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Offline ZANDOLIE

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The Evolving Midfielder Role
« on: February 06, 2011, 11:48:18 PM »
Interesting article, especially since 3 of our boys could end up playing in Colorado


Armchair Analyst: The evolving MF roles
D-mid or holding? Bradley, Mastro & Co. are changing perceptions

Matthew Doyle MLSsoccer.com February 4, 2011
(MLSsoccer.com Editorial Staff))

 What’s a “holding” midfielder? I’m not really sure. To be honest, I don’t think anyone is.

The term is applied pretty liberally across the board. Is it Andrea Pirlo? Is it Michael Bradley? Is it Osvaldo Alonso?

It can’t — it really can’t — be all three. They’re vastly different players who excel in different areas of the field, yet all three are commonly referred to as “holding” midfielders.

Soccer, you see, needs new words. And it’s all Carlo Ancelotti’s fault.

The problem goes back to Pirlo, who was the canary in the coal mine. The AC Milan and Azzurri star was hard to peg early in his career, bouncing around Italy without a permanent home at a club or on the pitch. Finally, he settled into the Milan lineup at the ripe old age of 22.

Not one of his managers, at that point, could figure out quite what to do with him. They didn’t know what he was, how to play him on the field or who to put around him. They just knew he was talented.

Then Ancelotti, now fighting for his coaching life at Chelsea but forever a legend with Milan, had a “eureka” moment: He’d move Pirlo to the spot just in front of the central defense — a spot then occupied almost exclusively by the “defensive midfielder” — and ask him to make plays from there.

Ten years later and most of the footballing world has caught up to the shift in tactics. Both MLS Cup finalists last year used a tactical approach similar to that of Ancelotti’s Milan, as have with countless other teams from Manchester United to die Mannschaft.

But while the game has evolved, terminology we use to describe that shift has barely changed at all.

Pirlo is described, rather clunkily, as a “deep-lying playmaker” or, frustratingly, as a holding midfielder (which means nothing). Ten years ago positions were more rigid and defined: Didier Deschamps was the defensive midfielder, Zinedine Zidane was the attacking midfielder. Deschamps hardly ever had work to do in the attack while Zidane was freed of defensive responsibilities.

Now, we call a player like of Gennaro Gattuso a "defensive midfielder," even though he almost never plays that position. Instead he prowls deep into the midfield of his opponent, trying to force turnovers that his more skillful teammates can turn into chances.

The fact that those skillful teammates are largely deployed on the wing nowadays is a testament to how effective the Deschampses and, if you want to keep it MLS, Chris Armases of yesteryear were at winning the “d-mid vs. a-mid” battles. The a-mids had to get out of the middle of the pitch in order to find space to operate.

The Gattuso role now requires an extraordinarily high level of stamina and range, because you have to be able to cover from box-to-box and touchline-to-touchline for 90 minutes. This is why the term “holding” is so badly misused. It’s also why Bradley is so effective in the spot: He has superhuman stamina, as his heat maps from last summer’s World Cup can attest.

Bradley is part of a new wave of these “disruptors” who’ve even added a facet beyond what Gattuso brought: finishing.

Earlier this week, Sounders manager Sigi Schmid told reporters that Brad Evans, when healthy, plays the Gattuso/Bradley role in Seattle:

"One of the other MLS coaches who's a friend of mine, one of the first things he said when we saw each other was, 'Do people realize how much you miss Evans? He has the ability to make those late runs in the box, which are so hard to defend,'" Schmid said. "I said, 'I don't know if everybody realizes that.'"

In MLS, the change in tactics is embodied in the career of Pablo Mastroeni. The Colorado Rapids man was long a US national team stalwart as a d-mid, the Deschamps of the Red, White and Blue, a position he played at the club level as well.

Until 2010.

Take a look at the graphic at the top of the page.  (http://www.coloradorapids.com/news/2011/02/armchair-analyst-evolving-mf-roles) This past year, Colorado Rapids coach Gary Smith had Jeff Larentowicz (No. 4) play the Pirlo role, a “deep-lying distributor,” while Mastroeni (No. 25) was pushed higher up the pitch. Instead of shielding the back line, as he’d done most of his professional career, Mastroeni spent much his time 50 yards or more from his defenders.

His ability to cover ground frees up the fullbacks – most notably Anthony Wallace (No. 6) to push fully into attack. It also allows room for wide midfielders Jamie Smith (No. 20) and Brian Mullan (No. 11) to press inside in possession, giving the Rapids an unpredictable element in the final third.

Mastroeni is still called a d-mid by most, but that’s clearly not what he does anymore. His high pressure creates turnovers, but not the classic “turnover from a tackle.” Instead, the focus is in forcing bad passes that lead to interceptions, the most effective way to start the break.

Anyone who remembers the Rapids playoff performance is nodding right now. From 2002, when he joined the Rapids, to the end of 2009, Mastroeni had two goals in all competitions for his club. In 2010 alone, he had three. He also had three assists and could have had another early in the Cup when he put Mullan through on goal off – yes – a turnover.

OK, so Mastroeni’s not exactly a scoring machine. But that three goal tally wasn’t insignificant, especially since those late runs into the box opened up space for the rest of the attack even when he wasn’t scoring himself, and because those intercepted passes were the lifeblood of Colorado's offense.

So ... is he a d-mid? Is he a holding mid? Is he simply a central midfielder? And what are Pirlo, Gattuso, Bradley et al?

Right now, we just don’t have the words to say.

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Offline MEP

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2011, 11:00:33 AM »
If the author is not sure what a holding mid is then he doesn't have a clue about the sport...Three names Essien, Yaya Toure and Song maybe he should watch them play and then he'd get a clue about  the role of the hold mid. Bradley???? he's just trying to iconosize a player of slightly more than average ability.

Offline spideybuff

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2011, 11:35:59 PM »
If the author is not sure what a holding mid is then he doesn't have a clue about the sport...Three names Essien, Yaya Toure and Song maybe he should watch them play and then he'd get a clue about  the role of the hold mid. Bradley???? he's just trying to iconosize a player of slightly more than average ability.

U illustrate the man point perfectly actually with the three names u call. Makelele is a holdign midfielder because he "holds his position in front the defence". The three names u call go box-to-box in addition to winning tackles and forcing turnovers. I still call them a defensive midfield but in Essien and Yaya Toure in particular, they are always surging forward to join the attack. John Obi Mikel and to a lesser extent Nigel De Jong are more holding midfielders on those respective teams. But De Jong is more a Gattuso type than a Makelele type.
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Offline MEP

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2011, 09:44:37 AM »
But they are still holding mids because their primary job is to win the ball defensively and then generate the attack..don't get caught up in semantics breds..

Offline ZANDOLIE

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2011, 11:33:54 AM »
But they are still holding mids because their primary job is to win the ball defensively and then generate the attack..don't get caught up in semantics breds..

Its one thing to win the ball defensively, but I think the author is trying to say the  'generating the attack' part is much more complex. 


I don't watch as much foreign football anymore so I'll use local examples. Densil Theobald put on a masterclass display in 2007 Digicel Cup as a deep lying holding mid that had one role. Attack, strip the opponent and make a short pass to the nearest teammate. He hardly generated attack. A year earlier Yorke was in the same position, a tough tackling deep lying mid that but his abilities allowed him to initiate offensive plays from well within the T&T half.


Then you have men like Toure who can win a ball and outrun an entire team to get into position not to just generate attack but score from the very play he started. But men like that are a breed apart, and not every club team or world cup nation  has individuals capable of that. And some systems need them, some don't.

Case in point. Latapy had T&T creating from the edge of the upper third moving toward the centre. Part of the reason that strategy failed was we had nobody who could fulfill that hard driving b-to-b role neccessary to make that system work. Trent noel was too old, Leon was not able...The closest we have had to that was Whitley or maybe Hyland and they were absent.

Its not a question of just winning the ball and attacking, that is a staring point.  It's about fitting the right person with the right attributes into the system and have them know exactly how to execute a specific role.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 11:38:41 AM by ZANDOLIE »
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Offline Jay10

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2011, 12:10:35 PM »
But they are still holding mids because their primary job is to win the ball defensively and then generate the attack..don't get caught up in semantics breds..

Its one thing to win the ball defensively, but I think the author is trying to say the  'generating the attack' part is much more complex. 


I don't watch as much foreign football anymore so I'll use local examples. Densil Theobald put on a masterclass display in 2007 Digicel Cup as a deep lying holding mid that had one role. Attack, strip the opponent and make a short pass to the nearest teammate. He hardly generated attack. A year earlier Yorke was in the same position, a tough tackling deep lying mid that but his abilities allowed him to initiate offensive plays from well within the T&T half.


Then you have men like Toure who can win a ball and outrun an entire team to get into position not to just generate attack but score from the very play he started. But men like that are a breed apart, and not every club team or world cup nation  has individuals capable of that. And some systems need them, some don't.

Case in point. Latapy had T&T creating from the edge of the upper third moving toward the centre. Part of the reason that strategy failed was we had nobody who could fulfill that hard driving b-to-b role neccessary to make that system work. Trent noel was too old, Leon was not able...The closest we have had to that was Whitley or maybe Hyland and they were absent.

Its not a question of just winning the ball and attacking, that is a staring point.  It's about fitting the right person with the right attributes into the system and have them know exactly how to execute a specific role.

The only thing wrong with your example is that Theobald does not tackle  ;D

Offline ZANDOLIE

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2011, 12:17:25 PM »

The only thing wrong with your example is that Theobald does not tackle  ;D

 :devil: :devil: :devil:

Believe it or not the man rest down some serious blade with he magga self! Since then...I don't think he pelt a tackle since 2007

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Offline lefty

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2011, 12:33:30 PM »
But they are still holding mids because their primary job is to win the ball defensively and then generate the attack..don't get caught up in semantics breds..

Its one thing to win the ball defensively, but I think the author is trying to say the  'generating the attack' part is much more complex. 


I don't watch as much foreign football anymore so I'll use local examples. Densil Theobald put on a masterclass display in 2007 Digicel Cup as a deep lying holding mid that had one role. Attack, strip the opponent and make a short pass to the nearest teammate. He hardly generated attack. A year earlier Yorke was in the same position, a tough tackling deep lying mid that but his abilities allowed him to initiate offensive plays from well within the T&T half.


Then you have men like Toure who can win a ball and outrun an entire team to get into position not to just generate attack but score from the very play he started. But men like that are a breed apart, and not every club team or world cup nation  has individuals capable of that. And some systems need them, some don't.

Case in point. Latapy had T&T creating from the edge of the upper third moving toward the centre. Part of the reason that strategy failed was we had nobody who could fulfill that hard driving b-to-b role neccessary to make that system work. Trent noel was too old, Leon was not able...The closest we have had to that was Whitley or maybe Hyland and they were absent.

Its not a question of just winning the ball and attacking, that is a staring point.  It's about fitting the right person with the right attributes into the system and have them know exactly how to execute a specific role.

dat not necessarily true latapy simple refused to trust d fellas that were capable, when it mattered, cant remember the middle pair that started the Haiti game, but they were doing what was required.... hustling and pushing up when the opportunity presented, Latapy suffers from what alot of trini suffer as they get older themselves, a distinct lack of confidence in youth or is it a fear of risk..........but our failing at the digicel cup was a distinct lack of enterprise in the middle............ any combo of Leon, Noel and Theobald should never be in d TT middle at d same time.............and I stand by dat
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 12:47:11 PM by lefty »
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Offline ZANDOLIE

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2011, 01:06:00 PM »
Maybe in some games that were a bit easier Noel, Leon could move b-b. but that was the exception rather than the rule.  What we consistently acked in Latas system was a strong ball winner that could move up to support the attack.

To be fair the nature of the system gave the opportunity for players like jovin jones who like to cut inside from the periphery to step up and shine, and the Rapids brass obviously noticed how well he fits in well with the style they employ.

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Offline lefty

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2011, 03:39:46 PM »
Maybe in some games that were a bit easier Noel, Leon could move b-b. but that was the exception rather than the rule.  What we consistently acked in Latas system was a strong ball winner that could move up to support the attack.

To be fair the nature of the system gave the opportunity for players like jovin jones who like to cut inside from the periphery to step up and shine, and the Rapids brass obviously noticed how well he fits in well with the style they employ.



Ok looked it up Theobald and Hughton Hector were the middle men , hughton was very mobile closing down the haitian which I suppose gave Theobald ah little more confidence to push up and spray passes around, either way, I as ah coach see dat an' clyde Leon and Noel was benchin' , ah mean yuh middle attackin, defendin and controllin d show.... one score twice..ah tink............an' yuh go put ole man trent and no brains Leon in what ah blind mole rat with cataracts in both eyes coulda see was ah stagnant useless middle..........steups.................it does still baffles me dat such ah dynamic midfielder like Latapy in he day couldn't see dat simple ting ???
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Offline Big Magician

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2011, 06:09:59 PM »
Latapy suffers from what alot of trini suffer as they get older themselves, a distinct lack of confidence in youth or is it a fear of risk.

yuh sure bout that Lefty ???
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Offline lefty

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2011, 06:43:22 PM »
Latapy suffers from what alot of trini suffer as they get older themselves, a distinct lack of confidence in youth or is it a fear of risk.

yuh sure bout that Lefty ???

I stand by that statement..........yes he introduce some good young talent.........but den proceeded to sit them on d bench, use them sparingly or haphazardly when it truly counted.

again trent and clyde was not THE middle (ah sober assessment of the preliminary games would have told you dat) but somehow they was his preffered middle, anthony wolfe at right back when Kern Cupid coulda handle d scene.............wolfe didn do ah bad job, jus not d first option for me, these are d SENIOR men and it would seem were given preference based on that alone
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 08:54:49 PM by lefty »
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Offline Big Magician

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2011, 07:33:58 PM »
cool
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Offline jai john

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2011, 08:46:30 PM »
Amazing how Theobald name does call in football discussions ..well yes !!
Man forgetting Jean tigana .... No Tigana ...No platini !! If a football critic is unsure what a defensive midfielder does or what a holding midfielder does he should go to football games to be enlightened. He will notice that all the players are not doing the same things ... some people have to submit a story a week ..it is not easy ..one has to look for stories sometimes 

Offline just cool

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Re: The Evolving Midfielder Role
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2011, 09:56:05 PM »
Maybe in some games that were a bit easier Noel, Leon could move b-b. but that was the exception rather than the rule.  What we consistently acked in Latas system was a strong ball winner that could move up to support the attack.

To be fair the nature of the system gave the opportunity for players like jovin jones who like to cut inside from the periphery to step up and shine, and the Rapids brass obviously noticed how well he fits in well with the style they employ.



Ok looked it up Theobald and Hughton Hector were the middle men , hughton was very mobile closing down the haitian which I suppose gave Theobald ah little more confidence to push up and spray passes around, either way, I as ah coach see dat an' clyde Leon and Noel was benchin' , ah mean yuh middle attackin, defendin and controllin d show.... one score twice..ah tink............an' yuh go put ole man trent and no brains Leon in what ah blind mole rat with cataracts in both eyes coulda see was ah stagnant useless middle..........steups.................it does still baffles me dat such ah dynamic midfielder like Latapy in he day couldn't see dat simple ting ???
Sense.

in addition to that, ah don't quite understand what the past two most recent coaches saw in leon that he featured on the national team like clock work. he was like what lampard is to chelsea, spot secure.

ah hope the next coach who ever he is, don't go gaga for this dude, or like you said "no brain" boy.
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