Early Doors

Tactics Bored: Reinventing the (Dairylea) wheel

Early Doors

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This week the proper teams played each other in the FA Cup.

None of this lower league nonsense for us any more, oh no. This is the sophisticated end of football.

As some have said - in a way that others might see as obnoxious and patronising - football statistics and analysis are like a seven-course fine dining experience, and things as basic as ‘goals’ and ‘fun’, well, they’re like ruining your regulation of insulin through the pancreas and liver, and are no more than cerebral fast food.

Tactics give you nourishment, and analysis is the flair in the kitchen. And so today, we feast.


The second Sunday FA Cup tie, televised on ITV, was between Shane or Keith from Boyzone and Tom Daley.

As those who watched will know, Tom Daley scored a late winner against Shane or Keith from Boyzone, meaning he stays in contention for the next round against Arsenal.

The tactical problem for Shane or Keith from Boyzone was that he did not invert his false nine, meaning that he wasn’t defensively disciplined enough, allowing the damage to be done in front of the back four as the midfield three were too busy pushing up against the opposition defence.

Had he inverted his striker then he would have had a man on screening duties, meaning playing between the lines would have been far harder, as the diagram demonstrates.


A lot of people have been posting pictures of midfielders in the middle of the, er, field, and shown how important they are to the team by drawing lines between all the players and the midfielder to make lots of triangles.

All this appears, superficially, to be fundamentally useless because you could do that with literally any midfielder in the world as long as they were in the middle of the, er, midfield. Phillippe Coutinho was last seen having this treatment done, here:

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But the problem is, this is plagiarism.

This was a method of analysis invented by the Kraft Food Company in the 1950s, and the tactical boffins now rip it off, uncredited.

It was originally invented to make food portable, but the implication was obvious - make Xavi the hub of your football team, and you too can live the American dream.

Don’t believe me? Take a look:

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There have been tactical and analytical discussions in the past on how best to win penalties. Obviously there is a conspiracy that Liverpool are fighting against that other teams don’t have to put up with.

The refereeing bias is why Liverpool have been awarded the most amount of penalties of any team in the Premier League. This is a crude smearing campaign from the referees and FA in order to make it look like they are favoured, when really it is to cover up all the times they don’t get penalties.

This could not have been more obvious at the weekend when Luis Suarez was plainly fouled in the area, right in front of Howard Webb, and yet Webb allowed play to continue instead of allowing Liverpool the chance to equalise.

This was plainly an incorrect decision from Webb, but tactically, it was Suarez’s fault he didn’t win one.

As Valeriy Vasylyovych Lobanovskyi said in the first volume of his Diaries (Sex, Lies and Videotapes of Philip Cocu), ‘If you are clearly fouled and then exaggerate it with a dive of such ludicrous proportions, don’t be surprised if the referee regards you with contempt and allows play to continue, you know, just like if exactly the same had happened at Stamford Bridge a couple of months ago, Luis.’

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The diving is tactically illiterate and that, as we all know, is the greatest crime of all.


Usually it is the hugely talented football writers who lead the way in pushing back the boundaries of football, analysis, statistical findings and tactical innovations - just look at central wingers and inverted liberos playing in front of false defenders who are in the four-and-a-half role either side of him.

None of those things would have been noted without football writers - just imagine what a world it would be.

But this week has provided a reminder that it is the fans who really lead the way in this, Liverpool fans especially.

Just remember, without Suarez and without Liverpool fans, we would not have such a wonderful understanding of Rioplatense Spanish coming from North-West England, superseding such nonsense 'academic' articles as this, this and this.

Truly, football is a world for social good, ridding racism one step at a time.


By Alexander Netherton - on Twitter @lxndrnthrtn

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