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HampsteadCanary

Attacking vs Defending

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Our attacking performances seem to have really stepped up a gear or two since the lacklustre Bristol, Ipswich and Sheffield games. 5 goals in 2 games should make be enough to win those matches comfortably. Are we slipping back into the Neil Adams mindset of two years ago when we see some great attacking football but sabotage ourselves by being too open to the counter.

I hoped we might have learnt that lesson by now, but I actually think AN is doing a good job. He clearly has the attacking players motivated and organised, as you can''t win games (as we have been recently!) without scoring, now he has to readdress the balance of the team.

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[quote user="HampsteadCanary"]Our attacking performances seem to have really stepped up a gear or two since the lacklustre Bristol, Ipswich and Sheffield games. 5 goals in 2 games should make be enough to win those matches comfortably. Are we slipping back into the Neil Adams mindset of two years ago when we see some great attacking football but sabotage ourselves by being too open to the counter.

I hoped we might have learnt that lesson by now, but I actually think AN is doing a good job. He clearly has the attacking players motivated and organised, as you can''t win games (as we have been recently!) without scoring, now he has to readdress the balance of the team.[/quote]

I don''t think so.  We just have to be more clinical in front of goal.  3-0 up and the game last night and on Saturday would have been more or less over.  2-0 looks good but is a dangerous score in that if the opposition score the next goal, it puts you on the back foot.

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@LDC

Agree- I wasn''t at the game last night but the highlights suggested we had the chances to be 3 or 4 up before they scored. I wonder if Nelson might be a bit more clinical than Jerome?

We do seem to still have some of the mental weakness that showed last season- we do seem to panic and lose our shape when we concede.

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The OP raises a completely justified issue: we are quite simply incapable, as a team, of defending unless we set out to do only that (as against teams such as Man City in the EPL). I find it depressing that so many people fail to acknowledge the realities of the modern game, namely that successful teams are built on a platform of solid defence. The idea that attack is the best form of defence is the mantra of a team that is incapable of defending, pretty much the sole exception being Guardiola''s Barca, very much a special case dependent on a quite specific group of players. Hughton knew when he was appointed that he was going to have to educate us, team and fans, in the realities of football at the highest level. He tried and failed. AN had to learn the lesson for himself, which he did quite early on last season and spent the rest of the season trying unsuccessfully to do what Hughton had been unable to achieve. You can see him trying to address the same problem this season, quite rightly because it should be easier to do it when not facing the same quality of attacking football and because it is essential that we learn how to defend if we are to have any chance of surviving in the EPL if and when we get promoted. Any team that plays us can justifiably believe that they can score against us, and any team that gets the first goal against us knows that they will likely be able to get more. Our win at Blackburn on the opening day got us off to exactly the wrong start in terms of an appreciation of priorities; turns out we slaughtered nothing more dangerous than the division''s sacrificial lamb.

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I think it''s to do with long term establishment as well, which is something we''ve struggled with. I think we were expecting our bolstered defence (Klose and Pinto clearly upgrades on Bassong and Martin/Whittaker) to be able to cope with Championship attacks, especially with a defensive midfielder such as Tettey that should be more than enough to repel most teams in this division. I feel that our general lack of width further up the pitch is creating problems at the back.

I hope AN is the man to help find this balance, and get it right THIS YEAR so if we go up, we have a style of play and a balance that gives us a better chance of staying there.

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HampsteadCanary wrote: "I think we were expecting our bolstered defence (Klose and Pinto clearly

upgrades on Bassong and Martin/Whittaker) to be able to cope with

Championship attacks, especially with a defensive midfielder such as

Tettey that should be more than enough to repel most teams in this

division."IMO this illustrates how ingrained outdated ideas are in English minds. Yes, Klose and Pinto are upgrades on Bassong and Whittaker, but the same problems persist; and yes, the quality of attacking in the Championship is not as high as in the EPL but we are still persistently undone. When will people realise that a team''s defence can no longer be considered the special task of the goalkeeper and four in front of him (any more than it is possible now to ignore the role of the goalkeeper in the team''s attacking play)?

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I think that''s a little unfair Westcoast! You would expect a CB from Wolfsburg and a RB with Champions League experience to make a difference to your defensive ability in the Championship. I never suggested just the back four were responsible, and in fact quoted Tettey as being vital for the defence as well.

Some of the problems are different from last year. This year we are expected to be on top in games, so actually it''s the way we attack that is leaving us exposed, eg our full backs having to provide all the width, and with players bought from the Prem in front of them we should be keeping the ball better. You would expect a team that is capable of keeping clean sheets against Man City to be able to keep a clean sheet against more than 4/6 Championship opponents.

What do you think the same problems are from last season? Concentration and fitness? Those things can be addressed in coaching, but you would hope a higher calibre of player would naturally have more ability in those areas.

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I know you mentioned the role of Tettey Hampstead, but I think the gist of your post (as with posts by many others over past seasons) was that all we need to do is improve individual quality in certain positions in the back four. My point is that our experience in the EPL over the past few seasons ought to have made people realise that that is not in itself enough. We should of course aim to improve quality all over the pitch, but that improvement in quality needs to incorporate improved defensive quality (yes, all over the pitch).Re. your comment about "the way we attack", AN has us set up in a way similar to the vast majority of top level sides. The readiness of our full backs to go forward is mirrored wherever you look; most good teams now play with one up front, etc. etc. When people complain about lack of width, what they are usually bemoaning is lack of two old-fashioned, touch-line hugging wingers. Width remains important in the modern game, but it is now provided in a variety of different ways and the use made of it is much more varied too. Yes, we do need to keep the ball better, but that too is a team-level, not particularly individual, attribute.You ask what I think the problems are that replicate last and earlier seasons. Loss of concentration is certainly one, whether linked to stamina and fitness, maybe. But I also think we are handicapped by an over-emphasis on attacking football (part of "the Norwich way"?) strongly subscribed to by the fans and endorsed by McNally and the board with their appointments of Adams and Neil as successors to Hughton. You win games by outscoring your opponent; the question is whether prioritising "attacking football" is the most effective means of doing so on a regular basis in this modern day. I think we have plenty of evidence showing the answer to that is "No!".

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No the gist of my post was that we need to find the balance between attacking and defending. My second post suggested that the fact we have better players than last time in this league might have helped address that balance. But it hasn''t!

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[Y] No quarrel with the need for greater balance. But it requires inculcation of a foreign (literally and metaphorically) mindset and re-conception of roles. "Better" players can swiftly be rendered "no better", or even "worse", when deprived of what they could previously take as givens and second nature to their team mates.

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Getting a good balance to the team will be vital sooner rather than later. Currently we only have 3 defensive minded players in the 11, Martin/Bennett, Klose & Tettey, and Tettey''s positional discipline hasn''t been great this season either. With the fullbacks bombing forward and the other midfielders in attacking and narrow positions it is leaving us too vulnerable to counter attacks with a alarming lack of pace at the back unless Martin is playing at CB. One way way to solve this would be to employ our wing backs as narrow wing backs with tettey dropping in between the CB who would spread out slightly with would give us a solid platform to attack from and would allow us to keep our 5 attacking players on the pitch. With Olson and Pinto both being comfortable on the ball I see no reason why they could not fulfill these rolls with ease.

Infront of those it would then be a choice of Howson or Dorrans to connect the play with Hoolahan or Pritchard along side to provide the killer balls and join with the attack.

Jacob or Canos would provide the initial width on the right with Brady or Josh on the left. and with Jerome or Oliviera uptop putting pressure or the CB or Gk on the ball to hopefully force them into a mistake or to kick the ball out of play to allow us to keep the ball further up the pitch with the protection of the 5 players behind allowing our forward players to play without so much pressure of losing the ball.

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