Saturday 18th August 2005
So far in the transfer window, our business has been modest, with left midfielders Stephen McPhail and veteran Mark Pembridge arriving from Fulham for £4.5m and Bolton for £400,000 respectively.
McPhail’s capture is truly exciting, a beacon of hope in this personal summer of discontent, adding depth and flair to a side of a midfield truly needing reinforcements.
With Leighton Baines coming in too on a permanent transfer from Fiorentina, the left side of our 4-4-2 set up is starting to look really solid.
That being said, the most exciting capture of the window is Tottenham youngster Tom Huddlestone, a hard tackling, tenacious and physically imposing midfielder who can also operate on the right in a Wing Back role and in defensive midfield.
And he and McPhail could just be the kind of players that I decide to shape my squad around.
With both Kris Commons and McPhail available to play as an out and out winger – and the latter’s ability to play a more playmaking creative role out on the left flank – this gives Leighton Baines the opportunity to overlap.
It also means that John Terry, one of the numerous central defenders that we have at the club, can move over to the right full back role, offering a more solid option to keep things tight defensively, with the idea that our ‘back three’ shifts over to the left during the offensive phase
As such, we have three variations of 4-4-2 that we can use this season that I think can yield results.
Counter Attacking 4-4-2
Used primarily against bigger and better and opponents, and games away from home that could go either way, our 4-4-2 counter attacking tactic sees our two midfielders sit deep right in front of the defense, with two wide midfielders helping out on the flanks.
We have a fairly conservative flat back four, and two forwards up top who’ll hang around the half way line waiting for a long ball.
The idea is to sit deep, stay tight and compact, and then draw the opponent forward before launching it forward for one of our forwards to get on the end of.
It might not be pretty, but Jesus wept it could be effective.
4-4-2 Fluid Counter
Used in conjunction with our more aggressive and attritional approach, this version of 4-4-2 is aimed at creating overloads on the left side of the pitch, with the aim of drawing the opponents over to that side of the pitch to stretch the play and create space for right winger and right sided striker.
With our left full back overlapping the left midfielder – who cuts inside and drives forward, creating a dilemma for the opposition centre back – our left sided central midfielder also moves forward. Coupled with our let sided forward dropping into space and/or holding up the ball, it gives us a numerical advantage on a side of the pitch that is arguably the strongest.
Closing down the opposition on the flanks and using the touchline as another defender, the idea is to stay compact, but not sit back; when the ball is one, we drive forward and get into the forwards.
Get it forward. Play it long. Pass it fast. Cross it early. Closed own the opposition. Be nasty. Tackle harder. Get stuck in. Get in their faces. Fuck being nice.
This is how we play at home, and this is how we grind down the opposition. At home, it’ll be a war of attrition, and the opponents will leave muddied, dirty and bloodied.
I’m thinking that it’s time to adjust our 4-4-2 slightly, to favor our left-sided players, who could be the most talented, creative and intelligent in the British Isles.