From what I’ve read about Pusnik’s footballing philosophy, and what I’ve seen and heard since his arrival he is focused on making a fast, direct team which presses high and is capable of counter-attacking quickly when they get possession of the ball.
This is an attitude which I am very pleased to see being brought to Avispa, and feel will do very well in J2, but perhaps even more than any other tactic there will be times when things aren’t working out and they need a Plan B.
One of the big problems last season was that when our ‘strategy’ (a deep, patient, play-making idea?) wasn’t working and the ineffective midfield was unable to hold the ball there wasn’t any other option to fall back on.
In desperation Maeda had a couple of things he would do:
i) Throw Koga up front. With 5 minutes to play and in need of a goal Koga would go and play as a battering ram striker. It is a desperate move, and while a few goals were scored from it, it isn’t something a team should be doing as often as we ended up last year.
ii) Move Jogo centrally. Making the team look a little more like last year Jogo would play as a 2 up front. This makes the team a bit more expansive in attack, but wasn’t ever really enough to hurt a team with something totally new.
What Pusnik will need to come up with is a tweak to tactics for matches when things aren’t working out. This could either be against a team which has defended well and ‘worked out’ our forwards, or in games when we go 1 or 2 goals behind.
The biggest problem of a ‘counter-attacking’ strategy being what to do if you do go 1 or 2 goals behind and the opposition team is happy to withdraw a bit and not leave the spaces in defence.
Looking at our squad I still can’t see an obvious Plan B. Substitute strikers are likely to be Nishida Go and the young tricky wing-strikers.
Nishida Go does add a little more aerial competence to the team, and ability to make knock-downs, but doesn’t really represent a huge difference to the team to Sakata and Osmar.
The youngsters will make things happen in 2-3 games in which they come on if they are given chances this season, but can’t be relied upon to make things happen. Ishizu is a big character, and was 2-3 years older than them last season but could see how upset he was at times last season when thrown on at the end and not feeling he could make enough difference.
The easiest way to have a Plan B is to have a tall target man striker on the bench. I wasn’t always happy to have Jumbo starting, but didn’t want him to leave as he was a walking Plan B for the team who would have been very useful in the last 2 seasons. Similarly, Ramazzotti made up for his lack of finesse by immediately making things happen when he came on the pitch.
A less ‘agricultural’ second plan I’d like to see from the team would be to switch to 3 at the back.
The team at the moment is having to do a few new things, and I’m guessing that training is probably a little less enjoyable at times as they go through defensive drills and positional practice so maybe it isn’t a good time to introduce something else new but at some point it could be a useful second idea.
If the team could switch to 3 at the back with 5 going across midfield to provide a higher attacking platform then MinJe and Miyamoto have the stamina and skill to get and back as something which would give an opposition team something new to think about.