Could 4-4-2 be the answer to NUFC’s stuttering home form? Three reasons why Rafa should give it a go

 

Newcastle United may be sitting pretty at the top of the Championship, but Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Fulham was Newcastle’s 5th home defeat of the season. As we enter the business end of the season, could 4-4-2 provide the rethink needed to revitalise our home form & secure a return to the Premier League?

With regular 50,000 plus crowds and countless sell outs, St.James’ Park would without doubt top the leagues attendance table. The Magpies home record is however the 7th best in the league, suggesting St.James’ Park has not been the fortress we may have expected this season.

Whilst there’s no need to panic, here’s three reasons why Rafa should give 4-4-2 a go at St.James’ Park:

 



1. Fit & firing strikers 

During the course of the season there has been several fans calling for Benitez to try 2 up top. While Rafa has stuck by his tried and trusted 4-2-3-1 formation, seeing such suggestions fall on deaf ears, could this be the perfect time to finally try 4-4-2?

Not only has Newcastle’s top scorer, Dwight Gayle, returned from injury but Daryl Murphy has played a key role in recent weeks, chipping in with 2 goals and an assist in the last 4 games, offering a focal point and experienced head up top for Newcastle.

Both strikers undoubtedly justify a place in the starting XI. I also believe their playing styles would compliment each other. With Gayle the nuisance and threat in behind, Murphy could be the ideal strike partner, providing a physical presence , capable of hold up the ball and linking the play.

With a similar style to Murphy’s, Aleksandar Mitrovic waits in reserve, but given Gayle’s goalscoring record and Murphy’s recent impact, the two could form a dangerous partnership.

 

2. Number 10’s failing to make an impact

As previously stated, Benitez favours the 4-2-3-1 formation, requiring a ‘number 10’ to play in the hole between midfield and attack. This role has been shared between Ayoze Perez and Mohammed Diame this season, but it’s fair to say neither player has made the position their own, both showing glimpses but ultimately falling into the bracket of inconsistent and ineffective.

It must be said that Mohammed Diame’s natural position is not as a second striker, having played as a central midfielder for the vast majority of his career with Wigan, West Ham and Hull. It must be said that Rafa’s insistence to use him in this position has left me bemused given he is far more effective in a deeper role.

As far as Ayoze Perez goes, his style suits the position more so than the sizeable Diame. He has, however, failed to execute with any conviction, especially at St.James’ park.

He has a tendency to disappear for large spells, being too easily pushed off the ball and visibly lacking confidence in the final third. There is no doubt his best performances have  come away from St.James’ park.

So, whilst the 4-2-3-1 system has been the foundation for NUFC’s outstanding away form, it has been the number 10 role in particular that has been found wanting at St.James’ Park. This makes me wonder what harm it would do to try two up top, following several inept and anonymous home performances from the chosen number 10.

3. A positive approach

Newcastle are top of the league and within touching distance of an immediate return to the Premier League. Saturday’s result against Fulham was a blow in itself, but the performance and negative tactics displayed did not look that of a side top of the table and gunning for promotion.

A switch to 4-4-2 during home games could help NUFC get on the front foot from the off,  take the game to sides and show the 52,000 crowd a signal of attacking intent. Surrendering possession and sitting back as we did against Fulham on Saturday will not sit well with the St.James’ Park crowd.

With favourable home games to come against Wigan Athletic and Burton Albion, maybe, moving forward, attack is the best form of defence as Newcastle brace themselves for one final push for promotion.

(Would you like to see Rafa field this team next time out at St.James’ Park?)

 

 

 

About Olly Hawkins

Born in Gateshead, Olly was a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

12 thoughts on “Could 4-4-2 be the answer to NUFC’s stuttering home form? Three reasons why Rafa should give it a go

  1. I agree got to try Diame back in centre midfield, whilst Hayden is out, as Colback is often left wanting. When we don’t play with confidence at home(Why I don’t know, we are top) we need the outlet that Murphy provides. He came on as sub and showed his touch and hold up play would be ideal for Gayle, who looks fit but can nearly only from the threaded pass from Shelvey, who was given a lesson by Cairney on Saturday(sign him and sessegnon) for the future.
    Whilst you can not questions Rafa’s stats(top of everything in all leagues), at home we need to dominate and get crowd behind us rather than shouting at each mistake. Lascelles needs to start and captain the team and stop dilly dallying, then getting either caught out or playing a long ball up to 5′ 6″ Gayle who has no chance.(hence Murphy).

    Come on the toon, Rafa is the best thing to happen to us in a long time

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  2. Got to agree myself. It is CM that is wanting Colback is not an EPL midfielder. Try Diame in there. We could always buy Whilshere to strengthen in the summer.

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  3. Don’t know if Wilshere is the answer to any question.

    I agree Diame should be dropped back (or dropped altogether) and should have been about 30 games ago. The guy is a very poor No10. I’d also bring Gouffran back for Atsu and from your line up swap Gayle for Perez. Gayle has barely touched the ball since he came back and in truth has been like that much of his career. Yes, I know 21 goals and all that. . . 😆

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  4. Olly: you missed 2 reasons!!! Lee Ryder would have had another 2 to make his customary 5 reasons.

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  5. georgio: Gayle is probably still wary of his hamstring. We have an international break coming up which will give him more time to heal.

    I agree with Olly’s team except Anita for Gamez. Maybe Gouffy for Atsu but that is six or two threes really. I think they are both decent Championship players who will not be able to make the step up to the PL.

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  6. Oh, I think Gouffy was looking tired as well so putting in Atsu made sense. However, as with Gayle the international break should help. I can’t believe I am saying that as I think there are far too many international breaks and we should go back to playing the games midweek with a maximum of one week off to prepare.

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  7. From the last thread: Rooney out, and its about time. Shows Southgate at least has balls unlike Mr. Roy who let Rooney do what he wanted. He’ll be off to China in the summer. He was once a very good player, although not on a par with Messi or Ronaldo. More Sanchez level, but he has not been that for at least 3 years.

    Maybe the press and ex-players will finally see that he has been a bit sh!t for ages. All they ever did was kiss his arse and there seemed an unwritten rule that they were not allowed to criticize or question England’s Wayne Rooney.

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  8. Eric – Gayle’s had plenty of time to get over his hamstring whatever. Needs to start doing it for the Toon not protecting himself between the ears. Murphy’s a much better bet.

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  9. Eric Sykes:
    georgio: Gayle is probably still wary of his hamstring. We have an international break coming up which will give him more time to heal.

    I agree with Olly’s team except Anita for Gamez. Maybe Gouffy for Atsu but that is six or two threes really. I think they are both decent Championship players who will not be able to make the step up to the PL.

    Fair comment – Gamez is yet to get a run in the team but given Anita’s shocker against Fulham, i’d be inclined to give Jesus his chance. Clearly has pedigree given he featured for Atletico Madrid just last year.

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  10. Has anybody else noted that despite his reputation Rafa has not done a lot of rotation recently. If players such as Dummett, Shelvey, Gayle and Ritchie are fit, they are picked. I know we have a large squad but a lot are hardly ever used – Lazaar, Hanley, MBemba, Gamez, Mitro (4 starts), and others.

    And then there is the mystery of why Colback keeps getting a game? Why not give MBemba a go? He played defensive mid at ACON and he couldn’t do a lot worse than Icedog’s best mate.

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