Fenerbahçe and seeing the bigger picture

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 18.08.2017 22:17

After Galatasaray's humiliating elimination from the Europa League by a mediocre Swedish club Östersunds, a Turkish side was shocked again by another small team, this time from Macedonia, Vardar. Despite the fact that Fenerbahçe heavily outgunned the Macedonian side in terms of individual quality, the game was much different to how it was supposed to be for Fenerbahçe. Although Vardar scored two goals with only one shot on target - Fenerbahçe also scored an own goal - the Turkish side simply could not gain the initiative for long periods of time and consequently failed to be effective in the final third. However, I believe that this painful period for Fenerbahçe is a necessary evil for its development process, and they will come out of it much stronger if they can stay loyal to their objectives.

First of all, coach Aykut Kocaman has settled on a strategy and a starting lineup already. Except for some minor changes, he already knows how his team will play. That is the first step any team that wants long-term success should take before moving on. Mathieu Valbuena is the center of the team, and a patient passing game will revolve around the French winger. The problem here is that right now Fenerbahçe do not have a back-up plan when the connection between the midfield and Valbuena breaks down. For instance, the Vardar midfield was aware of the importance of Valbuena in Fenerbahçe's game and they constantly pressed his connection with Josef Souza and Ozan Tufan in the center. Thus, goalkeeper Carlos Kameni had to play long balls to Valbuena whenever he started the play, which made Fenerbahçe more chaotic.

On the other hand, it was nice to see that Fenerbahçe, despite the failure, tried to stay loyal to their strategy, and did not turn to utter chaos when they could not open the Vardar defense. Honestly, with Valbuena and Dirar on the wings and Roberto Soldado in the center, they could have crossed lots of balls into Vardar's penalty box and could have scored the equalizer. Nevertheless, that would be a cheap, shortsighted solution to a deeper problem, which is Fenerbahçe's present inability to produce opportunities through collective action. Kocaman's insistence on his so-called dull and boring system is crucial at exactly this point. It is highly possible that Beşiktaş, Başakşehir and Trabzonspor can dominate them in a chaotic manner with their fairly organized game, and the only way that Fenerbahçe can secure the championship in the Super League is to follow Kocaman's plan to settle on a long-term strategy.

At this point it is still too early for Fenerbahçe fans to be pessimistic, and they should remember the reason Fenerbahçe have lost the last three championship races was that the team became incredibly short-sighted and pragmatic. Added to that, the last time Fenerbahçe won the trophy Ersun Yanal, a coach who also focused on long-term strategies and collective action like Kocaman, was in the charge of the team. So, rushing to dark judgments at this early stage of the campaign would not benefit Fenerbahçe, and at least everyone should give a half season to Kocaman to finish his project.

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