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bazmidd

The Old Scottish 442

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After numerous chats on here about formations tactics and the like, this old 90s favourite it seems is a distant memory in most people's mind. In global terms, teams across the planet have shifted from the old 442 and it has more or less been shelved in recent times for the 4231, 433, or even recent variations of 3 at the back. With Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp pioneering things it seems Everyone wants to play high pressing slick passing football as oppose to the old up and at em get the ball to the wingers, get the ball in the box or playing of the front two. And why not, the modern game is very easy on the eye with some teams playing some lovely football at times. This it seems has not caught on in Scotland.... 

 

Outwith perhaps Brendan Rodgers recent Celtic side, maybe only a few managers and clubs in Scotland have experimented with this modern brand of football, but the old Scottish 442 is very much still a prominent part of the game here. Up and down the country it is not difficult to find a side playing 442 on a Saturday. The same old tactics and ways of playing as yesteryear are still very much evident up here. It is almost ingrained on us to see our starting lineups and see which two are playing up front today. Direct, quick football hitting the strikers as quickly as possible. And here in lies an issue for our national team... 

The national team have tried to move on with the times, whilst the majority of clubs sides in Scotland have not. Our national side plays 4231 or 433 and whilst clubs in Germany and Spain, Belgium and Holland all, or for the most part the majority, play in exactly the same way as the national team, our clubs do not. Other countries have an identity, a system, a way of playing that runs through not only their national sides but through the whole country. Odd sides here and there will go against the grain to get results but in the most part the majority play the way the national side plays. This helps in no small part in developing the types of player that the national side needs to play that way. In this country we are still teaching our players at clubs to play the old ways, our ways. To then go and change that philosophy and manner of playing for the national side we will always be a step behind as it is not the way our country plays football. As far as progression goes, on a personal note I would love to see us adopting and playing a patient passing game in the future, and tbf our national sides right through the youth sides appear to be adopting this approach. As for the here and now though, that quite simply is not the way our country plays football and never has been. 

 

So here are the questions.. The style and formation we have tried to adopt for the national team is evidently not working... Should we stick to what we know, and stick to what we're good at to get results? Would the old Scottish 442 actually still work best for us? Is this simply the way we know how to play the game? Two wingers, two strikers, up and at em playing exactly the way our teams do week in week out.. It might seem prehistoric, it might be going against all modern football philosophies, but it is our way it is our identity, it is what we watch every single Saturday up and down the country and it doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon. Perhaps it is time to embrace it, at least for now as our way, our identity instead of trying to play someone else's game and getting beaten anyway! Let's do it our way and see where it takes us

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Good thread.

For the majority of people, it would seem that the 90s didn't exist and 96 and 98 were just figments of imagination. Some people want to completely rewrite history.

I'm glad that someone else is guiding the formation narrative.

Once we start producing top center backs then fine, we should definitely play with four at the back. We aren't producing quality center backs, so it's time that we started going back to three/five at the back. 

It's a strange one, it's just one reason why I question the football knowledge of the general fan here. a 4-2-3-1 relies on two good center backs (we have none), two good anchormen (we have none), zero midfielders (we have a few decent midfielders) a good second striker (we have none) and a good striker (we have none).

It's a strange one. It's like fans are wanting us to play to our weaknesses.

I'd actually take a 4-4-2 over a 4-2-3-1 as at least we'll be playing two players in central midfield (our strongest area) and it would allow us to play two strikers (taking the workload away from the lone striker).

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I get your points regarding the lack of decent centre halves to play 2 at the back but I was actually looking at the opposite end of the pitch where we don't have a top class centre forward to play up top on their own, or any top class attacking mids to play in behind him. Decent players yes, but we don't have any top class number 10s to play in the hole or 9s to play up on their own. The days of Kenny Miller or anyone else running after lost causes all day like a headless chicken never worked then and they still aren't working now. And we aren't producing player, yet, to play the type of game required to play that system

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3 hours ago, bazmidd said:

I get your points regarding the lack of decent centre halves to play 2 at the back but I was actually looking at the opposite end of the pitch where we don't have a top class centre forward to play up top on their own, or any top class attacking mids to play in behind him. Decent players yes, but we don't have any top class number 10s to play in the hole or 9s to play up on their own. The days of Kenny Miller or anyone else running after lost causes all day like a headless chicken never worked then and they still aren't working now. And we aren't producing player, yet, to play the type of game required to play that system

Agreed.

It's weird, we have the same problem at both ends of the park. We need to play more players in the heart of defence as well in attack.

If Clarke persists with the 4-2-3-1 he might as well quit.

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6 minutes ago, The_Dark_Knight said:

Agreed.

It's weird, we have the same problem at both ends of the park. We need to play more players in the heart of defence as well in attack.

If Clarke persists with the 4-2-3-1 he might as well quit.

The idea that we can compete using two wingers is pretty stupid.

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This thread sums up the TAMB.

An open discussion about formations and systems, etc. This thread is three days old and I'm the only one who replied.

People are open to say what they wish about me, but at least I back up my opinions. The vast majority of people here think we're best suited to play with a back four, but aside from "Most of our players play it at club level", I've never come across a compelling argument to why we're suited to a back four.

Most people here want to play 4-2-3-1, but I've not heard the reasons why. We can't play with a four, we have no anchornen, so the two doesn't work, we have no top class second striker, which you really need to play at the top level, and we don't have a good striker, and even if we did, he'd have to feed on scraps.

Edited by The_Dark_Knight

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Calm yourself, we're not all on here 24/7 and sometimes that pesky work thing gets in the way of writing long posts about tactics.

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15 minutes ago, andyD said:

Calm yourself, we're not all on here 24/7 and sometimes that pesky work thing gets in the way of writing long posts about tactics.

It's true, though.

It's like it's sacrilege to even talk about tactics.

So yes, lets get back to speculating about who and who might not be faking injury, etc. That's clearly worth the time spent.

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The main flaws I see with us playing 442..

We're not technically strong in midfield, and with plenty of international sides using 3 men in the middle (4231 etc) then we are easily overrun there, struggle for possession and end up in the back foot. It's a problem that s often evident even when we have the extra man in there playing 4231 ourselves, so we'd struggle to move the ball, would be reduced to hitting long balls and hoping it sticks.

Problems with us playing long ball..
Which Scottish players can consistently hit a long pass.. Robertson.. err.. Bannan... it's not something we're well stocked in.
Then figure in how good we'd be at retaining the ball when playing it long.
We're not that quick, so knocking it into space doesn't seem ideal.
We're not very tall, so trying to play to a target man isn't really an option either. I suppose Burke and McBurine are over 6 ft, but neither is a target man and we recently had evidence of how bad Burke is at retaining a ball forward in the air.

Basically the tools we have right now don't fit the system. Simple as that really.

 

Why should we not play 3 or 5 at the back?
Again.. simple. we don't have a lot of good centerbacks. So the more we put into the system, the lower the quality of them will be. We also have decent attacking wide players, like Fraser, Forret, Burke, Christie. it's hard to fit them in a lineup with 3/5 at the back. It'd mean putting some of our lesser players in and leaving some of out better players out. Crazy all over.

 

So, why should we play 4231?
It's the best fit for the players we have.
We don't have a lot of good strikers available.. in fact with Shankland now in pole position you could argue we're utterly lacking in this area. I'm hopefully that shankland will develop, but fact remains it's a risk given he's a scottish championship player, starting for the national team.
We have decent attacking mids and wide attacking mids, so 4231 is perfect for accommodating those, especially since Forrest and Fraser tend to earn their living running at and by people.
It balances those attacking 3 mids with 2 dedicated defensive mids who protect the defense during transition, especially if our fullbacks have pushed on to support the attack.
we can usually scrape together 2 decent centerbacks. Not more, but usually not less. And if you look at the goals we're conceded (Russia and Cooper aside) it's not usually the fault of the centerbacks. More often than not it's our central midfield area which is not doing it's defensive tasks properly that results in us losing a goal.

So why does 4231 not work? Sadly it comes down to managers and their selections in my opinion.
Some parts of our 4231 fill themselves in pretty easily.. The defense for example is pretty obvious, we have specialist right backs, left backs, centerbacks. the forward 4 positions are simple too, we have specialist wingers and strikers. the central attacking mid position is well suited to both Christie and McGinn.
The problem area is the two defensive mids. Successive managers have fallen into the same trap of picking unbalanced pairings to play in the CDM positions. The fact is some of our players just aren't suited to playing the role at international level. Themain attributes we're looking for are ball retention and being defensively sound. So let's look at them..

McGinn - He is awful defensively. Full of energy, yes. Pressing, running, sure.. but is he defensively aware or disciplined enough to do his job in our third? Certainly not. He's not a CDM for Villa, Nakamba plays behind and does that job. I'm hoping Clarke's noticed this and that's why McGinn's been playing CAM for us the last couple of games instead.

McGregor - Plays CDM sometimes for Celtic, but lets be honest, there's not a great deal of defensive work to do there compared with the national side. His strengths are being in possession and moving the ball when not under a massive amount of pressure. He's got Brown along side to break up play, so he's basically being trained to be an awful international footballer. Too slow in possession, bad decisions and goes missing far too often. He also has no physical presence, he's short and weak.

McTominay - Plays the position for Man Utd and I think might have played it more than any other player of theirs this season. Has the physique for it being 6'4", is disciplined and has a decent level of passing. The only problem is he's 22 and still very much learning.

Fleck - Part of a fairly dynamic 3 in the middle for his club, tho I think Lundstram takes the defensive role more often than most. Fleck tends to keep things ticking over.  He's not positionally string in defense and at 5'7" is just not cut out for being one of a defensive pair.

Armstrong - In my opinion our most rounded center mid. He's probably slightly more offensive then defensive, but has the disciple to do a defensive job. At 6ft he can compete and he's always shown up when picked or come on.

McLean - Like McGinn he has someone else behind him to do the defensive work, in this case Tettey. In his few caps so far he's look defensively unaware, and waits for things to happen and then reacts instead of taking charge. That's not something that will get you anywhere as a defensive mid.

Bannan - Quick, trickey and capable of hitting a pass. Has played defensive mid for his club quite a bit over the last few years and been one of the best and most consistent performers in the Championship. His distribution would certainly still be an asset as we don't have a lot of players who can make a long pass, but is still a bit defensively suspect and at 5'7" suffers from the same issue as Fleck.

Shinnie - Energy, leadership and being an ex-fullback means he's got proper appreciation of the importance of that part of his role. Was awful in Kazakhstan when thrown in at fullback on a day where everyone's performance was miserable.. but he's not a left back any more and has the attributes to be a decent defensive mid.

McDonald - 6'4", strong, decent passing. He was the defensive base that got Fulham promoted and let Tom Cairney be one of the best midfielders in the Championship. Sitting on the bench for Fulham now, so probably not sharp enough to warrant a call, but had the attributes we just never really used him.

So.. from our central midfield pool the only ones I'd consider actually suited to the role are:
McTominay, Armstrong and Shinnie.

What have we used?
Russia (A)  - McGinn, Fleck, McGregor.
Belgium (H) - McTominay, McLean
Russia (H) - McLean, McGinn
Belgium (A) - McTominay, McLean
Cyprus (H) - McLean, McGinn, McGregor
Kazakh (A) - MCGregor, McGinn, Armstrong

We simply haven't ever played 2 players suited to the roll together, ever. Our managers pick the CDMs as if they're CMs and do it on reputation it seems, rather than their actual suitability to the role to be performed. If we did pick two defensive mids to play defensive mid then we'd be a lot more stable. Our defense would be more organised as it could rely on what was happening ahead of it, and not constantly be panicking about runners who aren't being picked up. The offensive players would be able to trust the delivery to them as well. (Ask yourself whether Fraser will offer for a slightly risky ball from McGregor again after McGregor screwed up the pass that resulted in Russia's winner. I suspect Fraser will hide next time so as to not risk that turnover again.)

 

tl:dr
4231 suits the players we have. But we continually don't pick players suited to the tasks required to play the system. It's like playing Ritchie as a counter-attacking winger. We're doing that over and over again in defensive midfield and it's painful every time.

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49 minutes ago, The_Dark_Knight said:

It's like it's sacrilege to even talk about tactics

Careful what you wish for! 😀

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I would reply but a lot of my thoughts have been covered by @andyD

 

Open to trying 3-5-2, the last chance to try it is these two games but lo and behold our top players have basically all become injured so any experimentation won't happen until we get papped in May next year by a team who is off to Euro 2020.

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19 minutes ago, BucksburnDandy said:

I would reply but a lot of my thoughts have been covered by @andyD

 

Open to trying 3-5-2, the last chance to try it is these two games but lo and behold our top players have basically all become injured so any experimentation won't happen until we get papped in May next year by a team who is off to Euro 2020.

To be honest, it doesn't really matter.

Steve Clarke is yet another Scotland manager who will try to get a back four to work or get fired trying.

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