Is Three Wingers The Way Forward For Swansea City?
That 45 minutes of breathtaking football coincided with manager Michael Laudrup`s decision to field all three of wingers in his starting eleven.
Before that game, West Brom were the in-form team in the League, winning four games on the trot which saw them rise all the way up to third in the table. That night however, it was the Swans who looked like the team sitting in the Champions League qualification place as their slick, one-touch passing play could be compared with the best in Europe.
Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge and Pablo Hernandez combined to become a lethal trio that caused Steve Clarke`s side no end of problems.
Former manager Brendan Rodgers instructed his wingers to hug the touchline and offer plenty of width, which also enabled the full backs to link up well when going forward. This was perfect for Nathan Dyer, allowing him to play to his strengths and forming a good partnership with Angel Rangel.
However, one of Michael Laudrup`s main tactical changes was to change the winger role within the team. While Wayne Routledge has benefited most from the chance, Nathan Dyer had struggled, up until he was able to shine again when the Swans played with genuine width for the first time since Laudrup took over in 2012.
The game against West Bromwich Albion proved that Wayne Routledge is the more versatile winger than Nathan Dyer. Routledge has adapted well to playing a more central role, unlike Dyer who has found it rather difficult to adjust.
We also can`t forget the performance from Spaniard Pablo Hernandez that night, arguably the best he has shown since his move from Valencia. He was involved in almost every Swansea City attack, and there was plenty of them in the opening 45 minutes.
The Swans were 2-0 up within just 11 minutes and added a third before the break. The winger trio`s impact on the game can easily be summed up by briefly explaining the three goals. Dyer and Hernandez linked up for Michu`s opener, before Hernandez provided the second for Wayne Routledge. The third then saw Dyer and Hernandez link up again before Ben Davies provided the cross for Routledge to net his second of the match.
The tactical switch from Laudrup proved to be a hugely effective one. It enabled all three wingers to play to their strengths. More often than not, Dyer hasn`t played to his strengths in the rather narrow structure of the 4-3-3 system. Pablo Hernandez too has often failed to be anything else than average in a number of matches he`s been involved. Wayne Routledge is the only exception in that he`s been particularly consistent throughout the season. However, the three wingers system enables them all to be extremely influential in a game.
After the 3-1 win against West Brom in November - arguably the best performance of the campaign, the mutual reaction from fans was that Laudrup must surely adopt the "three wingers system" far more often, having seen how effective it was against one of the most in-form sides in the League at that time.
However, Laudrup didn`t answer to the fans` wishes straight away and reverted back to the typical two-winger system for the next couple of months, before deciding to re-introduce for the visit of QPR. It was hardly surprising that again, starting with three wingers proved to be highly effective and produced a 4-1 thrashing against a poor QPR side, who now look certs for relegation.
It was no coincidence that like against West Brom, all three wingers were influential in the scoreline. Angel Rangel in particular was also a constant attacking threat and got on the scoresheet, and of course, the goal came thanks to a superb through ball from Wayne Routledge. Pablo Hernandez also scored and you can`t leave Nathan Dyer out of the equation either. His long range effort was parried into Michu`s path for the Spaniard to end a 6-game goalless spell to open the scoring.
The key stats for the two games speak for themselves:
Routledge: Goals 2 - Assists 1
Nathan Dyer: Goals 0 - Assists 1
Pablo Hernandez: Goals 1 - Assists 3
As shown above, out of the 7 goals scored in the two games where all three wingers started, 3 of them were scored by a winger, 5 of them assisted by one.
The introduction of the "three wingers system" has given Swansea City the unpredictable factor. It was a different way to playing than in recent games, the Swans weren`t narrow in midfield, and returned to having excellent width, but the system sometimes adapted back to a more narrow one to support Michu in the lone striker role.
It`s a system that will unlikely be adopted week in week out, and it most definitely won`t be adopted away from home when Michael Laudrup prefers to keep things more defensive, but so far it`s proved to be a massively effective one when utilized at home.
Vital Swansea would like to thank Come On You Swans.com for the article.