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HampsteadCanary

Our passing

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What has happened to our passing? We''ve traditionally been a good footballing team, and there''s not reason why our players aren''t capable of passing the ball like they did last season. We''ve brought in players that are more composed on the ball, yet the movement on and off the ball is terrible.

As far as ball control/passing is concerned:

Garrido > Tierney/Drury

Bassong > Whitbread/Barnett

Whittaker (should be in the team) > Martin

Snodgrass > Bennett

So why can''t we pass and move the ball well!? People moan about the pitch and conditions today but Southampton didn''t have any problems moving the ball around. Is it confidence? Maybe Hughton doesn''t consider it a priority in training, but I really wish we could play like we did in that first half at Swansea where we played with passion, intensity and moved the ball around with pace.

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Passing though is actually more about the movement of players off the ball, not the level of passing ability of the player with the ball, although obviously its a major help. If we try and stay organised defensively which we do under Hughton it often means players arnt moving so freely for fear of getting caught out of position, hence not many opitons to pass to.

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[quote user="Yellowbeagle"]Passing though is actually more about the movement of players off the ball, not the level of passing ability of the player with the ball, although obviously its a major help. If we try and stay organised defensively which we do under Hughton it often means players aren''t moving so freely for fear of getting caught out of position, hence not many options to pass to.[/quote]What he said. Zero movement today.The fact that Johnson and Howson can neither pass nor move is also a factor.

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Hmm they can both certainly move, as Johnson and Howson are both supposed to have good engines. Just not able/willing to move into good positions to receive the ball and help us move up the pitch swiftly....

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It''s not really about the engine, it''s more mental. It''s about knowing how to find a yard of space to receive the ball, and then actually being bothered to do it. If you''re having a bad game, or don''t want the ball, then it''s easy to stand relatively still and say you were being marked so couldn''t receive, which is what happens at a lot of clubs when there''s fear (or if you drop down the leagues and have some average players).

I''m not sure what the reason is for us; perhaps it''s the players themselves not feeling confident enough to get on the ball (Hoolahan apart), perhaps it''s that they feel too scared to break rank too much and are more concentrating on maintaining their shape.

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even in our 10 game run our passing was poor - I recall being lambasted for expressing that concern at the time. Without decent passing (and as aggy rightly points out good movement) you cannot consistently win football matches.

We are missing tettey, pilkington retains the ball well (and is seriously under rated) and wes tends to lose the ball being attacking rather than a crab (see howson, BJ etc).

But we do have to have been availability from both the midfield but more crucially up front. Holt has not been as mobile and that affects how passes turn out.

we need our most able players in all areas of the pitch.

451, bj and fox/whittaker in the 2, pilkington (if fit) wes, snoddy with a hungry holt up front, in their face, tempo and movement with holt off after 60 mins if he plays like today, until he tires if its the real grant holt on display

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Our lack of passing ability was highlighted by Southamptons tactical approach to the game.
Pochettino was heavily influenced as a coach by Bielsa (current Athletic Bibao coach) and maintains his defensive approach of high pressing and the offside trap. There were several times toady where Southampton''s defence had pressed so high, that they had no one (other than the the ''keeper) in their own half. They won five off-sides today, a very high number which can''t bu purely down to our attackers indiscipline. Their tackling and interception numbers are also high, indicative of a high pressing game.
What Hughton wanted us to do (and I think tried to facilitate with the inclusion of Kamara) was to hit the ball early, behind their defensive lines and try to run on to the ball. There''s a reason why our best chances came from long clearances. 
When you play against a team that presses so high, and play a game that demands alot on long passing, your pass accuracy is going to be very low. The pitch also didn''t help, with the ball either skidding further than expected or getting stuck.
I wouldn''t read too much into the passing from this game, we came up against a unique opponent in unique conditions which made chances of good, passing football unlikely. I''m much more worried about our passing in other games, where tactics and conditions can''t be used to blame some of our lackluster passing... 

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do we really accept that our talented and well paid footballers cant pass the ball in wet conditions or with opponents around them?

Our pass completion rate is 3rd worst at 74% for the season - but 60% is a serious low - 4 out of every 10 pass not finding it mark is not acceptable and shows a bad day at the office.

So how did the weather affect soton? Their normal is 78% away from home and they dropped to 75% today - so the weather had a marginal affect on a players ability to pass

so why did our players pass 20% worse than they normally do?

Kei played up front to compare his 64% is unrealistic as strikers have a lower rate anyway (athough it highlights Grants 53% as poor).

However the fact that 3 of the 4 midfielders have a pass rate in 60%s is nothing to be proud off - and being top of the comparison tree does not mark howson out as being good - passing is supposed to be his strength yet he was only marginally better than BJ!

You complete against pressing teams by moving the ball better, crisply, not reverting to route one.

Summer improvements needed.

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[quote user="ZippersLeftFoot"]Our pass completion rate is 3rd worst at 74% for the season - but 60% is a serious low - 4 out of every 10 pass not finding it mark is not acceptable and shows a bad day at the office.[/quote]
Agreed
[quote user="ZippersLeftFoot"] So how did the weather affect soton? Their normal is 78% away from home and they dropped to 75% today - so the weather had a marginal affect on a players ability to pass

so why did our players pass 20% worse than they normally do?[/quote]
It comes down to two things for me:
1. Every single one of our players had an ''off day'', even Snodgrass (who is usually very accurate with his passing) struggled.
2. Southampton''s tactics were employed to great effect, Southampton press incredibly high for a Premier League team, higher than anyone I can remember this season, and often look to ''double up'' on the man in possession, closing down his passing angles and getting in a tackle or interception. When a team presses like that, it becomes difficult to pass consistently or accurately and you often play the ball far earlier than usual, resulting in mishit or inaccurate passes.
[quote user="ZippersLeftFoot"] the fact that 3 of the 4 midfielders have a pass rate in 60%s is nothing to be proud off - and being top of the comparison tree does not mark howson out as being good - passing is supposed to be his strength yet he was only marginally better than BJ![/quote]
My point was less that Howson (or indeed any of our midfielder barring Hoolahan or Pilkington) had ''good'' passing games and more the fact that all our midfielders were incredibly inaccurate and wasteful with the ball. I was getting quite annoyed with all the ''Howson gave the ball away too easily'' comments, especially when the facts show that he was not the only one, and far from the worst culprit. Don''t get me wrong, Howson still had a poor game, but I think people are overstating just how bad he was especially when compared to other players.
[quote user="ZippersLeftFoot"]You complete against pressing teams by moving the ball better, crisply, not reverting to route one. [/quote]
Moving the ball along the ground faster is definitely one way to deal with high pressing, but I wouldn''t underestimate the effect of a long pass in behind a high defensive line. As you already pointed out, our passing has been poor this season, so it was always unlikely that we were going to deal with the high pressing of Southampton with quick, slick passing. What we could do was play the ball behind the defence early and try to utilize the timing of our runs and the pace of Kamara to get in behind the defence. The weather conditions didn''t help (although not everything can be blamed on them) and we didn''t do it often enough to really justify the starting of two strikes and two wingers (the 4-4-2 being more suited to direct football).
I''d also like to add that I''m not suggesting Norwich switch to a long-ball philosophy. It''s just that Southampton''s high line make them susceptible to passes over the top. There''s a reason our best chances came from long passes which beat the offside trap and lead to crosses being pulled across the face of goal/
[quote user="ZippersLeftFoot"]Summer improvements needed.[/quote]
I most definitely agree. Another Tettey-like player would be magnificent. A reliable (if not spectacular) passer with good physical attributes and a willingness to break forward would really benefit the team, particularly if we wanted to switch to 4-4-2. 

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Maybe we could put Wes back in the middle and stop undermining his confidence by going on about 4-4-2 (including the manager) which is a dead formation of the dark ages.

 

Does anyone who goes on about 4-4-2 accept yet that having 2 strikers doesn''t mean more goals if you don''t have someone in the middle to control the game? Passing it out wide is one-dimensional if you have nothing in the middle to balance it with and Bradley, Tettey and Howson aren''t up to it in that respect. Wes is ALWAYS available in the middle of the park. He NEVER hides when a team mate is looking for someone to pass to and in the middle often has a 90% pass rate (To take my post back on topic).

 

We play better when we have more balance. We won''t always win, but we will more often play better FOOTball with 4-2-3-1 (Or a variation).

 

/endrant

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[quote user="Downloads"]

Does anyone who goes on about 4-4-2 accept yet that having 2 strikers doesn''t mean more goals if you don''t have someone in the middle to control the game? Passing it out wide is one-dimensional if you have nothing in the middle to balance it with and Bradley, Tettey and Howson aren''t up to it in that respect. Wes is ALWAYS available in the middle of the park. He NEVER hides when a team mate is looking for someone to pass to and in the middle often has a 90% pass rate (To take my post back on topic).

 

We play better when we have more balance. We won''t always win, but we will more often play better FOOTball with 4-2-3-1 (Or a variation).

 

/endrant

[/quote]

This is a key point. you can''t play 4-4-2 with two central midfielders who cannot pass. We all accept that BJ''s passing is not spectacular, but he is not picked for his passing. Tettey is an all round better midfielder who can make the ordinary passes accurately.

But Howson''s passing is really limited for an attacking player. It never moves beyond the slow and ordinary. Clearly passing is not a strength to his game.

We would need someone in the middle hitting a variety of passes at 80%+ accuracy alongside a more defensively orientated player.

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