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All about the wingers


Barn

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With all this talk of Robben going (good riddence glass man) we are constantly asking if we have enough cover on the wings, usually follwed by questions about SWP, JC, SK and FM asking what there best position is.

We don't play with wingers in my opinion. A winger is a plaery that, if left footed plays on the left of midfield and if right footed plays on the right of midfield. Their job is to beat the opposition defender get to the bye-line and cross the ball (in a nutshell). If that's still the case I think we only have one winger, SWP and he can't cross the ball so he's not a very good winger. What we have is a number of players who's role is to get forward and support the front man/men from a wider starting position, this is why JC often plays on the left - the ability to cut in can be devestating. It is also why if we need them we've got plenty of cover for that role, even without Robben; Joe Cole. Kalou, Malouda, SWP, Sinclair. All of them are capable of supporting a main striker.

Wingers are a thing of the past - at our club anyway, and it looks like manure are following suit.

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It's a good point and pretty much right. There seem to be pretty few out and out wingers these days and that's just the way football has evolved and I think they are seen as a bit of a luxury now (perhaps they always were?). How often do you recall a winger being totally isolated in games. When I was younger, I used to play right wing myself at times and can remember the frustration of games passing me by and not getting a sniff of the ball for ages - perhaps to be subbed because of it.

I think these days you just cannot afford the luxury of having what is deemed an orthodox winger as all players need to be adaptable. Shame if you ask me as nothing is better than seeing great wingplay. Charlie Cook was a little before my time but nothing has ever given me more pleasure (football wise that is!!) than seeing Pat Nevin dribble passed defenders as if they weren't there before planting a perfect cross on Kerry or Speedo's head - from the right or the left - it didn't matter. I'd love to see that type of winger again but I just don't think it will happen. As you say, the likes of Joe and SWP will play out wide but will more often than not cut inside and also as much of their game will be their tracking back & defensive responsibilities as opposed to the old style winger who could just hug the touchline and wait for someone to get the ball to them.

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This is a very interesting point and you are right, Barn, the old fashioned winger is a thing of the past. I thought he was back when Robben skinned the entire right side of the Barcodes defence when he first arrived, but in the end he HAD to slot into the modern role for this type of player in a 4-3-3, which is to funnel back when required to do so and do your fair share of foraging and covering. No surprise really that Robben wasn?t so good at this modern aspect of wing play and it?s somewhat ironic that he leaves just at the time when Jose looks to lighten the defensive load for the wide men in a 4-4-2 deploying out and out wingers. The best cross he ever swung over was in the League Cup final last season and even that was directed into the box rather than away from the keeper after having reached the end of the pitch. If I?m honest I can?t say that I remember a time when he?s looked anything other than a winger who wanted to finish what he started, instead of fulfilling the old fashioned winger?s role.

Whilst we do have players who look up when they cross - Bridgey, SWP, Malouda, Johnson and both Coles when they don?t overplay their hand - what we don?t have is the genuine speed merchant who gets to the dead ball line and pulls back a decent cross, the last of these being seen leaving SWP?s foot and destined for Crespo?s head - on second thoughts, maybe apologies are due to Wayne for forgetting his cross to SWP against the Hammers. There is talk of Malouda reviving a previous partnership with Didier, but most of us will have to wait and see if this turns out to be from bog standard crosses. In contrast, I have seen a fair bit of Sinclair in the reserves and it is clear that he prefers to cut in from the left at the end of any run at the FB and the hope has to be that the coaches have been working on his crossing, because he has definitely got the speed to give himself the required time on the ball to pick out a player and to be able to vary his point of attack would make him a terrific threat to have in our side. Of course, when you?re talking about crosses, you could have given Jesper a month of Sundays and he?d have still picked out a steward, but he was an exception (please say he was an exception).

Ask any defender what type of delivery into the box he fears most and he will nearly always tell you it?s the cross moving away from the keeper and towards those who are running back towards their own goal. Makes you wonder why this particular attacking option is becoming a dying art, doesn?t it? It could be that we are about to revive it and, if we do, my money is on our full backs being the best exponents by the end of the season. After all, at the moment, Alves or no Alves, SWP central or wide, it?s Glen who looks to be our best bet when it comes to hitting a telling ball into the box from the right.

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