Martin Keown - Capello has got his formation wrong

By 07 June 2010 11:08

Former Arsenal and England legend Martin Keown will be in South Africa blogging exclusively for during the World Cup. In his first column he questions Fabio Capello's tactics.

I find it amazing that Capello is sticking with 4-4-2. We've had two foreign managers now, we were waiting for all of these fantastic systems, but essentially it is still 4-4-2.

The system worries me because of the midfield domination of possession of the opposition. There is nothing more embarrassing as a player than when you can't get the ball.

I would like to see a five-man midfield and Steven Gerrard in front of the back four, because I don't want to see our back-four exposed or Wayne Rooney drawn deeper, where he isn't such a goal threat.

Even if Gareth Barry is fit I don't think he is naturally a deep-lying player. He'd probably deserve to play, but I'd play him in advance of Gerrard, alongside Frank Lampard perhaps.

The space between a defence and midfield is where a game is won and lost. That is the position you have to occupy if you don't want to lose and where you've got to get into if you want to win a game.

If Gerrard plays in that role he can use his energy, make big tackles, send those 40-yard passes. He's an all-action player. Never have I seen a player more suited to that role.

The messages that Capello is giving players seem to be mixed. There is an obsession with trying to get really tight and press, but I'm not so sure you can in international football.

If you can't win it early then you have to retreat. The players all need to believe in what the manager wants to achieve, but they look to me as though they don't necessarily know what they are doing.


It's worrying that we've got just one world-class front player. There is an awful lot of pressure riding on Rooney through this World Cup.

There was a time when Heskey was doing really well, but it's been such a long period now since playing regularly for his club side. He's done nothing since Christmas to suggest that he should even be in the squad.

And when Capello picks Peter Crouch, he almost does it begrudgingly. He scores goals and gives us something other international teams don't have, but it's not pretty football.

It's more akin to what we might say of a Bolton or a Blackburn. We don't want to become that of the international football world. There is a lot of talent in the squad and if we can get lucky, avoid major injuries and stay healthy then we can go far.

I hope we can find a set way of playing, but I expect that we will make it to the semi-final and Brazil will probably go on and win it.

They will certainly take some stopping. They're just so well drilled. So measured and calm.

I worked with Gilberto (Silva) at Arsenal. They are very different to the African players for instance, who are all the time playing music and are a bit crazy. The Brazilians are so professional.

It's no accident that they keep winning these World Cups time and time again.

Ex-England defender and Arsenal legend Martin Keown went to two World Cups as a player, so he knows what it takes to get the Edge against the best teams in the world. He'll be giving us expert insights and opinion from South Africa throughout the tournament at

Source: DSG

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