3.2. Counter Attack Loco
Contents: Implementing a Counter Attacking tactic; 100 games in management; a series of fortunate events; scraping the financial barrel and the first top flight Canary Islands Derby for 20 years 🔥.
🎵 Suggested tune: “Come a Little Bit Closer” – Jay & The Americans 🎵
After tasting defeat to Real Madrid in our opening game of our third season as Tenerife Manager (our second in La Liga), we managed to bounce back in style with a solid 2-0 victory over Espanyol at home in Estadio Heliodoro Rodríguez López, and with the dust still settling it was then time for the first La Liga Canary Islands Derby in almost 20 years now that Las Palmas gained promotion and join us in the top tier of Spanish football.
Let’s have a quick look at the Tenerife squad today, where we have opted for a 4-1-2-2-1 Direct Counter Attacking tactic where our game plan is to close down and regain possession in our own half and subsequently turn defence into attack via pace and quality on the wings in the form of Xadas and Antonio Marin, with Odsonne Edouard in an Advanced Forward role looking to get on the end of crosses and long balls forward into space.
4-1-2-2-1 Direct Counter Attack
Aside from the fact our entire midfield trio are all here on loan (which will be slightly alarming come the end of the season if they all have to be replaced!) – this is by and large one of my two main tactics which we implement here at Los Chicharreros. I generally implement a fast direct Counter Attack in games where I feel we will not have the most possession as well as in a lot of away games where I feel the opposition may be stronger or more likely to come at us as the Home team. The objective is to effectively soak up pressure and win the ball back in our own half, and then convert defense to attack as quickly as possible by moving the ball up the field at speed and catching teams on the break by playing the ball in to space and being clinical with our finishing. When I envisage it in my head, I picture that Wayne Rooney tackle & assist in the MLS recently where he tracks back, closes down his man, makes the tackle and then gets the ball back up the field as quickly as he can in order to catch their opponents on the break:
To implement this, our tactic and strategy is formulated as follows:
- Using a DMC or Anchor Man (Danilo Pereira) to win back the ball and play neat passes to a Box-to-Box Midfielder or Advanced Playmaker ahead of him who are technically more astute and can deliver cross-field passes with pinpoint accuracy; Alena in the AP role has 17 Passing, 17 Technique, 18 First Touch and 15 for Vision, while Tonali gives us 16 Passing, 16 Vision and 15 for both First Touch and Technique – between both of them they offer serious quality on the break when it comes to delivering long passes out wide to our onrushing Wingers / Inside Forwards
- Focus Play Down Both Flanks – as per the above, using our midfield trio to get involved in winning the ball back and initiating counter attacks from our own half means that we should be able to create space out wide and distribute cross field balls to either flank where our Wingers/Inside Forwards can capitalise and run at defenders
- High Tempo – looking at our opposition it is clear that we have superior pace and speed within the team, meaning we should be able to attack on the break and expose them at the back with runs from the likes of Marin, Lookman and Xadas. Again, we are trying to be explosive on the break once possession is won, therefore we try to maintain a high tempo and pace as soon as we convert defense into attack
- Direct Passing Into Space – once the ball is won, the goal is to move the ball up the field as fast as possible; I generally instruct one of our wide-men to have very little defensive duties, so that they are available to push forward away from their man and be an outlet for long passes on the break where they can run in to space and either cross from wide or cut inside on goal
- Attacking Width (Wide) – playing Marin and Xadas as Inside Forwards, the objective here is to have them hug the line when breaking forward using space and width available before cutting in at speed to either get a shot on goal or create chances for Edouard up front
- Absorbing Pressure & Closing Down – with a flat back 4 and a DMC ahead of them, we don’t mind not having possession and inviting the Home team to come at us with the expectation that we can then close them down in our own half, regain possession, pump the ball forward to our wide players (or Edouard up top) and ultimately win the game by being more clinical in front of goal and taking our chances
- Breaking from the back – with quality Full Backs that have decent attributes in terms of first touch, dribbling and passing we use quick kick-outs / goalkeeper distribution to break from the back also, where they can turn and find our midfielders or wide players in space to get the ball forward as soon as possible
Most importantly; does it work? In this match which is always going to a tough derby away from home, despite having less possession we manage to soak up a lot of pressure for most of the game before catching our break in the 85th minute when we win the ball in our own half and then pump the ball up past their last line of defence allowing Joveljic in space to put it away with a well-taken finish – almost mirroring that Wayne Rooney assist and perfectly illustrating our strategy when we are on the road or playing a difficult fixture where we aren’t necessarily favourites. We go on to win the game 2-1 and our reign as Kings of the Canary Island Derby continues for another few months at least.
We continue to utilise this Counter Attack strategy for all our away games, and the results are extremely positive as we take advantage of our ability to soak up pressure and hit teams on the break. Between September and December we win 5 out of 7 games away from home (with narrow defeats to Barcelona and Atletico Madrid), and it’s interesting to review the statistical analysis across these games where we can see ourselves dominating despite having less possession on average (just 46%) and being away from home; the fact that we have become quite solid at the back combined with our chance creation and conversion figures means that we are clinical when we do have the ball even if we spend large periods of the game without possession.
100 Games Later
Unknown to myself, we suddenly find ourselves playing my 100th game as CD Tenerife Manager – considering I play every game on Extended Highlights with replays on, I estimate that this accounts for approx. 1200 minutes or 20 hours of my life in 2019 so far and that’s just matchplay alone 😆
Its a good day all around, not only because we beat Alaves 1-0 but also because Odsonne Edouard bangs in his first competitive goal for the club and hopefully this is the start of something big for our #RoyDeLosRovers project.
By Christmas we find ourselves performing above expectations and after 20 odd games we sit happily in 4th position just 6 points off leaders Barcelona.
Despite a blip in October where we only picked up one win in four games, November sees us win 4/4 scoring 13 goals and only conceding two – two more wins in December (after getting embarrassingly destroyed in the Copa Del Rey 4th round bu Huesca) put us unexpectedly in the Champions League qualifying places as we prepare to ring in the new year and say goodbye to 2020 (a year in which Germany beat France in the European Championship condemning them to two successive Euro Final defeats).
The downside of this good run? Alarmingly Odsonne Edouard has only picked up 3 goals in 14 games and so far does not look to be the #RoyDeLosRovers shithouse Striker we needed him to be. With January beckoning, it could be crunch time if we are to maintain our good form and push for a CL qualifying spot….it might be time to check if Senior Concepcion will be get the checkbook out again 👀.
SHOW ME THE MONEY!
Speaking of finances – the end of the year also brings an update on our current financial situation now that we are firmly established as a La Liga club. Our overall balance looks extremely healthy, mainly due to the increased TV revenues as well as a small increase in gate receipts due to our stadium expansion from 22,000 to 26,000.
Sounds great? For Tenerife, yes we are performing really well and have been intelligently expanding year on year in terms of our income and expenditure, keeping tight wage budget and spreading out some transfer fees across 3 seasons rather than taking a hit right away; on the grand scheme of things however, we are still one of the smallest clubs in La Liga based on our overall income – literally making a fraction of what the top 4 clubs earn, and well below the average for everyone else outside the Top 4.
So to summarise – after more than 100 games and now that we have completed half of our third season at CD Tenerife, I think it’s fair to say that we are performing well above expectations, mainly due to the fact that we have become so solid at the back as well as the fact that we have signed really well when it comes to loan signings without carrying the burden of high wages and bonuses. As we enter in to January, I am just about to start checking the Transfer and Loan lists when Senior Concepcion’s hot assistant knocks on the door and hands me this piece of good news:
Of course this won’t change the world but will definitely help us strengthen the squad during the transfer window if we are to seriously contend for an unlikely Champions League spot – better pick up the phone and tell Inigo and Keke that it’s shopping time 💰💰.
Thanks for reading! After a two week break from playing we are officially back in this save and somehow in the hunt for a Champions League place in our third season! Feel free to hit the Menu above to catch up on the evolution of this Roy De Los Rovers journey, it’s no Game of Thrones so each season only has a few posts in each one 😌. As always please feel free to follow and comment below, retweets and thoughts on Twitter are also much appreciated. My next post will be out later this week where we will see if we can do any magic in January as well as trying to maintain our Top 4 position – long way to go yet 😅. Thanks, MaddFM (Paul).