How many times have we all heard comments deriding David Moyes for his insistence on playing a lone striker? Don't get me wrong, I am no Moyes apologist. At times under his tenure I've found myself pulling my hair out at his defensive tactics and baffling substitutions. I just don't undersand this mentality that 4+4+2 = success with attacking football. Teams can still be exciting and attacking by playing with a lone striker, so long as they are supported well enough from midfield. Arsenal always play with a lone striker at home to the Premier League's weaker teams. It doesn't make them a defensive side.
It sometimes makes me wonder, do Evertonians pay any attention to the world game, and how other teams set-up tacticallly? How many top clubs ? and by "top clubs", I mean "teams who are at the elite of the European game" ? are still regularly playing within the confines of a 4-4-2 formation? Real Madrid? Barcelona? Valencia? Inter Milan? Roma? Did anyone pay any attention to the World Cup, where our classic 4-4-2 formation was completely shown up?
Every top team in that competition played a variation of the 4-5-1 formation, with the two most successful sides (Spain and Holland) playing 4-2-3-1. The top teams have the flexibility to become almost a 4-3-3 in attack and a 4-5-1 in defence. This is what we should be aspiring to.
In the Premier League, very few teams choose to play with two strikers. Chelsea play a diamond formation with two of the world's best strikers up-front and two of the best wing-backs posing a threat from the flanks. They have the likes of Malouda, Essien and Lampard in support. Manchester United switch between a fluid 4-5-1/4-3-3 and a 4-4-2, though rarely go with a 4-4-2 formation in big matches. They have Rooney and Berbatov up front (with ample support on the bench) and real attacking threat from both wings. Arsenal, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Liverpool all play with a single striker. Even Tottenham seem to be going that way with the emergence of Van der Vaart.
Another major gripe amongst ToffeeWeb readers is that our defence (and Jagielka in particular) are too fond of the hoof upfield. Surely it is clear that this will increase by playing with an extra striker. With one less option in central midfield for the defence to pass to, the temptation for the long-ball will be raised.
Over time, tactical systems change and evolve. How many teams still play with three central defenders, accompanied by wing-backs, these days? None, because the game has evolved and that system is no longer effective (look at McClaren's England in Croatia). Years ago, many teams played with a sweeper from the defence; today, every successful team has at least one defensive midfielder in "the Makelele" role. Teams have found a way to beat the classical 4-4-2 formation. That way is to out-number the two central midfielders and win the battle in the middle of the field, cutting off the supply to the wings and strikers (and often forcing the aimless hoof upfield which our fans are so fond of).
I think most Evertonians would agree that two of our biggest weaknesses are up front and on the right wing. For a 4-4-2 formation to work, you must set up either as a diamond like Chelsea or play with two threatening wingers like Manchester United. Chelsea play with Essien alongside either Ramires or Mikel. For this level of defensive cover, we would have to play with both Fellaini and Heitinga (or Rodwell when fit). This would leave us to choose two of Arteta/Pienaar/Cahill.
We would also have to displace Neville with Coleman (not ready defensively). Both options rely on two top strikers causing a headache for the opponent's centre-backs and defensive midfielders, unfortunately a luxury we don't currently have. These formations simply don't fit the players at Moyes's disposal. Our main strength at the moment is in central midfield, so it makes perfect sense to line up with Fellaini, Arteta and Cahill.
At least until we have bought in the required talent to make it work, can we all please forget about 4-4-2?
For what it's worth, my current line-up would look something like:
Neville Heitinga Jagielka Baines
Coleman/Bilyaletdinov Cahill Pienaar
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1 Posted 07/10/2010 at 08:34:46
Brought down to it's basics, when you attack everybody is involved in the attack and the supporting thereof... and when you defend... the same.
It ain't what you do, it's the way you do it, and when Dayey and the team, via his dull selections, try to do a half arsed job, well, we see the result.
Definition of attacking side...
THE ONE WITH THE FUCKING BALL, if you haven't got the ball, where ever it or you maybe on the pitch, you are defending. So why give it away at the earliest opportunity. Which is why me and a lot of others get pissed off when Jags or someone give it the Hoof for 60 yards.
2 Posted 07/10/2010 at 09:12:34
In Everton's situation I would prefer to see us play 3-5-2 (building the back 3 around Jags). Most teams play one up front now. So there is no need for a fully manned back four.
The idea of 4-5-1 is that attacking support comes from midfield.
We could play with two holding midfielder MF & JH giving solidity. And ensuring our opponents attacking midfield is negated.
We have numerous attacking MF options and could still have the yak and king Louis up front.
I was interested to recently hear Glenda Hoddle talking about her international experiences with England and her criticism of Capello for playing 4-4-2. As she remembers England always being outgunned and out manouvered in midfield by teams playing this formation in her time.
3 Posted 07/10/2010 at 09:34:21
Can you imagine a midfield of Pienaar, Arteta, Fellaini and Osman/Coleman against a Stoke/Blacburn clogging midfield of 5, they would simply piss through the middle of us every attack.
4 Posted 07/10/2010 at 09:52:36
If our back line and midfield were half as good as they and lots of people think they are we could sacrifice one of them in order to play a second striker.
Two strikers spread out would stop opponents wholesale attacks and that would relieve pressure on our midfield.
At present it is a common sight to see the entire opposition back line and mid field driving on at our goal.
5 Posted 07/10/2010 at 11:46:37
ANY of these formations can by geared towards attack OR defense, it is ridiculously simplistic to suggest that, say, 4-5-1 is automatically a "negative" formation.
6 Posted 07/10/2010 at 13:43:40
For me our biggest weakness under Moyes, compared to most sides is and always has been the lack of pace in attack/midfield, something he's never been able to rectify. Which is why players such as Donovan and Coleman, both of whom are fairly quick and direct, have made a bit of an impact
7 Posted 07/10/2010 at 17:17:59
8 Posted 07/10/2010 at 17:49:33
If you'd gone up to any of the coaches of the top sides in the World Cup, and suggested they play 4-4-2 they'd have probably looked at you like you'd offered them an Abbacus instead of their Laptop. Ingerland were the only one of the, so called, top sides to play 4-4-2 and looked completely at sea throughout the competition.
I certainly wouldn't be happy with starting 4-4-2 in the Derby game, suicidal I'd say, and as you rightly point out only tends to encourage more "hoofball". Our big flaw as Jamie (6) got spot on is lack of pace in supporting the lone striker. Unfortunately that's easier said than rectified, pleyers with genuine pace are at an absolute premium.
9 Posted 07/10/2010 at 18:46:44
10 Posted 07/10/2010 at 19:31:06
11 Posted 07/10/2010 at 19:34:43
He will always play a right footed and left footed CB pairing - Distin is left footed, as was Lescott and he and Jagielka have been our best CB pair since Ratcliffe and Mountfield.
12 Posted 07/10/2010 at 21:17:47
The key is to be flexible - the players make the team not the tactics. No one moans when we're frigging winning no matter what formation he plays! Where I disagree with Moyes is in the selection (and purchase) of certain players.
13 Posted 07/10/2010 at 22:38:29
Jags Hettinga Distin
Works for me!
14 Posted 07/10/2010 at 22:55:30
15 Posted 07/10/2010 at 23:21:57
Most of you want us to carry on as we are doing and one day god willing and with a truck load of luck 4-5-1 will prove to be the way to go. The great Alf Ramsey staggered the football world by not using old style wingers. He responded to massive media criticism by saying, ' If there were decent wingers around I would use them'. In other words he devised tactics to suit what players he had available.
Moyes is not an idiot so why does he persist with a lone striker when none of ours are anywhere near up to that task.
16 Posted 08/10/2010 at 05:06:22
I have been banging on about 3-5-2 for a while now and was, in the main, poo-pooed.
But it seems to me that given all the above standing stll stuff.
You have to change, so why not 3-5-2
Standing still IS going backwards
Uber stick in the mud DM, is, as has been shown, not for turning.
And there is the problem, not the numbers, or how you permutate them in an on going match situation.
But the man who picks the numbers
He has 2 wingbacks ffs use them properly. you know what some of us have been going on about for ages (years)
Sq pegs in Sq holes
Wingbacks = 3 at the back.
QED, or as the more modern idiom has it... stands to reason dunnit.
17 Posted 08/10/2010 at 07:11:26
You have mentioned other teams - well the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea whatever formations they employ - and sometines it varies - will play attacking players. Whenever they opt to play a lone striker - they player will get a) plenty of support from midfield b) good service. My opinion is that you should play the formation that best suits the players that you have available.
As regards 4-5-1 - the way Moyes plays it it is negative. We have good attacking and creative players - the issue is whether or not we using them to their full potential. I would have to say that we are not. Do you think Bob Latchford would flourish in the system Moyes plays ? I don't think that he would - but at Chelsea or Arsenal he would because they have good attacking players e.g. Malouda & Arshavin to name but 2 who support and create openings for the striker.
I have also conceded that there are times when "flooding" the midfied is understandable - v the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal for example. But wouldn't you like to see Moyes - sometimes uses Yak & Saha upfront together or Beckford & Saha, Yak & Beckford or other front two combinations ?
You say 4-4-2 is dead ? So everyone should play 4-5-1 ALL the time ? Isn't that replacing total adherence to one system with total adherence to another - doesn't sound fluid or adventurous to me !!! I remember seeing Chelsea v Spurs at Stamford Bridge in a televised FA Cup Tie in 2005 or 2006 - when Jose Mourinho was the manager. Chelsea were 1-3 down at half time. Mourinho brought on all 3 subs within about 10 minutes of the start of the second half - all attacking players. Chelsea ended up with about 5 attacking players on the pitch. In the same situation Moyes would probably have waited until 20 minutes to go to make a change.
I would feel more confident about the system we play if the manager showed a bit more adventure and flexibility in his tactics. The other clubs you have mentioned play various formations and their coaches show more flexibilty in their tactics. That is our problem - Moyes is too cautious and too predictable.
18 Posted 08/10/2010 at 08:23:01
Personally I think that Cahill, Arteta and Fellaini are superior footballers to any of our strikers. For us to play 4-4-2 then we would either have to drop one of them or play one out of position. So no, there isn't a team in our division who I would like to see us start in a 4-4-2 formation against, given the current squad. With quality, in-form strikers and more talent on the wings then possibly yes. Just my opinion.
19 Posted 08/10/2010 at 08:43:46
Surely the problem there is that none of our strikers are performing at a high enough standard. I would agree with that, but don't agree that playing two would solve this in any way.
20 Posted 08/10/2010 at 09:42:18
In his heyday we most often played 4-3-3 with Thomas and Goodlass/Telfer as out and out wingers and Big Bob Latchford in the middle. This is not too different from the current 4-5-1. We finished 3rd in 1978 with this formation beating Chelsea 6-0 on the final day of the season to send them down (hardly news at the time) and Latchford to win the £30,000 prize from the Daily Mail for scoring 30 league goals in a season. He scored a hat-trick that day including a last-minute penalty.
Other times we played a lobsided 4-3-3 with one winger on the left (Goodlass or Thomas) and an inside right alongside Latchford (Ferguson / SuperMac / Pearce / Eastoe... memory fades) - which was a bit more different, and not as successful.
Also my lady friends say he was (or is) better looking than the current set of strikers, at least once he got rid of that silly 1970s perm.
21 Posted 08/10/2010 at 09:50:24
22 Posted 08/10/2010 at 13:44:58
23 Posted 08/10/2010 at 20:11:30
During the time that he has been Everton manager, David Moyes has signed and discarded quite a few strikers. Have they all been poor players? - I don't really think that they have. When it comes to signing strikers I don't think David Moyes has used the players that he has signed to their strengths. For example Yak worked well playing alongside another striker at Middlesboro' in Viduka.
People seem to be a bit dismissive of Cahill, there have been many suggestions that he can't play well in a 4-4-2 formation. In my opinion this is not necessarily the case - he has done well for Australia sometimes in a 4-4-2 set up. Whilst 4-5-1 is not always a defensive formation, in the majority of cases with Everton under David Moyes it has proved to be so. Birmingham City appear to have adopted a similar approach - and true last season it helped them in their goal of staying up, however virtually all of their wins were by one goal margins and this season, it seems that they are struggling to "move forward" and adopt a more adventurous approach.
David - Ronnie Goodlass didn't last long after we signed David Thomas and whilst I would have to check it I am pretty certain that they never actually started in the same 11. In the first game of the 1977-78 season, Thomas made his debut , as did George Wood in the 1-3 defeat to Nott'm Forest at Goodison, I think Ronnie Goodlass was sub and if he came on I think that it was one of the few times that they played in the same team. Pearce - do you mean Jim Pearson ? A decent player but not in the same class a Duncan McKenzie. Unfortunately Gordon Lee was a manager who didn't seem to know how to use/get the best out of the attacking talent that he had in his squad. I really fear that David Moyes is going the same way.
24 Posted 08/10/2010 at 22:10:56
If the thinking behind 4-5-1 is that our backs and midfielders to come up with the goals, why bother with a half-fit under-performing striker at all? 4-6-0, now that's an idea and couldn't be worse than what we have so far seen.
My whole point is this: to persist with with a style that for any reason does not work is like battering your head into a brick wall.
25 Posted 11/10/2010 at 18:17:04
Hey guys, notice a few of you are hankering for a 3-5-2 system to be used? Problem with a 3-5-2 is, that your opposition are likely to switch over to a 4-3-3 and all of a sudden your defence is pulled all over the place. Think 3-5-2 has had it's day to be honest.
What could be worth considering is a Barcelona-type fluid system where a 4-2-3-1 line-up shifts into a 3-2-5 when attacking. Check it out here: http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/04/22/is-the-sweeper-set-for-a-return-to-prominence/
If you study the anim our starting line up could be:
DL Baines, DC Distin, DC Jagielka, DR Coleman
DM Heitinga, DM Fellaini
AML Pienaar, AMC Bilyaletdinov, AMR Arteta
Before you say what's with having Heitinga in midfield this then moves into a very attacking system whereby the players have the following positions:
DC (Wide-left) Distin, DC (Centre) Heitinga, DC (Wide-right) Jagielka
AML Baines, AMC Pienaar, AMC Bilyaletdinov, AMC Arteta
Any thoughts on this? Watch the animation on that link for as insight to how it fluidly shifts systems.
26 Posted 11/10/2010 at 18:33:40
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