This talks about something I’ve (I think?) been banging on about for ages. Crossing can be a really inefficient way to attack.
I think the part missing here is that wide play in attack is essential. Somehow you need to find space to attack in, otherwise your shots will be blocked, charged down, etc.
I remember years ago I went to see England at the Old Wembley. Steve Stone was playing. We were sitting in the right back area and got quite angry at how slow the full-back (Gary Neville) was to shuffle across. Now, this anger was based on ignorance – Neville was deliberately leaving this space vacant so he could remain compact in the middle of the pitch with his co-members of the back four. But I remained stunned at how much space the team was leaving in wide areas. Of course, when danger arrived the team would close down the space – they were fine – but the point here is that in closing this space they were leaving space somewhere else.
And that’s what you want as an attacking team. You have to create space. Defensive teams want to minimise space, so they actively want you to try to attack an area where there are most people. That might mean funnelling teams into the crowded area on the edge of the area, or it might mean something else: either way, the game’s about space and controlling this space.
This is one area Fulham have been awful at since Hodgson/Hughes. In the relegation season the team’s let opponents do more or less what they wanted to, while doing nothing much going the other way in mitigation. Anyway, my point here is that in the wrong hands, crossing can be a sort of act of last resort.
Under Hodgson the team work in tandem: so if we did cross there would be a point to it. I remember the goal we scored against Reading in the Great Escape season:
Roy said that they’d been working on crossing in the week, and sure enough, it worked. But what Roy meant was that they’d have worked on pre-determined moves, how to create space wide, how to make runs that drag defenders away, how to get on the end of things. Crossing should be part of a pre-ordained plan of attack, not something you do because it’s a bit crowded in the middle and you haven’t thought of something else.