I’ve just read an interesting article in The Daily Mail (one of the few that they have published today that isn’t focused on asylum seekers or the cost of the BBC) which focuses on whether Harry Redknapp will change our formation next season.

The author Leo Spall seems pretty sure that Harry will be switching to a 4-3-3, though as the article contains no quotes or actual evidence, it may just be his own opinion as to what Spurs should do.

I must say that it’s an issue that I’ve been considering this season. We have rigidly stuck to 4-4-2, but it’s actually quite a rare occurrence when we meet an opposition using the same formation. Sometimes we can get outnumbered in midfield and therefore it would be useful to be able to have some different tactical options when needed.

Looking at our midfielders, a 4-3-3 formation would surely suit them better than a 4-4-2. It would allow Huddlestone to concentrate on his role as the playmaker in the middle of the park, with others assuming some of his defensive and attacking duties, which either Modric or Kranjcar could play in the centre, supporting the central striker, while the other played as the left-sided attacker.

The problem is our options up front. We tried a 4-3-3 against Arsenal, with Crouch in the centre and with Bentley and Keane on either side of him. It was pretty obvious from the outset that the formation wouldn’t work, as Crouch is just not mobile enough to play on his own up front.

Jermain Defoe is probably too small to play as a lone striker, though we should remember that Clive Allen wasn’t built like Didier Drogba and that Gary Lineker was able to play in a 4-5-1 (as the 4-3-3 formation was perhaps more accurately known as, in the 80s and 90s).

Pavlyuchenko is I suppose, somewhere in between Crouch and Defoe. He’s fairly big and strong, whilst still possessing some mobility and pace. I’m still not convinced though that he won’t be offski in the summer, despite his return to form. Harry might have come round to putting him in the team, but he’s clearly not Pavlyuchenko’s biggest fan.

I don’t think that Harry will make a complete switch to 4-3-3 next season, as it was essentially render most of our existing strikers useless (make your own jokes here), but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were something that he might be looking to have in the locker. Manchester United often flit between 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 (sometimes within the course of a game) and it would be a good option to have.

Thanks to the likes of Mourinho and Benitez, 4-3-3 is often seen as a dour and defensive formation. It doesn’t have to be that way though and few would say that Barcelona are boring, despite their reliance on just one central striker.

If you’ve got four different forwards on the books, surely it would make sense for one of them to have the ability to play up on his own. As for the likely candidate, your guess is as good as mine. I don’t see many options within the Premier League, but maybe we could pull another Berbatov out of left field.

Hang about… that Berbatov fella. Now he could do a job on his own up front…

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  1. Yes Berbatov occured to me too – have to admit he was superb up front alone. Seemed to even relish it sometimes.

    Interesting question this, because it’s hard to see Harry leaving Defoe out of the side and I remember Harry actually saying “Defoe needs a partner”.

    Pav could do a job as lone-striker. I think I’m in a minority but I thought his hold up and link-up play against Blackburn was very good.

  2. Pav is the perfect choice for the lone striker role. I confess that was the reason I thought we bought him in the first place after such a good Euros playing up front alone for Russia. I like the sound of Pav up front with Modric left and Lennon right of him as the front three, with Defore on the bench as an option should we need more in attack as the game develops. In Midfield for the tough away games I could see Wilson and one of (Sandro/Kranjcar/O’Hara/JJ) sitting either side of Thudd: A great option for us to aviod getting outnumbered in the middle

  3. Harry prefers 442 and loves Defoe. I don’t think he will change it round, especially as we have been so successful this season unless he has to.
    Pavlyuchenko’s movement is excellent .
    Defoe doesn’t care what his partner does and Pav. always shows awareness of what Defoe is doing.
    Think of the build up to his opening goal from Defoes mishit shot at Everton.
    I hope he doesn’t leave in the Summer. Anyone who scores 8 goals in 6 games is every manager’s favourite son.All the rest is water under the bridge.

  4. I actually agree that – if we are to play some form of European football next season – we should look at having plan B – or a tactic away from home. I think 4-5-1 or 4-5-1-1 would be the next obvious option. Have Modric behind the front striker with Lennon on the right, and Kranj on the left (or in the centre to add to attack when needed). Lennon has also showed that he can also play behind a front striker if needed – they could switch mid-game. I don’t think Harry can do 4-3-3 properly.

  5. I have seen this article and it makes for an interesting read as Harry was commenting on the fact that he had been studying the present top three for a while now,and their tactical play of counter attacking football,I believe Harry was only really considering this for games away from home or when facing extremely tough opposition,he also doesn’t see any of our existing strikers capable of filling that role as he was speaking about Daniel Levey having to spend big on one striker.

  6. Lennon is the key. In a 4-4-2 he can come at defenders from either wing and in a 4-3-3 he would play through the centre like he did away to Chelsea in the FA Cup under Jol. They weren’t expecting it and he tore them apart.

  7. i don’t think HR will switch to a 433/451 but it will certainly be useful to have in our locker. At the moment we don’t have the players. None of our strikers have the pace & physical presence required, none of our wide players are decent finishers, and none of our CM score enough goals from that position.

    Imagine 2-0 up at Old Trafford (assuming Howard Webb isn’t playing in red) and the ability to have 2 solid central midfielders, Modric ahead of them, a target man who can hold the ball up with say Bale and Lennon coming from the wide positions. That would be very solid but stil carry a huge threat. Maybe then we could hold on to such leads.

    But I don’t want us to play like that all season and why would HR change a winning formula?

  8. Something MUST change next season. Either we fail to get 4th, and must change to get the extra points. Or we get 4th and we are (potentially) playing more games against tougher and more seasoned (and tactically astute) clubs. We would need to sign a few players in strategic areas to be able to make the change.

  9. The article states that Harry wants to do this in response to the way the the top 3 play in tough games away from home – 1 up top, quick counter attacking football. If its not all made up (no quotes makes me think otherwise) then its simply Harry wanting a plan B for away games to turn draws into wins. and Darren Bent cannot play successfully up front on his own against decent opposition.

  10. “Sometimes I think I’d like to go away from home and stiffen it up and be a bit more solid, but we’re not equipped to play that way so we play 4-4-2 home and away,” said the Tottenham manager.

    “I’ve got wide men who can’t defend really, and two forwards who play up the park. We’re not really equipped to play with one striker, we’re an attacking team and we play an attacking game – unlike Manchester United, who can play with one striker with [Wayne] Rooney on his own.

    “Liverpool play with [Fernando] Torres up on his own and Steven Gerrard in behind, Arsenal play with one striker really, whoever it may be, and Chelsea have got [Didier] Drogba up on his own.

    “We can’t do that. We haven’t got anybody to play up on his own, to lead the line on his own.

    “Jermain needs a partner, I think Crouchie needs a partner or people that can run beyond him, and Pav can’t play on his own. At times it’s difficult because I play an open game.

    “I like playing that way but when you look at Man United and how they go away from home and the fantastic performances they turn in, with Rooney up front on his own, it must be great to be able to do that – to thicken yourself up and get teams on the break and dominate.

    “We’ve got Lennon but they’ve got a front man who can play that lone role in Rooney. You stick him up front and he occupies everybody, he can do everything, get beyond and score goals.”



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