Tactical: An Insight to The Engineer’s well constructed 4-2-2-2


“Tactics aren’t just about theory, but about the intelligence you show on the pitch”.

Manuel Pellegrini, the engineer, is publicly acknowledged for being one of the most respected and tactically astute professionals in world football currently. The Chilean over the course of his managerial career has managed many many sides, the majority of which have been in Argentina, Spain and his homeland Chile.

The nickname, ‘The Engineer’ was given to the Chilean after achieving a degree in engineering way back in the late 1970s. After a prosperous career as a footballer for Universidad de Chile, the one-club man Pellegrini decided to delve into football management with his first managerial crack being at the club he racked up 400 appearances. After spells in Argentina and Chile with Universidad de Chile, Palestino, O’Higgins, Universidad Catolica, LDU Quito, San Lorenzo and the most successful team in Argentina, River Plate, Manuel Pellegrini decided to have a go at European football and on the 1st of July 2004 he officially took charge of Spanish football club, Villarreal. During his time at Villarreal, the yellow submarines achieved a third place finish in La Liga in 2004/05, Champions League semi-final in 2005/06 and separated the big two by securing a second place finish in La Liga in 2007/08. The man who transformed both Villarreal and Malaga from average la liga sides into top-four outfits also had a stint at the Spanish capital, managing the greatest European side, Real Madrid, leading the club to second place after amassing an astonishing 99 points.


He initially begun his Villarreal career with a 4-3-1-2 formation, intended to make mileage out of Riquelme’s wonderful attributes; who in his prime was the best attacking midfielder in Europe. As time went on, the engineer switched to a 4-2-2-2, often misconstrued as a 4-4-2, his 4-2-2-2 system caught the eyes of many football enthusiasts and tactical observers. At Villarreal – Santi Cazorla and Sorin, the wide players were used somewhat as trequartistas rather than more traditional #7’s and #11’s with a double-pivot of Senna and Tacchinardi sited in midfield to provide stability.

Manuel Pellegrini plays a very free-flowing attacking 4-2-2-2 system which is fixated on width. Full backs are normally situated very high up the pitch, bombarding forward at any given chance where as the wingers, normally interiors would cut inside to support the attack. A major element in Pellegrini’s system is the utilization of the fullbacks and during his time at Villarreal there were no better fullbacks than Capdevilla, Javi Venta and Angel, who mastered the act of marauding forward while staying defensively rigid. As the fullbacks bombarded forward the defensive midfielders; Marcos Senna, Josico will cover for them making it a solid back four. Manuel Pellegrini has over the years preferred interiors to traditional wingers. At Villarreal it was Santi Cazorla and Borja, Madrid being deployed in this role. In recent times; during Manuel Pellegrini’s time in La Rosaleda, it was los Boquerones’ gem, Isco playing this role, with either veteran Duda, Portillo or Joaquin occupying the other position. In attack, the engineer prefers mobile forwards who drift to the wings and run all over the forward line to the old-fashioned, this allows the wingers to come inside to affect play without clashes in spatial positioning by the strikers.

PELLEGRINI’S 4-2-2-2.                                                                                  


Manuel Pellegrini, one of the shrewdest tacticians in Europe, is a rather flexible customer. Constant variations and tactics are deployed by the engineer in 90-minute games to get the best out of his team. When his team lines up against possession-oriented teams, he switches tactics from an attacking 4-2-2-2 to a more conservative 4-2-3-1 or a 4-5-1 with either one of his forwards dropping deeper to help the midfielders out. Against Barcelona, arguable the greatest team ever, Manuel Pellegrini managed more wins than defeats, a feat not many managers have achieved – mainly due to his genius improvisation and variation of tactics.

In Pellegrini’s first English Premier League game, we were treated with some of the best attacking football we will witness all season. The blues run riot, putting 4 past Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal. City started the game with plenty of intent and bossed the opening minutes of the game, dominating proceedings and possession right from the go – an early testament to Manuel Pellegrini’s philosophy at City (?). The fluency and brilliance of City’s play earned the blues rave reviews from all sections of football analysts and viewers.

Over at Pellegrini’s Manchester City it is expected that Joe Hart remains the #1 – a solid back four consisting of Pablo Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic and Clichy will be used; a system in which fullbacks Zabaleta and Clichy will maraud forward at any given chance with holding midfielders Yaya Toure or Fernandinho filling in for them as they bombard forward – Any two of David Silva/Jovetic/Jesus Navas/Samir Nasri will be used as interiors with a front-duo of Edin Dzeko/Alvaro Negredo and Aguero doing the business in front of goal.

Nasri and Silva will fully benefit from the Chilean’s philosophy, expect them to have an exceptional season.

Man City shape in possession

The pith of Pellegrini’s tactics is to maintain possession and play free-flowing attacking football, as evident in his time in Europe

Follow me on twitter- @TikiTactic


One thought on “Tactical: An Insight to The Engineer’s well constructed 4-2-2-2

  1. Pingback: An in-depth look at the Engineer’s well constructed 4-2-2-2 System « Typical City

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