Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes insists his preferred formation of three at the back this season has been successful – despite ditching it at half-time in the Betfred Cup loss to St Mirren.
McInnes has utilised a 3-4-2-1 formation for much of this campaign with Aberdeen currently sitting third in the Premiership.
The Pittodrie gaffer started with that preferred set-up in the 2-1 Betfred Cup defeat at St Mirren on Saturday, but changed to a 4-5-1 formation at half-time in reaction to the Dons being dominated in the first half.
McInnes made the switch despite Niall McGinn netting an equaliser for the Reds just two minutes before the break.
He insists that Niall McGinn goal didn’t fool him and that the Dons were the “luckiest team in the world” not to be behind at half-time.
Although Aberdeen competed better in the second 45 minutes following the McInnes formation switch, they crashed out at the last-16 stage when conceding late on when keeper Joe Lewis fumbled into his own net in an uncharacteristic mistake.
McInnes said: “We have been playing with a shape that has really worked for us this season.
“But it clearly wasn’t working at St Mirren.
“However, it wasn’t only the shape that wasn’t working.
“You can tweak things tactically and I thought at least in the second half there were no grey areas and everyone knew their jobs exactly and were playing against their man.
“It was our shape against their shape.”
McGinn levelled in the 43rd minute, but the Northern Ireland international was one of two substitutions at half-time.
Last season’s leading goal-scorer Sam Cosgrove, who recently returned from three months out with a fractured cartilage, was also replaced.
Coming on were striker Curtis Main and centre-back Mikey Devlin for his first game time of the season, having recovered from a hamstring injury.
McInnes switched Greg Leigh from left centre-half to left-back, with Devlin moving into the centre-back role in a back four.
Right-sided centre-half Tommie Hoban moved to right-back.
Left-wing back Jonny Hayes moved inside to a central role in support of striker Main.
On the half time changes, McInnes said: “There were no injuries. It was just to change the dynamic of the game.
“Although we got an equaliser, I wasn’t kidded by that.
“We were the luckiest team in the world to come in level and had to change things about.
“I wanted to change the shape because it should have been better than it was.
“That shape has been good for us this season and we should have had Ryan Hedges and Niall McGinn causing them problems.
“But in the middle of the park with the extra body we never saw that.
“St Mirren were enjoying the middle of the park far too much so we went man for man against them in the second half.
“I felt we needed to get hold of the ball more and Curtis came on and he is maybe better than Sam at doing that.
“We wanted to stretch the team and have ball carriers on the side.
“After that I thought we were better, competed and St Mirren didn’t enjoy the game as much.”
Aberdeen gaffer McInnes also switched from a back three formation to a four after 30 minutes in the 2-0 Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Celtic on November 1 when two down.
Aberdeen return to St Mirren on Saturday in the Premiership and the question will be whether McInnes retains faith with his preferred system of three at the back or utilises the 4-5-1.
On the St Mirren cup loss, he said: “We never got out of the bit at all in the first half.
“We matched up their system (at half-time), so there was a bit more responsibility individually for each player.
“They played against a direct opponent and we demanded more responsibility.
“I thought we at least got that without being brilliant. But we were clearly better in the second half than we were in the first.
“Just by being more competitive and being against our direct opponent and not letting St Mirren enjoy the game as much as they did in the first half, we gave ourselves the chance to win the tie.
“It looked as if the tie was going to extra-time before Joe’s mistake.”