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3-5-2 and 8 different forward pairings

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

Following on from my 33 different team selections blog ( in which I explained 33 is not that big a number as it first looks but does headline the story how we have chopped and changed unnecessarily this year.

Making changes from a position of strength (and winning team) would be a bit more acceptable but an underperforming team needs to find consistency, patterns of play and be able to gel together as a team.

When we played Ross County away on 12th September we reverted to the 352 formation of last season for the first time this season. This was the first league game after Duffy signed on 2nd September so that could have been the catalyst for the decision or it could have been down to the fact Ajeti was fit enough to start for the first time since signing (and therefore allowing us to play with 2 forwards). Or a bit of both.

We then played 9 games at 352 winning the first 7 games but then losing to Rangers and AC Milan before reverting back to 4231 at Pittodrie in the next match.

In those 9 games at 352 we played 8 different forward partnerships.

Ajeti scored on his first start versus Ross County yet was dropped the following game for Klimala (someone who wasn't trusted before). Then Edouard is on the bench against Livingston. Our talisman and the key to our forward partnership then doesn't even get on as a sub while Elyounoussi and Klimala do.

Then for the Riga game Ajeti is dropped again. That's the second time he has scored then been dropped and replaced by Edouard who couldn't even get off the bench in the previous game. Then for the Hibs game it is change again with two different forwards ... this time Ajeti and Elyounoussi with Edouard benched again.

Ajeti scored again versus Hibs and his third goal in three starts. Despite this he is dropped again for the Sarajevo game (that's the third time in a row Ajeti has been dropped after scoring).

At least the St Johnstone game was the same forward partnership for two games in a row.

The next game had a set back with Edouard unavailable due to COVID. However instead of brining in Ajeti again (given his 3 goals from 3 starts) we give Klimala the starting spot. For the AC Milan game we play two different forwards again.

How are we meant to get any consistency and understanding?

I am not a fan of us playing 352 but Neil Lennon was. Why then change after it being successful for 7 games? Yeah Rangers dictated the tactics in our game against them but we could have thought about Rangers for the next time we played them.

We changed in to 4231 and it didn't work as we dropped points to Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

Eight games (then ten games) down the line we changed back to 352 again and needless to say a home defeat to Ross County and a home draw to St Johnstone weren't success stories of another change in formation.

33 different team selections isn't necessarily as bad as the headline suggests but when you do dig into the detail the changes of team selections, team formations, partnerships etc it hasn't given the players the clarity they have needed when struggling this season.

And I have not even mentioned the Goalkeepers yet or the use of substitutions.

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