For those who listen to what Ange Postecoglou actually says, there was an interesting development from this weekend which will horrify some of our supporters. For the record, I am not horrified and I don’t think anyone else should be either.
One of the takeaways from the game at the weekend is the perception that the manager has made a mistake in giving the penalty duties to a guy many fans don’t expect to be on the pitch every week. That might be the worst misreading of the manager and his intentions for quite some time. It seems clear that he sees Giakoumakis as a critical element in his plans.
Which raises the question as to where it leaves our Japanese Bhoy.
If you imagine that we’re looking at keeping one up front it means that something has to give.
And this is where we might have missed something important. When we brought Kyogo in from Japan it was pointed out that he could play centrally as well as out wide. This wasn’t something Ange picked out of thin air; he’s seen it with his own eyes.
Hacks trying to second guess him, as if this was some kind of experiment he embarked on, need to go back and review things from when the deal was done. The manager clearly signed him for his versatility.
I’ll tell you this, Kyogo out wide and Giakoumakis in the middle will be different than what we watched at the weekend. Kyogo’s willingness to move the ball quickly, to play one-twos, to move with it at his feet, means there will be less of that nonsensical crossing and more of the direct football that will lead us to us winning more games. I can see the logic behind the move.
And it may have been the logic all along.
Was the plan, all along, to play him through the middle?
Or was he thrown in there because we were, frankly, out of other options?
In short, has Kyogo’s success and cult status with the supporters made a straightforward plan – to play him as an inside forward, cutting in from wide, drawing off defenders and forcing them to abandon the centre – more complicated than it was?
Giakoumakis comes to us as a player well capable of making a big impact. Kyogo would not have fared any better played as a single striker against those tactics at the weekend, and there is a ton of data from analytics which bears that out, so I think anyone writing the big guy off after that performance needs a lie down in a dark room.
He clearly has quality. If Ange can fashion a system that can utilise them both that will do far more damage to opposing teams than if we played them one at a time, on a rotation.
The clue is in making Giakoumakis the penalty taker. A manager would no more assign that role to a fringe player as he would make one captain. That tells you that he isn’t a fringe player in the eyes of the manager. It tells you that he’s integral to the system.
Playing these two in the same team is not an experiment. It’s central to the plan. Some of the stupid commentary on Kyogo being played out wide really is incredible for its lack of understanding about the modern game.
“He’s ineffective,” is one such claim and it’s frankly ridiculous. If he drags defenders towards him and opens space for others then he’s effective, just in a different way. If he lays on good balls for others to capitalise on, that’s impactful, it’s just that it doesn’t put his name on the scoresheet.
This is football. It’s a team game. You get no prizes because one individual stands out above the rest. That’s not how we’re going to grab back our title.