WHY TWO STRIKERS DOUBLE THE THRILLS
SAY what you want about 4-4-2. It’s outdated, easy to play against, liable to be dismantled by continental coaches.
That’s all true. But nobody will ever convince me that it isn’t the key to entertaining football.
Just take last weekend’s barnstorming 3-3 draw between promotion rivals Burnley and QPR.
All year, QPR have been sluggish and uninspired. Steady at the back but pedestrian on the break, their five-man midfield has clogged rather than created. Each point has been agonisingly ground out.
But on Saturday, switched to 4-4-2, they played with tempo and freedom. Suddenly, they had two forwards making runs, space in midfield and wingers with simple, defined roles. Everybody performed with attacking intent and clarity of purpose.
As for Burnley, where would they be without two strikers? Sam Vokes and Danny Ings occupy all four defenders and usually one midfielder, so energetic and intelligent is their forward play. That’s got to be better than a flooded midfield.
Thing is, I love watching Spain play, with their five-man midfields and “false 9”. But they’re good at it. Their players make it a fluid, flowing, thing of beauty.
When lesser teams try to ape them, it becomes a sludgy, turgid bore-fest, amounting to little more than 4-5-1 in attack and 9-1 in defence. Cowardly, in other words.
What Burnley do is brave.What Leicester – also devotees of 4-4-2 – do is brave. It represents a commitment to entertainment. It says:“Go on, pack your midfield – we’re here to score goals”.
Would it work against Man City or Barcelona? No way.Would it work in the Premier League? Doubtful.
But it absolutely will pull punters through the gate. And at this level, that is perhaps the most vital thing.