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In Defence of Our Defence: Defending the Indefensible?

BenitoSTARR

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https://theathletic.com/5328427/2024/03/13/man-utd-shots-faced/?source=user_shared_articleWhy Manchester United face so many shots – and why that isn’t all bad news - Source

I’ve long thought this was the case and now have the data to back this up. Manchester United are defending well. It’s not pretty, it’s not to everyone’s taste, but we’re doing an effective jon

Yes you heard me Manchester United are defending well. We have the 3rd best xG per shot against at 0.1 which basically means we’re on average reducing teams to taking speculative efforts against us. Only Everton and Arsenal are better with many considering Arsenal the best defensive side in the world right now and certainly in the PL.

We are absolutely conceding territory, and absolutely defending deeper now (due to the lack of pace and consistency in our back line) but we’re defending deep well more often than not.

We concede on average 16.7 shots per 90 but despite those headline stats seeming concerning (17th in the league) the data shows this isn’t an issue. The reason being we only concede an average of 5.2 shots on target.

So while I would love us to cage teams in their own half and suffocate them with relentless pressure the reality is we don’t have that set of players yet and so as boring as it may be, being effective is important and right now we’re not letting sides get good chances on average with these high volume shots.
 

Cheimoon

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That's some good insight in that article. Interesting read. It also shows that, whatever happens next (Ten Hag stays or is replaced), United will need clever recruitment in the summer and a better injury record (both) if they want to play a more dominant, front-foot style next season.
 

BenitoSTARR

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That's some good insight in that article. Interesting read. It also shows that, whatever happens next (Ten Hag stays or is replaced), United will need clever recruitment in the summer and a better injury record (both) if they want to play a more dominant, front-foot style next season.
100% the more I’m delving deeper the more I’m convinced we need better athleticism in our spine. Mainoo is a great potential player to offer this, Højlund too. But beyond that I think we’re struggling in our spine.
 

bosnian_red

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Gonna disagree hard. We are defending in our box, well, with last ditch blocks. We are defending horribly as a team. Yes we concede a fair amount of just pot shots from distance, but we are also 13th in the league in the xG conceded over the season. So while yes we concede a relegation standard level of shots and our xG per shot isn't bad on average (because it gets diluted by quantity), it's still fecking shit. 13th in xG conceded is garbage defending. It's not relegation tier, but it's still garbage.

It's not effective, it's more luck than anything. Our goalkeeper makes the 6th most saves per game in the league. Simple defensive stats where you both concede among the most xG in the league and concede among the most shots in the league are very obviously bad stats, you don't have to try and defend them, that's just silly. Excuse them with injuries if you want (for me it's a coaching thing but agree to disagree there), but let's not try and make a very obvious shit stat into some sort of positive. This is like the "can a loss be a win" thread...
 

BenitoSTARR

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Gonna disagree hard. We are defending in our box, well, with last ditch blocks. We are defending horribly as a team. Yes we concede a fair amount of just pot shots from distance, but we are also 13th in the league in the xG conceded over the season. So while yes we concede a relegation standard level of shots and our xG per shot isn't bad on average (because it gets diluted by quantity), it's still fecking shit. 13th in xG conceded is garbage defending. It's not relegation tier, but it's still garbage.

It's not effective, it's more luck than anything. Our goalkeeper makes the 6th most saves per game in the league. Simple defensive stats where you both concede among the most xG in the league and concede among the most shots in the league are very obviously bad stats, you don't have to try and defend them, that's just silly. Excuse them with injuries if you want (for me it's a coaching thing but agree to disagree there), but let's not try and make a very obvious shit stat into some sort of positive. This is like the "can a loss be a win" thread...
I’d argue we’re defending deep though because of the personnel available. So box defending is what we’re best set up for with no proper LB and no Martinez.

I don’t think it’s down to luck I think everything is pointing towards it being the new plan while our back line is fecked. For example we are 2nd in the league for blocks (by 1 block) 385, but we don’t really tackle in our defensive 3rd (12th highest) middle (14th) but do in the final 3rd (6th best).

So for me it looks like the instructions and results are. Press high and tackle high and if you feck it up then drop deep get a block and counter until we can get further up the pitch to make those tackles again.

It’s not pretty but it’s actually ended up despite the injuries working for us as we have the 4th lowest goals conceded with the most rotations in any PL back line (24).

This is not top tier defending nor is it sustainable but in the context of our season it’s pretty remarkable.
 

Leftback99

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Gonna disagree hard. We are defending in our box, well, with last ditch blocks. We are defending horribly as a team. Yes we concede a fair amount of just pot shots from distance, but we are also 13th in the league in the xG conceded over the season. So while yes we concede a relegation standard level of shots and our xG per shot isn't bad on average (because it gets diluted by quantity), it's still fecking shit. 13th in xG conceded is garbage defending. It's not relegation tier, but it's still garbage.

It's not effective, it's more luck than anything. Our goalkeeper makes the 6th most saves per game in the league. Simple defensive stats where you both concede among the most xG in the league and concede among the most shots in the league are very obviously bad stats, you don't have to try and defend them, that's just silly. Excuse them with injuries if you want (for me it's a coaching thing but agree to disagree there), but let's not try and make a very obvious shit stat into some sort of positive. This is like the "can a loss be a win" thread...
Agree
 

BenitoSTARR

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We’ve defended remarkably all right…..
I think it’s interesting that we all agree we don’t like how we’re defending and I think we can all agree it’s not sustainable and where we want to be long term. But I have found it’s been surprisingly effective.
 

RedDevilCanuck

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Dalot Varane Licha Shaw

That is an immense backline for defending. But they are never all fit.

In an alternate universe where they were all available I'd be happy with that and say we should spend elsewhere in the squad like 2 midfielders and another winger and backup striker.

In terms of talent our backline is very good. Even slab head as backup CB is an excellent option.
 

AFC NimbleThumb

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Gonna disagree hard. We are defending in our box, well, with last ditch blocks. We are defending horribly as a team. Yes we concede a fair amount of just pot shots from distance, but we are also 13th in the league in the xG conceded over the season. So while yes we concede a relegation standard level of shots and our xG per shot isn't bad on average (because it gets diluted by quantity), it's still fecking shit. 13th in xG conceded is garbage defending. It's not relegation tier, but it's still garbage.

It's not effective, it's more luck than anything. Our goalkeeper makes the 6th most saves per game in the league. Simple defensive stats where you both concede among the most xG in the league and concede among the most shots in the league are very obviously bad stats, you don't have to try and defend them, that's just silly. Excuse them with injuries if you want (for me it's a coaching thing but agree to disagree there), but let's not try and make a very obvious shit stat into some sort of positive. This is like the "can a loss be a win" thread...
Thread./
 

BenitoSTARR

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Dalot Varane Licha Shaw

That is an immense backline for defending. But they are never all fit.

In an alternate universe where they were all available I'd be happy with that and say we should spend elsewhere in the squad like 2 midfielders and another winger and backup striker.

In terms of talent our backline is very good. Even slab head as backup CB is an excellent option.
But the talent isn’t suited to what we want to do. Maguire, while an excellent deep defender, cannot confidently be expected to defend the space in behind that a higher press would leave.

I like Maguire but he has no future in any side that wants a defender on the half way line. It’s asking to be exposed.

So yes we have talent. But it’s not the right kind unless we want to continue deep blocks (which nobody wants)
 

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100% the more I’m delving deeper the more I’m convinced we need better athleticism in our spine. Mainoo is a great potential player to offer this, Højlund too. But beyond that I think we’re struggling in our spine.
There's no doubt about this. We have far too many slow and unathletic players. Maguire, Lindelof, Evans, Casemiro, Eriksen, Amrabat. You could throw Mainoo, Bruno and Anthony in there too.

We have to address this asap as we can't run in midfield and our defenders are slow so they drop deep as they're that terrified about being caught for pace. No surprise we give away so many shots on the edge of our box in the space in between
 

BenitoSTARR

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There's no doubt about this. We have far too many slow and unathletic players. Maguire, Lindelof, Evans, Casemiro, Eriksen, Amrabat. You could throw Mainoo, Bruno and Anthony in there too.

We have to address this asap as we can't run in midfield and our defenders are slow so they drop deep as they're that terrified about being caught for pace. No surprise we give away so many shots on the edge of our box in the space in between
And herein lies the reason for my defence of the indefensible. I’m not sure we have (unless everyone is fit) any chance of playing high.

I really am now desperately hoping that whatever happens in the summer we get some athleticism and robustness in our back line and midfield.
 

AFC NimbleThumb

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But the talent isn’t suited to what we want to do.
18 months into a managers tenure it is unheard of for them to have a full squad of players they have chosen.

If he eventually wants to play a certain way, fine, but a key part of management is tailoring your approach to the squad at hand.

If the squad he has is incapable of defending how he wants. He needs to find a solution in the short-to-medium term to suit what he has at his disposal.

The excuse he doesn’t have what he needs would be far more valid if he successfully adapted in the moment we are in. I have 0 faith EtH would prove successful if given all he wanted because he’s given me very little to go on for about a year.
 

BenitoSTARR

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18 months into a managers tenure it is unheard of for them to have a full squad of players they have chosen.

If he eventually wants to play a certain way, fine, but a key part of management is tailoring your approach to the squad at hand.

If the squad he has is incapable of defending how he wants. He needs to find a solution in the short-to-medium term to suit what he has at his disposal.

The excuse he doesn’t have what he needs would be far more valid if he successfully adapted in the moment we are in. I have 0 faith EtH would prove successful if given all he wanted because he’s given me very little to go on for about a year.
My point is he has found a solution it’s just not one many on the forum like. It’s a short term solution.
I find this thread offensive
Badum-tss
 

NLunited

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Seems like some don‘t like the sound of ‚our defense is surprisingly effective‘.

The box defending we do has some Mourinho elements to it: keep spaces tight and block shots. Not surprisingly effective, but just effective.

Would it be better to play with a high line instead with these players? Cause that is what y‘all have been asking for.
 

bosnian_red

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Seems like some don‘t like the sound of ‚our defense is surprisingly effective‘.

The box defending we do has some Mourinho elements to it: keep spaces tight and block shots. Not surprisingly effective, but just effective.

Would it be better to play with a high line instead with these players? Cause that is what y‘all have been asking for.
100% it would be better to commit to one strategy. Press properly as a team and close the massive gap, or defend deep as a team and play properly on the counter.

It's not effective. Our goalkeeper has to make more saves than 14 other teams in the league. Our xG conceded is 13th/14th or so in the league. Our shots conceded is relegation standard. All in all, our defensive stats are essentially Fulham, wolves, west ham and Bournemouth tier. Bottom half, midtable sides. That isn't effective at all, that's in fact just really bad and really lucky to not have conceded more than we have (which let's be clear, we're conceding like 1.5 goals per game across all competitions this season... That's horrible).

So yes. Doing a tactic that works for the team, throughout, which restricts shots conceded to an actual respectable level would in fact be better for us as a team.
 

Eddy_JukeZ

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I can't buy any argument that we've defended effectively this season.

There is an overwhelming amount of statistics that paint a different picture.
 

BenitoSTARR

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100% it would be better to commit to one strategy. Press properly as a team and close the massive gap, or defend deep as a team and play properly on the counter.

It's not effective. Our goalkeeper has to make more saves than 14 other teams in the league. Our xG conceded is 13th/14th or so in the league. Our shots conceded is relegation standard. All in all, our defensive stats are essentially Fulham, wolves, west ham and Bournemouth tier. Bottom half, midtable sides. That isn't effective at all, that's in fact just really bad and really lucky to not have conceded more than we have (which let's be clear, we're conceding like 1.5 goals per game across all competitions this season... That's horrible).

So yes. Doing a tactic that works for the team, throughout, which restricts shots conceded to an actual respectable level would in fact be better for us as a team.
If we funnel chances into low xG shots then it’s not an issue if you have an at least league average GK. Ours is well above that so we’re not really in any serious threat regularly and most of our xG against is cumulative from low quality hit and hopes.

The team is not set up to play a high line with no LB and Evans/Maguire in rotation at LCB.

Wanting to pursue a high line defence with those players is suicidal.

As for the bolded this is the season so far:

It’s clearly not horrible but a sign of the quality of the league that teams are able to score against anyone really.
 

Leftback99

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And herein lies the reason for my defence of the indefensible. I’m not sure we have (unless everyone is fit) any chance of playing high.

I really am now desperately hoping that whatever happens in the summer we get some athleticism and robustness in our back line and midfield.
Don't hold your breath if we're stuck with Ten Hag.
https://www.manchestereveningnews.c...all-news/pep-guardiola-man-city-news-18228495
He's quoted there "Only once in his career has Pep made a mistake – in his first year at Manchester City when he completely underestimated the power and speed of the Premier League,"

Yet he's spent £400m and has signed one player that you would class as having the physicality he talks about. Even Martinez who most class as his good signing is a problem in this respect.
 

BenitoSTARR

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Don't hold your breath if we're stuck with Ten Hag.
https://www.manchestereveningnews.c...all-news/pep-guardiola-man-city-news-18228495
He's quoted there "Only once in his career has Pep made a mistake – in his first year at Manchester City when he completely underestimated the power and speed of the Premier League,"

Yet he's spent £400m and has signed one player that you would class as having the physicality he talks about. Even Martinez who most class as his good signing is a problem in this respect.
I think this is more of a damning indictment of our club scouting structure that these kinds of targets aren’t identified and bought.

Regardless the man has recognised the limitations of the players available to him and set us up so that we are not conceding buckets.
 

Leftback99

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I can't buy any argument that we've defended effectively this season.

There is an overwhelming amount of statistics that paint a different picture.
Yep. We've just got away with it, rather than it being by design.
 

Matt851

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My point is he has found a solution it’s just not one many on the forum like. It’s a short term solution.

Badum-tss
So he has found a sort of solution to a problem he has created (by focusing much of our transfer business on relatively unathletic players)? And one which puts us at lower mid table for xg?

Most coaches seem heavily focused on being compact regardless of whether they want to play a high line, mid block or deep. We seem to be spread put across the pitch which is what makes us so easy to play through. It strikes me as quite bizarre, if we can't play a high line then surely just ensuring the team is more compact in a mid block would be more effective
 

Pogue Mahone

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"like a man in silk pyjamas shooting pigeons
We concede on average 16.7 shots per 90 but despite those headline stats seeming concerning (17th in the league) the data shows this isn’t an issue. The reason being we only concede an average of 5.2 shots on target.
Our goalkeeper makes the 6th most saves per game in the league.
“Only”, eh?
 

BenitoSTARR

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So he has found a sort of solution to a problem he has created (by focusing much of our transfer business on relatively unathletic players)? And one which puts us at lower mid table for xg?

Most coaches seem heavily focused on being compact regardless of whether they want to play a high line, mid block or deep. We seem to be spread put across the pitch which is what makes us so easy to play through. It strikes me as quite bizarre, if we can't play a high line then surely just ensuring the team is more compact in a mid block would be more effective
I think it’s unfair to purely say it’s a problem he created. With access to his better players we absolutely could have:

Onana
Dalot Varane Martinez Shaw
Casemiro
Bruno Mainoo/Mount
Garnacho Højlund Rashford

And reasonably expect to play and stay higher up the pitch.

If you look at how we defend now we commit to a high press and try and get those tackles in up the final third but as soon as we get that first line broken the instructions appear to be drop back quickly and then block opportunities.

It looks like Ten Hag here is trying to train his front 3 to do the job he wants them to do long term (press high) whilst understanding the back line isn’t (given injuries) currently able to perform the supporting press as he would long term prefer and as such is compromising for the benefit of what we have at the back whilst still holding the front to account.

It’s bizarre but it’s sort of working?
“Only”, eh?
As a GK you should know the difference though between facing 5 pot shots to let’s say 5 1v1s. It’s nowhere near the same.
 

DomesticTadpole

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Gonna disagree hard. We are defending in our box, well, with last ditch blocks. We are defending horribly as a team. Yes we concede a fair amount of just pot shots from distance, but we are also 13th in the league in the xG conceded over the season. So while yes we concede a relegation standard level of shots and our xG per shot isn't bad on average (because it gets diluted by quantity), it's still fecking shit. 13th in xG conceded is garbage defending. It's not relegation tier, but it's still garbage.

It's not effective, it's more luck than anything. Our goalkeeper makes the 6th most saves per game in the league. Simple defensive stats where you both concede among the most xG in the league and concede among the most shots in the league are very obviously bad stats, you don't have to try and defend them, that's just silly. Excuse them with injuries if you want (for me it's a coaching thing but agree to disagree there), but let's not try and make a very obvious shit stat into some sort of positive. This is like the "can a loss be a win" thread...
Think we do not defend as a team. The midfield just lets teams run through and if they do foul it is in the wrong place. You watch the likes of City know exactly when it is safe to foul, although to be fair most fouls for them seem to go unpunished for them by refs. Taking one for the team does not seem to apply to them. However we do not seem to have good tacklers in our team or people who know how to drive players into less dangerous places. Do we have players who can read the game and know when they can dispossess an opposition player. The forwards and midfield not doing their defensive duties just leaves the defenders vulnerable. I would say the defence has performed pretty admirably actually. The defence should be the last resort not the only resort.
 

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This is why I don't like to rely on statistics 100% when evaluating teams/players.

The eye test shows we're conceding many many chances that no other top team concedes. The fact that the opposition player skies his shot or mishits it should not matter. A chance is still a chance, and its danger level can only be determined by the player shooting the ball and his accuracy/shot.

"We're reducing them to pot shots". Yeah but there's a massive difference if the shooter is Frank Lampard/Steven Gerrard or some random midfielder with no goal in his career.

Moreover, do these stats account for last ditch tackles in our box? Against City for example we had a lot of shots blocked as a last ditch tackle whereas on another day they were certain goals due to how close they were to our goal.
 

Pogue Mahone

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"like a man in silk pyjamas shooting pigeons
I think it’s unfair to purely say it’s a problem he created. With access to his better players we absolutely could have:

Onana
Dalot Varane Martinez Shaw
Casemiro
Bruno Mainoo/Mount
Garnacho Højlund Rashford

And reasonably expect to play and stay higher up the pitch.

If you look at how we defend now we commit to a high press and try and get those tackles in up the final third but as soon as we get that first line broken the instructions appear to be drop back quickly and then block opportunities.

It looks like Ten Hag here is trying to train his front 3 to do the job he wants them to do long term (press high) whilst understanding the back line isn’t (given injuries) currently able to perform the supporting press as he would long term prefer and as such is compromising for the benefit of what we have at the back whilst still holding the front to account.

It’s bizarre but it’s sort of working?

As a GK you should know the difference though between facing 5 pot shots to let’s say 5 1v1s. It’s nowhere near the same.
I’ve read the article now. It’s nowhere near as positive as you seem to think. The tl;dr version is our front three are crap at pressing, our midfield is crap at midfielding; and our back four are only capable of defending deep. And this is one of the most expensive squads in Europe.

I mean, it’s not news, but it also gives absolutely no reason to be hopeful about the future under ETH. Not when he’s already invested so much money in our broken attack, midfield and defence; on players who have made the situation worse, if anything.
 

DWelbz19

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I’ve read the article now. It’s nowhere near as positive as you seem to think. The tl;dr version is our front three are crap at pressing, our midfield is crap at midfielding; and our back four are only capable of defending deep. And this is one of the most expensive squads in Europe.

I mean, it’s not news, but it also gives absolutely no reason to be hopeful about the future under ETH. Not when he’s already invested so much money in our broken attack, midfield and defence; on players who have made the situation worse, if anything.
Came in to say the same — were we reading the same article?! OP is too far gone. One of the few last disciples left standing. Anything remotely positive is rung like a bar of soap to push positive talking points for the manager.
 

MDFC Manager

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I can't buy any argument that we've defended effectively this season.

There is an overwhelming amount of statistics that paint a different picture.
Yes.

Forget statistics, a good defense is something that visibly stands out, and breeds confidence into supporters. I see none of that happening here.
 

Matt851

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I think it’s unfair to purely say it’s a problem he created. With access to his better players we absolutely could have:

Onana
Dalot Varane Martinez Shaw
Casemiro
Bruno Mainoo/Mount
Garnacho Højlund Rashford

And reasonably expect to play and stay higher up the pitch.

If you look at how we defend now we commit to a high press and try and get those tackles in up the final third but as soon as we get that first line broken the instructions appear to be drop back quickly and then block opportunities.

It looks like Ten Hag here is trying to train his front 3 to do the job he wants them to do long term (press high) whilst understanding the back line isn’t (given injuries) currently able to perform the supporting press as he would long term prefer and as such is compromising for the benefit of what we have at the back whilst still holding the front to account.

It’s bizarre but it’s sort of working?

As a GK you should know the difference though between facing 5 pot shots to let’s say 5 1v1s. It’s nowhere near the same.
It's not working but yes it's bizarre. You can't just have the forwards pressing high and the defence sitting deep.

Even though the strongest team you name would suffer from the same issues. It would do better because of involving better players but that is still a pretty unathletic midfield which also can't retain possession very well

No team gets away without injuries either, especially ones that rush back injury or one players
 

Gordon S

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There's no doubt about this. We have far too many slow and unathletic players. Maguire, Lindelof, Evans, Casemiro, Eriksen, Amrabat. You could throw Mainoo, Bruno and Anthony in there too.

We have to address this asap as we can't run in midfield and our defenders are slow so they drop deep as they're that terrified about being caught for pace. No surprise we give away so many shots on the edge of our box in the space in between
I have had huge doubts over Eriks ability as a coach and suitability to lead our first team ever since we got tonked at Anfield, and well, still have most of the doubts left.
But must say, it has slowly dawned on me just how unathletic our squad is. It sure doesn`t help in such a physical league like this.
Dalot and Rasmus are the first names that comes to mind when thinking about athletic players in our squad.
But after those two, there are very few more players you could argue for.

The number of players in our squad either being a touch too slow, too slow in reactions, not agile enough, not strong enough, clumsy, too injury prone to ever reach 100% fitness is staggering. it is of course dictating what kind of football we can play. It really makes it a difficult task for the manager.
 

spiriticon

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The issue here is that it only takes one goal to lose a game, and we have lost far too many games this season to say that this risky defending strategy is paying off.
 

BenitoSTARR

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This is why I don't like to rely on statistics 100% when evaluating teams/players.

The eye test shows we're conceding many many chances that no other top team concedes. The fact that the opposition player skies his shot or mishits it should not matter. A chance is still a chance, and its danger level can only be determined by the player shooting the ball and his accuracy/shot.

"We're reducing them to pot shots". Yeah but there's a massive difference if the shooter is Frank Lampard/Steven Gerrard or some random midfielder with no goal in his career.

Moreover, do these stats account for last ditch tackles in our box? Against City for example we had a lot of shots blocked as a last ditch tackle whereas on another day they were certain goals due to how close they were to our goal.
We’re not a top team though. The players we have had available throughout the season in defence in particular are not top team players.

There is a difference but how many players are of the Lampard/Gerrard pot shot level. Essentially xG covers this they are low value shots because most players can’t score them with any reliability.

The high volume of blocks I think accounts for the fact we are dropping deep and defending seat of our pants. We just happen to have defenders who can do that.

It’s really really bizarre and I don’t like it at all and long term would hate this to be our side. But this is working with our limited players at the back.
I’ve read the article now. It’s nowhere near as positive as you seem to think. The tl;dr version is our front three are crap at pressing, our midfield is crap at midfielding; and our back four are only capable of defending deep. And this is one of the most expensive squads in Europe.

I mean, it’s not news, but it also gives absolutely no reason to be hopeful about the future under ETH. Not when he’s already invested so much money in our broken attack, midfield and defence; on players who have made the situation worse, if anything.
I’m actually being quite critical here. It’s not sustainable it’s not how I want us to play long term and it’s a really bizarre way of playing.

But I can also see the logic of pressing with our relatively fit front players and then dropping off if that fails. And despite the eye test it’s working. Hence defending the indefensible.
Came in to say the same — were we reading the same article?! OP is too far gone. One of the few last disciples left standing. Anything remotely positive is rung like a bar of soap to push positive talking points for the manager.
@DWelbz19 don’t focus just on the stats, I’m trying to make sense of why what is happening is happening.

I hate how we defend at the moment but it’s effective for what we have in our back line right now. A necessary evil.
 

TheRedDevil'sAdvocate

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It feels like a piece written for the sake of being written (the one on The Athletic, not the OP).

It's (kind of) baffling that we're still discussing the overall effectiveness of just trying to soak up pressure in a low block in 2024 at the highest level of club football. Teams, on average, have become too good for that to work. Doesn't matter where you have to defend, you have to put pressure on the ball.

It's like Maguire praising himself earlier in the season. You may feel comfortable and be a bit more efficient performing your designated role in a way that comes more natural to you, but you're not the answer to any question.
 

BenitoSTARR

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The issue here is that it only takes one goal to lose a game, and we have lost far too many games this season to say that this risky defending strategy is paying off.
It’s paying off more than every other side apart from City, Liverpool and Arsenal.

I hate it. But it’s worked for the desperate position we find ourselves in.

I don’t think anyone believes this is the long term plan. So if we look at this in context of injuries it’s a really weird but currently working way of doing things that lets our forwards practice their routines while accepting the defence is fecked.
 

BenitoSTARR

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It feels like a piece written for the sake of being written (the one on The Athletic, not the OP).

It's (kind of) baffling that we're still discussing the overall effectiveness of just trying to soak up pressure in a low block in 2024 at the highest level of club football. Teams, on average, have become too good for that to work. Doesn't matter where you have to defend, you have to put pressure on the ball.

It's like Maguire praising himself earlier in the season. You may feel comfortable and be a bit more efficient performing your designated role in a way that comes more natural to you, but you're not the answer to any question.
The bold :lol:

I agree with you. It’s really disappointing that this is where we are at. But then you look our back line and it’s devoid of pace save for Dalot, AWB and Varane. You look at our best players in defence and they’ve been injured so we end up with this awful mix that somehow is just about working for us.

We actually do put pressure on the ball in the attacking 3rd it’s the middle third where we are average.

Maguire is a perfect example of the issues we’ve had this season. He’s been great but he’s been great because the system has adapted to suit him and Evans.