Fulham midfielder on tactical secrets of his partnership with Joao Palhinha

Fulham midfielder on tactical secrets of his partnership with Joao Palhinha. At 28, Harrison Reed has laid down a good foundation for himself as a midfielder in a top-half Chief Association group. Everyone, including himself, has come to realize that he belongs at this level almost a decade after his debut in the competition. There were skepticism. Fulham did not always fly with him. Appearances at Southampton were inconsistent. It wasn’t easy to move loans to Blackburn and Norwich. He is open about the difficulties, but he has no regrets about the path he has taken.

“Playing regularly in the Premier League was always the dream but do not get me wrong, there were moments during my career when I doubted that I would get there. As a footballer, people do not see that from the outside,” Reed said.

“You have big ups and downs. There were big drops in confidence. There were times on loan at Norwich when I could not get into a midtable Championship side. In those moments, you do go home and analyse it and wonder where your level is.”

Fulham midfielder on tactical secrets of his partnership with Joao Palhinha

The story of how Reed discovered his level was as high as this – and still rising – is both simple and complicated. He credits Fulham boss Marco Silva as the catalyst for that change. “You need trust from the manager. Marco has given me that.” Reed had worked on the training ground with high-class coaches before but it is different when a player feels truly important.

“When I was young, I would not always be at the forefront of the manager’s mind in terms of information. You would hear little bits that they were saying to other players and try to pick up on that. Now, I get a lot more feedback. That has helped me a lot.”

It also helps that Silva discovered a player who was hungry to learn. “I watch a lot of football, listen to the analysis, study players in my position. That has added to my game and my tactical knowledge has certainly improved. I know what the manager wants now.”

Fulham midfielder on tactical secrets of his partnership with Joao Palhinha

It’s hard to know what the manager wants. Reed is working in a further developed job with more prominent obligation to score and make. However, his presence in the opposing half also serves to prevent Fulham from gaining possession. Safeguarding on the front foot.

The measurements show that Reed’s midfield accomplice Joao Palhinha has made a bigger number of tackles than some other player in the Head Association this season. To be fair, the Portugal international has received a lot of praise for his performances. However, he is not working alone.

“We set the triggers,” Reed explains.

“Joao is a tackling machine. My job is to get pressure on the ball. It is about complementing his style and forcing the ball into areas where we can win it. My tackle numbers are not very high but in terms of pressuring the ball that is where I affect the game more.”

Delve deeper into those statistics and that truth reveals itself. Reed ranks highly for pressures. Both men are among the top five players in the Premier League for interceptions leading to expected goals. Winning the ball back high up the pitch is all part of the plan.

“The two of us work on it a lot in training and the manager demands a lot from us. One has to be forcing pressure on the ball and the other needs to be in a balanced position to block a passing lane into the attacker’s feet. We try to force the ball where we want it to go.

“We show the passing lane to be open but we try to anticipate so that when the passer’s head goes down, he thinks the pass is on but we are already looking to intercept. Knowing that we are covering for each other allows us to disrupt the play into the pockets.”

It is rare to hear a player speak about these tactical details but this is the daily reality of life working under Silva. “It is brilliant,” says Reed. “The information every day on the pitch. The standard that the manager drives. I have not seen it before, if I am honest.

“You always come up with enthusiasm but we felt it was different this time. The organisation and the structure that the manager gives us, when we cross the white line, everybody in the team understands their role. I think that is crucial at the highest level.

“We have done extremely well but every day he is making sure we are still learning, making sure we are working even harder. He has hammered home to us the fact that if standards slip, results start to turn. You are not really allowed an off day with the manager.”

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