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Our Inspiration 

Our 11 a side teams use the highly attacking 3-3-1-3 formation which is one of the more unusual in Football and was developed in South America by coach Marcelo Bielsa. The Former Chile & Argentina Manager developed the ideas behind the formation in the 1990's and this became his signature formation.








Bielsa is a Mercurial character in the coaching world, revered by many coaches, hailed as a flawed genius and regarded as a maverick for his unusual methods.


He was born in the city of Rosario a place where many famous Argentine footballers originate like Leo Messi, Cesar Menotti & Jorge Sampaoli as well as being the birthplace of the revolutionary Che Guevara.


Rosario is a Port town, 4 hours from Buenos Aires. It is known as a city for the football romantic where a certain ideological philosophy is part of the culture and footballers are seen as a representative of this.


Bielsa began to develop his career as coach at the local club Atletico Newels Old Boys  after qualifying as a physical education teacher. He led Newell's to several wins in the early 1990s, then moved to Mexico in 1992, briefly coaching Club Atlas and Club América. Bielsa returned to Argentina in 1997 to manage Vélez Sársfield.


Following a brief spell at Espanyol he then managed the incredibly exciting Argentina team between 1998-2004 before taking over the Chile national  team between 2007-2011. Whilst in charge of "La Roja" he achieved a cult like status by guiding Chile to the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa playing an explosive brand of high energy ultra attacking football. It was only with key players injured that they were eliminated by Brazil.


After this Bielsa returned to Europe where he took charge at Atletico Bilbao & Marseille. One of his finest achievements was the destruction of Manchester United over two legs in the Champions League where Bilbao totalled outclassed Alex Fergusons side .


Bielsa is known as "El-loco" or "the madman".  On a  recent venture into management in 2016 it lasted just 2 days at Lazio where he walked out after a row with the owners. Bielsa returned into management back  in 2017 with OSG Lille where the 3-3-1-3 made its reappearance. 


His tenure was short-lived and equally crazy. After firing half of the squad within 5 minutes of meeting them he attempted to assemble a youthful side. However, 15 games in and with Lille plummeting down the Ligue 1 table Bielsa was fired after being suspended for misconduct due to an unauthorised trip to Argentina to see a dying friend. 

In 2018 he returned to Management for his first stint in England at Championship team Leeds United. Seen as a sleeping giant, Bielsa began assembling a young dynamic team that have secured promotion to the English Premier League playing exhilarating football. Before arriving Bielsa was virtually  unknown  in England outside of the coaching fraternity but has made a big impact. His methods included players litter picking, 12 hour days of training , siestas & an obsessive use of videos.

His strengths are working with young players, developing them and taking underachieving teams and improving them. The trophy cabinet may not have much silverware in it but his influence in undoubted. His success needs measuring in a different way based on the impact and influence he has had on players.


Bielsa's has had  much influence in the football scene on many present coaches – former players under Bielsa's command – are heavily influenced by the style, such as Gerardo Martino, Mauricio Pochettino, Matías Almeyda and Marcelo Gallardo, & Diego Simeone.


Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola credited Bielsa as his tactical inspiration and called him the "best manager in the world" .


Bielsa's signature formation in his squads – which he made famous and brought to the front of the world's mainstream football scene during his coaching tenures with the Argentina and Chile national teams, Athletic Bilbao and Marseille – is the 3–3–1–3 / 3-4-3 Diamond.

For this formation, the players are:


  • Three defenders (Centre Back who can act as a sweeper if needed with two stoppers at each side who mark)

  • Three midfielders (one central midfielder with two lateral-wing backs at each side who cut inside to the midfield at times but also attack rapidly down the wings)

  • one creative midfielder called the enganche in Argentina who has freedom and is a fine passer.

  • 3 offensive players consisting of two wide wingers and one centre-forward.


The Formation allows great transitions from defending to attacking, as many of the players used in the formation can perform both defensive and attacking tasks.


Moreover, it establishes superiority in numbers in every part of the field, since with this formation his teams could defend with seven players, attack with six or seven players, or protect a score line by overwhelming the midfield with 6 players.


All players have to quickly set to attacking positions when the ball is in the team's possession, and all players have to aggressively press and recover the ball when it is not in possession, so it requires great teamwork, incredible energy and understanding between teammates.

The idea of the formation is to play a high energy pressing game as high up the pitch as possible with fast aggressive attacking. The formation demands a lot physically per player and a massive amount of concentration because of the positional movements .

In Bielsa’s own words, verticality, movement, rotation, concentration and improvisation make up the implementation of his philosophy of the game.


However mad it gets,  Bielsa is different and in a world dominated by pragmatic and defensive systems, he is unique and a coach to study and learn from.

The Hawks 3-3-1-3


The Hawks Players told the club they wanted to play attacking and exciting football with lots of ball possession. After experimenting 2323 another natural development of our 9 a side 2-3-1-2 formation is 3313 by adding in an extra defender and extra attacker.


Our version is based on Bielsa's signature formation with Chile with a centre back who can act as a sweeper or libero  & attacking wing backs who have a dual and opposite role depending on the position of the ball on the pitch. 

The central midfielder acts as a destroyer and links up with a more creative midfielder who performs the role of a typical Italian Regista or the South American Enganche type players.

The front three are dynamic and encouraged to launch whirlwind attacks and shoot at every opportunity. 











The Requirements are : 

•Tactical awareness from each player and an understanding of how they fit in the team.

•A high level of discipline to ensure that the team attacks and defends as a team.

•Quick and strong wide defenders who can cover the space left behind the wing-backs.

•Players must be comfortable on the ball as the aim is to control possession.

•A ball-playing centre-back is particularly important for stepping up from defence and supporting the midfield.

•Wing-backs must be exceptionally fit to support the attack and defence along their side.

•Disciplined midfielders who can provide cover when the wingbacks are attacking and help prevent counterattacks.

•Exceptional communication skills as the team really needs to work together to make the formation a success.

Whilst one Wing back in possession is encouraged to link up with the Wing Attackers and attack down the flanks with overlapping runs the other wing back cuts inside to midfield to join the CDM to shore up the midfield .

The style is based on having a Goalkeeper who is encouraged to control the ball and start the build up play with the sweeper  , centre backs, CDM and wing backs.

The Wing backs are encouraged to attack at specific Trigger moments in the game such as when we cross half way in possession or when we launch attacks.

The Full Backs and Centre Back work as a disciplined unit and are encouraged to get the ball under control , keep the ball in play and play out from the back ideally to the wide players to make the pitch as big as possible .

The CDM has the role of shielding the defence and acting as a destroyer of attacks. The Wing Backs support by moving into midfield and should be tough tacklers and excellent passers of the ball.


They disrupt the opponents and press very quickly when out of possession and support fast attacks. We aim to win the ball back within 5 seconds and pass wide

The CAM or Enganche, as its is know in Argentina is the formations creative player who needs to be an excellent passer of the ball. It is a similar role of an Italian Regista such as Andrei Pirlo of  Juventus , or the only real English players who have successfully performed a similar role such as Michael Carrick or Paul Scholes of Manchester United.


Enganche means "The hook" and this is exactly what this player does acting as the link across the vertical and horizontal. It is almost a reverse libero with the ability to roam across attack and midfield to win the ball and support the front three attackers yet dropping side by side with the defensive midfielder also when the team is out of possession and under pressure.


Bielsa employed the Argentine playmaker Juan Ricquelme in this role with great success. Examples of similar player are Xavi Hernandez and Andrea Pirlo.

Two wide wing attackers stay close to the touchline in the defensive and midfield third then cut inside and head direct to the penalty area or Zone 14 in the final third with freedom of movement. They are encouraged to shoot early and at every opportunity.

They are supported by a Centre Forward who plays in a more advanced position to the CAM and who has the job of rapid pressing of the opponents defence to win the ball as near to the opponents goal as possible to shoot early.

The formation and style is because we want to attack and score goals but a team cannot always be on the attack, and when under pressure from the opposition the formation can switch to a 5-3-1-1 , 5-2-3 or 3-5-1-1 as the wide midfielders , CDM & wingers drop deeper to win the ball back.

The attackers are encouraged to stay high up the field in positions to launch fast attacks. Even when defending corners the 3 attackers are positioned on half way ready to receive the ball and go immediately on the counter-attack with pace.


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