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HomeSportsFootballRoberto De Zerbi: What should Brighton fans anticipate from Fabian Hurzeler?

Roberto De Zerbi: What should Brighton fans anticipate from Fabian Hurzeler?

When Roberto De Zerbi unexpectedly decided to leave Brighton at the end of the season, despite previously stating he would stay, the club had to quickly find a replacement. Brighton was looking for a manager who would fit their specific approach to operations, playing style, and player development. They were hoping to find a promising coach similar to their previous candidates, Potter and De Zerbi. Kieran McKenna was considered, but he ultimately stayed at Ipswich.

However, attention soon turned to Germany when a success story emerged in the 2. Bundesliga. FC St. Pauli earned promotion to the Bundesliga after a long absence. The club’s approach to football caught the eye of many, and their manager, Fabian Hurzeler, began to attract admirers.

Hurzeler, who is only 31 years old, turned to coaching at the age of 23. Before being the coach of St. Pauli, he was the coach of FC Pipinsried. Taking St. Pauli to the Bundesliga, Hurzeler has become the new Seagulls manager and is now the youngest ever coach in the Premier League.

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What are his tactics like? Here is a short look at his teams in and out of possession.


Hurzeler prefers to alternate between a 4-3-3 and a 3-4-2-1. The difference is not much as the deepest midfielder in the 3-man midfield is paced between the 2 defenders, making it a 3 atb, while the FB pushes up as a WB, making the 4-3-3 a 3-4-2-1.


Starting with a high press, Hurzeler sets his team up with a man-oriented press to press high up the field. The striker is free to press the center back on the ball while other players have their man-marking assignments.


In case the first line of press is crossed, St. Pauli moves into a 5-2-3 system where the deepest midfielder in the 4-3-3 moves into the backline and makes it a back five while the two half wingers make it like a double pivot. The front three players press in the same formation.


One of the triggers for aggressive pressing is lateral passing. If the ball is played out to the full back, then the corresponding winger will press the full back while the striker will move the ball sideways and cut out the pass back to the CB.


St. Pauli’s counter-pressing is extremely aggressive, and they try to win the ball back as soon as they lose it.


When building out from the back, the deepest midfielder drops into a deeper position and from a passing triangle with the 2 CB’s. This while the two other midfielders occupy the half spaces, ready to receive passes.

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Like De Zerbi, the full backs are pushed wide and act like the source of width, while the wingers cut inside and act as passing options.

St. Pauli are patient in possession. Once they win the ball back, they slow down the play and try to suck the opposition into pressing them. And once the opposition starts to press, they change their tempo of passing and use quick passing combinations, and the third man runs to play out of the press.



If teams do not press, the CB’s have the ability to play long balls over the last line of defense to wingers who make diagonal runs into the box.


Areas of Improvement

When pressing high up the pitch, the double pivot pushes high to support the wingers and forward to compress the lines. However, this creates a gap between the defense and the midfield, and if the opposition can play through them, then it can be potent.

Being laterally compact means that quick switches of play can catch the defense out and leave space to score.

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Making the step up from St. Pauli to Brighton would mean that Hurzeler has more quality in his arsenal than he did earlier. But at 31 years of age and being in his first big job, it can act as a double-edged sword.

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