manager. But who is Stale Solbakken? A former member of Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang, he had one bad season at a very poor club as Köln. They was relegated after this season and they have been relegated five times last fifteen years...so it's hard to judge Solbakken by the work in Germany. In five season in Denmark with FC Copenhagen he won three league titles and two cups, progressing in the Champions League as well. At Cologne, he tried to reply this success. The Norwegian manager tried to run, all over the pitch, an extreme zonal marking system consisting on no doubling up and no defensive movement between the lines. A strict zonal marking system isn't a news for Norwegian football. Drillo Olsen, the manager who transformed Norwegian football, utilized it. A disciple of Charles Reep, Olsen introduced the long ball stuff alongside zonal defending in Norwey and obtained great defensive performances from average defenders. Solbakken used the strict zonal marking system: as a result Köln often defended well enough but Solbakken's tenure ended allowing a big amount of goals. Great Spielverlagerung.de blog well described Solbakken's system. He is inflexible with his tactics, preferring a 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1 system and rarely vary from having two banks of four.
The two lines of four try to hold the positions as long as possible. Each player is assigned a zone here, as every zonal system does. To play effectively the 4-4-2, is povital to keep small distances between the lines. Solbakken's side wasn't able to do it. It exposed Köln when they played against teams lined up with four lines of depth against their three lines. Also they defend counting more on cover the spaces than to press rivals. That exposed the spaces between defensive and midfield's lines. At the beginning of the season, to avoid this issue, Solbakken tried to play with a very high defense line. That exposed Köln to rivals' counterattacks.
When the team played more deep, it
new problems: the open spaces left between the defensive and midfield
lines, where the holding midfielders didn't cover each other.
gameplan was built on quick counterattacks after forcing the
opponents to make mistakes and win the ball . On
the offensive phase, as the outside forwards moved up aggressively in
many situations, it created a 4-2-4 with a lot of spaces in the
midfield. Often defense and holding midfielders was very deep and was hard to establish a link between midfield and attack. At the end, Solbakken has the pedigree and the ideas to bring success there. But he needs of a roster suited for his gameplan. How the players will adjust to his approach will make or break his era.