Nice piece, Karl. ( the ‘FREEdom of Responsibility’ post)
I don’t usually get into these Technical / Tactical discussions, but you are right. ‘Systems’ is a misused and overrated term. It is a good word for describing traffic, plumbing, or queuing, but it is not a good descriptor for how you place players in positions on the pitch.
The analytics world is becoming obsessed with the word ‘Shape’ and Coaches with ‘ Formation,’ which is probably the closest term. ‘Pattern of Play’ is also a favorite of pundits. So, where does that leave us?
Coaches should focus on principles and teach them on the basis that if you give a man a fish, he will eat ( systems), but if you give him a fishing rod, he will eat for life ( tools for the job).
The principles of the game are simple; they have not changed since the game became 11v11 on a standard pitch with standard goals and standard markings. Principles related to what you do as a team and individual when you have the ball and what you do when you don’t have the ball. No coach has or can develop his/her own principles.
Still, he can develop his/ her own strategy and tactics based on the true principles of the game and always within the bounds of risk and safety (which your Zones diagram points out). I could go on, but I will leave it to your followers to expand.