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4-2-3-1: pretty much ALWAYS! WHY?!?

mr ashley

Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2011
3,250
8,855
I agree with the opening post in that the 4-2-3-1 made perfect sense a few years ago but using it now is like shoehorning in players who are not made for this system, at least not as far as the best possible 11 is concerned. Not sure who the 2 in the pivot should be (if we leave out the obvious Winks-Sissoko pair). Both Lo Celso and Ndombele don´t quite fit there but I would not know where to put both of them in the front 4 either. The back 4? Reguilon and to an extent Aurier would fit the system, Davies certainly doesn´t and no idea about Doherty. Either way the CBs are way too shaky these days to leave them exposed.

It seems to me that the 4-2-3-1 was employed purely to have Dembélé and Sandro/Wanyama on the pitch at the same time, and it was perfect a few seasons ago with Dele, Eriksen, Son and Kane in front of them, but now? No idea what the best system would be for Spurs. 4-3-3 with Son-Kane-Bale up front and no overlapping fullbacks but no idea who the midfield 3 should be/how they should be lined up if we consider PEH/Ndombele/Lo Celso the best possible mix...
The funny thing is, if you watched the Amazon documentary, whenever they showed a tactics board behind Jose in a team talk the formation showed 433, not 4231.
 

spurs9

Well-Known Member
Aug 31, 2012
12,059
35,140
That's as far as I know debatable. With double pivot and the freedom of the central midfielder to move forward the formation is fluid but not uncommon to be said 433.
But it's certainly not classic 433 with a midfield anchor, two box to box, and crossing wide wingers no.
He is well know for taking Ajax away from 433 a formation that had been ingrained in them for a while.

Yes it is a fluid formation, but is one of the 6's that drops into defence to collect the ball and also can go into AM to create (de Jong/Gravenberch's role) but the AM doesn't often drop into CM to make a 3.
 

mr ashley

Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2011
3,250
8,855
He is well know for taking Ajax away from 433 a formation that had been ingrained in them for a while.

Yes it is a fluid formation, but is one of the 6's that drops into defence to collect the ball and also can go into AM to create (de Jong/Gravenberch's role) but the AM doesn't often drop into CM to make a 3.
There been loads of really informative posts about ten hags tactical approach.
doesn’t mean everyone has read them before posting of course sadly
 

Gassin's finest

C'est diabolique
May 12, 2010
38,803
92,088
As mentioned plenty, the starting formation is not a static shape during the game. That goes all the way back to the original WM.
 

Japhet

Well-Known Member
Aug 30, 2010
19,362
57,984
Watching Leicester last night on paper it looked.like a 5-3-2 and then at times it was a 4-4-2 in certain areas of the pitch.

You can achieve that with a good coach.


Absolutely. The thing with any formation is that it should be adaptable and flexible. Doing that during a game is precisely what should be going on during training. One of Poch's great strengths was that he coached players to react to certain triggers and they all had clearly defined roles. That went down the pan though when we lost the appetite to press, which was largely due to just about every other team learning how to do it, and us not being very good at being on the receiving end. We also had a thin squad that had run out of steam.
By contrast, under Mourinho, the whole thing just looked like a game of park football. Nobody seemed to have much idea when or how to do what was necessary. We didn't look like we had been coached at all for the most part and it was all far too random.
 

carpediem991

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2011
8,843
20,320
Thank god we have dropped that 5 at the back for now. Its not working with the players we have and leaves us short in midfield.

I am pretty happy with 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 as I think there are far more worse approaches out there. Pochs 4-4-2 diamond says hi.
 

chrisd2k

Well-Known Member
Dec 1, 2004
3,707
7,156
I think we have two problems, lack of movement and fitness.

This all comes from the training pitch so I just want to see a manager come in with a game plan, any game plan, instead of researching how to just stop the opposition
 

Rosco1984

Well-Known Member
Aug 31, 2012
1,751
7,077
I remember the first time I ever saw it was mid 2000's (beginning in 2004-05); the team was Liverpool- under Rafa Benitez- and they used this formation to great effect. Under him it was a fascinating set-up and I recall looking upon it- and them- with a kind of awe. They had the perfect set-up for that system with smart, solid defenders (Carragher, Mascherano, etc.) and unbelievably good CM's like Gerrard (obviously) and Xabi Alonso along with wingers like Kuyt, Benayoun, etc.- all playing behind the perfect # 9 in Fernando Torres. I know you all hate Liverpool but anyone on here who watched football at that time at least appreciated the versatility within their set up; that team was both defensive and offensive at the same time- and everyone knew their roles. What's more- it wasn't as if every player was peak Steven Gerrard; in fact, most of them were good players who played quite well within that set up. Everyone seemed to know his role, and, well, it just worked: right manager, right players, right formation at the right time.

My point is that in that case the manager- Rafa Benitez- who most on here slate but whom I think was fantastic for them and is/was an extremely good manager and a master tactician-- a guy who not only won the Champions League w/Liverpool but who also took them to another CL final (many forget that; yes, he failed to win it but once again he overachieved as Liverpool had Peter Crouch up front and were definitely not the 2nd best of the elite teams of Europe in 2007), who won the FA Cup (back when it was a big deal), won the Community Shield, got Liverpool to their highest-ever points total- and on and on (I won't even mention all the other trophies he's won elsewhere); anyway, point is, he made the team more than the sum of its parts....so yeah, back to 4-2-3-1: at the time I saw that formation as exotic-- something other teams play; we're Spurs- we play 4-4-2 of course.

Fast forward to Poch, and his insistence upon the double pivot, which for 3-4 seasons worked a treat: we had an airtight defense with super-athletic fullbacks bombing up and down the wings in Rose and Walker, rock-solid CBs in Jan and Toby, the ultimate double-pivot in Wanyama and Dembele, the classic # 10 in Eriksen, Son and Lamela (or Lucas, etc.) out on the wings in behind our perfect # 9 Harry Kane. Life was perfect. We, too, were a team that punched above our weight and despite not winning trophies like Liverpool, we were Goddamn wonderful to watch and I loved every minute of seeing my beloved Tottenham just maul the opposition.

But then, as always, things changed: Wanyama was no longer even a thing, Walker left, Dembele broke down (and eventually departed as well), Eriksen wanted- and eventually got- out...and yet there we were, week in and week out, playing 4-2-3-1-- despite clearly not even having the proper players for it. I mean it doesn't take a genius to see that when (peak) Wanyama and (peak) Dembele morph into Winks and Sissoko, maybe the whole "double-pivot"-thing oughta at least be looked at anew...or scrapped...

But nope-- no matter WHO we had playing for us, 97% of the time we played one formation and one formation only: 4-2-3-1.

Then Poch gets sacked and in comes Jose..."Ok- at least we'll see some tactical flexibility" thought I; after all, Mourinho played a 4-3-3 at Chelsea to great success- so yeah baby(!): Lo Celso ---- Hojbjerg --- Ndombele, here we come!!!!!

Finally no more "Autopilot 4-2-3-1!" Thank fucking GOD!!!

But, um, nope- 4-2-3-1 was STILL there- like that guy hanging around your house after the party's over...

Lastly- in comes Ryan Mason and for the biggest match of the season he goes (drum roll please): 4-2-3-1/Winks + Hojbjerg double pivot. My fucking jaw dropped when I saw both that lineup and that formation! Will someone enlighten me as to why now THREE managers in a row are all so stuck on this shitty (for US) formation? You know- the one in which we get overrun in midfield and Kane is starved of service?

What gives? Does Levy make every new manager sign some kind of blood contract that they will "Play 4-2-3-1 in at least 95% of Tottenham matches?"

Because as far as I can see, just about every proper good team plays 4-3-3. Are we barred from that formation?


Probably because its the only formation we ever got points from under Mourinho. He tried a lot of others. 442 the Diamond midfield (dear god please never again the change to this ended Poch's time here as well I don't think I have ever seen us win a game with it) and almost as bad the 5 at the back with 2 holding midfielders. I do agree though no one seems brave enough to trust Hojbjerg as the lone CDM and play an attacking 433 Man city style. I kind of hope ten hag gets the job as I feel he would do this.
 

ralphs bald spot

Well-Known Member
Jul 14, 2015
2,777
5,177
Formation does matter, so does the will of the players.

maybe - but not as much some people think the best systems are flexible anyway they are really just a variation of the same thing - coaches don't tend to be that brave and there is very much a herd mentality - it kind makes me laugh when I see teams at lower levels trying to play the ball out from the back - be much better served by getting the ball forward and contesting it but that's out of fashion -

if you look at City there not that far away from playing with the old WW formation which the Hungarians invented

as for the will of the players different argument entirely I leave you with than one
 

mil1lion

This is the place to be
May 7, 2004
43,326
81,435
I saw it differently. The wide players were like wingers always tracking back to defend in front of the fullbacks. That's why Bale rarely played. They certainly didn't play as forwards most of the time. Then there's the central midfielders who always lined up as 2 with 1 in front. We started with Hojbjerg and Sissoko as a 2 with Ndombele pushed on. Then Ndombele dropped back alongside Hojbjerg with different players tried in front like Moura. The wide players were no more advanced than the central attacking midfielder. If anything it was more like 4411.
 

Bobbins

SC's 14th Sexiest Male 2008
May 5, 2005
21,679
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I saw it differently. The wide players were like wingers always tracking back to defend in front of the fullbacks. That's why Bale rarely played. They certainly didn't play as forwards most of the time. Then there's the central midfielders who always lined up as 2 with 1 in front. We started with Hojbjerg and Sissoko as a 2 with Ndombele pushed on. Then Ndombele dropped back alongside Hojbjerg with different players tried in front like Moura. The wide players were no more advanced than the central attacking midfielder. If anything it was more like 4411.

That pre-supposes that we played in the same way all season, which we clearly didn't. The games against Newcastle, West Ham, West Brom etc we were obviously not playing 4411. We were playing 433. We certainly didn't play 4231 all the time as the post suggests.
 

DCSPUR64

Well-Known Member
Dec 2, 2018
1,480
2,407
maybe - but not as much some people think the best systems are flexible anyway they are really just a variation of the same thing - coaches don't tend to be that brave and there is very much a herd mentality - it kind makes me laugh when I see teams at lower levels trying to play the ball out from the back - be much better served by getting the ball forward and contesting it but that's out of fashion -

if you look at City there not that far away from playing with the old WW formation which the Hungarians invented

as for the will of the players different argument entirely I leave you with than one
The WW formation reminds me of how I played as a kid back on the 60’s, I was not very good, mind ?
 

ralphs bald spot

Well-Known Member
Jul 14, 2015
2,777
5,177
The WW formation reminds me of how I played as a kid back on the 60’s, I was not very good, mind ?

I was a little later bit like most of my tackles (I once got sent off in about 20 seconds after coming on in the second half we had history) - we did 4-4-2 (when we had 11) we modeled ourselves on a mixture of Dirty Leeds and the Wild Bunch movie cast didn't do much in the way of tactics
 

mil1lion

This is the place to be
May 7, 2004
43,326
81,435
That pre-supposes that we played in the same way all season, which we clearly didn't. The games against Newcastle, West Ham, West Brom etc we were obviously not playing 4411. We were playing 433. We certainly didn't play 4231 all the time as the post suggests.
There's not many examples but yeah we did play on the front foot at times. I'm not sure I would class it as a 433 though, just the dynamics of 4231 change in attack. I like the fluidity City play with though where it doesn't really have 1 formation. It's a lot more of a total football philosophy.
 

Everlasting Seconds

Well-Known Member
Jan 9, 2014
14,914
26,616
I never liked it much, as I prefer a different balance. And yes there is the argument that it's so flexible, that doesn't help when the actual team playing it isn't flexible. I feel, as I always have done, that Tottenham really should be a typical 433 kind of a team, alternating with 343 or even 334/235 depending on in-game cycles. The one time I thought 4231 was OK was peak Poch, as he quickly assembled a squad that was fit for this purpose. But I think he both took over and Mourinho left behind a squad that *should* work in 433.
 

PLTuck

Eternal Optimist
Aug 22, 2006
16,386
34,693
I remember the first time I ever saw it was mid 2000's (beginning in 2004-05); the team was Liverpool- under Rafa Benitez- and they used this formation to great effect. Under him it was a fascinating set-up and I recall looking upon it- and them- with a kind of awe. They had the perfect set-up for that system with smart, solid defenders (Carragher, Mascherano, etc.) and unbelievably good CM's like Gerrard (obviously) and Xabi Alonso along with wingers like Kuyt, Benayoun, etc.- all playing behind the perfect # 9 in Fernando Torres. I know you all hate Liverpool but anyone on here who watched football at that time at least appreciated the versatility within their set up; that team was both defensive and offensive at the same time- and everyone knew their roles. What's more- it wasn't as if every player was peak Steven Gerrard; in fact, most of them were good players who played quite well within that set up. Everyone seemed to know his role, and, well, it just worked: right manager, right players, right formation at the right time.

My point is that in that case the manager- Rafa Benitez- who most on here slate but whom I think was fantastic for them and is/was an extremely good manager and a master tactician-- a guy who not only won the Champions League w/Liverpool but who also took them to another CL final (many forget that; yes, he failed to win it but once again he overachieved as Liverpool had Peter Crouch up front and were definitely not the 2nd best of the elite teams of Europe in 2007), who won the FA Cup (back when it was a big deal), won the Community Shield, got Liverpool to their highest-ever points total- and on and on (I won't even mention all the other trophies he's won elsewhere); anyway, point is, he made the team more than the sum of its parts....so yeah, back to 4-2-3-1: at the time I saw that formation as exotic-- something other teams play; we're Spurs- we play 4-4-2 of course.

Fast forward to Poch, and his insistence upon the double pivot, which for 3-4 seasons worked a treat: we had an airtight defense with super-athletic fullbacks bombing up and down the wings in Rose and Walker, rock-solid CBs in Jan and Toby, the ultimate double-pivot in Wanyama and Dembele, the classic # 10 in Eriksen, Son and Lamela (or Lucas, etc.) out on the wings in behind our perfect # 9 Harry Kane. Life was perfect. We, too, were a team that punched above our weight and despite not winning trophies like Liverpool, we were Goddamn wonderful to watch and I loved every minute of seeing my beloved Tottenham just maul the opposition.

But then, as always, things changed: Wanyama was no longer even a thing, Walker left, Dembele broke down (and eventually departed as well), Eriksen wanted- and eventually got- out...and yet there we were, week in and week out, playing 4-2-3-1-- despite clearly not even having the proper players for it. I mean it doesn't take a genius to see that when (peak) Wanyama and (peak) Dembele morph into Winks and Sissoko, maybe the whole "double-pivot"-thing oughta at least be looked at anew...or scrapped...

But nope-- no matter WHO we had playing for us, 97% of the time we played one formation and one formation only: 4-2-3-1.

Then Poch gets sacked and in comes Jose..."Ok- at least we'll see some tactical flexibility" thought I; after all, Mourinho played a 4-3-3 at Chelsea to great success- so yeah baby(!): Lo Celso ---- Hojbjerg --- Ndombele, here we come!!!!!

Finally no more "Autopilot 4-2-3-1!" Thank fucking GOD!!!

But, um, nope- 4-2-3-1 was STILL there- like that guy hanging around your house after the party's over...

Lastly- in comes Ryan Mason and for the biggest match of the season he goes (drum roll please): 4-2-3-1/Winks + Hojbjerg double pivot. My fucking jaw dropped when I saw both that lineup and that formation! Will someone enlighten me as to why now THREE managers in a row are all so stuck on this shitty (for US) formation? You know- the one in which we get overrun in midfield and Kane is starved of service?

What gives? Does Levy make every new manager sign some kind of blood contract that they will "Play 4-2-3-1 in at least 95% of Tottenham matches?"

Because as far as I can see, just about every proper good team plays 4-3-3. Are we barred from that formation?

We played 4-3-3 on Sunday.
 
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