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Wilder: All systems go for versatile Oxford United
TACTICAL innovations may always be secondary to hard work, particularly in the blood and thunder world of League Two, but flexibility has played its part in Oxford United’s strong start.
When James Beattie sat down this week to work out how Oxford United were going to line up against his Accrington Stanley side tomorrow, the ex-England striker must have been in two minds.
Or possibly more, with U’s boss Chris Wilder using five different formations so far this season.
There were plenty scratching their heads last weekend when the team sheets arrived, before it became clear United were fielding a 3-4-3 formation.
An ability to play in more than one position was one of the attributes high on the wish-list for targets during the summer.
It has allowed Wilder to make the most of a small senior squad, but the United manager believes a tactical aptitude is not new, even if other aspects come first.
He said: “The fundamental aspects of the game will never change.
“It’s a competitive game and physicality and mentality will always play a big part.
“Then you go into shape and systems. We’ve been flexible right the way through – in games and from game-to-game.
“I’ve never thought that we were a one trick pony.
“We can try to play and if we need to go direct we can. Good, intelligent players will adapt and get on with it.”
While managers can only have a limited impact once the action begins, it is a guessing game until kick-off.
Wilder said: “Accrington set up 4-5-1, I don’t know until we get to the game on Saturday if they are going to persevere with that, which for the early part of the game at AFC Wimbledon last weekend they were on top.
“You don’t know if they’ll do that at home, but we’ll set up in the way that gives us the best chance to go and get a win.”
Wilder believes only the very best sides can afford to ignore the opposition and get away with it.
“If you have the big resources and a budget way ahead of anybody else in the division you possibly can say ‘this is us’ and away you go,” he said.
“If you have injuries you can go like-for-like.
“There are two or three clubs, without naming them, that have done that.
“But I don’t think it does any harm if you’re flexible as a manager.”
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