Godfather Of Champions Chapter 216 1
Chapter 216: Adjustments Part 1
Chapter 216: Adjustments Part 1
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
"YES! It's a GOOOAL!"
The moment that Freddy Eastwood scored, the spectators' stands exploded into a frenzy of cheers. All of Forest's fans were jumping out of their seats with their arms up in the air.
"The is the first goal for Nottingham Forest in this Premier League season! The actual first! Unbelievably, it was on Arsenal's goal! What a beautiful counterattack! An incredible long pass! A banana shot by Albertini!"
Instead of running to the sidelines to celebrate with the fans, the scorer, Freddy Eastwood, turned and ran to the midfield to give their new Captain, Albertini, a tight hug.
At least 85% of the credit for that goal belonged to him.
Watching the ball cross the goal line, Tang En and Kerslake both jumped from their seats and went running to the sidelines with raised arms. He did it! His tactic worked!
"Nottingham Forest is beating Arsenal on their home ground! This match is looking to be more than a simple record-breaking ceremony for Wenger. Just like Tony Twain said: as much as he doesn't care about a 25-year-old record being broken, he doesn't want to lose this match either."
After cheering for Freddy Eastwood, the fans of Forest immediately began singing a song that they had come up with in the spur-of-the-moment, in praise of Albertini. "We have an Italian, with curls and messy hair! He may be 32, but take him lightly and you'll pay! Take him lightly and you'll pay!"
As a player, a single beautiful performance is enough to win over fans.
Surrounded by his teammates, Albertini was bombarded with their excited yells, so much that he could not even make out what the fans were singing. But there was one thing he was certain of: leaving Italy and coming to the UK was the right choice.
Clustered between his teammates, feeling their expectations and his heavy responsibility, having his name hailed loudly by their fans; it felt incredible. It was as though he had returned to his time in AC Milan. I, Albertini, am far from being old!
But the point was lost all too suddenly. Beside him, Pat Rice held his head in his hands. Wenger turned to look at Tang En and his assistant, who were celebrating the goal at the sidelines, and stood. He could not allow the match to be dragged into Forest's flow. He had to bring the focus of Arsenal's offense back to Dennis Bergkamp.
As he stood at the sidelines, all of Arsenal's players looked back at him, knowing that their manager would surely have new instructions for them after losing a point. Wenger signalled to Dennis Bergkamp, getting him to withdraw just enough to support Fbregas instead.
Bergkamp nodded in understanding.
Although the starting position of the Dutch was technically a forward wherein he was Henry's partner, he could also play well in the midfield. Withdrawing to coordinate the offense would help to take some pressure off of Fbregas, and at the same time, open him up to opportunities to take advantage of the gap left behind by Wood once he moved forward.
The adjustments Wenger made had some effect. With both Bergkamp and Fbregas working together and coordinating the offense, it pulled the attention of Forest's defense. With Henry's positioning being more flexible, he would often pull to the left and partner up with Robert Pirs. That way, Forest's defensive line had no choice but to run with Henry; after all, that Frenchman was the greatest threat on Arsenal.
Arsenal did not just rely on Henry to score. Pirs, Bergkamp, Jermaine Pennant, and even Gilberto Silva and Ashley Cole all had the ability to rush in and score a goal. Arsenal had many places from which they could attack, and anyone of them could be part of the offense. Just two or three of them with a pass-and-go combination would easily create the space they needed.
When Henry successfully received a ball, he launched it towards the goal with a spin and a kick. Amidst the held breath throughout City Ground, Tang En rose from his manager's seat. And then the ball hit the goalpost.
Tang En could tell that Arsenal had given Bergkamp, not Fbregas, more responsibility in the organization of offense. Since Wenger had made changes, Tang En moved to adjust accordingly. Wood's duty remained the same: to continue guarding aggressively against Fbregas. With him acting as the core, the entire formation of Forest would advance and put pressure on Arsenal. Forest, who was in the lead, did not withdraw into a defensive position like a cowardly turtle, but instead moved up their area of defense.
It seemed that Tang En had not given up on close-marking and tackling, even with a numerical advantage. He understood deeply the strengths of Arsenal, which were about the same as those of every technically strong football team. They absolutely could not be given any space that will allow them the full use of their technical capabilities; otherwise, the team with the weaker skillset, Forest in this case, would be set on a path to failure.
Bergkamp's withdrawal to reorganize was a clear attempt to use the space created by George Wood's advancement. Since that's their intention, we'll use the whole team to fill up this hole for good. With the entire formation advancing, we'll continue to pressure Arsenal and eventually take initiative in the match.
In advancing the formation itself forward, the best tactic would naturally be offside traps. At the same time, Tang En did not intend on restricting Forest's offense for the sake of defending. In contrast, he expected Ribry and Ashley Young, the two side midfielders, to actively support the offense. Once Forest got an opportunity to attack, the side midfielders and full backs would cut forward and suppress Arsenal's offensive abilities in the wings.
In addition, they were to use the most efficient method in their offense; the ball could not stay under their feet a second longer than necessary if a pass was possible. The idea that Tang En had tried to instill in the players during training was this: opportunities and breaks were not created by dribbling; instead, they were created through the team's positional awareness and passing. The future direction of their offense would be to use their movements to create opportunities for themselves on one hand, and to force opponents into dead-ends on the other.
They could not pin their hopes on using their own ability to singularly take on five defenders before scoring. It was Arsenal they were facing, not amateurs.
Even if Arsenal had had Jermaine Pennant and Robert Pirs in the wings, Tang En did not think Ribry and Ashley Young would have lost out to them. In fact, he believed that Ribry was superior to Pennant.
This differed greatly from what Wenger thought. In terms of ability, Wenger did not think that Forest was at Arsenal's level at all. However, Tang En felt that what Forest was lacking was not ability, but experience. The experience gleaned from the top-level league was more important than anything else.
Having to harden up and fight such a tough battle with Arsenal just in the league's third round, Tang En believed that the match will give his players a tremendous amount experience, probably the equivalent of playing in at least five normal matches.
Wenger quickly discovered the changes Tang En made, but he did not follow-up with any adjustments. From another perspective, it was no longer the knowledge of the managers that was at play between the two teams, but the abilities of the players.
However, Wenger had to admit that Twain had improved markedly since their first meeting. In their first encounter, Tony Twain, who had at the time been managing the Youth team, could only use weird strategies to deal with Arsenal. But now, he was already able to go head-to-head with him in his tactical maneuvers.
Looking at George Wood's animated figure on the field, Wenger thought that perhaps he really should have tried to poach the boy over. Even if he himself did not like rougher tactics or players who could only use their body to play the game, he had to admit that Number 13 would likely become a threat to him in the future.
Forest continued to press for the ball, but the main referee was light on the whistle because it was Forest's home ground. Several defensive measures that looked almost like fouls were ignored. As a result, even if Wood had gotten Fbregas rolling on the ground before passing the ball to Albertini, with the young Spanish champion making a huge show out of it, it would not have caught the referee's attention.
To be fair, Fbregas's abilities were not less than George Wood's. Rather, Tang En's strategy, which was designed specifically with Arsenal in mind, played to Wood's greatest strengths while effectively restricting Fbregas's abilities.
After watching for another ten minutes, Wenger shook his head at Pat Rice, who sat beside him. "Tang En has thoroughly analysed us, but we know very little about this Forest team. We've been too passive."
Rice nodded in agreement. "Before this, I thought he was just quarrelling with the media for all four days."
"No, Pat. What Forest has showed in this match can't be achieved in just four days."
Pat looked in surprise when Wenger said this. "You mean"
"From the moment Tony Twain was promoted to the Premier League, he must have already thought of us as an important opponent." Wenger continued steadily. "It's quite funny for a newly promoted team to view the defending champions as their main opponent, isn't it?"
Pat did not know what to say. Arsne had once warned him to be careful of Tony Twain, but had said nothing when asked why. Now, Pat understood it better.
"No that's incredibly ambitious for a newly-promoted"
Wenger looked down at his watch. Without him realising it, the first-half was already ticking down to its end.
The match seemed to have passed in a flurry of tackling or being tackled. The lofty and sophisticated offense that was said to be as fluid as water and as elegant as a dance, so prized by Arsenal, was completely absent from the match.
Wenger did not give a thought to making any adjustments before the end of the first half. The situation was not going to change simply by shouting from the sidelines or changing a single player.
Half-time would be good.
Very well, Tang En. You win the first half
Let's fight again in the second half!