The Anatomy of England: Terry Venables 4-4-2

So it’s safe to say that my last tactic wasn’t a disaster, however, it’s also safe to say that I was very disappointed with the football on show. While I tend towards fast attacking football I hate kick and rush with a passion and that’s what I created.

So to avoid a repeat of the last tactic I made the decision to strip back the team instructions and try a simpler approach. This tactic is based around 1996 England side that defeated Netherlands 4-1. This side played a simple 4-4-2 using movement between the lines to get at opponents.

instructionsAs I’ve promised to strip back my team instructions, I’ll start with them, a balanced mentality gives me a level base to build a tactic, in possession we play at a higher tempo and try to pass into space, the idea here is fast-paced, aggressive football, the higher tempo and pass into space will see us looking to the wings as this England side often did.

In transition, the keeper is asked to distribute the ball quickly and the team is asked to counter when they can, the quick distribution doubles down on the quick football while the counter instruction will help us catch other teams off guard.

Finally out of possession I only ask them to get stuck in, this will see us be more aggressive in the tackle like all good England sides should be.

origionalAs usual, I start with the keeper, with Pickford taking up the standard goalkeeper role again, mimicking how David Seaman played, I expect this to be the norm moving forward with these tactics.

The full back roles are again simple Full Back on support, Gary Neville and Stuart Pearce were both solid fullbacks who would only get forward if it was safe to do so.

I’m not used to using these roles but they will add a level of solidity to my 4-4-2. In the middle, I have a No-nonsense Centre Back and a regular Centre Back, both on defend, to replicate Tony Adams and Garth Southgate respectively.

Adams is particularly known for his no-nonsense style and while Southgate was a converted midfielder he wouldn’t have been allowed to play as expansively as a Ball Playing Centre Back.

formationIn the middle I have a Central Midfielder on Defend, playing the safe and simple Paul Ince role, while Paul Gascoigne’s role is represented with the Roaming Playmaker role.

I nearly used an Advanced Playmaker on attack however I wanted to see Gascoigne start from deeper and with the inbuilt roaming I felt it was the best role to represent the creative freedom that Gascoigne was given.

My research on England’s wingers in this match, Steve McManaman and Darren Anderton showed me two players who both were flexible in the way they played on the wings, sometimes they’d stay wide and hit crosses into the box, however they were just as happy to cut inside and drive into the box or just contribute to build up play.

In the end, I decided to just give my left winger a plain Wide Midfielder role, to allow him to play how he felt happiest. My right winger, however, I gave the Inverted Winger role, this was simply to allow him to make the most out of the space in front of my CMd, while my RPMs and my right sided striker both will move into that space there was still a lot of space left and the IWa was far more useful to me than a Wide Midfielder on that side.

Finally, I have my front two, Teddy Sheringham and Alan Shearer. As I’ve already mentioned him I’ll talk about my right striker role first, to replicate how Sheringham drops deep and operates almost as a number 10, I’ve decided to use a Deep Lying Forward role on support.

I thought about using a False 9 but Sheringham offers an added physicality that the False 9 doesn’t, a Complete Forward on a support is also an option but I didn’t want him roaming too far from his area while the added dribbling PI also goes against what I wanted from him.

My role choice for Alan Shearer may be slightly controversial but I stand 100% behind it, Pressing Forward on the attack. I believe that Shearer is a far more aggressive player than most remember, for me, it’s just behind his goal scoring as his defining trait. He’d often bully defences using his strength, creating space with his physicality, this is perfectly represented by one of my favourite roles in the game.


Thanks to Keysi for hosting me, you can find the rest of my England series here. You can find me in FM Slack which you can join here, my channel is #braziers-england. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram. I also have my own blog where I talk about random rubbish with its own TwitterFacebookInstagram and fledgeling YouTube.

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