Our Ten Most Popular Analyses of 2021

2021 was the most successful year in the six year history of TheMastermindSite.com. Over the course of the year, we doubled our number of views, visitors, social media followers and email subscribers from where we left off in 2020. Our most popular feature and the aspect of our website that has gained the attention from pro club managers, former and current professional players, and writers from The Athletic, has been our tactical analyses all year long. So with that, here are the ten most popular analyses of the year, all written by Rhys Desmond in 2021.

10. ERIK TEN HAG – AJAX (2020-21)

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Written originally for RDF Tactics’ YouTube channel, our analysis of Erik Ten Hag has continued to claim popularity due to the ongoing speculation of his future with a Super League giant. Whenever a new job opens up, Ten Hag always seems to top the list of potential replacements, and the readership comes pouring in for our thoughts on the Dutchman’s tactics. What people don’t know when they first view this article – it’s currently only available to subscribers of the site. So if you want to read the in-depth analysis of Ten Hag’s tactics in full, you must become a subscriber.


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In a similar vein to Erik Ten Hag, Graham Potter seems to be perpetually linked to any vacant managerial job. That only boosts the traffic to our 2020-21 analysis of his team, where we analyzed his intricate tactics, the parallels with Tuchel’s Chelsea, and why their league position did not tell the whole story. If you’re a coach looking to play total football in a back three, there are few better to read about than Graham Potter.


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We’d say that this is the only analysis in the top ten that doesn’t cover a single team, but then again, it kind of does. Our analysis of which players should make the 2020-21 PFA Team of the Year achieved widescale success on the site, and ended up coming pretty close to the real deal. Other than a glaring omission of Declan Rice, the PFA Team of the Year wasn’t too far away from the truth, but we still prefer our version.

7. thomas frank – brentford (2020-21)

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Perhaps the most surprising entry on our top ten, Thomas Frank was still managing in the Championship by the time we posted our 2020-21 analysis of his team. Written just before the Championship Playoff Final against Bournemouth, our analysis turned out to be a carbon-copy of how they’d go on to secure promotion to the Premier League. Since Brentford’s big jump to the top flight, Thomas Frank has made very few changes in both tactics and personnel, allowing our analysis to stay relevant and popular.

6. Italy – Euro 2020

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One of the more unsurprising entries in our top ten, Italy shocked the world with their stellar tactics at Euro 2020, going on to win the tournament after back to back penalty shootout victories. With Jorginho pulling the strings from midfield just as he did for Tuchel’s Chelsea, many footballing fans wondered whether the Italian could even make a claim for a Ballon d’Or. It didn’t end up panning out that way, but his form for Italy at the Euros certainly caught attention. Combine that with the aging, experienced heads of Bonucci and Chiellini continuing to perform, and some young guns up front impressing like never before, many fans wanted to know more about how Italy achieved their success, and came right to our analysis.


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Zinedine Zidane is yet another name who continues to be linked with clubs around the world, but in his case, he seems to have no intention of returning to the game any time soon. Our 2020-21 analysis of his Real Madrid team continues to live on and prosper as a result, with many taking notes on how he could one day set up his next club. The thing is, his next club may very well be Real Madrid yet again, just as it was the last time he took a hiatus from management. Regardless, our tactical profile of his team from 2020-21 will continue to serve as the reference until his next big move.


Shortly before Thomas Tuchel was suggested to be linked to the Chelsea job, we randomly analyzed his principles of play in a three-part series, discussing which club he should manage next. Little did we know in a few days time that our words would blow up, with thousands of views pouring in across the days that followed. Since then, this article’s views have rapidly died down, in favour of another analysis on this list. But the timing has perhaps never been more perfect, making everyone question whether or not we had psychic powers (no one actually asked that).


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Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan were absolutely on fire in 2020-21, breaking Juventus’ long-standing Serie A win streak. The very first team analysis we ever did discussed Conte’s Premier League winning year with Chelsea, which we then followed up with our first relevant to the time analysis of his Inter Milan team in 2019-20. Since those initial Conte pieces, we’ve analyzed hundreds of teams, players and managers. So it’s no surprise that featuring in the top three this year is another Conte piece, where we analyzed his Inter Milan in 2020-21, toward the end of their title winning campaign.


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Despite never being a Manchester City fan, Pep Guardiola has been my favourite manager to watch since he arrived in the Premier League. His tactics are always special and innovative, and 2020-21 was no different. The analysis caught the eye of Tifo’s Alex Stewart when RDF Tactics asked us for permission to use it on their YouTube channel, and has been one of the most popular articles to ever grace the site. Even better – we already have our updated 2021-22 analysis out, where Guardiola has already developed new ways of playing against the odds.


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Head and shoulders above the rest, our Thomas Tuchel Chelsea piece has amassed over 30,000 views since it was posted in March. While you may think it was inevitable for the UEFA Champions League winning manager to finish number one on our website, what makes this analysis so special is that we analyzed not just what was good about Chelsea, but what was actively bad. The problems we pointed out in our analysis still persist today, and perhaps Tuchel himself should take a look. In another sense, the number one landing spot really is no surprise, given the fact that we’ve made references to it in nearly every tactical analysis since. That’s a testament to Tuchel and his innovative tactics seen at Chelsea, which have served as a blueprint for all teams across the calendar year.

So there it is! Our top ten most popular analyses written in 2021. Be sure to check out all ten analyses listed here, and more, as we continue to bring you what you want to see before the end of the year. For the most recent analyses, simply see the below. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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Understanding the anatomy of a football boot

There’s a reason why the game isn’t played in bare feet, there’s a reason why every professional club has a ‘Boot Room’ somewhere in their home training ground, and there’s a reason why boot makers try and make the most sophisticated pair of boots they can create. That is – cleats are more important to the game than you might think. So, in this feature, we’ll take you through the important parts of its history, development, and discuss how to pick the right boot for you and your players.

How to Create a Game Model Framework

Struggling to know where to start when it comes to creating your own game model? Well look no further than TheMastermindSite.com. This game model example showcases what Rhyspect FC looks to do in each third of the pitch in all three defensive phases, and all three attacking phases in a 3-1-4-2 formation.

A set-piece routine that will guarantee goals

Set-pieces are vitally important to the modern game, with a high percentage of goals being scored from set-pieces in the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A this season. However, we are a firm believer in giving players creative autonomy and freedom to make choices in football matches. Allowing them to have a voice in attacking set-pieces is the perfect spot to allow them such creative input, as set-pieces can often be so different to everything else the team puts together in their formation, style of play and game model. With that said, we want to help your team score more goals from set-pieces, especially if you’re going through our game model examples, only to see that we don’t focus all that much on set-pieces. So with that, here is my favourite corner kick routine, which can easily be used at both the senior and professional level.

Steven Gerrard – Aston Villa – Tactical Analysis

Gerrard remains a relatively inexperienced manager, but with a clear sense of tactical knowhow, the former Liverpool legend appears to be long for this world. Gerrard’s won four from his first ten in charge, and added his first draw to the mix this past weekend against Manchester United with an extraordinary comeback. New additions in Lucas Digne and Philippe Coutinho have also entered the frame, providing the perfect time to take a look at how Gerrard has settled into life at Villa Park so far. Here is our tactical analysis of Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa in 2021-22.

Eddie Howe – Newcastle United – Tactical Analysis

With the lowest xG in the league, Eddie Howe has a difficult conundrum to solve. But with sound principles of play in possession in place and two new additions, Newcastle should be able to get out alive this season. Here is our analysis of Eddie Howe’s 4-3-3.

Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea – Match Analysis

Manchester City are running away with the 2021-22 Premier League title. Thomas Tuchel looked resigned to the same belief in his post-match interview, with the Blues having one of their worst games since the German took over. Manchester City were utterly dominant from start to finish, allowing the Blues just 7 touches in the Sky Blue penalty area – Chelsea’s lowest in seven years. So with that, here is our tactical analysis of how Guardiola’s City claimed such a dominant victory over Thomas Tuchel’s team.

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