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Parma Ham's gone mouldy

Parma’s Tactics Masterclass 19

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10 hours ago, lake district canary said:

So is his use of language just airy persiflage?

 

The secret is out! LDC is Boris Johnson!

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16 minutes ago, Nuff Said said:

The secret is out! LDC is Boris Johnson!

Now come on, that's going too far.

I'll freely admit I don't like the guy and all the b*ll*cks he spouts, but comparing him to LDC is way out of line.

  • Haha 2

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2 minutes ago, Feedthewolf said:

Now come on, that's going too far.

I'll freely admit I don't like the guy and all the b*ll*cks he spouts, but comparing him to LDC is way out of line.

I don’t think I can tell you what I would compare Johnson to and remain a member of this board. 🤮

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1 hour ago, lake district canary said:

No, this is Boris Johnson....

 

Sadly that is a very crude and unsophisticated parody - if you think that's clever that is very telling.

Parma's original post is interesting and incisive and his use of vocabulary makes reading these posts so much easier - unless  you have a reading age in single digits. 

Parma - ignore your detractors and please carry on. 

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On 09/12/2019 at 18:24, Parma Ham's gone mouldy said:


Nash Game Theory assumes that self-interest encourages competitors to find and use the optimum strategy in any given scenario. 

There is criticism - common when results are negative - of tactics, substitutions, Board, philosophy, strategy, lack of Plan B* and quality. 

There are pages of quick-fire simplistic solutions all over this board implying that ‘if only we did x, or if only we did y’ we’d be better off, surviving, thriving, competing better. 

In that context - and to make an empirical judgment - the only meaningful question is: ‘Are we doing the best we can with the parameters we have?’

The painful Nashian evaluation might well be that this is ‘as good as it gets’. *Plan B does not need to exist if Plan A is already the best you can do with what you have. Which is not the same as winning every (or in fact any) week.

Farke’s defence - and by extension the Club’s unless contradicted - is that the limits of the finances (ergo the limits of the self-sustaining model) ensure that we have a ‘youthful’ (trans: naive, inexperienced as well as ‘young in age’) team that is learning on the job, increasing in education and increasing in value as an asset, further sustaining the model. 

The concentration of youth in defence (and conversely age in attack), can be observed to be the photo-negative of the typical approach whereby (to exaggerate to make the point) old sweats - battle-hardened, scarred and negative - have the appropriate, fearful, danger-lurks-around-every-corner mindset to keep goals out, whilst young, fearless, carefree, try-anything-once, zippy-footed youngsters bear down spontaneously on goal, making it hard to determine their next move and increasing the chances of scoring. 

That teams and players are significantly better en bloc at Premier level can be clearly noted. Systems are as strong as their weakest point and teams have the funds, depth of resources and analysis to minimise, amortise and prioritise their weaknesses. 

The optimum strategy to disturb Norwich’s tactics philosophy might be observed to be a well-coordinated high press, with dynamic physicality and a particular focus on the dedicated tempo-playmaker (vid the targeting of Leitner).

But wait. That’s not exactly news is it? Didn’t everyone know to do that last year in the Championship? 

A clear example of how and why it is greater quality, finer coordination - not Norwich failing in some way - that sees our negative outcomes repeating can be seen in the intelligence, unity and coordination of the high press against us. A press that contains 6 players moving in synch not 3 makes a fundamental difference. Players that can mentally repeat this process better, for longer and can then do something penetrative and meaningful with the ball after they have achieved a turnover  (perhaps at the fourth time of trying). They then do it all again after making an assist or scoring. Do not underestimate how impressive this is. It just doesn’t exist to anything like this level in the Championship. And all Premier teams can do it. 

Pukki’s exceptional goalscoring of course bailed us out multiple times from some average performances last season, he now gets less space, less chances and the increased pressure on defending inevitably leads to more exposure to danger and less creation. In the Championship other teams miss and waste a far higher percentage of chances, encouraging and rewarding more open strategies (to the point of cavalier: vid Alex Neil). It can be observed that you simply don’t have to focus so hard on defending and minimising chance creation against you under these parameters. That you may not be mentally, tactically or physically equipped to amend this failing at a later date at a higher level can also be observed. 

Buendia -  arguably second in influence over outcomes last season behind Pukki - has been less able to exploit a half second of time and space than he was a full second of it in the Championship. Conversely Cantwell, statistically far less effect in the Championship than Buendia (and others) - indeed he was arguably peripheral for much of the Championship campaign - has shown himself well able to replicate what he can do at the top level with comparatively much less time to do it in. This does not inevitably meant that he will dominate - or even succeed - if returned to the Championship. 

This is what scouts and Coaches really look for. Not really FM2019 style stats on who has done what - anybody can find and filter those - but rather ‘does what he does translate to a higher level? Will he be able to do the same thing with less time, under greater pressure, when he has to think faster, when his mistakes cost him more, when he is exposed to brighter lights?’
You might note that England has typically dominated smaller teams - often beating them far more heavily in qualifying than other major nations - only to regularly come up short when in the latter stages of a tournament. This is why. The style of play and methodology  (until recently) dominated at lower levels and was conversely ill-suited to higher levels. One does not prove the other. 

In the Championship goals are often scored by a relatively limited number of players. Often not lots of midfielders or defenders score repeatedly (we were an exception) and coaching dangers can be reasonably targeted on limited areas. In the Premier it is far less the case that you can discount some areas, players and possibilities as nearly all players are capable of causing problems if left unattended. 

Norwich have also made a stylistic decision that has implications for the type of player they recruit and play as Farke has repeatedly stressed. The approach of our contemporaries is instructive here to counterpoint our philosophy. Villa and Sheffield United have followed the tried-and-tested received wisdom of the ‘winning the mini-League’ and adopting defensive-minded strategies with high physicality and athleticism to spoil, disrupt and compete with similar sides and restrict chances of big beatings - with the hope of the odd ‘cup win’ style victory against an off-colour superior. Heightened physicality -  often (outside of very high prices) with a corollary of less fluid technicality - can thus be observed as an advance acceptance of mini-league membership. We decided to do different, aware of the risks. 

We can be observed to have attempted (actually ‘be copying’) the style of top level clubs in a desire to dominate possession and win games by ‘being better’ than the opposition. This is an ambitious and attractive approach that - let us not forget - was well able to dominate the Championship where ‘spoilers’ abound. It can be observed - currently - to be a style of play suited to playing better teams ( Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, even Liverpool) who have a similar approach, albeit with far greater resources. 

The sit-tight-and-counter-attack approach is far safer tactically (disclaimer: it might be observed that this is actually what we de-facto did vs Man City) and whilst it concedes possession, it does not threaten your own defensive shape in the way that fluid attacking and brave chance-creation often does. 

The apparent bete-noire for Norwich of weak set-piece defending via zonal marking is true and not true. Zonal marking exists in man-to-man marking systems too. Putting men on the posts is a zone no? The perceived danger of an opponent ‘getting a run on you’ via Zonal should be negated by simply filling the area they want to run into by having lots of strategically-placed bodies there (which we do). Opponents can’t often (if ever) score from headers from the penalty spot outwards, so we are not talking about a huge strip of zonal land here. Zonal can encourage the keeper to come more, which can equally be  good or bad. The truth is that lots of goals are scored by set pieces and good delivery is hard for anyone - and any system - to defend. Players switching off is switching off, zonal or not. If you defend a lot, you will logically have to defend more set pieces. If you defend more of them, you’ll concede more from them. Concessions from zonal do look awful though, so they may imprint deeper as a negative image on all. I would be lying if I said I thought all Norwich defenders looked comfortable with the current set piece defensive set up however. 

Money cannot be excluded in the margins of a game either. Many Premier clubs pay high sums for game-changing Plan B subs. A Crouch, Fellaini, Carroll,  a set piece specialist (throws, direct free kicks, sharp delivery). We have a good, balanced squad with interchangeable players. We cannot buy top end weapons to sit on the bench ‘just in case’ as others can.

As Nash knows, there is no point in Plan B if the odds still favour Plan A (even if ‘pub’ humans like change for change’s sake in the mistaken belief that it must inherently be better). There will be plenty of flaws in a 6/10 strategy and this board is full of some of them. Unfortunately too often the ‘solutions’ are simply anything and everything that the current strategy isn’t. This is easy to prescribe, though it in no way proves that any such change would derive a better outcome. It is Farke and Webber’s raison d’etre, their life’s work to achieve the best outcome, the maximum output from the resources available. Racing a Fiat against a Ferrari takes more than a good driver however. 

We have a clear identity. A clear methodology and style of play. It is now well-drilled and established in the minds of the players. There is no confusion, no lack of cohesion, no misunderstanding of what is required individually and collectively. The players purchased fit the model well, the players grown and nurtured are well-schooled in what the coach needs and wants to achieve. This has and will create a good ‘floor’ to outcomes. Our clarity and consistency of message should and will ensure that performance levels - over an extended period (including perhaps the Championship) remain above the ‘floor’ level. 

It would be naive and disingenuous to imagine that no corollary ‘ceiling’ exists under a self-sustaining model however. Over time - in theory - there are no limits to the model, though a 2020 Championship team without Pukki might well not repeat the surprising and wonderful victory of last season. Goals are much harder to replace than anything else - regardless of the elegant construction of any model - and they can cover a multitude of sins. If buying goals is hard, growing them is harder. 

If the ruthless approach to transfers this season is due to a long-term infrastructure plan that included not only the training ground, but also the stadium itself, this might be a vote-winner. Giving those who earned success a fair chance is fair-minded, though perhaps romantic in professional sport. Providing an educational platform for young, ascending assets should be economically sound and admirably advertises the model to tomorrow’s candidates, though is quite possibly compromising in immediate sporting terms. 

There is of course an issue with long-term vision and golden promises of jam tomorrow. Like it or not in our Football world there is the Premier League and far, far behind - in media, money, global interest, exposure, excitement - there is everything else. 

There is no linear progression, football has changed. Money has changed it dramatically. Small teams historically are now strong economic entities with rich (maybe distant) owners, huge historic clubs floundering - despite maintaining gates at turnstiles - because it pales into insignificance versus TV revenues. Conversely you need a bigger stadium out of the Premier League when you no longer have guaranteed demand to fill it and - horribly - you could shut the stadium and show all your games online via Amazon and make a fortune while at the top tier. Our model is a good one, an elegant one, one to be proud of and support, much of it of eternal good sense regardless of means. Though in truth it was born out of necessity, dressed as choice. It is retrospective justification for what needs to be. We would spend more if we had it. 

We are doing as well as we can - the manager, the players, the sporting team, the board - with what we have. Nash would be proud. 

Parma

Read this, enjoyed it and immediately thought of the casting pearls at swine metaphor, wcorkcanary beat me to it though. I have one follow up question Parma, I understand and enjoy our style of play for the most part, but why do we almost never switch the play horizontally? We seem to always favour playing ourselves into trouble in tight areas to concede possession or a throw in whereas most other possession based teams like to switch the play from one side to the other when they run into congested areas which often leaves the opposition exposed when they're pressing and creates a chance, i look at Leeds and Derby last year as an example. I feel this is one area of our game that we could improve on, exploit and I can't for the life of me understand why we don't especially as we often have a full back in space, unmarked on the other side of the pitch to where the ball is in most instances. It frustrates the hell out of me and I was wondering if you had any thoughts on this from a coaching perspective? Thanks. 

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Grustig Christoph, nice question 👍

First up I’ll confirm some assumptions I make that others do not (necessarily). Having watched the patterns of play and tactical nuances at Norwich under Farke (and Webber) over an extended period I have seen more than enough evidence that they know exactly what they are doing. Indeed Norwich’s positional play- style approach (Google: Juan Manuel Lillo, Positional Play) is often highly refined. In this context I assume that anything not done (vid that which can be reasonably observed) is deliberately not a priority or is actively discounted. I realise others may not agree and that’s fine. 

Firstly it is clear that Norwich encourage the opposition high press. Whilst we have stated that it is what opponents do to negate us, we are nevertheless designed to ‘Matador’ our way around it. We want to bring opponents in, to create space behind them. We are openly pitting our ‘escape’ skills against their ‘smother’ skills. In terms of your question it is important to recognise that moves, passes and patterns are not isolated. They are part of a fluid, interconnecting whole. We can only understand one part in reference to the others. 

We create deep defensive overloads that ensure that we can play short, low risk passes. English teams and players have been conditioned that passing around whilst in defence - or even in your box - is high risk, it isn’t. A short pass is a very low risk technical manoeuvre and remains so wherever it is on the field (vid interesting analysis by Sports Psychologists about the difference between walking on a beam on the floor or mounted 6ft in the air. The action hasn’t changed, only your perception of the danger of your action).

There is no doubt that a horizontal or diagonal ball is technically more difficult - and thus at higher risk of losing possession and allowing a dangerous counter attack against you  - it physically takes longer to travel and given that it is a longer pass, it stretches the game and somewhat corrupts the benefits of the tight ‘constructive bunching’ that we employ to beat  the press and overload the opposition. 

Note something highly important here that is often overlooked via your ‘constructive bunching‘ overload and short angled passing methodology: you will always have lots of players in a relatively small area. Thus if you do lose it - transitions between attacking and defending - you are all close enough together to rapidly shut the space defensively, increasing your chances of winning the ball back quickly. Our overload possession style is a defensive tool as well as an attacking one. 

There is an interesting argument about ‘Where do you attack from, where do you defend from’ in this. Guardiola would certainly say that you can be attacking when you appear to some to be defending and vice versa. You cannot simultaneously be where you are and where you are not. To explain, if you ‘force’ the opposition to move additional pieces deep into your half - yes pressing around your box - then they have to come from somewhere else, you must have created increased space for you to attack into (if you beat the press). Your defensive tactics are actually then also an attacking weapon (camouflaged if you like).

Fine, but why not hit more horizontal balls to your underload (the player you have on the opposite side away from your constructive bunching)?  Guardiola (again) loves this principle and desperately tries to ‘camouflage’ it so it can be sprung on the opposition (vid his repeated tactics with Robben while at Bayern). It is quite fair of you to bring it up. 

Truthfully Christoph I’m not sure that we wouldn’t like to, we just don’t create the scenario enough. Godfrey loves a diagonal, Krul regularly plays the clipped 30 yard angled pass to the high full back when the team are in good W shape (CDM has dropped between the wide split CBS and FBs are high and wide). Zim also tries this pass, with varying degrees of success. Perhaps the old sweats would say that because of lots of tight, short passes in small areas it mitigates against ‘getting your head up’ for the switch. I’m not sure that’s right at Norwich. 

Hernandez is not always the most intelligent footballer and he may share some blame here too. A rapid switch of play to an open player tends to mean an opposite wide player and - if full backs are pinned deeper for any reason - this would be him. He doesn’t often look for it, preferring to drift wide and wait for a ball he can run onto, or drive into the box with.  Our other theoretical options are all ‘three quarter’ players tasked with pivoting around the 10 (say Stieperman) then connecting close to Pukki. We are not really looking to expand the shape wide here, we are overloading the centre to create the type of chances that Pukki prefers. He doesn’t need or want wingers pinging in crosses early and high from wide. We need through balls, inside passes he receives on the half turn, or cut backs from behind the defence to maximise our (his) weapons.


Norwich may have therefore decided that the typical benefits to this pass are less valuable to them because of what they are trying to achieve next and or what it costs in defensive shape (what else Hernandez could be doing inside to support the defensive and attacking structure). Robben was arguably much freer to stealthily wait for this underload opportunity because a superior side can afford to concede more tactically. 

Getting close to Pukki to support him is - inevitably I suppose - something we do much less of at this level. I would observe that Hernandez probably has the most tactical freedom to ‘go beyond’ Pukki, he just doesn’t do it that much.

When you are inferior you simply have to defend - and cover for defensive scenarios - more often. That I suspect is the true answer to your question. 

Parma

Edited by Parma Ham's gone mouldy
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What you say makes perfect sense Parma. However what I (quite possibly naively) seem to see is that the high press deployed by our opponents has recently more often than not led to Krul eventually  kicking long. Is this actually an attempt to benefit from the opposition press and bypass their forward players? Or is just that he is under pressure with no safe outlet, and “getting rid”?

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Sadly Nuff, this is the system breaking down and failing (as we would see it) or the opposition succeeding in coordinating their press elegantly (as they would see it). 

Given that what we do is odds based (maximising our parameters, doing the best with what we have, setting up only for that), a long kick from Krul is very low rent and a last resort. 

If you are looking for confidence indicators, look for defenders (or goalkeepers) releasing the ball half a second before they needed to.*

At our best defenders (et al) are comfortable hanging onto the ball half a second more than you thought possible. Without that Matador confidence our system is in trouble. 

Parma

*obviously not when playing deliberately quickly to create space, exploit turnover et al 

Edited by Parma Ham's gone mouldy
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Having watched the patterns of play and tactical nuances at Norwich under Farke (and Webber) over an extended period I have seen more than enough evidence that they know exactly what they are doing

 

I’m sure they are ecstatic  that they have your approval 😁

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If something isn't working, surely it's a route to madness to continually repeat it.

I would suggest that shipping lots of goals and taking residence at the foot of the League is a sign that the system isnt working. 

*Are the players doing as asked by the manager?

*Are the coaches and manager not improving the players / developing a system which brings success for the league we're in?

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2 hours ago, Parma Ham's gone mouldy said:

Grustig Christoph, nice question 👍

First up I’ll confirm some assumptions I make that others do not (necessarily). Having watched the patterns of play and tactical nuances at Norwich under Farke (and Webber) over an extended period I have seen more than enough evidence that they know exactly what they are doing. Indeed Norwich’s positional play- style approach (Google: Juan Manuel Lillo, Positional Play) is often highly refined. In this context I assume that anything not done (vid that which can be reasonably observed) is deliberately not a priority or is actively discounted. I realise others may not agree and that’s fine. 

Firstly it is clear that Norwich encourage the opposition high press. Whilst we have stated that it is what opponents do to negate us, we are nevertheless designed to ‘Matador’ our way around it. We want to bring opponents in, to create space behind them. We are openly pitting our ‘escape’ skills against their ‘smother’ skills. In terms of your question it is important to recognise that moves, passes and patterns are not isolated. They are part of a fluid, interconnecting whole. We can only understand one part in reference to the others. 

We create deep defensive overloads that ensure that we can play short, low risk passes. English teams and players have been conditioned that passing around whilst in defence - or even in your box - is high risk, it isn’t. A short pass is a very low risk technical manoeuvre and remains so wherever it is on the field (vid interesting analysis by Sports Psychologists about the difference between walking on a beam on the floor or mounted 6ft in the air. The action hasn’t changed, only your perception of the danger of your action).

There is no doubt that a horizontal or diagonal ball is technically more difficult - and thus at higher risk of losing possession and allowing a dangerous counter attack against you  - it physically takes longer to travel and given that it is a longer pass, it stretches the game and somewhat corrupts the benefits of the tight ‘constructive bunching’ that we employ to beat  the press and overload the opposition. 

Note something highly important here that is often overlooked via your ‘constructive bunching‘ overload and short angled passing methodology: you will always have lots of players in a relatively small area. Thus if you do lose it - transitions between attacking and defending - you are all close enough together to rapidly shut the space defensively, increasing your chances of winning the ball back quickly. Our overload possession style is a defensive tool as well as an attacking one. 

There is an interesting argument about ‘Where do you attack from, where do you defend from’ in this. Guardiola would certainly say that you can be attacking when you appear to some to be defending and vice versa. You cannot simultaneously be where you are and where you are not. To explain, if you ‘force’ the opposition to move additional pieces deep into your half - yes pressing around your box - then they have to come from somewhere else, you must have created increased space for you to attack into (if you beat the press). Your defensive tactics are actually then also an attacking weapon (camouflaged if you like).

Fine, but why not hit more horizontal balls to your underload (the player you have on the opposite side away from your constructive bunching)?  Guardiola (again) loves this principle and desperately tries to ‘camouflage’ it so it can be sprung on the opposition (vid his repeated tactics with Robben while at Bayern). It is quite fair of you to bring it up. 

Truthfully Christoph I’m not sure that we wouldn’t like to, we just don’t create the scenario enough. Godfrey loves a diagonal, Krul regularly plays the clipped 30 yard angled pass to the high full back when the team are in good W shape (CDM has dropped between the wide split CBS and FBs are high and wide). Zim also tries this pass, with varying degrees of success. Perhaps the old sweats would say that because of lots of tight, short passes in small areas it mitigates against ‘getting your head up’ for the switch. I’m not sure that’s right at Norwich. 

Hernandez is not always the most intelligent footballer and he may share some blame here too. A rapid switch of play to an open player tends to mean an opposite wide player and - if full backs are pinned deeper for any reason - this would be him. He doesn’t often look for it, preferring to drift wide and wait for a ball he can run onto, or drive into the box with.  Our other theoretical options are all ‘three quarter’ players tasked with pivoting around the 10 (say Stieperman) then connecting close to Pukki. We are not really looking to expand the shape wide here, we are overloading the centre to create the type of chances that Pukki prefers. He doesn’t need or want wingers pinging in crosses early and high from wide. We need through balls, inside passes he receives on the half turn, or cut backs from behind the defence to maximise our (his) weapons.


Norwich may have therefore decided that the typical benefits to this pass are less valuable to them because of what they are trying to achieve next and or what it costs in defensive shape (what else Hernandez could be doing inside to support the defensive and attacking structure). Robben was arguably much freer to stealthily wait for this underload opportunity because a superior side can afford to concede more tactically. 

Getting close to Pukki to support him is - inevitably I suppose - something we do much less of at this level. I would observe that Hernandez probably has the most tactical freedom to ‘go beyond’ Pukki, he just doesn’t do it that much.

When you are inferior you simply have to defend - and cover for defensive scenarios - more often. That I suspect is the true answer to your question. 

Parma

Brilliant insight, thanks Parma.

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It would entirely depend if some other option would produce superior outcomes over time Number 9. And what financial or sporting implications that change would have. 

Any coach would be highly reluctant to change long-drilled, deeply embedded pattern of play principles and conditioned neural responses.

When you are inferior or under stress, you resort to your default position. A good coach makes that default stress position the most beneficial to you possible (vid the success of the German National team for example). 

We are not going to change the way we play. It is our best hope at this level, it is provenly superior in the Championship, and we are modelling it to succeed as a long term philosophy. 

Just because it is not currently good enough for the current Premier League is not necessarily the system failing. However frustrating or obtuse that may feel after losing (again) on a Saturday. 

Parma

Edited by Parma Ham's gone mouldy

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