The modern-day football has made some giant strides without a doubt. But, it has come at a cost of leaving few traditional trades behind. One very important aspect of this game was the use of wingers. Modern-day managers seem to have taken a different route. We will analyse what tactical changes have taken place which has literally diminished the use of wingers.
Conte using wing-backs: –
Antonio Conte arrived at Chelsea with a reputation of playing 3 at the back and wing-backs alongside midfield. Those wing-backs were supposed to act as wingers and fullbacks simultaneously. The narrow front three will function in the inside channel.
The Italian eventually implemented this system at Chelsea. Marcos Alonso and Moses were his wing-backs running up and down throughout the game. Likes of Hazard, Pedro and Willian acted as inside forwards supporting the striker. This brought a good balance to the side both while defending and attacking.
Klopp and Pochettino prefer high fullbacks: –
Jurgen Klopp had his system of Gegen-press playing narrow forwards and high fullbacks. In possession, those fullbacks are very high acting as wingers. The front line tuck inside to create space for the wide men to whip the crosses in. The German prefers a no 6 who looks to get in between the centre-backs giving license to the fullbacks to go forward.
Well, Mauricio Pochettino isn’t far behind too using this system. The Argentine has mainly used a 4-2-3-1 formation with high fullbacks and a narrow front-line floating behind the striker. In his case at Tottenham, he used Alli, Eriksen and Son floating in behind Kane. He has even used 3-4-2-1 with wing-backs running up and down acting as wingers just like Conte.
Sir Alex and Ranieri won PL titles using wingers though: –
We have so far talked about modern-day managers using different formations to effectively make fullbacks as wingers. But, in the recent past, we have seen yesteryear managers like Sir Alex, Claudio Ranieri, etc. using wingers to win Premier League titles.
A 4-4-2 formation with orthodox wingers and two strikers. It was recently used by Ranieri to lead his Leicester side to a historic Premier League title. Talking about titles, Sir Alex Ferguson’s name comes into mind with his tenure at Manchester United. He also used this 4-4-2 formation for most of the time and produced some great results for the Red Devils. We already know some of the world-class wingers United have produced in the past years.
We haven’t gone into much detail and rather touched on the point that current generation managers have evolved this game with a different pick. We also see Pep Guardiola with his tactical nuances almost every game. We see Klopp, Conte, Wenger using high fullbacks and inside wide forwards to find the gap between centre-back and fullback. This is where football has changed in recent times, managers using various ways to break down a team.
It doesn’t mean wingers have to be extinct, but their roles are molded. We have a famous say that a “fullback is either a failed centre-back or a failed winger”. Well, there you go, if we take the original meaning of that, we can infer that wingers are actually gone in modern-day game but their use in different positions is still there which makes the game more interesting.