I have always been brought up this way. You concede a corner, one of the first things you do is get one person on far post and one person on near post. Usually your two smallest players or your left and right back. For those who know me this is always and forever will be me. However, at professional level you very rarely see players on the post. If there are players on the post, they will almost certainly only have one post covered not both.
It does seem to me that when teams do concede goals from corners, they are often hit straight to where a player would be standing at either the near or far post. That of course makes sense, if the goalkeeper is standing in the middle of the goal, trying to protect as much of the goal as possible the only place attacking players can score is in the corners. That is why I was always taught to have players on the posts, in case the keeper misses it or the shot is in one of the corners.
The number of goals scored from corners varies in between 5% to 10% depending on what study you look at an where they take their measurements. There has been a steady increase in the amount of goals scored from corner kicks in the EPL over the last 10 years. So, there is ether more of an emphasis on scoring from them or there is not as much time devoted to defending them. Maybe it is a combination of both?
There are of course many reasons as to why this may be the case. Coaches may see two players not marking anyone as a waste of on field resources and may position them elsewhere. Some teams set up with 2 players in line with the posts but on the edge of the 6 yard line. This could be because those coaches believe that more players contesting the ball would equal less chance of an attacking player getting a shot off. This takes care of the problem of before it occurs. If the defensive team heads the ball away then there is no need for players on the posts.
Another reason I have seen thrown out is regarding offside. If you have one player on the post every opposition player would be onside following a second ball situation. Whereas if all defensive players were all on the 6-yard line at the very deepest then any attacking player drifting into the 6 yard box would be offside and the defensive team would have won a free kick.
Lastly and most intriguingly for me is that teams are now setting up for counter attacks from opposition corners. Rather than placing an emphasis on the defensive part of the corner they are already planning what to do once the ball is won. In this situation those two players who could have been on the posts may be positioned just outside the edge of the box or even higher up the pitch. This is so that there is an overload of players ready to counter when the ball gets cleared from the corner.
We have talked about the what? and the potential why? Now let’s talk about the when where and the who. All these things influence what happens in a match and may directly impact what happens at a corner.
It would be interesting to follow a team’s defensive structure at corners throughout a game and if you had the time and patience, throughout the year. What do they do when they are 1, 2, 3 goals down? What do they do when they are 1, 2, 3, goals up? do they keep the same structure no matter who they are playing? This is of course why professional teams are professional, they have the time, resources and money to fund such research. They can then decide how to best defend and deal with the opposition set pieces and it appears for the majority at least that players on the posts are surplus to requirements.
However, at amateur football I believe that players on the posts still have a place. Without knowing your opposition and with teams changing every year, doing the best to create a one system fits all philosophy at corners is best in my opinion. You never know who will be there on the weekend, who will turn up to training and more than likely you are only training 2 nights a week maximum. Its one of the easiest things to tell a player, “If we concede a corner you and you get on the posts”.
So, there are my thoughts on why teams no longer have players on the posts, do I 100% agree with it? No, I think that in some circumstances professional teams should have players on the posts. But it all depends on the situation. I like having them there having said that if your still conceding massive amounts of goals from corners then maybe they would be better off elsewhere.