England manager Roy Hodgson The idea that fans know better than a manager in football really annoys me. Of course those who watch football are entitled to their opinion about the game and certain players. But I doubt Joe Bloggs down the pub really figured out the future of football was 4-2-3-1 until being told it was a hundred times during the World Cup. (I’m not excluding myself from this condemnation I recently watched the Juventus vs. Inter Milan game, where both teams used formations reliant on several attacker’s and various versions 3-5-2 and 3-4-3. I watched with little to no idea of what either team was achieving with their various formations). My point is there’s nothing more irritating than arm-chair managers and the Sky Sports News era believing they’re Jose Mourinho due to the (lack of) insight Paul Merson gives them every Saturday.

Among my main annoyance with fans who believe they know better than the manager are people who still believe a team playing with one up front is sending out a negative message. Mike Bassett: England manager parodies the out-dated 4-4-2 system in 2001, and yet fans still groan if their team contains only one striker at home. One example of this short sighted terrace simplicity, is Sunderland, since Martin O’Neill’s arrival, the Black Cats have used almost exclusively 4-4-1-1 a natural formation for a team whose best player Stephane Sessegnon likes operating in the hole. Yet when things aren’t going right and the Wearsiders aren’t scoring goals, fans instantly point to the lack of strikers on the pitch, bypassing the more obvious failings of a defensive mindset and poor performances of the club’s three main creative players. Also when looking at the two best strikers currently on the North East club’s books I believe it’s doubtful that both Louis Saha and Steven Fletcher could play together seeing as the two have such similar attributes. Another option is Fraizer Campbell who can operate as a striker but also winger when Sunderland aren’t in possession but their remains major doubts about the England international’s quality, he hasn’t scored since February. Another reason teams rarely use this system is football matches are often won and lost in the midfield, so packing three in midfield makes sense when trying to impose your will on your opponents. Such is the out-dated nature of 4-4-2, Spain were able to grind their teams into submission in most games without playing with a striker of any nature, defending and attacking with over-whelming possession.

Also like any sport in football you should aspire to be the best and the top teams rarely use this formation, the marquee game of the weekend just gone saw Manchester United out-wit Arsenal with a variation of 4-4-1-1 up 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. Manchester City have such a plethora of attacking options Roberto Mancini rarely only puts one of his four top-drawer strikers on the pitch. But the Italian doesn’t just limit himself  just to 4-4-2 trying 3-5-2, 4-3-2-1 and 4-3-3 among other formations even if the former Inter Milan manager has had varying success with his systems this term. England’s failings with 4-4-2 in the world cup should also have shown fans just how ineffective the formation can be, attempting pin-ball football to try and get the ball forward in the Euros regularly saw England out-played and somewhat fortunate to reach the quarter finals.

Tottenham Hotspur fans have also condemned management for the use of just one striker. But last season by consensus Spurs were playing the best football in the Premier League with just a solitary forward, relying on excellent creative players such as Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Rafael Van Der Vaart to create chances in a team that cannot be considered negative. I also think the fans booing vehemently when Jermain Defoe was substituted for Emanuel Adebayor said as much about the popularity Andre Villas-Boas then it did about a negative approach. Spurs played the last half hour with Gylfi Sigurdsson, Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Clint Dempsey supporting Adebayor hardly a dearth of attacking options. The team they were playing in that match-up as well Wigan have enjoyed great success playing with a 3-4-3 system a style no other team in the division regularly use.

My point is 4-4-2 was going out of date ten years ago, let alone now, in 2012 the idea of playing with just one striker shouldn’t be stereotyped as negativity.

Let me know your thoughts on 4-4-2 on Twitter where you can find me: @jimmylowson

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  • hapee2bspurs
    1 year ago

    In a way I agree with what you have said …but the problem we have is that we have a team of players who are very good …but they lack belief on the pitch in themselves there is something wrong in spurs dressing room I don’t see any pride in this team. They play for a
    great club with a good history which is looking like a BIG problem with this team. I have supported Spurs all my life and feel that AVB has done nothing to give them the enthusiasm to play for 90 full minutes and with a belief in themselves. I also feel that he got rid of our best player for years Rafal Van Der Vart and now we have fallen back by 10 years. I’ve constantly heard that we have to be patient…….How much more do you need when you have supported a team for 58 years as in my case. One thing I ain’t learnt in all those years is patience. : ))))))So Get it together guys. STOP giving it all the big one to the press and get doing the job your very well paid for and give Us the results that we deserve. Actions speak louder than words. COYS

    Reply
    • Mark
      1 year ago

      I totally disagree it has nothing to do with pride in the team it’s all about self belief and confidence. Dempsey and Gylfi are struggling and playing with no confidence. We are missing Kaboul, BAE, Parker and Dembele which is a significant part of the squad.

      Reply
  • tom elwood
    1 year ago

    we have a new craze and we all have to try and keep up with jones , or should i say man u , man city , chelsea and dare i say arsenal . the barca way seems to be the only way and i for one get bored with pass , pass , pass , pass , pass and when it ends in nothing then whats the point ? whatever system you play , if it works then great , if it dont then somethings gotta give . as a lifelong spurs fan i have seen some weird and wonderful football on the rollercoaster that which is Spurs . Nicholson knew what was needed , Burkinshaw knew and they both delivered . Venables was getting there and I think Redknapp was in the process . It is evident that when defoe is the lone striker and he doesnt get the service then he is a total waste of talent as he is not a team player , a quality striker he is , full stop . The formations come and go just like fashion . Each team should play to there strengths whatever formation that be , if it works go for it . I have had the priveledge of seeing some great teams with great players and managers over the years . There isnt a rule book when it comes to formations so lets not get drawn into it has to be this way or that way because every now and then the rule book gets thrown out of the window and the experts truly live up to there true definition – an Ex is a hasbeen and xpert is a big drip under pressure . COYS forever !

    Reply
  • AJS
    1 year ago

    Surely the formation of the team will depend on the current game situation if your losing 0-1 at home to Wigan the idea of taking off a striker who has scored a large percentage of your goals this season makes no sense. Theories are all very good you can write them down on paper and think you’re clever but unless you react to the actual game you are always going to lose! I am still trying to see good in AVB but at the moment he seems so stubborn in playing one system without looking at any alternatives!

    Reply
    • Paul
      1 year ago

      He does seem stubborn, he needs to add players to play the system he wants, he. Needs to learn that sometimes 442works for the players he has at his disposal NOW!
      AVB is young, let’s hope he’s not stupid because white hart lane can be a nightmare if you haven’t got the crowd on side.

      Reply
  • Paul
    1 year ago

    Spurs haven’t the forward players to play 4-2-3-1,
    To play that system we need more forward players, not wingers but forwards who can score cut inside defend attack, when we lose Lennon or bale we haven’t the squad depth to bring others in a
    Who can do the same job, we need more forwards, another sitting midfielder who is quick, missing Mounthino hurt us big time.

    But you take ledly, modric Kaboul, Parker addebayor, Benoit, van der vart, out of any team and that team will struggle!

    The ginger ninja needs to learn to attack at home and concentrate on 4-2-3-1 away from home, that’s what cost rednapp, plus his constant bull sj
    Hit in the press and asking levy for a contract extension the day his mother passed away didn’t help.
    Villas boas better learn quick, he thought he was at a big club at chelsea but there just rich, not big, urs are huge, with fans that know a thing or two, attack to dare is to do Andre, learn it fast or jog on….

    Reply
    • Tony
      1 year ago

      AVB is looking increasingly stubborn. When we are away, 4-2-3-1 can work and utilise our speed on the break,and Sandro and hopefully Dembele to soak up attacks. However we need a different approach at home. Our strengths at home are pace and width, but the way AVB wants to play at home, that is nullified. The 4-2-3-1 system tends to draw Lennon and Bale away form the touchline, constricting space. Also it reduces the influence of the great pairs we had last year ie Bale/BAE and Lennon/Walker. It also leads to little support up front. Apart from the top 6 or 7 teams, most teams will come to either park the bus O’Neill style, or simply slow us down and nullify Bale and Lennon. Unfortunately AVB wants us to play a passing style reminiscent of Swansea, and that slows you down naturally anyway. AVB simply needs a different approach at home. Whether it’s 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2, we simply need to restore our speed and width- and 4-2-3-1 with two holding players at home won’t do it.

      Reply
  • upset spurs fan
    1 year ago

    i think the problem is we have 1 of the best first 11(if all are fit)in the PL but we have no bench, like for like. and this time WE have to like at Mr Levy with his last min buys that are not here. i’m sure Mr Levy said we will not sell to we have a replacement in? if he’d got them players we would be in the top mix. so u can’t put this on AVB if he doesnt have the man power to do the job and u have to say that some of our players are not good enough for the first.

    Reply
  • Gary Fox
    1 year ago

    The problem we have is the players….not the system and not the manager. We have lost key players in midfield and a central pairing of Hudd and siggy would be about the 15th choice at the start of the season. Dempsey hasn’t fitted in. Adebayor seems to be unfit or sulking or both. We didn’t buy what we needed and without Dembele we have no true creative link player. So we have to be realistic and patient….qualities that too many fans are forgetting.

    Reply
  • Simon
    1 year ago

    Horses for courses.
    Depending on opposition 4 4 2 can still be very effective.
    You must always take into account the players and their capabilities, from a Tottenham perspective playing Defoe up top by himself isn’t a good move and it’s begining to show, just hope AVB can see this.

    Reply
    • upset spurs fan
      1 year ago

      so who would u play there

      Reply
  • spursguv
    1 year ago

    This guy is a bit short sighted. You should be able to play any formation at any time. eg get a player sent off the formation changed is forced upon the team. I hate 442. Yet v Wigan and the players we had it was called for. We were without all of our drive in midfield. No sandro or dembele yet instead of playing to our strengths we brought on players like Carroll. So mate in response to your headline..those who think there’s no place for a 442 today need a reality check. You need the players capable of playing a 4231 or indeed a 433. Spurs currently have a injury ridden squad and a manager who seems to be trying to appease the fans. Defoe has been ordinary for our last three games yet he still starts? Man U playing rooney and RVP up front..how dare they..two strikers at once..or would you class that as a 411?

    Reply
  • Dan
    1 year ago

    As a Sunderland fan, I feel offended by your view regarding the “short sighted terraces”. Personally, I haven’t had a go at the manager for not playing two strikers, and that to get the best out of Sess you have to play to his strengths. Also, things haven’t being going well due to the lack of creativity from Sessegnon, McClean and Johnson, who I’m afraid to say is a massive waste of money at the moment. I haven’t heard fans getting on the manager and players backs during the game, but nothing but backing and trying to sing the ball into the net. Football is life in Sunderland unlike most places, and when it isn’t going well at the SoL, everyone is down, but when we beat Man City in the last minute having defended like men for 90 minutes, that is what we go through the dark times for, 100% backing for O’Neill and the lads. FTM.

    Reply
  • selena steele
    1 year ago

    it depends who you have in your team.england look pedestrian with 4-4-2 because we have limited players and an obsession with steven gerrard..however if you had the united 99 team now in the prem its hard to see that team any better playing a different system…and a team that relied on the partnerships of fowards to knew each others minds..my point is that its who you have in your team that dictates the system….i prefer united these days not to play 4-4-2 as it means wellbeck will be excluded

    Reply
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