It’s a position that has been used since the early 1930’s, by the Austrian “Wunderteam”, who ended up finishing 4th in the World Cup having played the formation throughout. It was Matthias Sindelar that made the ‘False 9’ position an effective way of technically gifted centre-forwards dropping deep and playing the ball out of midfield. Others that have been successful in the position include Francesco Totti and Johann Cruyff. In today’s world of football, Lionel Messi dominates as a False 9, having been pushed inside from the right-wing, by former Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola.
As mentioned, the main aim of a False 9 is to drop deep and leave space in attack to run at defences, and the most technically gifted players are able to dribble their way past defenders, or even play it out wide, to a more advanced or suitable position for a cross to come in. These players needn’t be the strongest or aerially great, but what they do is drive at a defence that are facing 4 top quality attackers.
With the Spainish National team, Cesc Fabregas is the man they use as the False 9. While he isn’t the quickest, Fabregas excels at dribbling and creating positions for players to run into, thereby creating a lot of efforts on goal.
Having been recently appointed as Bayern Munich boss, Pep Guardiola will no doubt bring the tactics that made Barcelona successful, into the Bundesliga. Bayern have acquired Mario Gotze, and with that huge price-tag comes a lot of skill and versatility Bayern will possess next season. There have been suggestions that Gotze will fulfill Guardiola’s requirements in a False 9, and you can understand why. Having made his name as an attacking midfielder and winger, Gotze is seen as a perfect False 9, and in an era where attack is the main point of interest, with 3 attacking midfielders behind the centre-forward being the norm, Gotze will excel at bringing the ball out of midfield and playing in a similar fashion to Messi.
We’re hearing all types of rumours and crazy price-tags – Falcao, £46m, Cavani, £43m, Lewandowski £25m and Rooney, £33m. However, No one’s looked at what we’re actually in possession of.
This brings me to my main point. Not many have realised that Chelsea have a player that has all the necessary qualities needed to be a great False 9. A player that lacks in height, but still has a mighty jump, a player that has lightening pace, quick feet, and the ability to turn defenders inside out with absolute ease. He’s got a powerful shot and is also gifted with a very special ‘curling’ ability with the ball. He enjoys playing the ball out wide as well as through the middle, and overall is a team player that is individually brilliant.
You may have guessed by now that I’m talking about none other than our Belgian number 17, Eden Hazard.
Having started mainly on the left-wing this season, he has been very effective. He controls that whole left side, as well as cutting in to play between the lines and exchanging passes with our other creative players. His glorious ability to receive the ball at his feet and keep his balance while he flies past players marking him, makes him one of the most feared players in the league, as well as in Europe.
This video perfectly sums up what he’s about, keeping in mind he was most effective for Lille when he played in the hole.
In no way am I suggesting that this SHOULD happen, but merely putting forward an idea that has been successful for teams like Barcelona and Spain, and if we do have the talent, why not use it in a different position? We paid all that money for Hazard, and given a more central yet free role, I’m definite he will take advantage of all the space that he’s able to run into, and actually go past players with ease. We are looking more and more like a team that are capable of scoring and attacking when playing the ball on the floor rather than pumping them forward for the big centre-forward, and experimenting with Hazard in the False 9 position is surely something we could try. It all starts in training, so if Mourinho does arrive, I’ll personally be hoping he has an open mind towards Hazard and a False 9 formation, though Mourinho has been at his best with a big physical centre-forward leading the line.
With all the qualities I’ve listed, I’m certain Hazard would make a perfect False 9, under the right manager. It would involve a lot of the players spreading out wider to make space for Hazard to run through the middle, and definitely demands a world class defensive midfield to handle if the False 9 loses possession.
Would you like to see Hazard tried in this position, or in the hole? Or is he at his best on the wing?
Leave me your comments below!