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Square Pegs in Round Holes

By Mike Oates :  22/09/2008 :  Comments (10) :
What formation to play? In the past Moyes has always seemed to favour the 4:5:1 system, particularly with Cahill supporting the lone attacker, and a Carsley type sitting in front of the back 4 protecting them. This leaves Osman in the middle with Pinnear and Arteta as the wide men. Works very well when the lads are full of confidence and we are on top of our game. The only difficult choice has always been Lescott vs Baines for the left back slot and due to our midfield midgets Lescott was always favoured.

If we went behind in the game and couldn?t get back straight away, Moyes changes to a 4:4:2 system, bringing on a fresh attacker and taking off either Osman or whoever is playing right back, he likes to leave Lescott there for his height and his goal scoring ability. Again this worked on occasions and when he had to play this way due to Cahill?s absence. But it wasn?t as successful as the 4:5:1 ? our win record is far better with Cahill present.

What to do now? 4:5:1 , 4:4:2 , or 3:5:2 . This is the dilemma facing Moyes. Neither Felliani nor Castillo are exactly filling the Carsley role. Our back 4/5 are all too quiet and Carsley was the chief ear basher , organiser, communicator and our new lads dont speak English nor yet have the confidence to take charge. Therefore the 4:5:1 system is out/not working at the moment, and our back 4/5 are demonstrating their lack of communication/organisation, and conceding 2-3 goals a game.

A move to 4:4:2 would I believe mean a front 2 of Yakubu and Saha, which then leaves Cahill, Osman Felliani and Castillo fighting for the 2 centre midfield slots and again the back 4 are left open and in the short term we don?t have a Carsley yet... Teams that are running at us with either fast wingers or fast midfield players are causing mayhem as are those teams who have significant height up front or from set pieces. If we assume Cahill is a must then is Felliani surplus as Castillo looks to be the one who will develop into Carsley?s role longer term. But how do you leave your club record £15m purchase out !

Perhaps Moyes should consider a 3:5:2 sytem , with again Yakubu and Saha up front and with Cahill, Felliani and Castillo as the centre 3 midfielders. The back 3 would be Jags, Yobo, Lescott in that shape. Here comes the dilemma again ? the wide midfield men not only need to be effective going forward but also good at getting back ? Baines could fill a role but this then leaves Arteta, Pinnear and Osman for the one remaining place and none of them are good at defending. In an attacking role Arteta creates, Osman scores! and Pinnear balances the side . I?d go for Arteta to get the wide spot and hopes to god he tracks back. No space for Neville! as Jags is the better outright defender. So

4:5:1                                                            4:4:2                                            3:5:2

Howard                                                        Howard                                      Howard

Neville                                                         Neville                                       Jags
Yobo                                                            Yobo                                          Yobo
Jags                                                              Jags                                            Lescott
Lescott                                                         Lescott               

Arteta                                                           Arteta                                         Arteta
Felliani                                                        Castillo                                       Felliani
Castillo                                                        Cahill                                         Castillo
Cahill                                                           Pinnear                                      Cahill
Pinnear                                                                                                           Baines

Yakubu                                                       Yakubu                                       Yakubu
                                                                    Saha                                            Saha
Is there an ideal shape ? I suspect not, the 3:5:2 has not worked in England with any team, and who?s to say Everton will be any different. I think we?re stuck with the systems of 4:5:1 or 4:4:2, depending on the opposition or how we are playing or who is available. More than anything we are in desperate need to get the back 4/5 on top of their game, marshalled, managed by themselves as there isn?t anyone else who?s going to do it for them in the short/middle term. Longer term Castillo or Felliani, but I?d sy it will take the nest part of a season for any of them to master it, and bring more to it as we all want.

Reader Comments

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Ste Kenny
1   Posted 23/09/2008 at 18:02:21

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4-3-3 with attacking fullbacks is IMO the best suited formation for our squad at the minute. It also offers a lot of room for manouvre if things aren't going to plan.
Matthew Lovekin
2   Posted 23/09/2008 at 18:39:41

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I can’t believe 4-3-3 is really underrated. Barcelona used it a few years ago when they won the CL. Chelsea then used it for a couple of years under Mourinho when they won both PL trophies before going back to 4-4-2 (and not winning), to be replaced by Man U playing 4-3-3.

This is the way forward. Our 4-5-1 has worked for us because it’s similar and we have needed to be a bit more defensive as we don’t have the attacking qualities of the above teams. But for 4-3-3 to work you need to have the right players in the right positions, and that means out and out forward thinking wingers.

The closest we could do at the moment is play Saha, Yakubu and Vaughan up front together with probably Arteta, Fellaini and Cahill in midfield.

However, it all depends on fitness (Cahill, Vaughan, Saha), form and who you are playing.

You shouldn’t be one dimensional.
Andy Crooks
3   Posted 23/09/2008 at 19:37:52

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Lee Carsley was a hard working journeyman,Mike,you and others make it look as if we lost our very own Beckenbauer.Actually why was he let go at all?
Mike Allison
4   Posted 23/09/2008 at 21:52:19

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"Teams that are running at us with either fast wingers or fast midfield players are causing mayhem"

Don’t see this as the problem in the last three games at all. It was basic set pieces against Stoke and Hull, and Lescott having a ’mare against Dalmat for both the goals against Standard Liege.

Disagree about Castillo as well, I think he’s done well (judging from Stoke and Standard, didn’t see Hull) and is fulfilling the ’Carsley’ role fine, despite outrageously being able to move, turn and play football as well. Fellaini is the disappointment so far, but I think with both of them its a case of giving them time to adapt and they’ll get better.
Craig Mandesron
5   Posted 24/09/2008 at 10:44:37

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I think that Stubby’s return needs to be added in to this discussion.

The defence have been under performing so-far this season and an inspirational and well respected coach should assist in turning things around.

But...... (isn’t there always)..... do we not already have an inspirational and well respected goalkeeping coach, who does not seem to be earning his corn at the mo?
Steve Edwards
6   Posted 24/09/2008 at 10:04:11

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I find amazing that some Evertonians still do not appreciate what Lee Carsley gave us. How much evidence do you need. The season we got into the Champions League he was injured and the defence was a shambles. Now he’s gone guess what ? the defence is a shambles.. Yes I know Lescotts form is baffling but is it? He’s a confidence player. Check out his form when he plays for England, its similar to the way he’s playing for the blues now. Thats because he didn’t feel confident among the big boys. So whats knocked his confidence now? Could it be Carsley not being there? I think its highly likey. People who play that screening role well are few and far between. I can think only a handful of them in the world. Thats how much I rated Lee Carsley. If he wasn’t it the team my heart dropped because the evidence told me that we were far less likely to get a result without him. No he didn’t have silky skills but what he did have was the ability to stop the opposition getting at us. I do think Castillo will prove to be a good acquisition and I think he will do what he did at Red Star and score plenty of goals but I’ve seen enough to know he won’t give what Lee gave us. As for Fellaini, the jury is out on this one. I wish David Moyes would just stop messing about with him and say look all I want you to do is stop them playing. David you paid 15m for a defensive midfield player. You didn’t buy Deco so play him as a defensive midfield player otherwise you will only succeed in destroying his confidence. Maybe then we’ll see what sort of player we’ve got. We are set up to play 4-5-1, thats when we are at our most effective, especially against the better teams but to play this system the key is to stop them playing. I fear that those Evertonians who didn’t appreciate Lee Carsley may just find that the penny will finally drop as the season unfolds.
James Inglis
7   Posted 24/09/2008 at 14:06:48

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I was thinking of posting something like this. My thoughts are we should play a 5-4-1 which depending on the flow of the game can stay that way or change to a ridiculous sounding 3-6-1.

The way I see it, we would start with 3 central defenders (Lescott, Yobo and Jagielka) with Baines left and Neville right. In good, attacking stages of the game Baines and Neville essentially become midfielders (this is the 3-6-1 bit) but revent to defenders when we need to be a bit more defensive. The midfield in this would consist of Cahill getting in and supporting Yak and then 3 others - take your pick out of who is available - occupying central and defensive midfield roles. Width would come from Baines and Neville. Yakubu plays a lone hand up front with Cahill getting into the box as often as he can. Any thoughts on this idea?

Marc Williams
8   Posted 24/09/2008 at 14:34:34

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Steve Edwards - Agree with you 100% mate, somehow Carsley was the glue that held us together. I always felt with him playing our whole was greater than the some of its parts now the opposite is true.
I think ?on paper? our midfield is arguably stronger now however as the auld fella?s used to say, when I was a lad, "you play footy on grass not paper" & at the moment we are weaker.
I think with Cars it wasn?t always his ability that counted (though this was underrated) but more his communication & personality.
Connor Rohrer
9   Posted 24/09/2008 at 14:50:15

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3-5-2 or 5-3-2 just doesn?t work in English football, it offers oppositions teams far too much space.

Portsmouth used it against us and it worked well because we had two centre halfes in midfield. The then used it against Boro and reverted to 4-4-2 at half time, they done the same against City aswell. Started with three at the back, City bossed the game and they went back to 4-4-2.

Portsmouth have physical athletes all over the park, alot of pace aswell and they couldn?t master it. We?d be alot worse off, we don?t have the right players to play the formation and the formation itself has failed time and time against in England.

On the Carsley situation, why do people always make that stupid excuse? Despite his obvious qualities he isn?t going to determine how other players play and he can?t stop individual errors. Also our midfield is fine, our football has improved since Carsley left and we?ve scored more goals. We?ve hardly been hit through the middle by teams, it?s our set pieces that have let us down.

Look at the bigger situation instead of trying to pertend Lee was gods gift to Everton Football Club. The season we got into the Champions League Moyes bought alot of shite players, injury prone players who wouldn?t push us on. He bought a right back (Phil Neville) and played him in the defensive midfield role, it was obvious it wasn?t going to work.

Like any new players Castillo and Fellaini will take a few games to settle in and find there position, once the back four tightens up from set pieces we?ll be able to push on and get better.

It?s not really about best eleven or the best formation, different tactics suit different games and different personnel will be required for different games.

I think bar Arteta and Pienaar every place is up for grabs, bar the wing positions we have alot of competition.
Steve Edwards
10   Posted 24/09/2008 at 17:04:15

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Connor - Confidence breads confidence and other players do effective the way individuals play. The way I see it lack of confidence is like a decease sweeping through the defence at the moment. How come everyones place is up for grabs? The defence played like a well oiled machine for most of last season so whats the difference? Who?s missing? Why the sudden lack of confidence in players who hardly put a foot wrong last season?

The midfield can play better football (although I?m not sure they are) but if the opposition are having a beaneo whats the point. I hate to say this but Liverpool paid £18m for Mascherano. What does he do for them? Simple, he breaks things up and lays it off and he?s one of the first names on the team sheet. It's all about getting the right blend not just throwing together a bunch of players who play good football.

As far as changing tactics go, its been proved time and time again that if you keep changing the way the team play the players are?nt used to it and it doesn?t work. A fine example of this is Steve McClaren?s England team that played the Croats. He decided to play three at the back and suddenly very experienced seasoned pro?s were all over the place. It was a disaster.

With Carsley and Cahill we had the players that fitted 4-5-1. That's the system that worked for us. If we concede first, yeh, go 4-4-2 but you need a system were the players know their role and importantly they have confidence in it.

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