Guest Article: Formation Talk: 442 v 4231
There has been a lot of talk about formations recently, Dougie clearly prefers 4231 but has used 442 on a number of occasions with varying degrees of success. Many fans feel this is would make the difference and catapult us up the league yet have short memories, casting my mind back to Owen Coyle`s tenure, he was heavily criticised for his failure to recognise that we were being overrun in midfield week after week and we needed an extra body in there.
My preference, with the players that we have, is 4231. However, my preferred formation for Bolton Wanderers has been 442, my preferred formation as a player was 352 but that is a completely different story!
Looking at the players we have available, we are heavily stocked in the central midfield department and less heavily stocked in the winger and striker areas, so, logic tells you to play with 5 in midfield but for this to work you need your wingers and your attacking midfielder to get up and support the lone striker and get themselves in the box, we haven`t done this anywhere near enough all season and this is a big reason why people are saying that playing 1 up front doesn`t work. It does work, when players are doing their jobs, but players haven`t been. We haven`t seen as much of Hall as I would have liked, Eagles loves running in the opposite direction to the ball and when he does get it he loves giving it back to the opposition even more and Chung Yong Lee has been erratic and is so afraid to shoot it is untrue, once such a goal threat is now shot shy.
Not many teams play with one up front these days so do you match the opposition formation or do you play your own way and not worry about the opposition? Well, isn`t that what Owen Coyle did? No work on opposition shape or strengths is ridiculous in this day and age. So what the most vocal Wanderers fans are now screaming for is the same thing that they were screaming at Coyle to get rid of!? Very strange.
442 has its strengths don`t get me wrong. Two players up front occupies both centre halves meaning that the opposition full backs cant get forward as often and there is support when the ball is cleared up there if they play off each other - as Ings/Vokes do so well at Burnley. The thing is, we don`t have a Vokes, never mind an Ings! Their understanding is bordering telepathic, we don`t have that, if we did then we would be playing two up front every week. You have to cut your cloth accordingly and by playing 4231 that is what we are doing, we are trying to get the most out of the players available.
Most people would like Moritz to play most of the time, he is very creative and a big goal threat for us but he is not a winger so needs to play centrally, he cannot play as a CM so if Moritz plays, we have to play 1 up front because he offers nothing defensively. If we play 442 then Moritz cannot play, so you then take away that threat.
My preference would be one striker with Mark Davies in the central attacking midfield role and Moritz coming on as an impact sub, I feel that he just isn`t fit enough to play 90 minutes and is somewhat of a luxury but he is very talented and can be a match winner, or match saver demonstrated by his beautiful free kick against Forest.
In summary I believe that if the midfield can dictate possession and we can get bodies closer to the striker, playing off and running beyond him then we can score goals and win games. We have shown we can dominate possession for long periods in some games but make ridiculous errors to tip the balance and let the opposition at us. Looks like we will have little choice but to play one up front in the next game, unless someone can be drafted in this week…alternatively it looks as though our youngsters are having a little competition between themselves to get into Dougie`s thoughts, Wilkinson, Youngs, and Clough all on the scoresheet in the Development squad`s 4-0 win at Leicester, in addition to that, a certain Mr Bogdan with a clean sheet, hoping his return will see both keepers up their games fighting for the shirt which can only be good for the team.