Tuesday, 28 May 2024

The Return Of The Long Throw-in: Who Is Behind Brentford F.C.’s Innovative Set Piece Strategy?

Brentford F.C.’s first-ever Premier League season has been marked by their bold and refreshing approach to the game. This West London club has always done things differently, from their innovative B Team model to their data-driven strategies. One area where Brentford stands out is their approach to set pieces. They have consistently created chaos in opposition boxes with their height, physicality, and carefully-drilled routines.

The efficacy of Brentford’s most inventive set plays has been analyzed in a recent article by The Athletic’s Jay Harris. The team has adopted a number of aggressive techniques, such as placing all ten outfield players around the penalty area with four players circling the box to pick up loose balls. The likes of Ivan Toney and Ethan Pinnock, the team’s aerial targets, alternate between different routines, from shuffling around the penalty spot to crowding the goalmouth before dropping off to win the first header. Brentford always keeps their opponents guessing.

The result of this set piece innovation is a high number of chances and goals. Brentford’s use of throw-ins this season is especially remarkable. They have averaged 0.95 shots per 90 minutes from throw-ins, while every other Premier League team combined has averaged just 1.09 shots per 90. Brentford also leads in expected goals (xG) from throw-ins, with 0.09 xG per 90, compared to the combined average of 0.12 xG from other teams. This stark difference highlights the effectiveness of Brentford’s strategy and raises the question: why haven’t other teams caught on?

The truth is, some teams have started to pay attention, but Brentford’s tradition of specialist coaching gives them an edge. The set piece experts currently making waves in elite football largely come from the Brentford school. Tactical Statistician Bernardo Cueva, who was previously with Club Deportivo Guadalajara S.A. de C.V., is currently responsible for overseeing set pieces for the Bees. Past set piece specialists at Brentford include Gianni Vio, part of Italy’s Euro 2020-winning backroom staff, Nicolas Jover, now with Arsenal, and Andreas Georgson, who left Arsenal to become Malmö FC’s Head of First Team Football.

According to Georgson, an organic and holistic approach to set piece coaching is ideal. He emphasized the importance of a long-term project, not getting desperate for immediate success, and building on existing foundations. Brentford’s assistant Brian Riemer revealed that the club places great importance on set pieces and believes there are approximately 60 set piece situations in every game. They allocate sufficient time for training on set pieces to make the most of these opportunities.

While some cynics have criticized the trend toward specialist coaches, Brentford remains committed to their innovative approach. They believe that investing in specialists, whether it’s for set pieces, sleep, or kicking coaches, raises the level of their players and provides a competitive edge. They have successfully created advantages on the pitch despite not having the financial backing of the wealthiest clubs.

Brentford’s dedication to improving set pieces has paid off. They currently have the best goalscoring record from set pieces in the Premier League, with 8 goals, and the highest expected goals (xG) from set pieces at 11.2. This is remarkable considering their 14th place in the league. It is evident that Brentford’s hard work on set pieces allows them to outperform their resources.

Brentford’s innovative coaching strategies extend beyond set pieces. They adopt a holistic approach to the game, covering various aspects of player development and performance enhancement. Their investment in specialists has not only improved their set piece performance but has also increased awareness of the importance of this side of the game.

In conclusion, Brentford F.C. is leading the way in innovative set piece strategies. Their dedication to improving all aspects of the game, from set pieces to player development, has propelled them to success. Other clubs would do well to learn from their approach and catch up.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is responsible for Brentford’s set piece strategy?

    • Bernardo Cueva, a tactical statistician, is currently overseeing set pieces for Brentford.
  • What is Brentford’s approach to set pieces?

    • Brentford employs aggressive and carefully-drilled set piece routines and constantly surprises opponents with their tactics.
  • How effective is Brentford’s set piece strategy?

    • Brentford has a significantly higher number of shots and expected goals (xG) from throw-ins compared to other Premier League teams.
  • What other innovative strategies does Brentford employ?

    • Brentford has adopted a B Team model and invests in different types of specialists to enhance player development and performance.
  • Is Brentford’s set piece success sustainable?

    • Brentford’s set piece success is a result of their dedicated coaching and attention to detail. Their holistic approach to the game gives them a competitive edge.