Date: 21st June 2016 at 1:35pm
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During Euro 2016, the much debated topic surrounding England has been their shape. Should it be 4-4-2 diamond or 4-3-3? This path of thought led me to contemplate the possible options available to Gary Rowett and his Blues team next season.

Throughout last season, the most commonly used formation was the trusty 4-2-3-1 which involves a ‘number ten` operating behind a lone striker. For the most part, it worked well for Blues who played some slick counter attacking football.

The two places in midfield were battled out between Stephen Gleeson, Maikel Kieftenbeld and David Davis – an array of options for that particular position. Gleeson was, more often than not, used in the holding role and performed consistently well. Kieftenbeld was pushed slightly further up and played as the energetic force from the middle of the park, getting in the faces of the opposition and breaking up play.

Two of the three could easily work in a flat 4-4-2 or flat 4-3-3. Adding another central midfield player would add extra competition to the ranks.

The ‘number ten` role will be taken by Diego Fabbrini but can only work in a 4-4-2 diamond or the aforementioned 4-2-3-1. The Italian isn`t a natural wide player and certainly isn`t a central midfielder. The option would be there to adopt the diamond with Gleeson operating at the top of it protecting the defence and Fabbrini providing a creative edge and supporting the strikers. However, the decision has to be made whether to make it a ‘wide` diamond (with wingers) or a ‘narrow` diamond (central midfielders used slightly wider). But seemingly, Blues` wide players have been a vital cog in the wheel.

The strike force is a major talking point this summer. Rowett has openly expressed his desire to bring in a striker and is looking for either a fox-in-the-box type of goal scoring predator or an athletic striker-come-winger.

Clayton Donaldson could benefit from some help up top but when Rowett attempted to offer him some help (in the shape of James Vaughan or Kyle Lafferty) the chemistry was all out of kilter. Perhaps partnering Vaughan with a secondary striker would be a genuine throw of the dice, but it remains to be seen whether Vaughan can rekindle his best form and some kind of understanding with Donaldson. Maybe Rowett will scrap that idea entirely and opt for the rotation of a lone striker, as was often the case last term.

Rowett changing a lot of what the team did well is difficult to comprehend. But a plan B was something that completely eluded Blues at times last season so I`d expect a few minor tweaks, with an attempt to inject more quality into proceedings, rather than a major overhaul.

With a bit of money and luck, Rowett can find the personnel to suit Blues` existing style but the type of versatile players who can offer Blues a change of direction on the pitch, if need be.

The only certainty this summer is that Rowett and his backroom team will be earning their money ahead of what will be an even-more-than-usual grueling Championship campaign.

 
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