Is attacking the best form of defense?

Dir Wangem

New Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
1,527
Location
Norway
If you were to ask someone who the two best managers in the game who's currently active are, then there's a high chance they'd answer Pep and Mourinho. There is no secret that these two are very different, both in terms of personality and playstyle. Mourinho may have his teams play attacking and entertaining football for the majority of the season, but it's in the tough games that a coach shows his true colors. And when he's faced with a tough game, Mourinho will always have his teams sit deep and counter, preferably with very physical players in midfield. There is of course nothing wrong with that, and when it works it can be beautiful to watch.

Pep on the other hand, is utterly uncompromising. Whether the opponent is Crystal Palace or Real Madrid, he will always go for an attacking approach. He'll stifle his opponents with high pressure and attack after attack. You'd think that this would have a clear defensive downside, especially seeing as City's defense on paper is 4th best in the league at best(in my opinion). But this has not been the case at all. His team has only conceded 2 more goals than defensive mastermind Mourinho, and no other team has given their opponents less shots/chances.

It is clear that if you attack with high quality, then you ultimately push your opponent back which in return makes it very hard for them to counter properly. But what if you lack the quality? Klopp is another example of an uncompromising coach who will attack no matter who the opponent is. Because of this, he has suffered. Against teams that park the bus, he lacks the top players to create something out of thin air, and against equally strong(or stronger) opponents his teams will concede many goals.

For an uncompromising attack to work out well defensively, you need top quality players and a top quality coach. But does it ultimately work better than a careful approach?

Right now the answer seems to be 'yes', but Mourinho has been pretty damn successful with his philosophy too. Fergie is the best manager of all time so perhaps it would be wise to look at his football, but honestly, he was just special. Just out of this world. And besides: his style was somewhere between Mourinho and Pep, so we're not gonna get the answer there.

If you had the best or second best team in the league on paper, which approach do you think you would have gone for if you were the manager?
 

Manchester Dan

Full Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2013
Messages
2,397
Supports
Man City
Well you’ve conceded less than City, so the argument is there for no. But if you can get the balance right with more offensive play then it’s far more enjoyable to watch. This is probably just another way of discussing Pep vs Jose at the moment.
 

Womp

idiot
Joined
Jun 23, 2013
Messages
7,385
Location
Sydney, Australia
Well you’ve conceded less than City, so the argument is there for no. But if you can get the balance right with more offensive play then it’s far more enjoyable to watch. This is probably just another way of discussing Pep vs Jose at the moment.
Bingo, we don't have enough of those threads tbh.
 

Dir Wangem

New Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
1,527
Location
Norway
Well you’ve conceded less than City, so the argument is there for no. But if you can get the balance right with more offensive play then it’s far more enjoyable to watch. This is probably just another way of discussing Pep vs Jose at the moment.
There's not a mountain of difference between two goals though. And like I said: City concedes the fewest shots too.

I don't care to discuss Pep vs Mourinho as much as I care to discuss whether or not attacking might be the best form of defending(provided that you have the players).
 

Womp

idiot
Joined
Jun 23, 2013
Messages
7,385
Location
Sydney, Australia
The best form of defence is to defend. Attacking leaves teams open to counter attacks etc. so of course attacking is more dangerous. In an ideal scenario you'd find the proper balance of the two.
 

breakout67

Full Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2017
Messages
9,050
Supports
Man City
The last 3 league winners all played conservatively in high pressure situations and you are asking this question. The best form of defense is defense and the same for attack.

As for the question of how I would approach it, I have no idea because I have no experience or knowledge regarding management.
 

Keeps It tidy

Hates Messi
Joined
Jun 6, 2013
Messages
17,639
Location
New York
Keeping possession can be the best form of defense. And when you defend deep often you are weakening yourself defensively since you are closer to the goal.
 

Keeps It tidy

Hates Messi
Joined
Jun 6, 2013
Messages
17,639
Location
New York
The last 3 league winners all played conservatively in high pressure situations and you are asking this question. The best form of defense is defense and the same for attack.

As for the question of how I would approach it, I have no idea because I have no experience or knowledge regarding management.
But, not always the season before Chelsea's last win with Mourinho a high scoring City and Liverpool battled for the title. And Ferguson's last title squad was not great defensively.
 
Last edited:

Dir Wangem

New Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
1,527
Location
Norway
The best form of defence is to defend. Attacking leaves teams open to counter attacks etc. so of course attacking is more dangerous.
It's not that simple.

Scoring from a counter-attack is just as hard(if not harder) as scoring against a team that parks the bus. Attacking is only more dangerous if you consistently lose possession or is unable to tire the opponent with your passing and off-the-ball movement. This is the case for most teams, and thus they don't dare to attack all the time, simply because they lack the quality. And then we have Van Gaal, would play a high defensive line and constantly try to find openings, much like Pep. But he lacked the players for this kind of football, so ultimately we got countered to death. But this is generally not happening to Pep's teams(when he has the players he needs), so it's hard to say that his method is defensively more dangerous.
 

do.ob

Full Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2010
Messages
7,187
Location
Germany
I think in theory attack is clearly the best form of defense (you're the one in control, your opponent can only react, gets worn out by chasing the ball over and over and once they actually get it they are far far away from your goal etc), however in reality you need a level of quality from your coach and players which the vast majority of teams simply can't afford. So the answer very much depends on what type of team you're talking about.
 

Cheesy

Bread with dipping sauce
Scout
Joined
Oct 16, 2011
Messages
36,103
Location
Scotland
I think it changes depending on current footballing philosophies, ideals etc and how the game is played, and obviously also depends on what players you have.

Looking back the 90s and parts of the 2000s probably thrived massively on defensive football; Italian teams were obviously revered for their defensive ability, with AC Milan sides often winning Serie A with remarkably low goals tallies. Similarly, in the 2000s Mourinho built up his reputation as a pragmatic and often defensive coach. His Chelsea side, for example, were capable of scoring goals but their strength lay in defence. In 04-05 they produced the most successful ever PL season points wise, but were comfortably outscored by Arsenal. Where they benefited was in the fact they only conceded 15. And again, later in the same decade Fergie's United, while filled with an array of attacking talent, was often very pragmatic when away in Europe and could boast to having one of the world's best defensive partnerships.

I'd say that's partly changed now. Since Chelsea's fluke win in 11/12, the CL's exclusively been won by teams who either thrived on counter-attacking football, possession-based football, or a mixture of the two insofar as they were simply much better than their opponents and able to blow them away due to their superior quality. Real, Barca and Bayern all won the CL simply because they had some phenomenal talents, many of whom are obviously incredibly adept on the ball or who can be very direct when attacking. Atletico under Simeone have been the antithesis to this, but a common theme has been that despite their defensive brilliance they often just fall short.

In the PL, you can notice similar trends with title winners. Chelsea last season had an array of attacking talents. Leicester were eventually pragmatic but initially very direct and expansive. United in 12-13 conceded a ton of goals but scored a lot too. The top two in 13-14 scored massively but weren't always reliable at the back. Even Mourinho's 14-15 side was quite entertaining for a while.
 

dichinero

New Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2013
Messages
7,153
Attack is the new defence. If we have the ball, you don't and are constantly worried about your defence than mine. In recent years, the better attacking teams almost always have solid defensive stats and win things, it's hardly ever the other way around.
 

Ibi Dreams

Full Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2010
Messages
4,442
Having a great attack and an okay defence is more likely to win you things than a great defence and an okay attack. Ultimately an okay defence can still get the job done a lot of the time, particularly if you're able to consistently score 2, 3 or 4 goals. Even if your attack has an off day, you might be up against a team that just isn't that good at attacking or is having an off day too. An attack that is just okay will struggle consistently, because defending is ultimately easier than attacking and even the weakest teams can make it very difficult for you.
 

B20

HEY EVERYONE I IGNORE SOMEONE LOOK AT ME
Joined
Aug 23, 2003
Messages
24,343
Location
Disney Land
Supports
Liverpool
Regardless, the hardest thing in football is scoring goals. Cracking that should be top of anyone's list in football. From there, you weigh up how costly it is to score your goals vs needing men to defend. If you can combine the two

Attack is the new defence. If we have the ball, you don't and are constantly worried about your defence than mine.
As Guardiola does, you're pretty well set. Klopp wants to do the same, but feck me - Should have fecked off Mignolet, Lovren, Moreno and Klavan in the summer if so. We simply don't have the players for that atm.
 

Sky1981

Fending off the urge
Joined
Apr 12, 2006
Messages
23,757
Location
Under the bright neon lights of sincity
It's about efficiency, you defend just enough not to concede and you attack good enough to net you +1 GD in a match.
It's about point, you don't get point if you lose, you won't get 3pts if you don't win.
A super attacking teams would have to work extra not to concede, a super defending team would have to work extra to score goals, it's about chosing your poison

All and all it's abit of both, the rest is cliche. No team would flourishes with a heavy attack/defense oriented. Gotta have a bit of both.

At the end of the day you only get 3pts for a 10-0 win or a 1-0 win (although GD plays a part but it's too rare to have to rely on GD)
 

K2K

Full Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2015
Messages
18,163
Location
"Can Manchester United score? They always score"
Well you’ve conceded less than City, so the argument is there for no. But if you can get the balance right with more offensive play then it’s far more enjoyable to watch. This is probably just another way of discussing Pep vs Jose at the moment.
Nail on the heard.

Pep v Jose is the new "Wayne Rooney" on here. Countless threads all saying the same thing. Leading to the same posters having the same arguments on the different threads.
 

B20

HEY EVERYONE I IGNORE SOMEONE LOOK AT ME
Joined
Aug 23, 2003
Messages
24,343
Location
Disney Land
Supports
Liverpool
There are other managers to bring in as well. Wenger and Klopp are obvious picks as proponents of attack > defence. COnte, Benitez, Pocchetino the obvious counterpoints for clean sheets.
 

Treble

Full Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2008
Messages
10,643
Balance between attack and defence is key. If your defence is great at the expense of the attack, it is is not, well, great.

Real have a very leaky defence, yet they have been the most succssful club the last years. Because they score more than the opposition. At the same time defensively astute teams like Juve and Atleti reached the CL final twice. .
 

SqualorVictoria

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Dec 25, 2013
Messages
483
Supports
City
Nail on the heard.

Pep v Jose is the new "Wayne Rooney" on here. Countless threads all saying the same thing. Leading to the same posters having the same arguments on the different threads.
To be fair this thread in itself has the potential to be interesting without the need of comparing the two, so that's definitely not on the OP.
 

Mcking

Full Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Messages
4,088
Location
Nigeria
It's not just attacking, keeping possession and only taking risks when there's at least a 50% chance of it coming off is the key.
Just look at Guardiola's city for example, they have conceded the least shot and second least goals in the league doesn't mean they have they best defenders, just that the defenders doesn't always have to defend due to their playing style.(consider LVG too)
Liverpool do play attacking football too, but on the other hand, takes risks after risks in attack putting their defence at high risk of conceding on the counter and being caught high up the pitch.
Defending is obviously the easiest way of defence, attacking is the hard way and simply not the best way - unless you are pretty good at keeping the ball -, as you'd need top decision making in attack and ability to keep possession without wilting under pressure.
 

Dir Wangem

New Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
1,527
Location
Norway
Even the OP itself leads to Mou v Pep comparison.

Unsurprising that the thread will descend to that.
I only used them to illustrate my point as they are the two best coaches in the game right now.

It's funny that the only people trying to derail the thread are the ones whining about the thread being about something it's not. The majority has stayed on topic. You are free to join us :)
 

SqualorVictoria

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Dec 25, 2013
Messages
483
Supports
City
Even the OP itself leads to Mou v Pep comparison.

Unsurprising that the thread will descend to that.
Pep's teams sort of maximize the impact of that 'attack is the best form of defence' model and Mourinho is almost the exact opposite, so of course they'll be given as examples. It shouldn't <i>necessarily</i> evolve into a dick swinging contest, though I'm aware it possibly will. :)
 

Fortitude

TV/Monitor Expert
Scout
Joined
Jul 10, 2004
Messages
11,541
Location
Inside right
There should be a claim made that the best form of defence is neither attack nor defence - it is ball retention and exorbitant possession stats.

Spain's Euro '12 epitomises this. They conceded 1 goal throughout the entire tournament - and that was in the very first game - not because they had the best defence or the best attack, but because nobody could get the ball off them and thus any notion of mounting an offensive was made redundant. Even when they lost the ball, they won it back in the same area, which was usually midfield - generally deemed the neutral area of the pitch.

It's probably the hardest feat to achieve and thus the most unlikely to be replicated until another set of players with a Xavi-level retainer leading them comes to the fore.

Having said that, great defences seem to be the just as good a form of defence as shown by France in '98 and '00 as well as Italy in '06 conceding so few goals (all equal on 2 conceded with Spain in World Cups).

Club football has more variables and reasons why stats can be skewed so it's harder to say what is best there. Teams go out there to win in club football, and will throw a lot more caution to the wind or focus more on a bigger picture, which introduces rotation etc and more chances to concede, as opposed to international tournaments where the stakes are so high that conceding goals can be a fatality as far as progression is concerned.
 

Fortitude

TV/Monitor Expert
Scout
Joined
Jul 10, 2004
Messages
11,541
Location
Inside right
Even the OP itself leads to Mou v Pep comparison.

Unsurprising that the thread will descend to that.
Thread has no need whatsoever to concern either of them. See my post, wasn't thinking a jot about either when I made it, and I'm sure it's not the first thing that comes to mind for others, either.
 

Antonedwin

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Aug 25, 2017
Messages
371
Jose Mourinho Philosophy is team who has the ball , has bigger chance to do error ,
 

K2K

Full Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2015
Messages
18,163
Location
"Can Manchester United score? They always score"
Pep's teams sort of maximize the impact of that 'attack is the best form of defence' model and Mourinho is almost the exact opposite, so of course they'll be given as examples. It shouldn't <i>necessarily</i> evolve into a dick swinging contest, though I'm aware it possibly will. :)
Simeone would actually be a better example of a defensive style.

Probably one of the most defensive teams in Europe. Sometimes even against the smaller sides.
 

Dir Wangem

New Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2015
Messages
1,527
Location
Norway
Simeone would actually be a better example of a defensive style.

Probably one of the most defensive teams in Europe. Sometimes even against the smaller sides.
Different league, less successful coach. But if switching the name 'Mourinho' with 'Simeone' will make you go on topic, then just pretend that that the names have been switched. The Mourinho vs Pep discussion is incredibly boring. The styles they represent is much more interesting to me.
 

giorno

Full Member
Joined
Jul 20, 2016
Messages
15,482
Supports
Real Madrid
It's sn ideological question. The simple answer is no. The broader answer is depends.

Keeping a clean sheet is the surest way to win, but the goal is to win, not keeping a clean sheet. Altetico madrid have conceded 1 more league goal than barcelona, but they're 8 points behind. Barcelona themselves keep the ball a lot but do very little actual attacking with it, and then if you look at their games you'll notice that atletico's record reflect their defensive strength far more than barcelona, who's defensive record is better than their actual defence thanks to luck and Ter Stegen being the best goalkeeper in the world atm
 

Dancfc

Full Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2016
Messages
1,852
Supports
Chelsea
It is on occasion's, but having that mindset week in week out won't get you anywhere, look at Dortmund this season as case in point.Peter Bozs makes Brendan Rodgers look like Jose in terms of defense strategy, it's actually embarrassing to watch.
 

Cloud7

Full Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Messages
5,134
Balance between attack and defence is key. If your defence is great at the expense of the attack, it is is not, well, great.

Real have a very leaky defence, yet they have been the most succssful club the last years. Because they score more than the opposition. At the same time defensively astute teams like Juve and Atleti reached the CL final twice. .
Reached the final and been beaten by the same Real Madrid.

Attack > defense for me. Goals win you games, even a clean sheet on its own can’t win you a game. As has been said before, the best teams in the world over the last few years have been teams where their strong point was their attack, not their defensive astuteness.
 

Snow

Somewhere down the lane, a licky boom boom down
Joined
Jul 10, 2007
Messages
31,110
Location
Lousy Smarch weather
In principle the answer is yes because bar the dubious own goal you won't concede when you have the ball.

Another way to look at it is that you won't lose if you don't concede and if you don't concede you only need to score the 1 goal and scoring 1 goal is a lot easier than to score 2 goals.

Defending isn't fundamentally hard. If you manage the basics of keeping shape and don't lose an opponent into the box then it's really hard to concede.

Look at the goals we've conceded this season. Stoke scored twice. Once because Bailly was very stupid and once because the marking was poor on a corner. If you concede from a corner you've only got yourself to blame.
Against both Burton and CSKA the players just drifted off after being 4-0 and simply weren't ass keen on defending in the 90th minute with the game already won.
Against Huddersfield we lose the ball after a sideways pass in our own half and a CB lets a goal kick fly over him. Two gifts.
Chelsea score by a simple cross from the middle, through the middle to an unmarked man in the box.

It's not realistic to expect your team to never concede goals because it relies on a lot of individuals to keep focus and not make mistakes but that's all the more reason you don't want to rotate your defense and keeper at all or defensive midfielder. The last two champions have that in common, few rotations in a solid defense and thus not many goals conceded.

City do defend, they just do it differently. Mostly with the ball. There have however been at least 5 occasions this season where they have lost possession inside or near their own box and were lucky to have not conceded a goal. All because of how they like to retain the ball. It's a high risk, high reward tactic that requires even less mistakes than a defensive setup. In the form they are in now the risk isn't great but last season we saw that form dip quite a bit when they suddenly didn't manage results. Let's not forget that they were lucky to get the points that they did against Everton, Bournemouth, Huddersfield and Feyenoord. Not that others team haven't been lucky either, just saying that their run hasn't been one without faults.
I don't think they'd handle an injury to De Bruyne any better than we handle an injury to Pogba.
 

Bestietom

Full Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2013
Messages
5,465
Location
Ireland
Fergie always said it was as long as you stay concentrated. By that he probably meant, get back when you lose the ball, and win it back.
 

Keeps It tidy

Hates Messi
Joined
Jun 6, 2013
Messages
17,639
Location
New York
Regardless, the hardest thing in football is scoring goals. Cracking that should be top of anyone's list in football. From there, you weigh up how costly it is to score your goals vs needing men to defend. If you can combine the two



As Guardiola does, you're pretty well set. Klopp wants to do the same, but feck me - Should have fecked off Mignolet, Lovren, Moreno and Klavan in the summer if so. We simply don't have the players for that atm.
While Liverpool's defenders are not great I think midfield is also a major issue for them. I think they want to defend with the ball like City does but, they are going to struggle to do that with that midfield.
 

11101

Full Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2014
Messages
10,448
Every legendary coach i can think of has based their tactics around a solid defence first and foremost.

Its a myth that Pep is an attacking coach. He doesnt attack recklessly like a Klopp does. He just follows the philosophy that the best way to defend is to keep the ball.
 

TheOrgazoid

New Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
394
Attack is the best form of attack.

We should attack, so the best way to do that is to attack.

:devil:
 

redIndianDevil

Full Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2017
Messages
2,717
Attack is always the best defence in my opinion especially for a big team that is expected to win titles.

Defending is rather easy that's why every average manager and smaller clubs do that in a short period of time.
 

redIndianDevil

Full Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2017
Messages
2,717
Every legendary coach i can think of has based their tactics around a solid defence first and foremost.

Its a myth that Pep is an attacking coach. He doesnt attack recklessly like a Klopp does. He just follows the philosophy that the best way to defend is to keep the ball.
This, a Guardiola team will never defend like Mourinho does.
 

ijc

Full Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2016
Messages
298
Location
Malta
I do think that attack is the best form of defence. However, you need your defense to be extremely good at what it does. When we had Berba, Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez, Giggs and Nani they rarely worried about their defensive responsibilities because they knew there was a mammoth defence of Rio, Vida, Evra and VDS covering for them.

I think it's what Jose is doing now - making sure that the defence is top notch until he can unleash the forwards (that's what I personally hope at least!). It's useless having the best attack or the most free flowing football, example Liverpool, and then draw a game because your defence is unreliable.

Balance is key, in everything.