Author Topic: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 11/11/20...  (Read 702 times)

Offline whitejc

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Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 11/11/20...
« on: November 11, 2020, 12:33:23 AM »

Cottage Talk Post Match Show: Fulham Lose 1-0 To West Ham

Take a listen to a podcast that focuses on Fulham Football Club.

This is our post match show of the 1-0 Fulham loss, and we dive right into the two controversial moments at the end of the match pretty much right away. We also analyze both halves, and end with Man Of The Match.


You can also listen to the show by following this link...
https://cottagersconfidential.sbnation.com/2020/11/10/21557727/cottage-talk-post-match-show-fulham-lose-1-0-to-west-ham

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 11/11/20...
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2020, 12:35:39 AM »
Patience: an ode to Parker
As we enter the latest international break, Mike Forrest reflects on Scott Parker’s time at the club so far, and what might be on the horizon.

The year is 2006. England’s golden generation fluff their cue from 12 yards out and fall to Portugal in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in a penalty shootout. Gary Barlow and the gang, Take That, reunite and release their single “Patience” that would go on to top the music charts across Europe. Oh, and Glenn Roeder made Scott Parker the Newcastle captain in Parker’s second season with the club.

With and without the armband, Parker was always a leader on the field and this helped him to be a fan favourite throughout most of his career. At West Ham he won player of the year for three consecutive seasons. He won the coveted Football Writers Association Footballer of the Year award in 2011. In his first season with Tottenham he won their player of the season.

Restricted by labels
Being English and combative, Parker’s ability was often pigeonholed with clichés. “Someone you would want in the trenches”, “the heart of a lion” and so on. Boiled down, these clichés were meant to compliment Parker’s biggest assets – his tenacity, the quiet ferociousness, and the unrelenting consistency. When Fulham bought him in 2013, with Parker now 33, it perhaps was an unrealistic expectation to expect all three attributes from the ageing centre midfielder.

Just as he had been a fan’s favourite with his last three clubs, Parker got off to a good start with Fulham fans by rejecting QPR to join the club. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a sign of good things to come.

Parker had joined a Fulham side that was dysfunctional on the pitch and would become dysfunctional off it as they cycled through three managers over the course of the season. In his debut season, instead of winning an individual award, Fulham were consigned to relegation and thus ended our 13 year stay in the Premier League. Parker’s style of slowly pivoting on the ball before passing it sideways was in stark contrast to the marauding and slaloming style of Mousa Dembele, who Fulham had lost the season before.

Relegation and two subsequent battles to avoid the drop in the Championship were enough for Parker to be associated with some of the poorer times in our recent history. A few cynical comments suggested that the presence of Parker was some form of hex or Jonah for Fulham, especially as he was one of the few senior players who had stayed throughout the three campaigns. In the immediate season after Parker’s departure and retirement, we were promoted through the play-offs under Jokanovic. This did nothing to dispel the notion that perhaps Fulham and Parker were just a recipe that did not mix.

Struggling to change perceptions
A few weeks after promotion Jokanovic restructured his staff and brought Parker back to the club as first team coach. History repeated itself and again Parker had re-joined Fulham at a time where dysfunction was rife on and off the pitch. The club cycled through three managers en route to a humiliating relegation, with Parker being the last of the three to take the helm. He did enough to secure the role permanently and for his first professional managerial role in football he was tasked with guiding Fulham to an immediate return to the Premier League.

Two relegations, one as player and one as non-playing staff, and two further relegation battles in the Championship, both as a player, it was easy to see why some fans were not too enamoured with Parker. However, none of these calamities were his fault and he did his utmost to prevent them. As a player, he gave his best on the field and off it he provided much needed leadership under the reign of mad Magath. Reported in the media at the time, Parker covered the £20,000 fine issued by Magath to two youth team players.

Uphill struggle
A meek 1-0 opening day defeat at Barnsley last season spoke to the challenge facing Scott. A fractured dressing room in need of healing, getting the best out of the squad’s big-name players which would prove to be a challenge, all further compounded by the overall pressure of achieving promotion, weighed heavy. This laid on the shoulders of Fulham’s novice Head Coach, competing in a league against the likes of Bilic and Bielsa, among other experienced managers.

Parker tried to instil a death-by-football style. The zenith of this approach came in the fourth game of the season with a 4-0 demolishing of Millwall where Fulham had 84% possession. However, the approach seemed to suffocate Fulham more often than killing off the opposition. Abject possession for possession’s sake, shuttling the ball from one side of the pitch to another was seen throughout the season as Fulham limped along. As a player he produced fiery and inspirational performances, but as a manager his team were producing tepid and dull outings.

In December, Parker’s job was under much scrutiny. A third successive defeat league defeat inflicted by Brentford, with Parker hurriedly leaving the pitch at Griffin Park, ignited rumours that Fulham could be in the market for a replacement. Surviving this scare, in part due to a last-minute winner from Josh Onomah against Leeds, Parker went on to secure a play-off spot for Fulham and finished fourth.

Despite dominating possession in the two games against Cardiff, we wormed their way through. At the end of the tie, there were no celebrations at the achievement of reaching the final. Instead Parker gathered the players on the pitch and gave them a firm talking to. Almost reminiscent to his time at West Ham, where 3-0 down at half time to West Brom, Carlton Cole credited Parker’s rousing team talk as being the inspiration to claw back a draw, “Scott was in the zone – I’ve never seen him like that. If you were there you would have had a tear in your eye.” 

The tide is turning
After securing promotion with a more pragmatic tactical approach against Brentford in the final, Parker gave an emotional post-match interview. Parker displayed a vulnerability that takes courage to show, especially in the football world. It is this emotional intelligence that helps him connect with the players and helped him to rebuild the dressing room. Tim Ream extolled this fact in convincing Antonee Robinson to join the club.

This connection with the players could encourage favouritism in weaker managers. This has not been seen with Parker. Joe Bryan, play-off goal-scoring hero, has been dropped to the bench in recent games. Due to a bloated squad, Parker was left with the decision to exclude McDonald and Johansen, two fan favourites, from Premier League registration. He has also shown integrity and a willingness to protect his squad after ill-timed tweets from the Director of Football apologised for a poor result.

These are all great attributes to have, but ultimately football is a fickle and results-driven business. After a familiar insipid and impotent display against Crystal Palace ended in a 2-1 defeat, Parker again came into the West Brom game with questions being asked about his future. A more penetrative performance saw Fulham come away with three points and some much-needed respite for Fulham’s young head coach. And though our latest game ended in defeat, show that Parker is pushing this team in the right direction.

Premier League survival would be quite a fillip for Parker. Promotion in his first full season and survival in his second would further burnish Parker’s reputation. However, one win in eight, working at a club whose board have been trigger-happy in the past along with fans expectations could prove difficult to navigate.

Parker’s in his second full season as head coach and working under a difficult recruitment structure. The margin for error is small, but Scott’s shown a willingness to adapt his tactics. So unless results go drastically wrong it could serve Fulham and fans well to “just have a little patience”– just as Barlow and co sang on their way to the top of the UK singles chart back in 2006.



https://www.fulhamish.co.uk/post/2020-11-10-patience-an-ode-to-parker/

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 11/11/20...
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2020, 12:37:01 AM »
Player reveals situation at Fulham ‘not ideal’ – Needs to find ‘best possible solution’ in January

Fulham midfielder Stefan Johansen will turn 30 years of age in January and his current deal at Craven Cottage lasts until 2022.

Earlier this month, the 29-year-old admitted he is search of a last big contract and also discussed the possibility of leaving the English club in January after Scott Parker left the Norway international out of the Cottagers’ Premier League squad this season.

Norway take on Israel, Romania and Russia in the ongoing international break and Lars Lagerbäck has included the Fulham player in his squad for November’s matches.

Johansen started for Fulham U23s in their last league defeat, to Stoke City, after fully recovering from a back injury.

“It’s clear that it’s not an ideal situation. Most people understand that,” he said, as quoted by TV2.

“I’ve had a slight back injury that I had an intervention on last week. But it was quite small, so I got to train fully all last week.

“I find that difficult [playing for U23s]. First and foremost, the U23 match I played was to test a little bit into the match situation after the operation I had. It was basically that.”

The former West Brom loanee cannot feature for the Premier League side until January and he may be forced to settle for minutes with the U23s.

“The plan goes on, if there are further games there [with U23s] and like that [until] December, we will have to see. It’s not something I talk to the manager about. Just level-wise, it’s hard to say,” the player explained.

“As I understand it, there are occasionally experienced players who come down to play themselves better after an injury.”

According to TV2, Johansen will hold talks with Fulham to find a solution in the mid-season transfer window.

“Whether it’s being at Fulham or going somewhere else. You can’t dig yourself down for that reason. It’s just to roll up your sleeves, and then you can figure out the best possible solution when January comes,” he concluded.

It’s the second time in less than two weeks Johansen has talked about the possibility of leaving Fulham in January.



http://sportwitness.co.uk/player-reveals-situation-fulham-not-ideal-says-need-find-best-possible-solution-january/


Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 11/11/20...
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2020, 12:38:51 AM »
A Case For The Defence
Ben takes to the stand to explain why perceptions about our defence are starting to shift.

“Fulham are going down, I’ve never been more certain of anything in me life” said Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports after Fulham crashed and burned against Aston Villa.

Paddy Power started paying out on relegation, Fulham became the meme-kings of the Instagram explore page and all of us feared for the worst. A little more than two months on, there might be a cause for optimism. Yes, we haven’t started picking up points like Sunderland used to when there were five games left of the season and, yes, we haven’t exactly looked like AC Milan with Nesta and Maldini at the back either. But, there are some aspects to be pleased with.

Since the humbling at the hands of Jack Grealish and co, and the embarrassment of losing heavily to Championship side Brentford, Fulham have seemingly turned a corner. In part, this is due to Scott Parker finding balance within his back four, but also demonstrating a level of adaptability with his tactics. Against Wolves, Parker matched up against Nuno’s five-at-the-back system, and the dual threat of Joe Bryan and Antonee Robinson down the left worked well. Robinson in particular has rightly drawn plaudits for his explosiveness and finally some much needed pace in wide areas.

Greenshoots
Of course, there are areas where Fulham simply got it wrong, notably against Palace, but this is a positive article, so we move. Our last two games have underlined that the defence is starting to gel with the double pivot that sits in front of them. Finally, Tom Cairney has been pushed further forward and the captain’s positive influence is being felt at the other end of the pitch. Mario Lemina and Harrison Reed have stepped in to the “8” role and provided different outputs to the 4-2-3-1 that Parker’s deployed.

Against West Brom, Lemina allowed the shackles of Anguissa to be released somewhat. And while he doesn’t provide the all-action, crab-like movement of Harrison Reed, there was a clear demonstration of a player who could sniff out a threat and move the team up the pitch either by passing or taking on the press at source. Lemina’s presence also allowed the centre-halves to split out of possession, allowing the full-backs to press ahead and join attacks. Despite Anguissa’s solid start to the season, splitting centre-halves is clearly uncomfortable for the Cameroonian international and, frankly, his influence is better felt roaming and creating chances from slightly further up the pitch.

Improved impetus on the counter
West Ham saw the introduction of the Reed-Anguissa pivot, which for the majority of Fulham fans is the absolute ideal. On the basis of this performance you could see why. West Ham’s 3-4-3 was tricky; those formations always are. Wing-backs are caught in no man’s land often, and space opens up behind them as the decision to close their opposing wing-back is acted upon. However, the communication of both Reed and Anguissa to solve this problem was excellent. Harrison Reed’s heat map demonstrated the incredible work that he put in to cover the areas behind Antonee Robinson’s tough match-up with Coufal, which stifled one of the Hammers’ key outlets.

On the whole, though, Fulham look a much improved outfit in their defensive output. The ball is being pushed through the middle third much quicker, and this is helped greatly by the passing ability of Tosin Adarabioyo and Joachim Andersen. Adarabioyo in particular has bought a wonderful passing element to Fulham, and although his attempts against West Ham didn’t come off at times, the impetus to push usa up the pitch is obvious. This increased passing output from the defence has enabled the Whites to counter at speed, and with Tom Cairney in the 10 as the lynchpin to those attacks the freedom given to the full-backs has finally been acted upon. Aina’s magnificent goal against West Brom was a testament to Fulham’s newly found confidence in wide areas.

Yes, there is a long way to go and, again yes, Fulham don’t exactly look like the Italian teams of years gone by, but there are certainly positives to take from the performances since the closing of the transfer window. The balance is much better and, slowly but surely, Parker’s Fulham seem to be shape-shifting in to a Premier League outfit that can compete with well established teams. Here’s hoping this upturn in form continues and turns in to wins.



https://www.fulhamish.co.uk/post/2020-11-10-a-case-for-the-defence/

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 11/11/20...
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2020, 12:39:46 AM »
Fourth bottom would be ‘huge success’ for Fulham, says Parker

Fulham boss Scott Parker insists finishing fourth bottom would be a huge success this season.

Parker and co were brought back to earth with a bump on Saturday night, losing in added time to West Ham 1-0 – and made worse by a shocking penalty miss by Ademola Lookman right at the death.

It followed a heartening first win of the season, 2-0 against West Brom in the previous match, but the head coach has refused to get carried away then or now.

“Finishing fourth from bottom will be a huge success for us,” he said.

“We need to be comfortable being in or around this position – because that’s where we are.

“I want to be 10th in the league, but reality tells me that’s going to be very difficult, and not where we’re likely to be punching.

“I know where we’re likely to be punching, and that’s in and around the bottom four.

“I want my team to understand the peaks and the troughs, and with that the best way to come out with points.”

Parker held team meetings before a ball was kicked this season in a bid to hammer home the point.

You win one, you lose a couple more, but somehow claw enough points to stay in the top flight was the gist of the get-togethers.

“I set the picture at the start of the season in meetings; this is what it’s going to be like, and you have to understand it,” Parker explained.

“My experience tells me what we’re seeing now. Does that lack conviction, or belief? I don’t think so. I want to win more than anyone.”



https://www.westlondonsport.com/fulham/fourth-bottom-would-be-huge-success-for-fulham-says-parker

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 11/11/20...
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2020, 12:41:51 AM »
Win a signed 20/21 Home Shirt


Fancy winning a 20/21 Home shirt signed by the first team squad? Well now is your chance!

All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is ensure that you have created your OneFulham Account before 5pm on Sunday 22nd November.

The OneFulham Account, which launched in September 2020, combines supporters' different logins to Club sites into one, making the online experience of following Fulham FC much simpler. Fans now have access to the Club's ticketing, retail and FFCtv service through this one account, reducing the need for separate logins and passwords across the different services.

Supporters can create their OneFulham Account by clicking here or can find out more information by viewing our step-by-step guide here.

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https://www.fulhamfc.com/news/2020/november/Win-a-signed-20-21-Home-Shirt/


Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 11/11/20...
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2020, 12:44:29 AM »
Ademola Lookman’s penalty was not wasteful showboating – the Panenka is a brave and logical ploy

Ademola Lookman has been castigated for his now infamous spot-kick as ‘arrogant’, but great proponents of the Panenka see the method as a legitimate technique for converting a penalty

The Panenka is a thing of brilliance or foolishness, of courage or impudence, depending on who you ask. Pele said it was the work of either a genius or a madman. At the time its pioneer, Antonin Panenka, was described as “a poet” but he considered it less artistic and more scientific, a logic in the beauty, deducing that a high floating ball was almost impossible to save unless the goalkeeper stood still.

“I suspect that Maier doesn’t like the sound of my name too much,” Panenka later said of his victim at Euro 1976, the Germany goalkeeper Sepp Maier. “But I never wished to make him look ridiculous. On the contrary, I chose the penalty because I saw and realised it was the easiest and simplest recipe for scoring a goal.”

Andrea Pirlo replicated the technique against Joe Hart when Italy knocked England out of Euro 2012. Like Panenka, Pirlo saw it not as an act of mischief but of efficiency. "It was impromptu, the only way I could see of pushing my scoring chances close to 100 per cent,” Pirlo said. “There was no showboating. That's not my style."

Yet it was hard not to notice the Panenka gathering some negative press this week in the wake of Ademola Lookman’s now infamous miss. Over on talkSport it was filed firmly under gluttonous exhibitionism – does Lookman even know there’s a pandemic on? “Selfish, ridiculous, incomprehensible,” said Andy Townsend, with a face like he’d just quaffed old milk. Perry Groves said Panenkas should be banned. Andy Cole thought that was a bit strong and Lookman should just be fined. Danny Murphy described him as “arrogant” and said his penalty embodied “the curse of the modern-day player” who just wants headlines. “It’s like ‘I want to be the guy on social media, I want to be on the TV channels’,” said Murphy, in a soundbite ripe for social media and TV channels.

It seems the Panenka’s beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In contrast to something brainless, Lookman’s penalty could easily be framed as something brave and considered. As he stood preparing himself and his cheeks puffed out, perhaps he undertook a risk assessment; perhaps he calculated that in the final action of a match, Lukasz Fabianksi would not have the courage to simply stand still. Maybe the consequences of failure played through his mind, ultimately affecting his composure, and he still concluded it was the right choice for the moment.

To Panenka himself, the method was worth perfecting. His iconic moment was years in the works, the result of hours after training pitting himself against the Bohemians Prague goalkeeper. “We would play for a bar of chocolate or a glass of beer,” Panenka said. “Since he was a very good goalkeeper it became an expensive proposition for me. So, sometimes before going to sleep I tried to think of ways of getting the better of him, to recoup my losses. I got the idea that if I delayed the kick and just lightly chipped it, a goalkeeper who dived to the corner of the goal could not jump back up into the air, and this became the basis of my philosophy.

“I started slowly to test it and apply it in practice. As a side effect I started to gain weight, because I was winning the bets. I started to use it in friendlies, in minor leagues, and eventually I perfected it so I used it in the main league as well. The culmination was when I used it at the European Championship.”

Lookman’s attempt was no whim, either. He had scored this way for England Under-20s a few years ago in a penalty shootout against Brazil, albeit without much pressure. Comparing the two kicks you can see how well he pulls off the deception for England, while for Fulham he pulls out of the run-up and decelerates on connection, like a golfer’s faith in his putter draining away mid-swing. The Panenka didn’t come off this time but it was not an impulsive choice, rather it was one style among several Lookman had adopted in training which elevated him to the team’s back-up taker behind Aleksandar Mitrovic. 

Perhaps Lookman shouldn’t have been given the responsibility of a high-pressure kick, but who else was there? Mitrovic had a tight hamstring at the time and besides, his record of seven misses from 22 career penalties is underwhelming (incidentally, one of those was a Panenka scooped over the bar for Serbia against Montenegro). The captain, Tom Cairney, has little track record from the spot, missing one of his three when he assumed duties a few seasons ago.

So a 23-year-old summer signing stepped up, employing a technique he trusts under pressure, and failed. He was not the only one to miss a penalty this weekend. Kevin De Bruyne screwed one wide. Jamie Vardy smashed one down the middle and hit the goalkeeper’s legs. Jorginho and Bruno Fernandes have both missed recently with the jump and roll technique. Is Antonin Panenka’s “simple recipe” so different? From the reaction this week you’d think Lookman tried a rabona while flicking Vs and eating a Mr Whippy. The embarrassment was punishment enough; rarely do footballers require a pundit’s public scolding, least of all a young player with a social media account.

The penalty has in the past been a place for far greater inventiveness and risk than Lookman. The chaos of the game is stripped away to reveal an isolated duel, like a single ball of cricket, something with its own chemistry between the protagonists. It can be a moment to innovate, like the misdirection of Ezequiel Calvente’s standing-foot toe-poke, or the synergy of Lionel Messi’s touch for Luis Suarez arriving, or the pure shithousery of Lee Trundle’s loose shoelace. And what we admire in those penalties is the unconventional thought, and the preparedness, as much as the outcome itself.

You suspect Lookman won’t take a penalty for a while, and when he does he probably won’t attempt another Panenka. But perhaps one day he will try it again, and this time the ball will gently ripple the net, and somewhere a pundit primed for outrage will see some method in the madness.



https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/ademola-lookman-panenka-penalty-fulham-b1720368.html

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 11/11/20...
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2020, 12:45:29 AM »
Report: Fulham and Palace consider moves for club’s homegrown star; they’re ready to accept £1m

Fulham and Crystal Palace are weighing up January moves for Ivan Nasberg, according to The Sun.

Nasberg currently plays for Valerenga in his home country, Norway.

And it is claimed that his club are thought to be ready to accept £1 million – a fee that should be easily affordable for Premier League clubs such as Fulham and Crystal Palace.

Nasberg has helped his club go unbeaten in their last five matches, conceding twice in that time, and is being tipped to win his first international call-up.

Fulham already employ one Norwegian international in Stefan Johansen, although the midfielder was omitted from Scott Parker’s 25-man squad.

But Crystal Palace sold theirs, Alexander Sorloth, in the summer transfer window.

The Palace and former Fulham manager Roy Hodgson boasts a strong knowledge of Scandinavian football, having worked in Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

Both Fulham and Crystal Palace have conceded at a rate of at least 1.5 goals per Premier League game (almost 2, in the Cottagers’ case) this season.

And the pair could be in the market to strengthen their defensive options in the coming transfer window.



https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2020/11/10/report-fulham-and-palace-consider-moves-for-clubs-homegrown-star-theyre-ready-to-accept-1m/

Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 11/11/20...
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2020, 09:13:51 AM »

No need to panic! - Champions League challengers to relegation fodder: A reflection of the season so far

In true Leeds fashion, we’ve already had plenty of ups and downs this season. In truer fashion, the pessimism and panic of the past has reared its ugly mug. With the second international break ahead of us, and a weekend without Premier League football, now seems the perfect time to gain a little perspective, as we look ahead to the busy winter period.

International breaks are dreadful. I hate them. I’m sorry. A lacklustre - and frankly boring - England side force in two or three games against two or three countries I either don’t care about, or know nothing about. They spend 90 or so minutes playing conservative, risk-free, diluted football, before either nicking a couple of goals or not nicking a couple of goals, then everyone shakes hands (or bumps arms) and tries to forget that the game ever happened.

It might be tolerable, or maybe even enjoyable, for those who are used to spending their weekends watching Newcastle United or Brighton & Hove Albion or Fulham. However, after becoming so accustomed to Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, international football is more reminiscent of a kick-about in the open fields of a care home; a necessary period of light to moderate exercise, before we all call it a day, put the kettle on and make a brew.

It has, however, come at a very convenient time for Leeds. It’s an opportunity for the squad to regroup after two very disappointing defeats at the hands of Leicester City and Crystal Palace. The break also gives those injured - or infected in the case of Rodrigo - more time to get back to full fitness without missing anymore crucial fixtures.

Just as crucially, it gives us as fans time to gain some perspective on the season so far. The ups and the downs of our first season back in the big time. You’d have been forgiven for getting a little excited as we pushed for an early spot in the top four, or for becoming slightly worried more recently, as defensive frailties and leaked goals have pushed us back down the table. But during the break, it’s important to take a minute to look at the ‘big picture’ with a level head, and give an honest assessment of the team.

Am I glad we’ve got a two week break? Yes. I just wish it didn’t mean having to watch England.

The season so far
The first eight games for Leeds have been typified by two major characteristics: goals (for and against) and energy. The Whites’ never fading energy and relentless pressing intensity has been the source of much praise, and deservedly so. The goals, however, have been an issue. Whilst providing box office entertainment week-in week-out for the neutral, pundits have rightly pointed out that the rate - and simplicity - with which we concede goals is cause for some serious concern.

Bielsa’s side have, predictably, come up from the Championship with bags of energy and a fierce press to match. The Whites are either top, or next best in the league for total distance covered per game, team sprints per game, successful tackles, successful presses, blocks and passes allowed per defensive action (PPDA) as shown below:


This essentially means we’re covering more ground than anyone, sprinting more often than anyone, making more pressures, blocks and tackles than anyone, and pressing the opposition most effectively; which is great, obviously.

That does not simply translate to outright brilliant performances. It does equal goals: lots of them - both for and against. The hallmark of a top side isn’t goals for and against, it’s just goals for. The Whites have the 6th highest expected goals per 90 minutes (xG/90) in the league at 1.56. However, they also have the highest expected goals against per 90 minutes (xGA/90) in the league at 1.80; leading to them conceding more goals than anyone in the league this season (17 in just 8 games).

This is all well and good when we’re beating Fulham 4-3, or Aston Villa 3-0. But once anomalous attacking efficiency finally levels out to what we are used to, those high scoring wins quickly turn into heavy defeats. They say goals win games, but defence wins titles; now we’re not going to be winning any titles any time soon but if we want to survive this season, we need to steady the ship at the back.

The Premier League has, however, forced us to be more clinical in front of goal. Bielsa’s two seasons in the Championship were characterised by creating masses of chances, often missing them, and then conceding slack goals against the run of play. Regular indulgers of xG stats and xG fairness ratings would often see Leeds presenting hugely unfair results, dominating games and creating openings, before succumbing to outlandish goals from nowhere.

This season has seen a marked difference in The Whites’ - in particular Patrick Bamford’s - finishing. The 27-year old is into his 3rd season at Elland Road, and by far his most prolific, with 7 goals in his first 8 games, including that sublime hat-trick at Villa Park. As we reach this checkpoint in the season, Bamford is averaging a goal every 96 minutes. In Leeds’ promotion season he averaged a goal every 215 minutes, and the season before that every 151 minutes.

Another stick previously used to poke the Leeds frontman was his underperformance of xG during Leeds’ previous two seasons. This season is actually the first time he has outperformed his xG so far, bagging 0.94 goals per 90, compared to an xG/90 of 0.66. Clinical.

Bamford’s improvement in finishing, or maybe just a sharp hit of confidence, has got him - and Leeds - off to a really positive start in terms of goals scored, averaging 1.75 goals per 90 minutes against a team xG/90 of 1.56: an efficiency both Bamford and Bielsa will be hoping to carry through the season.

The Problems
Now, there were always going to be problems. We’re in the big league now, and this is what we’ve dreamed of for the last 16 years, this comes with an ego check or two. We’re not the big boys anymore, we’re not the team everyone looks for when the fixture list comes out, and we’re not the team that spends every gameweek blowing teams away and taking three points back from all corners of the country. We are smaller fry now, at least in terms of quality.

The injury problems at Leeds are near enough unavoidable: Kalvin Phillips’ shoulder injury was caused by the poo-housery of Wolves striker Raul Jimenez, Diego Llorente’s groin injury was picked up during the first international break back in October (yet another reason to hate the break), and Rodrigo more recently tested positive for Covid-19 - a new but increasingly common selection headache.

Whilst unavoidable in isolation, injuries to some key players do highlight the issues with Bielsa’s philosophy of a tight-knit, small squad, as we are more recently having to tinker with key positions in the starting XI in order to plug the holes - most notably Mateusz Klich’s change to a deeper role for Leicester and part of Palace.

Whilst this squad size is clearly optimal for Bielsa, and who are we to question the man? There are undeniably pros and cons of either approach to squad size, and the aforementioned injuries have weakened the side significantly.

Defensively, there are issues. You don’t concede the most goals in the league just by bad luck - although goals like Palace’s third do make you question the football gods. And whilst his performances have given us plenty to admire, Robin Koch is still inexperienced within Bielsa’s team, and at times has looked exactly that.

The Germany international suffered a baptism of fire in the opener at Anfield, as part of a defence that leaked 4 goals, including a penalty given away by himself. But the scoreline was forgiven, and in the following games against Fulham, Sheffield United and Man City, Koch’s quality on the ball, and ability to nick possession in-front of the striker showed a lot of promise.

And whilst the £13 million summer signing has consistently shown plenty of positives throughout the first 8 games, and clearly possesses the skillset necessary for a Bielsa centre-back, there have been several defensive errors - and in this league, as Bielsa put it: “errors equal goals”.

The handball at Liverpool was harsh; the ball bounced off Koch’s knee at pace, and at such close proximity. As was the story of the first few weeks, the referee judged it to be a penalty. The Fulham penalty, however, reeked of inexperience - sliding in from a distance as Fulham full-back Joe Bryan ran seemingly into a dead-end, before clocking Koch’s depserate slide and initiating the contact - an experienced full-back playing a naive centre-back.

The sour cherry on top the disgusting cake came against Leicester, just seconds after Patrick Bamford missed a great early chance. The Foxes raced up the pitch, and a criminally under-hit back-pass from Koch handed no other than Jamie Vardy the chance to run through on goal, before cutting it back to Harvey Barnes to tap into an empty net.

Let’s get things straight: this is not a witch hunt. The young centre-back is adapting to a league, and to a team, the likes of which he has never come close to experiencing during his time in the Bundesliga. There has also been plenty of really strong performances from the former Freiburg man, who has somewhat settled into the Leeds back line. Unfortunately, this is just a storm that needs to be weathered. The introduction of another experienced international in Diego Llorente should also help the young German.

The Solutions
The most apparent solution to most of Leeds’ problems, is the return of key players. The most important being that of Kalvin Phillips. The England international’s nack for screening the defensive unit is only proving increasingly important to the success of the team. In the first 5 games - in which Phillips started all 5 - Leeds conceded an average of 1.8 goals per game, whereas in the 3 games without Phillips, goals conceded has risen to almost 2.7 per game - including two separate 4-1 defeats.

The most worrying observation is the susceptibility to the counter-attack, a problem increasingly under the microscope as Leeds conceded 4 against the run of play down at Selhurst Park. The most probable solution to such an issue is simply the reintroduction of Phillips once he is fit again. The midfield general lives for a tackle, and prides himself on his ability to break up counter-attacks before they gather momentum. With such aggressive pressing so far up the pitch, it’s vital for someone to marshal the space in the middle of the park. No one does it better than the Yorkshire Pirlo.

Further strengthening in the form of two Spain internationals - Diego Llorente and Rodrigo Moreno - will bolster Bielsa’s squad significantly at both ends of the pitch. Leeds’ record signing: £27 million Rodrigo, has been nothing short of outstanding since his wobbly debut appearance against Liverpool, linking midfield to attack and showing his European prowess on a consistent basis - not least in an outstanding technical performance in Leeds’ 3-0 win at Villa, where Hat-trick hero Bamford was the centre of attention:

We are yet to see anything of fellow summer signing Llorente, who signed from Real Sociedad in the summer, but an experienced Spanish international, who has had his fair share of game time in La Liga, and come up against some of the best attacking threats in the world, is sure to help steady the ship at Elland Road - providing experience and wisdom for the young Robin Koch.

Available for selection - and showing quite some promise - is Brazilian winger Raphinha: Signed from Rennes for around £17 million, and on both Bielsa and Orta’s separate radars for quite some time now, the 23-year old has shown glimmers of star quality during his limited time on the pitch thus far.

Sharp, skillful, and a brilliant eye for a pass. The young winger has only played a total of 62 minutes for Bielsa so far, but looks to have the potential to be worth every penny as he tries to force himself into the starting XI, ahead of £15 million Helder Costa - and with 5 goals and 3 assists for Rennes last season, starts are sure to equal chances, especially with some of the passing we’ve seen so far...

So, with a new-found sense of optimism, and the return of key players imminent (hopefully), the upcoming fixtures post international break are likely to bring a lot more positives than the two that preceded. It will be far from easy, with games against Arsenal, Everton and then Chelsea, it will again be imperative to analyse with a level head. We are still finding our feet at this level, after a long and miserable spell in the lower divisions.

The signs, however, are promising and experience gained throughout the season will only improve Leeds week-by-week. To survive as a newcomer in this league is something to be proud of, and to do it in such a style of Bielsa’s Leeds is something to be commended. It is ultimately the target for Radrizzani and co. - the start of a bigger project, of more optimistic targets, of a more steady ascent up the ranks of the Premier League.

During these times of reflection and assessment, it’s always important to gain a little perspective. It’s always important not to panic.



https://throughitalltogether.sbnation.com/2020/11/11/21555020/no-need-to-panic-champions-league-challengers-to-relegation-fodder-a-reflection-of-the-season-so-far


Offline whitejc

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Re: Wednesday Fulham Stuff - 11/11/20...
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2020, 09:14:50 AM »
Coventry, Fulham, Sunderland former boss could make ‘sensational’ return to football

Former Coventry City, Fulham, Sunderland and Wales national team boss Chris Coleman has told The Sun that he’s open to returning to the Welsh job, with Ryan Giggs’ future on the line.

The Manchester United legend was arrested last week. It’s left a lot of uncertainty about his future in the role and now, speaking to The Sun, Coleman has opened the door on a return.

“I’m 50 now, so with experience you can never say never,” he said.

After guiding Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, and leading them up to 8th in the world rankings – their highest-ever ranking – Coleman would leave to take the managers’ job at Sunderland.

Sunderland were struggling in the Championship and having managed just 29 games in charge of the Black Cats, winning only five, he would leave before the season was out.

Then came a detour to Chine. Coleman took the Hebei China Fortune job in June 2018 and would be there for almost a year with mixed results.

Given his prior successes with the Welsh national side though, Coleman could be the ideal candidate to replace the under-fire Giggs.

He was arrested on November 1st and will miss Wales’ friendly match against the USA this month – Robert Page will take caretaker charge.

Euro 2020 will begin next year after delays this year, and we could yet see Wales going into that tournament under Coleman.

It could well be remnant of Euro 2016 – Wales defied all odds that year and gave the whole nation something to cheer about.

But Giggs remains the boss for now, and Wales could yet for someone completely new if he ends up leaving his role.



https://the72.co.uk/199965/coventry-fulham-sunderland-former-boss-could-make-sensational-return-to-football/