I was watching the game and couldn’t believe what I saw. Did this guy just come out to the field and headbutt a player from the other team? Wait it wasn’t that bad! He just pushed the player away with his head! After I heard him give that explanation I felt better and could understand it. Wait a second! Pushed him away with his head! I’m not buying that excuse. It was a headbutt from a coach to a player. Thats some crazy stuff. Who did this guy think he was fooling in the post match interview. It was shameful. I personally seen this guy act like an immature baby to many times on the sideline. There is no excuse. If it was up to me I would ban him from the league and fire the guy. Maybe a two year ban and never to coach in the premier again. I’m even more upset that he didn’t admit to it. ”I pushed him away with my head”. Just have the guts to say I lost it and headbutted the guy. At that point your at least being honest. I feel this guy is just apologizing and not even owning up to it at the same time. The FA is talking about coaching boxes like in some American Sports? Are they serious? Just grow up as a manager and behave like a man. I don’t need any box or electric fence around me when I coach. I have coached in National Championships Finals and maintained my passion along with me sense of humor at all times. I lost many huge games as a coach and always did it with class. I haven’t even brought up the role model stuff and the kids etc. I really can’t get over him not fully admitting responsibility for his actions and making it seem way less then it was. I feel like he is trying to con us all. The club can do whatever they like. If they want a manager who doesn’t admit to his actions and headbutts players than thats their decision. If I owned the club I would not want that to be the values my club represents. Come on this guy is the “Leader” of the team and your going to fine him $100,000 and say we talk anymore about it. Alan Shearer was correct to say fire him. Shearer actually cares about the club and the clubs values. I keep reading about how out of control some youth soccer games and parents can get. If you let Pardew stay employed what message do we send to those parents who are already out of control?
The writing was on the wall for awhile now. Last year United was not the best team. Robin Van Persie saved the day for what was a very average to below average Man United squad. Let’s address the issues quickly. Vidic I have been saying for awhile now is no longer mobile enough. Ferdinand has nothing left in his legs. Evra is just holding on. Cleverley is very average. Phil Jones is not mobile. Carrick is not athletic or mobil. The list can go on and on. Van Persie is over 30 now and his body will break down for sure with injuries. Rooney is 29 and never was a serious fitness guy. What do you think will happen to Rooney in 2 years? My guess is one good injury and he gains 20 lbs and is finished. Juan Matta is a luxury player in terms of defensive work rate. In the EPL is you are going to have luxury players you better possesses the ball like crazy. Notice I didn’t even mention the coach yet. I like David Moyes and respect him but he is way way way out of his league at United. His tactics are all wrong, team selections are debatable, player purchases are suspect and his training methods are questioned. The Dutch National Fitness coach called Moyes methods “prehistoric” and “outdated”. He was shocked at David was doing with the guys in pre-season – that is not a good sign. The endless crosses into the box, Matta playing wide right, a lack of any defining style are just a few issues I have seen watching United. For the life of me I can’t understand why Kagawa doesn’t play, Nani never plays, Danny Welbeck has serious potential and Zaha got put on loan. All those players provide pace/athletic ability and have loads of potential. They could have used some of that this week in the Champions League match don’t you think?
The major issue for me is this. Manchester United is worth a massive amount of money. How much longer can you let one guy steer the ship? Ajax and Barcelona are clubs with a philosophy of play and player development. No matter who the coach is at those clubs the club is safe. They will always buy and produce the right players, they will always put a great soccer product out there on the field. How much longer can huge clubs that depend on Champions League revenue, jersey sales and shirt sponsors and winning to keep them making the big dollars fool around with giving a new coach all the power. If I own the club I am not giving one guy the power to make or break the club. I am instilling a system of play and regardless if the head coach comes or goes the system of the club stays the same. It is the only way to control consistency.
United are in big trouble. They are good enough to salvage something but they need to stop the bleeding ASAP and turn the ship around. They need to seriously re-think how they want to run the club going forward. Sorry David but your out!
I was watching Norwich City this weekend play Spurs. If Norwich didn’t win there was a chance the Manager was going to be fired. Norwich played with real passion and looked like a team on a mission. They ended up getting the win and the manager kept his job for another week. The players at Norwich respect and like Chris Hughton. They want to play for the manager and it showed. Thats is not always the case in soccer. When AVB’s job was on the line at Spurs you didn’t get the same feeling out of them. I think the team was happy when he left. AVB was like an unemotional robot. His ability to form relationships with the players was lacking. I don’t think any players complained when Di Canio was fired by Sunderland FC (they probably celebrated). When Benitez was sacked at Liverpool you didn’t hear a peep. There is a fine line when you are a manager between being approachable, open minded, easy to talk with but at the same time being respected as the boss. As many flaws as Jose Mourinho has the players for the most part not only respect him but like him as a person. Jose will often take players to dinner, ask them about their families and get to know them outside of the soccer context. The days of the authoritarian coach who is the dictator is coming to an end. In order for players to “buy in” to the coach they want to feel some type of connection. A connection where the coach actually cares about them and is looking out for them. The team is obviously the first priority for every one but there is also a personal relationship and respect between coach and player. I remember a former Liverpool player who mentioned Benitez never talked to him for his entire two years at the club. He never even said hello to him in the morning. If that is a true story then I can understand why the players didn’t care when he left. As society evolves the role of manager needs to evolve as well. The dynamic between player and coach is changing. I personally would always want to play for a coach I could relate to and respect than a dictator.
Team Defending Principles & Strategies
Before coaching team defensive drills it is important to have a fundamental understanding of the principles and strategies of team defending. These principles and strategies should be taught and reinforced in team defending training sessions and drills. The coach’s ability to communicate these principles effectively with the players is critical to playing effective team defense.
Line of Confrontation: A defined line that is the reference point indicating where to start applying defensive pressure.
Line of Restraint: A line that is a reference point that indicates where the defending unit (the backline) would be pushed up to. The line of confrontation and line of restraint together help the team keep proper shape and compactness.
I use four basic lines of confrontation when teaching team defense. The line of restraint will naturally push up or back with the line of confrontation. The four lines of confrontation will be full, three quarters, half and one quarter. Choosing where to set the line of confrontation involves many factors. Things to consider are the speed of the other teams attacking players, the ability of the opponent to possess the ball, the fitness level of your team, the weather conditions, the score, up or down a man, the ability of your team to counter and the speed of oppositions back four. Below are the diagrams of each of the lines of confrontation and restraint. The lines of confrontation are in red while the lines of restraint are in blue (#1 line of confrontation matches with #1 line of restraint and 2-4 as well).
When holding a line of confrontation the coach can have players hold a very strict line or allow groups of 1-3 players to extend pressure over the line. There can be a number of reasons to extend pressure, especially if your team is using a high line of confrontation. If the oppositions back four is allowed to collect the ball comfortably right behind the line of confrontation they can easily serve penetrating balls over the top. I do not recommend letting teams feel comfortable on the ball and allowing them to hit unpressured long passes. I let my players extend pressure especially when the ball is being passed to a defender with his head down. At that point 1-3 players will break the line of confrontation and try to create turnover leading to a counter-attack.
Compactness: This is a basic principle in team defense. When a team is not in possession their objective is to make the field as small as possible for the attacking team. Creating a numerical advantage in the area of the ball is the goal of defensive compactness. The goal of the attacking team is open the field up making the defense spread out. Spreading the field will open up gaps for the attacking team to penetrate through. In order to circulate the ball effectively the team in possession must try and open up the field. The defensive team will be trying to do the exact opposite. When the ball is lost is this starts transition. Transition is one of the most important times in a soccer game. The team that was spread out will be trying to become compact and the team who was compact will be trying to spread out. That is a simple explanation but it is an important aspect of the game to understand. How a team manages transition from attacking to defending and defending to attacking can determine the outcome of the game.
In the illustration below the red team is showing good defensive compactness while sitting back in a low defensive block.
The above exert is from my book “The Science of Soccer Team Defending: Zonal Pressing, Zonal Defending and Pressing. You can purchase at http://www.amazon.com/The-Science-Soccer-Team-Defending-ebook/dp/B00IM1NEAC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393293121&sr=8-1&keywords=the+science+of+soccer+team+defending
We all saw what happened to Demicheles this week for Manchester City. For me this wasn’t the first sign of it either. The bottom line is he is not athletic, fast or mobile enough for the EPL or Champions League. I can remember a former Arsenal midfielder saying the EPL is not the place for players coming here after the age of 30. The pace and physical demands of the game are just to much. As a coach you should look at each case individually. Demicheles was never fast even in his 20′s so City should have known in his 30′s he would struggle. Giggs at United not only played his entire career in the EPL but he was fast and quick. As he got older he went from fast to average speed. Giggs adjusted his game and learned to be effective with less pace. Players like Ashley Cole have a longer career because they have speed to burn after 30! Then you have players like Beckham who never relied on speed but his conditioning was second to none. Lampard and Gerrard are two others you can say used their play making ability to make up for lack of pace after 30. However, Lampard and Gerrard were never Edgar Davids in the role they played. They did do a lot of work but they ran the show passing the ball. The 30+ player in the EPL has a place but only the right ones in the right positions. The Italian league for example would be a place for the over 30′s to do very well in. The pace is slower and easier for smart technical players. With the pace of the game in modern soccer old is becoming 30 in the EPL. If you do not serve a specific role with faster players around you then you can contribute longer. The players like Ashley Cole are just the rare gifted athletes who’s speed has not left them yet.
My thing is it doesn’t take a UEFA PRO License Coach to identify Demicheles is to slow. He is not even close to the level and I can’t see how they missed that one.
First this is not the worst Barcelona side in years. It is a good side that is developing quickly. Barca moved the ball very well. I felt like I was watching a rondo drill inside a Champions League Game. I have been studying the Barcelona training system for some time now, which made watching the game today even more enjoyable. Seeing the ball circulate, the triangles being formed and the forward passing in tight areas when it didn’t seem possible was awesome. However, Barca was not dominate enough in the attacking third. They were a little off in their rhythm and timing in front of goal. I got the feeling with a little more improvement they could have scored more goals. The possession play of Barcelona relies of coordinated collective timed movement, proper positioning of players off the ball in possession, technical proficiency, speed of thought and quickness of play. Once Barcelona is working completely together they are one of the hardest teams in the world to beat. City can beat Barcelona but not with the line-up they put on the field today. Demicheles will never be ready to play against Barcelona. He severely lacks the pace and mobility required to deal with the quickness of the Barca players (never mind Messi). He is not calm under pressure and gives the ball away far to much for my liking. Lescott is a much better player then Demicheles and makes me wonder what the manager was thinking. Kolarov is the next player on City I find to be suspect when he has to deal with pace and quickness. He should not start against technical, possession oriented fast teams. City do have some great players that could easily fit into a squad like Barcelona. Nasri, Silva, Negredo, Navas, Aguero, Kompany, Zabaleta and Toure can all play on any top team in the world. A healthy Man City and now its game on. However, if City leave a few weak links on the field Barca will exploit them. Micah Richards is waisting away on the bench when he could have done a much better job than Demicheles. I have not even addressed Joe Hart yet. He is another discussion. In short, Joe Hart is not a Man City Keeper. They need a big time keeper. I like Joe Hart but he is not a top three keeper.
The bigger picture here is the development system at the two clubs. Barcelona has a system of play with players specially developed and recruited for the system. City are hired guns who take orders from the high paid manager who is the flavor of the month. No disrespect intended. There is no doubt City can achieve a result eventually against Barca but not on a consistent basis. Barcelona are to good. Teams that have over 65% possession are more likely to win. Teams with the highest passing accuracy are more likely to win. There will always be exceptions to the rule but Barcelona had more possession and their passing accuracy was much better. Barca will always win more games if the statistics stay the same. The statistics are the statistics because of the Barcelona developmental system and central coaching philosophy. Coaches can come and go but the central philosophy of the club stays the same.
I enjoyed the game and can’t wait for the second leg! If you want to learn more about “Rondo” used by Barcelona click on “Buy My Books” and get a copy of my new book “The Science of Rondo” – available on Amazon. Professional Passing Patterns is also available on amazon as well.
I am going to keep this short, simple and to the point. Barcelona are special and took the world by storm with their amazing possession style. They have unique skills that most teams can not emulate. Squads with less technical ability than Barcelona can not replicate what Barcelona does. However even Barcelona are not the force they once were. It might be Pep moving on, it might be the crazy concentration levels required to play the way they do, maybe the other teams have gotten better defending against Barcelona or maybe it’s Barca’s squad is not as good as it was. Whatever the case may be Barcelona is not as dominant as they used to be. The counter attacking style is what we are tending to see a little more of now. Teams sit a little deeper keeping numbers behind the ball to defend then they punish you on the counter attack. The teams with one or two fast, strong and talented attacking players can turn the game. The rest of the team just has to keep it together and defend well as a unit. That is a tiny bit simplistic but it’s true. You can see this with Liverpool, Spurs and United (all depends the game of course). Teams are now enjoying playing away from home because they are expected to sit and counter. It is just an easier game plan to execute. Overall your players do not have to be as good. Coaches are now not just talking about the counter attack but the counter off the counter! Its like boxing a guy with a good jab. Once the jab comes, block it and counter off the jab. So whats next?
My take on the future deals with players and development. When a coach see’s a player that is fast and skillful the first instinct is attacking mid, forward or winger. If coaches take that same player and say “Outside Back” or “Center Back” now we are on to something. Teams must develop back fours with pace, skill, defensive ability and attacking ability. Take a look around the EPL and tell me how many great center backs you see? Ones with pace, skill, 1v1 ability, tactical intelligence and more? Barcelona had a slower back four when they were great. Imagine if the Barcelona back four were the fastest in the game? Just look at Arsenal for a struggling group in the back! The Arsenal back four is built poorly for the possession midfield game with the exception of Gibbs. Sagna gives the ball away to much and I don’t love his discipline in 1v1 defending.
The future in my opinion is taking an Arsenal midfield and pairing them with the fastest, most skillful, physical and smartest back four in the game. Then add Aguero, Suarez, Rooney, Messi or whatever forward that can play in tight spaces and has pace. That would be a team with little weaknesses to exploit. My point is we have everything in the game now except the back four. If a club develops the back four as their first priority eventually it will change the game. Then just to add to that a physical, mobile, strong, fast, short & long range passing ability, technical and smart defensive center mid that stays put most of the game. Put a player like that in front of a dominating back four now suddenly the counter attack is neutralized. Remember, tactics can only go so far with the available talent. Maybe we should be looking to develop talent for the tactics that we eventually want to employee. It would be like the mad scientist working and working waiting to release the new experiment on the world!! I do think the development of a new type of back four is the answer to changing the game!