Football365's Top Ten Tactical Mistakes

Top has to be the debacle at Sunderland (and we're not talking about the beach ball) but we reckon Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Harry Redknapp are among the blunderers too...

Last Updated: 27/10/09 at 08:59 Post Comment

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10) Throwing three Everton strikers on against Stoke
It's refreshing when a manager puts up his hand and admits to making a mistake as David Moyes did after Everton's draw with Stoke in October. "I don't think (my decision) helped us. I think it was a poor decision by me, we lost our shape," said Moyes after frustration led to him throwing Yakubu and Jo onto the pitch to join Louis Saha. The problem? He'd taken off Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Leon Osman so there was nobody to actually create the chances. It didn't go well.


9) Birmingham playing 4-5-1 at home
"The punters have got to be with us at St Andrew's, so I've got to rethink everything. We are getting to know Christian Benitez and his strengths and weaknesses and maybe him being up front as the target striker against Bolton wasn't the right choice," admitted Alex McLeish after his stolid Blues lost 2-1 at home with a packed midfield that hardly encouraged expansive play. Credit is due to McLeish for changing tack against Sunderland on Saturday and being rewarded with goals and a victory.


8) Opting for Diaby v Manchester City
With Eduardo supposedly about to begin his ridiculous UEFA ban, and Andrei Arshavin sidelined, we were all expecting the Croat to line up at the City of Manchester Stadium to test a potentially shaky Manchester City defence. But that wasn't in the plans of Arsene Wenger, who inexplicably still sees Abou Diaby as a viable option as part of a three-man attacking line-up. He took to the field alongside Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner and, surprise surprise, Arsenal looked one-paced and lacking in invention.


7) Playing a kid v Liverpool
Phil Brown has made a series of baffling decisions this season - not least appointing the perma-crocked Nick Barmby as his captain - but chief among them was playing 18-year-old defender Liam Cooper at Anfield. Cooper had impressed in the League Cup against Everton three days before (well, as much as anyone can impress in a 4-0 defeat) and his reward was a start against Liverpool that saw his confidence take a beating as the Reds cruised to a 6-1 win. Quite what Kamil Zayatte would have made of it all from his viewing position on the bench, we can only speculate.


6) Shifting Keane to the left wing
Robbie Keane had started the season in less-than-impressive fashion up front for Tottenham, while Peter Crouch was fast making a case for inclusion, but Harry Redknapp had a problem ahead of the visit of Manchester United - Keane was his captain. The solution? Shoehorn Keane into the team on the left instead of the injured Luka Modric, leaving new signing and natural replacement Niko Kranjcar kicking his heels on the bench. The result? A 3-1 defeat and Keane leaving the field after 72 ineffective minutes.


5) Throwing Delph in at the deep end
Only the Aston Villa manager knows why he decided to ignore the claims of Steven Sidwell and Nigel Reo-Coker on the opening day of the season against Wigan and opt instead for an 18-year-old midfielder straight out of League One. However good a player looks in training, pitching him up against the likes of Michael Brown was always going to be a big risk. Delph looked overawed and was hauled off after an hour and his only subsequent Premier League start also ended in defeat at Blackburn.


4) Playing Aurelio as a holding midfielder
Liverpool were expected to sweep aside an underestimated Fiorentina side but the Italians were given the boost of a baffling decision from Rafa Benitez to play the newly-fit Fabio Aurelio in the centre of midfield alongside Lucas Leiva in the absence of Javier Mascherano, defying pre-match predictions that Steven Gerrard would drop into that position. Unfortunately, revised pre-match predictions that it could all go spectacularly wrong proved to be more accurate.


3) Playing a distracted Lescott v Arsenal
The rumour was that Joleon Lescott had asked not to play against Arsenal on the opening day of the season because his head was with Manchester City even if he was still physically an Everton player. How David Moyes must have wished he had acquiesced to that wish as Lescott was abysmal at the heart of a rotten defence that was breached six times in 90 horrific minutes. As tactical mistakes go, few will backfire in quite such spectacular fashion.


2) Michael Carrick facing Liverpool
If someone had said four years ago that Man United fans would be blaming defeat to Liverpool on the absence of Darren Fletcher, even Darren Fletcher would have probably laughed out loud. But he was sorely missed against Liverpool, who must have been lifted by the team news at 1 o'clock that Carrick was lining up in the United midfield. This is a player who wilts against top-class opposition in high-pressure games. The energetic Anderson would have been a much, much better choice to chase around the tireless Dirk Kuyt.


1) Liverpool's five-man defence v Sunderland
A phenomenally stupid idea this one, compounded by the decision to leave Javier Mascherano on the bench on the grounds that he could be a little bit tired. As one F365er wrote at the time, it was a tacit admission that Liverpool were psychologically cowed without Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard - rather than just replacing his key players, Rafa Benitez opted for a complete change of tactic that saw Liverpool looking confused, panicked and floundering without the faith of their manager. They were dreadful and Sunderland's victory was no shock - they simpler had the better line-up.


Sarah Winterburn

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