Tord Grip takes you through 50 years of tactics - from the Mighty Magyars to 4-4-2 and diamonds.
England Coach Tord Grip takes you through 50 years of tactics, starting with the Mighty Magyars of 1953.
England v Hungary
25 November 1953
Formation: 2-3-1-4: Tactics don’t win matches by themselves. In the 1950s, many teams were playing with a libero, cleaning up behind the defence, but Hungary changed that.
This Hungarian side had some great players - Ferenc Puskás, Sandor Kocsis and Nandor Hidegkuti to name three. Puskás and Kocsis were up front while Hidegkuti, although he had the No.9 on his shirt, played much deeper, really confusing defences.
The 1956 Hungarian revolution split up the side - but they inspired Rinus Michels when he coached Ajax and the Dutch national team.
Brazil v England
11 June 1958
Formation: 4-2-4: Brazil had the world playing 4-2-4 after they won their first World Cup using this system in Sweden in 1958. Although they had Pelé, Garrincha was the most brilliant player of the tournament.
You needed two men to mark him and even then he managed to get down the wing and get the ball in the box for Vava to score. The Brazilians haven’t always played like this since.
The team that won the 1994 World Cup had the quality of Romário and Bebeto, but they played with no wingers and were, defensively, the best Brazilian team I’ve seen.
England v West Germany
30 July 1966
Formation: 4-4-2: You can argue over whether England’s World Cup winning side played 4-3-3 or 4-4-2, as I think they did in the final, or even 4-1-3-2 with Nobby Stiles sitting in front of the back four.
But they won the World Cup because Sir Alf Ramsey had them playing a system that suited his players perfectly. He didn’t use wingers from the quarter-finals onwards, but he had forward players who knew how to use the flanks.
I remember especially how good Martin Peters was in the air. In the 1970 World Cup, England played 4-4-2 and that system was introduced to Swedish clubs in the 1970s by managers like Bob Houghton - he took a good Malmö side to the 1979 European Cup final against Nottingham Forest playing 4-4-2. And that is the system that, under Sven, England usually play today.
West Germany v Holland
07 July 1974
Olympic Stadium, Munich
Formation: 4-3-1-2: I watched this Dutch side closely because in 1974 they were in the same World Cup group as Sweden [the two sides drew 0-0]. A lot has been said, and written, about this team, but what struck me when I was watching was how good they wereat playing the offside trap.
They weren’t the first team to use offside, but they were the best I had seen. They moved up from the back so rapidly that in some games spectators were almost laughing – three or four of their opponents would suddenly find themselves offside.
The tactic started with the goalkeeper, Jan Jongbloed (above). He was a good distributor of the ball, had two good feet and in 1974 he played almost like an outfield player. Their success wasn’t just down to tactics though.
Rinus Michels had some great players like Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens. There have been times since when football has seemed to be all about stamina, fitness and discipline, but the individual who can do something special is becoming more important again.
England v Turkey
Stadium of Light, Sunderland
02 April 2003
Formation: 4-1-2-1-2: In both games against Turkey we used the diamond system in midfield and it worked. We knew how strong Turkey were across the middle and we felt the diamond was our best way of countering that.
We also felt this system gave us the best chance to use our best players - we wanted to have Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Nicky Butt all playing.
With a diamond, your full-backs have to push up to give you width and Gerrard had to play on the left, but good players can play anywhere.
Ace in the hole
England v Wales
Old Trafford, Manchester
09 October 2004
Formation: 4-4-2, with player in hole: Against Wales, playing Michael Owen, Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney surprised some people, but Rooney can play that withdrawn role just behind the strikers.
Defoe is the closest thing to Michael Owen playing in England today. He’s very quick and comes alive in the penalty area, but Rooney can play withdrawn, as a second striker scoring goals from deep, like Raúl does for Spain or, even, as he’s done for Manchester United, on the right in a 4-3-3.
Sometimes, in a traditional 4-4-2, your strikers can get too far away from your midfield and you end up playing too many long balls. With a player just behind the front two, you should avoid that, but your attackers must make the right decisions.
What you don’t want is for one of the two strikers to come back because then you have too much in midfield. You need them to stay up the pitch and perhaps go out wide.