Jump to content

Death of the un-sung hero (?)


Lensois
 Share

Recommended Posts

The Defensive-Midfielder

defensive-midfielder.jpg

What defines a defensive-midfielder?

Introduction

Well, I dedicate this thread to the fact that the modern football (on the pitch) has taken the shape of becoming a game where the pace is now faster than ever, which means that you need creative players who can find a way of lock up the other teams defence in no time. This of course leads to certain player characters beeing ''overfloded'' and perhaps in some cases, not even needed. It reminds me of the game in it's early days when left-footed, good defensive-wise players, had to plays as a right-back and vice-versa for the right-footed defender. The pace of the early days football was of course not even close to the pace we are currently seeing, but as the game has always went on to gain more and more pace, the coaches could not even have patience with the fact that the left/right-footed defender had to turn the ball over to it's ''best foot'' (which only is a difference of micro-secounds!). Luckily, the coaches started to ''correct'' the problem by taking the easy decision of playing left-footed defenders on the left and right-footed defenders on the right.

Let Me Explain Myself

Many say the market-prices of many players are sky high at the moment, but so is the pace of the football as well. These recent years, I've noticed that defensive-midfielders are becoming fewer and fewer of their own kind, so-to-say. The amount of deep-lying play-makers have only been growing and growing these recent years. Even SM suggests that my theory is quite right - Out 58 defensive-midfielders that are rated 90 or above in the game, 35 players are I'd count players who are confident with the ball and could very easily bring in some creativity to his team. That's on the verge of becoming 2/3 of the todays elite of defensive-midfielder.

99737_hp.jpg

Mourinho wants Schweinsteiger at Madrid as well...

Once again: The fact that you need creativity to split apart a good defence and the fact that the pace of the football has developed very much only these recent years, means that you need creativity to lock up a defence. Pure defensive-midfielder (like Mascherano or Lass doesn't have it) and maybe that is why coaches such as Mourinho and Guardiola chooses to give creative defensive-midfielders such as Khedira and the perhaps more questionable decision, Busquets, the start ahead of them? Those seconds in terms of passing-skill between the mastermind defensive-midfielder and the old school defensive-midfielder could be the seconds that are seprating teams apart.

Xavi, a mastermind player, is now rumored to be the one (out of the trio) who will recieve the FIFA World Player of The Year Award. Many around this globe wanted him to win it last year as well and hailed him as a more worthy winner than Leo Messi, the (usual) fan favourite. Could this only be a coincidence...?

Examples

Another example is the flow Germany had in their game during the World Cup. Pretty much the Bundesliga itself, Germany produced an attacking football and with 4 players upfront (3 attacking-midfielder and 1 lonely striker), their pressure was mounting high up on the pitch. Not even the 3 men midfield of Serbia could hold up against 2 techincally skilled passing-players (and not to mention, creative ones) in Schewinsteiger and Khedira. Germany just pressured them down and split the three-men defensive-midfield apart with some fast combinations. The battle against Spain showed that the team with the best creativity in their squad would win, as Spain didn't use any old school defensive-midfielder. Ultimately, individual skills would seal through a winner. Spain has the best players in their setup - that's a fact, and despite playing bad for most games in the World Cup, Spain won the World Cup thanks to individual performances. Did Germany use any old school midfielder in the World Cup? No. Did they succed? Yes. Did Spain use any old school midfielder in the World Cup? No. Did they succed? Yes. The same can be said about Inter - played smart (- used a rather stricted play, though), but once the ball reached the defensive-midfield consisting of Cambiasso-Zanetti-Motta, Sneijder-Milito-Eto'o (the three attackers) had the ball within seconds right at their feets. Inter won the CL thanks to the creativity from the midfielders espcially, as they could counter any team within seconds. Just look at their goals from the quarter-finals and up - they came through counter-attacks that were finished within seconds.

mascherano-essien.jpg

Old school defensive-midfielders...

How Do We Solve It? Can We Solve It?

I do not know how the future will hold for these old school defensive-midfielders, but with the fact that the pace of the game is developing very quickly in such a short periods, the old school midfielders might be gone or in a very limited majority in about 15-20 years. I made a research on the SM database of players under the age of 21 and within the ratings of 85-90 (the next generation defensive-midfielders) and out of 28 players, I could only list 11 players as pure old school midfielders (with the majority of them beeing listed as CB's, that is). This situation isn't as easy to solve as the situation with the defenders that played on the (wrong) flanks in the early days of the football history, as this situation is a more complicated one. Perhaps move up certain central-defenders type such as speedy (Ivan Cordoba comes to my mind) or strong ones that could be a threat to it's own team if he is near the penalty-area, as he perhaps isn't the most tactically skilled one. The latter would fit a player like Chivu perfectly, who has actually been tried out their at occasions in Serie A.

Maybe you all disagree with me, though. I am just looking for a discussion, so discuss!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Death of the un-sung hero (?)

I know alot of people won't agree with me but I think Sergio Busquets is the best DM in the world by far. We all talk about Messi, Pedro, Xavi and Iniesta creating goals and the magnificent passing between them however Busquets is the one who breaks the play up and starts all this. And because Alves and Abidal/Maxwell always far up the pitch doing there bit in the attack this leaves Puyol and Pique to spread out which leaves alot of space in the middle of the defence, Busquets then has to play almost a 'Center Back' role whilst being a Defensive Midfielder at the same time and the guy is a genius at it. He has adapted to the 'Barcelona Football' so well and joins the attacks when he can. He deserves his place in the Spanish Team and I think everyone needs to lay off him and give him some credit, the guy is brilliant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Death of the un-sung hero (?)

Good topic :) A few points:

The out-and-out DM role is relatively new in itself. I think Makelele was really the first guy to just sit in front of the back four, break up play and make a simple pass which I'm assuming is what you mean by a 'pure' defensive midfielder. Go back further and further and formations get more and more attacking. Similarly the athleticism of those who play the sport was far lower. Thus, much of the football we see today is counter-attacking with a lot of defenders and low lying midfielders who keep the ball and try and break quickly when they see an opening.

As to the point that the position is dying: I think for most of your examples you could provide counter-examples. Holland, for instance, reached the World Cup final with 2 of the 'purest' defensive midfielders you can find in Van Bommel and De Jong. Style of play has a lot to do with it. A lot of teams are now entertaining a more continental style of play which is more creative, slower and more technique orientated. A brute of a midfielder isn't very effective playing against these sides or working in them so you see sides like Barcelona, Real, Arsenal and many Italian teams using more creative deep midfielders like you mention Alonso, Khedira and Busquets. I tend to watch Premier League football and particularly with City the position is still very active as they're very effective at cutting out direct play because they, by nature, are much stronger in the tackle. Watch this video of De Jong against Chelsea last season. He cuts out the Chelsea attacks early and usually plays a simple pass. Perfect example of your 'pure' DM and very useful in the Premier League.

9lYRNEfFDw0

Onto whether new players are being brought into the role I think it's a position players tend to back into once their career has already started. De Jong grew up playing football in the Dutch total football era and thus, has excellent technique and is actually quite skilful (though he rarely shows it on the pitch). He could have played anywhere but his physique probably led to him being played where he is. Essien is another example. At Lyon he certainly wasn't a defensive midfielder; more of a box-to-box player and he scored more goals in his final season in France than he's ever done for Chelsea. Since moving to the Premier League he's settled back into that role in front of the defence and, whilst he can still hit a pass and hit a shot, he generally just breaks up play and plays the pass. Lucas scored a few goals for Gremio before moving to England and had an excellent scoring record for the Brazil U20 side. Since moving to Liverpool he's scored just 1 for his club and none for country at any level.

To summarise, I think the game will always be changing. 100 years ago teams played with 5/6 forwards, now we don't find it unusual at all to see a lone striker. The 'pure' DM role is becoming obsolete in several competitions as it just isn't useful, however where it is needed (the Premier League and other leagues I'm sure) there are players available and players seem to adapt to the role quite well; be it a box-to-box midfielder calming down or a defender pushing up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Death of the un-sung hero (?)

There are very few top defensive mids around right now. This is the one position we really, really lack this season, and I honestly believe that signing one quality DM is the difference between promotion and mid-table/play-offs for us. We have the third worst defensive record in the league and that is largely down to a lack of cover for our defence. We tried Faye but he's just too injury-prone and lacks any pace or stamina.

The problem is, there's just so few options available, and any half-decent ones are worth a few million.

As has been said though, with a 4-4-2 you really need a defensive-minded player who can also pass. And there's even fewer of these around. If you play 5 in midfield, then a pure DM can be combined with a creative player successfully - this is what Leeds are doing, and fairly successfully. It's just that our DM - Johnson - isn't a DM at heart and loves to surge forwards. His decision-making is also suspect. He's a box-to-box player and as such is the main problem in our team. Nothing against Johnson myself, but he's not good enough to cover the defence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Death of the un-sung hero (?)

I have to admit I was, and still am a big fan of the Defensive Midfield role (and the Sweeper role, thank you Baresi) If you go back 4-5 years te Premier league was full of teams playing the 4-5-1 to 4-3-3 formation and the linchpin of that team was the DM. They had a simple job, break up any attacks and then give the ball to an attacking player, yet they very really got praise for it in the press. Makelele was never given any accolades or awards when Chelsea won consecutive leagues yet Mouriniho praise him as Chelseas player of the season.

The reason for this was simple, he never scordd any goals, he never made any goal line clearances, he didn't go up for free kicks or corners so why would he get any praise or awards because the media just see him as the guy that stays back. I think this is the reason why we are seeing less and less true DMs. Young players don't want to play in that position, because they are never told how important that job is, same as what happened with the Sweeper role. Kids want to score the goals, want to run up and down the wing, or stay in defensive and take out anything that moves, but if they were educated properly and they were told just how vital the role is and how important they are to the team a lot more go for it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Death of the un-sung hero (?)

I have to admit I was' date=' and still am a big fan of the Defensive Midfield role (and the Sweeper role, thank you Baresi) If you go back 4-5 years te Premier league was full of teams playing the 4-5-1 to 4-3-3 formation and the linchpin of that team was the DM. They had a simple job, break up any attacks and then give the ball to an attacking player, yet they very really got praise for it in the press. Makelele was never given any accolades or awards when Chelsea won consecutive leagues yet Mouriniho praise him as Chelseas player of the season.

The reason for this was simple, he never scordd any goals, he never made any goal line clearances, he didn't go up for free kicks or corners so why would he get any praise or awards because the media just see him as the guy that stays back. I think this is the reason why we are seeing less and less true DMs. Young players don't want to play in that position, because they are never told how important that job is, same as what happened with the Sweeper role. Kids want to score the goals, want to run up and down the wing, or stay in defensive and take out anything that moves, but if they were educated properly and they were told just how vital the role is and how important they are to the team a lot more go for it.[/quote']

I know what you mean in that second paragraph. It's exactly what happens. Tbh as a defender I get a thrill of clearing the ball of the line and seeing the other players' faces drop. :D

My favourite position is DM though, you have backup behind you so you can go in for the tackle, also you see everything that happens and distribute the ball a lot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Death of the un-sung hero (?)

I know what you mean in that second paragraph. It's exactly what happens. Tbh as a defender I get a thrill of clearing the ball of the line and seeing the other players' faces drop. :D

My favourite position is DM though' date=' you have backup behind you so you can go in for the tackle, also you see everything that happens and distribute the ball a lot.[/quote']

I used to play DM in school, partily because I was big and it involved the least running but mainly because I didn't have that much flair but I knew how to make sure the 4 guys behind me stayed in place and that the 5 guys in front of me where able to do their job effectively. I was happy to act as a middle man because I realised the trust and importance that came with the role.

At the end of the day by being a DM your job is to provide cover for all the other positions because whether you or the opposition is attacking your job is to make sure you've got positions covered to allow you to attack effectively or to cover positions so that your defence can get back and do the job they do best.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Death of the un-sung hero (?)

Good topic :) A few points:

The out-and-out DM role is relatively new in itself. I think Makelele was really the first guy to just sit in front of the back four' date=' break up play and make a simple pass which I'm assuming is what you mean by a 'pure' defensive midfielder. Go back further and further and formations get more and more attacking. Similarly the athleticism of those who play the sport was far lower. Thus, much of the football we see today is counter-attacking with a lot of defenders and low lying midfielders who keep the ball and try and break quickly when they see an opening.[/quote']

I'd say players such as Dunga and Edgar Davids, who both started their careers before Makelele (in Dunga's case) and at a similiar time (as in David's case) were the first modern defensive-midfielder (alongside Makelele). Anyway, I found it very weird to not see more (old school) defensive-midfielders these days. With the fact that we are seeing more offensive central-defenders than ever, they should be converted as defensive-midfielders if the coaches can't seem to develop them in their primary position. The pace has perhaps went to over-hill for most of the old school defensive-midfielders and if you look at the recent years successes for Barca and Inter, who has won the CL these two recent season, and the two latest World Cup champions, Italy and Spain, none of them actually used a pure defensive-midfielder. Of course this could influence most (of the top teams) manager to drop of a player who can't seem to handle the pace and lay in an extra creative player who could control the game for it's own side even further. We all have seen how dreadful an old school midfielder like Poulsen has been at Liverpool and how Roy has decided to form the defensive-midfielder after Poulsen's failure - in with Meireles and Lucas in the middle - in with two box-to-box players (more creative players).

Onto whether new players are being brought into the role I think it's a position players tend to back into once their career has already started. De Jong grew up playing football in the Dutch total football era and thus' date=' has excellent technique and is actually quite skilful (though he rarely shows it on the pitch). He could have played anywhere but his physique probably led to him being played where he is. Essien is another example. At Lyon he certainly wasn't a defensive midfielder; more of a box-to-box player and he scored more goals in his final season in France than he's ever done for Chelsea. Since moving to the Premier League he's settled back into that role in front of the defence and, whilst he can still hit a pass and hit a shot, he generally just breaks up play and plays the pass. Lucas scored a few goals for Gremio before moving to England and had an excellent scoring record for the Brazil U20 side. Since moving to Liverpool he's scored just 1 for his club and none for country at any level.[/quote']

Yup, we've seen loads of players revolutioning their own playing-style. Zambrotta, for instance, started out as a winger and a defensive-midfielder (and he kind of reminds me of Simone Pepe, who has a similar playing-style to what Zambrotta have), but once he got moved to Juve, Lippi started to use him as a fullback. Now we all know how successful that turned out to be, as Zambrotta, at his peak, was the best fullback in the whole footballing-world. Once again: I think that techincally-skilled and perhaps to offensive defenders such could be tried out at the defensive-midfield role. I mean, they already know how to defend quite brutally and to be honest, the defensive-midfield role should fit the offensive central-defenders as a glove. The defensive-midfield role are occupied by offensive central-defenders.. Offensive central-defenders that are beeing ''pushed up'' to the defensive-midfield position would be fluent with the flow of the fast pace in the game, as they are good with the ball, very technical, and originally, central-defenders that are skilled with the ball, are the players who sets up the attack (like what Pique does for Barca or Lucio for Inter). I think coaches should try to give these kind of defenders a shot up in the midfield in perhaps training games or even in the cup games. A defender that is beeing pushed up to the midfield can't do anything worser than Poulsen, for instace.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...