Raheem Sterling and others prove natural wingers are a dying breed

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If you're a football fanatic born in the late 1980s like myself, then I am sure when you were growing up you would have been accustomed to the formation 4-4-2.

With that formation there would always be two wingers, two full-backs and two strikers, with the other positions as normal. But that would appear to have changed.

In recent years a change of mindset by managers in regards to the formations they use, and in particular the failure in my opinion to have a natural winger or wingers in their sides.

I would like to give you a example of a team of my childhood that had 'out and out' wingers - Manchester United. In the 90s were well known for having a four man midfield.

There were two wingers in David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, and there were two central midfielders in Paul Scholes and Roy Keane. Many argued that Manchester United's midfield was the best of it's generation - but such a model is rarely followed these days.

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Change of system

Modern football has changed it has to be said, and it seems like the once sworn by 4-4-2 is a thing of the past. I want to put forward the example of Barcelona, who never use 4-4-2, despite having two excellent full-backs in Jordi Alba and Dani Alves.

These two players love to bomb forward and for Barca it works to great effect, with the holding midfield player - usually Sergio Busquets - would fill in the vacant holes left when his colleagues venture forward.

Continental football has been like this for a while and Barcelona are not the only side to use this model. Barcelona's fierce rivals Real Madrid do have natural wingers in their system in Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale it could be argued - but these two would much rather cut inside.

If you look a bit closer to home Chelsea don't operate with out-and-out wingers, and if this season is anything to go by the Blues haven't needed to - they have been breathtaking at times with their build up play.

Football is a very competitive industry - which goes with out saying - and managers are always looking to new methods to have the edge on their rivals. The days of 4-4-2 as we once knew it have changed, now the 4-4-2 has been evolved.


Managers such as Brendan Rodgers, Sam Allardyce and Roy Hodgson have used the midfield diamond to great effect, it is becoming the formation of choice for many coaches in this country.

Last season's win at Old Trafford for Liverpool is an example of the 4-4-2 diamond being used expertly, and in that game Raheem Sterling - who would in the past have been an out-and-out winger - was nothing sort of sensational.

West Ham have put Stewart Downing at the top of their diamond' formation and it has worked superbly. Downing has got more assists already this year than he did than the whole of last season. As much as it pains me to say it, the traditional 4-4-2 formation is a dying breed.

Natural wingers

Natural wing positions are  in short supply I am afraid, with traditional widemen such as James Milner and Matt Jarvis spend their times these days on the bench mainly.

The days of John Barnes going on one of those mazy runs beating the full-back with ease have gone I am afraid. The closest we have to this in the Premier League is with two full-backs operating like wingers, with Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines for Everton providing the width for Roberto Martinez's side.

For football purists like me, the decline of natural wingers is upsetting - but, hey, if your side has full-backs like Coleman and Baines, is it really that bad?

Raheem Sterling
Seamus Coleman
Leighton Baines
Stewart Downing

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