Sad but true reality of Fenerbahçe

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 12.11.2018 22:02

Fenerbahçe's new coach Erwin Koeman has brought the team back to life after Phillip Cocu's fall. The team first secured a draw with a comeback in the tough derby match against Galatasaray and then beat Anderlecht and Alanyaspor, making it two clean sheets in a row. For a team which won their last game in the league two months ago, it was definitely not a bad start. Koeman is a clever man; he did not set sail toward the unknown like Cocu, but rather tried to get the best out of his squad. But that also means that the new Fenerbahçe project is no more the guiding principle of the team, they have become just another team in Super League. Nevertheless, given Fenerbahçe fans already started to sign championship chants, it is good business for everyone.

The key man in Koeman's strategy is definitely Mathieu Valbuena, who is the only player capable of creating opportunities for his teammates. Koeman took Cocu's late project, a defensively solid team, and put Valbuena in charge of the attack. In Cocu's model, it was the team as a whole which was responsible for creating opportunities, there was not a clear playmaker. This cost Cocu heavily since his players' individual talents and collective experience were not enough to function properly in such a strategy.

Koeman did not expect more than what his team is capable of doing and simply put Valbuena in charge of all offensive actions. Now, all Fenerbahçe players try to find Valbuena whenever they get the ball. The problem is that he is not physically ready to carry his team for the whole ninety minutes as he was benched by Cocu in his entire coaching time. Thus, it will take a month or more, probably after the winter break, for Valbuena to lead Fenerbahçe with 100 percent fitness.

Until this point, everything seems fine, the team defends solidly and then Valbuena creates opportunities with his individual talent. But the problem is that Fenerbahçe did not need to elect Ali Koç as the new president for this to happen. Football built on the individual talents of one or two players is widespread in Turkey and there was no need to change the administration completely to achieve that.

But one thing was forgotten in the chaotic Cocu era, that there was a need for implementing long-term plans and creating a talented team. Yes, one or two players can carry a team in the short-term, but what happens when your opponents figure out how to stop those players? If they and their talents are the only means to score goals, how can your team compete with strong teams which have not only talented players but also a talented game? Fenerbahçe fans forgot that they wanted a team that can be successful in the European arena, but now they are satisfied with a team that is built for short-term success. Fenerbahçe may even join the championship race this season and achieve considerable success despite the horrible start. But what happens next is always a question mark since there is not a clear collective strategy to rely on for the long-term.

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