Connect with us


The Fear in Football

It’s something that most Premier League clubs have and it’s ruining the game. It’s called The Fear.

I brought up the topic last night when I interviewed Rodney Marsh for this Monday’s EPL Talk Podcast episode. Why is four-five-one more prevalent now than ever before? Why has the standard of football, as a whole, dropped? Why do we see far fewer matches with free-flowing football that excites and gets us up off the couch?

It’s The Fear.

The fear of losing. The fear of getting the sack. The fear of lost revenue. The fear of the shareholders getting antsy. The fear of the press conference where you take the lumps for an exciting performance but the match ending in a defeat. The fear of relegation.

Playing conservatively reduces the above fears, or so managers think. Play it safe and you won’t get burned. Don’t overextend the team and you won’t be caught on a counter-attack. Play a 4-5-1 and hope for a nil-nil away draw rather than lose all three points.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. The prime example is Reading Football Club who had no fear. They were one of the few teams this season that didn’t fear Chelsea. They drew Man United at Old Trafford and could have easily won. They played passionate attacking football and drove the fear into other teams rather than internalizing it themselves. They showed that positive football can work.

Will more teams adopt Reading’s approach next season or will they play it safe to avoid relegation and to rake in the millions of pounds in cash. The latter is most likely, which is a crying shame.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more


  1. Anonymous

    May 28, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    Reading drew with United at home. When they went to OT, they played without fear and lost. Still an entertaining game, and I’ll root for Reading (except when playing United, of course) because of it.

  2. Anonymous

    May 25, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    Honestly, I think France’s success in the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 playing this formation made it vogue. However, they had midfielders like Zidane and Vierra who understood their roles and would push up to create scoring opportunities. The 4-5-1 famously flopped for France in Korea/Japan 2002 when Zidane was injured and Djorkaeff played in the midfield. I think the US played the 4-5-1 in the 2006 World Cup because the US has used 5 or more midfielders in every World Cup match since losing to Brazil in 1994. England played the 4-5-1 because of injuries. At least I think that was the case.

  3. Anonymous

    May 25, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Why is playing conservative soccer looked down upon so much? Sometimes a team needs to face reality and go for a the point against tougher opposition rather than risk playing for 3. For example, if either of my clubs, the LA Galaxy or Liverpool, are playing a tough team away and go for the draw (and are able to achieve it), that is usually a satisfying result. It really annoys me when people complain about unexciting football; it should only be the neutrals that do this, supporters of a team should be satisfied if their club gets a point rather than nothing against tough opposition.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in General

Translate »