@camydeaks21 discusses Rovers’ options for the team and the formations.
It’s been hard to know in the last few weeks whether Tony Mowbray (whom I’ll refer to as TM throughout this article) actually knows what his best team is.
He sings the praises of our star man on the right then doesn’t start him. He chops and changes the team and tactics throughout the game with questionable subs and plays players out of position constantly.
This can actually have good connotations, because it shows that places in the squad are very well contested, which is great. However, not having a solid idea of how you want your team to play could leave players confused and tactically naive. And don’t get me wrong I’m not questioning the tactical knowledge of our manager, however it does beg the question whether he is fully aware of how he wants to play?
I think that our main problem is that we don’t have a definitive formation. TM made a big point of strengthening our midfield with a lot of central biased players which we needed, however he still plays with wingers with the likes of Conway, Bennett and occasionally Caddis.
So th/e question is, what is the best formation which allows us to utilise as many of our best players as possible? Let’s look at a few options.
Towards the end of last season, this formation worked an absolute treat, it allowed us to keep players back to defend whilst also giving us options up top and width when we needed it.
But this season we haven’t used this once. This formation could be used with our 3 CBs Ward, Mulgrew and Downing holding the back line. Then we have options for wing backs – we could use either Bennett who has played there before, Nyambe for his pace or Caddis for his attacking qualities.
Then again we have opinions in midfield with Smallwood, Whittingham, Evans, Dack and Gladwin all available to play there, and then up top we have Samuel, Graham and Antonsson.
For me, this is a very strong formation for our team because it gets in a lot of our star men and gives everyone the support they need to play well. The downsides include that we are very vulnerable to counter attacks. That back 3 isn’t exactly fast and with our wing backs being used as wingers it’s not exactly ideal.
Keeps things simple, I’ve always been a fan of it, two solid banks of 4 with our best 2 men up top.
This also allows us to play Bennett and either Chapman or Conway and the regular back line. However, the problem then is we only have 2 central midfielders which means a lot of good players are left out. And also, from experience, it’s this formation that usually exposes us the most because out midfielders don’t get back to defend fast enough.
It has worked this season for Rovers.
Now this seems to be what Mowbray goes for. The usual suspects at the back. Smallwood and Evans in holding midfield. With Antonsson on the left and Dack in the middle – playing as a shadow striker.
This leaves Bennett on the right and Samuel up top. Now, on paper, this sounds good but it comes with it’s problems which we have seen too many times. Poor possession play, lack of support and simply not clinical enough up top. Samuel needs support and is Dack really playing in the right position?
Now, there are hundreds of possibilities: 4-5-1, 3-5-2, 4-1-2-1-2, etc.
But, which is the best for this league and which is best for us? At the end of the day, TM knows our players best but is he trying to suit our players to his desired formation or should he try and find a formation that suits our players? I think it should be the latter.