Writer: Colin Fraser
Date:Tuesday December 11 2007
Our predicament, the inability to finish games off and take all 3 points, has left us lying fourth from bottom of the table. Lawrie Sanchez is quick to remind us of how well we have played in games and still come away with no points because of those last ten minutes.
Whilst I think Lawrie talks a fair amount of sense at times and has made us more consistent and solid (though hardly harder to beat), I think that the Premiership has changed a great deal since his day. Now most games are decided by those last ten minutes.
Sanchez called this the 'kitchen sink' football phase of the game. Teams throw everything but the kitchen sink at the opposition in order to get the equaliser or winner.
The sides that are best at this football are the ones with most quality and strongest benches (Arsenal being statistically strongest in the league at `kitchen sink` football so far this season ).
During this phase of the game teams dare to expose themselves and go for broke, in the knowledge that if they attain the lead they can also play the possession football required to hang on to it .
It is in this last point that our predicament lies. We are set up to play the ball forward as quickly as possible and always clear the ball from areas likely to put us in danger. We now have fullbacks who punt the ball long and forward and who themselves never have time as a consequence to get forward in support.
We don`t appear to have a `Plan B´ either if we go behind or to shut up games when we have the lead. By constantly hoofing the ball forward at the end of matches when we have had a goal advantage we encourage teams to attack us.
The quality teams play another type of football when leading by the odd goal with 10 minutes to go. This is based on keeping possession and forcing the chasing to team to expose themselves even more and then pouncing for the killer blow.
Sanchez`s style of football has made us vulnerable to those last ten minutes and ironically enough his crazy gang football philosophy is directly responsible for us dropping so many goals late on in games.
The quality of players in the Premiership has changed beyond recognition since the 80 `s. These days if your game plan is to hoof it forward and win the second ball you`re going to get punished by the teams that can play as you are encouraging them to have ago at you, particularly in those last ten minutes when there is nothing to lose .
Colin Fraser (Fulham fan since 1966) now living in Sweden
Date:Tuesday December 11 2007
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