3-5-2 - The Way To Go?

4-3-2-1 - Last seasons formation

Often a struggle for a manager is where best to put the balance of his side and how best to utilise his players available. Circumstance may dictate to a manager that a certain style of play is required, and if you have a number of very strong positions making you top heavy in that position, why not make best use?

There has been a slight culture change in tactics and formations. Although most teams successfully wield a 4-2-3-1 variation of a 4-3-3, there has been a small resurgence for 3-5-2 as a means to remedy it.

4-4-2 struggles to contain a 4-2-3-1. The three midfielders flooding the box for balls from the flanks outnumber of the defenders and defensive roles. So 4-4-2 as an art form is dying out. The 3-5-2 had a flourish in England in the mid 90's when wing-backs were all the rage. But they often veered towards a 5-3-2. The full backs slightly pushed on, but still defensive minded. Today's full back is a very attack minded beast.

 We have three excellent centre halves. It seems a waste to not utile them. The full backs we have are not undroppable, and indeed, the added attacking midfield element to a more wing-back esque role might play into Chris Cohen's hands. It's not as if one plays as a 90's style sweeper either. It's a flat 3 that adapt and cover advancing players. One doesn't drop much deeper.

3-5-2 - Possible configuration, does show lack of width up top, but wingers expected to "bomb" on

Having signed two strikers it might be a signal Pearce intends for two up top. I can't see us unleashing a straight up flat 4-4-2; it's just too old fashioned. And there is video evidence on the UEFA website of Pearce talking of the merits of a 3-5-2. He could play a diamond type 4-4-2, that’s a possibility, and would presumably see Vaughan deep, Reid and Lansbury at the sides and Paterson at the point.

So what would the balance be of a 5 man midfield? Well Cohen would be bought forward to a better position for him. Vaughan would be encouraged to play deep, with Reid and Lansbury pushed on. Right wing back would presumably be Lichaj unless we signed someone else, but then this shape misses out Paterson.

That’s the key here, a vital influential player in the side in the second half of the season, he is almost undroppable. Maybe it could see an element of rotation. That would stop the players burning out like last year. Reidy isn't getting any younger and will need managing more. But would the deep role be too deep for Paterson. He is best on the wing or in the hole behind a striker.

3-4-1-2 - possible configuration. Note space behind wingers

A lot rests on where the rest of Pearce's business is done. Whether the likes of Mackie or Abdoun get moved on. The 3-5-2 could be move a 3-4-1-2, but that pulls full backs further from full backs to essentially defensive wingers. That starts to seem too dangerous as wingers getting in behind would have a field day, and we already tended to concede from the wing. Also it means those 2 either drop deep and leaves a gap, or get forward too much.

Furthermore if we wielded a team with that many defenders, the people who don't understand football and just watch Soccer AM would be up in arms. They'd see it as negative, and not just utilising your best players into a system, and moving things to fit. I.e. the kind of people who think 4-4-2 is non-negotiable. The people who don't see the nuances and fluidity of modern systems of almost hybrid positions.

4-4-2 - dead in water?