Category Archives: MK Dons

The Guardiola Effect

With Portsmouth appointing Danny Cowley and his Brother Nicky as new coaches yesterday and having watched their interview, It was hard not to start thinking of the Guardiola Effect.

In case you haven’t seen the interview, the Cowley brothers were asked how they like their teams to play football.

The answer …

With a High Pressing line, attacking on the front foot and fast, giving the opposition no time to think

Having listened to this, the mind started to wander towards Pep Guardiola. You see his teams have played that way for years. The results are obvious. Trophies!

Now you can argue that he has brought success, but there are many negations for that, because players still have to perform. Although, if you were in charge of a team that had very very rich owners giving you a blank cheque book to buy the best, then I challenge you to not buy them.

Its this transition caused by Guardiola, that has led a number of managers to follow suit. Some examples are: Mauricio Pochettino, now at Paris St Germain, Maurizio Sarri, formerly of Chelsea and Juventus and Jurgen Klopp, of… Oh Yes, Liverpool.

Now these are some more famous examples. Each of course would argue that he has his own ideas behind that philosophy. Lets, however, look closer to home for some more examples of The Guardiola Effect.

In the Championship, Darren Moore now at Sheffield Wednesday, while in League One: Grant McCann at Hull City, Russ Martin at MK Dons. More on MK Dons in a moment. Mark Robinson at AFC Wimbledon and finally Darren Ferguson at Peterborough All of these are managers who, are adapting the Guardiola effect.

Now when you actually stop and think about it, the principle is very simple. Your team has two parts of its game. In Possession and Out of Possession. Simply put, when you lose the ball your have to win it back again and keep control of it so you can dictate the pace of the game and wear the other team down.

Ultimately, you want to be playing in your opponents defensive area, which is your final third because attack is the best form of defence.

Make Sense?…

Games of Football are won by scoring goals and not conceding them. This was embodied by Guardiola’s teams at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City

If you concede more than one every game, then clearly you are not going to be very successful. This brings me on very nicely to two team who through the years, do this very well.

First cast your mind back, waayy back to the mid-eighties. Wimbledon, love them or loathe them, played the game this way. In those days they played the POMO game – Possession Of Maximum Opportunity.

It was successful, though they bypassed the midfield and relied on winning second balls, they gained lots of promotions this way and won an FA Cup Final in 1988 against Liverpool thanks to a Lawrie Sanchez goal.

Bolton Wanderers, years later under Sam Allardyce, were also as successful playing like this. Now fast forward to date and this current season. Currently in League One, MK Dons under the guidance of Russ Martin, they are arguably playing the most successful brand of football throughout the Football League.

They play possession based football, which week in week out causes their opponents no end of problems and Martin’s side invariably win the stats charts by miles compared to other teams.

MK Dons, play the Guardiola Effect very well, wearing teams down and it is no coincidence that they often score last minute goals, simply because the other team are tired from trying to win the ball back.

The transition is fairly smooth and the opposition very rarely get to touch the ball. A testament to how effective this style of play is demonstrated by regular appearances of MK Dons players’ names appearing in the League One Team of the Week.

Now they may not win promotion this season, but the play-offs are a possibility along with Portsmouth. They will be strong favourites for automatic promotion, possibly even as champions next season from League One.

Whether Portsmouth do get Promotion this season via the play-offs, due to the Guardiola effect remains to be seen, but it will be an exciting period in PO4 for the next 12 games.

So, who else will the Guardiola Effect… Affect?

AFC Wimbledon sack GLYN HODGES

Following on from the disastrous home defeat at the hands of bitter rivals, Milton Keynes Dons on Saturday, AFC Wimbledon decided to part company with Manager Glyn Hodges and his Assistant Nick Daws.

The home defeat to MK Dons was the straw that broke the camels back. It extended Wimbledon’s winless run to five matches

In that time, they have found scoring goals hard to come by and have leaked them pretty easily too.

In his previous media comments, Hodges had said that the boys were giving everything they had, but that the results were down to fine margins in both boxes.

Now that could be said to be true, but in some fans eyes, the manner of performance, has been what has hurt most.

Moving into a new stadium in November, its was supposed to to be the catalyst that move the clubs season forward.

Instead it has proved to be a millstone round the neck, with some poor performances.

It all came to a head, however, on Saturday, with the 2-0 home defeat.

In the interim period, while a new manger is found First Team Coach Mark Robinson has been placed in charge for the away trip to Oxford on Tuesday in the Papa Johns Trophy.

Should Dele Alli leave Spurs in January?

‘He caused a problem for his own team by giving away possession’.

That is how Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho saw Dele Alli’s performance against Stoke City in the quarter-finals of the Carabo Cup this week after Alli had tried a flick, which ultimately led to The Potters equalising goal through Jordan Thompson.

Speaking after the game, Mourinho added:

“For me a player in that position has to link and create. In that situation, a counterattack would probably end with a goal and they transformed a game that was totally in our hands.  So yes I was upset.”

Alli was subsequently hauled off and replaced by Erik Lamela as part of a double change very soon after that fatal moment.  It seems strange to think though that up to that point the Milton Keynes born midfielder was having a pretty impressive return to the first team. 

The England midfielder did not take too kindly to being substituted, which highlighted the growing rift between both the player and manager. 

It was certainly decision that did not sit right with former Spurs player Jamie O’Hara, who told TalkSport:

“I didn’t like the way Mourinho dug him out and he keeps singling him out.  I think he is doing a great job and he’s got the team all on side but,for me, it doesn’t sit right with the way he keeps digging out Dele Alli.”

Mourinho had selected Alli from the start for the first time in a month long exile from the North London side’s first 11.  It is certainly clear that the midfielder has struggled for games this season having only been involved in 11 matches in all competitions this campaign. 

What is more, he has only scored twice in those games and provided one assist.

This begs the question.  Should Alli be looking for a move in the January Transfer Window?

The short answer is undoubtedly yes. It is clear that Mourinho does not trust him and the 24 year old is not getting the opportunities nor the playing time that he needs at this stage of his career.  

In addition, if Alli has any designs on forcing his way back into the England squad for next summer’s Euros he definitely needs to be starting regularly.

What are his options?

Paris Saint Germain

The first option that immediately comes to mind is last season’s Champions League Finalists Paris Saint Germain.  

They would clearly present Alli with a fresh challenge and an opportunity to thrive in a brand new environment.  

In addition, with the French Champions having just sacked their manager of two and half years Thomas Tuchel, they have been linked with former player and Alli’s ex-manager Mauricio Pochettino, who could be the perfect candidate to reinvigorate the ex- MK Dons man. 

This option, however, does not come without an element of risk as there are talented players already based in Paris already playing in Alli’s position so he would not be always guaranteed a place in the first eleven. 

Inter Milan

Another alternative could be Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan.  The Serie A side currently sit second in the table and are just a point behind their Milan rivals.  Conte’s team have also invested a lot in Premier League players in the past year having signed the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Ashley Young.

Manchester United

Closer to home, meanwhile, Alli could look at a move to Old Trafford and Manchester United.  Sir Alex Ferguson was reportedly a keen admirer of the Alli and with the Red Devils still looking at potentially strengthening their attacking options a move to Manchester could be an option.  Again, however, it would not come without an element of risk as United do already have a number of attacking midfielders at the club. 

Arsenal

Finally, somewhat controversially, Alli could look at following Sol Campbell’s example and make the move across North London to fierce rivals Arsenal.  The Gunners are undoubtedly crying out for an attacking midfielder and it is well known that they have struggled for goals this season, having only managed 12 goals so far in the Premier League. 

Where do you think Alli should move to in January? Any of the clubs listed above or perhaps another? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below….

Interview with former Wimbledon, Brentford and Watford player Marcus Gayle

Former footballer Marcus Gayle has played for Wimbledon, Brentford and Watford amongst others in his footballing career. When he hung up his boots, he went in to coaching and for the past few years has been involved in a host of other projects.

Gayle has been enjoying some free spare time of late, due to the lockdown.

“I’ve quiet enjoyed the lockdown to be fair, I like the slowness of it, it’s calmed things down, I’ve used it as a time for reflection, sharpening my tools on my educational side and a bit more reading.”

Gayle has played for a host of clubs but it was his time at Wimbledon FC in the nineties that he remembers most:

“In the time of the mid 90’s when I started playing with them, I was there seven years and had a whale of a time and the crazy gang helped me mature from being a boy to a man in a short space of time because of the characters. It was a test every day mentally and physically at times.”

He was also fortunate to play international football for Jamaica:

“That was a brilliant period as well. I played for about two years. It was very colourful the characters again. It was a positive and historic moment as well. It was a beautiful experience playing in the world cup, you kind of dream off as a kid to represent Jamaica through my father.”

After his playing days were over, he turned to coaching and started on that path with a spell as Wimbledon’s reserve team manager:

“I played ninety-nine per cent of my career just focused on playing. I didn’t really give much thought into what to do next.

“The main thing was make sure you look after your money and if you’ve got time to do that you will have time to evolve into a different pathway. How it turned out at my days at Watford, I didn’t even see myself as a coach but others did. Indeed, the younger players were always tapping into my knowledge and I was unaware of what I could become.  They saw me as someone that they could go to in the club a senior statesman and they saw me as a coach before I even did.”

Gayle continued:

“The opportunity came around when I finished in 2008 to take over the reserve team, which I did for four years which was thoroughly enjoyable.

“It was just to prepare them because when you get into the first team environment it can be quiet harsh, like how are you going to cope with somebody telling you something, they are not going to ask for anything in the first team, they are going to demand or tell you and it won’t be in a nice way.”

Gayle eventually became manager of Non-League Staines Town, where he was based for two and a half years.

“I was well equipped for it.  I was happy in picking and choosing players and developing players, so I was really doing everything. I really did my apprenticeship at Wimbledon, so, to step into first team management was just like another move. You were playing in a decent league Conference South, you had a budget to deal with, which was totally fine but for me really it was giving young players an opportunity.

“There was always a reservation about managers not wanting to play young players as the their perspective is that he wants three points. He ain’t going to trust the youngsters but I was the complete opposite. I signed a lot of nineteen soon to be twenty year old players as the bulk of my squad just to trust me as a coach and I will be here step by step and let’s just give you the opportunity and that is what I did.”

Gayle is heavily involved with Brentford as a club ambassador, Kick It Out out and ambassador for Kick Off @3.

“I met the guys that founded that a few years ago and they just wanted my support for events and input as well. So, I was more than happy to do that so we have been doing that for the last couple of years. What they are aiming to do is to build up the rapport between young people through sport and the community police in general.

“I can see that there is a disconnect of trust, so they wanted to use sport as a way of unifying everybody at the same place same time and really build up trust and understanding between the two. I totally agree with this because I think there is the disconnect at times where the police may see youngsters as problematic . The aim is that we can all be united through sport and try and mend connections that are being broken at times.”

There has been a lot of talk recently of Black Lives Matter and the solidarity that everybody has shown towards this:

“I think the issue needs to be raised and the acknowledgement from the Premier League is great, having the slogans on the back of the shirts I’m not in full agreement with that as I just think that is going to open a can of worms and a wider debate and it clouds what’s really going on.

“It’s taken away what the message is, it’s not saying only black lives matter, we all matter however there is a disproportionate rate of certain teams that effect black lives in this country. That’s historical, systematic and those are the things that we need to have a big debate about.  This all starts with the leadership from the boardrooms etc.  and the people who make decisions in football there is hardly anybody of colour in these positions.

“They all, however, want to talk about race and equality but we are not even in the conversation, so we need to have our voice heard. How it is today, everybody is their own broadcaster. We don’t need to go to the mainstream media to put our voice out there as we have our own social media platforms as we all talk on that. I just think it is going to be problematic for the first twelve games or so but it’s going to open a can of worms later down the road, then, we will have different debates about different topics and where is it ever going to end.”

Incredibly, there are only six BAME Managers currently out of 91 clubs. This is a concern for Gayle:

“Even though it is six, it is better than how it was. To take six right now is an encouragement but my thoughts on that is again it is down to the leadership. The board room and the decision makers that appoint but ultimately, where is the transparency in the boardroom and openness. How are there black footballers playing for the top sides, winning titles, captaining those great teams and as soon as those players are retiring are deemed you are nowhere near good enough, compared to our white counterparts. The question is we want equality but we want equality to do the exact same thing the equal opportunity as a Wayne Rooney, a Frank Lampard, a Steven Gerrard and those are prevalent.  This is a fair debate to listen to!”

You can listen to the full interview with Marcus Gayle by clicking on the link below:

https://soundcloud.com/user-365414754/marcus-gayle-1

Is 3 5 2 The New 4 4 2?

This post looks at the emergnce if that is the right word of the 3 5 2 Formation.

Is it the new  4 4 2, which in recent years has become our default, almost formation in the English league?

The 3 5 2 Formation is not exactly new, and has been employed by a number of foreign coaches over the years, with great success.

How it works, is like this and it is accepted that there are variations of the formation, according to the coach or manager employing the tactic.

With that in mind, lets look at some of the teams who use this formation:

Accrington Stanley

AFC Wimbledon

Wolves

Newcastle United

Sheffield United

Czech Republic

MK Dons

The formation relies on the use of very speedy, and effective wingbacks.

Those Wingbacks can either be, Wingers, or they can fullbacks pushed up operating as wingers. Ashley Young is a great example of a winger turned full back over time.

If you are using fullbacks pushed up as wingers, then effectively you are leaving wingers redundant, which is in the case of AFC Wimbledon, who use 3 Central Defenders, primarily because Wally Downes who implemented the system is a defensive coach, so you could almost say he was using a 5 3 2 version, though that is digressing from the point.

The general idea is to play two full backs and one central defender, so that you keep the players positionally as close to their favoured posistion as possible, without too much disruption to the team flow.

The 3 5 2 offers a lot of flexibility to the changing needs as the game unfolds, compared to other formations, such as the 4 2 3 1, or the 4 3 3.

Wolves and Sheffield United are two great examples of this, because both clubs, have progressed through the English Football League Championship and now are in the premiership playing this formation.

It is a system that is very difficult to play against, because when it works well, the team employing it, very often outnumber the defensive team and always have the flanks overloaded through the use of the over lapping ‘outer’ defenders.

This is the reason, that Arsenal, struggled last night against Sheffield United, England came unstuck in their recent match against the Czech Republic, Wolves were able to go to the Etihad and beat Man City 2-0, while Accrington Stanley beat Ipswich on Sunday 2-0 in League 1.

In fact Sheffield United are probably the best example of how this system works effectively, because together with Wolves they have used the system the longest, Sheffield United started using it in League 1, when Chris Wilder took over.

The defending team, have absolutly no idea, where the attacks are going to come from, especially as in the case of Wolves, who employ an attacking midfielder in their version of the system, while Sheffield United, newly promoted, don’t.

It will also be interesting to see, if Newcastle United, continue to use it, because they have just reverted back to it, to cater to the teams strengths and in doing so, their results have improved.

The one downside to the system, is that though you have numbers in attack, should you get caught on the counter attack, if you lost possession, then you are liable to potentialy concede goals, through lack of cover.

Either way the teams listed in this article who use the system, will be worth following and their progress noted this season.