Playing for a draw
There's been a lot of criticism this past two weeks of Chris Coleman's tactics. Many have suggested his deployment of a 4-5-1 formation is too negative, especially for a home match. Some sententious folk have even accused Coleman of playing for a draw in the last few games.
Let's just get one thing straight: there is no such thing as playing for a draw.
The notion is just ludicrous. Can you imagine such a thing? I'm sorry old chap, we seemed to have slipped into an unfortunate 1-0 lead. I do apologise. Here, have the ball back and kick yourself a goal - we only came for the draw anyway.
Is that the attitude that won the United Kingdom two world wars, and five Eurovision song contests?
Alright, there are exceptions. Competitions with a group stage can sometimes throw-up the uncomfortable scenario of both teams needing a draw to proceed. Or if Lazio need a draw to condemn Roma to missing out on a European place, their fans will be imploring their team not to make the mistake of scoring a goal.
Apart from the above the idea is erroneous (you might even call it a neanderthal way of thinking...). There is, however, a similar concept that is widely used in football. It's called 'don't lose'.
Playing not to lose is not the same as playing for a draw. It's an attitude that states: I'm coming away from this match with more points than I started it with. And there ain't nothin' you can do about it. That is what I believe Coleman's recent thinking has been, and who can argue with it?
The formation Coleman chooses to carry out this stratagem doesn't change according to whether he's decided to be positive or negative - it's not that simplistic. It depends on the opposition, and unfortunately, we're just not good enough yet not to take into account how the oppostition is going to play against us.
That said, with Leon Best departed (I'm still in mourning), it looks like we've seen the back of 4-5-1 for now, until a replacement target-man is found. It's a specialist role, and not one would suit either Morrison or Eastwood. So, it's back to 4-4-2; not that it matters, as long as we're not getting beat.