“I’m sure there’s more to this than meets the eye”. “He’s doing something that other managers wouldn’t have even imagined”. “Maybe he saw something in training?”
*Erik Lamela fires Spurs into an irretrievable 3-0 lead*
“If only Fosu-Mensah was still on..”. “Ashley Young as a centre forward?! To be fair, I guess he doesn’t do much better as a left winger”. “Memphis coming on at 3-0; remind me next time not to ask how things could get worse”.
The above reactions were taken from interviews with ardent Manchester United fans (better known as ‘will soon evolve into Liverpool fans’) on Sunday night. LvG, as he’s lovingly known by his multiple critics, is thought to be an unusual kind of genius. The special kind- the kind that win less football matches, and more award nominations for the actors that play them in movies.
Often times, he’s thrown formations at the world that look like he’s jotted down his best eleven, and subsequently decided to test all of them by playing them out of position. But, he is a genius. A Champions League winner. A master tactician.
So, I’ve decided to pull a leaf out of the proverbial LvG book. I’m naming my team of the season below, playing everyone out of position. I’m also providing sound ‘logic’ for doing so, along the lines of LvG’s astute post-match revelation that he played Ashley Young upfront “because he can run. And we needed that”.
Goalkeeper: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)\
L(vG)ogic: “He scores goals, we know that. But, so does the opponent. We must try to surprise the opponent. They will never expect this.”
Left Back: N’Golo Kante (Leicester City)
L(vG)ogic: “He is used to playing on the left. In central midfield, he plays to the left. He will be a natural.”
Centre Back: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)
L(vG)ogic: “I think we must move to an era where defenders dribble past the strikers. It is the future of football.”
Centre Back: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
L(vG)ogic: “These days, defenders need to move forward and play long balls to the strikers. Nobody plays more accurate long balls than Mesut- he is the assist king.”
Right Back: Delle Alli (Spurs)
L(vG)ogic: “He is very good- very good on the ball. Right full backs must be very good on the ball.”
Left Winger: Wes Morgan (Leicester City)
L(vG)ogic: “He tackles very well. We will need him to track the run of the right winger. Him and Kante play a lot together for Leicester- this will be a very good partnership down the left flank.”
Central Defensive Midfield: David De Gea (Manchester United)
L(vG)ogic: “He is a goalkeeper who is good on the ball. That is something special. I would be foolish not to use his distribution skills.”
Central Defensive Midfield: Harry Kane (Spurs)
L(vG)ogic: “The opposition is always trying to deny him space. In a defensive midfield position, he will have plenty of space. This is very good. Also, I need a midfielder who can score 20 goals a season. Kane can do that.”
Right Winger: Toby Alderweireld (Spurs)
L(vG)ogic: “Like I said, our wingers need to be able to tackle. Plus, Delle Alli has played a lot with Alderweireld, I think. They shall ‘spur’ each other on. Heh-heh-heh. Good one, Louis.”
Central Attacking Midfield: Hector Bellerin (Arsenal)
L(vG)ogic: “Bellerin is very fast. And he is Spanish, so he can definitely pass. It makes him the only choice for the number 10 role.”
Centre Forward: Ashley Young (Manchester United)
L(vG)ogic: “He can run. We need that.”
I’d like to invite you, dear readers, to spot the piece of tactical nous from the gems listed above, that actually transpired this weekend.
Indeed, we are lucky to live in this age of managerial wizardry. Louis waved his wand and looks to have conjured fifth place with a squad that finished fourth and spent over a hundred million on new signings.