Ideas for a better world

One thing we’ve talked a lot about recently is shots, how Fulham have allowed an awful lot of them and created very few. It’s a dangerous combination.

It isn’t however, the end of the world. Fulham seem stuck in a sort of tactical no-man’s land, neither playing a proper defensive game nor really attacking with much intent.

I strongly recommend reading both of these articles about how the team might change things around.

Step 1: the defensive shell. There are all sorts of stories about this but one that springs to mind is from the 90s Milan side, which would train attack v defence in one goal. The defence would expect to keep the attack out as long as it wanted to, the thinking being that as long as defensive players are where they are supposed to be, they’re not going to concede. The Shell is a real-life extension of this: football fans and pundits hate it when teams ‘sit too deep’ but analysis has shown that it’s actually a pretty good way to see out games, particularly if you bring on a defensive substitute as well. In the late stages of games you get in trouble being too open; if you take a ‘what we have, we hold’ approach you usually will indeed hold on. Jose Mourinho is big on this, taking the sting out of an advantageous position and effectively running out the game with no further alarms. His teams keep possession of the ball, keep a rigorous shape, and ensure that everything on the pitch is done on their terms, even when they don’t have the ball.

Step 2 is about counter-attacking, something that the article points out is one of the best way to create better chances in the modern game is to employ the counter-attack as deliberate strategy.

Anyway, have a read. Interesting stuff.

5 thoughts on “Ideas for a better world

  1. I suppose there was a classic example of a defensive shell last night (although I didn’t see the game). 2-0 up after 15 minutes, and Arsenal just shut the door. Makes big sense.

    But of course you need to be ahead to do that so even if we could do it it wouldn’t have helped against Cardiff or many other games this year (except West Brom).

  2. I clicked on the first link and stopped dead after the very first word — reading no further as a matter of principle.

    It’s sufficiently ludicrous that every third radio interview nowadays (on any subject) commences with the word “so.”


    Now here’s a piece of writing with the same nervous tick.

    I shall read it later when my hackles have subsided. (Oversensitive, moi?)

    1. I so agree, b+w, it irritates me too.

      Whichever tactical plan you use, there is no getting away from doing the basics properly. While there are probably many reasons for our below par performance on these defensive basics, poor communication must be high on the list. This is vital at any level of football. Consider, then that:

      1: Stockdale, though a fine keeper, does not boss the six yard box like Schwarzer or Stekelenburg.

      2: Amorebietta arrived with very little command of English. Remember West Brom’s equalizer: Hangeland, who could have easily won that ball stood still while Amorebietta launched himself unsuccessfully from some distance away.

      3: Hangeland has been moved to right CB. Some players are fine with this, others less so.

      4: It’s not so difficult for opponents to get decent crosses into our box. The layers of protection which should sit in front of the back four are not right at the moment.

      Oddly, during the first half at Chelsea we looked better defensively. Parker and Sidwell came in for praise from the Sky pundits, but unless we can add to that better passing and movement when in possession we end up with a home performance against a team like Cardiff in which they have more of the ball and create more chances.

  3. OK, `the Defensive Shell’ proves clear enough. As the author implies, it can make grim viewing for spectators, with pragmatism the justification, and as Rich implies it’s the worst of both worlds when you attempt it, sort of, and it doesn’t come off. Of course Fulham have a history, under Hodgson at least as much as Jol, of ultra-conservatism in away games when the scores are level, not quite the same thing. The chance to *retain a lead* doesn’t arise so often at our club as at our neighbours, but it’s true that we didn’t manage it recently v. West Brom, we memorably didn’t manage it in our last Europa league game and Jol’s Spurs notably didn’t manage it when they visited us, took control, and then made substitutions that didn’t work out and we clawed back. We made a success of it at White Hart Lane in April, but everyone remarked how untypically disciplined that was.

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