Fulham manager Chris Coleman today admitted he had been forced to change his formation by the form of strike partners Brian McBride and Heidar Helguson.
Coleman, no fan of a 4-4-2 system, never intended to employ his current attacking force together when he signed Iceland international Helguson from Watford for £1.1million last June.
But the goalscoring form of United States striker McBride and Helguson, who only paired up because of injuries, has persuaded Coleman to change his mind.
“When I signed Heider I had no intention of playing him and Brian together because they are very alike. It was going to be one or the other,” said Coleman who will again stick with the partnership for Sunday’s Premiership visit to Bolton.
McBride, who has emerged from being a regular substitute and fill-in player since Andy Cole’s summer departure for Manchester City, leads the way with nine goals this season and Helguson’s hat-trick in Fulham’s last match, the 6-2 home victory over West Brom two weeks ago, takes him up to six.
Coleman explained: “The reason I’m playing 4-4-2 is because of Heider Helguson and Brian McBride and their partnership, as simple as that.
“I’m not a big lover of 4-4-2 but at the minute there is no way I can split that partnership up.
“They are such a threat and the workrate is incredible from the pair of them, they are non-stop They are such a good partnership and you see the damage they have caused to defenders in the last few games.
“We have Collins John on the bench, who is a different sort of striker, a youngster who is going to be a very good player but Heider and Brian have been magnificent.”
The Fulham boss rates 33-year-old McBride, who arrived from Columbus Crew in January 2004, as “the best £700,000 we’ve ever spent.”
Coleman said: “Nowadays you can’t buy a pair of boots for that. For that price what he has given us has been phenomenal. He even scored on his debut against Tottenham and since then he has never looked back.
“He’s been in and out of the team and then come back and he’s probably the best substitute I’ve ever seen.
“You bring him on and he has such an impact on the game but he’s done so well he’s been starting games and he’s been such an influence. His attitude is first class.”
Fulham have recharged their batteries with a four-day break in Abu Dhabi since the win over West Brom and Coleman hopes the benefits will help secure their first victory of the season.
He is not blaming the players for failing to pick up a three-point haul on their travels, explaining it as a risk of the adventurous style Fulham have adopted away this season.
“When you look at our performances away our results have not been great but apart from twice – at Blackburn and Portsmouth when we didn’t really play well – the other games we’ve played well and attacked and had a go.
“When you go away and play open as we have it’s hard for the defence. A lot of teams who go away are cautious and choose the right moments to attack but we’ve changed it this season.
“We said we would approach every game the same and attack and that we may win one in three but that’s better than drawing two and losing one,” he said.
It has not quite turned out like that but Coleman does not regret the bold approach. “We’ve been winning in three or four games and given up the lead.
“As long as we have a go that’s all you can ask,” he added.