TALKING TACTICS: Wingers crucial in Howe system
SCOUT Phil Smith mulls over the options available to Burnley in terms of system and personnel, as the Clarets regroup during the international break.
4-4-2 appears to be the formation of choice for Eddie Howe.
However, with the personnel at our disposal, I cannot help but conclude that this system is a hindrance to the achievement of our squad.
It relies heavily on the wingers supporting the central two of Charlie Austin and Jay Rodriguez.
The acquisition of Junior Stanislas and Keith Treacy is evidence of the style of play Burnley sought to adopt this season.
It is evident that this particular tactic requires a sizeable goalscoring contribution from those selected out wide.
Ross Wallace has chipped in with a reasonable share of goals.
However, Stanislas and Treacy have failed to burst the onion bag as often as is needed in order for this formation to enjoy prolonged success.
Had Wade Elliott remained at Turf Moor, then the ability to mix up the style of play would have been an option for the manager, possibly from the bench.
His ability to deliver the ball from a deep position would have lightened the burden on his fellow wide men.
Marvin Bartley has been the surprise package of the season for me personally.
I came away from The City Ground in April, following his sending off, and debated whether he could cope with the step up in quality.
I am not ashamed to admit that I was totally wrong in my assumption.
He is our engine room.
Skipper Chris McCann is an automatic selection, and rightly so.
His form of late has been disappointing, but, on his day, would not look out of place in the Premier League.
The crux of the debate, however, is whether the two can operate together in a central midfield pairing of two.
I have to class both as a box to box midfielder.
Given the limited defensive responsibilities afforded to Stanislas and Wallace, it would be unthinkable to instruct both to push forward and join any offensive transition.
Any opponent would be able to slice through the defence like the proverbial knife through butter.
Some may suggest the possibility of instructing one to sit whilst the other pushes forward and vice versa. Why?
That would shackle their natural game.
There are only two midfield combinations which will work in a 4-4-2 – a goalscoring attacking midfielder and box to box tough tackler, or a box to box midfielder coupled with a holding player.
4-5-1 as a system has been mooted, but I have to class that as a non starter due to the likelihood of Rodriguez operating on the left.
The lack of a forward in the mould of Chris Iwelumo, who is able to shield the ball with ease, excludes this as a possibility for Howe.
4-3-1-2 can also be consigned to the dustbin as any formation designed to exclude wingers would be foolish given the quality in Stanislas, Treacy and Wallace at our disposal.
I still maintain that 5-3-2/3-5-2 is the way forward for Burnley Football Club.