The biggest game in Turkish football, the so-called "derby of the derbies" was frustrating for everyone once again. The quality of the Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe game was so low that columnists were complaining about the lack of content they had to write about.
The risk of losing forced both sides to accept a point silently, without pushing too hard. Thus, both teams proved once again that they lack a proper game plan to at least dare to beat their opponents. This means that they are essentially on the same level as other Anatolian clubs, which run on significantly lower budgets. As the current standings show, the long reign of İstanbul giants has come to an end and it is only a matter of time until Anatolian teams win the league regularly.
Currently, Fenerbahçe is the only representative of the big Istanbul clubs in the top five. League leader Aytemiz Alanyaspor has 14 points out of 18, beating Fenerbahçe 3-1 in the process. Alanyaspor manager Erol Bulut, who was behind Yeni Malatyaspor's success last season, continues to implement his organized game. He was the assistant manager for Medipol Başakşehir when Abdullah Avcı made the team a regular championship contender in the last few years. Now it is obvious that Bulut's effects to Avcı's game were profound, as he can implement the same principles in Malatya and Alanya.
This proves the theory that even if you have a talentless team, you may still achieve success with organization. Last year, Yeni Malatyaspor came fifth while Fenerbahçe was sixth, although the individual talent-wise Fenerbahçe was ahead.
This year again, despite its limited squad, Alanyaspor has dominated the league so far with Erol Bulut's insistence on an organized game. Just like Başakşehir dominated the league for 27 weeks last season, Alanyaspor is playing its own game regardless of its opponents. It has a solid defensive line and it knows how to cripple its opponents. Combined with some basic set pieces in offense and a decent transition game, they were able to score against all teams in the last six weeks.
However, the problem is usually psychological rather than tactical with Anatolian teams. The reason why İstanbul giants always make a comeback in the last weeks is not that they find a secret formula to win. It is the Anatolian teams that hold themselves back from winning the title, by being unable to handle the stress and pressure from the media.
That has been the tragedy for Başakşehir in the last four years. Although a team from İstanbul, Başakşehir was never a İstanbul giant. That requires a huge fan base and strong lobbying. Anatolian teams must first believe that they can win the league and start preparing themselves psychologically from the first week. The "carpe diem" mentality leaves Anatolian teams mentally unprepared in the long-run, as they usually reach more than they imagine.
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