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Season 2011-12
The Mail Bag

Attack: the best form of defence

 19 Comments: First  |  Last

When we used to defend corners in the 1970s, Jimmy Husband would stand just this side of the halfway line. The consequences were:

(1) Opposing teams would typically put two defenders on him in case we got a quick break;

(2) When they took their corner, self evidently the opposition would then only be left with eight attacking outfield players to our nine defenders plus goalkeeper;

(3) In principle we were better able to defend corners then through our superior numbers, as opposed to now when all and sundry (apart from their goalkeeper) are in the vicinity of our goal.

Since the Everton of today seem more focused on defence than attack most of the time, using the above method would actually be a more solid defensive ploy (it would also make us potentially a more potent attacking force too, but I would prefer to whisper that idea in case someone cops on and takes fright).

Using this approach today might also give our defenders someone to pass the ball to, instead of the aimless hoof in which many of them seem to specialise.

And by the way, the team Jimmy Husband played in didn?t do too badly.

Tony McNulty, London     Posted 20/01/2012 at 23:14:38

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Andrew Lawrenson
405   Posted 21/01/2012 at 08:46:23

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I agree that players should be left up field when defending a corner. I would personally leave 3 pacy players out the box, for example, Coleman in centre mid (for the corner only), Drenthe & Donavan in the centre circle split by width of the circle. That would mean the opposing team would have to leave at least one on Coleman and possibly 3 on Drenthe & Donavan, so with the goalkeeper they would have 5 staying back leaving our 8 to deal with only 6.

If Howard gets to catch the ball, he can throw it out quickly to Coleman, and hopefully he can utilize his speed to set up a fruitful attack. I am only using these 3 players as examples before anyone jumps on me saying they are loanees or out through injury.
Lee Gorre
413   Posted 21/01/2012 at 09:57:30

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Aside from negative and defensive tactics, there is also a lack of common sense to the obsession with keeping the whole team back at corners (we even did it against Tamworth). The more players there are in the box the more the chance of a deflection and the more congestion there is makes it harder to mark your player.

When I look at it, the opposition usually have up to 4/5 players outside the box at corners yet we have every one in the box.

It amazes me that the manager and his coaches can't work this out. If we leave 2 players up (or 3 like Man City usually do) then the other team leaves one more back. The result is we can defend the corner better and can have outlets when clearing the ball rather than it coming straight back.
Greg Murphy
417   Posted 21/01/2012 at 09:55:30

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I think you're spot on, Tom. Nice piece.

If I can see it, you can see it, thousands of us can see it...etc...then there has to be a logical reason why Moyes ignores it. It just doesn't figure that he sees the solution and patently ignores it. There has to be a reason. He's not that stubborn is he? Errr...

And my best hunch ? and it's flaky ? is that it's not the first phase of a corner kick that Moyes really worries over. I think he's mentally over-occupied with a potential second phase (especially against the better teams): when a corner spills out, is then mopped-up by the attacking team and launched back into the box, with our defenders pinned back but already breaking ranks and then caught on the hop. I genuinely believe that he thinks that if we leave "one up" that means they'll leave "two up" and he actually sees that as a threat; a increased opportunity (because they'll have two players) for them to mop-up, collect and re-launch the ball into a disordered penalty box.

So I'm convinced he opts for the lesser of two evils, namely everyone pulled back, a chance for us to hoof-clear with the benefit there's nobody of note, or probably only one, on their side to launch it right back at us.

Boils down to a lack of confidence, innate pragmatism and percentage-based tactics, I reckon.

Really, have I just tried to deconstruct Moyes's tactics, when I could have been hoovering or dusting?

Next time: corners ? "Why always inswingers?"
Peter Warren
427   Posted 21/01/2012 at 10:43:36

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Can't remember last time we conceded from a corner
Stephen Kenny
428   Posted 21/01/2012 at 10:45:31

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Drenthe and Donovan offer next to nothing defensively at corners. Leaving them up top for a quick break give us a goalscoring chance through a quick break every single time the opposition get a corner, typically 5-10 times a match.

It also reduces the amount of players they have in the box as they will undoubtedly bring at least three back to mark up. Easing the congestion in the box would be a good thing as it gives our dodgy keeper a better chance of a run at the ball, should he choose to remove himself from his line.
Ray Roche
430   Posted 21/01/2012 at 10:58:04

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Peter Warren

You don't HAVE to concede from a corner, but from the passage of that follows it's more than possible. If there is no-one to chase down or collect the clearance it's pretty obvious to the thickest observer that we won't be enjoying possession or in a position to mount a counter attack.

Queue the nerds asking "When did we concede from a passage of play following a corner" etc.
Ray Roche
431   Posted 21/01/2012 at 11:03:14

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Peter, I wasn't having a pop at you ,by the way.
Dan Brierley
442   Posted 21/01/2012 at 11:04:18

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Ray, is it not a perfectly valid question?

Is the criticism here of the sense that bringing all players from a corner is ineffective? Or is it something that we do not 'like', as it is a negative style of play?

If we do not concede from corners, or passages of play following corners, then it appears to be an effective tactic. Admittedly not pleasing on the eye, but effective.
Ray Roche
448   Posted 21/01/2012 at 11:35:20

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It's a perfectly valid question. (which is why I explained that I wasn't having a pop at him) You are also right in as much that I think that not leaving a man up front IS negative and the only time I would regard it as, arguably, acceptable is when there is a minute left and we're holding on for a point or three. Even then it would prevent the opposition from throwing everyone into the box in case of a counter attack.
I don't know, but I'd LIKE to know, what the statistics are for us and the rest of the Prem regarding the number of goals scored from a corner or in the minute following one.I'd also like to know how many goals are scored from counter attacks following the defence of a corner.
How much time have you got to spare, Dan?
Dan Brierley
455   Posted 21/01/2012 at 11:57:14

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Haha, its a good point Ray. But I would suggest that somehow using a corner as a counter attacking option to score a goal is not even a tactic employed by Barcelona, never mind Everton.

Ray Roche
457   Posted 21/01/2012 at 12:08:05

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It's not so much a tactic to score a goal on the counter attack as a tactic to relieve the pressure that follows when a corner isn't cleared or cleared as far as the opposition vultures camped out 30yds from our goal! Anyway, I'm off for some snap now and then I'm off to the match.

Dan, have those figures on my desk for when I get back...
Steve Sweeney
469   Posted 21/01/2012 at 13:02:40

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I took my grandson to Barcelona to see them at the Bernabau,what a delight to watch , and guess what they always kept 2 players on the half way line at corners.[i noticed straight away because we do the opposite].
Later on in the game they even had 4 players around the half way line to defend a corner,
Andy Crooks
488   Posted 21/01/2012 at 14:57:20

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One of the best sides I've ever seen was the Juventus side with Ravinelli and Viali. They constantly and with tremendous energy closed down the opposition on the edge of their penalty area. They wouldn't allow their opponents to build from the back and forced errors from the back four and the goalkeeper.

We don't have players with their talent but we must have players with their energy. Without guile we need high energy committed football. Why not?
Matthew Lovekin
491   Posted 21/01/2012 at 15:17:12

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Attack being the best form of defence doesn't just apply to corners. If you have posession of the ball and attacking the opposition, then they can't score!

For example, media 'pundits' say Barcelona are vulnerable because of their defence; their lack of defensive players, lack of height, attacking full-backs, etc. For the majority of this season, they have even played without a central defender!

However, Barca have a superb defensive record. I don't even think that they have conceded one goal at home yet this season. The reason; they keep posession of the football so the other team can't do anything without it. With posession of the ball, it enables more players to get forward and patiently wait for the killer pass to create a goalscoring chance. Very rarely do Barca hit aimless balls forward or even corners lobbed into the area, each pass is a precise pass to keep the ball and then create a chance. Therefore, they are constantly attacking.
John Bourne
496   Posted 21/01/2012 at 16:49:28

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Indeed that was some team and one I had the privilege to watch, I had a picture of the squad taken at the Bellefield training ground on my bedroom wall.

Truly the epitome of the School of Science.

What happened to us?
Derek Thomas
685   Posted 21/01/2012 at 22:40:40

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Dan deliberately obtuse Brierley, you know why we do it - Moyes, Round and all the other defenders we have as coaches.

You also know why it is wrong, yes? no? if no; because it puts you under constant pressure when the ball is coming right back at you time after time AND hinders you to attack quickly after the corner.
Tony McNulty
786   Posted 22/01/2012 at 09:02:33

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Thanks to everyone who commented. John Bourne - that's a lovely question. More the title of a book: "Everton: what happened to us?"

You could catalogue the reasons for hours:

? European ban
? A decline in our fortunes at the worst possible time (the advent of the Premier League)
? Demise of the city as people left to live elsewhere (I am an example) so attendances and revenue dropped and we became less commercially attractive
? Shite football meted out (whatever the School of Science meant it doesn't mean what appears to have been served up on Saturday)
? A current Board whose concept of strategic thinking is somewhat embryonic (They think 2015 is a quarter past eight)

Don't get me started.
Wayne Smyth
787   Posted 22/01/2012 at 09:18:30

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Someone should tell David Moyes about the relationship between risk & reward.

The strange thing about it is that you could excuse the overly negative tactics if we were getting wins out of them. Trouble is, that in game after game ? including yesterdays capitulation ? it's costing us points, yet Moyes is either too stubborn, clueless or afraid to change his ways.
Martin Hughes
789   Posted 22/01/2012 at 09:24:03

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Wayne ? Moyes is all three!

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