been disappointed so far !
    Up the Gunners ! AKB forever !

  5. @proudkev & Brickfields

    Agree with your comments.

    My view is that Wenger changes his tactics very frequently – but often in a subtle way and generally in keeping with his attacking philosophy.

    Only those who know little about football, but pretend otherwise, (or those with an aaaa agenda) state that AW does not “do” tactics.

    Hence, it is not really surprising that AW changed Ozil’s role against Bayern – but I suspect he changed a lot more than that without making a comment!

  6. Good post.

    Things are going really well at the moment and I for one think Wenger should be allowed to see out the remainder of his contract with the full support and above all respect from a united fan base. As a WOB for quite a while now I have come to the conclusion that things really are changing in a positive manner and to keep on insisting that Wenger needs to go as things stand is a bit foolish and will only serve to undermine the team on the pitch and would be counterproductive as I believe we have a genuine chance of winning the league this season. I’m a Le-Grove regular and have been saying the same there, and despite it’s reputation, Pedro’s been very positive lately about Arsenal’s performances and Wenger’s change in approach to tactics and rotation and that positivity is starting to filter through to the comments.

  7. What else did this media Didn’t speak about arsenal?because when it comes to Arsène & Arsena?they have been covering everything, from rumours, speculation, missing out,almost everything including which position we will be come next season? Remember before the season started they said without anew strike a holding midfielder and central defender we will struggle? What now mr magneto? Tacticks?after tactics what else?

  8. As a coach in various environments, such an article is music to my ears! I have read the excerpt in Tony Adams’ autobiography that you mention, but I would also that after this meeting, a slight change in formation was adopted where Overmars was pushed further forward to support Bergkamp and Anelka to create more of a 4-3-3 in attack which also contributed to the 10 wins in a row towards that season’s title.

    It is not the first time that Arsenal have held a meeting to address issues in the team where the players make the key decisions; I recall something similar in 2013 after the NLD defeat in February, when Per Mertesacker and the other defenders worked out a way to defend better as a unit in matches and not lose any offensive impetus – the team charged into a top 4 finish that season and sowed the seeds for the approach of the team in 2013-14 and which has resurfaced this season in particular (in some games we have ceded possession and counter-attacked very effectively).

    The problem in the British game is that when people hear that players implemented tactical changes with lower input from the manager, it is perceived as weakness and players walking all over you. In fact, it takes a manager of great courage and power to encourage the players to find out the solutions to their own problems; this ‘new’ style of coaching manifests itself in a set of qualifications that the FA introduced a few years ago called the ‘FA Youth Award’ modules.

    There are 3 modules: the first, entitled ‘developing the environment’, introduces the concept of setting up your sessions in such a way that learning becomes player-centred with little coach prompting in the old ‘command’ style, but instead uses guided discovery and trial and error for players to learn; the second is called ‘developing the practice’ – how do you design your practices in terms of size, equipment and player numbers to teach different attacking and defending principles?

    The third (and assessed) module is ‘developing the player’, where you apply what you have learnt in the first 2 module, your knowledge of the game and different coaching styles in a ‘whole-part-whole’ format (i.e. start with a game of football, then scale it back to develop a skill or a principle, and go back to a game at the end to see what has been developed and improved). Rather than tell the players what to do, you are encouraged to set challenges for players, units and teams, using the phrase ‘try to…’ do something as opposed to telling them what to do, and supporting this with relevant questions to make players think about the topic to be coached.

    A lot of professional club academies use aspects of these modules in their training sessions, and a lot of the content seems to be inspired by Arsene Wenger’s methods and delivery (players working out solutions for themselves, creating a positive learning environment, individual coaching, etc).

    Thus the explanation about Oezil’s role vs Bayern Munich is of interest, as he may have been guided into how he should play off the ball but not explicitly told to drop deeper to stop the ball moving between the lines.

    Wenger’s other great quality is to think laterally about player positions – note Henry the centre-forward, Lauren at right-back and not central midfield, Petit in central midfield, and, more recently, Santi Cazorla in front of the back four alongside Coquelin. I first saw this vs Stoke this January, and the more I thought about why he was deployed in central midfield, the more it made sense to me; Cazorla’s strong core, great balance, and technical ability to receive the ball under pressure and then get away from players, added to his passing range, make him the ideal central midfield player from deep, where a lot of teams try to press the defence and midfield without thinking about whether they may get the ball played around them by better technical players.

    He thus complements Coquelin’s game of intercepting, tackling and moving the ball quickly perfectly!

  9. What else did this media Didn’t speak about arsenal?because when it comes to Arsène & Arsena?they have been covering everything, from rumours, speculation, missing out,almost everything including which position we will be come next season? Remember before the season started they said without anew strike a holding midfielder and central defender we will struggle? What now mr magneto? Tacticks?after tactics what else?

  10. And on a side note – how great is it to see Maureen losing the plot? Loving it! My only fear is that he gets the sack and they appoint Guardiola as I feel he would be a great successor to Wenger when he retires.

  11. Another 2-1 to the Arsenal again tomorrow. Remember the Villareal game in 2006 CL semis? So when someone says Arsene does not do tactics, just pass him/her by.

  12. Tim,
    I thought this was a very thoughtful, insightful and balanced article. The widespread perception that Wenger ignores tactics? Well, there are many things we have to guess when it comes to his methods (you mentioned the analogy with the transfers), and given that subtlety is antithetical to most pundits, it´s no wonder he´s constantly shortchanged in the media (that Telegraph offering was rather good, though). I´ve always felt that Wenger´s holistic approach to life is that of an educator instead of a drill instructor, and that focus on organic growth (where, as the famous quote goes, the aim is to irrigate rather than cut down) is ultimately palpable on the field as well as the entire organisation. Vikrant Dogra´s fantastic comment also underlines the necessity of this philosophy for sustainable purposes, and how visionary it truly is.

  13. Vikrant.
    I too have experience of coaching and agree with a lot of what you say. I also agree with Brickfields.

    Questions: How many players has Wenger found and played ‘out of position’ like Henry, Lauren and more recently Coquelin. How many young players has Wenger given a chance to? How many managers have gone unbeaten during a season. How many managers have obtained consequetive top 4 finishes?

    Just one and he’s a tactical amateur…………?

    Do me a favour!!

    Thsi is where I get really frustrated with all these Fantasy Football Managers who try to argue Wenger is some kind of idiot. The opposite is true. Wenger sees things others do not.

    Thierry Henry owes his career to Wenger in my opinion. He was a winger, in fact played a lot of time as a wing back, certainly at Juventus. There is not a person on this earth who can convince me Mourinho is a better judge of players or better manager. Hes a cheque book manager, he couldnt develop a photograph.

    Any person who claims Wenger does not do tactics should stick to the Xbox, the Playstation and reading what is printed in the Sun or the Mirror. That’s there level. It is insulting that people with such little knowledge have convinced themselves they know better than Wenger. For years he developed players and made them better. For years he took a team of prospects and battled against teams filled to the brim with the finished article. He may not have won the title but he kept Arsenal competitive amongst the top 4. while selling players and while other teams spent £100 million each season. The irony of these critics condemning these players as hopeless but not being able to see what Wenger did with them. If these players were so hopeless how did Wenger over achieve with them? Luck? Great management? Well what is it because if the players are so bad and the manager so tactically inept, how was it achieved? Mourinho would never have kept them top 4, no way. He’ld spent his time insulting people, poking peoples eyes out and moaning endlessly he had no money to spend. He would have fked off back to his hole in the ground as soon as he was told he had to break even.

    The WOB’s and their mates in the media should hang their heads in shame. They insult Wenger at will because they judge HIM by what THEY would do. That is so funny, I cannot begin to tell you. This is a Manager who is owed SO MUCH by SO FEW yet ridiculed by SO MANY IDIOTS! Really winds me up all these clueless Fantasy Football Managers who say Wenger doesnt do tactics. Especially when they end up writing a blog and wear their stupidity like a badge of bloody pride, while being followed blindly by equally stupid people.

    Wenger doesnt do tactics? Oh pleeeeeeaaaaase throw away your Xbox…!!

  14. The biggest tactics wenger did in my opinion was to fit ozil and cazorla in the same team.

    Both being CAM or we can say both play at no 10 wenger made the master stroke of playing Cazorla alongside Coquelain as a CM who can dictate play from the middle of the park whilst Ozil playing in his natural no 10 role.

  15. This below is being noted as a repeat which it is not. By writing this I am hoping it will accept.


    Where Arsene goes the learners admire with awe.

  16. Rosicky@arsenal.
    Well said. Took a while for it all to gel but our record since January 1st is impressive. Cazorla has to rate as one of our greatest signings, what a player he is. His reading of the game and intelligence is second to none. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves, our media seem to prefer players who run around a lot with a scowl on their faces.

    How can any fan not love the way we develop players and play the game! I think we will all miss Arsene when he finally goes.

  17. Tim,
    With respect, you under-estimate the significance of the 1938 England v Italy international.
    No less than 7 Arsenal players played for their country that day. Moss, Male, Hapgood, Crayston,Copping,Drake and Bastin.
    Never happened before or since.

  18. Maybe Arsene Wenger made that particular point about Ozil to disprove the people who always accuse him of not doing tactics. I do think he sometimes gets fed up of the disrespect he gets from people who, as he has said, have managed zero teams.

    I think also, like other people, that he does have individual conversations with his players. In fact, in an interview published in the Telegraph, Theo Walcott relayed a recent conversation and the advice the manager gave him. Often the photos from the training ground also show him talking to individual players. I would think this was one of his strong points.

  19. Sitting back , absorbing pressure and playing on the break ? Nothing new there , my grandfather once told me that was how the “”Lucky Arsenal “” tag was born in the thirties.

  20. A few AAA out to click on the dislike button. Better than listening to them moan about Arsenal winning, I guess.

  21. Since the Tony Adams’ role in the so called ‘correcting’ the problem of the shielding midfielders , my take is that it was not so simple.
    It was apparent(at least to me !)that the English players in the squad were not too thrilled by the sudden influx of French players .I think that AW brought in about 6 French players at that time .
    I remember when the was open hostility within the team . In a particular game Lee Dixon was very pissed off and barged and pushed Gilles Grimandi , who appeared to taken aback.
    I think that more than defensive duties were discussed at that meeting .The peace pipe was probably smoked along with a few drinks and the team went from strength to strengh .

  22. Different strokes , –

    Three old ladies – Gertrude, Maude and Tilly, were sitting on a park bench having a quiet conversation.

    Suddenly, a handsome young man dressed only in a trench coat approached them from across the park. He was holding his coat together with his hands and didn’t seem to be wearing anything underneath it.

    The young man came up to the ladies, stood right in front of them and opened his trench coat in one quick motion.

    Gertrude immediately had a stroke.

    Seeing her friend’s reaction, Maude also had a stroke.

    But Tilly, bless her heart, being older and more feeble then her friends, couldn’t quite reach that far…

  23. Well, moving Ozil back a little was so obvious that he couldnt hide it anyway. May be it was one of those subtle in game management he does quiet often.

    Mr Wenger may not be one of those managers who does “tactics” from game to game. BUT to say he doesnt know/do tactics is,

  24. A Blonde Walks Into A Shoe Store.
    “How much for these shoes?” – she asked the store manager.
    “$200” – he replied.
    “That’s too expensive! Can’t you bring the price down?” – the blonde.
    The store manager said he couldn’t, and got irritated when the blonde persisted. Finally after arguing with her for awhile he said, “There’s a pond with alligators behind the store! Why don’t you kill an alligator and get your alligator shoes free?!” – he yelled.
    “Fine. I will.” – the blonde replied. After an hour, the manager got a bit worried that the blonde might have come to harm with the alligators. He decided to go out and check on her.
    When he arrived at the pond, he saw the blonde lugging a dead alligator and flinging it on the ground next to 6 other dead ones.
    Before he could ask what she was doing, she wailed “Oh my gosh! This one doesn’t have any shoes either!”

  25. The Wife’s Diary –

    Tonight, I thought my husband was acting strange. We went to a nice restaurant for dinner. I thought he was upset by the fact that I was a bit late, but he said nothing about it. I asked him what was wrong; He said, ‘Nothing.’ I asked him if it was something I had done. He said he wasn’t upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it. On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly, and kept driving. I can’t explain his behavior I don’t know why he didn’t say, ‘I love you, too.’ When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, and again he said nothing. He continued to seem distant and absent. Finally, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. He fell asleep – I cried. I don’t know what to do. I’m sure his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster.

    The Husband’s Diary: Boat wouldn’t start, can’t figure it out.

  26. @ nicky -October 26, 2015 at 9:36 pm – If I’m not wrong seven players were picked from Liverpool for England in 1977 . I ‘m not sure if all played ,as then there was only 2 substitutions per game.
    I remember that Ian Callaghan was called up to that squad after an absence of eleven years .
    The rest would have been from R.Clemence ,P Neal , E. Hughes, K. Keegan , T.Smith , R.Kennedy , T.McDermott and D. Johnson.

  27. Sorry , P.Thompson probably for D.Johnson who made his debut for England later.

  28. @Brickfields G,
    According to the back of my current Cornflakes packet, Liverpool and one of the Manchester sides once managed 6 but no-one has equalled Arsenal’s 7.
    (Playing the game at Highbury probably helped!) 😉

  29. I think the Ozil move stood out as I don’t think he usually restricts his most creative players like this. Many games we see a full back sitting a little tighter to the CB (Not that the pundits and/or simpletons notice) or the midfield being a bit more 1-1-3 rather than 2-1-2 (especially in attack) but that doesn’t usually change what the creative centre pin is asked to do. If Santi or Jack was to take that role then I think AW would usually just say ‘go out and create’ but when they aren’t in that role then they are given instructions.

    As for the ‘Adams’ quote, I think brickfields is 100% that was more about team building as AW (and his coaching staff) knew they had problems within the squad.

  30. You what I love.

    The sheer arroganace of fans and journalists who think they can criticise Wenger because he hasn’t done what ‘I’ would have done!

    You go on some blogs and you really do have to wonder why these students, benefit chasers, pen pushers and construction workers arent working in football professionally. I mean, they arent just tactical experts, they are fitness gurus, top coaches, scouts, football finance experts, contract negotiatiors and I could go on. They know everything! I have no idea why the Chariman and owners of clubs in la Liga, Serie A and even the Premier League arent head hunting these people. There is all this untapped talent residing on Wenger Out blogs and hiding in the offices of the media, its a wasted opportunity. These people would work for a lot less than Wenger, Mourinho or Klopp too.

    Anyone know why the top owners and chairman arent recruiting from the blogs and the offices of our media?

  31. GGG @ 1.55am
    That would be one of the self declared Groaning experts in the Sacred F’s (Football, Finance, Physiotherapy & Flatulance), the type that spend their time trolling most AFC blogs. Probably our old friend ‘Old Turdy’.
    What. A. Life!

    As for the tika-tactics?
    I’m most definitely no expert. It’s true AFC players have a little bit more freedom to act as men. A select few people have a big problem with that, most of that number are immature and ignorant football hacks, or aspiring hacks who like to brag about having a column in a rag that’s given away for free on the underground because no one will buy it (I suppose we all have our dreams…).

    But, if you watch the football one week to the next you’ll notice that on many occasions the same player playing the same position might be trying out or following a different set of instructions. Slightly different positions. On occasions you might see the same two wide forwards hug the touchline or not. I might not have a clue what’s going on or why they might be doing what they are doing, but I do notice that they are doing it!

    We are left with two conclusions regarding professional football hacks who have chosen to pretend that AFC “don’t do tactics”. One current meme is to pretend they only started “using tactics” away to City. We can conclude that this is gibberish, because it attempts to airbrush the results and games against Dortmund from our minds. However I enjoyed those encounters, I even remember Young Klopp talking about learning about some half-pressing type malarky off the Old Weng, something he might be thinking about again now he’s working amidst the hurly burly of the premier league.

    Two conclusions about these hacks and there hangers on:

    A) They are lying on purpose for whatever reason. Perhaps a reason related to their employers. After all, Newscorp is to Utd and the petro clubs as Marca is to Madrid.

    B) They are very stupid.

  32. Proudkev

    Apparently Gooner Tim Sherwood was a vocal critic of AFC on US broadcasters (the, um the lack of tactics?) before he took the plunge into management.

  33. Proudkev, that’s another myth that managers shouldn’t be paid the big salaries. I don’t know about everyone but most people would have very little respect for their boss if they knew that the boss was paid less than they are. Pay your No3 player 5m a year and see how he takes when his 2m a year boss tells him that he’s not earning his salary!

  34. The fact that AW plays the same way against different opponents with different players is tactical nous itself. He also experiments players in new positions and will see how it affects the team balance. He also successfully made Ozil drop deep and defend where Mour fail to do in Madrid. Who’s your daddy now?!

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