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Three At The Back

With England and many other clubs and countries successfully playing three at the back, does anyone think there is a possibility of Wycombe adopting such an attacking and flexible formation?



  • I wouldn’t rule it out. We have wide defenders who like going forwards and we’ve now got three solid CBs for the first time since the play off defeat year.

  • In theory I think a 532 would work well for us but there are a couple of big buts.

    Playing a back three of Stewart, Charles and El-Abd should give us a pretty effective combination of strength, pace and guile. I'd Iike to hope Charles is good at playing the ball out of the back but we'll have to wait and see, the other two certainly are.

    Another benefit to the system is we wouldn't need to play a defensive midfielder, so O'Nien and Gape can push up where they can be most effective and it'll allow us to play both alongside Saunders with some confidence.

    The final benefit is that it would allow us to play Akinfenwa and Kashket or CMS in a tight front two, which will get the best from all three (particularly CMS who I think was slightly wasted last season playing so wide).

    On the other hand the system wouldn't allow us to utilise Tyson or PCH's pace or trickery and we'd have an array of attacking talent that would be consigned to the bench (Freeman would also really suffer from this formation).

    And while we just about have enough cover in central defence playing two at the back - assuming Jombati isn't needed for full back duties - we'd probably need a couple more decent central defenders in the squad if we move to a back five, and I can't see many loanees coming in in that position given the very limited game time they'd get there with a fully fit squad.

    Finally there has to be a slight question mark over whether Jacobson would be as effective as a wing back. He's great going forward but might be slightly lacking in the pace needed to get back as quickly as he'd need to against League One wingers.

  • I’m slightly confused by your references to a back five @aloysius. I have in mind the England formation (utilising Kyle Walker, essentially a right full-back, as one of a back three). Anthony Stewart has played right back on odd occasions of course but is predominantly a right-sided central defender. 3-5-2 with wing backs either side of the midfield trio.
    It’s a bit of a conundrum as JJ is the most obvious candidate for left-side wing back with either Sido or Harri on the right. If Kashket really is fit, he would probably be most people’s choice to partner Bayo. If doubts (or selective use) continue, PCH would be a good option. That does beg the question of how to make best use of the two senior stars who both played wide last season.

  • In practice there's not really much difference between a 352 and a 532, is there? Especially for us given we'd be almost certain to use two of Jacobson, Harriman and Jombati as wingbacks.

  • I have this clear mental image of Walker, Stones and Maguire lining up across the pitch well behind Young and Trippier. Hence 3-5-2.

  • Jacobson isn’t mobile enough to be a wingback.

  • Really @Chris ? I sit at the front of the Frank Adams stand and enjoy JJ’s frequent forays forward. He’s rarely stopped in his tracks.

  • Yes.

  • In some ways, JJ would be less exposed, as you have an extra centre back there to move over and cover.
    You could play Charles and Sido as the left and right sided centre backs, both who can play centre back and full back. Harriman's attacking side, which we saw so effectively in spells when he was scoring goals as a right sided midfielder would be boosted.

    However, I think lower league players are so used to the flat back 4, it'd take a lot of learning. The last time we consistently played 5 at the back was the Gregory days

  • Ainsworth tried it early on last season when Jack Williams from QPR was still around, against Maidenhead in pre-season and Fulham in the League Cup. Jacobson played as the left side of the central 3, allowing the more mobile Williams and Harriman play as wing-backs. Maybe if we still had another younger, quick full-back in the squad like Tafari Moore it might be something to look at, but not with current range of full backs at the club.

  • Didn't he go to three against Carlisle?

  • Don’t recall (and probably didn’t notice) @Wendoverman but, assuming you mean the home game, it certainly worked.

  • Yes he did, but he deliberately waited until 80 minutes to do it because it was a risky tactic which could've ended up letting more goals in instead. That said, we only had ten men so I guess it was a slightly different kettle of fish.

  • @micra I I recall GA waving three fingers about when Kashket(?) came on and @QuarteredChair thank you for supporting my aged memory.

  • I am almost certainly the oldest (and of course most venerated) person on Gasroom 2 so perhaps I can be excused for having forgotten that we were down to ten men against Carlisle.

  • @StrongestTeam said:
    More importantly I'm guessing they are already practicing the "love train" corners

    Lincoln City being credited on Sky Sports with having pioneered that particular tactic.
    Needless to say, I don’t recall them using it at Adams Park although I remember one team gathering together at corners and exploding starburst fashion as the ball was delivered.

  • Can't see us deploying 3 at the back. The favoured formation last season of 4-3-3 played to our strengths and got the best out of our squad. I don't think we have the right type of defender who is comfortable of bringing the ball out, has the range of passing required or is comfortable defending one on one out wide.

  • @Bluemoon I think you're right. The players we have can play it/fit it into it. It did us alright last time around....although of course League One is soooo much better quality than League Two football isn't it?

  • We’re soon going to find out...

  • Of course League One is a step up. Does not alter the fact our better players are forwards. I believe the likes of Bayo, PCH, Tyson, Mackail Smith and a fit Kashket will cause many an opposing L1 team problems. Don't wish in any way to be disrespectful to our defence who all did an incredible job last year and I believe will benefit from a goalkeeper who commands his box better this coming season.

  • I did not witness our last League One campaign, but a Southend supporting colleague assures me that now he thinks the 'gulf' is minimal.

  • Blackpool went up through the playoffs the season before last and stayed up without too much fuss, despite all the off field craziness. My only mild worry is that we got promoted by beating the bottom half of League Two, and almost none of the top half. That being said, I am very confident we will hold our own, and that GAs additions will be as great as they were last season.

  • That's a good point from @Shev , as despite all the end of season praise and delight about the season, the first half of the season had plenty of gripes about how we weren't beating any of the top how ever many teams.

    I definitely think the gap between league 1 and 2 is overstated though. I did those stats about how in the last 4 years of promoted teams to league 1, only 1 had any sort of battle to stay up.
    I suspect a Rovers fan at work called it right when he said there aren't the very poor teams you get in league 2.

  • I agree @Malone - I think someone on here said that the top third of League One is a step up, but the bottom two thirds is much of a muchness, and that sounds about right, considering how easy it appeared to be for Portsmouth, Doncaster, Blackpool and Plymouth to stay up last year (though Plymouth had a major early wobble).

    Also, despite the lack of wins against the top teams, it's not like we got handed our hats by anyone but Accrington at home, right before we got promoted. We should have beaten Luton at home, lost a drab, windy away game at Swindon, let two goal comebacks slip against Notts at home and Coventry away, and should have got more than a draw from the two Mansfield games. We drew twice with Lincoln and Exeter, and away to Notts, so it's not like we were just frontrunners who could not cope with the teams around us - in many ways we just did not get the rub of the green at times.

  • There were very few games last year...even the ones we lost...where I thought we were cut and dried out of the game...except perhaps Accrington.

  • Come on chaps and chapesses. I was hoping more of you armchair managers and manageresses would offer a few thoughts about the knock-on effect (team selection, formation of the other seven) of having three from, say, Charles, Jombati, El Abd, JJ and Stewart as the back three.

  • Are you dissing Plan A @micra ?

  • It just seems unnecessary when we have had an extremely successful season playing a formation which suits most of our players.

    The one player who doesn’t seem to quite have a role is Kashket, which is a great shame as he is clearly a big talent if he stays fit.

  • Kashket role should be as super sub when we change to Plan B in the last 15-30 minutes. That way his fragile body might last longer before breaking down.

  • How, I wonder, does Luka Modric’s frail 5’8” frame hold together?

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