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4-6-0 ????????

A friend and follower of my blogs has suggested that I write a blog on the formation adopted by Scotland at the weekend.

Although this is not a newly created system, it is not the kind of system which we see too often. I have memories of being part of a Grimsby Town side from my time there that played this system in one match. You will get an idea of how long ago the match was when I tell you that it was played at Roker Park, the old home of Sunderland. At that time Sunderland were flying high in the second tier of English football and Grimsby were struggling nearer to the bottom end of the same division.

You don’t need me to tell you how much of a defensive system this is. When we played it at Grimsby there was a certain element from the management that this was no such a system. At that time we were a 4-4-2 kind of a team. The change for this game was that myself and Steve Livingstone, two strikers normally were asked to drop in to a deep wide position when we were out of possession.  As we worked on this team shape in training the management tried to convince us that this was a positive step, a counter attacking formation. Now you might be able to convince yourself in certain situations but you are not going to convince a group of professional adults. In theory, when we won the ball back we could take up our attacking positions and would be on the attack. In practice, when we won possession, there was nobody to aim for upfront which meant that we instantly gave the ball back again. Eventually the amount of possession will count and a goal will be conceded. And where are you then?

From a players perspective this type of formation really does not fill you with confidence from your manager. It is possibly the biggest indication that your own manager thinks you are not good enough and expects defeat. .On the Scotland situation I would say that Craig Levein saw these two matches, Czech Republic and Spain, as two matches that they were clearly second best and that he didn’t expect any points. There is no surprise here as I would suggest that most people with a basic knowledge of football would agree with that statement. So I guess that this 4-6-0 system was most definitely the plan for both matches. You are not telling me that you plan to be ultra defensive against Czech Republic but will change this style for the Spanish. Levein probably hoped that a 0-0 in Prague would allow him to justify the same system for the World Cup holders.

But because of this result it has meant that he has had to say that he now plans a less defensive formation. You are always encouraged to ‘be positive’ by managers. How hypocritical this must have sounded being a Scotland player.

In contrast, take a look at what is going on with Ian Holloway at Bloomfield Rd. This is without doubt the greatest achievement of any team since The Premier League began. And now, each weekend,we are all waiting for Blackpool to lose and begin to slip to the bottom of the league. We would all agree that Blackpool look second best on paper compared to most Premier League sides. So what is the difference ?


Ian Holloway has made no secret of the fact that they face an uphill battle to regain their status as a Premier League club but they go out to win. Because they are not scared to lose, because they trust one another to do their jobs, because they are positive and throw men forward in possession and take risks then they are always giving themselves the chance to score goals and win games. Yes, they may be on the end of a hiding or two over the season but if they put  11men behind the ball then they give themselves no chance of winning. As a player I know which team I would rather play in, as a fan I know which type of team I would rather pay to watch and as a manager I would much rather have a go than never know.

Categories: Football
  1. Steve
    October 13, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    “This is without doubt the greatest achievement of any team since The Premier League began.”

    Blackpool are ninth in the table on 10 points. But at this stage of Hull City’s first ever Premier League season, we were third with 14 points. Good luck to Blackpool keeping it going as long as possible, and hopefully staying up like we did.

    • October 14, 2010 at 6:41 am

      Thanks for your comment Steve.
      I was talking in terms of money spent, expectation levels, average home attendances, size of town etc. Blackpool were actually amongst the favourites to be relegated.
      Although Hull City’s achievements were superb, they did throw quite a bit of money at it.

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