Van ‘t Schip pulling out all the Christmas party tricks

Tony Tannous Columnist

By Tony Tannous, Tony Tannous is a Roar Expert

 , ,

12 Have your say

    Carlos Hernandez (right) of Melbourne Victory contests the ball against Fred of Melbourne Heart, during their round 12 match of the A-League season at AAMI park in Melbourne on Friday, Dec. 23, 2011. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    Related coverage

    While Melbourne Heart have gone on an incredible run of seven wins from eight games that has seen them move up into second spot, one of the most impressive features has been John van ‘t Schip’s ability to shift formations mid-game in order to wrestle control of a match.

    This has particularly been evident in the past two games, in the Heart’s wins over Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC.

    In both, the Dutchman has shown how adaptable his side has become, switching between a three or four man defensive line in order to gain control of each match.

    This is the type of tactical flexibility that Guus Hiddink made famous in his time in charge of the Socceroos, and one we haven’t always come to associate with the A-League.

    Let’s start at AAMI Park.

    At the start of the Derby, it was clear that the Heart were pushing Aziz Behich forward, into a position on the left side of midfield.

    It was ostensibly a three man defence featuring Adrian Madaschi in between Michael Marrone and Brendan Hamill.

    But the Victory, with an experienced trio in Archie Thompson, Harry Kewell and Carlos Hernandez leading the front line, where able to expose this thinned out rearguard.

    Thompson, in particular was very clever at exposing the space in behind Behich, often peeling out to the right to pick up the ball and stretch the Heart defence.

    This led to Hamill being pulled out to the left, creating some space for the Victory trio to work in.

    Without enough Heart pressure on the ball higher up the pitch, the Victory had the better of the opening periods, able to hit Thompson early, in space. This tactic lead to the opener, Thompson exposing the room between Hamill and Behich.

    By then van ‘t Schip adjusted to a four man back-line, sending Behich back to his nominal position at left back.

    By moving to a back four, and having a man spare, the Heart were able to control the Victory’s front three for much of the remainder of the match.

    In and around all this, Matt Thompson went to work, and the Heart cruised home.

    Fast forward six days and we’re at the SFS. This time van ‘t Schip has started with a back four, with Marrone and Behich the fullbacks and Simon Colosimo coming into central defence alongside Madaschi.

    With Wayne Srhoj out, it meant a move into the holding midfield role for Hamill.

    Van ‘t Schip had reverted to a more traditional 4-3-3 for this one, up against Vitezslav Lavicka’s 4-4-2.

    However, it was the home side, with the overload in midfield, who controlled the opening exchanges.

    Enter van ‘t Schip. About 25 mins in, the match a stalemate, he made his move, shifting Behich and Marrone forward, into midfield, and moving Hamill into his defence.

    From a 4-3-3 he went to a 3-4-3, with Madaschi splitting Colosimo and Hamill at the back.

    Marrone, meanwhile, went to the anchor midfield role.

    The logic was clear. With only two Sydney attackers, Bruno Cazarine and Dimitri Petratos, van ‘t Schip only needed three defenders, leaving on spare.

    And, by moving to four across the midfield, he had evened up the numbers in the middle.

    It worked a treat. Terry Antonis, afforded so much space in the early going, able to pick his passes, suddenly had more pressure confronting him.

    Now it was Fred, Thompson, Behich and Marrone on top.

    In control at the back and in the middle, it was time for the pacey front three to go to work, and Sydney’s cumbersome back four, detached from their midfield, were no match for Rutger Worm, Mate Dugandzic and Eli Babalj.

    While not much fun for the Sydney and Victory faithful, van ‘t Schip’s work over the past fortnight has been a Christmas gift to those of us who have longed for more tactical flexibility in the A-League.

    Tony Tannous
    Tony Tannous

    Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyTannousTRBA

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (12)

    • January 2nd 2012 @ 7:34am
      pete4 said | January 2nd 2012 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      I must admit I had serious doubts about van ‘t Schip. But it appears he’s turned the corner and got the Heart right up the ladder which is brilliant news for a club in their 2nd season. Dugandzic and Babalj have big futures too!

    • January 2nd 2012 @ 8:17am
      Stevo said | January 2nd 2012 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      Have you emailed this to Fozzy? He’s been on a mission to crucify OS coaches recently saying they’re a waste of space. Well maybe Rini hasn’t cut it and well what can you say of SFC? JVS is showing that he had a multi-year plan for Heart and the fruits of that labour are starting to emerge. In Season 1 it was about assembling a team that could compete using experience and some youth. JVS & Co also went on a mission to unearth youth and to start preparing for Season 2 with a more speedy side capable of a faster attacking style of game (pace and width). Also the turmoil at MV unexpectedly delivered Mate to Heart which fitted in nicely with where JVS wanted to go. It’s been a steady work in progress and yes JVS has certainly shown he knows how to adjust his side to suit the circumstances. It also speaks volumes for the players who have bought into JVS’s approach. I wonder what MV management would give to have someone like JVS rather than their clueless dynamic dunderheads? I guess they got Harry anyway.

    • January 2nd 2012 @ 10:36am
      Qantas supports Australian Football said | January 2nd 2012 @ 10:36am | ! Report

      Happy New Year to you Tony and your family. Tony I remember this 3-4-3 formation as a kid. It has to be over 55yrs old and now suddenly its coming back into vogue? Who would have ever thought? Really simple to employ and I remember my first real coach a primary English school teacher drilling us how to use it correctly. Extremely flexible system to turn into any other popular system going around. I am just wondering now if the circle has now gone the full cycle and we will see this being employed more often than not.? I hope so, as it is so easy to teach and adapt to any other by tweaking it. Really easy for the kids to learn and understand, far more so then the now new adopted 4-3-3 curriculum. But that’s just my opinion.

    • January 2nd 2012 @ 11:30am
      Con Stamocostas said | January 2nd 2012 @ 11:30am | ! Report

      quality stuff Tony.

    • January 2nd 2012 @ 11:51am
      BES said | January 2nd 2012 @ 11:51am | ! Report

      You would no doubt have seen Ange did the same thing against MV on Saturday night Tony.

      Playing all 3 of his specialist CB’s Jurman, Smith and Adnan as a back 3, he pushed Steffanuto and Franjic up to flank Paartalu and Bratten across the middle of the park and allowed Visconte and Nichols to stay further forward in support of Berisha. 3-4-3 once again.

      Apart from the worringly becoming traditional early game gift to the opposition, it was total domination for the entirety of the game with both Franjic and Berisha putting in astonishing work loads.

    • January 2nd 2012 @ 12:09pm
      Axelv said | January 2nd 2012 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

      What a joy it is to have a quality coach in the A-League.

      It’s quite remarkable if you think about it, the Heart team is built on youth, with the experienced players being the icing on the cake. Before Van’t Schip came over I knew he was a very good youth coach, 10 years ago when I would visit the Ajax website, they always had a feature article on him and his success with the Ajax youth team.

      I find the impatience of some people to be very weird, they expect a new team of youth to be playing like Barcelona instantly and many people were calling for him to be sacked after last season, and even more so at the start of this one. Will they learn? I doubt it.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    , ,