In early January, New York City announced that they had signed the Norwegian coach, Deila Ronny. He played some matches in MLS is Back Tournament. He appears to be facing some problems in his first games, but Ronny is working hard to fix it.
Ronny is not a world-famous coach, as he had failed experiences with Vålerenga and Celtic, but they called him in his country in the name of “Jürgen Klopp” So, is his philosophy similar to Klopp’s?
In this tactical analysis, we will have an analysis of the tactics that Ronny brought to the New York City team and some of the weaknesses that made New York start the season poorly.
Ronnie has used several formations since joining the New York City team, but he appears to have found a lineup that matches his ideas: 4-2-3-1.
New York City uses four players in the backline, two pivots that have a significant role in the build-up play phase, a playmaker, two wingers, and a striker that is continually moving.
New York City is always attacking from the sides, with half-spaces, so coach Ronny is trying to get the ball to the opponent’s half with short passes, to take advantage of his players’ technical abilities, and their intelligent moves on the side.
For this reason, Ronny tries to give the ball holder plenty of passing options, during the build-up phase, to ensure that the ball will reach the opponent’s half without problems.
This is the New York City build-up structure, one of the pivots falls between the centre-backs, and the second pivot is positioned behind the opponent’s first pressure line, the fullbacks placed behind the middle line and close to the wings, in this way, the ball holder has many passing options.
Also, coach Ronny’s building structure enables his team to break any pressure applied by opponents. Because it uses a large number of players, in the building phase, and uses them in several ways, to reach the ball to the final third in a smooth manner.
First, the backline consists of three players, meaning that he will have numerical superiority over the first pressure line for any opponent, and he can transfer the ball to the middle third.
The striker and the playmaker will fall back and position in front of the pivot, this makes the New York City team get a numerical advantage in the middle of the field, this means that the New York team can reach the final third.
This picture explains what I explained above. The backline of New York City is numerically superior to the opponent’s first line of pressure, while the striker and playmaker retreat and create a numerical advantage in the middle of the field.
In this way, New York put their opponents in trouble, for example, if the opposing wing advances to pressure the New York defenders, the New York City full-back will become free, and he can create a 2v1 position on the side.
For example, the Portland Timbers winger advanced to pressure on the backline and left Matarrita without a mark. So New York City can advance the ball across the side.
If the pivot advances to press the backline, the playmaker or the New York City pivot will drag the opponent’s pivot, in this way, a New York player will have a large space in the deep, and he can play a pass to the wing and put him in a 1v1 situation.
In this picture, Moralez dragged his opponent Bradley towards the side, and his teammate Ring got ample space in the deep.
Then, he can play a pass and place the winger in a 1v1 situation.
This structure allows New York City players to reach the ball to the opponent’s half without problems. Then comes the second phase of the attack, which is to penetrate the opponent’s defence.
At this phase, New York relies on the sides, where coach Ronny tries to exploit the technical ability of his wings and fullbacks, to penetrate the opponent’s defence.
This is a map of passes for New York players during the build-up phase, as you can see most of their passes are towards the sides.
After the ball reaches the opponent’s half, the Ronny team will transfer the ball directly to the side, after which he tries to penetrate the opponent’s defence by half-spaces, and uses his players’ technical ability and smart moves, to create space in the opponent’s backline.
The most important thing at this phase is to create numerical superiority on the sides, after which they will try to drag the opponent’s defenders and create a gap in their backline.
This is the New York City attack structure, the attacker and the playmaker will move towards the side, forming a square shape, in this way they will drag the opponent’s players towards them, and take advantage of the spaces that appear.
In this picture, Mitriță dragged the opponent’s fullback towards the touchline, and the pivot (Ring) quickly moved in the half-space, this way, New York can penetrate the opponent’s box.
In this picture, Tinnerholm is in 1v1 situation with the opponent’s fullback, and the playmaker Medina has moved into half-space.
The large number that New York City puts on the side puts the opponent in trouble, and sometimes the opponents are not good at dealing with these situations. Coach Ronny is using this point to create spaces in the deep.
In this example, striker Castellanos fixed the fullback opponent’s, meaning that he will not be able to advance to support his teammate. In this case, the opponent’s pivot, moved toward the side to break the numerical superiority of New York City. In this way, New York City created space in depth.
This is a similar example; Mitriță dragged the centre back of the opponent’s and created space in the deep.
The position of the winger and full-back too close to each other causes problems for the opponent’s full-back. Where he could not choose the player who marked him, in this example, the opponent’s full-back is focused on the winger Medina, while Tinnerholm moves behind him.
New York City’s adoption on half-space makes his opponent place a large number of players, on the side where the ball is located. Coach Ronny is trying to take advantage of this point and create a 1v1 situations on the other side.
In this picture, New York City is reversing the play direction, and placing the fullback Tinnerholm in situation 1vs1.
In counter-attacks, New York City can pose a danger to the opponent as well, as it has players who have the technical ability, who can advance the ball under pressure, and have fast players as well, who can quickly move into the empty spaces.
In the defensive phase, New York City does not apply counter pressure, because most of its players are positioned on the sides, and this leaves the depth empty.
For this reason, the New York City team is defending in a 4-4-2 formation. The wings will back to form a midfield of four players, the playmaker and the striker, who will create the first pressure line, and their task is to close the passing channels that are at the deep.
After that, New York City tries to close the pass channels in the deep and tries to direct the opponent towards the sides.
After the opponent moves the ball to the side, New York City players will press him hard and try to get the ball from him in that area, by wing, pivot and fullback.
If New York City fails to retrieve the ball from the side, the opponent will be forced to play across, in which case New York City will always have a numerical superiority within the box.
New York City’s playing style looks good on paper, but it does have some problems, which made the team start the season poorly.
The first point is the build-up, NYCFC is not good at playing against high pressure, and scored a low XG rate, against the teams that apply this style.
The main reason for this problem is the surrender of the players, as New York City players do not make smart moves during the build-up phase.
The players’ decisions are wrong, too. For instance, in this picture, Ring has a forward pass channel, but he prefered to play a side pass.
Another thing: New York City loses 25.3% of the balls on the sides, but the percentage of retrieval of the balls on the sides is tiny, and this is bad, especially since coach Ronny putting a large number of players on the sides.
Therefore, it should be more aggressive in counter pressure in the next games.
Coach Ronny has developed a good style of play, which seems to have benefited from his past experiences. Now there are some problems that he has to fix, and then New York City’s results will start to improve.