‘Val Ball’, owned by Lai and pint glasses – The Athletic


“Val Ball,” transfers, football managers and, uh, pint glasses. You asked, and tried to answer in our last mailbag from West Bromwich Albion.

As always, if I haven’t answered your question, I hope I answered a question very similar to yours.

Let’s go crack.

Do you think there is a chance that Valérien Ismael will appreciate that until he has the opportunity to bring in more of his own players who better fit his “vertical” 3-4-3 philosophy, he will have to be flexible in order to get more from this side? It’s so obvious that he needs powerful runners to make his style work but, with the exception of Matt Phillips, he doesn’t have that. It’s painful to see those square stakes in round holes playing so disjointed every game – Daniel N

Ah. Daniel comes straight out of the trap with a “style of play” question!

It is clear that it will take a few transfer windows to form the team that Valérien Ismael wants, as is the case for any new manager; and when it comes to “flexibility” I think it depends on how you define that word.

Albion made some adaptations to the way he played, but they were minor rather than major. In Cardiff a month ago they kept the ball noticeably longer at the back to draw them in and create spaces behind them, and while I think you submitted your question ahead of the Bristol City game on Saturday, they certainly adopted a style of playing in possession, especially in the central midfielder with Robert Snodgrass.

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