How long have we not had football? Wolves football? Instead we have to placate our urges and our addiction by watching Ruben Neves flow one of those slinky midfield cancelling beautiful works of art to Chris Ronaldo for him to slide a goal in during the Portugal game. I watch the Gifs not the whole thing. I still have a problem supporting or watching other teams play. It’s not Wolves mate, I don’t care, I’m sorry.
But Conor Coady eh? Much fume and despondent typing about him not being in the England side. I myself don’t care that he isn’t there yet. I don’t want his footballing brain addled by the shitstorm that surrounds the national team. I don’t want him to see those egos and the propoganda that swirls around the England team like a malodious fart.
Coady himself will deal with it impeccably of course because he has the intellectual nous to ameliliorate the snidey bollocks that tends to flutter around the England dressing room. But what is the real reason he’s not being picked. We could lambast Southgate to the ends of the earth and back, all day mate. He’s an enemy this Southgate. Villa man. A bit bereft of imagination too. But Southgate isn’t the ‘eye in the pyramid’ within the England set up, and as much as we would like to think prejudice and localism clouds the judgement of the England tactical team it’s probably not the over riding factor.
Wolves play a three-five-two system most of the time. We play three center backs and two wing backs in Doherty and Jonny Otto. Bennet, Coady and Boly are a compact and well rehearsed trio. The BBC of Wolves if you like. Putting Coady at the center of this trio was a master stroke by Nuno. Coady is quick to see danger, quick to react too. He moves the ball out of danger very fast and accurately. If Coady is busy marshalling some opposition player out of danger then Boly and to a lesser extent Benno are quite happy to stroke the ball forward and bring on an attack.
Pep played this formation at Barca and had some success. We see an attack brews from the foot of Coady and he passes it into our three man midfield which has now become a five man midfield with Doherty and Jonny pressing forwards. Moutinho lines up at the head of a triangle in midfield, He is the ‘artist’ the one with the vision and probably the most important fulcrum of the move forward. Donk of course is the hard biscuity layer of this midfield Cheesecake. He’s there to regain loose second balls and to aggravate the opposition midfield. You can see watching the runs and work he performed last season how he sets about moving into space dragging players around. Tackling is a dirty word now but Donk will always hassle a players line of sight or upset a rythym here and there. In attack he moves to support Moutinho, who (if) under pressure will lay the ball off to Donk then move into space watching for the arrival of Doherty or Jonny into the party. Ruben of course waits and supports. He is the lubrication between our BBC trio and the sharp bit of the triangle where Moutinho sits. Ruben Neves is forensic in his distribution and the secondary mover behind Moutinho. The second string to the Neves bow is the ability to cancel out the midfield altogether when required to position an entry into the final third by a wingback or a Jimenez-Jota movement wide. Neves will move back into his own half to provide defensive solidarity as Jonny and Matt sling their way forwards.
Its a tactic, a philosophy you know, and one that requires intense drilling on the training pitch to get right. It also requires an element of intellectual/athletic ability which Nuno has instilled within the club during his tenure. We have all seen it, watched it and loved it. But it’s not a rare tactic. It can fuck up in big shapes if someone nods off at the wrong moment. We saw that at Wembley and a few other games. I wont name our players who did nod off but it’s fair to say that Watford knew he had gone bye bye and inflicted an intense pressure on our player who lost his head completely….but it wasn’t Coady.
The Coady position within the team is pure Italian beauty. The former midfielder, good in the air, mobile, ready to attack and move at a moments notice. The ability to know where his other centerbacks are in the scheme of things. At the moment of course Coady is in the process of learning and waiting…not for an England call up but for Wolves to finish the transformation of what we are to what we will be. Conor Coady wasn’t shoe horned into a back line with little thought to what he might do, he was cherry picked for the role by Nuno and it’s a project that is going to ripen within the next few years. You will soon see Coady leaving that back line and pushing forwards into midfield a lot more. A tactic that relies on large slices of possession and high tempo rapid attacks.
I suspect at the moment Ruben Neves playing deep is gently nurturing Wolves into the mindset and tactical skills needed to get the best out of the whole formation. It’s a learning curve for sure and Ruben is playing a massive part in that. Coady is learning very fast indeed and his eyes will be on what Ruben does when he collects the ball deep and seeks to channel it into a final third chance. This season the team have learned a great deal. We have taken scalps, we have been on the arse end of the ‘false nine’ problem too when an opposition doughnut leaps into the fray from deep and nobody quite knows how to pick them up or even who should. It’s learning and it’s experience.
How does Coady fit into an England team that plays a flat back four with fullbacks? England play a largely ‘stoical’ defense. We have been renowned for it over the ages. Four players at the back. Two center backs that have big thick heads and necks. Good in the air to negate crosses and looped balls into the box. Good leg to boot the fucking ball out when it does come into the box. But crap at getting the ball out. Maguire and Stones are good stoical names, they shout out ‘neck’ and ‘boot the fucking thing away’ and its the zeitgeist that permeates the whiteboards in tactical meetings. You can tell.
So how the fuck can you smash in a player like Conor Coady into a defensive set up like that? I guess Southgate would love to play a rapid attacking tactical game but its simply a fact that he doesn’t have the players to put either side of Coady if he does play a back three. Southgate also doesn’t have a midfield that can adapt their possession into chances, a midfield that can think a little on their feet unlike the bread and butter bollocks the England team normally play. So I can’t be too hard on Southgate. You can’t use the Ferrari to take some rubbish down the dump, which is what would happen if Coady got called up. Here’s a thing to throw out there…maybe Nuno has ruined Coadys chances of an England call up by giving Coady an intellectual and academic basis to become a great player instead of letting him rot in an unimaginative back four system. Who knows? I do know if Southgate identifies two England players with enough footballing academic skill as well as athletic skillset then England might just make it to a final and actually win it. I think when Coady does get a call up then he will slot perfectly into a defensive line that will have been cherry picked just for him.