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Rebirth of the Transition Game - until last night.. crunch decision for Roeder.


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A colorless dungeons & chains-like sphere is a metaphor which best sums up Steve Bruce's ideology as a football manager, and the football on display at Birmingham reflected this. For Nicky Butt, and combine this with a potential existence in the Fizzy Pop League, life at the Brum acted as a much needed slap in the face after the decade-long euphoric high he once experienced at Manchester United.

 

It took a while for him to realise, for Butt that is, that there's an amiable footballing experience to be had outside the trophy laden dream which is the The Theatre of Dreams. After emerging from the proverbial shithole that is Steve Bruce & Birmingham we, as a club, must represent a healthy footballing alternative - as compared to Birmingham - outside of Manchester.

 

We have Steve Bruce and The Brum to thank for this. Mr Bruce as a unique and Souness-like ability when it comes to exorcising the collective flair out of a team, like it's an unwanted demonic spirit. Combine Bruce's 'management' with The Brum's ambition as a club and what you have is a stone cold dose otherwise known as a reality check. They gave us a remotivated and refocused Ginger Haired Destroyer. Therefore a special congratulatory thanks goes out to Steve Bruce and The Brum..... you're help has been greatly appreciated.

 

After reading through the above and elongated mumbo-jumbo one might ask the following question ," Where does Nicky Butt fit into the rebirth of the transition/counterattacking game at Newcastle United?"

 

One poster on this forum best summed the impact a re-motivated Butt has made out on the pitch. It was summed up briefly. One sentence was needed, a stream of words was all it took in order to drive the point home. The declaration stated the following ," Nicky Butt has given us something we've lacked since Acuna left the club". Admittedly i'd add Gary Speed into the equation.

 

The declaration didn't go into any specific detail, but it was a relevant point nonetheless. A motivated Butt certainly offers the team the aforementioned South American's street-wise grit, but what's comparable is an often overlooked element in Acuna's repetoire. This relates to Acuna's efficient and instinctive 'transition passing game' within the defensive half.

 

The Brum certainly delivered to us a reborn Nicky Butt, a streetwise pugilist of a midfielder who for a while had lost the grit between his teeth, but what we've seen over the past few weeks and much to the benefit of the team - when paired with Emre and Sibierski in a 442 formation - is an element of his game which has never been in doubt. That is the ability, and it relates to vision & instinct and to subsequently be ablle to reach a quick decision in how to use the ball after winning it, to play the quick and efficient 10-15 yard transition pass ie. played a few yards in front of the attacking midfielders so they hit the at pace.

 

Butt and Acuna don't posess Carrick's and Speed's - as a 'first-use of the ball' midifelder - long passing game and the subsequent ability to execute a raking/angled 'Hollywood Ball' through the passing lanes, after a turnover in possession, into the 'hole' beyond the centre circle. Attacking midfielders love nothing more than to be hit at pace, or near-full pace, so they can run and torment their backpeddling opposite number. As a result there's often a cushion between the themself and their man, and this equates to more time and creative space in order to punish the opposition whose defensive lines are broken formation-wise.

 

Butt and Acuna's passing games best resemble Makalele's. They paint a counterattacking canvas for the artists - ie. the gamblers, the Robbens.... the Duffs etc - to paint their magic on. Duff, for much of this season, hasn't benefitted from this type of delivery and imo it's played a major part in his downturn in form since arriving here.

 

In recent weeks, in Parker's absence, Solano and others have benefitted as a result of Butt's aforementioned transition passing game. Granted we're still not dominating games in the engine-room, in term's of possession and fluency akin to Manchester United/Chelsea/Arsenal etc, but until last night we've looked a far more capable and efficient counterattacking unit - a side which is actually able to punish the opposition following the turnover. Up until Parker's injury - despite having a bonafide counterattacking threat upfront in the form of Martins, and at various stages of the current campaign, creative hubs in midfield such as Emre, N'Zogbia, Solano and Milner - this hasn't been the case. We have Butt's impact to thank for this imo.

 

When breaking forward at pace Emre has resembled a far more effective attacking playmaker through the centre of the park, N'Zogbia for a brief moment - prior to injury - bore resemblance to the winger who was 'came on' late last season, in Zoggy's case it's ironic the above mentioned period also coincided with Parker's stint on the sidelines with Glandular Fever. The rebirth of the transition game through the midfield has resulted in a flow-on effect further down the pitch. Martins, who imo deserves a place in the highest echelon when it comes strikers who are purpose built for the counterattacking game which does encapsulate modern football in today's world, is beginning to look every part the 10.5 million investment made in the Summer. Martins' opening goal at Blackburn best paints the picture.... a flowing move on the break followed Sibierski's killer ball to the jugular, and finish which matched the efficiency from defense to attack.

 

Perhaps, and arguably the biggest recipients courtesy of our newly found and sadly brief transition game, were James Milner and Solano. Milner as a ballcarrying winger does look impressive when the ball is at feet, when he's running at a backpeddling defender - he can step-over on the dribble on either foot and take the defender either way. Ultimately though he's one-paced, with barely above average speed, and most importantly there's not alot in his locker when comes to pace off the mark, so does have difficulty beating defenders from a standing start. Like Solano he does need a cushion between himself and his outfield opposite. The type of passing game attributed to Nicky Butt gives the aforementioned players a headstart.

 

Prior to last night i was concerned at the prospect of Parker returning to full fitness - this concern surfaced over the weekend courtesy of his 15 minute cameo appearance. Roeder last night opted to choke up the midfield, by implementing Parker/Butt/Emre as his central midfield trio in a 4-5-1, and to an extent it worked.

 

Ultimately though i'm a believer when it comes to making the opposition worry about you, and forcing them to adapt. Whether it's Butt partnered with Emre, Dyer or Sibierski the transition game has been noticeable, and for once we've scared the shit out of the opposition.

 

My worry is when we switch back to a four man midfield front where Parker more often than not is the 'first user of the ball' when coming out of our own half. With Parker's inclusion last night we caught another glimpse of our previously experience season-long 'counter-attacking absence'.

 

Roeder this weekend has a crunch decision - in terms of dropping a defective part in the midfield machine, for the good of the team - to make. If he get's it right we'll safely go top 6 imo. If he gets it wrong the midfield will be once again rendered ineffective, the transition/counterattacking game will once again be noticeably absent, and this will have a negative ripple effect further down the paddock ie. Martins' productivity. This will equate to a serious relegation fight imo............ but to some people this might not matter, to some people "he's our Captain Marvellous, he's a 'trier'.

 

The problem is 'triers' only get you so far.

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Nice to get to read one of these, again.

 

Do we expect Roeder to get this right? Myself, no. He probably doesn't even recognise the issue, but even if he did he may well also perceive that he's backed into a corner thanks to this ridiculous captaincy situation and lack the guts to fight his way out. What I expect, therefore, is a fudge, with us trying to accommodate Butt, Emre and Parker in the same side. Its unfortunate that Parker's return should come at a time where he's afforded cover by circumstance - arriving as a sub on the back of a tight loss at Chelsea to witness a winning goal scored without his input against 19th-placed Watford, followed by yet another game against Chelsea, with a change in venue but no change in the result - one which "no reasonable person" could begin to apportion blame for, given their wealth of talent. Had things been ticking over as they were before this somewhat unusual trio of fixtures, there would've been more room to say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it. We'll blood you in slowly, Scott...".

 

If Roeder is smart enough to see what should be done, and he's given a free hand in the transfer market (which cannot be counted upon, of course - he is the hero of the fans, of course...), we could actually do reasonably well out of this. It would appear that Parker is genuinely (over)rated amongst influential members of the footballing community. They see the crunching tackles and fail to notice the subtle yet critical fact he'd lost a man in midfield 20 seconds earlier which led to him having to make a saving intervention. As such, a profit could be made in the difference between the fee for his departure and the fee for his replacement.

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I agree with the gist of this. Butt on form does get the ball moving forward more quickly than Parker and is more decisive. He's playing like he did for England in 2002 - very tidy and playing the simple balls well.

 

Parker has the talent but he seems to lack confidence at the moment. He doesn't seem to want to play a pass unless he's 100% sure that it will reach it's target, and when he gets the ball he runs round in a few circles to make sure that he's not going to be tackled. The result is a lot of negative play. As I've said before, he reminds me a bit of Batty, who started his career as an attacking midfield player and ended up in a purely defensive role, as a result of an over-cautious attitude.

 

Last night, I thought Roeder got the shape of the midfield right, but didn't give the players the right roles. Emre was given a free role around Martins, but tended to drift backwards to receive the ball, and often ended up as the playmaker. As a result, Parker seemed to be crowded out in the middle and couldn't get involved. I thought Dyer should have been given the free role, with Butt and Emre in the middle as normal, and Parker wide right. Not his best position, but the best use of our available resources.

 

The best managers are no respecters of reputations and pick on form and performances. Roeder has to have the courage to drop Parker if that's what the team needs.

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To be honest guys don't think roeder has the character to control or use certain players for the best of the team. He seems to be a yes man who desperately wants to be loved and adored by all his top players.

 

Is he man enough to tell dyer to stick out wide if need be? or coach some of the negativity out of parkers game?.............. I don't think so.

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To be honest guys don't think roeder has the character to control or use certain players for the best of the team. He seems to be a yes man who desperately wants to be loved and adored by all his top players.

 

Is he man enough to tell dyer to stick out wide if need be? or coach some of the negativity out of parkers game?.............. I don't think so.

 

I think Dyer played on the right wing last night :roll:

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I wasn't really making the point based on last night performance(but i can see why you would think i was).

 

Just trying to make a point about roeder at times, nice guy but too soft for me.

why does he need to wait until were being beaten before he makes a POSITIVE sub? that annoys me, surely he could use subs to pick up lost momentum and not just in the last 5mins when were losing?

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Shaman.

 

Excellent post, I think you have it spot on. I have struggled with the Parker, should he play shouldn't he play for so long, all I know is that when he doesn't play we DO look a more fluid team. I think Parker can become a Butt type player, as pointed out by others though he does need coaching to deliver.

 

Another thing that I believe affects this transition game is the distribution from our Goalkeepers. Whilst I belive we have one of the Top goalkeepers around in Shay, I do feel he needs to look at his distribution. He insists on kicking long whenever he has the ball..why? is it a hangover from the many years of not having confidence in his back four to be able to control and pass the ball on? is he told to kick long?. If you watch the good teams anywhere, they start their moves from the back and then quicken through midfield to the forwards (Manure are a great example of this).

 

I am not downhearted about the Toon, things are not doom and gloom (believe me I've seen those days), with a bit of coaching, a couple of additions (full backs and forward) and a bit of luck we could be top six.

 

Howay The Lads!!!

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Shaman, good post!

Teazy,  good points there. I think that we should pass it out of defence to draw the other teams players further forward and perhaps opening them to the quick counter attack. The only person really capable of doing this is Nobby, if we were to buy a decent left back and central defender in the window we could perhaps bring the ball out through the defence and quickly slot it through the midfield (quick transitional play :winking:)to our attacking players.

I don't think Roeder will will keep to the same winning formula and Parker will be back in the team, perhaps cos' he's the team captain or perhaps for the outstanding play the year before when he was the one who really rallied the troops.

I think that he could be told/taught to release the ball quicker and more positively (he also needs options!) but I also think that it would be to our detriment to have two defensive midfielders in our team, it's Butt or parker in the middle but not both and on form it has to be Butt hands down.

Let's see what he does on saturday? A game for the taking if you ask me...

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that's a good thread and i agree with Shaman, 80 and bobbyule for the most part..

i'd like to think Parker is a good player and a good pro though.. he surely realises when he slows down attacks and maybe coaching staff (Pearson) do too.. so i'm confident he'll raise his game in that aspect

what bothers me more is that Roeder seems to regard him more as 'box to box' player and i don't really think he has the required vision, technique and composure to ever become a good one..

and there is also the captain issue.. i would rather not blame Roeder for this though, as Parker has always shown effort, work ethic and maybe he's a popular figure in the dressing room..

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On current form Butt should be one of the 1st names on the team sheet. The last few games he has been great. Parker needs to earn his place back. I don't think he is a bad player but needs to find that formula that made him tick at Charlton.

 

If we go back to a 4 man midfield on Saturday I think Butt and Emre should keep their places and Parker to take a seat on the subs bench. It may do him good, the kick up the ass he needs.

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The problem is Roeder who is really being shown up as his teams almost without exception lack balance. Add to this his technical incompetence and unbelievable inability to change tactics ( assuming we had any in the first place) during a game. Lately he has added to his cv an  ignorance as to how to use substitutes. I used to think he was a mediocre manager but I now realise I was flattering him. Nice guys win f**k all !!!

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I don't see why people want to mould Parker into a Nicky Butt type player, when we already have one......

 

Parker seems like a decent lad like, but I just think he is very overrated. Not really his fault though.

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Interesting Post from Shaman and some interesting responses.

 

I think we owe Villa a similar debt for Nobby. He came back wanting to play for NUFC - just like Butt did. We are the last chance saloon for most footballers - you don't leave here and then become great unless your name is Jon Dahl Tomasson.

 

HTL pointed out very early last year that Erme & Parker siply doesn't work - the reasons for the are unclear, it could be that Parker can't adjust to the box-to-box duties, or it could be that the length of time both Emre and Parker need on the ball to make a decision bleeds creativity out of our counters... whatever the cause *something* doesn't work. When one of them is gone we seem to play better.

 

As far as Butt is concerned I think he has a better understanding of his own limitatuions and is the finished product. Whereas Parker is still trying to develop his game. Butt also has motivation in his side. I think Dyer came to a similar conclusion about 18 montsh ago that NUFC is *it* for him. To his advantage Acuna knew NUFC was his chance when he came here. He was going to kill himself out there to make a point. He was the only player we ever took from a trial (during SBR's tenure) and he impressed SBR with his graft and committment. Before his arrival, Acuna had been banned for a year for testing positive for drugs (amphetamines IIRC), he'd been dropped by everyone (including Chile) and was staring down at the abyss - motivation was there. He either turned it around or was finished as a footballer.

 

My biggest concerns for Butt is that he will lose confidence after a couple of mistakes and that he'll start hiding during games. Lord Ferg sold him for a reason. When Butt came here he really didn't want to play for us - I think he is weak (psychologically speaking). I can't post instances that I have heard about from friends and family (because of liability issues), but I hope Butt has put his problems behind him and proves me wrong.

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Top post, i agree that Butt has been far more positive for the team then Parker this season however i just can not see Roader dropping his captain lets not forget it was him who appointed him at best i can see Roader trying to employ a alternative formation prob being playing Butt in front of Def with Parker and Emre in the middle an one up front which away to top teams i can understand but at home i aint to sure about. i think the top and bottom is that Roader needs to decide what to do, Drop Butt and imo weaken the midfield, drop Parker and risk losing him not to meantion swallowing his pride and lets remember whats Butt now 32 ?? Parker seems to be the longer term solution however the next option would be my choise, id sell Emre and find a player who can compliment Parker in the middle i do think Emre is a good player but only when either winning at home or when he feels hard done by and as for Butt for the time being id use him but he aint getting any younger...Id like to see someone like Papa Diop in the middle with Parker, and to finish with i will say this i like Parker as a player but he needs to change his game because to be honest he seems stuck between trying to be a defencive mid and a attacking mid and at the moment it just aint working for him.

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I do get the feeling that what we're witnessing may be a purple patch from Butt. A month or so of decent-to-good performances do not erase two years of utter shite so I for one will not be surprised if it doesn't last.

 

I agree with you in theory but time will tell if Butt really has made a difference or if other factors have been at play. As far as I'm concerned it's far too early to tell. A bit of praise for turning around his performances is what he deserves, but to credit him with the club's turnaround is over the top IMO. I do agree with your main point about getting the ball moving a lot faster in central midfield though, and in this regard he has done what Parker has failed to do in terms of quick pass-and-move one- and two-touch football. It is twice as easy to create chances when the opposition are backpeddling and don't have bodies behind the ball, Parker likes to take five or ten touches before releasing the ball which gives our wingers the nightmare problem of unlocking a ten-man defence when they finally do get the ball from him.

 

Parker is a quality footballer though, with a superb tackle, lots of determination, a great engine, decent technique and decent enough vision. I honestly think he could do a good job in one of the full-back positions if need be, probably better than Ramage or Huntington.

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