The Writing is on the Wall(paper)Simon Ta
Fresh from leading Liverpool to Champions League glory on Football Manager, it was time for a new challenge and the opportunity to engage with Cambridge South 5ths and dominate their league with tactical ingenuity was irresistible. A quick glance at the squad - some promising diamonds in the rough, experience, youth and close friends meant that the synergy and potential in the team was most apparent, even to the blindest of monks.
And so the vision was born. To hell with the traditional long ball, get it out wide and archaic hit and hope into the box for a lucky break.
Let's get the persona of the 5ths back to the way it should be:
- Progressing individually as players and building confidence with the ball
- Progressing game intelligence, vision, teamwork and communication
Improving those two aforementioned facets has always been the bread and butter for having a sustained, happy hockey career.
It was decided. This season, we play 4-2-3-1.
Captain Howard masterfully drew up a diagram on some leftover wallpaper.
Why 4-2-3-1? Well on paper (wallpaper), you have a triangle in every single position on the pitch. Options, areas of containment, structure, we could go on and on…
And here we arrive at match day, fresh from the occasional pay and play and a summer BBQ too many. Everyone's eyes lit up as the new philosophy and shape was revealed.
We just ran out of time in our pre-match huddle to discuss what to do in possession, out of possession, during defensive transition and offensive transition…but at least everyone knew what position they were playing in…probably…
In the first five minutes, it was clear to all that the evolution of Cambridge South 5ths was complete. Taking like a marinated roast duck to a Chinatown slow cook oven, the opposition and South alike were mesmerised by quick interplay, shifting the ball within the angled triangles, which led to a quick release from Nick and a one-two between Ta and Greaves to get the first short corner of the match.
Captain "watch How'ard I can push this shortie out" sent the ball to Si, who hit a hard low shot which was blocked on the line and pushed out in desperation, only to a waiting Greaves who smashed the ball home.
1-0. The whistle blew. That was it. A famous victory at the factory looking fortress known as Long Road. High fives and hugs all around. The hours plotting strategic details was all worth it…
Except that was the whistle to restart from push back. Not being aware of this, what can only be described as panic at the disco ensued in our box and the ball was eventually bunted in despite quality saves from Mikey.
One of the enemy team hit a rocket heading for our goal's top corner only for his rapid winger, flying in the air with his new Air Jordans, seemingly pulled off the save of the season trying to nick a Ta-style goal from one yard.
This was just the wake up call South needed and some beautiful play involving young Martin Grove and the even younger Thomas Grove sent James Yu in for a chance which was only just out of reach.
It is worth noting that the statistician watching from the side who can only be identified as that English guy who is about twenty-five and whose name I don't know, said after the game that we had nine short corners to their three and had more clear goal scoring chances.
So how did the game end up five-one? A combination of fatigue, everyone willing to sub off out of turn due to said fatigue, break down of shape due to fatigue, and possibly fatigue could have been a big factor.
They scored three of their five in the last fifteen minutes or so.
Everyone can hold their head up high because not only did everyone play pretty well, but Barton also said these lot would have given the 4s a pretty good game - special mentions to Nick, Yuning, Jamie, Thomas, Mike and Greaves who were clearly on form and did some training and less eating over the summer!
Someone had to take the prized Lemon of the day award and as one of two owners of these in double digits (Hello Andy T!), it was a no brainer to add another (maybe two for this write up!) to the tally.