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We're already playing 4-4-2!!

By Ben Jones :  24/11/2010 :  Comments (33) :
One topic on Toffeeweb at the moment is our formation. Should we be playing 4-5-1, 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1?

Now from what I'm gathering, and please correct me if I'm wrong, the majority of ToffeeWebbers believe we are playing 4-5-1 as Cahill is playing midfield. Then we see people wanting to play 4-4-2 as 4-5-1 is too defensive and this can be true because we're not scoring enough this season. Fair enough...

But I don't think we are playing 4-5-1 at all. Cahill is playing as a striker and only comes back into the front of the midfield when we are defending. I mean if anyone watched the Sunderland game, this is clear and a lot of times Cahill was in front of Saha. We played exactly the same tactics as Sunderland did where Welbeck dropped deep the same as Cahill did. The only difference is they had a striker in Bent who looked dangerous and stayed forward all the time so they always had somebody there rather than Saha who was anonymous, even strayed into the wings at times! I think the problem is more our strikers are not good enough rather than the formation being why we are not scoring.

So what can we do? Well, at the moment, stick with it. It's clear we are creating chances, the chances missed in the last four games are unbeliavable. We could have drawn against Arsenal and beat Sunderland and Blackpool when perhaps the draw against Bolton was the fair result.

We need to drop Saha, as he is not the kind of striker to focus all of our attacks on, he's more of the Cahill type who creates more problems when he goes deep. Play Yakubu (I don't even know why he was dropped anyway) to hold up the ball and who actually stays FORWARD. Yes, he's not scoring but he provides some balance in our attacking play, and any genius can work out he will find his scoring boots again soon.

Now with the formation, and hopefully this can be sorted by at least the start of next season, we should try and change to 4-5-1/4-3-3, basically the way Chelsea play it. We can't do that at the moment because we don't have natural, quick wingers to play in it.

Also, this focuses on our central midfielders (our strongest position by a mile). So play Rodwell, Arteta and Fellaini there. Osman, Pienaar, Heitinga as back up. This looks very strong.

Now our wingers are a problem. I think Anichebe could do a job there on the right as maybe Bily could on the left, but it's still not strong enough. My plan would be to sell Heitinga in January, buy some third cover centre back (i.e Wheater or Taylor) and spend it on a decent winger. Donovan on loan would be nice. That Djalo too would be good because I saw him against us for Sporting last season, he came on and was excellent in the second half.

Basically sell Heitinga (I value him at £8-10 mil) who is sellable and would not get into our best side at the moment because Jags and Distin are too good, and buy some decent wingers!!

Reader Comments

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Chris Fisher
1   Posted 24/11/2010 at 13:52:20

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Finally!!!! I have been thinking this for weeks! Everytime someone says we need to play 4-4-2, I keep thinking I swear we already do!! If we were to play the 4-4-2 that everyone keeps talking about, with say Yak and Beckford, that means dropping Tim Cahill back into midfield and I think the fact he is scoring so many goals for us shows that would be an awful idea!!

Once Fellaini is back, I think we will start up again as Arteta seems to be dropping way too deep to have any effect on the game and Heitinga is a centre back not a defensive midfielder ? last season with him and Lucas Neill at the back we seemed really quite solid!!

Lee Courtliff
2   Posted 24/11/2010 at 13:55:27

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I just said the same thing on another thread. Cahill is playing up top. We are much better with the Yak. I also said that, if Arteta's poor form continues, we should consider dropping him, play Tim in his position and try Becks up front with the Yak. It can't hurt to give it a try.

Mikel is our best player but maybe he knows that so dropping him might just get a reaction from him. Every player has a bad run and in fairness this is the first time in 5/6 years he does deserve to be dropped. Maybe it would only take one game out for him to buck up. Bloody hope so.

Alex Kociuba
3   Posted 24/11/2010 at 14:17:44

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Bullshit.. Cahill's been playing in midfield. Fair enough, he plays an attacking role, but he isn't a striker and clearly hasn't been playing up front.

I think our midfielders don't have enough shots on goal... quite often its from the rebounds in which the strikers can poach a goal.
Alex Kociuba
4   Posted 24/11/2010 at 14:26:28

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I also think we're playing with 10 men each week; a combination of Heitinga in midfield and Neville simply being on the pitch.

Howard Don
5   Posted 24/11/2010 at 14:19:19

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Agree with most of what you're saying, Ben. The 4-4-2 brigade mystify me as that's more or less what we've got with Timmy... albeit he has the engine to drop back to midfield when required. To me, that's better than out-and-out 4-4-2 ? especially away.

The problem isn't the formation ? it's the personnel and like everyone I'm mystified as to why the Yak was dropped just when he was starting to look a good player again. We've dominated most games (Newcastle debacle excepted) and anything like a decent chance conversion ratio and we'd be easily in the top six.

The problem now is you can see the frustration creeping in on the field and when this happens play becomes tense and players make mistakes or play safety first. Like you, I'd bring back Fellaini and Rodwell who are both fresh and are confident players by nature. Arteta's a difficult one, out of form but still a great talent so like you I'd persevere, although give Bainesy more dead-ball kicks.
Nick Entwistle
6   Posted 24/11/2010 at 14:45:49

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The formation the team plays is fine, but transition to the 4-3-3 midgame would be so beneficial.

We've played it for about 15 minutes this season and caused havok each time.

If Cahill came back to midfield as he did against Sunderland with Arteta and Johnny, leaving Pienaar and Coleman eitherside of Saha, it's possible to inflict it on the opposition sporadically through the game.

Though the 4-5-1 is good for us, perhaps it's been sussed and teams can now feel confident in quelling our goal threats, so changing between the two would cause all kinds of problems... or have I gone all Football Mananger?
Anthony Hawkins
7   Posted 24/11/2010 at 15:15:43

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The short version is, we're playing 4-5-1. No ifs, buts or maybe's. 4-5-1, pure and simple.

Now, when Moyes plays Yak and Beckford together... THAT'S 4-4-2.
Dave Lynch
8   Posted 24/11/2010 at 15:27:07

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FM Nick.
Chez Hutton
9   Posted 24/11/2010 at 16:17:00

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So we can only play 4-4-2 if we have 2 'strikers' on the pitch??

In that case we must be playing 6-3-1 cos Heitinga and Coleman are defenders!!
Steve Pugh
10   Posted 24/11/2010 at 16:34:13

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What would it take for some people to accept that Tim can/does play as a striker?
Peter Norris
11   Posted 24/11/2010 at 16:49:26

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Antony (7). Open your eyes and mind will you. Please look again at the Sunderland game ? Cahill played all night off the shoulder of the last defender. The only time he went back to midfield was when Becks/Yak came on. His chances were not as a result of him coming late into the box ? he was there are night!

It's the same old issue, you see Cahill's name on the teamsheet and you automatically think 4-5-1. I'm with Ben.

Charles King
12   Posted 24/11/2010 at 16:23:41

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The merits of having one more player positioned 5 yards forward or 5 yards deeper are a total delusion in the Everton of Moyes.

"No delusion is greater than the notion that method and industry can make up for lack of mother-wit, either in science or in practical life " (Thomas Huxley).

Too many playing Football Manager computer games.
Michael Kidd
13   Posted 24/11/2010 at 17:05:09

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Agreed with Ben except on current form put Pienaar in the middle and Arteta on the bench. When the Yak scored, I thought the floodgates (maybe a bit of a hyperbole) would open, so what happens? Moyes leaves him on the bench again.... If Saha starts again this weekend, I don't know what Moyes has been watching.
David Booth
14   Posted 24/11/2010 at 17:08:06

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Cahill plays as a striker.

Watch the game you 4-5-1ers. How on earth can you believe he helps make up a five-strong midfield?

It's just another stick for the Moyes haters to beat him with - and is quite ridiculous.

If anything, with Arteta playing so deep, we play 5-3-2!
Ciarán McGlone
15   Posted 24/11/2010 at 17:12:23

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Sorry, but he's not. Cahill is playing midfield ? and playing it very effectively at the moment.

He may be the primary link-up man with the boy up top ? but that doesn't mean he's playing as a striker.
Ian Kearney
16   Posted 24/11/2010 at 17:36:43

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It's not an out-an-out 4-4-2; let me ask you this, if Cahill was injured, suspended, would he be replaced by a midfielder or striker?
Paul Rimmer
17   Posted 24/11/2010 at 17:56:22

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I think we play 4-4-1-1. I don't think the Yak should be the 1 forward though as he drifts to left wing too much and we don't get enough players in the box early enough. I'd go with Beckford as Saha gives the ball away too easily. Fellaini for Heitinga, and a rocket up Arteta's arse. Coleman struggled at RM against a decent full back so I understand why Rodwell was put there.
Andy Crooks
18   Posted 24/11/2010 at 18:34:42

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Anthony Hawkins, you are absolutely right. Tim Cahill is no more a striker than Frank Lampard is. He is a very effective attacking midfielder. When, as you say, we start with Beckford and Yakubu, well, that will be 4-4-2. The sooner the better. If Saha starts against West Brom I will... err, I will... sorry ? words fail me.
Chris Sillett
19   Posted 24/11/2010 at 18:37:43

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In some games this season you could say we have played with six defenders. Heitinga's natural position is CB and Coleman is a right back by trade. And when has Cahill ever been a striker? He is an attacking MIDFIELDER, not a centre-forward or striker.
Angelina Tan
20   Posted 24/11/2010 at 19:06:06

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If I were Cahill and I'm reading this thread, I'd be shaking my head and I'd be saying ti myself, "You've got it all wrong guys. I'm not a midfielder. I'm not a striker. I'm a strifielder.: :)

Chill all. The Ashes starts in a few hours. As an Aussie, I have to believe that the little urn stays here. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.
John Daley
21   Posted 24/11/2010 at 19:07:27

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Cahill is and always has been an attacking midfielder with the remit to get in and around the opposition box as much as possible.

I remember cringing when I heard Steve Round state in a pre-match press conference (the derby game??) that 4-4-2 was outdated and no longer effective in the Premier League. He stated that Everton, like most teams, played a "fluid 4-5-1" and would do for the forseeable future. He was at pains to stress this was not a negative formation though because the midfielders were encouraged to get forward and support the striker. Striker ? not strikers.

Now I know Steve Round seems like a total cock but, as assistant manager, you would presume he knows how the team is being sent out to play. Then again....
Ernie Baywood
22   Posted 24/11/2010 at 19:29:03

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We're playing a 4-4-1 with Cahill up front.
Jamie Tulacz
23   Posted 24/11/2010 at 21:55:48

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Fact is that Cahill has scored 7 goals this season, one of the top scorers in the league. Seems a bit pointless quibbling over whether he's a striker or not with this sort of stat?

/>Angelina ? Ashes time ? bring it on...!!
Ian Kearney
24   Posted 24/11/2010 at 23:02:35

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Angie, me old Shiela, I'm afraid you and Tim will be on the end of a 5-0 whitewash! Your era is over!
Dick Fearon
25   Posted 24/11/2010 at 23:07:29

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The reason why Tim is often seen in front of Saha is because Louis is so far off the pace, the game passes him by. Only when we have a half-decent front man will we see the best of Cahill as a goal scorer.

Currently he has to do two, sometimes three jobs whereas Saha and the Yak are struggling to do just one. One can only imagine how dangerous he could be if we had another lethal striker to share the load.

Mike Gaynes
26   Posted 25/11/2010 at 00:14:46

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Thanks, Ben... glad somebody finally said it. I've set out a couple of times to write the same post when I got tired of reading all the complaints about a 4-5-1. Cahill is clearly a second striker who drops into midfield, not a midfielder who moves up top. Matter of fact, he's our best striker.

That said, when everybody's healthy, I'd love to see us playing the same kind of 4-2-3-1 that I saw in several Uefa Cup games this week. With Rodwell and Fellaini as the two in front of the backline, the attacking midfielders would be free from any defensive responsibilities. As to who the four attackers should be... well, there wouldn't be a place for Arteta right now, that's for sure.
Mike Elbey
27   Posted 25/11/2010 at 02:26:37

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The formation in a sense is irrelevant. The fact is, if you believe Cahill plays in a 4-5-1 then he is the only midfielder who gets himself into the box. If you think he plays as a striker in a 4-4-2 then we get no midfielder into the box. To compound this, when we get around the area, we don't shoot... and when we do, it's like a back pass!!

It's only when we fall behind or when we are drawing at home that we commit men into the box and when we do this we look a threat and it's no coincidence that we have scored so many late goals as we finally get some support to the strikers.

Our approach play is good but, until Moyes decides that attack is a better form of defence than caution, then we will continue to get fustrated. Many managers in the league are now taking a more positive approach yet we are still stuck with the 'back to the wall' cautious tactics.

I admire Moyes for what he has achieved at Everton with basically no support from the Chairman / Board. He is a good manager but he is also totally inflexible and his recent decision to drop Yakubu just as he seemed to be coming into form is totally mystifying.

One other thing: whilst I am in no way advocating Moyes going, to those that always say 'If Moyes goes, who would we get?' ? well, has anyone noticed how Owen Coyle has transformed Bolton from kick and rush to a decent footballing side? I imagine we would look a better team at the moment with Coyle's tactics as opposed to David's...
Vishal Poorundersingh
28   Posted 25/11/2010 at 08:02:55

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Fully agree, we are playing 4-4-2 and we need to have a more influential striker than what we have. Saha, Beckford, Yak and others are not good enough to lead the line in front of Cahill. Vaughan has that quality but......
Anthony Hawkins
29   Posted 25/11/2010 at 12:09:10

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Open my eyes and my mind? Get a grip man!!

Yakubu often ends up out wide on the right of the field ? does that make him a right winger? No, he's trying to get the ball.

Baines usually finds his way up to the by-line ? does that make him a left winger? No, he's a wing back.

Cahill gets into the box and scores mostly with his head ? so that makes him a stiker? No, it means our current strikers are NOT playing well and he's making up (very well) for their lack of input.

Cahill doesn't play well in a typical 4-5-1 because he gets lost in the midfield and in a typical 4-4-2 Cahill is isolated. What he does so well is to fill the gap between the front man and midfield in a 4-5-1.

If you want to "open your eyes and your mind" ? *roles eyes* ? try viewing it as 4-4-1-1. That's what is really being played.
Ben Jones
30   Posted 25/11/2010 at 14:43:05

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I stll think it is a 4-4-2 and Cahill is playing more of a second striker than an attacking midfielder. Maybe it's not his natural position, but at every attack, Cahill is the focal point of the attack. That may be due to poor strikers or the formation, but whatever it is, Cahill is playing as a second striker.

If Saha or Yakubu play together or Saha and Beckford do, then watch the difference between Saha's and Cahill's movement. There wouldn't be much because Saha is a second striker as is Cahill at the moment!!

The whole point of the article is we don't need to change the formation now, just hope the strikers get their scoring boots on, but wait till the summer for some decent wingers so we can play a 4-3-3.

At least people realise now that the current problem now ain't the formation. It's strange how people don't mention to play 4-4-2 just after this thread has been created.
John Daley
31   Posted 25/11/2010 at 16:08:46

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"It's strange how people don't mention to play 4-4-2 just after this thread has been created"

Apart from the current mailbag thread entitled "Go 4-4-2"!
Mike Allison
32   Posted 25/11/2010 at 20:26:25

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I keep saying that Cahill is playing as a striker.

He doesn't play right up against the centre back so he can be easily marked but he's still far more 'up front' than he is 'in midfield'.
Nic Davies
33   Posted 27/11/2010 at 00:11:48

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Good shout Ben, our system is flexible definitely not flat 4-5-1 more a fluid 4-5-1 so 4-2-3-1/4-1-4-1 or 4-4-2 when in possession. In the modern game, the days of flat 4-4-2 are well and truly over.

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