It's that time of year! In this week's Tactical Thinker, we asked you to name your PFA Team of the Year, as though you were one of the pros making the difficult selection. After a countless number of responses, we compile the top eleven players as voted by our own stack of pros - you, the readers. Here is our PFA Team of the Year, from the TMS community.
This past weekend, Mohamed Salah claimed the Football Writers' Association Player of the Year, with more individual awards soon to follow. Individual awards are fraught with controversy within a team sport that relies on all eleven players working in tandem, and sometimes fail to acknowledge those that didn't do the flashy bits on a football pitch, but performed like their lives depended on it week in and week out. On both accounts, that's what often makes the Team of the Year an intriguing award to follow. When it comes to the PFA Team of the Year, it becomes all the more fascinating to see who the pros themselves had the most difficult time playing against this season, and who they felt deserved to be remembered for their role in making the 2021-22 season special. So with that, we ask you to pick your PFA Team of the Year, if you were one of the pros.
We take a look at the six best (or the six most submitted) young players outside of Europe's top five leagues, who have been catching the eye in 2021-22. But not only that! We also take a deep dive into the discussion vaults, describing where each of our youngsters could end up next season, both in stylistic fit and reported rumours.
Who is a young player outside of Europe's top five leagues that has caught your attention this season? If you'd like to expand on your answer, feel free to share where you could see them fitting in if a move were to be made elsewhere.
It's no secret. Manchester United are struggling defensively right now, despite having very capable players all over the pitch. In David De Gea, they have one of the best goalkeepers in the world. In Lindelof and Maguire, the Red Devils have a defensive pairing that spearheaded one of the league's sturdiest defensive structures last season, and led a Europa League charge. Ahead of them, they have two defensive warriors in Fred and McTominay, who will never be world beaters, but are very competent in what they offer. Despite that, Ralf Rangnick's team have conceded 10 goals in their last 5 games, floundering under the German's style of play. So what's amiss?
For the past few seasons, the attention on Manchester United's transfer business has surrounded their inability to sign a world class defensive midfielder. However, with United floundering under Ralf Rangnick's style of play, greater defensive concerns have been illuminated in the past few months.
Things have been bumpy since Ralf Rangnick took over, with many players continuing to flounder under the new tactical ideals. The team's defensive problems have garnered particular attention in the media, with the likes of Maguire, Varane, Shaw and Wan-Bissaka continuously lambasted for their performances. So with that, this week we ask the following question in our third Tactical Thinker. How would you solve United's defensive concerns?
A little over a week ago, we asked you to give us your top of the line ideas on how to stop the long-ball specialist. Every single professional team has at least one of these players in their side, yet it remains a relatively undiscussed discourse. When you take into account the inherently unattractive dogma surrounding the notion of a long-ball ravaging through the beautiful game, there's even greater negative connotations toward something that in reality, is incredibly elegant. So with that, here is our analysis as to how to stop the long-ball specialist, with your answers intermixed along the way.
In all the discussion about tiki taka, possession-based, beautiful football, long passes often get a bad reputation. However, long passes can be extremely effective, and the best teams in the world know how to intermix both short and long passes into their build-up, in order to effectively break down the opposition. The likes of Ederson at Man City, Joshua Kimmich at Bayern Munich and Mats Hummels at Borussia Dortmund frequently utilize long passes to unlock the opposition's defense, giving their team a different edge from all the possession-based football. While these players may not be your traditional 'number 10' playmakers, they play a vital role in creating chances for their team and kickstarting attacks. So with that, today we ask the next question in our Tactical Thinker series. How do you stop the long-ball specialist?