Tactic talk: Is the 4-4-2 past its use by date for NUFC?

I got into a discussion about tactics earlier, which I quite enjoyed, so I thought I would put those thoughts into an article and see if we can have a bigger discussion about it.

One of the nice things was that it was done without the need to resort to abuse or childish rhetoric and everything had a reason – it was constructive rather than a shouting contest so for that I thank HBA 39 and Evil Franky!

Anyway the topic rolled around to what we have become accustomed to this season – the 4-4-2 formation. Love it or hate it it has served us well generally, and we have the league position to prove it. Does it have any longevity though? Are there plans to change things up? Do we have the personnel to change it up? Well let’s take a look and see.

Why 4-4-2?

Well I personally believe we are playing a 4-4-2 formation because it fits the personnel we have currently and also covers up some pretty big cracks in our squads. It probably won’t be the last time I mention this, but the full-backs we have currently need some help for varying reasons.

For example Danny Simpson needs help because he is unable to cope with people running at him while Davide Santon likes to get forward and is new to the country. Over time I expect to see Santon improve and he will need less and less help as he develops both physically and mentally, but I can’t say the same for Danny Simpson.

It is my belief that we are playing 4-4-2 to protect the pair of them. Perhaps protect is the wrong word when talking about Santon, perhaps cover for when he bombs forward would have better? However Simpson does need help. The thought of having nobody in front of him frightens the life out of me to tell the truth, which rules out any notion of playing narrow up top or using Simpson as a wing-back.

This means we have to have two wingers in the side which means that with only four spaces in the team, and a striking pair to be feared when fit taking two of them and a central midfield pairing that have been mentioned in the same breath as Manchester United and Chelsea taking the other two the options are somewhat limited.

What are the options?

Well at the moment I can’t really see any serious ones. This is where our personnel comes into question although obviously we can’t do anything about it until the summer now. We can persist with 4-4-2 until the end of the season and look to change it if or when we sign some better defenders (especially right-back, or left-back if Santon moves across) so that we can operate differently, but right now I believe that one player is holding us back massively.

However one way of getting around it is pictured right in this handy little diagram. Obviously you can chop and change the players to suit your preference, but that is what I’d quite like to see in action.

You have a flat back four, which is the only way we can play at the moment, with Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye protecting them. Tiote can do what he does and Cabaye can pick those passes that he likes to do. In front of them we have Demba Ba who likes to sit a bit deeper and be the link up man, with Papiss Cisse ready to get on the end of anything, which is his preferred place to be.

We then have Jonas and Ben Arfa on the wings who can create havoc and set up the chances at one end while also being able to get back and help out the full-backs if needed, which shouldn’t be as often as we have Tiote and Cabaye sitting in there meaning one can drift a bit wider while the other sits in, or they could both move across as a unit. Think of them as the enforcers!

The future

As I’ve said, the future could hold anything for us in terms of tactical tinkering, as long as we have the players able to cope with it. At the moment I honestly believe we have the attacking threat to give us differing options, but without a solid base to build on and a reliable defence to fall back on, I feel that our options are somewhat limited.

Maybe that can change in the summer?

About toonsy

A lifelong Newcastle fan and current webmaster of this very 'blog who has the sole aim of creating a place by Newcastle United fans, for Newcastle United fans.

81 thoughts on “Tactic talk: Is the 4-4-2 past its use by date for NUFC?

  1. Great article toonsy… you were due one! πŸ˜‰

    I love a good tactics debate, it gets away from player bashing.

    I think people like HBA are great to have in the team so we have an extra dimension other that 4-4-2 when we need it i.e 4-3-3 which I thin suits ben arfa best and I think 4-3-3 should be deployed for when we go to places like stamford bridge. Beat them at their own game kind-of thing (a la stoke away game)

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  2. How is the article above NOT player bashing?

    It’s basically saying that we’re rubbish and inflexible tactically because of Danny Simpson.

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  3. If you really believe Simpson is that bad then are you not annoyed with Pardew for not changing things in January.

    I maintain that Cabaye plays too deep which invites the opposition on as we can’t retain the ball once it’s pushed forward.

    The defence including Simpson is suffering because of the defensive players we play in midfield.

    It stares me in the face and is blatantly obvious where the problem lies. 😯

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  4. I should have added, we do have the players to play 4-4-2. It’s the way we play the players within that formation which causes the problems.

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  5. I can’t see Barfa fitting in a 4-4-2 formation but I do think we should be looking at a formation to build the team around him next season.

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  6. Me, replying to Alex last night. On topic though.

    I think 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-2-1-2 or 4-3-2-1 would be better than our current 4-4-2, Alex. Chiefly because none of the team appear to be able to create anything from the wings in 4-4-2, which means we are wasting not only the 2 players on the wings but also restricting the performance of our two star strikers by being unable to supply them properly.

    Maybe Pardew will come up with some inspirational plan to make our midfield creative in 4-4-2, who knows?

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  7. Obviously we won’t know until we try, but, if we change to a system that gets more from the midfielders and allows them to keep and use the ball better and link better with the forwards that might actually alleviate some of the pressure on the fullbacks.
    Who knows we develop some attractive passing and demonstrate new found creativity too 😯

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  8. @Pootle

    Do you believe we could fit Barfa in a 4-4-2 and would you find a formation to play him or sell him in the summer?

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  9. Hmmm. Troy your plan *appears* to revolve around telling Cabaye to push forward more.
    Firstly, we don’t know if he can fulfil that. Secondly, I don’t think that will make our wide players actually play any better as wide players in the 4-4-2. Nothing I’ve seen suggests they can.
    Not that I’m against giving it a go, mind.
    Something needs to change though. Our performances have been deteriorating and being on the wrong end of many more wallopings could collapse the teams confidence.

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  10. Troy – Think it would be very short sighted to get rid of Barfa in the summer. He’s barely had a chance to do anything. We need to be able to alternate tactics and incorporate players depending on who we are playing against.

    We don’t have wingers for a 4-4-2 system, they can’t get up the wings and pepper the box with good crosses.

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  11. Toonsy, I like your suggested formation above. I would like to see us try that and 4-3-3 / 4-3-1-2 as our mainstays.

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  12. I think a way to accomodate HBA is to play him at RW and raylor at RB. Or move jonas to RB. Not ideal but simmo and willo are the weak links. The only other thing is play 3-5-2 with santoon more central, raylor and jonas as wing backs which allows HBA to sit
    inbetween tiote/cabaye and double demba. Wouldn’t happen but would be frightening attacking wise

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  13. Troy I would opt for 4-3-3, 4-3-1-2 and 4-2-3-1 (as outlined by Toonsy) as our mainstay formation options, chosen depending on our opposition.

    I think Ben Arfa (and all our midfielders and forwards) could cope better in any of those systems above which would hopefully see them becoming a more cohesive attacking unit.

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  14. @EvilFranky / Pootle

    The fact we don’t have an attacking midfielder puts the pressure on all the team.

    It’s simple. In a 4-4-2 formation needs a box to box player.

    That supports the wingers, the defence and attack.

    It’s one of the most basic rules of football.

    It’s one of the hardest positions to play as your engine has to be fuelled to the hilt but it’s the only way you can play that system successfully.

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  15. if you play that formation on Sunday, we will get taken apart, as you mentioned Simpson will be unprotected, ( HBA is unlikely to track back) and as he is up against McLean, who runs and runs all day and goes past people with ease, it means the empty spaces will be his play ground. If you want to get HBA into the side then its either drop one of the front two (dont think so) or make the change at the back, eg:

    Krul

    Santon Williamson Collocini Jonas

    Guthrie / Tiote Cabaye
    (Rtaylor)

    HBA

    Cisse BA

    with Guthrie or Taylor looking after McLean. Jonas’ best work has been defensively this season, not created much and its where he was used last world cup for his country.
    This formation puts a lot of onus on HBA to create all the chances but if he wants his place he is going to have to perform week in, week out, which he doesn’t do at the moment and “learn to pass a ball”.
    Hence why will will see 4-4-2 and HBA on the bench this Sunday. He either has to be the main man on the pitch, or he is a passenger. Unfortunately for all this skills, he tends to run into blind alleys and eventually loses the ball.
    In this formation if Jonas or Santon do bomb forward, Guthrie and Cabaye have to fill the gap. Like you said in your piece, proper wing backs… oh and if Simpson doesn’t sign his contract…. “am I bothered !!!!!”

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  16. Good sides don’t play one particular system their players interchange positions and move the ball in diagonals instead of of square balls like we tend to.

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  17. I don’t dispute what you say about a box to box MF in 4-4-2, Troy.
    We don’t know if Cabaye can fulfil that role yet, but I’m all for trying to get him to because it will certainly help if Pardew must stick with 4-4-2.

    Even if we had Rob Lee in the team I don’t think it would improve the distributions of our wide players much as none of the look particularly comfortable actually playing that role.

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  18. ” Good sides don’t play one particular system their players interchange positions and move the ball in diagonals instead of of square balls like we tend to.”

    Hegsactly!

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  19. 3-3-1-3 obvious. Total football at it’s finest.

    Drop simpson. Include HBA. This is newcastle after all.

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  20. My god I agree with Potty! 😯

    Personally I think Obertan got a raw deal from the fans and Pardew has responded to the negativity by not playing him. Obertans pace and back tracking was part of our successful start, he is now not getting his game, the pedestrian Raylor can not protect Simmo nor can he offer any threat to defend in attack.

    Our 442 worked brilliantly at the start of the season, but now Pardews tactic of a quick release to the two strong forwards Is pointless unless the LW is balanced by the left. It makes defending too easy.

    Sorry Raylor for me you have to go.

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  21. @Pootle

    The wingers aren’t the best at crossing but they often don’t have an option from the central midfielders. It’s do much harder to cross a ball if it’s your only option but if you had a centre midfielder to give you another option it means you can retain possession and gives their defender 2 problems to deal with instead of one .

    I see it time and time again. Scott Parker is known as a Defensive Midfielder but he get up front as often as he can but also is back tackling and breaking up play.

    To say Cabaye can’t push up further up the field as he may not be suited is nonsensical to me.
    He may not turn out to be great at it but what it’s doing is taking the pressure off the defence and supporting your forwards and wingers.

    We currently play 4 2-2-2

    Unheard of in football.

    If you play two defensive midfielders you have to have another midfielder in front of them.

    No wonder Danny boy is under the cosh. 😯

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  22. Why havent we tried HBA on the left, It would give us a natural balance having a leftie on that side, Simpson would benefit from having jonas in front of him, Santon would have more space to get forward because him and jonas gets in each others way at times.

    The only game i remember Benny playing wide left for us was everton last season…

    ————————–Krul———————–
    —Simpson—Willo—-Colo——Santon—
    –Jonas—–Cabaye—-Tiote—Ben Arfa–
    ——————Demba-&-Demba————

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  23. I dont think tactics are the problem, what is a problem is that Pardew always seems reluctant to change it when players arent doing their jobs, his 442 isnt questioned when we win.
    I know he cant afford to knock the confidence of the players but there has to come a time when enough is enough, the likes of Simpson have no incentive to get their finger out and hearing him talking after the hammering at Spurs on Sky, he was oblivious to how bad they were, and for those who are saying we shouldnt knock him and get behind him, he has playing ****e for weeks now.
    Make no mistake about it, if Simpson got the deal he craves elswhere he will be off like a shot, hopefully that will happen.

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  24. Troy – think you’re missing the point – remember early season Cabaye covered more km’s per game than any player in the prem. He has to sit deeper now, Raylor is too slow in attack, by the time he gets there he is too slow to get back.

    Which means we are lame going forward exposed coming back.

    Raylors lack of pace and stamina is the weakness not Cabaye.

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  25. Again Troy, I agree.
    But if Cabaye can push up but ‘may not be great’ at it, and if the wide men aren’t particularly great at doing wide men jobs like crossing, I just think its a bit odd to play in a manner which has three players doing things they aren’t great at.
    Wouldn’t it be easier to set them up in positions which better suit their qualities?

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  26. ————————–Krul———————–
    ———————Willo——–Collo——————-
    Santon——————Tiote—————–Jonasβ€”
    ————–Guthrie—————Cabaye
    —————————-HBA—————————
    ——————Cisse————Ba——————-

    for clarification, lost formatting above….wing backs !!!!!

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  27. @robert

    I disagree. His 4-4-2 is questioned when we win as its normally a poor performance and goals from half chances that get us the results.

    So the conversation always gets back to players not performing and tactics.

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  28. Toonsy good one lad I think 4 4 2 has its place but I think the problem with us playing it is that most of the players can’t do what they’re supposed to do because the defence isn’t strong enough. I honestly think we need a quality commanding CB, and although I thought Simmo was ok when Saylor was in the team telling him what to do, I don’t think Simmo is good enough for 1st 11 .

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  29. For me the problem isn’t Cabaye. It isn’t Ben Arfa. It isn’t Obertan, Guthrie or Gutierrez.
    It’s not playing them in a manner which utilizes their respective and combined strengths.

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  30. Actually the proper formatting makes all the difference Kev! :mrgreen:

    Providing Santon and Guti can fulfil their wingback roles I could see that working.

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  31. Stardy tis funny that you thought we were better at the start of the season, when you think that Saylor was in the team, do you still think that Willo is a better CB than Saylor 😳 .

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  32. @Stardust

    No. I think you miss the point.

    The crap football did begin to set in after Saylor got injured and that is when Cabaye started sitting deeper.

    There’s too much emphasise put on covering for these, do called weaker players.

    If you play 4-4-2 you have to stick to it. You create more problems by covering.

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  33. Dave – Willo imo has been poor. Looks like he is losing form not gaining it.

    And I agree we were better with Saylor in the back line, still not the type of defending I prefer but we were better than now.

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  34. funny, but I’ve seen that formation @29 called 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 (diamond). makes the discussion topic a bit weird and goes with the point made earlier @19 that its the players who play well on the pitch that decide the result rather than if its called 4-3-3 or 4-4-2.

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  35. “There’s too much emphasise put on covering for these, so called weaker players.
    If you play 4-4-2 you have to stick to it. You create more problems by covering”

    Now that, Troy, is bang on the money.
    If you get everyone in the midfield playing out of position or in a style which they aren’t great at to cover for perceived deficiencies then you are weakening what you are actually good at.
    I still wouldn’t play 4-4-2. Our wide men aren’t able to whip in crosses.
    Come on Mr Pardew. Put the square pegs in the square holes!

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  36. Good article ,. I think for the rest of the season we will see 442 as it suits the players we have at the moment , I do belive we will play with a more flexiable formation next season such as a 433 which can be switched to a 451 when we are looking to close out a game which Pardew likes to do. We just need a couple more players for that formation.

    Are we on the tele the weekend for the derby anyone?

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  37. Kev @ 38.

    True.
    The players are more likely to play well if you ask them to go out and play to their strengths though, rather than change the nature of their game to cover for perceived deficiencies elsewhere.

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  38. Thought provoking article Toonsy. Some say we cannot organise the team to suit HBA but we have been doing it every week to accommodate Simpson. Time to be bold and drop Simpson. Pity Tavernier is on loan. Seems to have been highly rated whichever team he has played for. Some suggest Ferguson at LB and move Santon to RB. Worth a punt. I do not think we can leave things as they are given the recent run of results.

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  39. Stardy looks like you have finally started to agree with what most of us allready knew, that Saylor is a good player 😳 .
    But I wont hold it against you as im sure its hard to see the players play when you have got your head stuck so far up Jabba’s ass πŸ˜†

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  40. think what everyone is saying is that, even if we play a normal 4-4-2 our wide players are not doing the business, no crosses coming in, not getting to the goal line and pulling the ball back, so lets play more to the feet through the middle, Guthrie,Tiote, Cabaye, HBA are all good with the ball at their feet, so give them the licence to create through the middle. Seems to me both Cisse and Ba will score goals if we give the ball to them “in the box”, but its not happening enough at the moment, to many flying over their head, hitting the first defender etc… lets see some one-twos on the edge of the box…

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  41. We got another game on tv lads, man city(h) is on Sunday. By the way I won’t be able to see the comments as I’m in London on my phone.

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  42. Kev – Bang on about tactics being undone by poor performances by players. I happen to think its a bit of both yet repeatedly I see Pardew taking the blame and the players getting off scot free for sub standard showings.

    This is one of my points, blame Pardew all you like, but also blame the players. Neither deserve all of the blame.

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  43. Great article Toonsy!

    I remember last summer we wanted Matuidi from St Ettienne and if we got him we were planning on playing 4-3-3 with Cabaye, Tiote & Matuidi in midfield.

    I think this summer, especially if Ba leaves we might see this formation for next season. We are getting linked with a lot of center midfielders; Corgnet, Amilfitano and Mark Davies. If we sign one of these I think we will see something like this next season;

    Krul
    ??? S.Taylor Coloccini Santon
    Cabaye Tiote ???
    Ben Arfa Cisse Marveaux

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  44. Toonsy I have heard someone using that scott free term loads of time πŸ˜€
    As i’ve said before Pards gets all the blame while the players get away scott free πŸ˜† and will never learn because they get away with it. πŸ˜‰

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  45. Very much like Kev’s formation @29, although I’d swap Jonas with Santon. Also like the fact there’s no Raylor, Simpson, Shola or Best, whilst accommodating Barfa in what I believe to be his best position.
    Ain’t gona happen though. Pardew doesn’t seem to like experimenting. πŸ˜•

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  46. 4-2-3-1 all day long.

    I doubt we will see it implemented this season as i’m not sure we have the players for it, and Benny isn’t up to speed yet, but it has to be played next season.

    We showed at the start of the season how tough we can be defensively, with Saylor back and a new RB/(LB and switch Santon) it could definitely work, not though.

    If we played it now it would leave Simpson and Santon too exposed, Santon is a terrific talent but he hasn’t been great defensively yet to show he can’t cope without Jonas.

    I would have Cabaye/Tiote sitting with Ba, Ben Arfa and a new right/left sided attacker. Jonas can be played in ganes where we need a more defensive player, Obertan could be great off the bench.
    With 4-2-3-1 the onus wouldn’t be on Ben Arfa to defend which would be perfect as i don’t think he can.

    I think we could definitely play 4-4-2, we did at the start of the season, with two decent wingers and Papiss we could have a great attacking force to go with the previously strong defence.
    But a huge priority over the summer has to be getting Ben Arfa into the team and playing a formation that can work for both the team and him, he is simply too talented not to use.

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  47. I couldn’t agree more with this article, I feel the whole right hand side is lacking in ability when we play 4.4.2, players like Williamson, Simpson and Raylor are just not good enough if you expect to compete with the top 6.
    The 4.2.3.1 system was deployed for a short while, but Pardew did not have Tiote, Ba and Cisse at his disposal, I remember watching the first half and Fulham and thinking i’v not seen us keep the ball this well before. We all know what happened in the second half, but if you look back we changed to a 4.4.2 in the second half, and 4.5.1 shortly after, we ended up loosing 5.2.
    Danny Simpson needs replacing from that team, not only does he look uncomfortable when a winger runs at him, going forward he is useless.
    I think Pardew has seen success in the 4.4.2 formation and I can’t see him moving away from the hoof ball he has adopted, with wingers doubling up, full backs helping the c.b and the two in midfield putting a great shift in. In the first half alone Krul hoofed the ball long 16 times! I can’t see us improving greatly with these tactics.

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  48. @Kev

    I’m with you. We started the season off playing one twos and keeping possession for fun and that included further up the field.

    The trouble is now, we do it in our own half and invite the opposition to come onto us do we panic and boot it up field.

    I would like someone to explain why our midfielders feel it necessary to demand the ball from Colo whilst standing near him.

    Colo has more than enough ability to bring the ball out of defence and pass it to our CM who should be standing on the halfway line.

    Rarely does it happen. We normally have them all bunched together in our third of the field.

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  49. @Rod
    I think Pards plans things to the absolute minute details. Do you remember the team at the start of the season saying how much work had gone into scenario like planning with the defence, so if the ball goes here the defence moves this way etc etc, so I don’t think he will drastically change formation without having a preseason to cover every aspect with the team.
    It worked a treat at the start of the season, so lets hope it’s the same next. Still hopes he takes the risk with a formation change though.

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  50. the best way to accommodate ben arfa in a 442 in my opinion is to put him on the left move guti to the right, this gives simmo better cover and stops ben arfa constantly coming inside. at least we keep the shape. thought ben arfa was fantastic last year on the left from what little we saw of him, i don’t think we should worry about what sunderland will do as i feel we have more than enough to cause them problems. let them worry about us.

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  51. ‘Ben Arfa has spent enough time in the city to realise what the rivalry is all about and has even ventured to watch Gateshead FC matches since arriving from Marseille to get a feel for Tyneside and the public he is playing for.

    Yet when asked if ever visits Sunderland, he said in tongue-and-cheek manner: β€œI don’t, perhaps because there is nothing there?”

    Read More http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/newcastle-united/nufc-news/2012/02/29/hatem-ben-arfa-can-t-wait-for-first-tyne-wear-derby-72703-30427568/#ixzz1nltJeMzr

    You tell em’ Benny. :mrgreen:

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  52. Football is a simple game which has been made into something scientific with these so called tactical formations.

    There are 11 players and 10 of them cover areas over the park as in 4 at the back, 4 in the middle and 2 up front

    Each player is assigned a marker and each player covers for one that if on the offensive at the time.

    All this 4,3,2,1…5,4,1…3,5,2, and what not is fine but it’s mainly pen to paper or chalk to chalk board.

    The team goes out and plays against another 10 outfield players and they do what they have to do to score or nullify the oppo.

    9 times out of 10 , these so called formations look anything but as the games wears in.

    4 defenders, 4 midfielders and 2 attackers man marking off the ball and covering when a player is on the ball is all the tactics you need really.

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  53. @Alex, I’m not sure Santon is settled enough to have BA in front of him, Simpson just isn’t good enough to have him in front.

    It’s a shame we didn’t go out and buy a prem standard left back, even Ridgewell, it would’ve have been 4 birds with one stone:
    Santon -> his stronger position at RB
    Ridgewell -> A decent premiership LB
    Jonas -> chance to see Jonas play on his stronger foot and he could cover Santon when he overlaps
    Ben Arfa -> Left mid, covered effectively by a more defensive Ridgewell.

    I don’t know how much WBA paid for Ridgewell but i think those changes would have been fantastic for our team.

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  54. @Wolfie
    B0llocks. The difference between 3-5-2 and 4-5-1 is that instead of say Simpson we would be playing Papiss, and that wouldn’t affect the game you say?!

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  55. Solano, you are talking personnel or shall I say the effectiveness of said personnel.

    For instance, a 3, 5 ,2 is what exactly?

    A 4, 5, 1 is what exactly?

    Explain to me and I’m not acting silly here but explain to me just what that really means in your mind and I’ll explain what I’m getting at.

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  56. I’m saying that in a 3-5-2 you have three players trying to hold an offside line, in a 4-5-1 you would have four players trying to implement that line, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
    My hour of free internet at the library is up so i’ll jot down some other things i think formation effects and get back to you later πŸ˜‰

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  57. Solano, that’s what frustrates me, the way we started off the season playing neat little triangles, keeping the ball on the ground, then suddenly switched it to hoofball. Welly every ball up the field for Shola to hold up (and do very little else with it). I think we’re forced into playing the way we do because of our weaknesses in defence more than anything else – Saylor getting injured may have had a lot to do with it. It’s been brought up a million times the fact that our wingers get used more defensively because of the full backs either being not good enough (Simpson/Raylor/Perch) or not match sharp (Santon). It also has a bearing on Cabaye’s creative opportunities too, and the dilemma of how to incorporate Barfa.

    It’s all a bit of a mish-mash for me at the moment. Root cause being our defence, IMO. Yeah, sure people will point out how brilliantly we’ve been defensively, but this ain’t down to the defence alone, it’s because most of our midfield spend half the time protecting the back four.

    I just want us to finish the season ‘respectfully’ really, and hope Fatty spends a bit of cash in the Summer on 3 or 4 new players (at least a LB, RB, CB).

    I suppose, as with Kev’s formation, I just want to see us creating a bit more, and he’s managed to shoehorn all our best available players in there.

    …****ting myself over Sunday anyway. I just hope we don’t start with Raylor and Simpson on the right. If it’s got to be 442 then I’d play Obertan on the right, not because I rate him that much, but at least he has pace.

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  58. Solano, I’ll wait till you get back to see what your formations mean and I’ll tell you as to why I think this formation stuff is mostly scientific( football wise) nonesense.

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  59. I know Simpson is pretty average but I wouldn’t blame him for essentially making the whole team ****e, almost every team has a massive weak link yet it doesn’t seem to affect them as much, you still see them creating clear cut chances.

    Personally I’d just swap Jonas to the right and put benny/obertan on the left. Let Jonas do more of the defensive work and also allow him and simmo to both whip decent crosses in from the right, with benny/santon cutting in from the left. Only problem then is Santon might get found out..

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  60. Wouldn’t say its past its sell by date, because it can be useful against certain sides. Eg. The Man United game, although I feel had Vidic been fit it would have been different.

    And its not the formation of such, but more the squad we have available.
    We DO NOT have creative wingers, we have defensive wingers, and when you play 4-4-2, you need wide players with pace and a good final product and you need wing backs who have stamina and pace and can pass and overlapp. For me we only have Santon there and he’s playing on the wrong side.

    So in our current circumstances, in order to get our best players on the pitch. I would definately change to a 4-3-3. Especially against teams like Wolves were we should be attacking not playing negative football.

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  61. Although everyone harking back to the start of the season, were we really playing that good a football? 0-0 Arsenal, horrible game, beating the scum with a free kick, 1-1 tap in at Villa albeit Cabaye went close several times, only just hanging on against wolves 2-1 when it should have been 2-2. Then it basically just came down to demba ba running the show for us…

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  62. Newkie @65
    Agree, but the more “weaker” players you have, the more there is a roll on effect, because top players have to sacrifice themselves to cover weaknesses and its effects every position.
    I think with Tiote and Taylor out, our defense went from the best in the league to the worst in the league. We conceded about two goals a game average without Taylor and Tiote. With them, its about 0.7 goals per game.

    Having two right footed players on the left. Having a fullback who is useless with the ball at his feet, assisting the right wing, having a slow centre back which means Tiote must sit deep, and leaves Cabaye isolated in midfield.
    That leaves Ba isolated up front… Its just a roll on effect.

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  63. Newkie, I dream about Jonas playing on the right πŸ˜† …and I reckon he would be if Marveaux was fit. I believe he’s played there now for so long to plaster over our defensive deficiencies and to fill in the vacant LW slot ‘because he can’. He came here as a RW and I want to see him back there, if only to prove me wrong if anything. I know Spidey has his knockers 😳 but he’s worth his weight in gold IMO.

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  64. Yeah, Newkie, some people should go back to some of the posts on here from the start of the season. My memory ain’t all it used to be, but I know we didn’t play like Barcelona.

    Seems like some people are rewriting history in order to make a point.

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  65. not my formation, Alex Fergusons, take his treble winning side, I know Beckham and Giggs went wider but how many times do you see Neville,Irwin,Evra and the like crossing from beyond the 18yd line with B & G tucking inside, its still the same now, just replace Beckham and Giggs for Valencia and Young, although he’s struggling to replace Scholes and Keane… and I know it wasn’t ferdinand, evra and Vidic at the back, (stamm ?? irwin ??) but I cant remember who was in the treble side…

    ————————–Peter S———————–
    β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”Ferdinand——–Vidicβ€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”-
    Nevilleβ€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”Keane—————– Evraβ€”
    ———–Beckhamβ€”β€”β€”β€”β€”—-Giggs
    β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”-Scholesβ€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”
    β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”Yorkeβ€”β€”β€”β€” Coleβ€”β€”β€”β€”β€”β€”-

    you can mix and match players from his various teams and years, but it is basically this formation, with flexibility because you have great players and back to the “its the players not the formation that counts”.

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  66. Good article Toonsy and agree @46, it’s both tactics and player performance. Troy has the nail on the head regarding deep lying midfielders. Leave’s too much space between midfield and front line, especially if wingers are asked to sit a bit deeper to protect too.

    Could talk tactics and formations all day but for Sunderland and probably the remainder of this season we will be 442 unless injuries force us to change it. If that’s the case we need to tweak it in midfield and play the ball better out of defence.

    I would play Ryan Taylor instead of Simpson at right back, can play out of defence a lot better, looks for a player rather than hoofing and playing the averages, and can also produce accurate and dangerous crosses from deep positions when asked to.

    Our hands are tied with Williamson playing but at least if we had three of our four defenders able to play possession football and not hoofball he could be instructed to give the ball to them and let them play out of defence.

    I would switch Gutierrez to the right wing to see if his productivity improves on a natural side. Same would go for Ben Arfa. Play him left side and tell him to attack. Would be a concern for some having two very attack minded players on the left but there’s a psychological aspect to how opposition reacts to that which can be argued.

    Finally, agree with Troy, Cabaye needs to be pushed into that position he played against Villa early in the season. Will still be asked to defend with Tiote off the ball but when we have it, let Tiote spread the play with Colo from the back and Cabaye can then be our paintbrush player in the oppositions half, linking with one twos, letting players run off him etc.

    Its our ability to keep possession every bit as much as it may be the tactics being set up to defend. On the latter, personally think the system has been found out slightly and teams know they will get a lot of the ball and can push higher up the pitch against us. Have no problem with the 442, it’s how we play it.

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  67. Too much emphasis is put on formations as far as I’m concerned.

    What formation did we put out against Man Utd at home?
    Simple isn’t it.

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  68. JJ-Yeah obviously the weaker players are having a knock on effect, and I know what people are getting at. My point is, people are blaming Simmo when simmo was here from the start…its williamson who’s filling in for Taylor, remember? Similarly, our stats were also better with Raylor at left back than Santon, so does that mean we should switch them back, or that everyone thinks Raylor is a better full back than Santon? Not necessarily. Its a team issue, I certainly don’t place all the blame on simmo or williamson or any individual for what happened against Wolves, the whole team took their foot off the gas from top to bottom.

    Rodz-aye exactly, his crossing isn’t actually that bad its just he has to do some from an awkward angle all the time because his crossing with his left foot is gash. Get him on the right and see what happens.

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