Dean Holden’s Tactical Tweak vs Sheffield Wednesday

During City’s victory against Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday, Dean Holden made a subtle tactical change in order to help City build from the back – and he explained why to Bristol Live after the game:

Source: Bristol Live

I didn’t notice it whilst watching the game live, so I had another look afterwards to see what was changed at half-time.

First of all, as Holden said, Wednesday stuck their most attacking midfielder (first Izzy Brown, then Dele-Bashiru later on) on Tyreeq Bakinson to try to stop him having an impact during the build-up phase of City’s play. This worked to some extent, and was one of the reasons why City struggled to “get going” in the first period.

It says a lot about Tyreeq’s start to the season that, in just his second Championship start, opposition managers are already looking for ways to reduce his influence on a game.

Here are just a couple of examples of Brown getting tight to Bakinson, and thus stopping the pass into him:

However, Holden spotted this and clearly told Bakinson to use this attention he was getting to his advantage. If he’s got a midfielder man-marking him, he can move that midfielder around the pitch, creating space for others. Much like how an attacking side would create space in the box with decoy runs from a set-piece.

Here’s how Ty did that in various GIF examples, in the second half:

Bakinson occupies a slightly more advanced and wider position, taking Brown with him – opening up space for Weimann to drop in and pick up the ball.
Again, Bakinson moves into a more advanced postion, opening up space for Weimann (who gets clattered).
Bakinson again creates space in the middle for Weimann by taking Brown away from that area. Weimann didn’t receive the ball on this occasion.
This time Bakinson drags Dele-Bashiru (the substitute) with him, opening up space for Taylor Moore to bring the ball out from the back and then build.
Bakinson higher and wider again, opening space for Moore again.
And finally, Tyreeq cleverly drags Dele-Bashiru away from the middle, creating the passing lane to Weimann – and City can build again.

It was only a subtle tweak from Dean Holden, however it did allow City to build attacks more easily than in the first half. Actually, the fact it was “only” a subtle change is really encouraging for me. Holden wasn’t prepared to completely rip up the plan and change the shape and personnel of the side to get more joy in the second half. Instead, he trusted his players and formation, and gave out some tactical advice to his young midfielder. Perfect.

As I saw @davefevs say on Twitter, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lee Johnson, in that situation, decides to make a double change at half-time as well as change the formation. Holden trusts his way of playing enough that he won’t be tempted into making any rash decisions which can cause confusion and a lack of cohesion amongst the players.

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