I don't like James Bond; never have and never will. Too kitsch and cliched for me.
I also never liked the 4-4-2 'diamond' formation that Leeds United have employed for the first 24 games of the 2014/15 Championship campaign, not in the slightest. I am a firm believer that players come first and that systems should be used in terms of what playing staff are available. The 4-4-2 diamond we employed simply did not suit the players at Leeds. It left us not only wide open in vital areas such as midfield, unprotected in others such as central defence and generally impotent in attack but also struggling at the lower end of the table where relegation dogfights never make for the most satisfying end of the season.
It really has left us well and truly in the doo-doo has the diamond and, whilst a lady's eye may sparkle mischievously at the merest sight of one, mine screws up in a wince and the nervous twitching starts. We've been largely ineffective in midfield as we simply don't have the players to match the system that has been 'chosen/imposed' on the team. A quick glance at the figures returned so far sums that up perfectly. We lack points because we cannot score goals and we cannot score goals because we don't provide quality ball enough to allow us to get off shots.
Teams dominate us in the shot count to such a degree that we are often shooting more in desperation than even in hope. A simple measure called 'Total Shot Ratio' (TSR) indicates the share of the total shots that a team possesses per game and over a season; teams with a high TSR return are usually those that are promoted come the season's end. Our shot ratio consistency has been appalling at times with the highest being .727 (72.70% of the total match shots) in a 2-0 loss to Wigan where we had 24 shots but with only 4 on target; the lowest TSR was .160 (16% of total shots) in the 4-1 spanking we received from Watford. We have the 2nd lowest overall shot total out of all the Championship teams (275), the lowest number of 'on target' shots so far this season (76) and the lowest number of shots inside the 6 yard box (4). Over the season so far Leeds have a TSR of 0.423 (42.30%); this means that Leeds' opponents have had 15.4% more opportunities to shoot. Put simply, Leeds' opponents have had more opportunity to fashion chances out of skill whilst Leeds are increasingly resorting to luck in staying in games.
But there is hope, hope in the shape of a change in formation and subsequent change in tactics. Neil Redfearn made changes for last Saturday's FA Cup 3rd round game against Premier League Sunderland, bringing in a change of players but also a new formation in a 4-2-3-1 variant. Despite only having 39% of possession, despite being outshot 11 shots (8 on target) to 7 (3 on target) and despite losing 1-0, Leeds actually put in a much improved performance.
The change in formation, having two deep-lying midfield players and three more advanced midfielders allowed Leeds to mount much more meaningful attacks and it was good to see Adryan receiving the ball in more dangerous positions which led to more meaningful runs and layoffs. There seemed to be much more cohesion about the team and, if you didn't know any better, you'd be excused for thinking that was Leeds' first choice XI on the field.
Anyhow, Redfearn has promised to persevere with the new formation so it will be interesting to see how we perform against Bolton using it. For the first time in a while, I am actually looking forward with interest and piqued curiosity to Saturday's return to League action.
Here's hoping for a quantum of solace and that we don't get the living daylights beat out of us.