The Mixer: The Story of Premier League Tactics, from Route One to False Nines (out now)

May 25, 2017
The Mixer: The Story of Premier League Tactics, from Route One to False Nines (out now)

The Mixer is out next week (June 1st) in the UK, published by HarperCollins.

It’s the story of the Premier League’s tactical evolution, covering its first 25 seasons from 1992/93 to 2016/17.

It’s essentially about the revolutionaries: the innovative managers, the game-changing players, the inspirational teams, the new tactical concepts, the off-field developments that influenced playing styles.

Here’s an extract

Here’s an article about it

If it’s of interest, you can pre-order here…

Amazon / Kindle:

http://po.st/themixer
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Monaco 0-2 Juventus: Allegri uses wing-backs and Alves creates both goals for Higuain

May 5, 2017
Monaco 0-2 Juventus: Allegri uses wing-backs and Alves creates both goals for Higuain

Juventus took control of this Champions League semi-final with an impressive 2-0 victory, thanks to two goals from Gonzalo Higuain.

Leonardo Jardim’s side featured one surprise – Benjamin Mendy wasn’t fit to start at left-back, so Djibril Sidibe switched to that flank and Nabil Dirar played at right-back.

Max Allegri left out right-winger Juan Cuadrado and played Andrea Barzagli instead, a significant move that would shape this game’s tactical battle.

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Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona: Messi runs the game from a number 10 role and fires in the winner

April 26, 2017
Real Madrid 2-3 Barcelona: Messi runs the game from a number 10 role and fires in the winner

Lionel Messi produced a brilliant performance and a sensational late goal to blow La Liga’s title race wide open.

Zinedine Zidane welcomed back Gareth Bale after injury, although he didn’t last the first half before being replaced by Marcos Asensio. Otherwise, the team was as expected.

Luis Enrique was still without the suspended Neymar. Paco Alcacer played as an inside-left.

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Juventus 3-0 Barcelona: Juve exploit Barca’s disjointed backline with two fine Dybala strikes

April 12, 2017
Juventus 3-0 Barcelona: Juve exploit Barca’s disjointed backline with two fine Dybala strikes

Juventus take a commanding lead to the Camp Nou for the second leg – and will be confident of faring better than PSG did last month.

Max Allegri named his expected side. Mario Mandzukic has been playing on the left in recent weeks, while Daniel Alves faced his former side for the first time.

Luis Enrique was without Sergio Busquets, so Javier Mascherano was deployed in midfield, and Jeremy Mathieu came into the side in a hybrid three/four-man defence.

Juventus exploited Barcelona’s poor organisation in the first half, although the game was a closer contest than the scoreline might suggest. Read more »

Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle (1996)

March 28, 2017
Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle (1996)


This is to celebrate the upcoming release of my book, The Mixer.
Amazon link

Start a debate about the Premier League’s greatest-ever player, greatest-ever side or greatest-ever season and you’d receive several different answers, but the subject of the Premier League’s greatest-ever game is very different, and has almost developed an ‘official’ answer. Liverpool’s 4-3 victory over Newcastle towards the end of 1995/96 is widely considered superior to anything the Premier League has seen before or since, and two decades on it remains an enthralling, relentless, fast-paced contest between two crazily attacking sides.

Matches like this are often described as ‘having everything’, but this game didn’t have everything. There were no red cards, no penalties, no controversies, no flashpoints, and essentially nothing other than both sides continually attacking for 90 minutes. It was just about goals: the scoring started in the 2nd minute and didn’t end until the 92nd minute, and each of the seven goals changed the ‘game state’ to put one side into the lead, or equalise.

In a sense, the game was so entertaining precisely because of the lack of tactics, and yet analysing the game reveals some interesting patterns.
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Dortmund 1-0 Bayern: Tuchel surprises Bayern with a 3-3-2-2 shape

November 23, 2016
Dortmund 1-0 Bayern: Tuchel surprises Bayern with a 3-3-2-2 shape

Dortmund triumphed in the Bundesliga’s showpiece game, courtesy of a first-half goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Thomas Tuchel is no stranger to a three-man defence, having played that system the previous weekend against Hamburg in a 5-2 victory. But this was a different shape in midfield, and featured very different personnel too. Julian Weigl, Marcel Schmelzer, Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle and Adrian Ramos all came into the side having been omitted last weekend, which presumably surprised Bayern.

Carlo Ancelotti, meanwhile, played a system that looked like a cross between a 4-4-2 and a 4-3-3, a compromise he often used at Real Madrid. Here, Thomas Muller was half-forward and half-winger, Frank Ribery was half-winger and half-wide midfielder, and Joshua Kimmich tucked inside as half-central midfielder, half-wide midfielder. It was slightly confused, but it did cause Dortmund problems. Read more »

Portugal 1-0 France: Eder’s introduction proves decisive

July 12, 2016
Portugal 1-0 France: Eder’s introduction proves decisive

Portugal won their first-ever major tournament courtesy of Eder’s stunning long-range strike in extra-time, after a defensive-minded first 90 minutes.

Fernando Santos brought back Pepe after injury, and William Carvalho after suspension, so Bruno Alves and Danilo dropped to the bench. Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t make it to half-time until being replaced by Ricardo Quaresma.

Didier Deschamps named an unchanged XI, meaning no return for N’Golo Kante.

Overall this was a disappointing match, shaped heavily by the early departure of its best player, Ronaldo. The graphic below illustrates the line-ups after his departure. France had the better of the opening 90 minutes, but Portugal pushed forward impressively in extra-time. Read more »

France 2-0 Germany: formation decisions enable Germany to dominate

July 8, 2016
France 2-0 Germany: formation decisions enable Germany to dominate

Germany completely dominated the first half – but two individual mistakes means France progress to Sunday’s semi-final.

Didier Deschamps continued with the team which had defeated Iceland 5-2. That meant Samuel Umtiti kept his place at the back, and Moussa Sissoko remained on the right despite N’Golo Kante’s availability – therefore, France started in their 4-2-3-1 / 4-4-2 shape, rather than the 4-3-3.

Joachim Low was without the suspended Mats Hummels and the injured Sami Khedira and Mario Gomez. He surprisingly selected Emre Can for the first time in the competition, with Julian Draxler back in the side, in a 4-3-3 formation.

In the first half, Germany played arguably the best spell of football Euro 2016 has witnessed – but they couldn’t find the breakthrough. Read more »

Portugal 2-0 Wales: Wales struggle to penetrate Portugal’s block, then Ronaldo and Nani pounce

July 7, 2016
Portugal 2-0 Wales: Wales struggle to penetrate Portugal’s block, then Ronaldo and Nani pounce

Portugal defeated Wales in an unspectacular but efficient manner, in a low-key semi-final.

Fernando Santos was without suspended holding midfielder William Carvalho, so played Danilo in his place. Bruno Alves replaced the injured Pepe, while Raphael Guerrero came on for Eliseu at left-back. The shape of the side, however, was unchanged.

Chris Coleman had two suspensions to cope with. Ben Davies was replaced by James Collins, with James Chester moving from the right-sided centre-back to the left-sided position. More importantly, Aaron Ramsey also missed out, with Andy King chosen over Jonny Williams in that box-to-box midfield role.

Portugal played defensively, while Wales were disappointing in possession. Ronaldo and Nani were clinical in the box, which won the game.

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