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Back to the Future ? W-W?

By Julian Wait :  26/10/2010 :  Comments (13) :
OK, we're not Barcelona but we do have some very talented players, and have struggled to find a formation that allows us to break down opposing teams who get 9, 10, or 11 men behind the ball.

This article in the Guardian ? ? analyses the formation(s) used by Barca and shows how TWO attacking full-backs are mitigated in midfield.

It seems to me that, once Coleman has been taught how to defend by Neville/Hibbert, he could be the answer in the W-W format rather than a back four, with the fulcrum of a Fellaini/Neville/Rodwell type (Rodwell seems tailor made for this role?) and then Arteta/Bily/Rodwell in the front two and a forward three including the likes of Guaye/Donovan/Anichebe (already playing wide) plus a true striker ? or perhaps a Cahill to finish things off in the air.

Not wishing to start a rehash of all the prior discussions i.e. this formation versus that, but we have struggled to break teams down. This article explores what we already sometimes see on the field i.e. positive wing-back play and a mobile "defensive" midfielder able to act as a play-maker AND defensive cover.

Reader Comments

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Christopher McCullough
1   Posted 26/10/2010 at 16:58:51

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I see you've conceded defeat in relation to Pienaar. Fair enough.

Yes, I'd like to see that formation in practice. It seems to me that the midfield would be very lucid and interchangeable. Arteta may revert to the 'Dunga' position. alongside Fellaini, when his legs go. But in the meantime I'd like him to have more freedom. It will be nice welcome back Rodwell, anyway. He should be fit soon.

I think, in reality, we better wait until Neville retires before there is even a possibility of Coleman transmogrifying into Seamus Ramos.
Andrew Ellams
2   Posted 26/10/2010 at 17:06:33

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Isn't this pretty much what Chelsea do now?
Julian Wait
3   Posted 26/10/2010 at 17:10:13

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@Andrew #2 - Yes ... and not a bad model of success either ... proven in the prem. lots of goals against parked busses. And as importantly ,it fits the personnel we have with a couple of well documented and noticeable gaps (or perhaps to give Moyes credit he has made it thus?).
Julian Wait
4   Posted 26/10/2010 at 17:12:45

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@Christopher #1 - Not exactly conceded, not until Moyes does, and I think he would actually be more beneficial in the inside role alongside Arteta .. but I think we need to plan for life without him and if he stays, it's a bonus.
Steve Mink
5   Posted 26/10/2010 at 17:40:00

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I think the point of Jonathan Wilson's article is that the really top teams have to innovate continually on tactics in order to stay ahead of teams who 'set their stall out' to frustrate the latest tactical fads. Needless to say, to do this you need an outstanding coach and very flexible players.

With regard to Everton, I'd be happy if they could play the 4-2-3-1 well, and I think we are only a couple of players away from this.
Julian Wait
6   Posted 26/10/2010 at 18:17:52

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@Steve Mink #5 - I agree with the point about the article. And to that end I think we need to be able to play 4-2-3-1, 2-3-2-3, 5-4-1, and basic 4-4-2 depending on the opposition, the context of the game, and the amount of time remaining.

It's a game of fine margins and whether your default is to press and close, drop and surrender (think Inter last year vs. Barca), advance and smother etc etc at any point in a game.

Doing one and then switching gears to surprise the opposition is the mark of a truly working tactical SYSTEM (vs. a single formation).

I feel like we're getting there - ergo vs. Man U this season when we went 3-1 down - but I know we all also experienced "itchy-bum time" against Spurs last weekend when we dropped too deep and left spaces in front of defence rather than staying compact.

We'd all like progress to be faster and before our best players age / move on with no certainty of equal or better replacements.
Marc Williams
7   Posted 26/10/2010 at 19:03:33

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Ponitless post as Moyes probably see's 4-6-0 as the future !
Steve Mink
8   Posted 26/10/2010 at 20:21:10

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Julian - agree entirely.
Dick Fearon
9   Posted 26/10/2010 at 22:38:09

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Over the years, I have witnessed the birth of numerous formations, many of which had some success.

The old WM relied heavily on top class wingers and a powerful centre forward. The magical Magyars ripped that style to shreds and only Brazil, blessed with fantastic wingers, has dared to use it since.

Ensuing years brought twin centre-halves then sweepers. Don Revie's great skill at long-range passes brought in a deep-lying centre-forward style. Czechoslovakia hit the heights with overlapping fullbacks, Holland went a step further with its ?total football?.

Alf Ramsey had his wingless wonders and, in-between and since, there has been numerous variations. All of which had some success. Once opponents develop counter-measures, such experiments usually come to an end. Whatever tactics are employed, they all depend on making best use of available talent.

Everton did very well with a ?flat back four? but that worked only because our backline that included Ratcliffe and Mountfield were recognized as being exceptionally fast and the two full backs were no slouches either. Had any one of them been less than very quick, it would not have worked.

I agree with the earlier poster who said Chelsea use a style similar to the old WM. Where that can come unstuck is through the middle of its defence. With its backs almost continually pushed forward, Terry becomes vulnerable.

Tommy Coleman
10   Posted 27/10/2010 at 09:28:08

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The Guardian are a bit slow on noticing this, Barca have been playing this system for about 5 years.
It is the system I use for Everton on FM, I expect to win the league this year.
Chris Briddon
11   Posted 27/10/2010 at 14:30:29

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Steve (5) Liverpool play 4-2-3-1 and its the dullest footballing formation in the history of the universe as they have 2 holding midfield players who never get forward.

We currently play a 4-1-4-1 (or 4-1-3-1-1) which effectively gives us 1 holding midfield player and 4 more attacking ones. The difference between our team and others is the likes of Arteta, Pienaar, Cahill and Osman work their socks off when they haven't got the ball.

You only play 2 DM if your other 3 don't track back / defend
Paul Withe
12   Posted 28/10/2010 at 12:16:56

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Just on the Pienaar subject, does anyone else not wonder why we bothered giving new contracts to both Osman and Hibbert, when we could have saved the money and used it to secure Pienaar (assuming his refusal to sign is about money)? Even if we only gave one of them a new deal? Ok, so they are whole hearted players who do a job and want to play for us, but at the end of the day will players like them get us into the top 4? I think not...
Dick Fearon
13   Posted 28/10/2010 at 23:32:50

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Paul #12. The reason is there is no reason. that kind of thing makes me seriously question the intelligence of our manager.

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