Coach Hans Backe, who has had to tinker his starting XI on a game to game basis, will likely have to adjust the team’s game plan moving forward with the addition of the beloved Aussie midfielder, but he won’t necessarily overhaul the system to accommodate one man.
“I don’t think we are just looking ‘ok, now we are playing 4-3-3.’ You can play a lot of strikers on the pitch but you don’t need to play 4-3-3; you can have another formation if you like,” Backe explained. “We will probably stick to our normal system. Just leave it after 21 games and go to another system … I don’t believe in that kind of transition.
“I would say my first option or choice is to play him as one of two central midfielders. He will be a box to box player with his work rate. Of course, you can use him higher up on the pitch as a second striker, but I think with Thierry (Henry) and (Sebastian) Le Toux as the options we have, I can see him as a central midfielder.”
With the trade of Dane Richards and the year long debate on whether Joel Lindpere would be better served centrally or not, the team seems to be in a state of flux. A wing heavy attack is starting to evolve into a centralized force, thanks particularly to the recent additions of Cahill and Le Toux.
In Backe’s eyes, that does not signal a move away from what has worked all season long.
“You can play Sebastian wide,” he pointed out. “Still, Sebastian has a lot of pace, and is used to playing wide. Connor Lade has been playing phenomenal. Joel can play wide left. We have options with good wings too.
“I’m quite sure (Cahill is a guy that can fit in quite well in the MLS, the kind of character he is. He is a really, really hard working, a competitive guy, very committed, passionate about the game, scores from midfield or as a second striker. It will be a lot of energy on the pitch with Tim playing.”
No matter where he plays, team captain Thierry Henry is sure of one thing.
“The word is impact,” he said. “He’s physical. I don’t know if you saw him play at Everton, I don’t know if you know how Everton plays, but he’s difficult to deal with at times. Even when he doesn’t have a good game, he will get into your face, amazing with his head, great back to the net.
“He’s an honest player. You will soon find out, you’ll see; he is more than committed when he plays. That is how he plays.”