If Jonathan Wilson’s bible of football, Inverting the Pyramid, taught me anything, it is that football tactics are a matter of action and reaction. A constantly changing and ever-evolving realm of innovation and countering. When one method of play appears to have taken over the world, defeating all that come before it, a coach will discover the tactic that nullifies the seemingly perfect system.
Since Jose Mourinho tore up the rulebook on the stereotypical English 4-4-2 by employing Claude Makelele as a defensive midfielder, sat in front of his centre backs, it seems that no team can be without one. Whilst other Premier League teams had defensive players in their midfield, none were as single-minded and as specialised as Makelele. His sole purpose in the team was to sit, break up attacks, and play simple passes to those in front of him. His inclusion in the team gave the more creative and attacking players the freedom they needed, and was the catalyst for the shift from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3.