You know that saying about history repeating itself?
If you’re an Atlanta United fan who wants to take a spork to your eyeballs this season as you watch your once dynamic and exciting team be the exact opposite of dynamic and exciting, this Tactics Explained video on Frank de Boer‘s struggles at Crystal Palace will not make you feel better.
You can simply replace a lot of “Crystal Palace” with “Atlanta United” and some player names and it’s the exact same video.
Gotta score to win
FdB’s post-Ajax teams have all had problems putting the ball in the back of the net. While I’m not a scientist or mathematician, last I checked the best way to win at soccer is by tallying more goals than your opponent.
Frank de Boer’s recent teams don’t do this.
You could over-simplify this issue by saying, “Makes sense, he was a center-back, and is more concerned about building from the back, backline organization and solid defensive tactics.” Ooooorrrrr… you could say that he’s married to a style of possession and play that’s outdated and he’s unwilling to adapt his unsuccessfully philosophies to his successful personnel.
Atlanta United was a well-oiled goal scoring machine last year.
In exactly zero MLS games this season have the Five Stripes produced more shot-based xG than their opponent. They have produced more non-shot xGs in two of their games, meaning their movement around their opponent’s penalty area should be creating scoring opportunities, but there’s a disconnect between their movement and forward-progression to shots on goal. It’s a small sample size, and maybe Miguel Almirón’s departure and skill-set are part of the reason for that disconnect.
But! If you go back to de Boer’s time at Palace and Inter, the same bottomline problems existed. His teams don’t score when he’s there, and then do score more the rest of the season when he leaves.
|Inter w/ FdB||Inter post-FdB||Palace w/ FdB||Palace post-FdB|
|GPG Avg: .84||GPG Avg: 2.18||GPG Avg: 0||GPG Avg: 1.3|
So how about ATLUTD this year compared to last year?
|ATL with Tata ’18 GPG||ATL with FdB ’19 GPG|
Ball don’t lie…
As we’ve written before, de Boer cheerleaders point to his time at Ajax as evidence that he’s a capable coach. However, Ajax will always be a dominant team in the Eredivisie. They’ve literally never finished lower than fifth IN THE HISTORY OF THE CLUB, and that’s only happened twice.
While there were certainly higher-level issues at Inter, the team improved from 12th to 7th in Serie A after FdB was sacked (in 85 days). In the four (!!!) Premier League games he coached before getting sacked at Crystal Palace, his team scored exactly zero goals. They improved from 20th (last) in the Premier League table to 11th by season’s end.
Atlanta United is currently last in the Eastern Conference table.
The lack of an offense and overall results are more than just a trend. This is who Frank de Boer is as a coach.