Holding Midfield: Will Manchester United’s success repopularise 4-4-2?

Holding Midfield

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Apr 6, 2011
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After the 2010 World Cup, English football seemed to have finally moved on from the 4-4-2. Alf Ramsey had been*revolutionary in his adoption of the formation for England’s most glorious moment, but it became gradually more and more outdated over the following 44 years -*to the point where even the lowest of tabloid journalists, who a season or two before had been calling any (foreign) manager straying from two banks of four ultra defensive, were lambasting the shape of Fabio Capello’s England side after they crashed out of the tournament in South Africa. With some of the world’s most successful teams lining up without any strikers at all, there was suddenly*a widespread agreement that*two*was a bit much. Just as England seems ready to*open up to new ideas, Manchester United pull miles ahead in the Premier League, playing in, of course, a 4-4-2. For a mass shift that took decades to happen, United have done a good job of immediately making any fuss seem silly. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t working, so why exactly have they been able to revert back to a shape that was being easily outmanoeuvred a few years before? There are certain stock responses that [...]

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