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Chripper

Livingston currently showing that three at the back CAN work

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Around one quarter into the SPL season (If anyone has a problem with me calling it the "SPL" they can write the complaint on a piece of paper and bin it. The "Scottish Premiership" sound too fancy for what the competition actually is) has come and gone and Livingston are currently showing that the three at the back system can work. This is a club who, on a weekly basis, is facing clubs with a bigger wage bill, more fans, better facilities, better players and larger budgets, and yet Livingston is leading Aberdeen, Rangers and Hibs and they're only one point behind Celtic and only three points away from the top.

Three of their central defenders scored at the weekend, and one of them is tipped for a Scotland call-up.

You can bet that before David Hopkin changed the Livingston formation none of the defenders had ever played with three at the back before, and yet they have taken the league by storm. They played with three at the back for three seasons, which included two consecutive promotions. They've been playing with three at the back for three years and now they are proficient with it, and yet the clear majority of Scotland fans aren't willing to go three matches, never mind three seasons, with three at the back, before wanting to go back to a tried and failed system. Gary Holt has continued where Hopkin left off. The first time I watched them this season was against Rangers and they were absolutely superb, they won 1:0 and it could've been 4. They were brilliant. Their defence were organized and structured, they hunted in packs and they created tons of chances. They rendered Rangers into a clueless outfit. 

Livingston remind me of Scotland under Craig Brown. They have inferior players, but they bridge this gap by being organized, being compact and working as a single unit.

On a weekly basis Livingston defy the experts and they prove that a three at the back system can work.

Scotland fans are obsessed with four at the back, with very little (Or no) justification. Maybe Scotland people are just fundamentally scared of change, a glance towards the referendum would prove this. 

Do I think for one second that this post will convert Scotland fans to at least giving the three at the back system a fair crack of the whip? Not for a millisecond. I just want McLeish to stick with it.

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40 minutes ago, Chripper said:

Around one quarter into the SPL season (If anyone has a problem with me calling it the "SPL" they can write the complaint on a piece of paper and bin it. The "Scottish Premiership" sound too fancy for what the competition actually is) has come and gone and Livingston are currently showing that the three at the back system can work. This is a club who, on a weekly basis, is facing clubs with a bigger wage bill, more fans, better facilities, better players and larger budgets, and yet Livingston is leading Aberdeen, Rangers and Hibs and they're only one point behind Celtic and only three points away from the top.

Three of their central defenders scored at the weekend, and one of them is tipped for a Scotland call-up.

You can bet that before David Hopkin changed the Livingston formation none of the defenders had ever played with three at the back before, and yet they have taken the league by storm. They played with three at the back for three seasons, which included two consecutive promotions. They've been playing with three at the back for three years and now they are proficient with it, and yet the clear majority of Scotland fans aren't willing to go three matches, never mind three seasons, with three at the back, before wanting to go back to a tried and failed system. Gary Holt has continued where Hopkin left off. The first time I watched them this season was against Rangers and they were absolutely superb, they won 1:0 and it could've been 4. They were brilliant. Their defence were organized and structured, they hunted in packs and they created tons of chances. They rendered Rangers into a clueless outfit. 

Livingston remind me of Scotland under Craig Brown. They have inferior players, but they bridge this gap by being organized, being compact and working as a single unit.

On a weekly basis Livingston defy the experts and they prove that a three at the back system can work.

Scotland fans are obsessed with four at the back, with very little (Or no) justification. Maybe Scotland people are just fundamentally scared of change, a glance towards the referendum would prove this. 

Do I think for one second that this post will convert Scotland fans to at least giving the three at the back system a fair crack of the whip? Not for a millisecond. I just want McLeish to stick with it.

 

Any system can work with the right players...  4-2-4,  3-6-1, 2-3-5....  

 

also, remember craig brown did not stick rigidly to 5-3-2....   for example he played mclaren in midfield in a 4-1-3-2 against Finland, and successfully played a 4-4-2 against the Dutch in Euro 96 (the Dutch played their  3-3-1-3 formation from memory) and he used Kevin Gallacher wide right.  Point being the he adapted to suit who they were playing.  Back in the day 3-5-2 was popular as you generally played against two strikers where two picked up and one was spare. Now most sides play one up top.  

Another problem with 5-3-2 is that it doesn’t allow wingers easily.  McCann, Simon Donnelly, etc got little game time as wide players were not accommodated... the exception being when brown went 3-4-3 against England in 99.  The best way to counter that system is to play two wide men and overlapping fullbacks.

i want Robertson playing orthedaux left back... I want Fraser playing wide...  cant do that with three at back

 

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Yeah, I'd have to say it really depends on the players you have an how they like to play. It's meaningless to highlight an arbitrary team that are doing well with 3 at the back and say that's the solution for Scotland. Liverpool play four at the back and they are leading arguably the best league in the world. They have our captain playing at left back where he's comfortable, and is rated by various different metrics as one of the best players in the league.

Someone on here said the issue is we're playing 3 at the back to try and fit our two best players into the same team by playing them both out of position, and when you put it like that it sounds so dumb. Doesn't it make sense for our players to play where they do week in week out for their clubs, in the positions that their expertise in playing has led them to the top of their game and a call-up to the national team?

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11 hours ago, Chripper said:

Around one quarter into the SPL season (If anyone has a problem with me calling it the "SPL" they can write the complaint on a piece of paper and bin it. The "Scottish Premiership" sound too fancy for what the competition actually is) has come and gone and Livingston are currently showing that the three at the back system can work. This is a club who, on a weekly basis, is facing clubs with a bigger wage bill, more fans, better facilities, better players and larger budgets, and yet Livingston is leading Aberdeen, Rangers and Hibs and they're only one point behind Celtic and only three points away from the top.

Three of their central defenders scored at the weekend, and one of them is tipped for a Scotland call-up.

You can bet that before David Hopkin changed the Livingston formation none of the defenders had ever played with three at the back before, and yet they have taken the league by storm. They played with three at the back for three seasons, which included two consecutive promotions. They've been playing with three at the back for three years and now they are proficient with it, and yet the clear majority of Scotland fans aren't willing to go three matches, never mind three seasons, with three at the back, before wanting to go back to a tried and failed system. Gary Holt has continued where Hopkin left off. The first time I watched them this season was against Rangers and they were absolutely superb, they won 1:0 and it could've been 4. They were brilliant. Their defence were organized and structured, they hunted in packs and they created tons of chances. They rendered Rangers into a clueless outfit. 

Livingston remind me of Scotland under Craig Brown. They have inferior players, but they bridge this gap by being organized, being compact and working as a single unit.

On a weekly basis Livingston defy the experts and they prove that a three at the back system can work.

Scotland fans are obsessed with four at the back, with very little (Or no) justification. Maybe Scotland people are just fundamentally scared of change, a glance towards the referendum would prove this. 

Do I think for one second that this post will convert Scotland fans to at least giving the three at the back system a fair crack of the whip? Not for a millisecond. I just want McLeish to stick with it.

I think you’re the one with he obsession. Now you're linking 4 at the back to the referendum. I’m surprised you’re allowed internet access. 

  • Confused 1

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12 hours ago, Chripper said:

Around one quarter into the SPL season (If anyone has a problem with me calling it the "SPL" they can write the complaint on a piece of paper and bin it. The "Scottish Premiership" sound too fancy for what the competition actually is) has come and gone and Livingston are currently showing that the three at the back system can work. This is a club who, on a weekly basis, is facing clubs with a bigger wage bill, more fans, better facilities, better players and larger budgets, and yet Livingston is leading Aberdeen, Rangers and Hibs and they're only one point behind Celtic and only three points away from the top.

Three of their central defenders scored at the weekend, and one of them is tipped for a Scotland call-up.

You can bet that before David Hopkin changed the Livingston formation none of the defenders had ever played with three at the back before, and yet they have taken the league by storm. They played with three at the back for three seasons, which included two consecutive promotions. They've been playing with three at the back for three years and now they are proficient with it, and yet the clear majority of Scotland fans aren't willing to go three matches, never mind three seasons, with three at the back, before wanting to go back to a tried and failed system. Gary Holt has continued where Hopkin left off. The first time I watched them this season was against Rangers and they were absolutely superb, they won 1:0 and it could've been 4. They were brilliant. Their defence were organized and structured, they hunted in packs and they created tons of chances. They rendered Rangers into a clueless outfit. 

Livingston remind me of Scotland under Craig Brown. They have inferior players, but they bridge this gap by being organized, being compact and working as a single unit.

On a weekly basis Livingston defy the experts and they prove that a three at the back system can work.

Scotland fans are obsessed with four at the back, with very little (Or no) justification. Maybe Scotland people are just fundamentally scared of change, a glance towards the referendum would prove this. 

Do I think for one second that this post will convert Scotland fans to at least giving the three at the back system a fair crack of the whip? Not for a millisecond. I just want McLeish to stick with it.

I get what you're trying to say but you're leaving out some pretty key points here, 1 Livi train with each other week in week out so have had time to learn the system and put to to effective use, 2 Gary Holt isn't trying to shoe horn in a player (Tierney) at centre back when it's not his natural position simply because he doesn't have the balls to leave him on the bench or play him at right back where he has been more effective.

I saw McFadden was on the BBC yesterday bleating on about having to find a place for Tierney and Robertson simply because they're the 2 best left backs we have.  Sorry but that's simply utter bollocks!  We saw against Israel that system makes both players less effective.  Also please don't give me any "but it worked against Albania" patter.  Albania were so bad there was little need for any game plan!

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Also when Livingston a have free kick on the halfway line, no hesitation big men up. How many times in modern football do teams knock it back or inside? On another issue McLeish wants the team to play out from the back, doing so has contributed to our downfall. Stop it.

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I have to say, I've been to both our games with Livi this season and haven't been impressed with them at all.  If anything, I'm bewildered at their continued good form as they are rank rotten from what I've seen in the flesh.  

Admittedly I haven't watched a live TV game or highlights of the other games they've been involved in, but fair play to them as they are doing something right.

On the back three argument; Motherwell have persisted with it for 15 games so far this season and virtually all of last season and it isn't working for us.  The manager is so determined to continue to shoehorn players into that system rather than find a system that suits the players.  Teams have worked out our game plan, hence the abysmal start to the season we've made.  We've got some cracking footballers who aren't seeing game time as we have a manager so clouded by stubbornness that he continues to put a disjointed side on the park with no real way of playing.  I think McLeish must be in close contact with Robbo as Scotland are certainly in the same boat.

Edited by BremnerLorimerGray

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2 hours ago, kwhitelaw said:

 

I saw McFadden was on the BBC yesterday bleating on about having to find a place for Tierney and Robertson simply because they're the 2 best left backs we have.  Sorry but that's simply utter bollocks!  We saw against Israel that system makes both players less effective.  Also please don't give me any "but it worked against Albania" patter.  Albania were so bad there was little need for any game plan!

Absolutely spot on. I thought exactly the same when I read that.

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Thanks everyone for your thoughtful and insightful comments, you all make very good points. :)

Apart from one person who bewilderingly decided to attack me personally. I suppose one personal attack from nine comments on an internet posting board is very good going. :)

I get the "shoe-horning" thing, but I do think that Tierney does have the potential to be a very good central defender. It's not like he can't defend, he can, I'd say that he's as good at the back as he is going forward. The one big thing, though, is I just don't have faith in Alex McLeish and I don't think he has the ability to create the mentality in the team that we require to move forward.

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4 hours ago, Blackpool78 said:

Nothing to do with the players at all, fault is with the manager as he doesnt have a clue about modern day football

100% correct.

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5-3-2 could be a great formation for Scotland...

Problem is

1) We don't have many good center halves that play that system.
McKenna and Soutar (who is injured) probably our best centre backs?
Both still young and inexperienced at international level though.

2) Playing out from back has resulted in simple errors being made

3) In modern game the 5-3-2 -> 3-5-2 with mobile wing backs.
However I am not sure that is entirely McLeish's vision.
He had an obsession with that formation for over 10 years!

4) Robertson doesn't seem to play so well as left midfielder. 
Needs winger to link up with.  Tierney is not natural centre half.
Both players better for clubs in natural position.

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Teams that play in yellow are teams we should hack.   Wham kind of stuff.   Scotland has a tradition of fouling teams that play in yellow more than any other colour. 

Edited by bonny78

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2 hours ago, Chripper said:

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful and insightful comments, you all make very good points. :)

Apart from one person who bewilderingly decided to attack me personally. I suppose one personal attack from nine comments on an internet posting board is very good going. :)

I get the "shoe-horning" thing, but I do think that Tierney does have the potential to be a very good central defender. It's not like he can't defend, he can, I'd say that he's as good at the back as he is going forward. The one big thing, though, is I just don't have faith in Alex McLeish and I don't think he has the ability to create the mentality in the team that we require to move forward.

“Scotland fans are obsessed with four at the back, with very little (Or no) justification. Maybe Scotland people are just fundamentally scared of change, a glance towards the referendum would prove this.”

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1 hour ago, Haggis_trap said:

5-3-2 could be a great formation for Scotland...

Problem is

1) We don't have many good center halves that play that system.
McKenna and Soutar (who is injured) probably our best centre backs?
Both still young and inexperienced at international level though.

2) Playing out from back has resulted in simple errors being made

3) In modern game the 5-3-2 -> 3-5-2 with mobile wing backs.
However I am not sure that is entirely McLeish's vision.
He had an obsession with that formation for over 10 years!

4) Robertson doesn't seem to play so well as left midfielder. 
Needs winger to link up with.  Tierney is not natural centre half.
Both players better for clubs in natural position.

Fair points, but the very fact that we don't have many good center halves is the reason why we should be playing with a three. When a team is hopeless in a position it's folly to play less in said position. When we made the three at the back successful (relatively) we were sparse in the central defensive area, so much so that we had to shoe-horn Tom Boyd (left back) into the three. There's parallels, what with Tierney (left back) being played in the middle.

I think 3-5-2 can be more fluid than it looks, when we're attacking (since most teams play with one striker) a centre back step into midfield, allowing a central midfielder to drift forward, or giving cover to the wing-backs, forming the defence into a four.

People keep saying that "the defenders play and train in a four with their clubs", but when was the last time that our defence looked comfortable? People are saying that we should play to our strengths, but I don't see any strengths. We are lacking in defence, midfield and attack, so we should be looking to overload the middle of the park with eight players. There's strength in numbers.

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^ Good points.
Craig Brown certainly got the most out of scottish players with 5-3-2.

Worryingly McLeish clearly doesnt know his best team / formation.
Though he has not had much time to tinker....
Peru / Mexico was pointless with end of season call offs then Belgium and Portugal both tough fixtures.
Team really needs some confidence.

Biggest problem now is that Albania away match is huge.
Winning group is our best chance of making Euros
... plus nations league also decides seeding for the main Euros draw
Pot 2 vs. Pot 4 would make a big difference.

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Said this a couple of times before but I would get Craig Halkett, who plays centre half for Livi, called up for the national team to at least to train with the team.

Halkett looks a good player and is worth a closer look.

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18 hours ago, Malcolm said:

also, remember craig brown did not stick rigidly to 5-3-2....   for example he played mclaren in midfield in a 4-1-3-2 against Finland, and successfully played a 4-4-2 against the Dutch in Euro 96 (the Dutch played their  3-3-1-3 formation from memory) and he used Kevin Gallacher wide right.  Point being the he adapted to suit who they were playing.  Back in the day 3-5-2 was popular as you generally played against two strikers where two picked up and one was spare. Now most sides play one up top.  

That was a particular favourite tactic of Brown where a team had one standout player - in the case of Finland at that time it was Jari Litmanen.   He used to call it "Kill the King".

I also remember McLaren doing a similar number against Baggio in 1992 when Roxburgh was manager.  Of course it helped that McLaren was very effective at doing that as he had fantastic concentration and discipline.

3-5-2 was pretty much the standard formation for most teams in the 1990s.

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50 minutes ago, Haggis_trap said:

^ Good points.
Craig Brown certainly got the most out of scottish players with 5-3-2.

Worryingly McLeish clearly doesnt know his best team / formation.
Though he has not had much time to tinker....
Peru / Mexico was pointless with end of season call offs then Belgium and Portugal both tough fixtures.
Team really needs some confidence.

Biggest problem now is that Albania away match is huge.
Winning group is our best chance of making Euros
... plus nations league also decides seeding for the main Euros draw
Pot 2 vs. Pot 4 would make a big difference.

Agreed. The SFA put the blockers on McLeish and his attempts to form any sort of confidence and unity with the team. As per usual with the SFA, they put their own self-interest in front of what's happening on the park. The ideal thing would've been to play, at least, a couple of lower ranked teams, for nothing else than to gain some confidence and cohesion. 

I know. It's massive. Some people will say that it's "only Albania", but our players tend to choke when it comes to the clinch. Let's just hope they can step-up and pull out a win.

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41 minutes ago, ErsatzThistle said:

Said this a couple of times before but I would get Craig Halkett, who plays centre half for Livi, called up for the national team to at least to train with the team.

Halkett looks a good player and is worth a closer look.

He was man of the match against Rangers, and richly deserved. He was absolutely solid.

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15 minutes ago, Chripper said:

He was man of the match against Rangers, and richly deserved. He was absolutely solid.

He's been doing very well lately. Got to be called up.

Unfortunately there will be the usual idiots (especially in the media) banging on about how calling up a Livingston player is somehow a bad thing.

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10 minutes ago, ErsatzThistle said:

He's been doing very well lately. Got to be called up.

Unfortunately there will be the usual idiots (especially in the media) banging on about how calling up a Livingston player is somehow a bad thing.

From what I've seen I'd definitely be in favour of him being called up.

I know, it's this kind of thinking that holds us back... one of many. You would think this snobbery would be a thing of the past, but not so much It's obvious, but it shouldn't matter who a player plays for.

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Willing to guess that most Scotland fans don’t care what formation we play, just as long as we’re at least attempting to get the best out of our squad and win games, especially away from home instead of settling for draws.

to different degrees every manager we’ve had has failed at this, miserably for the most part 

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