Early Doors

Tactics Bored: AVB is a genius; bigotry wins leagues

Early Doors

With just the Champions League final and FA Cup final to come, it’s time to take stock of the Premier League over the year, and also look to other areas of the world where leagues are yet to conclude.

In England, of course, Manchester City succeeded in the league, and below are the reasons for their success and the relative placings of their nearest rivals - it all comes down to a particular type of philosophy.

Further abroad, we can see that tactics expert Andre Villas-Boas is flourishing in Russia, using a holistic approach to manage not just his players, but his fans, too.

Of course, no review could ignore the upheaval at Manchester United, and despite winning just two games, analysis has shown that Ryan Giggs has already had a positive effect on United’s season.

This has been a monumental season for tactics and statistical analysis - all we can wait for now is the Champions League, where Pep Guardiola and Juergen Klopp play for the right to be award the title of King of Tactics.

AVB tactics

Andre Villas-Boas is well known for his micromanaging approach to tactics. This, clearly, makes him the best at tactics, and therefore the best manager in the league.

It has obviously worked at Zenit St Petersburg, as after Luciano Spalletti was sacked, Zenit are now just one point behind the league leaders with a game to go. He could tactic his way to league success just months after being sarcastically replaced by Tim Sherwood at Spurs.

At the weekend, there was shameful (read: quite enjoyable) argy-bargy in in the Zenit match against Dynamo Moscow in the penultimate league match. Here, Villas-Boas showed the wonderful attention to detail that you would expect from him. It’s not just the players’ formation that he monitors, but his hooligans too.

In the freeze-frame below you can see him instructing one refreshed and argumentative gentleman to spin to the right to perform some medium defensive blocks against another member, who is unfortunately out of shot.

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Comparison between points pre-post Moyes for Liverpool

Ryan Giggs might not have impressed for Manchester United as an interim manager. He’s been essentially fine, able on occasion to lift his side, but largely the squad is so damaged, and his tenure is so short, that there was no way, short of being a genius, that he could have make a persuasive case for the permanent job.

That’s why Louis van Gaal will almost certainly be appointed. But he has had a positive effect for Manchester United, if you compare the points Liverpool won in the last four matches David Moyes was employed, and the points they won in the most recent four Giggs was manager.

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UEFA Priority pie chart

We all know that the authorities care about racism, that’s why Sepp Blatter suggests that players who are racially abused shake the hands of their abusers at the end of the match. But now things are getting even more serious.

For the last few weeks, there have been cases of blatant racism in Spain, and now Italy, after monkey gestures and banana-throwing did not stop as a result of white people posting photos on Twitter of themselves eating bananas and calling themselves monkeys.

As a result, UEFA have reacted just as you would imagine. With stadium bans? No. With points deductions on the clubs who house the fans? No. But with a fine of £25,000 for Villarreal, compared to the roughly £50,000,000 they fined Manchester City for breaching financial regulations.

If you consult the priority pie chart below, you can see how seriously UEFA take racism:

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Top four made of bigots

A lot is talked about in terms of football clubs needing a philosopher. It is no longer enough to simply hire a manager and ask him who he would like to buy. If you do that, you end up selling and re-signing Jermain Defoe six or seven times over the course of a season.

No, what you need now is a director of football to work in partnership with the manager, academy and board to define the youth management, style of play and plans for future transfers.

The top four clubs, obviously, have been the top four clubs able to do so, and they have all united under a common thread.

While Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal all play fairly attacking football, and Chelsea are direct and often more defensive, there is another aspect that unifies them: bigotry.

Manchester City finished top, but they are funded by a state that refuses to let anybody presenting with an Israeli passport into their country. This is the largest-scale prejudice of the four, and as such City won the league.

In second are Liverpool and Luis Suarez - enough said - closely followed by Chelsea and John Terry. Arsenal, who merely made a bid for Suarez in the summer, could not quite pull off the transfer, and thus finished fourth.

It will be interesting, tactically speaking, to see what kind of bigotry Manchester United decide to indulge in as they attempt to reclaim the title.

Alexander Netherton | Follow on Twitter

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