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Who Needs Wingers If Diamonds Are Forever
What Formation Should Villa Play?
It seems that an existing legacy from the MON era is that supporters really bought into the idea of playing with two wingers and talk throughout the recent close season was of trying to replace Ashley Young and Stewart Downing.
Downing and Young are indeed two quality players that Villa would probably have to break Lerners bank to replace but is it necessary to always try to play to the same system?
Mourinho had a team at Chelsea with great out and out wingers in Arjen Robben and Damian Duff but he proceeded to dismantle this already successful system and replaced it with one that was even better, without out and out wingers.
Chelsea may be an extreme example because of the Abramovich billions but the actual point is it is horses for courses and if you examine the personnel currently gracing the hallowed turf at B6 there is a case for using the idea of wingers as a back up plan B if the manager needs to change the team around.
I believe the diamond formation could be just what Alex McLeish needs to both improve the quality of the football and to increase the Aston Villa points tally.
In the games so far this season we look to have no cutting edge playing with a lone striker and with the form of Gabby threatening to steal Darren Bents goalscoring thunder, Villa just could have two 20 goal a season strikers on their hands. After Saturdays performance McLeish has to play these two together with Darren leading the line and Gabby playing the supporting role.
In every formation there will be winners and losers but what Villa players would benefit from using this formation and why?
Villa will never get the best out of Stephen Ireland playing with wide players whereas with Bannan tucking in on one side, Delph on the other and Petrov playing the holding role Villa seemed on Saturday against Wigan to have discovered a formation that looked more balanced than in any of the previous games this season.
Admittedly it was not perfect but I did see encouraging signs in Villas' play to warrant further use of this system. Delph frustrated me against Wigan as he showed some sublime touches but then a lack of concentration would see him needlessly give the ball away. The boy has talent which is plain to see but the fans must learn to be patient with the younger players and cut them some slack.
Barry Bannan is the player who will really benefit from this formation as the midfield is playing a lot narrower he will be involved in the creative aspect of the football a lot more giving him the opportunity to dictate games more, and yes he can really ping a pass.
Stephen Ireland is beginning to show glimpses of the precocious footballing talent we all know is there just waiting to be tapped into. He showed some magnificent touches at times against Wigan and he played some fantastic short balls as well.
Another player to benefit would be young Gary Gardner, giving him game time in a more narrow midfield diamond formation would be less of a risk for such a young player. I was really disappointed he did not make the bench against Wigan as I think that game would have been a perfect opportunity for him to gain Premiership experience.
Charles N'zogbia could easily play the role Stephen Ireland is playing so there would be cover in that position.
The player whose development will be hindered by this formation is Marc Albrighton as he is an out an out winger. He would be a very useful addition in certain games coming off the bench to change things around and would offer a genuine alternative instead of always swapping like for like.
Unfortunately sometimes sacrifices have to be made to achieve the greater good and I think this diamond formation is worth a shot.
The downside to this is that you need strong full backs when using this formation and Hutton is not filling me with confidence from what I have seen so far. I don't like to unjustifiably criticise any Villa player but I fail to see what he can offer that one of the youngsters like Chris Herd for example could not. In the next game against citeh, I think they will target Hutton as the weak link in our back four that their world class wingers can exploit.
Ireland was still guilty of a couple of wayward passes and indecision in his play at times when, if his confidence was high, he wouldn't hesitate to think about it and these mistakes we are seeing would suddenly turn into breath taking pieces of football.