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The Lone Striker

By Owen Evans :  03/11/2007 :  Comments (17) :
4-5-1 at home? To a promoted side? Are we not trying to win games anymore? ... Rubbish. David Moyes has taken advantage of Tim Cahill?s return to revert to the team-shape that led to an unlikely fourth-placed finish in 2005. I believe it is also the system that will see us play our most attractive, winning football since the mid 80s.

In 2004-05, Everton?s success revolved around narrow victories, stubborn defensive displays and the ?Plan B? of Duncan Ferguson on 60 minutes should we need a lift. Fairly primitive stuff but ultimately successful. Late sales of Wayne Rooney and Tomas Radzinski left Marcus Bent as our only striker, who could last 90 minutes, going into that season. The £450,000 signing?s tireless running into channels gave Gravesen room to roam, leaving enough open space for Cahill to run into.

Andrew Johnson, essentially a deluxe Marcus Bent, took over the role in 2006 but has never looked as happy in a 4-4-2. He also appears to lack that horrible selfish attitude that prolific goal-scorers like Van Nistelrooy, Fillipo Inzaghi, and I daresay, Aiyegbeni Yakubu possess.

Bringing it forward to Saturday?s 3-1 win, we now seem to be starting to believe we can play through teams. With 4-5-1 we lose the two hard-working banks of four, hoping to capitalise on any forced errors. In today?s tactics, we have the setup that allows the flexibility that all top players thrive in. We also now have top players. Compare today?s team with two years ago;

  • Howard for Martyn,
  • Neville for Hibbert,
  • Lescott for Weir,
  • Baines for Pistone,
  • Arteta for Watson,
  • Pienaar for Kilbane,
  • Yakubu for Bent.
These players can?t be restricted to the FA-inspired rigid tactics of the past. Osman, Pienaar, Arteta and Cahill are all good enough to swiftly interchange positions during a game ? and 4-5-1 is the ideal platform for this.

Watch the first goal v Brum, and Osman?s goal against Larissa. Quick, incisive movement and one-touch passing that, when performed by talented players, is virtually impossible to stop. Just look at Arsenal.

4-5-1... and the return of the School of Science?!?

Reader Comments

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Micky Norman
1   Posted 04/11/2007 at 19:52:28

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Isn’t is strange that when any of the four rich clubs play 4,5,1 it suddenly becomes a 4, 3,2,1 or a 4,2,3.1 formation? This is what Alan Green called the RS formation on radio 5 this week. Personally I think Peinaar is starting to make a difference to our play. He never hoofs it and like Arteta he tries to pick out a good pass. He reminds me very much of Mikky in his first half season with us. If he can add that extra strength to his game in the same way Mikky has he would be well worth a permanent move.
Matthew Thompson
2   Posted 04/11/2007 at 20:48:42

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i agree with pip we do need a central midfielder who is composed and i think gravesen is that for the meanwhile, but notice the difference peinaar has made espicially in the 4-5-1, hes taken the pressure of arteta and has become another creative link to whoever we play upfront, hes got osman playing a hell of a lot better aswell, i just hope he becomes permenant. nice football and a good squad happy days at goodison!!!!!!!
Matthew Lovekin
3   Posted 04/11/2007 at 21:24:32

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Just thinking the same thing myself, 4-5-1 seems to favour, specifically, our midfielders with Ossie, Pienaar, Arteta and even Cahill all interchanging. They all attack as a unit (compared to attacking individually in a 4-4-2) with small passing to feet interplay and defend as a unit which makes us more solid than in a 4-4-2.

The 4-5-1 gets the best out of these players, Cahill is probably the 2nd best goalscoring central midfielder in the Prem behind Lampard (even though not a fan of Lampard), Ossie is probably on the verge on an England squad when on form, Arteta is probably the most underrated player in the Prem and Pienaar is impressing more and more with every game. Add to this Neville/Jags and specifically Baines getting forward, its looking good.

The passing team that everyone wants is slowing coming true now Moyes has reverted back to the 4-5-1. I still think we need another central midfielder of this type for cover or to add more competition, perhaps Gravesen, perhaps another Fernandes. The problem facing Moyes now is how do you pick only one forward from five: Yak, AJ, McFadden, Anichebe or Vaughan??? AJ is probably our second-best striker for this lone position in the Prem (behind Drogba) but will only get 10-15 goals per season. Yak will get you 15-20 but work rate still questionable. McFadden has got all the skills in the world but highly inconsistent. (Thought: play McFadden on the opposite wing to Arteta in a 4-5-1/4-3-3???).

Anichebe is potentially great but still very raw, and Vaughan potentially amazing ? harder working than AJ, goalscoring better than Yak, potentially better than Anichebe but injury-prone. It is tempting to play a partnership to get the best out of both, Yak & AJ, Yak & McFadden, AJ & Anichebe, Anichebe and Vaughan, Yak & Vaughan??? However, I think Cahill is better than any of those 5 strikers and just as good a goalscorer, so stick with the 4-5-1 and play better as a team. We still need more cover as injuries to key players could be disastrous, but for the moment, keep up the good work, are we a poor man?s Arsenal? We might just be...

Jason Siri
4   Posted 05/11/2007 at 02:41:56

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I recalled watching on telly EVerton playing’s that different to 4-5-1?
Derek Thomas
5   Posted 05/11/2007 at 04:46:42

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Don’t get sucked in by the 5ive number and don’t automatically think that seeing that big lump in the middle of 4-5-1 means defensive.

It’s only a shorthand generalisation of a formation and not a very accurate one at that, more like 4-1-3-1--1, but then what happens when a fullback pushes up? what does it become then?. It’s all about flexability and, taken to the farthest extent, when we’re defending we have 1-10

Moveable feast, that the phrase! It aint what you do, it’s the way that you do it. And, even allowing for average opposition, we a doing it OK
Michael Brien
6   Posted 05/11/2007 at 12:19:04

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With 4-5-1 there is a danger that the striker becomes isolated and at times the formation can become too defensive.I recall during the 2004-05 season and the Charlton game at Goodison, where we seemed for much of that match to be playing like the away team i.e. relying on counter attacks.
Johnson is certainly a class act, but not in the air. personally I think the current squad ispotentially the strongest that DM has had since he took over as manager.
I know both codes of Rugby are quite different from Football but I still think some coaches/managers would do well to look at how in both Rugby Union and Rugby League the substitutues appear to be an important part of the game plan. A coach will plan from the start to use a player for 60 minutes etc of the match and bring on a " sub" in a direct positional swop or a tactical change.
To apply this to football, e.g. Vaughan could be brought on for AJ after 70 minutes. Imagine an opposing defence that has been run ragged by the pace of AJ seeing him go off to be replaced by a fresh set of "equally fast" legs.
In the 1970 World Cup - when there were 2 subs, the West German coach would often replace one of his wingers ( wide midfielders) in a direct swop and this worked well.It certainly did for England in the quarter Final!!
4-5-1 has worked well for us, but personally I would like to see us being a bit more flexible and using different formations to get the best out of our squad.I agree with the comments re Pienaar, I think he has already shown his value to the squad and we should definately look to make it a permanent deal.
Dana Barrett
7   Posted 05/11/2007 at 13:31:13

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Pardon my ignorance, but why we would we want to revert to a 4-5-1 formation.

We have the talents of Johnson, Yakubu, Mcfadden, Vaughan and Anichebe so therefore only one can play in the forward role. of course its plausable that mcfadden can drop back into a midfield capacity but not the others.

I hope moyes does not go with this formation generally in future games. It was only this year that most fans of this club were dead against this line up.

To state the obvious, the only way to win a game of football is to score more than the opposite team. One forward is an interesting, yet ineffective tactic. More forward players please, and I think i speak for all the players i mentioned before.
Mike Allison
8   Posted 05/11/2007 at 14:18:36

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Forget the numbers in the formation, one lone striker allows for far more flexibility, you just need to make sure you support him.

Any formation can be attacking or defensive depending on the instructions to and attitudes of the players. Our ’4-5-1’ now has us playing very differenly to our ’4-5-1’ of two years ago.
Streeni Pulliah
9   Posted 05/11/2007 at 14:25:50

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I agree with the 4-5-1 formation as we have good play makers in midfield that are also potential goal scorers. Given a run(hopefully without injuries) Tim Cahill doubles up as a striker and for some good reason he is always in a goal scoring position. I would also consider playing AJ in midfield to terrorise defences with his pace
Jon Beresford
10   Posted 05/11/2007 at 14:59:41

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4-5-1 could be seen as a defensive formation, however if the two midfield wingers play a more attacking role it can be likened to 4-3-3. The formation can be used to grind out 0-0 draws or preserve a lead, as the packing of the centre midfield makes it difficult for the opposition to build-up play. Because of the ?closeness? of the midfield, the opposing team?s forwards will often be starved of possession. However, due to the lone striker, the centre of the midfield does have the responsibility of pushing forward as well. The defensive midfielder will often control the pace of the game.

A modification of this formation was also used by José Mourinho?s Chelsea. This modified version is the 4-1-4-1 where only one striker is used and the wingers are given the responsibility of moving the ball forward and attacking. A holding midfielder is also positioned in front of the back four. This provides freedom for the rest of the team to move forward and attack as the defense will be "protected" by the holding midfielder.
Dave Roberts
11   Posted 05/11/2007 at 16:23:37

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Everton won the league in 69/70 playing 4-5-1. It wasn’t called that then because we had ’wingers’ who are now known as wide midfielders. It is all a load of nonsense anyway because the formation changes from minute to minute. When you’re on top 4-5-1 easily changes to 4-3-3 or even 4-2-4 if you’re flying! And when you’re getting battered it can change to 9-1 if you wish. What is important is width and having one or two midfielders who can regularly chip in with goals and help out the defence effectively. If you have that you can play any’ system’ you like with a lot of flexibility.
Mark Perry
12   Posted 05/11/2007 at 16:31:44

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I think we play with alot more confidence when we have a holding midfielder infront of the back 4 - ie Carsley. This gives the rest of the team the flexability to get forward knowing that the back door is protected.

I agree that this season we are at our best when we have 1 striker with Ozzy, Micky, Tiny and Peanuts rotating in different positions. They all have the skill and movement to do it, and it drags their markers all over the pitch giving more space for the Yak.

The problem is we have too many strikers, I think that Faddy is to inconsistant to be a striker, he needs the team built around him as it is is Scotland and thats not going to happen at Everton. He reminds me very much of early Joe Cole - lots of ability but insists on beating everyone before he crosses the ball or shoots.
I would like to see him used as a left winger where his skill, and ball control can be used to pull defenders out of position and he can link up with Tiny, Mike and the rest in midfield.

Vic and Vaughny are young ones to develop, bring on as subs and start occasional games. Yak and AJ can work together when we need the striking boost or have one replace the other when facing different opponents.

What we realy need in the January sale is a central holding midfielder, someine like Carrick for Manure or Gilberto for the Arse, someone who does what Cars does ie break up attacks, sits in front of the back 4 and passes the ball to one of his team mates and launches a new attack.

I dont think there is an abundance of them around, I would love to see Huddlestone who I have seen at U21 and is in my humble opinion a class act. Or maybe that Swiss Tony we never signed on a free brought in.

Off Topic what has happend at the ground latly the atmosphere for the last month has been quite quiet compared to normal. I think we we need to be more vocal during the match altho the cheer at the end when Vaughny scorred was great.
Stephen Miller
13   Posted 05/11/2007 at 18:58:04

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All this chat of inter-changeable positions somehow seems reminiscent of the Ajax of old. totally agree with the comments regarding vaughan.
Rob Hollis
14   Posted 05/11/2007 at 23:26:40

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If we played a binary system we could string passes together using string theory and then perhaps employ Stephen Hawking as a Director of Football and use quantum physics to move us back in time to the days of Peter Reid and trophies.

It might also be possible to generate a force so strong we could rocket the disrespectful git from across the park into outer space.
15   Posted 06/11/2007 at 16:49:59

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Your ignorance is pardoned.
george brooks
16   Posted 06/11/2007 at 17:11:34

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My god,your such good statastitions,4-5-1,3-3-3-1,3-4-2,or may i say it 4-4-2,i bet you are all good at dream team and you’ve all won thousands of pounds?
Eric Lake
17   Posted 07/11/2007 at 03:32:42

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The comment made by Derek Thomas about the fluid nature of formations making number patterns inflexible summaries of teams play is really eye opening.

That is really useful to see the formation not being rigid 4/5/1 but shifting in and out of other arrays. Reminds me of music scores breaking key signature an changing key - I?ll stop now.

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