Stéphane Henchoz is a 44-year-old manager from Switzerland. He is a former Liverpool, Celtic and Blackburn player. Henchoz worked as a manager for Blackburn U18 in 2009 before he became manager of FC Bulle. He was in charge for 14 games.
He worked as assistant manager from Neuchatel Xamax from 1 December 2015 to 5 February 2019. Henchoz was the assistant of Michel Decastel until Decastel was sacked earlier this year. Henchoz was placed in charge of Xamax and has so far overseen six games; winning three and losing the others.
Last season, Xamax played in Swiss Challenge League, they won the competition and secured promotion to the Swiss Super League. This season, Xamax are battling against relegation and sit ninth in the table. They’ve only won five times this season from a possible 25
Before Henchoz’s appointment, Xamax has played in different formations this season. They has played in 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, 3-4-1-2, 4-1-4-1 etc.
Henchoz’s Xamax has played in a 3-1-4-2 formation. We have three centre backs, one defensive midfielder, two wingers, two central midfielders and two strikers.
Xamax defend in a 3-1-4-2 formation in the middle block. Generally, they don’t press the opponent. Players are patient. Two strikers are focused on blocking the central area. They stay close to each other and communication between them is very good. If the ball is in possession of centre backs, strikers don’t press them. They leave them to play the ball to each other.
But, if one of the midfield players drop between them, their role changes. Then one of them marks the midfielder, and the other one closes down the centre back with the ball. If the centre back plays the ball to another centre back, then the striker who covers the midfielder closes down the centre back with the ball, and the other striker takes care of the midfielder.
When Xamax want to force the opponent to play the ball in wide areas they press the opponent. Generally, when the ball is played to side back, then wingers close them down. In that case, the far side winger drops deep to form back four. Near side centre back marks ball side winger. Midfield players mark opponent’s midfield players. Strikers drop deeper if that is needed.
If an opponent breaks the first pressing line, then Xamax plays defence in the deep block. Usually, they play 4-4-2 in the deep block. One winger drops deep to form back four.
Also, the situation when a player, especially midfield player facing own goal, is the pressing trigger.
Xamax doesn’t retain possession. Under Henchoz’s guidance, their percentage of ball possession is around 30. Also, they don’t play out of the back. Goalkeeper and defenders usually go long. Even when they try to play out of the back, their off the ball movement isn’t good. Their positional plays usually come after throws-in.
So, Xamax usually goes long. One of the strikers often goes in a wide area and then one or both central midfielders go forward. Xamax loves to play down the flanks and strikers are key for this style of play.
Xamax usually plays defence in a deep block with eight players. Two strikers stay forward. When they win the ball, they usually play long to their strikers. Generally, one striker position himself in a wide area and other striker is in the central area. Usually, the ball is played to the striker who is in a wide area.
When Xamax wins the ball in opponent’s half they want to exploit that with quick passes. Especially, if the opponent’s defence is high. Usually, one striker stays in line with the opponent’s defensive line and waits for a pass in space.
Henchoz’s Xamax is a defensive oriented team. They don’t hold up the ball. Their percentage of ball possession is small. The team is very disciplined. Their goal is to force the opponent to play in a wide area. In the attacking phase, they usually go long. Strikers and their play in a wide area are key for this phase of the game.