Glasner hero

Oliver Glasner to Crystal Palace: How will he change the Eagles' fortunes?


Oliver Glasner arrives at Crystal Palace with significant pedigree.

Having made a name for himself in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg firstly, followed by Eintracht Frankfurt, he would led the latter to an historic success in the Europa League as well as finishing runners-up in the DFB Pokal.

Previously at Wolfsburg, he oversaw a transformation that resulted in Champions League qualification.

Clearly, the 49-year-old has a track record of bringing results at the top level and having been out of a job since last summer, working at Selhurst Park now offers him the opportunity to oversee a rebuilding project and steer the Eagles to Premier League survival, first and foremost.

So, what can we expect from Glasner's Palace?

High-octane style

The first thing to know about Glasner is that he is from the Red Bull school of football, so pressing and hard-running is a big part of his teams and their high-octane style of play.

Across his time in the Bundesliga, his Frankfurt and Wolfsburg sides ranked high for metrics like Intensive runs and Sprints.

Glasner has shown tactical flexibility in his time in the Bundesliga
Glasner has shown tactical flexibility in his time in the Bundesliga

Glasner started his managerial career in Austrian football, initially working as assistant to Roger Schmidt in Salzburg before branching out on his own.

The pressing is a way to generate direct attacking opportunities for his teams. In the 2021/22 season, his first at Frankfurt, Die Adler accumulated a total of 67 Direct Attacks in the Bundesliga, the third-highest behind Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen.

In the season before, they were second in this metric with a total of 73.


  • What are 'Direct Attacks'? - The number of open play sequences that starts just inside the team’s own half and has at least 50% of movement towards the opposition’s goal and ends in a shot or a touch in the opposition box.

This direct style of play can be an enthralling to watch with the right set of personnel. At Wolfsburg, he had Wout Weghorst, Xaver Schlager and Ridle Baku, among others, the kind of players who were perfectly suited to this physically intensive style of play.

He has shown tactical flexibility in terms of set-ups, whether it be a back-three or a back-four, he has had success in organising compact defensive sides.

At Frankfurt, one of the highlights of his tenure was a 3-2 win against Barcelona.

Following that historic result, manager Xavi said: "They play on the counter-attack and counter-press in a way I’ve only seen from a few teams in my career. We didn’t defend either well and were unable to stop them."

Glasner's methods focus on making the wing-backs or wide players, the source of all the danger coming into the box.

At Frankfurt, his 3-4-2-1 setup consisted of wide centre-backs that were able to pass out from the back (or progress by carrying) and get the ball forward directly to the likes of Jesper Lindstrom and Filip Kostic, who brought the creativity to the pitch.

Chance creation centres around the wide areas in Glasner's system.
Chance creation centres around the wide areas in Glasner's system.

Those wide attackers serviced forwards like Weghorst, Rafael Santos Borre and Randal Kolo Muani.

The latter in particular thrived in Glasner's approach, which essentially created a partnership between the Frenchman and Lindstrom in attack.

This direct style in open-play is complemented by strengths from set-pieces as well.

Glasner's Frankfurt were third for set-piece goals in the 21/22 season, with 14 scored from an expected goals (xG) figure of 14.60. Not too fussed about dominating with the ball, their strengths shine through in ties where they are able to impose themselves out of possession.

So, how will this approach translate to Palace?

Lot of good pieces already there

From one Eagles to another, the benefit that Glasner will see is that there are a lot of players already tailor-made for his approach.

In the likes of Chris Richards, Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen, he has a trio of central defenders who are flexible enough to shift between a back-three or back-four according to whatever the opposition demands.

Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze

In Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze, he'll be working with two of the finest talents outside the big teams in the Premier League currently.

Though availability is an issue with those two, of the existing crop at Palace, the players should eventually adjust to the physical demands of Glasner's methods.

The Austrian is also known to be an effective man-manager and after the roller-coaster period under Roy Hodgson, he could be the perfect appointment to hit the reset button at Selhurst Park.

There are concerns in forward areas at the club, with Jean-Philippe Mateta and Odsonne Edouard struggling to get a steady flow of goals.

Glasner has a good track record in bringing the best out of number 9s who are ready to put in the leg-work. He will need every goal he can get in order to secure top-flight survival.

What are the concerns?

Glasner

Despite his impressive record in the Bundesliga, there are legitimate concerns that come with Glasner's methods.

As is common with most teams reliant on a heavy pressing style for chance-creation, his sides have shown struggles in securing results against those set-up in a low-block.

During the 21/22 season, Frankfurt averaged 1.18 non-penalty xG (npxG) per 90, creating chances at a rate that ranked them in the bottom half of the Bundesliga.

In the two seasons at Frankfurt, Die Adler drew more than ten games across both seasons, dropping points against teams below them in the table. In fact, in the 21/22 campaign, they only won ten games in the league, saving face with success in the Europa League.

That winning record was better than only four other teams, two of those got relegated from the Bundesliga that year.

A mix of high-pressing and being dangerous from counter-attacks are both promising factors that Glasner will bring to Palace, but given all the concerns we've outline, it is for the best that he has only been offered a two-year-deal.

Yet, it is perhaps Glasner's man-management strengths that will be greatly tested in the short-term, as he aims to steer the Eagles to safety in the Premier League.


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