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Recreating Steve Bruce's 4141 at Villa

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I wanted to pick the collective mind of the SiGames hive... 

Am a big villa fan and have always sought to recreate different tactics over the years but try and improve on our fortunes. I've had success taking Martin O'Neil's tactics and Lamberts and making them more successful. 

This year it's actually quit a good time to be a Villa fan as we're winning and playing some half decent football. 

Most recently this has come form playing a 4141 that has unlocked Hourihane and Grealish in the midfield. My issue is I'm not all that experienced with the 4141 so not sure how to set up beyond what I think are the correct roles. This is what I have so far...

                    GK / D
FB (A) CD (D) BPD(D) WB (D)
                    DM (D)
IW (S) AP (A) B2B (S) W (A)
                   DLF (A)

The wings are a classic flip flop with Snodgrass and Elmohamady on the Right and Adomah / Taylor on the left. The middle has a holder who frees up the AP to create and B2B to rove.

I want most of my goals to come from the striker and the Winger (has cuts inside PPM) then the IW and B2B offer later goal threat, the AP (A) is the creative heartbeat.

Thing is I don't know how to get us up the field quickly. I'm thinking Control Structured, but then with John Terry at the back he seems to get caught out due to massive lack of pace so balls in behind are a real problem. However on lower mentalities I find it stodgy moving forwards. 

Any ideas? 

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Unfortunately you are unlikely to find a way around the fact that John Terry or other deteriorating defenders like him, whatever their mental strength and work ethic, will have very little answer to the pure pace and power enemy strikers possess.

Sadly for you such defenders cannot be deployed whatsoever in a high defensive line situation if you want to minimise your defensive vulnerability from through balls and long balls over the top.

Yes, you could play a very fast centre back and have very fast wide defenders and hope they can cover for Mr Terry but you must admit it would be more optimal to just play 4 fast enough defenders. You can say, well, John Terry can read the game, and his partner is mentally weak but physically he's a beast. They compliment each other. But again, why not just have 2 rapid centre backs to insure yourself against the other team breaking your defensive line?

My view is that if you play a high line, you are less concerned about a defender's aerial ability, and more concerned about his pace, agility, acceleration and strength. On the other hand, playing a low line would benefit lanky defenders who can eat balls put into the 18 yard box for days, and who cares if my nan can run faster than them.

John Terry, formerly being tremendous and formidable in every way, particularly if you have a Mrs and he wants to shag them, no longer fits into either category of centre back, and is therefore not suitable for selection.

So to conclude, it may well be that your squad selection and recruitment is some way off from what your tactical vision requires.

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My thoughts on Bruce’s 4-1-4-1 


gk d 


rb - Fb - s - stay wider, cross more often 

cb - d

cb -d 

lb - fb - s - get further forward (the Scottish Cafu Hutton) 

dm - anchorman - d 

rm - w - cut inside ppm 

cm - rpm - s (super jack) 

cm - cm - s 

lm - inverted winger - stay wider

cf - df- s 


maybe changer the forward to dlf - and play on counter structured 

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It might isolate him a bit, so not saying it's a move of tactical genius or anything, but Hogan plays more like an AF(A) I would say. The key to making that work is having adequate support from midfield. 

WIth a DM sitting behind the midfield 4, you can be quite adventurous elsewhere I think. I would go with Elmo as a FB(A), Snoddy as a WM(A) on the right (he will cut inside of his own accord anyway, so no need to give him a role like IW that encourages it, and I think the way he attacks the box/positions himself is more suited to a WM personally). Adomah on the other side is a little trickier, IW(A) could work perhaps. Hourihane for me is a BBM or CM(S), I'd lean towards the former personally, and Grealish I would set as a RPM with license to do whatever he wants, cause he drifts around a lot. He does however probably track back better than a AP does, hence the RPM role might be a better fit?

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