4-6-0: The Most Ridiculous Formation Ever Played

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterMay 22, 2013

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 16:  Scotland manager Craig Levein looks dejected after their defeat in the FIFA 2012 World Cup Qualifier match between Belgium and Scotland on October 16, 2012 in Brussels, Belgium.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Football is a game of strategy, and those who can out-think their opposite number quickly rise to the top of the game.

Tactical innovations, careful manipulations of positions and subtle midgame changes have seen the likes of Pep Guardiola, Juergen Klopp and Jose Mourinho elevated to the top tier of the profession.

For many, things aren't nearly as rosy.

Plenty of managers have drawn untold amounts of criticism for their poor tactics, and here we look at the most ridiculous formation to hit our screens.

It's important to note the context of this decision, though.

Back in 1872, England played its first ever international friendly, visiting Partick to take on Scotland. The home side played a 2-2-6 formation, while the visitors went with an even more ambitious 1-2-7.

To play that in today's game would be outrageous—Guardiola's 2-3-5 with Barcelona raised a lot of eyebrows—but back then it was the norm. Some of the rules, such as the offside rule, were very different and allowed for a different type of game.

Today, 2-2-6 and 1-2-7, Herbert Chapman's W-M formation and others like them are considered astonishing. At the time, they were the epitome of regular.

With that in mind, we discount formations from the earlier years of the game and look instead to ones being used in the current century. We're also looking for starting formations, not ones forced by red cards or pressure (Internazionale's 7-1-1 vs. Barca).

So with the parameters in mind, it becomes easy to pick a winner.

 Craig Levein's truly strikerless 4-6-0 for Scotland was absolutely ridiculous.

Much has been made of the false-nine formation, Spain playing without a striker and Barca using Lionel Messi in an unorthodox role.

Some love it, some despise it, but the recurring theme is a high defensive line, great midfield movement and interchanging of positions.

Levein's boasted nothing of the sort—instead sitting deep with a back four protected by a thick layer of genuine midfielders. It carried very little attacking impetus and very little movement.

Scotland lost the game, against Czech Republic, 1-0 in Prague. Unfortunately for the Tartan Army, Scotland desperately needed to win that game to have any chance of qualifying for Euro 2012.

They went on to lose to Spain in the following game 3-2, and in doing so were knocked out of the group. The Czechs claimed the playoff berth, won and reached the quarterfinals of the Euros under Michal Bilek.

The gravity of the situation, the nature of the qualifying group they were in and the fact that Kenny Miller—a No. 9—was on the bench makes Levein's 4-6-0 the most ridiculous formation we've ever seen.