Date: 7th July 2014 at 7:24am
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The fourth instalment of Vital Liverpool’s latest serialising of editor Gavin John Day’s acclaimed Clear As Day football column…

During the course of the past season Vital Liverpool editor Gavin John Day has continued to pen his monthly Clear As Day column for LFC fanzine Anfield Roar.

With the campaign now over we are delighted to be able to share these articles with you and will be publishing the series at regular intervals over the coming weeks.

In this instalment, the fourth Clear As Day of the 2013-14 season, Gavin looks at the pros and cons of the 5-3-2 system.

Clear As Day 2013-14 #4
Originally published: November 2013

There are two distinct ways to approach implementing styles, tactics and formations in football; adapt or amend the players at your disposal to the requirements or alter the requirements to suit the players.

Of course there are numerous variants of each facet but managers, especially when new to a club, constantly assess the suitability of their squad to play a certain way.

Most managers are synonymous with a particular approach, whether it be direct and physical or short and technical, but sometimes the personnel at hand are just not conducive to fulfilling their intentions.

Given winning is the be-all and end-all, the majority of managers are magnanimous enough to forgo their principles from time-to-time and find a compromise which can best achieve the fundamental aim of picking up three points.

It might be a short-term solution, until they can bring in new players or to counteract a specific opponent for example, but being able to adapt to the situation presented is a big part of building a successful football club.

Although Brendan Rodgers has in no way budged from his original philosophy for pressing the opposition and retaining possession, the recent adoption of a 5-3-2 formation certainly passes the adaptability test.

Since implementing the formation instead of his favoured 4-3-3, following the 1-0 loss at home to Southampton, results and performances were a quantifiable success, until the recent defeat to league leaders Arsenal at least.

The big benefit of the formation is that it stretches the width of the play but in a manner that still leaves you with plenty of players in key central areas.

On the negative side though, it relies heavily on good communication, especially at the back, and can be self-destructive when faced with certain opposition line-ups.

Chief of which, ironically, is a 4-3-3 that utilises one main striker supported by wide attacking players; a system not too dissimilar to the approach Rodgers usually takes.

Coincidently that is also exactly how Arsenal operated with Olivier Giroud up top and support coming from the likes of Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla.

At the Emirates the back three, faced with only one forward, had no idea who to pick up and Arsenal’s midfield ruthlessly exploited the uncertainty, in addition to the space in behind wing-backs Jon Flanagan and Aly Cissokho.

The Reds did of course subsequently bounce back emphatically with a return to both winning ways and Rodgers’ original tactics, in the 4-0 victory over Fulham.

Presumably, as a result, 5-3-2 will now revert to little more than a backup plan but there were two obvious reasons for bringing the formation, not seen regularly at Anfield since the days of Roy Evans’ stewardship, out of retirement:

1. The desire to get Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge to function more as a partnership up front rather than one playing from a wider, or deeper, area.

2. To utilise the increased strength and depth the squad now has in the centre-back department.

Regardless of formation, the Reds will go into the first Merseyside derby of the season this weekend with confidence soaring.

Rodgers’ men are currently riding high in second spot but the blue half of the city are also enjoying an impressive campaign under new boss Roberto Martinez.

Martinez, who was heavily linked with the Anfield vacancy last summer, shares many similarities with Rodgers and it will be intriguing to see which side comes out on top at Goodison Park.

Both men are 40, previously enjoyed spells honing their skills at Swansea City and employ an aesthetically pleasing brand of possession-based, short passing.

So far they have locked horns on five occasions in their respective careers and Rodgers is yet to lose with four wins and a draw.

Hopefully that record will remain intact come the final whistle on Saturday!

Liverpool fanzine Anfield Roar is a FREE monthly publication bringing LFC fans a plethora of news, views and opinion. Click here to find out more and to subscribe…

Previous articles in this series
Clear As Day Issue 1
Clear As Day Issue 2
Clear As Day Issue 3

Clear As Day Issue 1
Clear As Day Issue 2
Clear As Day Issue 3
Clear As Day Issue 4
Clear As Day Issue 5
Clear As Day Issue 6
Clear As Day Issue 7
Clear As Day Issue 8
Clear As Day Issue 9

Follow Gavin on Twitter @superbag

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