When we are not complaining about Newcastle on Twitter, the CHN Radio staff spends our free time talking about absolutely nothing in our Slack™ channel or roasting Bryan for his bad sports takes/ ability to be a sports curse.
On the rare occasion we talk about something worthwhile it usually ends up buried in the depths of our Slack™ channel history or it is brought up as some obscure reference on CHN Radio.
That, my friends, is now changing.
We are rolling out a brand new series (yes our second “brand new series” of 2020! wow!), that I totally came up with by myself called The Slack™(ers’) Chronicles * . In this Series I will literally just share with you all the interesting discussion we had in our Slack™ channel, and you can chime in with your own opinions.
Today’s topic comes from Writer Mirza Usman Baig, who simply began to ask questions of the effectiveness of the Back 3 formation under Steve Bruce.
(or don’t, it’s up to you)
Mirza Usman Baig (MB): Anybody else think that playing three center backs at the back is totally useless rn?
Yesterday, the back three was Hayden, Fernandez, Krafth
Like Bruce is literally taking players out of position to make three at the back work
When ASM comes back I want to see Newcastle line up with a true 4-2-3-1
Shelvey and Hayden as midfield pivots, almiron as 10, ASM and atsu out wide. With joelinton up top
Three at the back system only works well going forward when wingbacks are good at attacking and can bomb up the field. Our wingbacks are decent in attack, but in recent weeks, they have really stunk it up. I’d much rather have the main attacking responsibility fall on the shoulders of real attacking players. In a 4-2-3-1, joe would have 3 players in support (ASM, atsu, almiron)
Elijah Newsome (EN): Blog about it bro.
MB: Once upon a time, Rafa was able to get the best out of joselu in 4-2-3-1
EN: Arguably Newcastle’s best formation is a 4231 with Joelinton as one of the midfielders
Either a winger or the cam. With Andy up top
MB: I still wanna see joe as striker, I think he’s capable. This current system just doesn’t suit him at all
EN: If newcastle can get a decent striker on loan and a winger in I think that’s the best formation
MB: I don’t want Andy in the lineup at all, Bc then defenders resort to hoofing
EN: Not with 5 in the midfield
Also if Bruce were smart he would tell them not to
A RAM/CAM/LAM of Joelinton, Miggy and ASM is better than one with atsu in over Joelinton
Greg Troxell, Certified Stats Guy (GT): From an xg perspective our best formation is definitely 5-4-1
MB: Greg it gets us points, but our defenders are injured af
So we are having to play players out of position to make it work defensively
And it’s never suited joelinton
Or even almiron
GT: Yeah and we get torched in every other formation because our coach cant instruct
Almiron looks great in a 541 imo
EN: Looks better in the 352 arguably
MB: Honestly, If Bruce can’t run a 4-2-3-1, he shouldn’t be coaching. It’s the easiest formation
GT: He cant at all lol
EN: Bruce can run it. Just not well
MB: I agree with Elijah, he’s looked better in 352.
Almiron looks much better when he’s not designated to a specific wing. Free roam/central almiron >>>> rw or lw winger. At least w Bruce. He was a beast at lw with Rafa . But that’s in the past
GT: In the 352 almiron plays a striker
[He did] Yesterday
EN: he did once people came off. I’m talking about the one where he’s a midfielder alongside hayden. I guess that’s more of a 532
The one where he scored the goal
GT: But we dont play well as a team in 352
MB: I think almiron is just better when playing central with freedom to roam to wings. That’s one of the reasons I think 4-2-3-1 should be set in play
GT: So its either you want miggy to look good or the team
MB: With 4231 it could be both
GT: Shall we look back at every time we put 4 at the back? Do you remember what happened at Aston Villa?
MB: What was the overall formation?
MB: Yeah 442 is trash for this squad .Absolute trash
EN: 4231 gives you defensive cover I you have one of the midfielders stay back while we attack. This Could be the reason Bruce wants a ball winning midfielder. He’s said that, and has talked about using 4 in the back. I will give him credit for that
GT: We’ve played 93 minutes in a 4231 this year. Our xg is 0.05 and xA is 2.82 (which is good for 90 minutes)
EN: Look at u with the stats
MB: Against who? Honest Question
GT: Leicester when we lost 5-0
MB: Bruhhhhhh that doesn’t count
GT: Cause we got torched in that formation? Haha
MB: There was a red card
GT: But before that
MB: But to be fair, we sucked before the red card too
GT: We were getting torched
The problem with 4 at the back is our CBs, They always want to go forward. With 4 at the back, they need to stay there. They cant be as aggressive
MB: The thing is
It can work if u have one defensive wingback. One can stay back and it’ll dwarf into a 3 at the back when in possession
GT: It’s more of an “And” statement over an “Or”. If we have a DWB “AND” Disciplined CBs it will work
MB: Our cbs are good, they’ve gotten lazy with three at the back, too much diffusion of responsibility. They are capable of playing well, we all know that . Individually, there’s not a single one in our center back department that is Titus bramble level trash
GT: Rafa said the same thing with these guys
MB: Lejeune got rushed back, I still think he’s capable
GT: Rafa made the 4231 happen in England. But got here and tried it, it was awful and he switched to a 3 back and it clicked
EN: Part of the undisciplined nature of the CBs is that they feel pressured to join the attack because there’s not enough being done in the attack
I honestly think that if u surround joelinton w almiron behind him (cam), and ASM and atsu on the wings, good shit will happen
GT: 5-4-1 with Almiron and ASM and we gucci
EN: I don’t think atsu is the answer...Please see my most recent preview lmao
MB: I mean he’s not great individually, but he’s the only other winger we have
GT: Atsu dominated a League One side tho lol
MB: Ideally, Newcastle goes out and signs another winger
And then that winger will start in atsu’s place
But that’s ideal
GT: I say they move Joe to winger and sign another striker
MB: Newcastle can’t do anything that’s ideal
Yeah that too [In reference to moving Joelinton to the wing]
Regardless of how u want to proceed, Newcastle needs another striker and winger
I’m so tired of muto as well lmfaooo. He’s not a viable striker
GT: Hahaha so true. I used to think he was gonna be the shit too
MB: Same here man, he has nice pace. Just seems too casual
GT: 352 we’ve given up 10 goals in 401 minutes. Yikes.
541 we’ve given up 15 goals in 1299 minutes. A lot better
So yeah that’s it. We talked about tactics. Greg is very much a fan of the 5-4-1 and brought the analytics to back it up. Mirza and I think Newcastle could potentially make a 4-2-3-1 work as long as there is discipline from the back line. All of us who were speaking seem to think the 3-5-2 worked ok at times but is not the definitive answer.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section!
* The idea from this was actually stolen from our friends over at Dirty South Soccer. Their site covers Miguel Almiron’s former club Atlanta United and if you have read some of my work on Miguel I quote them frequently.
Seriously, they churn out really f***ing good content. Check them out here.