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Fans Comment
Robert Pullan

Time for a new gameplan?
19 September 2005

After watching Everton's weak display at Arsenal and the slow decline in performances which started at the turn of the year, I think it is time to ditch the 4-5-1 formation, even if it was a factor in achieving 4th place. We should play an attacking 3-5-2 gameplan.

The 4-5-1 plan emerged by Moyes looking at our squad and picking a formation to make the best of our limited team. 4-5-1 worked brilliantly because it suited our midfield players, especially Tommy Gravesen, and placed Carsley in the holding midfield role, enabling both Gravesen and Cahill to play to their strengths. Gravesen's ability to hold onto the ball whilst under pressure further up the field is something we have missed desperately since he left. It was certainly evident tonight against Arsenal and also against Bucharest. It is no coincidence that last season by New Year we had hit the 40-point mark when Gravesen was still in the team. Once he had left our play deteriorated and we limped over the finishing line.

Gravesen was the playmaker, Carsley the enforcer and Cahill could break from midfield. The formation also worked because Bent had an excellent start to the season and played the best football of his career. However, many of these factors do not apply anymore; the formation should therefore be scrapped. Arteta is not Gravesen. Whilst he has excellent technique, he is not capable of holding onto the ball as Gravesen did.

Other teams are now playing 4-5-1 and we are left watching matches in deadlock, hoping for some minor miracle of a "goal" to be scored"

So what formation should we play now? We are clearly short at left back. Valente looks like a left winger rather than a full-back as showed when he was out of position for a few of the goals last Thursday.

We are failing to retain possession much higher up the field. Marcus Bent needs binoculars half the time to see where his team-mates are. Our lack of goals this season and last is great cause for concern and if we are to truly progress we need to be able to score far more easily than we have done. So for me the new formation should consist of three defenders, five midfielders and TWO strikers.

Yobo, Weir, Ferrari and Krldrup could easily form a working relationship. Yobo was comfortable at right back so he could cover the right flank if needed. Krldrup and Ferrari could do the same on the left side. It is important when playing three at the back that the defenders are comfortable in possession. Yobo ticks the box and from what I've heard so should Krldrup.

In midfield we should play two defensive central midfielders that can help the defence when needed. These should come from Neville, Carsley, Li Tie and Arteta. Great sides have always had ball-winners: eg, Vieira and Peitit in the Arsenal double-winning side.

If these two supplement the other three we will not suffer from lack numbers when playing teams using the 4-5-1. We could then play two wide man ie Davies and Van der Meyde (with Kilbane and Osman for cover). This would increase our attacking options significantly.

The last midfield man would be the playmaker or an attacking midfielder running from deep. Cahill and Arteta could offer each option.

And finally we would have TWO men up front. Admittedly our resources are scarce in this regard. The first choice pairing would be Bent and Beattie. But Ferguson, Vaughan or even McFadden, yes McFadden, could play. McFadden if he is ever to hold down a regular place, must make his play before January whilst we have injuries. If you have two men in the box you logically increase your chances of scoring more goals.

The 3-5-2 game plan is attacking, plays to our strengths and offers so many options that I feel it could be very effective. Would Moyes adopt it? Probably not; it's too adventurous for the cautious Scot but at least it offers a solution to the conundrum we are now placed in!!!

Robert  Pullan


In response to Robert Pullen's excellent article on Everton's current game plan and his suggestion we should move to a more attacking 3-5-2 formation, I would agree to a point.

By this I mean, I think we should adopt this policy when playing at home or away to premiership 'strugglers'.  However, when visiting the likes of Man Utd, Arsenal etc we simply don't have the caliber of player to pull this formation off.  It would be refreshing to see Moyes utilize his current squad in a more intelligent way, which as Robert says, plays to the strengths of the players. But in addition, I would like to see the tactics consider the opposition and include the fact that it is a home or away game.

I get so frustrated when Everton adopt a 4-5-1 formation at home to a team I consider to be weaker.  Most teams who are playing away to a stronger team now adopt the 4-5-1 formation which results in the deadlock Robert mentions.  We need to go after these teams and let them worry about holding out for a 0-0 or snatching a late winner.

This theory would also involve a small amount of squad rotation where possible.  I think everybody can see Beattie does not play the lone striker role well enough and needs to be alongside another strike partner.  However, Bent can play the lone role as well as anyone, holding the ball up dragging the defense wide allowing the attacking midfielders to run on.

So how about these tactics (assuming everyone is fit):

Charlton at home = 3-5-2 with Beattie and Vaughan up front (this would currently have to be Bent and McFadden) Man Utd Away - 4-5-1 Bent up front alone

Some might think this will confuse the players but surely they have enough intelligence to know when we are holding out for a 0-0 or a late winner and when we are going out to give a team a good hiding

I don't think we should simply ditch one formation for another based on some bad recent results, there is definitely a place for the 4-5-1 formation that served us so well last season.  However, I would like to see us using tactics that suite the side we are playing and where we are playing them rather than simply stick with one formation regardless.

I hope we don't see a 4-5-1 at home to Wigan this weekend, how embarrassing?

John Cannon, Solihull, (23/9/05)


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