SLOW IT DOWN: THIS ISN'T THE YEAR OF THE HIGH INTESITY PRESS
Like many football fans, I have been engrossed in the Football Manager series.
I have been binging the latest instalment, taking the mighty FC Halifax Town to non-league glory. One thing I have noticed about this latest game, is how important your player fitness is.
It may not be that odd to say tired players don’t perform well, but what it has highlighted is the intensity of modern tactics and how they rely on extremely fit players. Players tire quicker and are asked to do much more and press with such intensity.
This has got me thinking, with the congestion of fixtures this year, due to the covid pandemic, will teams have to adopt less physically intensive tactics in order to maintain their squad over a full season.
This could explain why Mourinho’s Tottenham are doing so well. They have managed to maintain their relatively thin squad by working a low block. While this counteracting formation still relies on running and pace in attack, it spends most of its time out of possession, staying compact.
Due to Spurs personnel they are able to make this extremely effective and the clinical ability of Son and Kane really blows others away. But what's more is that this success seems more sustainable than other, more dynamic teams. This is especially true considering the sheer amount of games that are being played. And as teams tire more and more, the fresher legs may win out.
We have heard Klopp and Guardiola both complain about fixture congestion and how five subs are needed to protect players. But these complaints do both dismiss the fact that they both play extremely taxing football. Klopp’s Liverpool try and deal with this by having a large squad and often switching the tempo down for periods of a game.
But this isn’t always possible and with only three subs, you cannot do that much recycling of players. So perhaps a change of tactic and formation has to be introduced, at least in some circumstances, in order for these highly energetic teams to last a whole season.
Last year may have been the season of the gegenpress, but that may be a bit too much for this crazy season.