Talking Tactics

Promoted stars: Hector has transformed Fulham defence

By Adrian Clarke 9 Aug 2020
Michael Hector

Adrian Clarke says stylish centre-back has earned comparison with Virgil van Dijk and will be a key man in the Premier League

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Centre-back Michael Hector could be Fulham's most important player this season.

The 28-year-old arrived from Chelsea in January 2020.

From that moment on, the 6ft 4in Jamaica international was an outstanding presence, dominating Championship strikers.

Tall, aggressive, quick and a good reader of the game, he formed a reliable partnership with American Tim Ream.

Instantly strengthening the weakest part of Scott Parker’s team, Hector has become the defensive rock Fulham are bound to rely on in 2020/21.

His quality and understanding with Ream, coupled with Parker’s cautious approach, should ensure the Cottagers avoid a repeat of the 81 goals they conceded when they were relegated from the Premier League in 2018/19.

Fulham with and without Hector
2019/20 Matches Clean sheets Goals conceded
With Hector 23 11 21 
Without Hector 26 6 31

Hector’s style of play has been compared to that of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.

While he has some way to go to emulate the Dutchman's success, he has certainly made a huge impact for Fulham.

Hector’s pace and all-round defensive nous, honed during several loan spells, will be critically important when the team are put under additional pressure in 2020/21.

During the playoffs he made a number of telling contributions at key moments, as they beat Cardiff City over two legs before triumphing 2-1 against Brentford in the final.

Hector stats 2019/20
Fulham Total Per 90
Matches played 23 -
Tackles 31 1.3
Blocks 18  0.8
Clearances 110  4.7 
Succ. long passes  140 
Aerial duels won 91  3.9 

Hector is strong in the air, an aggressive tackler and is not afraid to put his body on the line.

Confident on the ball, he enjoys bringing it out of defence before hitting precise long passes to his forwards.

Hector has waited a long time for this chance to prove himself in the Premier League, and his form in 2020 suggests he is ready to seize it.

Also in this series

Part 1: Bielsa's Leeds can spring a few surprises
Part 2: Phillips the main man for Leeds
Part 3: West Brom return as more attacking team
Part 4: Parker's Fulham can learn from the past
Part 6: Pereira West Brom's creative fulcrum

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