TALKING TACTICS: Derby was a chance missed

Chris McCann
Chris McCann
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SCOUT Phil Smith ponders Saturday’s goal-less draw with Derby

“Sometimes when you come away from home it can be a negative 0-0.I didn’t think that was the case. We tried to take the game to Burnley.”

Do my eyes deceive me? The above quote from Derby County manager Nigel Clough is baffling, to say the least, and, if that is his honest assessment on the fixture, then me and him must have been at a different game. Nothing was created from open play, and they only threatened sporadically from a corner routine. They parked the proverbial bus, and the display cannot be separated from that seen against Coventry City, seven days earlier.

I informed that their deep line and lack of pressure would allow us to take the initiative, and 58% possession in our favour emphasised that this was certainly the case. Chris McCann (pictured) and Dean Marney distributed the play well on occasion, but we missed the drive of Marvin Bartley, and I would perhaps have introduced him earlier than the 71st minute.

If anything, the replacement of Bailey with Hendrick at the interval allowed our opponent to shade the second half, and Marvin could have nipped this in the bud.

Derby County are yet to concede in 2012, and Shaun Barker can be credited with allowing that run to continue.

He marshalled the defence superbly, and was never going to be beaten in the air, regardless of the challenge posed by inclement weather.

With Reading entertaining Hull City, we had a genuine chance to close the gap on the top six. Unfortunately, we squandered that opportunity, and this was certainly a case of two points dropped. We need a plan B against teams looking to avoid defeat, and this game falls into the same category as Portsmouth in December.

The response to my column over the weekend has been overwhelming. I would, of course, love to reply to each question individually, but time and space unfortunately dictate that this is not always possible. However, it is my aim to include one in these pages wherever possible, so please keep them coming in, and you may see your question answered in the Burnley Express!

“Is the 4-4-2 diamond formation an option? Chris McCann at the tip, with Martin Bartley at the base shielding the back four?” (Kev Daly)

If I answer this question in terms of our squad, I would have to say no, Kev. The width in this formation comes exclusively from the full backs pushing forward, and thus in a team blessed with several wide men, the system would hardly play to our strengths.

Jimmy Bullard played at the tip of the diamond for Ipswich Town back in November, and, as Paul Jewell found to his cost, the problem of a sole creative source is that it can easily be nullified. The Tractor Boys may have had a numerical advantage in midfield, but passing opportunities were limited because their system was simply too narrow.

All formations have a weakness, which is why I would not necessarily discount it based on its high vulnerability to width.

Knowing where a space is and exploiting that space are two entirely different scenarios altogether.

If we had a tough tackling trio in the centre, players in the mould of Seyi Olofinjana, then perhaps the diamond could work. If you are dominant in the centre then your lack of width is a manageable problem.

Ourselves, nor Ipswich Town possess such a player.

As a result, by instructing Stanislas and Treacy to play high and wide, their full backs were pegged in. Thus, Trippier was able to become an extra man in midfield, and enjoyed the freedom of Turf Moor!