Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Luke Williams on Why Notts County Play Short Corners

Former Notts County manager, Luke Williams, explains why his team plays more short corners than any other in League Two.

Video Credit: K-Ci Rennicks

I’m going to tell you the truth now. We have the most shots on target from corners in the EFL. One in four corners results in a shot on target, is the best by a long way. We have actually scored the most goals in the division from corners, but you don’t know that from corners, do you? Because unless we whack it in the box, it’s not a corner.

We take a corner, we the pass the ball, until that ball is turned over, we give it away or it goes off that pitch, it’s still a corner. It’s still a corner. We are extremely successful at corners. I’m sorry to break your hearts; it’s the truth because I made sure we done the research.

I’m being serious now. Corners have a very low success rate across football, worldwide. Putting the ball into the box. But of couese when someone runs through the crowd, heads the ball, and it smashes into the back of the net, we remember it. We don’t remember fifty corners that just got caught by the goalkeeper, hit the side netting, or headed away; we just forget. And we also forget that when the ball comes into pitch immediately and is passed five times and then crossed from the other side, we think it was from open play. It was just a part of the game, but it wasn’t; it was from a corner.

Then, when you play against Notts County, one of the issues that you have is the ball is in play for longer than any other game in the EFL. You will notice, that the players have been instructed; the players sprint […] he sprints, gets the ball, puts it down, passes it immediately. So you don’t get a break.

Some of the defenders, many many of the defenders, they love corners because they can have a rest. They’re 6ft 3in; so they don’t want [Daniel Crowley] running at them, or […] running behind them, or [Macaulay Langstaff] in the box free and scoring 42 goals from open play. So we take the ball, put it down, immediately pass the ball, and the defender says, “Ugh, again Notts County, c’mon, just kick it into the goalkeeper’s hands, so we can smash the length of the pitch and break.” No. Not gonna happen, I’m afraid. I’m sorry.

And we kicked one last season directly into the box, and [Macaulay Langstaff] scored. You know why? Because everyone was at the corner trying to stop us from playing short. So I’m sorry to break everyone’s hearts, but this is the reality; that we are extremely successful from corners.

Nancy Froston of The Athletic wrote an in-depth article fact-checking the claims made in his comments.

Would you rather build a team that can win every aerial duel from a corner or play it short and work it into a place on the pitch where you know you have a better chance of getting a high-quality shot off?

I’d want the team that plays short corners because there are far fewer players that can win aerial duels and consistently do the other necessary things like dribbling, passing, and scoring from open play.

I subscribe to Luke Williams’ way of thinking. He recently joined Swansea City. One to watch.

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