After the Sebastian Giovinco press conference ended, I sat at the top table with Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney. Yet this was no ordinary chat. It was men playing with toys. Out came the Subbuteo players, two teams on a fantasy field and away we went talking about tactics, formations and much more. Vanney, of course, was given the red team. Kristian Jack: Greg, you mentioned in the press conference you see Giovinco more centrally as a playmaker linking the central midfield with the forward. Is there a thought that you could play him more out wide in a front three? Greg Vanney: He could, yes, if we find a scenario where there isnt enough space. KJ: Thats my concern and why I brought it up. If someone plays a double pivot and they squeeze the space for him, you need him operating in space, surely? So maybe he could play further wide in a front three, like Alexis Sanchez, for example, at Arsenal? GV: Absolutely we could do that; take him out where there is more space on the field. It is very hard to man mark a player when he comes to the outside of the field so as we recognize a teams approach, if they look to man mark him then or crowd a space then, he comes out from the middle and the assignments become very unclear for the opposition, he could drift out and we could slide other pieces in. The objective is to get him the ball as much as possible when he is facing forward and going at the backline. I think he is as special an attacking midfielder as there has ever been in this league. He has a great combination of being able to set other people up but also create his own chance and thats invaluable in this league. We were looking for a number ten and I think he is a great hybrid of a number ten and a nine and a half where he can actually finish; he isnt just a setup guy. I am really excited in how these pieces are all coming together and also excited about the ones we are pursuing that we will add to our roster. Greg Vanney/Les Jones KJ: Lets get into some of the pieces you have now. I want to talk about Michael Bradleys role. We all know what happened last year under Jürgen. Sometimes too much of this. (At this stage I pick up Bradley from a central position, move him forward and turn his back to the attacking goal. Vanney nods his head). In a midfield three, do you always see him as a six, or an eight as well? GV: Six or an eight. I dont see him as a ten. KJ: So even before Giovinco arrives, Michael could play as often as a number eight (man centrally on the table ahead of the deepest midfielder) than a six? GV: Yes, we need to make sure who plays this role (pointing to the six), whether it is a guy we currently have, that they are complimentary pieces. The way our system will work is that it will free up either one of these guys at the right opportunity to go forward and when that happens, there needs to be discipline from the other one to stay. There has to be balance, we dont want to limit Michael from recognizing the opportunity to go forward and be a key factor but we also know that he can also really help us to create plays from that deeper position. But then what I think is his special quality is when he says I see a gap and I am going to drive for the gap and get involved in the attack and he needs the freedom to do that and we will cover him in behind. KJ: So what you are saying is if there is a collective balance and the team is playing well, he can be both a six and an eight? GV: Yes, thats part of the complimentary pieces of that midfield. Part of what I think happened last season is that we had such a short amount of time when I joined them and we tended to stay with what we had and in a shape where he was protecting us a little more and I think now as we evolve as a team and have more time in our system, I think he will, and we have talked through this, now have the confidence to go forward and well know who is responsible for covering that space instead of him feeling like he had to do that all the time to protect the defence. KJ: To the other DP. Jozy Altidore. How important is it, regardless of the system, to have strikers who can combine and play off others and am I right in saying that needed to be addressed this offseason with this team? GV: Yes, absolutely. They need to be complimentary pieces. Jozy is a big strong guy who can do a lot of different things; he can hold up the ball, get in behind, he can combine and I think he has been the most successful when the ball has been on the deck and he can combine with people, so having somebody who can understand that type of game and play off him is important. I think last year our two best forwards didnt combine well and it is no secret that they didnt love playing together so now finding guys that are complimentary to each other in the attacking third is critical to breaking down defences. KJ: In most of the games you took charge of last season, you played with two up front, mainly because of the cards you were dealt but Houston home, New York away, for examples, you asked a wide left midfielder to come in centrally to compensate. How vital is that in a 4-4-2? GV: There has to be some collaboration on the field in terms of who is getting into the gaps but you have to have players who are capable playing between the oppositions back line and midfield line where the pockets open up. A lot of times, when you have a player like Jozy, who can threaten the space in behind, defending groups will drop off to prevent you from getting in behind their backline, which is your objective because it is the clearest path to goal, so teams tend to drop off quickly but dont expose the space behind so then you have to play between the lines. So we needed guys who are comfortable in that, where they could receive the ball and face forward and then put the oppositions defence in crisis and make them make decisions. For us that works, at times, with a wide guy coming off who can receive on a half turn, face forward and combine off the strikers and that was something we looked at last year. The other option is with strikers and with two you can stack them where one can press high and one can play underneath and in the gap created by the high striker. The concept is you want to get into spaces between lines, facing forward and put the backline into some sort of decision-making crisis where somebody has to step out of line to close the ball, which then creates gaps for you to get into. Near the end of the year, we went to three in the middle, at times, to create an imbalance. KJ: With the 4-3-3, it often drops into a 4-1-4-1 without the ball, I know you like that system so talk to me about solving issues around that system. How do you stop your deepest midfielder being isolated where runs from deep positions can overload him centrally and from wide areas? GV: The shape of the midfield, in a 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1, is situational and whats important is that players understand what shape you are in in any given situation. If you are against a transition and really pressing high, if you are ahead of the ball, its really difficult to press so you want to make sure you keep your shape behind the attack so if the ball turns over, players can then step from a position where they are protecting the goal but are also able to keep the ball in a smaller area where numbers can start to get around them. When we get into the attacking area, the shape alters when in possession, so we can swing the ball side-to-side to open up gaps, but also if the ball transitions, then you can step up and try and lock it in but if it transitions and you have too many numbers high, then you cant close the gap. At this stage Vanney talks at length to the table, moving three players in a triangle around often in the central zone about who should cover and recognize in certain areas. We discuss at length the role of full backs in transition and whether to track underlapping runs and what to do if up against a front man or strike partnership. As he moves the players around, you can hear the passion in his voice about defending transitions and why its vital for Toronto FC going forward. Its no secret last season it wasnt too much of a problem because they couldnt spend enough time dictating play in the final third. KJ: When you played last season and you got really deep defensively as a unit, when a team presses you, do you need a wing player high to stretch? GV: Yes, yes. Important. When we were looking to play out the back and set up our plays going forward, we are constantly looking to create situations where we have a number advantage. Ideally, we want to create 2vs1 in various points of the field. We have certain cues, as a team depending if they are pressing as two, or one, where is the next line of pressure coming from? Is it coming from a winger, central player, so then we can shift and use those gaps. We have our baseline for how we play out but really its also dictated on how the opposition is pressing us and that shifts us into our cues so then this guy should be able to shift into space. The opposition will always want to keep plus one at the back so if they do that, then we should always be plus one in our half so we just need to be able to shift the ball accordingly depending on where the pressure is coming from. KJ: I want to ask you about the clubs identity. People talk about Barcelona and how all the teams play a style. Marcelo Bielsa brought the 3-1-3-3 to Chiles domestic league by playing it with the national team. Do you look long-term and want to be the guy who starts something here that has all the teams, at different levels at Toronto FC, playing the same way and, if so, is it a hybrid of 4-3-3? GV: First of all, yes we want a system that goes from our top team to our young players. It gives an opportunity to our young players to come through and make a difference in the first team because its such a jump to go from the academy to a pro team and move into an improvisational system where there isnt any clarity is a big jump for a player. But if you come in and you say to them this is your role, here are the five things you have to do, then its an easier process and then they learn as they adapt and get their feet wet. That, to me, makes the most sense. In terms of how we want to play could vary but our principles of play will remain the same. We want to be in possession, dictate the game in possession, move the opposition into their half of the field. If we win the ball in moments, while the opposition is in crisis, then we want to attack quickly, get them while they are out of shape and get to goal. My opinion is counter-attacking is an opportunity, not something we want to be doing every single time. We want to be able to play both in possession and then recognize moments to hit opposition on the counter. Out of possession, by pushing teams into their own half, we want to be aggressive in getting the ball back quickly. If you have numbers in the opposing half, it makes sense to take those numbers and put pressure on the ball. Again, if you cant, in the moments the opposition has secured the ball and have time on it, we cant then press in those moments, we need to regain our shape, reorganize and have a collective understanding of where we want the opposition to play, and think where do we want to force them to try to recover the ball again? and start the process again. Starting processes is nothing new in Toronto FC land. Yet as we pack up our toys, Greg Vanney is still smiling. Im ready to prepare this team and I hope this offseason will never be this long again, he says. There is no question Vanney has put many of those spare hours into thinking just how his team will look in 2015. Paul Quantrill Blue Jays Jersey . The 18-year-old Januzaj has made his breakthrough at United this season, including scoring twice in a 2-1 win over Sunderland before the recent international break. His performances have sparked a debate about where his international future lies. Jimmy Key Blue Jays Jersey . You can catch all of the action LIVE on TSN2 at 6pm et/3pm pt. The Heat reached that mark Saturday night when they ruined the Philadelphia 76ers home opener. https://www.cheapbluejays.com/1226h-anthony-bass-jersey-blue-jays.html . -- Canada played to expectation up until halftime. Wilmer Font Blue Jays Jersey . After making his All-Star debut in Fridays Rising Stars Challenge, the Raptors sophomore centre wont be sticking around for the duration of the weekends festivities, thinking about the big picture instead. Ernie Whitt Jersey . And rest hardly led to rust for the two-time defending NBA champions.LONDON - Roberto Soldado scored his first Premier League goal in more than two months to give Tottenham a 1-0 victory over Cardiff on Sunday and keep the team in touch with the top four. Soldado completed a counterattack from close range in the 28th minute, netting just his 11th goal in 29 appearances since joining in August for 30 million euros (then $40 million). The goal drought has seen Soldado drop out of contention for Spain, having not appeared since the Confederations Cup last June before leaving Valencia. "He has not done it (scored much) in the Premier League, but you look at him scoree in a very, very top league in Spain and you know what he is capable of," Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood said.dddddddddddd "But if he wasnt showing desire in training and any real belief that he can turn it round, I would have left him out. "But he hasnt given me any reason to leave him out. I have stuck by him and I believe that he will come good." Although Tottenham is only four points from fourth place, Manchester City has two games in hand. Cardiff is sinking closer to the League Championship, sitting next from bottom in the standings, three points from safety. ' ' '