Gus Poyet

Brighton's new stadium, Falmer, East Sussex.

Brighton & Hove Albion will be the highest ranked side in the competition when the FA Cup first round draw takes place tomorrow afternoon. Topping a tight League One table by three points, things are looking good for the Seagulls right now.

Although the club is yet to grace the Premier League (they last appeared in the top flight 27 years ago), a more hankered after milestone occurs next July when the 22,500 all-seater site at Falmer opens.

On the pitch, Albion have lost just 14 of the 49 games played under Gus Poyet – no mean feat considering the former Chelsea midfielder has changed the club’s footballing philosophy in the process.

I met with the South American on a nippy morning earlier this week. Well, I thought it was nippy anyway… Poyet was in his shorts. “My mind is always on the football,” he says.

Poyet is one of just two managers from the Americas currently working in the Football League* (Try and guess the other before you finish reading. I’ve put the other manager’s name at the bottom). Continue reading

Thirty-two tastes of tactics

Marcelo Bielsa, Chile coach at World Cup 2010

Listing catch-all formations runs the risk of disengaging the context in which they were used.

Nevertheless, this is generally more applicable to the club game, but international managers must foist an unconditional style upon their sides.

Infrequent contact and matches mean training camps focus upon reacclimatising to the coach’s methods: there’s just too little time before games to adequately prepare new, finicky masterplans.

The World Cup, where opponents are often discovered several days before the encounter itself, illustrates the difference between the international and club game.

Based on World Cup 2010, I’ve captured the essence of each national team’s current tactics and formation. Here are my attempts to encapsulate the findings in browser-friendly pen profiles. Continue reading

Introduction of Cavani a tactical masterstroke

Edinson Cavani

Diego Forlán is the poster boy for Uruguay’s successful campaign in the World Cup, and perhaps justifiably so. On the march to the second round, the former Manchester United striker has steered La Celeste to seven points, four goals, and none conceded.

Yet had coach Óscar Tabárez not implemented adjustments in the wake of that 0-0 with France, Uruguay would likely be on the plane home.

In that game, Uruguay looked empty down the right, and Patrice Evra attacked at will. With Ignacio González as trequartista, and Forlán and Luis Suárez high and horizontal, the South Americans floundered.

Realising his tactics were wrong (but saved from defeat by French incompetence), the former Milan manager identified and addressed the issue.

For the encounter with hosts South Africa, Tabárez included Edinson Cavani, the Palermo marksman, part of a partnership with Fabrizio Miccoli at club level, put out on the right of midfield. Continue reading