The Beginnings of an Idea

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I came to the conclusion recently that I’m in danger of becoming a football ‘hipster’ from my love of Borussia Dortmund and admiration of Marcelo Bielsa to my absolute certainty that Manuel Pellegrini will be a huge hit in Manchester I am a sucker for an interesting story. As such I’m sure that you can envisage my excitement when Barcelona appointed a relatively unknown Argentinian as their new coach, who is Gerardo Martino? Obviously I was aware of the excellent progress that Paraguay had made and their performance at the 2010 World Cup was excellent, I was also aware that Newell’s Old Boys were performing well both domestically and in the Copa Libertadores but I still knew relatively little about the coach responsible for both of these sides. As any other self respecting pseudo-hipster would I turned to the internet for my answer, during my reading I came across an excellent article by Euan Marshall over on his blog imagine my excitement then as I began to realise how closely linked Bielsa and Martino were! This burst of reading though as is so often the case led to a new tactical idea for my Football Manager save. The image towards the end of the article in which the system used by Bielsa at Newell’s in 1991 caught my eye, a 3-4-3 with a lot of vertical play from back to front. I started to picture a way in which I could build this idea in to a working Football Manager system, what would that look like though?

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System Analysis – 3-5-2

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This is the first in a new series of articles that I will be writing over the coming weeks. The plan is to take a system from within the game before running an analysis of that system. I will highlight the systems strengths and weaknesses of the system before adding a section on what I would do to counter that system should the AI be using it. All feedback on the concept is more than welcome.

I grew up in the 1990’s when Italian football was shown on British television with the seminal Gazzetta Football Italia being shown on our television scenes. Exposure to this more glamorous version of the game introduced a plethora of new tactical concepts from the high pressing defensive solidity of Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan side through to the tactical pragmatism of Marcello Lippi and his Juventus side. When we consider the modern Italian game there is one tactical trend that is spreading throughout Serie A as we see the resurgence of the three man defence. The most widespread system appears to be the 3-5-2 with most recent champions Juventus using the system for large parts of the season. The 3-5-2 is hugely adaptable with slight variations allowing for more offensive and defensive solidity whilst a positional change will lead to the system taking on more of a 3-4-3 look.

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