08 January 2018
Good article, if not a little long!
For me, I have said this on here before - I tended to agree with Koeman with regard his subsitutions and his in-game management.
I cannot say the same about Puel or Pellegrino. I feel like I am watching a different game to them at times.
What I liked about Koeman, and what made sense to me as a spectator, was that if we were winning by a narrow margin and the opposition were starting to get a foothold, often having made a tactical change themselves, Koeman would often make a positive attacking change. This often involved bring Shane Long on (when he wasn't quite so terrible). What this served to do was give the opposition something to think about from a defensive point of view. It meant that they ran a serious risk of conceding a goal on the counter attack if their defence pushed up with a high line. This in turn bought us more space and allowed us to get higher up the pitch and play the remainder of the game in a more advanced part of the field. Reducing the amount of pressure on the back four.
To give an example of this, look at how many headed goals we have conceded this season in crucial games. Brighton, Burnley, Huddersfield, Arsenal etc etc etc. These goals would be avoided were it not for the fact that we were sat so deep. If our back four held a line twenty yards out then speculative crosses in to the box probably wouldnt even be attempted let alone lead to goals.
With Pellegrino, he seems to very rarely (if at all) acknowledge that the second goal is crucial and more emphasis should be placed on ensuring that we go and get it when in front, rather than allowing the opposition back in to the game. Instead we tend to sit back, lose all belief that we can in fact score another goal and ultimately concede at the other end. Just the one if we are lucky so we can take a point. How many games have we witnessed this so far? Off the top of my head - Brighton, Huddersfield, Arsenal, Palace - to name a few quite quickly.
There seems to be no taking the game by the scruff of the neck. Never adding another attacking player in to the mix to really go for it and kill off the game. I think fans would accept being beaten by a counter attacking move, but the fact that we tend to welcome the pressure on to us and concede from a position of limited strength, then that is why these late goals against us feel inevitable. We no longer have Fonte and VVD at the back who were dominant in the air and a well organised pairing, so we cannot soak up as much pressure as we perhaps used to be able to.
So realistically if we are shite at the back, we need to place more emphasis on attack so that we have to do as little defending as possible. That makes the fact that we are even worse going forwards, all the more frustrating.