The Glasner Effect: How Crystal Palace’s Tactics Have Evolved

When Oliver Glasner joined Crystal Palace on 19 February to replace club icon Roy Hodgson, there was a sense of optimism surrounding Selhurst Park as the Austrian manager joined after a successful spell at Eintracht Frankfurt, where he famously won the UEFA Europa League in the 2021/22 season.

His Frankfurt team’s playstyle and tactical pedigree were also lauded by many as their free-flowing, direct, and vertical attacking approach was both entertaining and effective. Defensively, their compact block was difficult to penetrate as Glasner implemented a hybrid zonal and man-marking method that often stifled opposition attacks.

Palace’s form was not smooth sailing at the start of Glasner’s tenure, however, the tide seems to have shifted in recent weeks as the rejuvenated Eagles have gathered momentum. This article will analyze how Glasner has tactically revolutionized the South London club.

Attacking Intent and Defensive Vigour

Before looking at the finer details of Glasner’s approach, let us crunch the numbers to view the broader trend of Palace’s performance. The average expected goal difference (xGD) is a useful metric that helps gauge a team’s performance, as a positive value indicates that they are creating more chances (xG) than what they are conceding (xGA). Therefore, a generally positive upward trend would be a pleasant sign.

As we can see below, Palace was experiencing a poor run of form under Hodgson after a short period of success. Since Glasner has taken over, the Eagles have undergone another renaissance.

The most evident shift in Palace’s style under Glasner is their intent to utilize their attacking talent to create more chances in the final third. The uptick in xG and goals scored (per 90′) demonstrate the new-found offensive flair under the Austrian coach.

Defensively, Palace seems to have upped their pressing intensity as illustrated by the Passer per Defensive Action figures (PPDA), which measures the number of passes the opposition makes before the team out of possession commits a defensive action. Therefore, a low value reveals that a team executes a high and aggressive press.

When calculating the average PPDA for Palace in Glasner’s last ten games and comparing it to Hodgson’s last 10, there is a stark difference of 31%, as shown below, with the current manager’s side performing a more aggressive high press.

However, the small sample size is an important caveat to consider. Whether Glasner sticks with the high-octane press or not will only be revealed over time, but so far, that looks to be his go-to approach at Palace.

Palace, and understandably so, is not the stable defensive unit according to Glasner’s ideals. But having only joined in mid-February, the Eagles have managed three clean sheets in 11 matches, whereas Hodgson’s side only managed five across 24 games. Furthermore, the volume of chances conceded has favourably dipped, as shown below by the recent drop in the team’s xGA trend.

Glasner will hope this trend will spiral downward as the current level of conceded chances is unsustainable for a defensive unit to handle over an entire season while winning games. With the off-season period approaching, Glasner will soon have his chance to tighten up the back line and prepare the team for next season.

Optimism in South London

Times have changed once again at Selhurst Park as the ambitious ownership experiment with a new head coach, with hopes of breaking through from the mid-table zone that the club has often found itself in the last decade.

Although their consistency in the Premier League since promotion in 2013 has been very impressive, a portion of the Palace fanbase is growing in frustration as they see their competitors like Brighton & Hove Albion, West Ham United, Aston Villa, and Newcastle United, teams that were once near or even below them, elevate up the table while the South Londoners remain in the same position.

Palace has a talented core of youngsters, including Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze, and Marc Guehi. However, with constant rumours about their potential exit, Palace will soon need to rebuild again before attempting to rise above in the ever-so-competitive league.

So far, it seems the ownership has got one piece of that rebuilding puzzle in Glasner, but if Palace strives to push above mid-table, they will need to equip him with the right squad.

Related articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share article

Latest articles