Why are two holding midfielders so crucial in the modern game?

“The efficiency that holding midfielders provide teams makes them very important in the modern football. International competitions are always fascinating tactically if anything for the inflexibility they confront managers with. Arrigo Sacchi, in charge of the Italy side who reached the final of World Cup ’94, stated it was “impossible” for a national manager to drill the same understanding that club level coaches are afforded due to the lack of day-to-day availability of personnel. The sporadic amount of time they have with players means it can be difficult for coaches to develop plans so they usually are forced to stick with philosophies they think are correct – and that in turn highlights the common trends in the thinking of modern coaches. And certainly, what has become oblivious from the recent World Cup in South Africa and indeed club football for the past few years is that the use of two holding midfielders in front of the back four is become crucial in the modern game.” (Arsenal Column)


The Question: Is 4-2-1-3 the future?

“Evolution never stops. As the World Cup showed, 4‑2‑3‑1 has come to replace 4‑4‑2 as the universal default (18 of the 32 teams played some form of 4‑2‑3‑1 at some stage, with another three fielding a 4‑4‑2 that perhaps should have become 4‑2‑3‑1) so the system at the very highest level has already begun to mutate. Spain, by the end of the World Cup, had followed what Barcelona did at times last season, what Arsenal seemed to be reaching towards, and set up in a 4‑2‑1‑3.” (Guardian)

Fictional Moldovan Soccer Phenom Tells All

“On a typical weekday, the English soccer press devotes itself to unsubstantiated rumors, manufactured scandals, and bikini pictures of players’ girlfriends (who seem to roam the earth together in a giant conjugal yacht, like the Beatles in Yellow Submarine). This week, however, thanks to an ingenious hoax that took in the Times of London, the soccer press has been engrossed by Moldova. Specifically by one Moldovan teenager, who is not, as it happens, a real person.” (Slate – Brian Phillips)

Out with the old, in with the new

Rome – the Basilica of Constantine, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot
“England’s reverse alchemists managed to ensure the so-called Golden Generation produced only leaden performances at the World Cup finals and, like any struggling scientist, Fabio Capello now has to reassess his formula for success. But who are the corrosive elements within his squad, and who should form part of his new experiment?” (ESPN)

England’s Premier League introduces new financial rules

“England’s Premier League has introduced new ownership and financial regulations for the upcoming season in an attempt to avoid a repeat of Portsmouth’s downfall last season. Under a series of owners, Portsmouth ran up debts of more than $159 million to creditors, including the British government’s revenue and customs authority. The league said Tuesday that it now requires prospective new owners to prove they have sufficient funds to sustain a club for another year and can now contact the government directly to check that clubs are up to date with taxes.” (SI)

The Premier League Previews 2010/11: Bolton Wanderers – Time To Turn Those Frowns

“It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling as if every season is likely to be a struggle for Bolton Wanderers, but their recent Premier League history doesn’t really bear this out. After they returned to the Premier League in 2001 they struggled for a couple of seasons but, broadly speaking, they have had a decent record since then, managing four consecutive finishes in the top eight during the middle of the decade. Even last season, they pulled clear of the relegation places during the second half of the season and ended up nine points clear of the relegation places, in fourteenth place in the table. Bolton Wanderers supporters will probably be looking for a season of consolidation and improvement over the coming nine months, and there is nothing to suggest that their team won’t be capable of exactly this.” (twohundredpercent)