From Marshall Cavendish’s splendid Football Handbook (Part 8):
“The new defensive patterns with a man spare at the back mean more and more coaches are looking to attack from wide positions, and winers are back with a bang.”
Brighton’s new touchline terror Gerry Ryan is one man who is pleased to see what was a dying breed back in demand.
“Wingers win matches,” Gerry explained to Handbook. Defences are left trying to turn and close down on the ball, plus pick up players running at them into space from deep when the winger gets it across. It’s more difficult for them to provide cover.”
Few managers utilise the winger more than Tommy Docherty. “He’s a great believer in attacking football,” says Gerry. “He was always making the point at Derby that our job was not just to win but to win in an entertaining way. And wingers are great entertainers. There’s a tradition of wingers being the men loved by the crowd, from Stanley Matthews to Peter Barnes. But in the old days they operated in a restricted area and relied on service. Now that isn’t on. I have to drop back into midfield and help out when the opposition have the ball. Today’s wingers have not only got to turn on the skill and beat defenders; they must be as involved as any midfield ball-winner.”