Columnist Ray Williams’ trip to France has prompted him to explore Jim Gannon’s tactical obsession with the neuf et demi position.
Williams adds that while “Jim Gannon undoubtedly had some innovative ideas” but he tried to implement them too quickly.
Ray Williams writes…
With Euro 2012 in full swing, events on the pitch have had a distinctly cosmopolitan feel of late
Whilst the current incumbent of the England manager’s hot seat appears to be an advocate of ‘typically British’ virtues, one of Port Vale’s former bosses had a desire to indulge footballing philosophies of a wholly more continental persuasion.
Bonjour, Monsieur Jim Gannon!
Having spent last week in France, I intended to give this blog something of a Gallic feel, which brings us nicely to this week’s topic.
I recall one particular instance where the much maligned former manager, when discussing tactics, spoke of utilising a trequartista, or as the French like to say, a neuf et demi. This is a term I first heard on a previous visit across the Channel. Although my grasp of French is more faux pas than fluent, flailing rather than functional, I found Gannon’s use of the term trequartista intriguing and insightful, yet also mildly amusing.
In a nutshell, the trequartista or neuf et demi, rather than defining an exact position on the field, is a term used by football ‘experts’ in an attempt to adequately and accurately describe the role played by a ‘second striker.’ This deep-lying attacker is neither an out and out centre forward (number nine), nor an attacking midfielder, as the latter is usually charged not only with creating chances, but often also with organisational duties from a slightly deeper position (a number ten).
Hence, the trequartista (used by Italians to mean ‘three quarter striker’) or neuf et demi (nine and a half in French) fulfils a role somewhere between those typical of a nine or a ten, and is therefore difficult to categorise.
It has been said that there is a fine line between folly and genius.
Jim Gannon undoubtedly had some innovative ideas, but his apparent desire to implement foreign flamboyancy too quickly and arguably without the tools to do so satisfactorily, rather than leading to talk of a ‘withdrawn attacker’, may ultimately have contributed to his metaphorical attackers hastening the withdrawal of Gannon himself from the Vale Park helm.
This column contains Ray Williams’ personal views and reflections