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What has happened to the 4-4-2 formation?

Thursday 19th January 2017
When I first started watching football at a young age I was intrigued by the game, as we all were when we were young. Always asking questions to learn more about the game we grew up to love.

One thing that most of us will know is how much football has evolved over the years. With big money coming into the game and wealthy businessmen snapping up clubs in gigantic deals. Foreign players being bought from abroad giving more dynamics to the game.

One thing that still sticks in my mind is most if not all clubs were playing the 4-4-2 formation . It was the norm to see two strikers up top giving them a chance to play off of each other easily in front of the goal. All the big clubs played like it and it was a very successful formation. (as shown in the Mike Bassett movie, excuse the language!)
From my era and the time I was growing up, two partnerships for me really stuck out. First of all Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp for Arsenal. The chemistry between two strikers playing on another level, not just scoring goals but fancy passes and the great ease they made it look. With their great contributions, they won a couple FA Cup's and even the Premier League title.
Another great duo was that of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole. Alex Ferguson who was in charge at Manchester United snapped up Dwight Yorke from Aston Villa in the season of 98'. Instantly there was a click from the get-go between Yorke and Cole. A partnership that seemed so perfect and as a football fan from the mutual point of view it was amazing to watch. They even went on to win the treble.

Both these partnerships were played in a 4-4-2 formation but don't get me wrong they couldn't have done it without team-mates that were also world class. These are the memories most of us have and the 4-4-2 formation sticks to mind as it was such a solid choice and it was used by everybody.

So what has actually happened to the 4-4-2? Coaching these days take a different approach than 20 years ago. Most managers examine an opposition before the fixture and stick with a formation. It is very rare these days to see 4-4-2 used.

Some managers will opt for the 4-5-1 with a holding midfield and lone forward up top. Others may use the 4-3-3 formation with a striker and two wingers. Even some managers like to use 3-5-2 these days. OK, they have the two strikers upfront but having one less defender and one more midfielder than the 4-4-2 does change the play drastically.

With more coaches than ever and more money being pumped into the future of the game there are more ways to approach a game than ever before. More time gets put into analysis and there are more dynamics for coaches to teach players.

Personally, I don't think it's a bad thing at all that the game is evolving but I do miss the old 4-4-2. It is a game that will always be adapting but we will still love to watch it. So, in 20 years what could we see as the regular formation?
Jamie Kynaston

For my sins, I'm a season ticket holder at Stoke City, I have been proud to watch them for over 20 years. I follow most of the UK leagues and the major European ones too, and I've been told that I talk way too much about football.


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