Family

The wise head behind the Patrick Vieira revolution



“He is a fighter, he is a warrior,” enthused Vieira. “His role is important in both our attacking build-up and our defensive shape. The way he is playing on the field is the way he plays in training every day. I use him as a benchmark of how you have to conduct yourself as a professional.”

Vieira is fast becoming the master of the subtle change. Moving away from the attritional approach of Roy Hodgson, his redeploying of McArthur is part of the big picture, which also finds Andersen and Marc Guehi as a rock-solid, ball-playing central defensive pairing and Odsonne Edouard ensuring Christian Benteke is not the isolated figure of recent seasons. Meanwhile, Vieira’s Palace are less reliant on Zaha and concomitantly Zaha has blossomed into more of a team man.

Better still, Vieira sees nuance too and has the mental agility to concoct a Plan B at the opportune moment. His ability to read a game won it for Palace on Saturday. A soporific first half had found Zaha foraging down the right, where he had the better of Rayan Alt-Nouri but little else. Gallagher was on the left side of midfield, where he never quite tuned in to Edouard’s wavelength.

For the second half Vieira tinkered. Zaha returned to his preferred left side from where he scored, Edouard moved to the right, from where his cross would spawn that goal. With McArthur as his anchor, Gallagher was given a free-ranging, but more central role and it was from this position the game’s outstanding contributor would have his moment. “He’s a lovely kid,” noted Vieira. “Everybody loves him in the dressing room, but he will give you it all or he will give you nothing. The majority of the time he gives all to everybody.”

Another weak Wolves clearance, this time a Romain Saiss header, fell to Gallagher. Operating in the inside right channel, he cut in and brushed past Alt-Nouri.  The midfielder got lucky with a deflection off Conor Coady, but Palace’s second half showing was one of design rather than accident.


Report: Patrick Vieira’s switch pays dividends as impressive Crystal Palace down disappointing Wolves

Ultimately, it was quite straightforward. After a  grim, chanceless first hour, Crystal Palace eased themselves into the top half of the Premier League by dispatching a disappointing, niggly Wolverhampton Wanderers with two goals as they reaped the benefit of a half-time tactical switch by manager Patrick Vieira.

“After winning at Manchester City, it was important to keep the momentum going,” said Vieira. “[It was] a good, mature performance against a difficult team, which showed how we’ve improved individually, to be more solid collectively.”

With both teams unbeaten in five, optimism abounded, but so too for the first hour did scrappiness. Similar of style, neither quite knew how to pick the other’s locks, to break out of a congested midfield or to rise above the succession of petty fouls and concomitant theatrical over-reaction.

“We weren’t good, they were massive,” admitted Bruno Lage, the Wolves head coach. “I don’t want to judge my players on one game, but we didn’t win enough offensive or defensive duels and they were stronger, even when they didn’t have the ball.”

Although the first half passed with neither goalkeeper being called upon, a shape slowly began to emerge from the swamp when Conor Gallagher found himself in a more central role just behind the front three and Wilfried Zaha moved to his more customary left side. The pair linked, the game became more stretched and Palace were in the ascendancy.

Just after the hour, Palace turned that ascendancy into goals. Inadvertently found by a weak Nelson Semedo clearance, captain James McArthur threaded an exquisite ball through around the hapless Semedo. Zaha cut in and stroked the ball insouciantly past Jose Sa. Assistant referee Peter Kirkup signalled offside, but Var righted the wrong and Zaha had his fourth goal of the season.

“There are no targets for Wilf,” revealed Vieira. “Just more assists and more goals. With ability comes responsibility and, as one of our leaders, he’s more than capable of delivering.”

Moments later Var worked for Palace once more when Ward felled Rayan Ait-Nouri, downgrading the award of a penalty to a free kick on the edge of the area. Palace, though, were seizing the day and when Odsonne Edouard broke through, Sa saved brilliantly. When Edouard squared the rebound, Gallagher couldn’t quite prod it home.

No matter, Gallagher’s moment  was about to come. Collecting the ball 20 yards out, he powered past a succession of defenders. His drive may have beaten Sa, but the goalkeeper was wrong-footed by a deflection off Conor Coady. “Sign him up,” chanted the home crowd.

Hampered by their own lack of adventure, Wolves began to press without much conviction. Vicente Guaita saved Joao Moutinho’s free kick splendidly, but it was far too little, far too late.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *