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Compo's Sunday Tactics

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I think you’re right about Dave Smith as the first official Rangers sweeper. His rôle at Aberdeen was that of a Baxter-style creator but he didn’t achieve that for Rangers. Whoever decided to move him backwards was a genius.


The old ritual lineup at the kickoff was GK 1, RB 2, LB 3, RH 4, CH 5, LH 6, OR 7, IR 8, CF 9, IL 10, OL 11. No names or numbers on the jerseys in early times.


The formation was more fluid than that during the game. The centre half in the three was really a centre fullback so the backline was RB, CH, LB.  As play developed with a team attacking on the right, the RB advanced but rarely beyond the half line. The CH also came forward but not as far as the RB and the LB dropped back so there was a diagonal across the pitch. If the attack was on the left the diagonal swung the other way, pivoting on the CH, hence the description of the CH as the pivot, usually in journalese “the big pivot”.


The weakness of the system is obvious. A clearance out of defence into the space behind a RB in an advanced position for a pacy winger to run onto caused problems unless Eric Caldow was there with his speed of thought and foot to come across to the rescue. 


Willie Telfer was the last of the old pivots. Bill Patterson was the nominal CH in a four man defence of RB, Shearer, RH, Davis, CH Patterson, LB Caldow with Johnnie Little filling the FB position when required.  Davis played between RB and CH and slightly forward of the line.


The half backs were theoretically defenders but one usually was more forward going and the other defensive eg Davis and Billy Stevenson.


The inside forwards were attackers but one was often a fetcher and carrier - Sammy Baird, perhaps - and the other a craftsman to unlock the defence and unleash the wingers - McMillan the prime example.


Rangers in the last of the fifties and the sixties played 4-2-4 before it was invented. Hearts were the first team to officially play that system with Danny Ferguson wearing 7 on his jersey playing RB. (“Gerrup yer wing, Fergyssunn”, cried the Gorgie afficionados.)


If a team was very lucky and had John Greig,  the defensive/forward distinction for the half back didn’t matter because he could play both in the same game.


Is the spectacle better now? Yes if you’re watching City or Barcelona but for the most part, because of its flaws, the nominal 2-3-5 was more exciting  and less predictable 

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  • Frankie changed the title to Compo's Sunday Tactics

One of the best fetch and carry men ever in Scottish footie was Eddie Turnball and the wee prime minister could slip through passes that Messi would have been jealous off .

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51 minutes ago, compo said:

One of the best fetch and carry men ever in Scottish footie was Eddie Turnball and the wee prime minister could slip through passes that Messi would have been jealous off .

Correct. Turnbull played mostly inside left for the hiberanians but started as left half. Like JG he could do both positions in the same game.

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Watched England's first goal last night reminiscent of real football half back plays sensible pass to inside forward who threads beautiful pass to winger who then lays it on the line for the centre forward to put the icing on the cake. 

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