Over the last few days, there has been a lot of debate around the winning/entertainment conundrum, and to some degree, I agree that at this present time, if it helps the team move up the table and increase confidence then winning at all cost is what matters.
A few sites today are quoting David Wagner as saying that he has ditched his entertaining style in order to be more pragmatic and get results, but will it work going forward?
While the reason we find ourselves in this position has been attributed to injuries and suspensions, other teams have had to cope with the same problems and have coped much better than City.
Another quote I read with interest over the weekend was that the club had gone for broke in recruiting older, experienced players in order to get a minimum of a top-six finish and, hopefully, a win in the playoffs in order to gain promotion, but this flies in the face of what most other teams are doing, which is loading their squads with youth and pace.
The current top three in the Championship all went down that route and are outplaying their opponents most weeks, while all three also have managers/head coaches who look to be extracting the maximum out of the group of players at their disposal.
That, for me, is more important than experience.
Wagner said after the QPR game that the visitors hardly had a shot at the City goal, yet the stats below say otherwise. There was really not a lot to choose between either team.
In terms of the pragmatic style we saw on Saturday, in truth, since Stuart Webber dismissed Daniel Farke, there hasn’t been an identifiable style of play. We were once promised a continuous style at every level within the club but it now looks like a broken jig-saw with the major piece missing. And that has to be down to the now departed Webber.
But I just wonder what Ben Knapper was thinking on Saturday after announcing that he likes attacking and entertaining football. To then watch as his coach ditched his own entertaining style and focused instead on winning points in order to keep his job must have been more than a little odd.
I guess it’s stick or twist time for Wagner. Going more defensive could garner him a few more brownie points with the owners but lose them with his new boss. And then there are those pesky supporters who want to be entertained by a winning team with a pleasing style of play.
The question is, should we be more pragmatic and defensive in order to gain some points or go all out for style that could bring with it a relegation fight? Just look at Spurs – still really entertaining but injuries and suspensions are taking their toll with no wins in three.
The difference is that Postecoglou is not young and upcoming but a dye-in-the-wool entertainment man who knows that if he keeps going his luck will change as injuries clear up and the players slot back into the system. There is no such waiting game in play for Wagner.
City need to have a solid defence but also need to entertain their paying customers – drastically switching styles or systems will only confuse the players.
It’s a tricky balance but the answer has to be to keep it simple but still with some style, or else the fans could soon turn into a baying horde of unsatisfied customers.
Monday is Martin’s music day so here’s my choice for my good friend, and is how I see football (in general) at present…