A few short weeks ago in a post match interview Tim Sherwood suggested that he did not go in for complicated formations but allowed his players to go out and enjoy themselves – seemingly not too far different from the “Run around a bit” which was the supposed option of dear departed ´Arry.
Harry Redknapp was very adamant in his chosen use of two strikers and an almost rigid adherence to 4.4.2 – admittedly it served us well but the system was shown to be bereft of ideas when trying to break down strongly packed defences.
When the new era was ushered in under AVB, we all suspected that he would revert to his chosen 4.3.3 but, with the hand he was originally dealt, he had little option but to go for a 220.127.116.11 which yielded some success when utilised with the correct personnel and the correct attitude.
At the beginning of this season, Levy and Baldini bought into the supposed attacking philosophy that either 18.104.22.168 or 4.3.3 affords – bought in to the tune of around 110M to be precise – but whilst our flair players were to be seen in abundance, there was something lacking.
Surely they could not lack in belief in their own ability, surely they had not lost their flair overnight or were they simply being restricted in other ways. For all the attacking intent shown in team selection, players were not getting forward enough, were not getting into the box enough, were not scoring enough goals.
It was not about team selection, it was never about the formation, it was all about not allowing players to express themselves.
For his first seven games in charge as Head Coach at THFC, Tim Sherwood had reverted to the old tried and trusted 4.4.2, utilising Adebayor alongside Defoe and then Soldado and, the two cup defeats apart, it had worked.
But it wasn´t about the team or the formation – he had released his players from a mentality that was safety first, players were actively encouraged to get forward, get in the box and then other players would deliver balls for them to get on the end of.
But we were lopsided, especially when Eriksen was deployed as the wide left player. He tended to drift infield too much, leaving space on our left flank and exposing Rose – noticeable against Le Arse and in the first half against Palace.
The only time we haven´t won in the Premiership under Sherwood was at home to West Brom when we went with a midfield of Chadli, Eriksen, Holtby and Siggy – high on technique and skill – but low on strength, power and pace. The balance of the team was wrong, as it has been when Eriksen is deployed as a left winger.
Today Tim seemed to pick a side which was of the AVB mould – with the notable inclusion of Adebayor – but without a true recognised holding midfielder. Neither Dembele nor Bentaleb have the raw aggression and tackling of Capoue (yet again on the bench) let alone that of the Beast but with Eriksen playing centrally and relieved of wide defensive duties, we had more shape and with that more composure.
But did we simply revert to AVB´s 22.214.171.124 or was it something far more complex – or maybe – far simpler.
Without a recognised deep holding midfielder Swansea did get in between the defence and the midfield with Shelvey and Bony both getting on the ball and creating chances, they had more of the ball but when we had it we used it better.
Technical players like Dembele, Bentaleb and Eriksen looked comfortable when they had the ball, they could look up and find options ahead of them, Lennon and Chadli out wide and the always active Adebayor – having by far his best game for us in two seasons.
With pace coming from our full backs, both being given more than adequate support from their wingers for a change, we were able to get in behind them and create the chances and then score three times.
Were we playing 126.96.36.199? Was it 188.8.131.52? Or maybe 4.3.3?
For once I really do not care. We had ten outfield players all committed to the cause. They all knew what they were supposed to do defensively – something lacking recently – but were allowed to express themselves properly when we had the ball.
It certainly wasn´t “Run around a bit”. It was far more “Go out and enjoy yourselves”.
But as for the actual formation – whatever it was – who cares?
It was great to watch and it was a great win. A historic win – on so many levels – and long may that continue.