From January 2021:
Potter’s managerial style sheds light on a lot of Brighton’s strengths and weaknesses this season. Known to play an unconventional and progressive style of football, Potter is always asking more from his team. The underlying, most fundamental facet of his philosophy is adaptability. When he was at Swansea, Potter played ten different formations and the team ended up playing the most passes per 90 minutes in the Championship.
Something similar can be seen with Brighton too. Unlike other lower half teams, they believe in keeping the ball and trying to create fluidly from back to front. It’s pretty evident that the players have had intense training with regards to staying composed on the ball and looking for more forward passes as and when they have the chance to. Potter’s side have shown glimpses of this in a few games this season, namely ones against Manchester City and Leeds United. Although it has yet to excel, the signs seem to be convincingly positive.
As an adaptive coach, Potter likes to set up his team so as to match the opposition. Seemingly, in their last three league matches, Brighton have played a 3-4-1-2, a 4-1-2-1-2 and a 3-4-3 formation respectively.
Having said that, Brighton usually tend to use a flexible 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation, with their wing-backs playing a crucial role in both attack and defense. Out of possession, they defend in a 5-2-3, with the wing-backs dropping alongside the central defenders to provide defensive cover. If the back five stay disciplined and in position, it becomes almost impossible for the opposition to penetrate them.
The reason why Brighton still end up conceding can be traced down to momentary lapses of concentration at the back. If their wing-backs get caught high up, it exposes the centre backs because the opposition can create chances in the time the wing-backs take to recover. This season, they have also been unfortunate at times with injuries to the likes of captain Lewis Dunk and Tariq Lamptey. Their absences have impacted them adversely, leading to a concession of more goals.
NUNO ESPIRITO SANTO
NB This excerpt is from a few years back
Espírito Santo is among a select group of managers who can effectively adapt their style depending on the opponent. It’s exactly why the top dogs find them difficult to take on. Remember, they bundled Liverpool out of the FA Cup.
Nuno’s system worked wonders in the Championship last season – they seemed a step too good for that League all year… It has continued to carry Wolves through the top tier.
The 45-year-old tactician favours the 3-5-2 formation. It gives Wolves solidity at the back with three centre-halves vigilantly guarding the backdoor and two wingbacks shuttling down the flanks. In midfield, Wolves are thick as thieves, marshalled by the intelligent Moutinho, who by the way is a stellar signing, alongside fellow Portuguese Ruben Neves. Not the point here, but who else notices the increasing number of Portuguese nationals in that Wolves team?
Nuno has somehow managed to build a strong partnership between his top two strikers – Diogo Jota and Jimenez have produced a combined 18 League goals this term. They’ve helped each other to the Wanderers last three League goals.
ERIK TEN HAG
Ten Hag predominantly uses a 4-2-3-1 formation, having used this in 84.5% of games over the last two seasons, however, a 4-3-3 has also been used on occasion.
With an overall win percentage of 73.27% and an overall goal difference of +192 from 101games as Ajax manager. It is fair to say ten Hag’s philosophy has created an Ajax side that are a successful attacking outfit.
Ajax build up patiently from the back with both centre-backs and a pivot creating a triangle, and engaging in a variety of interchanges between them as well as rotating positionally to build play and help break the initial press. This back three encourage the opposition to push forward and engage, opening up spaces in more attacking areas for them to play into. It is often the case in the Eredivisie where Ajax face sides operating defensively in a low block, so ten Hag looks to bring this forward. They are used to having large periods of possession in the Eredivisie, and have averaged 64.3% of possession in domestic games so far this season – a league-high, as well as making 582 passes per game.
Both Lukaku and De Bruyne have criticized the tactical shape Belgium has taken in the past. After drawing against Mexico in 2017, De Bruyne decided to speak out publicly:
“Mexico were tactically better,” De Bruyne said. “As long as there is no good tactical system we face difficulties. It’s a pity we have not yet found a solution. We are playing a very defensive system, but our team is filled with many attacking players.”
Lukaku has also said he would prefer a more direct style of football as well. Martinez has explained his system saying they like to be fluid from a 5-3-2 to a 3-4-3 system as it “helps the front players have with Kevin, Hazard, and Lukaku.”
Martinez is known for his possession style of play with a mind for attack, citing inspiration from Johan Cruyff. His time at both Wigan and Swansea was hyper-focused on ball retention, at times bordering on conservative. Martinez has gone full seasons never dipping below 50% ball retention. Harry Winks would be thrilled.
So, Oeufers, who is your preferred candidate for our real world situation (Levy, Paratici, current squad, lack of funds etc etc)…and why?