This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Sheffield Wednesday banished their midweek woes with a victory against Wigan Athletic at Hillsborough on Saturday afternoon, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement for Garry Monk going forward.
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While at the weekend, Massimo Luongo was handed his first start in the blue and white stripes, and he repaid the faith put in him by netting a 57th-minute winner.
The game itself was rather dismal for entertainment as neither side could muster up more than three shots on target while there were a gigantic 67 aerial duels won between both teams, per WhoScored.
Monk surprisingly reverted back to a 4-2-3-1 system with Fletcher returning to the side as the sole striker with Luongo sitting behind him in the number ten role.
With just two shots on target all game, it’s fair to suggest that the tactic just didn’t work.
Football FanCast have previously highlighted why a 4-4-2 system can pay off in south Yorkshire and it’s a formation that had been working before the midweek loss – the first under Monk – but that had to be more down to the absence of their number nine rather than tactically.
The WhoScored map below shows the average player position of the Wednesday squad on Saturday afternoon – it indicates that Fletcher was actually deeper than their two wingers, Adam Reach and Kadeem Harris.
In addition, the following heat map from SofaScore, shows the areas of the pitch that the 32-year-old frequented with a heavily intensive area in and around the number ten spot.
This suggests Monk wanted to use him as the focal point of their attacks with players bombing on either side of his knockdowns – further proven by the above positional map.
Fletcher won just 50% of his aerial duels, conceded four fouls and lost possession a total of 17 times, per SofaScore. This quite clearly impacted the strength of their attack and could suggest that he was just given too much to do up there on his own.
Wednesday stuck four past Middlesbrough in just 34 minutes using two upfront with Fletcher getting his name on the scoresheet then.
That is what works.
Monk needs to ditch any formation that leaves the 6 foot 1 striker isolated and opt for one that can aid his goalscoring exploits like the 4-4-2, which gives him some much-needed support in attack.