Hi, I’m Martin O’Neill and I invented the 5-3-2. (FIFA 2000 #1)

The greatest football teams in history are as follows:

Brazil 1970, Magical Magyars, Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan, Cruyff’s Total Football

Now did they play a 5-3-2?

Brazil 1970? No. 4-4-2.

Magical Magyars? No. 3-3-4.

Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan? No. 4-4-2.

Cruyff’s Total Football? No. 4-3-3.

Therefore, I, Martin O’Neill am revolutionising modern football with this 5-3-2 system. All my own work. What had Leicester done P.O.N.? (pre O’Neill for the layman out there) P.O.N. is of course before December 21, 1995.

A League Cup in 1964. I don’t count silver medals – forget the other League Cup final, forget the four FA Cup finals, forget the silver medal in the First Division in 1929.

Since I took over in 1995, I’ve taken them into Europe for only the second time, won them a second League Cup as well as gotten them back into the Premier League again in the first place. We have been a mainstay in the Premier League’s top half in the three seasons I’ve been here. 9th in 1997 and 10th in 1998 and 1999. Is it down to my 5-3-2? Who knows.

(I’m kidding, it’s completely down to my 5-3-2)



Grayson – M. Whitlow – S. Walsh – S. Prior – P. Kamark

Izzet – N. Lennon – G. Parker

Claridge – E. Heskey

Leicester team in the 1997 League Cup Final replay v Middlesbrough



Ullathorne – G. Taggart – S. Walsh – M. Elliott – S. Guppy

M. Izzet – N. Lennon – R. Savage

Cottee – E. Heskey

Leicester team in the 1999 League Cup Final v Tottenham Hotspur


These are the teams that took to the field at Wembley (well Hillsborough for the 1997 replay but that’s not the point). Always strive for better that’s why I disregard these teams, but never the system. 5 players survived the two seasons between these finals.

I have formed a beautiful midfield three which allows Muzzy Izzet to bomb on to support Tony Cottee and Emile Heskey up front whilst Neil Lennon and Robbie Savage act as water carriers. With the ball, the system turns into a 3-4-3 with Izzet pushing forward and my full-backs in Robert Ullathorne and Steve Guppy forming a midfield bank of four with Lennon and Savage. I don’t employ wing-backs to attack, I employ full-backs who are flexible midfielders.

Without the ball, Muzzy Izzet drops deep with Lennon and Savage and Tony Cottee drops to almost an attacking midfielder. Emile Heskey remains on the shoulder of the defenders to spring a counter attack with his blistering pace. In defensive it therefore becomes a 5-3-1-1.

Now there are improvements to be made, of course. With the advent of the new millennium I need a creative European attacking midfielder to replace an ageing Tony Cottee. Steve Walsh becomes 35 and Matt Elliott becomes 31 in November and Gerry Taggart is approaching 29. I need a fresh back 3.

My midfield is perfect as far as I’m concerned, as is Steve Guppy in his role. Fresh legs at right wing-back in place of Robert Ullathorne is needed as well. These are the four areas I will look to in the transfer market.

Kasey Keller is upping sticks and leaving for Spain with Tim Flowers earmarked as a replacement. Frank Sinclair is good back-up for defence but is always an own goal or three away from relegating us so he will need to go. Come back to me in a few weeks’ time.

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