3. Pragmatism versus idealism
The last time Fulham was in the Premier League, they played an idealistic style that got them relegated. In the Championship, Scott Parker added more pragmatism to their game which saw them promoted when they probably shouldn’t have been. If they survive this season which is looking more likely with every point, it will be because of that pragmatism.
Lines have been drawn to compare Parker to Frank Lampard as of late. Compared to Maurizio Sarri, Lampard is a pragmatist but that pragmatism has gotten rarer and rarer this season. Last year when results turned, he would go into a 3-4-3 and revert to basics. This season, in a way, the 4-3-3 was the same adjustment away from the more direct 4-2-3-1.
But since the poor run began, Lampard has stuck to his 4-3-3. In a way, the change which was pragmatic at first has become idealistic for him. The player movements and techniques are supposed to be pristine. The Blues are attempting to beat opponents on talent and ability alone.
All of that is a fine notion, but as the results sour, that is when Lampard should go to what works rather than what might look better or how he wants it to look. Efficiency over aesthetic is the name of the game for teams that achieve and surpass their goals in the Premier League. It is impossible to look good every match week. Even Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp learned there were moments that just had to be survived. It is a notion Lampard had last year that may have been rewarded with Champions League football. It might also be a lesson he needs to learn again.
Parker will have no qualms about his team doing what is necessary to survive. Lampard needs to show that he also has no qualms about just doing what works as the results dip. Maybe that means a formation change or dropping the press and highline. Regardless, Lampard can’t afford many more (or, perhaps, anymore) slip ups if he wants to continue into the third year of his contract.
What key clashes are you looking for in this one? Let us know in the comments an on Twitter!