In what has been Fenerbahçe's worst season in history, the only thing left in the club's hands is its invincibility at home, Kadıköy Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium.
Currently, just four points clear of the relegation zone, no doubt a loss against one of its archrivals in Kadıköy would be catastrophic for the team and the new administration. It has not even been a year since Ali Koç and his crew took over the club administration, but the only thing that allows them to keep their jobs is the Kadıköy legend of Fenerbahçe. Without the crucial points and even more crucial motivational boost the team got from the games against Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Trabzonspor, relegation would be inevitable.
But, what exactly prevented the biggest teams in Turkey from beating Fenerbahçe in Kadıköy? How come the worst Fenerbahçe side of all time is still unbeatable at home? I think the answer has more to do with the mentality of the teams coming to Kadıköy and less about the quality of their game.
Since Fenerbahçe has lost a derby at home for 15 years, as a result, its opponents feel the pressure of winning rather than Fenerbahçe. Normally, it should be Fenerbahçe, who should feel the pressure but in the last decade, it has always been the away teams feeling the pressure, thinking that they should finally defeat Fenerbahçe.
In a sense, the mentality of Turkish teams visiting Kadıköy is similar to Pep Guardiola's approach to Champions League games. Just like Guardiola, although a much less talented version, Turkish teams make drastic changes in their strategies and tactics before coming to Kadıköy. They sacrifice their usual game for special precautions, which usually benefits Fenerbahçe. The reason is simple: Fenerbahçe does not panic and regardless of its quality, play its own game in Kadıköy, which makes its game more stable than the away team. While Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Trabzonspor rush every opportunity they find, Fenerbahçe is always calm, knowing that they will somehow find a goal to continue their unbeaten run.
What managers of other big teams need to understand is simple: Play your own game and let Fenerbahçe feel the pressure. Mediocre teams of Turkey do this perfectly and almost all teams other than Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Trabzonspor punish Fenerbahçe's horrendous form. Because they do not feel the pressure and play their own game, which is probably much better than Fenerbahçe's game. So, why would they shuffle the cards and give Fenerbahçe a chance out of nowhere? Big guns of Turkish football need to normalize the Kadıköy derbies and must quit the "this year is the year" mentality as if beating Fenerbahçe in Kadıköy is something like a solar eclipse. Every year can be "the year," if you understand how basic it is to play football well.
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