The question we all asked last year was simple, where is our plan b? The answer was as straight-forward as it was simple, no. Garry Monk wasn’t willing to try and Thomas Christiansen is now being asked the same question after a very good start. We have gone slightly off the rails but not far enough where optimism should be affected.
At Sheffield Wednesday I wanted to play a 3-4-3 formation which can also move into a 5-4-1 when we are defending. After Cardiff we were vulnerable and Sheffield Wednesday took advantage of us. Defensively we were shocking and going forward predictable. We need to shake things up at times and the question has to be, do we have the players to change things and be successful and the answer is simple again, yes, in my opinion we have them at our disposal. We have players who can play in various roles and adapt and flourish and you don’t need to look any further than two international wingers, one of whom was part of a Macedonia side who drew at Italy last night, playing wing-back.
Gjanni Alioski and Stuart Dallas are the pair I look at straight away when I think of a pan b in terms of formation. If both were played in the wing-back roles that means no full-backs. Tuck Luke Ayling into a right-sided centre-back in a three along with Pontus Jansson and naturally left-footed Liam Cooper on the left you have a solid back five when defending. Cooper and Ayling can cover the channels if a counter attack is happening and out of possession the wing-backs would drop in and do that job. Two central midfielders would continue but perhaps a change in personnel is in the pipeline anyway after some poor displays from those in that position, Ronaldo Vieira would add the steel in that area which isn’t necessarily a plan b, but just something required on certain days at this level.
Moving forward you could free up another to help Samu Saiz creating because although he is now the main man he needs help when he is struggling, which in all fairness isn’t that often. If Kemar Roofe or Pablo Hernandez played in behind with Saiz they can drift wide, drop in the hole and support the striker who would probably always be Pierre-Michel Lasogga. It frees the pair up to roam and do what they are best at and going forward both Alioski and Dallas are more than capable of supporting, making it a front five at times. The pair have the energy to get up and down the flanks and go for the majority of the game. Formations are often discussed, many have scrapped any form of the 4-4-2 yet Sheffield Wednesday did it, with a big and little man up front and destroyed us, so ruling that out isn’t wise. We do have the players and we do have the time to try new things, hopefully we have the answers to the last few games before the break.