Connect with us

Opinions

Thomas Delaney – Modern Professional and Always Improving


Steve Harris gives an account of Werder Bremen’s Danish midfielder – Thomas Delaney


With the return of the Bundesliga this coming weekend after viewers made their judgements in the opening two gameweeks, many people are still asking the question: “Who will be the shining new star im herbst (the autumn season)?”

In Bremen in the North-Western part of Germany, the mood is more relaxed and they are not looking for new stars to lead them. Their star was signed this winter, in the form of Thomas Delaney. And here’s why, he could very well be the shining star in the Bundesliga this herbst.

But before we get to why, here’s a little backstory on the Dane.

In May 2017, FC Copenhagen was finally awarded the Danish Superliga title. The title had been virtually locked down since the Winter Break, and the club’s season had been on auto-pilot since a loss to Ajax in the Europe League, Round of 16.

So how do you celebrate a title that is more of a formality? The club had a plan: They would fly an FC Copenhagen painted helicopter into the stadium, land it in the middle of the pitch and present the Superliga trophy. What the audience didn’t know was who was flying the helicopter.

In the pilot’s seat was Thomas Delaney – the club’s former captain, club icon and talisman who had joined Werder Bremen over the winter.

Werder Bremen signed Thomas Delaney in the Summer Transfer window of 2016, yet the move wouldn’t materialize until 5 months later in the winter – the player was simply too important to FC Copenhagen. 5 months later, Thomas Delaney had been instrumental in the FC Copenhagen’s Champions League qualification and subsequent Europe League qualification. He’d scored screamers in the Champions League and managed a goal every third game in the Danish Superliga – all that as a box-to-box midfielder with significant defensive responsibilities. 

After a lumpy start in Werder Bremen comprising four straight defeats, Thomas Delaney stepped onto the scene. On Matchday 21, he scored his first goal, a beautiful free kick curler in an away game against Mainz, despite suffering a facial fracture in the game.

This kickstarted a sequence in which Werder Bremen would not lose in 11 games. The highlight of the period came against Freiburg in which Thomas Delaney scored a hattrick. The three goals were symbolic for Delaney: The first was a first time, left foot finish from a low cross, the second a header from open play, and the third a header from a set piece.

That was arguably the highlight of the season on the pitch for the 25-year old, and this week, came the highlight off-pitch as a fantastic year was finished off by being named interim captain of Werder Bremen after 6 months and only 13 games at the club.

What makes Thomas Delayney special is his willingness to always improve his game and work on weak areas to a degree that few professional football players do. When Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Manchester United, he couldn’t head the ball. Today, it’s hard to find a better header of the ball in the game. The same goes for Thomas Delaney. At the start of his FC Copenhagen career, he would often stay back at corners. After all, a central midfielder standing 182 centimetres tall is not usually a large set piece threat.

From 2012 to 2015, he was a permanent feature in the FC Copenhagen team, yet he didn’t score more than three goals in a season. The trend continued at the start of the 2015/16 season, but towards the end of the season something changed: Thomas Delaney suddenly started scoring a lot of goals, netting three in the last seven league games. The goals came from set pieces and it was obvious, that Delaney had improved a weak part of his game – the rest is history and the player is now a recognized threat in the air from both set pieces and open play.

When you analyse this move, it is really quite impressive. Central midfielders are rarely known for their prowess at attacking set pieces. As a central midfielder you are less exposed to aerial duels than central defenders and attackers and as a result, your heading game is not a large focus area.

As a central midfielder, you don’t have to be a good header of the ball. But if you are and add 3-5 goals a season, your value sky-rockets. Whereas being more offensive to make more runs into the box makes you less defensively effective, being a threat from set pieces is basically “free”. It doesn’t subtract from your open play game, and it adds another goal threat from set pieces.

Another example is his ability with his weak foot. He is naturally left footed, but over the years, he has clearly trained his right foot to a degree where it can be hard to tell the difference and he is happy to shoot with both feet.

His professionalization is summed up on an interview with Deutsche Welle Sport:

You can go two directions when you sign for a new club. You can go for the money or you go to improve and that’s why I’m here. I didn’t come here to play relegation every year either. I came here to make an impact, to be an important player.

Needless to say, his professionalism on- and off the pitch, has quickly made him a fan favourite in Bremen. Nobody saw his set piece strength (or his pilot license) coming but from the evidence it is clear, that Thomas Delaney continuously works on becoming a better player. He is already a very good Bundesliga player. With half a Bundesliga season under his belt and more time to adjust, he is now set to become a prolific Bundesliga player.

At this time last year, Thomas Delaney was playing for a large club in a small country participating in the Champions League. At this time next year, it would be no great surprise to find him in a large club in a large country participating in the Champions League.

Steve Harris

Steve Harris

Steve Harris is more a fan of football and less a fan of teams. Fond of players who perform above their natural level, his love for optimizing players is transferred to Football Manager, where he runs the site http://fmguido.com.
Steve Harris

Latest posts by Steve Harris (see all)

100 to Watch

Latest

Extra14 hours ago

Interview: Brandon Fernandes on experiencing football outside India, a longer ISL, and FC Goa’s upcoming campaign

Outside of the Boot gets the chance to sit down with FC Goa’s talented midfielder, Brandon Fernandes There’s been a lot...

Scout Report23 hours ago

Scout Report: Steven Bergwijn | PSV Eindhoven’s rising star

Wang Yulin takes a look at PSV’s exciting Dutch attacker Steven Bergwijn When you think of the team ‘PSV Eindhoven’,...

Opinions1 day ago

Hanoi FC: The Vietnamese Champions struggling to connect with the locals

Trong Nhan Doan looks at the peculiar case of Hanoi FC Most of the time, the most successful team is...

Opinions1 day ago

Expected Goals: A Pioneering Method of Analysing Football

The Football Code has a look at expected goals, a new metric set to revolutionize statistics-based analysis of football Football...

Tactical Analysis4 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Atletico Madrid | Clash of two organised sides

Ryan Tank analyses the mid-week La Liga clash that ended Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Atletico Madrid The clash of two organized...

Tactical Analysis4 days ago

Tactical Analysis: Schalke 0-3 Bayern Munich | Ancelotti’s men secure hard fought win

Ryan Tank analyses the mid-week Bundesliga match that ended Schalke 0-3 Bayern Munich. Schalke: Fahrmann, Kehrer, Naldo, Nastasic, Caliguri, McKennie...

Talent Radar5 days ago

2017-18 Performance Rankings: Top 5 Young Keepers – Edition 1

Our Talent Radar Rankings, along-with our Talent Radar Team of the Week documents the progress of youngsters across Europe, with those featuring in...

Opinions6 days ago

Déjà vu on Tyneside: Why Newcastle are being left short-changed by familiar failings

Jeffrey Gamby-Boulger looks critically at Newcastle’s repeated failings in recent years and why Mike Ashley is the root of those problems. ‘It’s the same...

Hipster Guide6 days ago

Hipster Guide 2017-18: UEFA Europa League | Part Two

Oliver McManus takes us on a journey through some of the more obscure parts of Europe as he tells us...

Series1 week ago

Tactical Philosophy: Leonardo Jardim

While this website has made its name focusing on the lesser known youth of this beautiful sport, and combined it...

Talent Radar1 week ago

Talent Radar 2017-18 Young Players’ Team of the Week #4: Pietro Pellegri and Joshua Kimmich feature

A regular feature on our website is the Talent Radar Team of the Week with the best young players compiled...

Tactical Analysis1 week ago

Tactical Analysis: Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Swansea City | Tottenham’s half space focus against Swansea’s compact block

Ryan Tank provides a tactical analysis of the Premier League game that finished Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Swansea City  Tottenham attacked...

Scout Report1 week ago

Scout Report: Maxwel Cornet | Lyon’s latest starlet

Josh Sippie breaks down Maxwel Cornet, Lyon’s dynamic attacker. Olympique Lyon just have a knack for plucking supremely talented youth...

Scout Report1 week ago

Scout Report: Marcos Llorente | Real Madrid’s young midfielder

Karan Tejwani provides the lowdown on Real Madrid’s talented midfielder, Marcos Llorente. Real Madrid have made smart purchases from Spanish...

Scout Report1 week ago

Scout Report: Eddie Nketiah | Arsenal’s academy talent

Josh Sippie takes a look at highly-rated Arsenal academy striker Eddie Nketiah. Arsenal’s youth ranks are always going to be...

Scout Report1 week ago

Scout Report: Douglas Luiz | Girona’s skilful midfielder

Anderson Moura analyses Girona’s (via Manchester City) talented Brazilian, Douglas Luiz. When Pep Guardiola accepted the Manchester City job, he...

Tactical Analysis1 week ago

Tactical Analysis: RB Leipzig 1-1 AS Monaco | Dynamism and the 4-4-2

Kaushik Goswami tactically analyses the 1-1 draw between RB Leipzig and AS Monaco in the Champions League With most of...

Tactical Analysis2 weeks ago

Tactical Analysis: Nice 4-0 Monaco | Favre’s efficient approach

Ross Eaton has a look at the Ligue 1 clash between defending champions Monaco and fellow title challengers, Nice. After...

Scout Report2 weeks ago

Scout Report: Bartlomiej Dragowski | Fiorentina’s talented Pole

Josh Sippie breaks down Fiorentina’s talented Pole, Bartlomiej Dragowski. It’s funny how different nations are renowned for their ability to...

Scout Report2 weeks ago

Scout Report: Mikel Merino | Newcastle’s dynamic Spaniard

Josh Sippie lays down the law on Newcastle’s metronomic Spaniard, Mikel Merino. Borussia Dortmund are another one of those teams...

Talent Radar Award History

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Young Player Rankings 17-18

More on Outside of the Boot