Some players like lots of time and space, others can operate in crowds.
To play in central midfield you need to be at one end of what we’ll call the space-time continuum; if you are not at the right end you may struggle in that role. In that case you need to find somewhere else where you will get space and time.
Bryan Ruiz in particular seems to get a bit messed up in a crowd. He gives the ball away a lot when he drops deep, and frankly it’s dangerous for him and the team. He is at the wrong end of the space-time continuum to be playing in busy areas.
But when you move him up front something interesting happens. The defenders are one side of him for a start, rather than surrounding him. And often they drop off a little. Suddenly Bryan gets the opportunity to play.
Fine, you might say – all footballers would like time to play. Right, of course. But not all footballers have the wherewithall to take advantage of this space and time. So while Bryan is at the other end of the space-time continuum, really this continuum is not two dimensional because if it was you’d get this:
Happy in a crowd Not happy in a crowd
|—– Danny Murphy/Clint Dempsey/Mousa Dembele ————-Bryan Ruiz/Brede Hangeland/Aaron Hughes—-|
You need some kind of space-time continuum optimisation matrix:
Happy in a crowd/good in space
Murphy (then to a much lesser degree) Dempsey/Dembele
Happy in a crowd/bad in space
Unhappy in a crowd/good in space
Unhappy in a crowd/bad in space
We might try to plot the space-time continuum optimisation matrix later on.
Anyway, the point is, work out who can do what and put them in a position to succeed. In the right situations Bryan Ruiz is a genius; in the wrong ones he looks stupid. So…..