Thursday, December 9, 2010

The evolution of wrong footed fullbacks

Red Rant have a nice piece on right footed full backs such as Fabio Da Silva and why Full Backs and defensive wingers are important to the game.
Arguably, the most important job of wide men is crossing, which is why wingers have traditionally been “correct-footed”. Fabio da Silva, whose opportunities have been limited because of injuries and Evra’s lack of them, is interesting in that he plays as a left full-back despite being clearly right footed.
Fabio is capable with his left foot although he seems to use it only as a last resort. The uneasiness remains a worry.
But the apprehension is more than offset by the intriguing prospect brought up by his wrong-footedness. With an abundance of modern wingers, most of them wrong-footed also, Fabio might very well have an advantage over left footed full-backs such as Evra. When facing a player like Messi, Fabio can tackle with his dominant foot. Crucially the angle of tackle in such situations will be natural to Fabio and the tackles will be more clean than those made by left footed players.
The tendency towards the right also brings up interesting possibilities vis-a-vis team movements. Fabio attacks the box almost as regularly as he goes for the byline. When attacking the box, his right-footedness becomes an asset. After all, despite nominally being a defender, Fabio was the top scorer in the U-17 World Cup in 2007.
To indulge this movement, United’s left winger can move laterally towards the middle. This particular set of movements comes easily to both Park and Wayne Rooney. And one of the central or defensive midfielders behind will move to the left flank providing the width from deep.
This, of course, requires a left-footed and athletically gifted central midfielder who can do a job on the flank.
One wonders if United has someone like that on the book?
Here in lies the importance of a defensive winger or a left footed winger to play in tandem. Nani is probably comfortable on both but doesn’t go out from the left. Same for Park. He plays the best when he drifts infield. Thus Evra does that best. Do we have another option?

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