Turkish Football News

Fenerbahce’s nightmare now a reality

Fenerbahce nightmare now a reality

The Yellow Canaries are slowly starting to recover from their nightmare season.

Fenerbahce’s interim manager Erwin Koeman has brought the team back to life after Phillip Cocu’s disastrous, short-lived tenure. The team first secured a draw with a comeback in their heated derby against Galatasaray and then beat Anderlecht and Alanyaspor, making it two clean sheets in a row.

For a team which won their last league game 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 Fenerbahce project is no more the guiding principle of the team. They have become just another team in Super Lig. Nevertheless, given that Fenerbahce fans started to sing and chant about the league title, it is good business for everyone. For now.

Koc applauding during Fener’s victory over Anderlecht.

The key man in Koeman’s strategy is, without a doubt, 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 attacking phase. In Cocu’s model, it was the team as a whole which was responsible for creating opportunities. There wasn’t a clear playmaker. This cost the Dutch coach heavily since his players’ individual talents and collective experience were not enough to perform as needed in such a strategy.

Koeman doesn’t expect more than what his team is capable of doing and simply puts Valbuena in charge of all offensive plays. Now, all Fenerbahce 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 during his time with the club. Thus, it will take a month or even more, maybe even after the winter break, for Valbuena to lead the team with 100 percent fitness.

For now, everything seems fine. The team defends well and Valbuena creates opportunities with his individual talent. But the problem is that Fenerbahce did not need to elect Ali Koc 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. The club’s supporters are still hopeful of a new era under Koc, however.

But one thing was forgotten while Cocu was in charge and that was 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 side? Fenerbahce fans may have quickly forgotten that they wanted a team that can be successful on the European stage, but now they seem satisfied with a team that is built for short-term success.

The club, with some serious luck, could still join the championship race this season and achieve considerable success despite their horrible start. But what happens next is always a question mark since there is no clear collective strategy to rely on for the long-term.

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