Very early in the 2005/2006 Premiership season, all of the talk was about the 4-5-1 formation and how Bolton, especially, was being effective yet boring after Allardyce used the formation to grind out results.
What we’ve seen in the 2006 World Cup is the 4-5-1 formation being used to similar results, unfortunately to the detriment of the game.
England had been using it for the entire tournament. While it was effective, it was probably the most boring display by England in recent memory. Even France, renowned for being skillful and imaginative in midfield and attack, employed the 4-5-1 formation against Brazil and they eeked out the 1-0 result to reach the semi-finals.
Unfortunately, it’s killing the game. All it does is enable teams to hold on to a nil-nil score and then hope (in the case of Beckham and Henry) that a goal can be scored from a set play such as a free kick.
While it’s a horrible tactic, the bad news is that it is effective. It wins matches. It bores fans, but managers don’t seem to care. In England’s case, it was their eventual downfall. Portugal was there for the taking. England’s entire team possessed more skill and creativity to win the match before it even started. But by playing the 4-5-1, England leveled the playing field and ensured the safe but conservative 0-0 draw. Death to the 4-5-1. Repeat after me, death to the 4-5-1.