Why 4-4-2 Might Be The Way Forward – PTII

Why 4-4-2 Might Be The Way Forward – PTII
August 5, 2011 Mihail Vladimirov

Our resident tactician Mihail continues his look at how Liverpool may approach the new season.

Football tactics are all about emphasising your strengths and covering your weaknesses.

In an ideal world a team would have ten outfield players perfectly suited to one another, with a further ten players in reserve ready and willing to simply slot into any gaps left by injury, suspension or fatigue. That is, of course, an impossible scenario. That is why it is one of the manager’s key jobs to strike a balance that allows his best players to shine while allowing squad players to provide adequate support. That can make the difference between losing and drawing, or drawing and winning.

Everyone who has a passing interest in Liverpool FC has given his or her opinion on what Liverpool will do this season with their formation and starting XI. It certainly makes for entertaining debate – hey, this is the 21st century, it’s what they invented Twitter for, right? [that’s a debate for another day – Ed]

A lot of people, however, are not taking into account the most important thing – the manager has to weigh up all of his options before deciding on the best way to balance the team. Once he has done so, he can then put all of his stock into his Master Plan (albeit with a few alternatives), which will form his basic tactical arsenal for the season ahead. That may mean sacrificing a “better” player for a “worse” player in order to give better balance, and give the overall squad more chance of winning football matches over the long term.

The Master Plan

Everyone is guessing that because Steve Clarke (the de jure “First Team Coach”, but de facto “Assistant Manager”) is in the team, Liverpool must be thinking “4-1-2-3”. It was certainly the foundation of Chelsea’s title-winning sides under Clarke and Mourinho. Leaping to this conclusion ignores the fact that the current squad does not possess goal-scoring pacey wingers which can flank Suarez and take advantage of his role as a false nine (such as the relationship between David Villa and Lionel Messi at Barcelona); nor does it contain fleet-footed dribblers who can flank Carroll and provide crosses for him to convert (such as the relationship between Arjen Robben, Joe Cole, Damien Duff and Didier Drogba at Chelsea).

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