GLF78 - Tommy has spotted a few changes in formation
Our match against Hearts at Fir Park saw something that doesn’t happen often in the SPL: the manager noticed that his original tactics weren’t working and changed formation.
We started off with a standard 4-4-2. The first half was evenly matched - Hearts had the better chances, Motherwell found it difficult to find a way through the opposition defence. Our forward line – Murphy playing off Higdon, Law on the left, Humphrey on the right – were well handled by a solid back four. Crosses from the wings were easy for their tall defenders.
After the break, the forwards were mixed up as we switched to a 4-2-3-1, Law attacking through the middle behind Higdon, Murphy on the left and Humphrey still on the right. Law’s influence grew and he made the telling pass to release Murphy for the game’s only goal. We dominated the latter stages of the match, showing the cute link-up play that has marked our excellent start to the season.
Of course Hearts were reduced to ten men five minutes after the interval, arguably having a great effect than any tactical changes. Having the extra man allowed us more time on the ball to probe for gaps at the back. Doesn’t matter. This game showed McCall is willing to change formation halfway through a game.
I can’t remember other managers doing much other than like for like replacements / throwing men forward / bringing on defenders to go forward / consolidate a result. Recent managers haven’t being prepared to make mid-game changes when things weren’t working out. In particular, Terry Butcher seemed steadfast in his refusal to mix things up, no matter what was happening on the pitch.
Our magnificent start to the season will end sometime but for the moment we can stand back and admire the attacking football. There seems to be goals coming from all areas. In six league games we’ve seen nine goals from six different players. In months to come when the injuries and suspensions build up I hope the forward fluidity can continue to reap reward. McCall’s tactical decisions will surely become more difficult as the depth of our squad tells.
Of course the manager’s tactical experiments don’t always work out. The most obvious example is last season’s Scottish Cup Final. There we played Hateley in central midfield alongside Lasley and Jennings. The move was probably an attempt to boss the centre of the pitch but it backfired leaving us impotent in attack. Disappointment isn’t a strong enough word for that game. Maybe such mistakes are the price of switching players round. Personally I’d rather have someone in charge willing to take risks with the formation than play a predictable 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 every time.
The Old Firm aside, we’ve shown that every team in Scotland is beatable. If our early season promise is to carry on we need to keep players fit, maintain our attacking threat and keep our good luck. We also need our manager to react to events on the pitch with tactical tweaks.
Back to GLF 78