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The Philosophy of Bloomfield

Here's a post by James Fleming I've stolen from Facebook because I thought it was interesting.

Can anyone clarify for me what Bloomfield's footballing philosophy actually is ? I am genuinely confused and this isn't a dig . We appear to pass more from the back and play through midfield but without having any more possession than under Ainsworth ( can you play a passing game effectively with such low possession ?) Just when I think it's a learning curve for the team and possession stats will improve with practice , we then start lumping it up to Kone . Then we have a high press one minute and sit too deep the next . then we use the flanks well on the break but rely on wonder goals from Butcher and Sadlier as we don't have a striker who can score . Then sometimes it's a jumble of the three

what ever it is we don't score enough goals and we don't seem to create frequent enough or long enough sustained pressure on the opposition as far as I can see and we end up blaming the goalkeeper . Can anyone help me in my state of confusion ? is it just a watered down Ainworth philosophy with a little more fancy football on show in doses but no cutting edge due to no Bayo and not using Vokes?




  • Bloomfield is still a new manager finding his feet. Why should he have a philosophy beyond doing what we need to under current circumstances to win games? If anything, his being overly wedded to five at the back cost us this season.

    As an aside I’m pretty sure our striker has scored the most goals this season of anyone currently playing in League 1.

  • Agree with your first paragraph, but "our striker has scored most goals"? According to the BBC Top Scorer Charts, we don't even have a player in the top 20. The first name I checked that is actually in the list, Brannigan, is certainly still playing in League 1.

  • All this "philosophy" nonsense is something that seems to have crept in these last few years isn't it.

    I can't ever remember people on about it for previous managers before Ainsworth for example.

  • Not really. All managers have a philosophy, however clearly defined or otherwise.

  • Ainsworth had an extremely clear philosophy.

  • I think he is arguing that Kone has scored more goals than anyone this season, but when only one of them was for us (in the league), it's a pretty flimsy argument

  • Indeed. Very specifically refuting the line ‘we don’t have a striker that can score’.

    This is not based on any evidence but my impression is that we don’t create a massive amount of chances for strikers to score from, rather than strikers wasting those chances.

  • I used to have that T-shirt

  • We're 9th on xG and have scored pretty much in line with that, so we could he more clinical. That's a very basic assessment anyway.

  • I think at one point in the season he had a philosophy, and that was five at the back and playing out. This was, in my opinion, the Man City infection that so many clubs try to emulate without the benefit of a billion pounds and 115 charges relating to FFP. 17 painful games later he woke up to the realisation that winning was better. Since then he has tried to make us 1) hard to beat and 2) attack with what we have. And the latter reflects the goal return from our strikers.

    It is impossible to change philosophy, if that is what we call it, mid season so I suspect we might see a closer identity now.

  • When we were at our best under Ainsworth I always backed us to score. We could be out of games but then somehow find ways through. It's not been quite the same so far under Matt but there have been signs of improvement. Matt's system is more reliant on creative players (eg Sadlier and McCleary) finding room and playing well whereas under Ainsworth we could go direct at goal and somehow get a chance around the box.

  • I agree that he's become more pragmatic through the season - and I am personally persuaded by that.

    I don't think that the football we are playing now is very different from the football we were playing in the late-Ainsworth period: don't play around with the ball too much in the defensive third; get it forward and try and pick up the second ball; press teams high for as long as you can; play clever football in the final third. We're just not generally as good at it as we were in the late-Ainsworth period.

  • edited April 9

    Philosophy’s change with the opposition, even under Ainsworth.

    Philosophy’s change with available players.

    Philosophy’s change with budget compared to rivals.

    Philosophy’s change with experience.

    Philosophy’s change with pressure.

    What doesn’t change is Matt’s philosophy about life and how to treat people. I believe he’s always spot on with these, much like Ainsworth is and many other people associated with the club.

  • Noticeable that our goal on Sunday came from a long punt, a challenged header and a second ball chance. Will always be an effective weapon.

  • PBoPBo
    edited April 9

    I think that’s accurate, we had definitely reached a point under GA where we were trying to ping it about a bit more between the attacking players (Mehmeti - then less successfully Campbell, Wing, Horgan, GMac etc) rather than just being direct.

    But there’s still long balls being punted down the channels, typically for Kone or Lubala to chase, or long diagonal balls being played up to GMac.

    And as we saw at Wembley, MB certainly isn’t afraid to let possession “do one” when it suits.

    We do still ping it about a little between the back line, but nowhere near as much (or as dangerously) as we did at the beginning of the season.

  • Philosophy or style whatever you call it I think we have been really unlucky with injuries this season not just in terms of quantity but timing.

    The Stevenage game was a turning point losing Leahey and Hanlan, two players that would be starting most games. And then losing Potts, Forino, Taff, Vokes for a number of weeks, McCarthy for most the season and Wheeler for the early part of the season. Solving the left back problem then to see that player not even make a single appearance was also really unlucky. As I have said before to make a challenge for promotion you need goals and LUCK. Only one will be under Matt's control, the football gods will have to deal with the latter.

  • I replied to the Facebook poster with this: His philosophy, like every other manager, is to win as many games as he can in whatever way he can. If that means mixing up the way we play, team selection, tactics etc then so be it….

    Bloomfield is a rookie manager learning on the job and deserves time and patience to develop his own methods.

  • I think pragmatism is a philosophy in itself

  • As I’ve said before I’m less interested in Blooms philosophy and more in his willingness to learn from his mistakes.

  • At the start of the season it appeared Bloomfield had his mind set on a way of playing and formation that he wanted us to stick to come what may, and before long it became apparent that we simply didn't have the personnel to carry it out. We were at our worst when he still persisted with his 3-5-2 that relied far too much having defenders who were comfortable being on the ball and could ping the ball around high presses. Maybe he thought he could coach our existing players up to the necessary standard.

    When he changed to four at the back, we found a system that suited who we had in the squad, and our recruitment in the January transfer window took things more in building a squad that could implement this system, which is more of an evolution of Ainsworth's tactics had seemed to have come close to perfecting before he got his move to QPR.

    Bloomfield may well go back to three at the back if we get players in who can play that system, though at League 1 level it is very hard for clubs with our budget to get hold of defenders who can do so whereas there are plenty of forwards at this level who are mobile enough to effectively press teams looking to play out from the back. The cautionary tale of Rochdale getting a patronising pat on the back for trying to pass the ball around nicely before dropping out of the Football League is no doubt in many people's minds.

    I'm really glad for Matt that we seemed to have turned a corner, we look so much better at soaking up pressure than we were at the start of the season and look far better able at adapting to teams trying to press us up the pitch. The Couhigs should be given credit for backing rather than sacking Bloomfield, who I'm sure will be a much better and more astute manager for the baptism of fire he's had this season. There will be a bit upheaval of the squad this summer, it will be imperative for Bloomfield to get the right individuals in but also manage the balance of the squad better than last summer.

  • Surely being wedded to a philosophy would leave one open to the dreaded accusation of having ‘NO PLAN B’?

  • Goals per game:

    19/20: 1.32

    23/24: 1.27

    Not much in that, and it shows a team can be successful by simply being hard to beat and defensively solid. I would like us to score more, but I do like the idea of that coming from a tenacious defensive foundation.

  • But you can't win games if you don't score, unless the opposition feel generous and put one in their own net!

  • edited April 9

    I love Bloomfield, but I’m a bit disappointed at the flirting around the question from gasroom so far. The top up-voted answer refers to how nice of a bloke Bloomfield is, which is accurate, but gets zero marks because it does not answer the OP’s question, which was framed around the tactical approach.

    In my mind, the identity is now that of a less-effective Ainsworth team. We tried playing out of the back for about three-five games at the beginning of the season, got repeatedly battered and reverted to long ball. This was effective for a little while, until we became very predictable. Ainsworth used to switch up between Samuel and Bayo who are polar opposite conquests for opposition centre halves, so it was very challenging to prepare for. Ainsworth often chopped and changed between and four and a five at the back. Bloomfield was wedded to back five to the point where we won only once in 17. He ditched that too. So that’s two of MB’s original identifying team traits out of the window. As far as I see it, Bloomfield has now tried to replicate the successful Ainsworth phase of last season:

    1) Goalkeeper unchanged

    2) Right back unchanged

    3) Centre halves - one diagonal ball player with aerial threat, one covering defender with more pace. The only difference is that Matt is less likely to stick to the left foot - right foot Ainsworth combination.

    4) A set piece taking tactically astute diagonal/channel ball focused left back.

    5) A central midfielder than can pass (Potts - a less polished Wing)

    6) Centre mids that battle (Josh Scowen / Butcher = Josh Scowen / Thompson / Gape)

    7) A number 10 that can press (Taylor / Horgan / De Barr)

    8) A tricky left winger that can use both feet (Sadlier - a less polished Mehmeti)

    9) McCleary / Wheeler unchanged

    10) Vokes/Kone - long ball largely unchanged

    As harsh as this is, it’s pretty much copying that Ainsworth formula with less successful set pieces, less of a threat from shots outside the box and less unpredictability.

  • Interesting post @frequentstander - I think our set piece ability was so based upon the unicorns of JJ and Bayo that we are unlikely to ever have the same success again. I think we are missing a creative fulcrum, and I am hoping that getting a couple of LBs in over the summer will free Leahy up to play that role more. We need more creativity beyond that, but I do think him being stuck in the LB role has hurt our creativity.

    I think all criticism of Blooms has to be balanced against where he is in his managerial arc, and whether he is improving. Considering we have gone from a lot of "he has to go" comments (and I was there at halftime against Fleetwood), the fact we are now debating his philosophy after a Wembley appearance is promising as far as forward momentum.

    I do think next season is the real litmus test. You can put the past year down to massive transition and growing pains, but after the summer, most of the squad is going to be Blooms signings, with more stability with a core squad who have already played a season under him. If we don't look any better (or consistent) next season, I would be more worried.

  • Leahy is not a playmaker. We need someone in the Barry Bannon/Alex Pritchard/Herbie Kane mould.

    Now, I realise top tier players such as these may be beyond our means, so let's just say the new Sam Saunders. Someone to dictate tempo, pass forwards and make us play.

    We obviously need a new keeper as well. Max was great last season, he hasn't been as good this season and Bloomfield clearly does not fancy him anymore. And cut-throat as it sounds, we can do miles better than Franco.

    We also, in the absence of Hanlon at least, need some pace up front. Vokes and Kone are both very slow, Lubala has a bit more pace but I still don't see him as an option to stretch defences with his pace.

    As others have said though, our recruitment under Bloomfield has been good so even though it may be a worry with players out of contract it provides us with an opportunity to improve the squad as well

  • Might be stretching the point somewhat but I don’t think the Wycombe archetype/blueprint has changed much since I started watching the Blues in 2000.

    We’ve almost always been direct and tough to beat. In terms of playing style, Gormania is the outlier with the likes of Mehmeti, Eze, maybe Saunders to an extent being the individual outliers.

    Otherwise, some very familiar combos reappear across the pitch. E.g centre mid…Simpson/Bulman, Bloomfield/Lewis, Thompson/Gape/Scowen, Butcher/Scowen/Potts etc.

    Blooms’ initial attempts to (if they were that) change this bummed out and he was in serious trouble so can’t blame him for going back to what he knows and having a bit of pragmatism to see himself to safety.

  • Think the football at the moment is similar to Gaz, think we have suffered with a few important injuries . If he can sign a few wingers and a faster forward maybe we can move on next season. Wasn’t Bloomfields biggest fan but thought his tactics were good on Sunday considering the style of football Posh play and players possibly forced into positions that are not their best . It would be good if we could play like that but that would take a lot of money.

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