Du Malone writes: In my previous post I outlined a tactic (in the sense of formation + player instructions) derived from Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan side.
The tactic was used with success in the 2021-22 season by Chernomorets Balchik in the Bulgarian First League. In the first (‘Preliminary’) stage, consisting of 26 matches, Balchik, in their first season in the top flight, finished sixth.
The league then split into two. Balchik went into the Championship stage, in which they played the top five teams twice each.
Here they ran into problems. In the first 7 out of the 10 matches, they picked up just 1 point.
A problem was that, ‘despite a ‘higher defensive line’ instruction, they kept getting pegged into their own half. When they won the ball they would, despite a ‘play form the back’ instruction, hoof the ball up to the strikers — who would either fail to receive the ball or fail to retain it. Back the opposition would come. It seemed that every time the game refreshed, they had a corner.
I felt the main problem was simply that the opposition’s teams were better: they had better players. Nevertheless, some attempts were made to ameliorate the situation through tactical tweaks.
For example, I tried reducing the gap between the strikers and the defence by changing ‘lower line of engagement’ to ‘much lower’. This did help to reduce the problems of distribution and retention a little, but with a cost: Balchik weren’t able to then push on to get anywhere near the opposition’s goal.
A difficulty here was the lack of vertical movement: Balchik didn’t have (say) a box-to-box or central mid attack.
I did toy with the ‘shorter passing’ instruction, but with little joy: rather as I feared, this revealed that, with an underpopulated central midfield, the defenders lacked sufficient passing options.
I therefore decided to try a positional change, switching the wide midfielder on the left to central midfield. This yielded the following formation:
I did this reluctantly because I had rather savoured the hipster quality of the previous formation.
The change did , however, improve, things. Balchik became less over-run. We drew our penultimate league game, then thrashed Farul Constantia in a friendly, and then beat Cherno More 3-2 in the final match of the season.
The football was a little less jazzy than before but remained, not least because of the underlying player instructions, aesthetically pleasing.
This mark 2 tactic is, therefore, the one that Balchik will begin the 2022-23 season with.
Next up: team instructions and set pieces.