Daniel Farke and the lads aren’t changing their tried and tested formula… but the opposition are. Teams have stopped pressing us and now simply sit and encourage us to break them down.
City rely on breaking a high press, which automatically leaves them with a numerical overload through midfield and spaces to exploit. As opponents leave zones to step forward and battle our midfield, Teemu Pukki, Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell instantly take the advantage.
That’s the plan.
But that’s stopped. Now teams sit back and challenge us to break them down, and we have been found wanting. Pukki is outnumbered three or four to one, our wide midfielders need to help our fullbacks as they get forward, and so logically Todd or Emi drift away from Pukki.
Secondly, Ollie Skipp is no playmaker, Kenny McLean neither, and Lukas Rupp is attempting passes into deep, established defensive blocks. None of those midfielders step forward into shooting positions as we move our possession upfield, as seems to be their brief.
That congested offensive third is not where Mario Vrancic is happy either, as he is pressed too quickly. And then, of course, teams are happy for passes sideways from our midfield, as we don’t ever deliver lofted crosses, and even if we did, Pukki is alone in the 18-yard box.
For me, Skipp is capable of shielding the backline by himself, and Farke should be committing other players forward. Put succinctly, he needs to move away from his preferred 4-2-3-1.
Teams will be happy getting a point from us, and we need to take all three more often than not to stay in the fight.
More to come on these tactical points later in the week, so watch this space…