Terim has yet to play like Terim


Since arriving at Galatasaray at the end of the first half of the season, Galatasaray won 5 of their 6 official games with Fatih Terim. Although their winning streak was stopped by Konyaspor this week, they still have not lost with Terim. At this point, many columnists accept the fact that his predecessor, Igor Tudor, left a decent and stable strategy for Terim, but this does not completely explain the sudden boost in the team's performance. We all know that Terim is a true master when it comes to motivating his players, but still, I claim that there is another important factor in Galatasaray's rise: Fatih Terim has not played like himself yet.

When we talk about the characteristics of a coach, we assume that they never change or never adapt their strategies to their contemporaries. Nevertheless, Terim started his fourth period in Galatasaray with an unusual, modern defensive strategy that also boosted the team's offensive performance. Although Tudor created a decent team, his Galatasaray clearly had problems in defense and conceded 5 goals from Başakşehirspor and 3 from Beşiktaş. Terim solved this issue very unexpectedly by pushing his back-four close to midfield and creating an intense pressing zone in the opponent's half. Combined with the fact that Galatasaray mostly played their games against teams that dared to attack, Terim's team found countless opportunities in the final third.

However, the main reason I claim that this new system is not a "Terim-esque" one is that it does not fit into Terim's historical practice. Throughout the years, Terim has not favored the compact team shape much; in other words, he wanted defense to defend and offense to attack. In this new scenario, the whole team executes a very effective press in the opponent's half, leaving much less space to their opponents given the fact that defenders come very close to midfield. Although the defenders has not taken a serious part in the offensive build-ups yet, it seems that this new pressing model combined with Galatasaray's individual talents and positive opponents can take Galatasaray to the top of the Turkish Super League.

But, there is a serious problem given the fact that individual talents and positive opponents are irrational variables that their value can change drastically each time. For instance, Galatasaray is going to face Sivasspor this weekend, and it is probably going to be the toughest game for Terim so far. Given Sivasspor does not take the initiative and let their opponents play, Galatasaray will have the ball most of the time, and pressing will not have much value. Added to that, since there will be less space in the opponent's field, individual talents will also have a harder time without a specific plan conducting their actions.

Thus, despite the fact that Terim made a surprising, promising start, Sivasspor will be a serious test to his new mentality and versatility. If he wants to guarantee the championship this season, there has to be more than a pressing model. If he can also create an organized offensive strategy against defensive sides, Galatasaray can become unstoppable.

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