Keep the possession morons, we will hurt you on counter-attack

Football power has shifted, a decade of possession football journey ended. A new kind of football has emerged, and the footballing teams who follows the trend sings the same song,”Keep the possession morons, we will hurt you on counter-attack.” We don’t have the resources, we don’t have the capability to retain the ball for longer term but we know how to defend in our own half.

A king may not be strong to explore in another territory but he knows how to defend his own territory and it same goes in recent football. Spain were on their prime with possession football, they won back to back Uefa European championship(2008,2012) and a World Cup in 2010. But, their 2014 World Cup elimination from group stage and 2016 Euro lost against Croatia and elimination against Italy in knockout stage proved that possession game is over.


At the 2014 World Cup, 16 teams (25 per cent) won with less than 45 per cent of the ball, and that trend has continued into 2015 and 2016. To put it simply, sides with less than 45 per cent possession at the 2010 World Cup had roughly a 1 in 20 chance of winning that game. At Euro 2016, it was closer to 1 in 3.

Possession is no longer nine-tenths of the law, and Arsene Wenger agrees.”Possession is not rewarded like it was before,” he said after Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Manchester City in December.

“You must not overrate the amount of possession,” said interim Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink in February, just as everybody started to believe Leicester could win the title. “Most teams want the ball. What do you do with it? Say we had 65, 67 and 70 per cent possession but our opponents said: ‘We don’t care, we have the score on our side.’ Do you secure your way of playing? Or do you go as soon as possible into the attack? I prefer the latter option. The first thought must be vertical.”


The football is changing and keeping the possession is no longer going to work. You have 60 to 70 percent of ball, you play in opponents half, what you have 21 players in opponent box. You have your 10 against opponent’s eleven which makes the opponent half crowded and left to you with lesser space to play the ball. You can’t play the game without creating space, space is limited on football pitch and you can’t expand that. You have to create space in limited amount and a crowd is not going to help you.

The new hard working, attentive and eye on ball players have emerged. They love to defend in their own half and they know how to take advantage with counter play. They sing the same rhyme,”Keep the possession morons, we will hurt you on counter-attack.” In the EPL 2007/08 season, 19 sides won with less than 40 per cent possession. In 2014/15 that figure was up to 46 and last season was at 52.


Those benefiting are not doing so by accident; in 2006/07, 96 sides allowed the opposition over 60 per cent of the ball, but by 2013/14 that figure was up to 163, and over the past two seasons was around 150. The international stage shows a similar trend. At the World Cup in 2006, only 31 per cent of sides allowed the opposition over 55 per cent possession. At the 2014 World Cup that figure was up to 75 per cent, and 76 per cent for Euro 2016.

The new hard working teams don’t care about opponents ball possession as long as they know how to defend as a unit. Defending is no longer a task of only defenders, they defend as a unit and eleven players guard their net, if you are strong enough find the net. And, in the meanwhile if you loose control be ready to suffer, because you won’t have much player left in your half to defend when you go forward with full strength.

Possession football may be your game plan but scores on the board is our ultimate goal. If you can’t do it right way, you have to find another way out. Till then,”keep the possession morons, we will hurt you on counter-attack.”


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