Leeds United head coach Neil Redfearn has revealed that 4-4-2 would be his system of choice in the Championship - but says the tactics used by him this season have been justified by the club’s escape from relegation.
Redfearn admitted he would opt for a 4-4-2 formation in “an ideal world” but said United’s results since Christmas and their successful fight to remain in the Championship were a vindication of his approach.
The United boss employed a midfield diamond before Christmas but broke from that system for the second half of the campaign with Leeds one place above the Championship’s bottom three.
He relied instead on a loan striker in front a five-man midfield and a strong run of results with that system in place lifted the club into mid-table and a position of safety last month.
Leeds are on a run of four straight defeats, however, and have suffered from a shortage of goals all season. Italian Mirco Antenucci is the club’s leading scorer with 10.
Redfearn said: “Because we’re so young in midfield, because we lack the experience to open out and be a four, we have to be a five and come from a solid base. It’s stood us in good stead in terms of picking up results.
“How we’ve been playing has been tough. It’s maybe frustrating for people but from the outset we had to get results. We tried the diamond and it did well for a spell but then it ran out of legs so we had to find a different way. We had to get results.
“It wasn’t a case of just picking up the odd result. We had to get a few. It’s not been an ideal system for everybody to watch or play but it’s kept us in this division, which is the most important thing.”
Redfearn became head coach on November 1, United’s third of the season after the sackings of David Hockaday and Darko Milanic.
The club have signed only three players during his tenure - Sol Bamba, Granddi Ngoyi and Edgar Cani - and they were constrained by a Financial Fair Play (FFP) transfer embargo during the January window.
Redfearn, whose side go to Charlton Athletic tomorrow, said: “In an ideal world I’d love to play 4-4-2. It’s what the Championship’s about.
“It’s a 4-4-2 division and if you look at the teams who’ve done well in this division, they tend to be that shape. But you’ve got to utilise the players you’ve got and get results with the players you’ve got.”