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The dynamic between Hughes and Butterfield


brady1993
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I was a bit bored so decided to create this post about what I've observed as a possible developing dynamic between these two, why this combination differs from what we've used previously under McClaren and why that might be beneficial for the team.

13/14 - 14/15 Hendrick/Bryson + Hughes 

In previous years the midfield would be set up to have one dedicated defensive midfielder who'd always be the furthest back (Eustace/Thorne), one playmaker (Hughes) who would play a bit further forward, would carry the ball from midfield, help link play up and generally knit together team play and one attacking midfielder (Hendrick/Bryson) who would be the most advanced player, looking to burst beyond the centre forward (Martin) and almost acting as a second striker at times.

Why the midfield setup needed to change

A big reason why this set up was so effective was the relationship between the attacking midfielder and Martin. Martin's natural inclination is to come short looking for the ball and get involved with the midfield, by doing this the most attacking midfielder could take up the space Martin had just left. The technical ability of Martin and Bryson/Hendrick meant that this exchange would often take place at a frightening pace catching the opposition off guard.

However we no longer have a striker similar to Martin and therefore there isn't the space for the midfielder to burst into (and hopefully break in behind) and act as second striker. The space created now (by Bent in particular) is usually appearing just in front of the opposition centre backs, the space a number 10 would usually float into and is thus the space we need to try to exploit. In order for this to happen the player that takes up this role needs to have the dribbling skill to create half a yard for himself and the vision and skill to penetrate the backline with a pass. The most equipped player in the squad to do this is Hughes with Butterfield and maybe Ince capable as well.

Why Hughes and Butterfield

Over the past few games and in particularly against Wolves what I've been noticing develop is that Hughes is playing as the most advanced role in the midfield trio whereas before he was slightly more reserved. Frequently he is drifting into the space just behind Bent (or Vydra) and looking to play that killer pass. This can happen because now we have a player capable of fulfilling the role Hughes used to play, i.e. the playmaker role, in Butterfield. With Butterfield doing the most of the work of getting the play going and Johnson providing the safety of a defensive midfielder, Hughes is freed up to get into much more attacking positions. 

The real beauty of this set up comes because both Hughes and Butterfield are comfortable in either role, making our midfield more flexible and unpredictable. In fact you can take it one step further and include Johnson into the equation. Johnson's role is to act as the defensive midfielder and break the play up but he is still having a foray forward now and again, this can happen specifically because Butterfield and Hughes are tactically aware enough and comfortable enough having the ball in deep positions to sit in if Johnson forays forward.

Summary

The dynamic between the forward line and midfield has changed, so the roles of the midfield have to change to accommodate. Hughes and Butterfield are probably now the most suited to filling the two more advanced midfield positions and will hopefully lead to an effective midfield dynamic.

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3 minutes ago, brady1993 said:

I was a bit bored so decided to create this post about what I've observed as a possible developing dynamic between these two, why this combination differs from what we've used previously under McClaren and why that might be beneficial for the team.

13/14 - 14/15 Hendrick/Bryson + Hughes 

In previous years the midfield would be set up to have one dedicated defensive midfielder who'd always be the furthest back (Eustace/Thorne), one playmaker (Hughes) who would play a bit further forward, would carry the ball from midfield, help link play up and generally knit together team play and one attacking midfielder (Hendrick/Bryson) who would be the most advanced player, looking to burst beyond the centre forward (Martin) and almost acting as a second striker at times.

Why the midfield setup needed to change

A big reason why this set up was so effective was the relationship between the attacking midfielder and Martin. Martin's natural inclination is to come short looking for the ball and get involved with the midfield, by doing this the most attacking midfielder could take up the space Martin had just left. The technical ability of Martin and Bryson/Hendrick meant that this exchange would often take place at a frightening pace catching the opposition off guard.

However we no longer have a striker similar to Martin and therefore there isn't the space for the midfielder to burst into (and hopefully break in behind) and act as second striker. The space created now (by Bent in particular) is usually appearing just in front of the opposition centre backs, the space a number 10 would usually float into and is thus the space we need to try to exploit. In order for this to happen the player that takes up this role needs to have the dribbling skill to create half a yard for himself and the vision and skill to penetrate the backline with a pass. The most equipped player in the squad to do this is Hughes with Butterfield and maybe Ince capable as well.

Why Hughes and Butterfield

Over the past few games and in particularly against Wolves what I've been noticing develop is that Hughes is playing as the most advanced role in the midfield trio whereas before he was slightly more reserved. Frequently he is drifting into the space just behind Bent (or Vydra) and looking to play that killer pass. This can happen because now we have a player capable of fulfilling the role Hughes used to play, i.e. the playmaker role, in Butterfield. With Butterfield doing the most of the work of getting the play going and Johnson providing the safety of a defensive midfielder, Hughes is freed up to get into much more attacking positions. 

The real beauty of this set up comes because both Hughes and Butterfield are comfortable in either role, making our midfield more flexible and unpredictable. In fact you can take it one step further and include Johnson into the equation. Johnson's role is to act as the defensive midfielder and break the play up but he is still having a foray forward now and again, this can happen specifically because Butterfield and Hughes are tactically aware enough and comfortable enough having the ball in deep positions to sit in if Johnson forays forward.

Summary

The dynamic between the forward line and midfield has changed, so the roles of the midfield have to change to accommodate. Hughes and Butterfield are probably now the most suited to filling the two more advanced midfield positions and will hopefully lead to an effective midfield dynamic.

Excellent post. 

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4 hours ago, brady1993 said:

I was a bit bored so decided to create this post about what I've observed as a possible developing dynamic between these two, why this combination differs from what we've used previously under McClaren and why that might be beneficial for the team.

13/14 - 14/15 Hendrick/Bryson + Hughes 

In previous years the midfield would be set up to have one dedicated defensive midfielder who'd always be the furthest back (Eustace/Thorne), one playmaker (Hughes) who would play a bit further forward, would carry the ball from midfield, help link play up and generally knit together team play and one attacking midfielder (Hendrick/Bryson) who would be the most advanced player, looking to burst beyond the centre forward (Martin) and almost acting as a second striker at times.

Why the midfield setup needed to change

A big reason why this set up was so effective was the relationship between the attacking midfielder and Martin. Martin's natural inclination is to come short looking for the ball and get involved with the midfield, by doing this the most attacking midfielder could take up the space Martin had just left. The technical ability of Martin and Bryson/Hendrick meant that this exchange would often take place at a frightening pace catching the opposition off guard.

However we no longer have a striker similar to Martin and therefore there isn't the space for the midfielder to burst into (and hopefully break in behind) and act as second striker. The space created now (by Bent in particular) is usually appearing just in front of the opposition centre backs, the space a number 10 would usually float into and is thus the space we need to try to exploit. In order for this to happen the player that takes up this role needs to have the dribbling skill to create half a yard for himself and the vision and skill to penetrate the backline with a pass. The most equipped player in the squad to do this is Hughes with Butterfield and maybe Ince capable as well.

Why Hughes and Butterfield

Over the past few games and in particularly against Wolves what I've been noticing develop is that Hughes is playing as the most advanced role in the midfield trio whereas before he was slightly more reserved. Frequently he is drifting into the space just behind Bent (or Vydra) and looking to play that killer pass. This can happen because now we have a player capable of fulfilling the role Hughes used to play, i.e. the playmaker role, in Butterfield. With Butterfield doing the most of the work of getting the play going and Johnson providing the safety of a defensive midfielder, Hughes is freed up to get into much more attacking positions. 

The real beauty of this set up comes because both Hughes and Butterfield are comfortable in either role, making our midfield more flexible and unpredictable. In fact you can take it one step further and include Johnson into the equation. Johnson's role is to act as the defensive midfielder and break the play up but he is still having a foray forward now and again, this can happen specifically because Butterfield and Hughes are tactically aware enough and comfortable enough having the ball in deep positions to sit in if Johnson forays forward.

Summary

The dynamic between the forward line and midfield has changed, so the roles of the midfield have to change to accommodate. Hughes and Butterfield are probably now the most suited to filling the two more advanced midfield positions and will hopefully lead to an effective midfield dynamic.

Superb summary, and I'd say that the space created in front of the opposition CB's by a striker playing higher up is exactly what allowed Hughes to play that pass to Bent, and that pass for Vydra. 

I think Martin leaving the club may actually be something of a bonus for Will, allowing him to step into that creative number 10 role and be that true creative force in attack that we all know he is capable of being.

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29 minutes ago, Howard Canitbé said:

Superb summary, and I'd say that the space created in front of the opposition CB's by a striker playing higher up is exactly what allowed Hughes to play that pass to Bent, and that pass for Vydra. 

Exactly my point :D.

29 minutes ago, Howard Canitbé said:

I think Martin leaving the club may actually be something of a bonus for Will, allowing him to step into that creative number 10 role and be that true creative force in attack that we all know he is capable of being.

This very well could have a degree of truth to it and maybe in the long run we will be better for it. With that said I'd still take Martin back in a heartbeat, you'd just have to rejig the midfield to have that dedicated runner again. There is even a chance that Hughes could operate similarly to how he seems to be doing now with Martin because they are clever enough to make it work but I'm far certain on that

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Just now, brady1993 said:

 

Exactly my point :D.

This very well could have a degree of truth to it and maybe in the long run we will be better for it. With that said I'd still take Martin back in a heartbeat, you'd just have to rejig the midfield to have that dedicated runner again. There is even a chance that Hughes could operate similarly to how he seems to be doing now with Martin because they are clever enough to make it work but I'm far certain on that

I dunno. I have a feeling that the loss of Martin may force upon us much more flexibility in our playing style. Both the chances I mentioned before that Hughes set up probably wouldn't have happened with Martin in the team, and both relied to an extent on a striker with explosive pace (less so in Bent's case). Whilst Martin was quick when he got going, he isn't quick off the mark and is hence unlikely to have made such runs. Just a different kind of forward.

They say never go back, well we have with McClaren and I think maybe now that Martin is gone perhaps we should just let him go. 

Having said that if he was back and scoring bags of goals for DCFC I would obviously, be ecstatic. But I feel like I've already let go of him in my heart*.

 

*Boohoo

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@Howard Canitbé it's going to look like I'm picking your post apart but I don't mean that way, it's just you make a lot of good points I want to talk about in a short space :D.

5 minutes ago, Howard Canitbé said:

I have a feeling that the loss of Martin may force upon us much more flexibility in our playing style.

There is definitely a ring of truth to this if say Vydra starts being able to link the play up AND dart in behind.

6 minutes ago, Howard Canitbé said:

Both the chances I mentioned before that Hughes set up probably wouldn't have happened with Martin in the team, and both relied to an extent on a striker with explosive pace (less so in Bent's case).

You might be right that the chances wouldn't have occurred with Martin but I don't it's exactly because of what I've emboldened. I'd say it's more because of an advanced runner with clever movement, than specifically the striker and because of their pace. Now I'd argue that perhaps the player making these runs doesn't necessarily have to be the striker, it could be the inside forwards or the most advanced midfielder. For instance look at the first goal against wolves, part of the reason it comes about is because Hughes has burst into space in the box for the header.

11 minutes ago, Howard Canitbé said:

Whilst Martin was quick when he got going, he isn't quick off the mark and is hence unlikely to have made such runs. Just a different kind of forward.

I don't think it was to do with his pace, I think it's because, like you said he's just a different kind of forward. Martin's first thought was to come short and looked to play somebody in if he could but there are examples of him making clever runs to get a goal. The best one spring that springs to mind is the goal he scored against Preston last year.

15 minutes ago, Howard Canitbé said:

They say never go back, well we have with McClaren and I think maybe now that Martin is gone perhaps we should just let him go. 

Having said that if he was back and scoring bags of goals for DCFC I would obviously, be ecstatic. But I feel like I've already let go of him in my heart*.

As much as it saddens me you're probably right and we should probably prepare for life without him because it's unlikely he will come back (at least till his loan runs out).

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1 minute ago, brady1993 said:

I didn't watch it, how'd he get on ?

Did ok. Laid on the second goal for Baker and hit the post himself. Won some seriously strong tackles against an Italian team who were a bit on the Juventusy cheaty thuggy side.

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9 minutes ago, brady1993 said:

@Howard Canitbé it's going to look like I'm picking your post apart but I don't mean that way, it's just you make a lot of good points I want to talk about in a short space :D.

There is definitely a ring of truth to this if say Vydra starts being able to link the play up AND dart in behind.

You might be right that the chances wouldn't have occurred with Martin but I don't it's exactly because of what I've emboldened. I'd say it's more because of an advanced runner with clever movement, than specifically the striker and because of their pace. Now I'd argue that perhaps the player making these runs doesn't necessarily have to be the striker, it could be the inside forwards or the most advanced midfielder. For instance look at the first goal against wolves, part of the reason it comes about is because Hughes has burst into space in the box for the header.

I don't think it was to do with his pace, I think it's because, like you said he's just a different kind of forward. Martin's first thought was to come short and looked to play somebody in if he could but there are examples of him making clever runs to get a goal. The best one spring that springs to mind is the goal he scored against Preston last year.

As much as it saddens me you're probably right and we should probably prepare for life without him because it's unlikely he will come back (at least till his loan runs out).

It's not so much that Martin didn't make runs. It's more that we were very used to playing in a very specific way when he was in our side. As love him as I do, I'm not so sure he represents the consummate professional in that he'll keep going until the end even when things aren't going his way. I think Vydra may well be more that player than Martin was, and has every bit the finishing ability and intelligence Martin has. 

For what it's worth I absolutely don't mind you dissecting my posts, they're out there to be shot at. If I didn't like it there'd be very little point in having a worthy debate on an open forum!

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5 hours ago, RamsPolls said:

Couldn't agree more. 

And when Thorne comes fully fit again, that midfield will be a very deadly trio. 

Johnson is doing just fine, but I prefer Thorne for his passing ability. 

I was thinking the other day about Johnson.

I'm really pleased for him and the team with how he's adapting and playing "the Thorne role", and it started occurring to me, just a notion, that perhaps the thing with Brad is his football brain is much better than his football feet.

For example, 1st half v Wolves he used the ball really well but this theory, to my mind might explain what his struggles might be - when he first came, in excellent form and confidence, his passing wasn't bad, praised in fact. But in Clement's team, where technical possession was the thing, he gradually stopped trying things, and started into a negative spin of form, confidence, performance, etc.

Now he's playing a different role I think we're seeing a bit more from him, and as his form and confidence start returning I think we've got into a good place - much needed as I'm not counting on GT planing a big part this season.

It's just a thought, and it's in contrast to so many "great ability no brain" players we have in the squad.

 

And to add, I agree with the OP - very well put and playing them together will help their dynamic no end.Still be great to have Bryson as an option for something different, and Johnson can easily move forward either as part of the attack when needed or another option with a fit and well GT pulling the strings.

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2 minutes ago, Howard Canitbé said:

It's not so much that Martin didn't make runs. It's more that we were very used to playing in a very specific way when he was in our side.

The question there is that because of Martin or because that was the best to suit the side at the time ? Honestly I'm not sure because it's difficult to distinguish.

4 minutes ago, Howard Canitbé said:

As love him as I do, I'm not so sure he represents the consummate professional in that he'll keep going until the end even when things aren't going his way. I think Vydra may well be more that player than Martin was, and has every bit the finishing ability and intelligence Martin has. 

Ehh I think you're being very harsh on Martin with regards to professionalism here, I think the reason why you get that impression is almost certainly down to Vydra being more athletic and having higher degrees of natural fitness.

5 minutes ago, Howard Canitbé said:

I think Vydra may well be more that player than Martin was, and has every bit the finishing ability and intelligence Martin has. 

This what I'm not sure about. With regards to finishing ability I think you are probably right and that his few slip ups with us is likely down to form and confidence as opposed to actual raw ability.

With regards his football intelligence I'm not sure he's on Martin's level although that could just be down to needing to learn the position. From what I've seen of Vydra when played as the central forward as three he's been making quite a few wrong decisions or being indecisive. There have been a number of occasions where he has chose to make a run in behind when he really needed to come short. There have also been a few occasions where he has been caught in two minds whether to spin in behind or come short and ended up doing neither. It's not surprising that we've looked improved with the new look Bent up front (who on a side note seems to have worked hard on his game to become more than a poacher). 

Now I'm not saying Vydra is write off, I suspect it's just he needs to time on the training pitch to instinctively know what to do and change his game a bit to suit us. Heck if a 32 year old Darren Bent can change his game up, I don't see why Vydra can't.

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7 minutes ago, brady1993 said:

With regards his football intelligence I'm not sure he's on Martin's level although that could just be down to needing to learn the position. From what I've seen of Vydra when played as the central forward as three he's been making quite a few wrong decisions or being indecisive. There have been a number of occasions where he has chose to make a run in behind when he really needed to come short. There have also been a few occasions where he has been caught in two minds whether to spin in behind or come short and ended up doing neither. It's not surprising that we've looked improved with the new look Bent up front (who on a side note seems to have worked hard on his game to become more than a poacher). 

Now I'm not saying Vydra is write off, I suspect it's just he needs to time on the training pitch to instinctively know what to do and change his game a bit to suit us. Heck if a 32 year old Darren Bent can change his game up, I don't see why Vydra can't.

I'd agree with this. Wasn't his most successful period coming short with another striker at Warford? Brought in by Pearson to do one specific thing in one specific way, which never really worked here, not settled in a more martin role and I think McClaren is picking Bent because of the familiarity as much as judgement (Bent's doing a yeoman's job mind)

 

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6 minutes ago, RadioactiveWaste said:

I'm really pleased for him and the team with how he's adapting and playing "the Thorne role", and it started occurring to me, just a notion, that perhaps the thing with Brad is his football brain is much better than his football feet.

I think you may have a point here. I've noted before that his vision for a pass is actually pretty darn good and when he has time he can pick a player out. Where he can struggle is when he needs to quickly move the ball whilst under pressure.

 

8 minutes ago, RadioactiveWaste said:

For example, 1st half v Wolves he used the ball really well but this theory, to my mind might explain what his struggles might be - when he first came, in excellent form and confidence, his passing wasn't bad, praised in fact. But in Clement's team, where technical possession was the thing, he gradually stopped trying things, and started into a negative spin of form, confidence, performance, etc.

Now he's playing a different role I think we're seeing a bit more from him, and as his form and confidence start returning I think we've got into a good place - much needed as I'm not counting on GT planing a big part this season.

I think that's definitely part of it but I think a bigger part is the change in position because I don't think he has enough technical ability to play as a more advanced role in a side that wants to play like we do. CDM is a less technically demanding position than an advanced role in a 3 man midfield, his physicality and ability in the air make a bigger difference there too. As a CDM he just has to move it simply into the players in front of him and pick out the occasional long range pass where appropriate. The problem with Johnson will always be his ability to retain possession, as a CDM it's easier for him to keep the ball.

 

16 minutes ago, RadioactiveWaste said:

And to add, I agree with the OP - very well put and playing them together will help their dynamic no end.Still be great to have Bryson as an option for something different, and Johnson can easily move forward either as part of the attack when needed or another option with a fit and well GT pulling the strings.

Cheers. Your right, Bryson will still definitely have a role to play this season. You really need at least three good attacking midfielders so that you can account for form, injuries and suspensions. 

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6 minutes ago, RadioactiveWaste said:

I'd agree with this. Wasn't his most successful period coming short with another striker at Warford?

In a fashion yes I think. He'd float around finding space whilst Deeney did all the link up play, it acted in a somewhat similar fashion as the 13/14 Bryson and Martin. 

 

6 minutes ago, RadioactiveWaste said:

Brought in by Pearson to do one specific thing in one specific way, which never really worked here, not settled in a more martin role and I think McClaren is picking Bent because of the familiarity as much as judgement (Bent's doing a yeoman's job mind)

I thought that was he brought Bent back in at first, but watching Bent's performances over the last few games would suggest it's on merit. Long may Bent's darrenaissence continue.

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