Evolving system puts Cambridge United on the way to a well-oiled system
New roles for George Maris and Piero Mingoia
Much has been made of Cambridge United’s desire to play two strikers this season, and this has perhaps overshadowed a key component in their emerging system.
Uche Ikpeazu spent long spells of the last campaign ploughing a lone furrow up front, but has now been joined by Jabo Ibehre to terrorise defences.
But of just as much importance has been the shape of the midfield.
With Jevani Brown at the head of a diamond, the roles of George Maris and Piero Mingoia, but also Medy Elito, have evolved.
Primarily widemen last year, they are now tucking into a far more central role, slightly forward of anchorman Gary Deegan, and it has worked to great success.
“It gives us that flexibility, whether we want to be a little bit more of an expansive team or one that likes to play in tighter areas,” said United head coach Shaun Derry.
“Both of them, George and Piero, the two who have been playing the last two to three weeks, have done a really excellent job. They have kept the ball well in tight areas, but they’ve also been able to adapt to their more natural game by playing in wider areas as well.
“I don’t want us to be a team that plays in straight lines. We know that we’ve got two powerful young men at the top of the pitch who can really affect the back four.
“But behind that, I think we’ve got some good footballers. Them two, in particular, when they’re on the top of their game, they can really get us playing.”
Seeing the ease of the transition, the coaching staff deserve plaudits for identifying the possibilities of the personnel and the new system.
After all, players are so often pigeon-holed in a position, particularly where wingers are concerned.
“You can become one-dimensional and I don’t want us to be,” said Derry. “It’s not something that we’ve just spoken about and asked them to do a job and they’ve gone on to the pitch and done it.
“There are a lot of hours that have gone into this. We’re working and we’re trying to find a system that really suits us.
“We knew that last year we had a certain type of system that more often than not we adopted, and this year we’ve slightly adjusted that.
“With them two particular players, I think they’ve shown their flexibility and I think they’ve shown their creativity in certain games as well.
“I’m pleased with how it’s looking at this moment in time, I’m comfortable and I think the players are confident in the system we’re playing.”