If I Were Manager

Chris Lister's Lowdown

Here I go, day-dreaming again…but if I were manager I would be thinking about which strategies and lineups would expose other teams’ weaknesses, and allow Les Elephants to capitalize, and hopefully secure victory at this year’s African Cup of Nations.

I have been working on some lineups and have outlined them below using graphics. I have included a few players, which are less proven, but feel they are ready to make a big impression at this year’s cup.

Les Elephants’ firepower is what should carry them through this tournament. I am not discarding the immaculate defense (which saw no goals conceded in open play throughout the competition last time round), but feel the power and strength of the offensive players is the key in the team.

Formation 1: 4 – 3 – 3


Subs: Yeboah, Boka, Lolo, Romaric, Zokora, Kalou, Gervinho, Bony, Kone

This formation is about as defensive as it gets when it comes to my choices for the cup. With star goalkeeper Copa, and four solid defenders at the back, as well as two rocks in midfield (Yaya and Tiote), it seems no team can break them down. Up front I have chosen the speedy Gradel and skillful Doumbia to assist Drogba with goal scoring. Kalou and Gervinho would be first off the bench depending on how the team is playing, and whom the opposition is. It is very difficult to leave these two players out, but I am so confident in the front line.

Formation 2:
3 – 1 – 3 – 3


Subs: Yeboah, Boka, Lolo, Romaric, Zokora, Ya Konan, Bony, Kone, Traore

Formation 2 offers a more narrow shape down the middle of midfield and defense, allowing Yaya Toure to play a free role and hopefully produce some goal scoring opportunities for the strikers. With Kalou and Gradel on each wing, their speed should cause problems for oppositions. Up front I have gone for Gervinho, Doumbia and Drogba, which all possess skill and speed, as well as an eye for goal. Possible subs could be Bony or Kone for Drogba.

Formation 3:
3 – 1 – 3 – 3 (alternate)


Subs: Yeboah, Boka, Lolo, Romaric, Zokora, Traore, Bony, Kone, Drogba

My third formation focuses on spreading the midfielders across the park as a first line of defense, as well as an attacking unit. I have pulled Ya Konan back to a wide midfield role in order to support Yaya and Kalou. Although it is not his preferred position, I think his strength and skill could be effective there. Tiote’s main job is to hold the ball up and create quick attacks, as well as guard the three-man defense.

Formation 4:

3 – 1 – 3 – 1 – 2


Subs: Yeboah, Boka, Lolo, Romaric, Zokora, Traore, Bony, Kone, Kalou

This formation really spreads key players up the middle of the pitch. The idea here is to use these skillful players to play a short passing game and weave in and out of the opposition’s team. Ya Konan will play in the hole with Yaya behind him, and Tiote backing them both up. Bony is the first choice sub for Gervinho, Gradel or Ya Konan.

Formation 5:
4 – 2 – 4


Subs: Yeboah, Boka, Lolo, Romaric, Zokora, Gervinho, Bony, Kone, Kalou

This is a stretched formation with four players placed up front. The strength and skill of the two-man midfield should be enough to control play in the middle of midfield. The packed defense should work well together to stop any threats. Up front the four attackers will combine well to cause the opposition problems.

Formation 6:
4 – 2 – 4 (alternate)


Subs: Yeboah, Boka, Lolo, Romaric, Zokora, Traore, Bony, Kone, Gradel

Formation 6 balances defense and attack, with Yaya and Tiote holding the midfield together on their own. I am relying on a strong partnership between these players, so a lot of responsibility rests in their hands! Pace and power up front should exploit other teams’ defenses.

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