I don’t think the point is getting across.
As it relates to a post, let me just say that it’s ok if a reader “doesn’t get it“. People can’t be convinced or changed with a solitary article – not at their core anyways.
Every time I write one of these, my brain screams:
- “Oh, but what about this?”
- “And I should tell them about that detail!”
- “And how about all these other supporting arguments?”
- “Oh … this is the perfect opportunity to show them why they’re misguided.”
this goes on and on and on.
Pretty soon you realize you need a book, or manifesto, to do a good job of transmitting a block of thought. And hence standing a chance of changing someone in some way.
But … a blog (and its comments) can act as a sort of IV drip.
Small and consistent units of nutrition that by themselves accomplish little, but over time compound. And that can be powerful.
Be careful whose needle you stick yourself with.
Dave C says
That IV drip can also slowly start to form into a book after a while. The blog of a Spanish manager I follow is actually written in the form of a book. He started with section 1 and then moved into 1.2 etc. It’s a nice idea for laying out his vision for setting up how your team will play and then as a result how you will train for this style.
Gary, another question I’ve been meaning to ask is have you guys worked in Tactcial Periodization into your training? Taken a look at how this is used in Portugal, Spain and Brazil at all?
Gary Kleiban says
Dave, what’s Tactical Periodization.
Dave C says
The tactical periodization(TP) method was developed by Vitor Frade (professor at the sports uni in Porto) to find the best possible way to train players in order to fulfill their full potential. The method is based around the 4 different moments in football (offensive organization, defensive organization, transition from offense to defense, transition from defense to offense) and the 4 key elements (physical, technical, tactical, psychological).
One of Frade’s theories was that there is no use in doing a purely fitness based training session as it will only work the physical and psychological elements of a player. All 4 elements must be included in each drill which organizes the team for one of the 4 moments of the game.
The tactical periodization method of training aims to teach the team to react automatically to each moment of football.
This is slightly simplified but gives you the gist. It takes many of the dutch ideas of training into an even more exact method. The method also includes exact ratio’s of work to rest for the games/drills involved. Many times it involves multiple grids next to each other hosting multiple games which groups switch between after so many rounds of work to rest. Coming from Porto, Jose Mourinho and Andre Villa Boas are two very well known managers that use TP. It has also grown in popularity in Brazil and Spain.
Sounds about right to me…thanks Dave C
Here’s a VERY interesting interview with Vitor Frade:
Sorry, it’s not translated…hopefully Google Translator won’t just kill the juice out of it
Sorry for the mixed metaphors, but do check the interview…we are talking soccer education here…the real stuff
No prob Dave C…any good sites, links you have for us on the subject?
Is Unai the coach you are following?
Dave C says
Thanks Nuno! Google translator does fine as I have become quite efficient at figuring out it’s mistakes through lots of use. 😉
I bought his book guys… I’ll give a review when I’m done reading it. It should be here in about 3 weeks (shipping was ridiculous $$). I “pinned” many of the books I’ve read that I’ve found helpful. “Developing Sport Expertise”… http://pinterest.com/mirrordodger/books-worth-reading/ is a solid book on various theories and the studies that support them… pattern development, chunking, critical thinking, etc.
Dave C says
A book by Vitor Frade? If so where did you find it for sale?
Sorry, not Vitor Frade, but this one:
Horst Wein’s books, Developing Youth Soccer Players and Developing Game Intelligence are definitely must haves for any coach wanting to coach a possession/skill type game. In addition I would recommend the following books:
Soccer Awareness: Developing the Thinking Player. Wayne Harrison. Great book for different games/drills. Similar to Horst Wein’s books.
FC Barcelona A Tactical Analysis Attacking. Terzis Athanasios. The best way to know how Barca plays is to watch hours and hours of tape and watch every player over and over. A short cut is to buy this book which outlines many of the movements that Barca typically uses.
Senda de Campeones De la Masia al Camp Nou (Path of Champions- From La Masia to the Camp Nou) Marti Perarnau. This book (at this time) is only is Spanish. I have translated about 80% for my co-coach who does not speak Spanish. An in depth look at how Barcelona identifies, selects and trains players according to its philosophy. A ton of interviews with a who’s who of the people who made Barca what it is.
Dutch Total Football- Terry Michler. Nice book with some touch drills and games.
Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation. Paul Berliner. Obviously not directly about soccer, but if you read this book you will be amazed at the similarity in the skills needed to teach and learn jazz improvisation (creativity within a team concept) and soccer.
Teach like a Champion Doug Lemoy. “Coaching” young kids is really teaching. Having never been a teacher, I got a lot of really good hints on how to manage a gaggle of young rambunctious boys.
Total Training for Young Champions: Proven conditioning programs for athletes ages 6-18 Tudor O. Bompa. A very important book on understanding windows of opportunity for speed/agility training and the importance of relative age.
Outliers- Malcolm Gladwell. Worth it alone for Chapter One on the Age Effect.
The Talent Code- Daniel Coyle (great website too).
In addition, I highly recommend going to the Canadian Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) website. Understanding childhood development psychologically and physically.
NOVA Mike says
I second the recommendation for Horst Wein’s books, especially the one on Game Intelligence. Thanks for the rec’s on the others!
Hincha.. be sure to read Mindset by Carol Dweck. This book has helped me as much or more than The Talent Code.
Dave C says
The Horst Wein books are fantastic for developing youth players.
Thanks Hincha, good stuff
I have sent a couple of link here with some tasty stuff…but it’s waiting moderation…I think you guys will like it…from the Master of the Masters himself…can you guess who??
Johan Cruyff? 😉
See for a bite-sized version of TP:
Vitor Frade, el padre de la Periodización Táctica:
I will try not to sound here like I’m an academic expert on the stuff, but as I understand it is a soccer training approach where you condition all you don in practice to the tactical dimension of the game, with the believe that the other components of the game will develop naturally from there…and this is applies to youth soccer as well as to the elite game
Dave, could you give us the url of that blog? thanks
You are the Messiah and those who choose to be are your disciples. Talk about the things that you think helps you work… I’m more interested in that than why… I think your video demonstrates, to a certain extent the possibilities of what you are preaching. Now, for me to want to be a devout 343 disciple, I would like to “see” into how you work with the kids. If I see/read that you are working in practice to create thinkers… which I believe you are, then I’m even more supportive. If you are working with them in 80% pattern play and 20% fitness… well, it’s interesting to see what you’ve created from this but not what I’d want my players to be.
I think you can see how many people are interested based on what happened after you posted that video. I know you tried to explain and you find that the subtlety of what you do is lost… What would be the beginning of help for me would if you posted a session or two… especially for your youngest team. I know this won’t do justice to your “magic” but it will give a bit of insight into your thinking.
Video of one or two sessions would be sweet!!!
Maybe add a button for donations?
In the end we are also talking intellectual property here 🙂
Ken Sweda says
I would pay to see those sessions. We may find out that we’ve seen them before, but at that point it would help us sort through all the Barca-like stuff that’s out there, and we can at least see how you “sell” them, what your style is, and whether or not we believe we’re capable of pulling it off ourselves.
john pranjic says
I agree that seeing something would be awesome. But FIRST- I think that most coaches need a lesson in is identifying what their own teams actually need to work on. If you know you’re team needs to work on x, y, and z and Gary puts up a video of his team working on m, n, and o… then what? You’re screwed. You have a cool video of m, n, and o but you can’t use it effectively. And you’re team still sucks at x, y, and z.
Again, it all goes back to having a rich understanding of the game. And of your own philosophy. Man, those words sure get used a lot around here! 🙂
I think Gary and the crew are coming up with something much better than just a couple of videos, though. Something that is going to help us understand and identify those problems within our own teams. I’m assuming he’ll give us some tools to help us solve some of those problems as well. If you haven’t noticed… he’s been quieter than usual. I think that silence should speak for itself… somethings brewing!
The “Kleiban Curriculum” is brewing, that’s why he’s been more silent I would guess, and this curriculum will be my bible.
Good qutoes by Christian Lavers.
“great youth coaches must have the courage to be patient.”
“A low ceiling for a coach will usually in turn set a low ceiling for the players.”
“it is not surprising that few people are consistently great developers of athletic talent”
“Commitment to continuing education as a soccer coach, and to ongoing learning about teaching methods, will shorten the path to individual and competitive success.”
“The individuals that can do all these things over the long-term – that truly have “the courage to be patient” – are rare.”
Are 3four3 coaches rare?
Gary Kleiban says
Is Christian rare? 🙂
Gary Kleiban says
I got curious when you wrote:
“If you are working with them in 80% pattern play and 20% fitness… well, it’s interesting to see what you’ve created from this but not what I’d want my players to be.”
So my question: What do you want your players to be?
Tyler Dennis says
Ideally? A lot of Xavi, the flash of Messi, the determination of Puyol and the good looks of Pique :).
I wrote a real wish list, but I’d say your boys are the ideal result… or Barcelona. I want independent thinkers on the field that understand when, where and how to attack, possess and defend – whether in be 1v1 or as a team. For me, I love to be able to appreciate when the 7 year old does an overlap because he’s been taught them, but knows he can go into space.
Gary Kleiban says
Clearly, my question was loaded …
Forget me for a moment, and consider this:
Suppose Cruyff were to tell / show you his youth sessions happened to be 80% pattern play, 20% fitness, and that this methodology works across all age groups and genders, why would you be so quick to dismiss it?
Are you taking the great man on Gary??
Aim high, aim high 🙂
Gary Kleiban says
I wasn’t trying to pick on you or anything. I’m simply trying to see if it was your internal resistance to change that was at play here.
We all have it, and it’s terribly difficult at times to identify it. But that identification is necessary for growth.
For instance, if someone does iSoccer for 80% of their sessions, I’m going to laugh my ass off. BUT, if they prove to me their end product looks like a mini-Barca, I have to start taking them seriously no matter how ridiculous I think the idea is (my resistance).
No worries. I like to be challenged and your question has kept me thinking about an answer. I think its a great question to always be asking ourselves as coaches, “What do we want our players to be.” The easy answer is the best they can be, but how do we get there. I love soccer because its not american football, or american baseball. The skill, creativity, and initiative shown by the players on the field, especially the young ones, is what makes it special for me. It is the players game. If you tell me that you use 80% pattern play, I wouldn’t completely dismiss it. I’d try to understand it. What are you using? How are you communicating it? I’ve watched high level coaches coach pattern play and the play becomes so predictable it is pure boredom and the players are robots. I’ve been on a long journey learning to coach and each year I learn and change things, add different elements and try to figure out what is working. I think you can have elements of Vitor Frade and Professor Vergine (ACF Fiorentina) in your program. I’d love to drive up and watch you guys work one day, I’m just south of San Ysidro, CA.
What do you want your players to be?
I want to answer this question too.
I just want my players to be self-motivated..too want to develop more than I want them to develop. It’s no easy task.
Are you ready for some soccer ideas, some real soccer education, from the master of the masters?
OK. Fasten the seat belts!!
Here it goes:
Entrevista de Buenafuente a Johan Cruyff:
Informe Robinson – El legado de JOHAN CRUYFF
“Ajax, Barcelona, Cruyff – The ABC of an obstinate Maestro”
Book, Barend Van Dorp (Author)
“Johan Cruijff – En un momento dado”
Documental, Ramón Gieling
The master of the masters
Nuno, thanks for the video links.
Hope you got something out of it Oscar
I surely do almost every single time the great man talks or writes…no arugula soccer talk here…
A couple more…too good not to share when the topic is soccer ideas:
El futbol segons Johan Cruyff :
TV3 – Gol a gol: Entrevista a Johan Cruyff
My name is Tim, I’m going to play Div 1 in Singapore. However, wit that said do you guys recommend any legit books for training the mind and technique for the upcoming season. I’m also a ref here in the states I had the pleasure of reffing this man who owns this website and Barcelona along with my buddy Danny ( who I played indoor with ) I refereed their games. I was impressed with the technical abilities these kids had especially when they played each other. Do you have any specificed trainings roughly that I can put together for myself sir?
C. Kenny says
My question for Tyler is why is there the assumption that pattern play cannot produce free thinking decision making players. I teach a good deal of simple pattern play which becomes immensely complex when it’s compounded. I spend time teaching that in certain positions a player needs to have certain possibilities. The player may have 3 choices and is free to choose any of the 3. The key is all the players know the 3 possible choices, know why each choice is the best based on the environment and visual information, and know what their role is in the teams movement to provide the next player with his options.
It sounds an impossible feat, but it’s not. It is not very difficult to teach principle of the 2nd attacker showing himself at the proper angle to receive the pass. But that is the very principle at the heart of the matter. Build an understanding of 2v1 movement and shape… Then show them that a match is just a bunch of 2v1 grids. Build up to 3v2, 5v4 ect… Again this is the area that unexplainable, a coach just has to know how to teach the ideas. No drill will teach the kids to take that 2v1 drill from practice and be able to visualize that every time they get the ball in a match there’s a 2v1 possibility and be able to exploit it. It comes from knowing what to look for as a player and being able to communicate it. But if you can impart that bit it’s just a matter having the discipline and patience to replicate and repeat over and over those situation within a tactical “shape”. Teaching which player joins the play and where to show when the right back has the ball. Positive repitition and dedication to promoting the individual as an irreplaceable piece of a system. If we want our players to make proper decisions we must first get his or her teammates to provide the appropriate options, teach the player before hand what those options will be, how to execute the pass or dribble or shot once it is decided to be the best option, and why it is best. Then and only then can we expect a player to consistantly make good decisions.
The more the players are aware of what their decisions should be, and are shown how to execute those decisions, and have repeatedly and successfully made and executed the proper decisions, the more that result will be replicated in a match scenerio. Once the players realize they are more successful when they are aware of their options they will also want to be there to provide an option for their mates. This isn’t always the case, again it sometimes is simply a matter of having the right type of player. Ones that have a desire to learn. But when you provide players with just a few simple options, their creativity and decision making enhances as they have the comfort of knowing there are a few safe options, the confidence to play quickly increases, and thus the time to look and think and decide also increases.
The task taken head on seems insurmountable. If you’re looking for immediate results it won’t happen. You must have a plan. A slow step-by-step process that builds layers. You must not react emotionally or steer away from that plan at the first sign of failure. If you commit to the process and realize it can take years and allow for that sort of patience (and have parents with enough patience as well) it is possible for anyone. Developing a process that is effective in producing these types of results is the challenge.
Dave C says
Great contribution Kenny. I also believe in pattern play in order for players to know all of their options in each role and area of the pitch. Many think of pattern play leading to predictability but it actually leads to the players knowing many more options for each situation. Knowing more options then leads to them being able to assess each situation quicker and improvise or adapt quickly. Brazil is known for developing incredibly creative players yet they use a lot of pattern play as well.
Soccer is a game of patterns (the thing is can you see them?)
Each and every style of play has its own patterns
Each age group should have its own patterns according to the style of play
If there are no patterns and everything is totally random, it becomes individual ball jungle
Excellent question and explanation, CK. I like the other comments on patterns as well. It reminds me of an earlier post where someone compared creativity in sports to jazz, where it takes a great deal of technical expertise, discipline, training, and insight before you can improvise with competence.
There should be more of an emphasis on this type of activity in youth soccer to foster creativity. Most players, I would argue, cannot consistently hold three discrete options in their minds, especially in the attacking part of the field. On any given team, I see the vast majority of the “good” players (the “ooh, aah” ones) doing the same one or two things on the ball, wherever they happen to be on the field. Most people seem to equate “creativity” with having a few flashy moves and a Neymar hairstyle, rather than with purposeful movement and exploiting set choices in specific tactical situations, as you describe.
This, for me, is a concrete example of the kind of flawed thinking that must change, from the bottom up, in US youth soccer culture if we want to improve the product in the development pipeline.
Let’s keep it simple and start from the beginning…you are watching a U11B game (let’s say playing 8v8 with both teams playing 3-3-1, just as an example)…both coaches are professed devoted followers of possession soccer…
GK gets the ball. Teammates stay still and look at GK who whacks the ball up the field in the vague direction of a teammate surrounded by 4 defenders. His teammate does brilliantly to win and control the ball. He decides to try to turn against the pressuring defender and pulls off a great Cruyff turn, there is no support around him (not that he has looked for it), so he decides to take on the next pressuring defender (who is well covered), a brilliant step-over move after and the ball is lost to the covering defender
Next time GK the ball, he decides to put it on the ground, there are really no passing options, not the GK has looked for them, so he decides to take the incoming pressing forward on, he pulls off a great “Zidane” move, after what he plays a square pass across the center. Unfortunately the pass gets intercepted and the other team scores with a tap in on the open goal.
And the creative pattern continues throughout the match
GK wins the ball and quickly looks up the field.
After seeing that the counter is not on, he takes a look at both sides of the field.
Meanwhile his outside backs have checked back at angles, and the rest of the team have spread themselves around the field, strangely seeming to know where to go
The GK decides to play the ball to the right back that it happened to be the one with more space to receive the ball
As the ball travels towards him the right back scans the field. In the end he decides to dribble into space towards the opposition goal. As we does that his teammates seem to be adjusting their positions, moving away from him. As he eventually gets challenged, he decides to slip the ball to his right to an open outside mid who had just checked toward him.
That seemed to have worked fine, but in that case the right back could also have played the ball to the forward, center mid or center back feet who all somehow were also available to receive the ball.
The next time the GK receives the ball, he decides to play it again to the right back. This time as the ball travels a number of the opposing players rush towards that part of the field. Having seen that the right back plays the ball back to the center back who had moved behind him at an angle and the center back quickly moves the ball to the left back, who somehow seemed to have acres of space ahead of him
And the boring pattern continues throughout the match
Ken Sweda says
Excellent way of putting it. Kudos.
So at the u10 level, how detailed would pattern play look and how often? I know it depends on player ability but trying to wrap my head around it.
Gary Kleiban says
Soon enough you will have the opportunity to view not only our training sessions, but have an entire online coaching education system. Scheduled for launch in the Fall.
Looking forward to it!
Kenny and Nuno,
I guess I hit a nerve. What you are referring to pattern play, I would call coaching. I think it may make sense and I tried to give a sense of it with my American Football allusion above.
Long story short, is I agree with you. I’ve just seen a couple college level and U16 youth coaches use “pattern play” that resembled American Football (no decision making ability by the players). They used it because it was easy to teach… one decision. Kids didn’t perform the “movement” when the visual que was there, they were summarily corrected.
I apologize for not better defining the “pattern play” I was alluding to, although your responses definitely got me to thinking about how I introduce my 2v1 concepts (wall pass, support play (when/where/why), overlap, lateral run to get behind defender). Fortuitously, I realized through this discussion and CKs comment that my buildup could be more methodical in order to better build the options for the players. I’m going to try a couple different approaches to see how they work.
No prob Tyler…my only beef is that you showed your concerns about “pattern play” alluding to Gary’s team video, that I don’t see as fitting the description of American Football pattern play you just refereed…but Gary is more than capable of defending his methods 🙂
In any case, thanks for getting engaged the discussion. I believe you have your heart on the right place 🙂
As (if I remember right) Xavi said to Marti Parnenau in “Senda de Campeones”, its not good enough at Barca for a player to only know the correct movement to make, he has to also know WHY he is making that move. In other words, he has to understand the underlying concepts of space, timing, rhythm. If a player mechanically learns pattern play but not the underlying concepts, he will never be able to adapt to the myriad of small changes and variations that his opponents and teammates present to him. However, Barca uses pattern play as part of their method of demonstrating to their players movements. At the same time, they also use other games (different keepaway type games), chalk talk, and film study to also get their players to understand the WHY of these movements. From my experience, its you need both.
Is American soccer scared of brains?
Where is that fear coming from?
Nuno, the biggest problem I see in youth sports is lack of intelligence from clubs, board members, DOCs, coaches, parents, and players.
There are countless of people in youth organizations that don’t have a clue about what they are doing. They simply live and promote lies and myths. Until everyone takes a good look in the “mirror” the fate of youth sports will always be dismal at best . Youth sports, high school sports, college sports is a JOKE. There is negligible player development in most sports. Take NCAA atheletes, over 90% don’t become professional because they were NEVER developed properly. Very few coaches in any team sport purposely develop players to become professionals.
In the US, players become professional only by random probability. Since the country is so large (~300million) in comparison to other countries, the US can always be competitive in most sports.
Coaches/Parents/Players need to realize that very little of what they do actually matters. You just throw away money to FOOLS. Unless you follow a strict curriculum like Gary’s Bible, La Masia, Fiorentina, etc you will have very little effect on player development.
WAKE UP AMERICA!!!
China and India should be the best in the world. Too bad nobody has taught them to play soccer correctly.
Johan Cruyff, donde estas???
C. Kenny says
All great additions and insights guys. I think the skepticism on training pattern play is purely misconception. The phrase “pattern play” draws images of an nfl play book or that these are “set plays” or set attacks. This is not the case. As nuno indicated, it is sometimes difficult for even a trained eye to spot such patterns.
When I speak of teaching patterns, I am not creating a robot player that makes the same decision every time they receive the ball in a certain area of the pitch. If one were to strictly focus on the 4 players from my team that are closest to the ball, the pattern of choices may become easily more clear. But watching the squad as a whole it is nearly impossible to spot any repetitive pattern to our play. And that’s bc even though I try to simplify the game for my players by giving them the information as to which options should always be made available in any situation – lets say for arguments sake it’s a clear cut 3 options for every player in every possible position. That may sound like a way to hinder their creativity, but it’s simply a permutation. With 8-11 players one the pitch each having preferably at least 3 set options, the possible attacking combinations are near endless. Player a may only know he has option b, c, and d. A chooses to play b. B now can play c, d, now e, and the option to play A right back. Each player having 3 options, means whatever the decision, it leads to 3 seperate possibilities, to 3 more, to 3 more and so on. The only time I notice my side having noticeable repetition in the pattern of our attack is when we’ve had success exploiting a certain space or player. And in that case it’s not mundane, it’s players intelligently deciding as a unit that a certain sequence of passing created success and joy for them.
Up until now I’ve only coached a now u12 girls squad of mainly 3rd and 4th rate players, and the revolving door that is club football in the US has largely forced me to start over from scratch with largely a new lot of players with tons of bad habits and ignorance from years of “development.” I am amazed at what my lovable band of outcasts have achieved in terms of playing beautiful football. I have no pure athletes, and no one who is technically off the charts…. But they give me the effort and are willing to give me an hour for “mental training” sessions here and there. We often lose to sides with better athletes or more naturally gifted players, but every opposing coach we face who knows the game walks away knowing we play better football; sometimes at the direct expense of winning. I personally could care less about results at this age and would prefer to occasionally organize a friendly against sides who pose a specific problem I’m trying to address in training, that would require a specific tactical solution from my players – rather than play in a league where emphasis is placed on “win-at-all-cost” attitudes.
Luckily we have recently added a new TD at my club (PA Rush) who understands the possession game and actually endorses my ability to teach it. He’s appointed me Director of Youth Development (whatever that means I’ll soon find out) and as coach/trainer of 4 more young teams at our club – and thankfully 2 have very players.
I’ve proved that as a teacher I can get players with no ability to play a possession style which have helped them become more technically sound, intelligent and confident players. I’m excited to see if I can take players with now a lot of potential as far as athletic and technical ability goes, and feed them on the importance of sophisticated tactical awareness. My new U12 boys side even enjoyed a bit of success at the regional level, but ultimately were out-classed and out possessed by better sides. They were quite overwhelmed, but the former coach didn’t seem to realize that all the technical ability in the world isn’t effective if you can’t get the ball safely to feet.
My goal is definitely to cultivate a possession based game with this team and ultimately club-wide to a degree where we consistently get results. While I hate the emphasis placed on results for what it does to young players psychologically, consistently beating up on clubs that are far inferior in possession tactics but are powerhouses based on reputation to attract the “best athletes” (fc delco and copa in my area) is the best and maybe only way to prove that teaching possession at the youth level is the best for development of individuals and ultimately the best way to compete.
I’m anxiously waiting for the day… Which may hopefully come sooner rather than later for me.
Nice work, CKenny. Now go forth and multiply!
Good stuff CK…how eery familiar 🙂
Ken Sweda says
Great CK. Much success!
I’ve learned more from people I disagree with. Listening to people you agree with can make you into a zombie.
The beauty about futbol is one size does not fit all. Coaching, playing, tactics, formations, mental toughness, and physical side are subjective. For example – Guardiola and Mourinho are polar opposites yet are successful.
What’s right is what works. If it’s successful, people follow and become disciples. Everything has a life cycle. Times change and that system adapts or dies. It’s not a fad because those are short-term by definition. Possession futobl is fundamental; not a fad.
There are degrees of this. Barca on one end and maybe Stoke on the other. You can argue that less than something like 35% possession is not possession, but if it’s not possession – what are they doing with the ball that 35%? Is that better than 70%? Yes and no. Depends is always the point of view. Are we talking about winning, player development, or if the game was “beautiful” or kick ball. As Chelsea and Inter showed against Barca in CL, possession isn’t absolute if we’re talking about winning.
I’m not making the case against possession because I think it’s fundamental. Just pointing out that there are multiple combinations of what works and what doesn’t. For player development , teaching possession is critical to future success. Going into a match and saying you want to possess the ball X% is IMHO wrong. Odds are team with most possession wins – but not absolute. Does 45 – 55% make a difference? Probably not. How about 70 – 30%? Now we’re talking! But then again, what did they do that 70%?
Possession isn’t pixie dust. More to it than that. Other critical piece in puzzle are things like shots on goal, movement / runs and combination plays inside the box. How about team chemistry, knowing what your mate will do, quick passing, poise and calmness over the ball, reading the game, and so on. These all contribute but get less attention in blogs than possession.
You can possess all you want, but more to it than that. Kinda like forwards getting glory when build up from the back and mid-field passing lead to score but the beautiful woman in first row only has eyes for #10.
So many factors and subjectivity, which is why we like to blog and share our opinion.
Here’s the thing: for the longterm development of a soccer player, it is vital that players acquire the skills needed to play possession soccer (comfort on the ball in restricted spaces with all the technical ability that entails, movement off the ball, etc) early on. These skills are increasingly more difficult to acquire the older they get (meaning the vast majority of the skills they will need to play this type of game they will have to have mastered by age 15). So it is imperative to work with young players on techniques and skills (touch, ball handling, quick decision making) so that they have largely mastered this by age 15). That way a player will have this skill set to play on a possession type team. If he ends up playing on a more direct team, those skills are relatively easy to adapt to as long as the player is willing to mentally adapt to this type of play). The reverse is not true. A player who is big and fast, but was never forced by his coach to develop skills that are not dependant on his speed and size will never be able to develop the skills later on that would permit to play possession type sooccer. So to summarize: Teach your young players the skills needed to be great confined space players and if later on you want to play a more wide open direct type of game, you’ll still be able to do it. The reverse is not true.
Gary Kleiban says
If you learn more from disagreements, you’ve probably come to the right place!
Here’s the first one:
Things are not as subjective as people think they are (or want them to be). Not even close.
Can you expand on what you mean.
C. Kenny says
Yes barca and Madrid are both successful. But let’s be careful when equating their success. Largely, Madrids success comes from their wealth and acquiring the top players through transfer. Mourinho’s strength is dissecting an oppositions tactical philosophy and preparing a game plan to counter it. This does not develop players. Without the talent, I doubt Mourinho would have the success.
In contrast most of barca is homegrown. Their tactical philosophy is what allows them to continuously be great from the ground up.
Let me ask you this… Do you think Mourinho, or any manager for that matter, would love to have a Messi, Xavi, Iniesta?? I do. But is the opposite true? Would Guardiola want pepe, benzema or even Ronaldo? The answer is emphatically NO!
Why is that?
Dave C says
Let’s not paint Mourinho as a “non-possession” coach like so many love to do off a few games here and there either. He is definitely a tactician who will change his approach depending on the opponent. However unless he feels completely outmatched in the possession game(Who isn’t against Barca?) he will play a possession style. In 2012 Real Madrid possess the ball 60.1% of the time which is 5th in all off European club soccer.
I agree that playing a possession style is best for the development of players but I think you would find so does JM. When RM play defensively and look to counter the counter is so quick and precise because the players have been developed(and still train) with possession style football.
Gary Kleiban says
Question for you Gary (and all the rest of you really)
Would you like to see Mourinho as US National Team Head Coach?
(and it might be more of a realistic possibility than you think, Jose has expressed his admiration for the US, its sports culture and its soccer potential more than once in the past)
Gary Kleiban says
My level of admiration for Mou is off the charts!
Enough said … for now.
Mostly agree with Dave C…we can argue that having 60% of the ball with that kind of talent, and budget power compared to most of your internal and international rivals is not like a huge achievement, but…
Mou just knows it all, he really just does (maybe more than any manager, ever…)
Now, not even going into the personality and role model issues, he is a pragmatist, he’ll do whatever he needs to give his teams the best chance to win (and he will admit it, he sees is job first of all to win soccer matches), and sometimes the spectacle is not very palatable if you are expecting “caviar” soccer
How’s is history going to remember Mourinho or what kind of legacy is he going to leave behind him?
I’m not sure about that one….will he be closer to Herrera or to Cruyff?
Just to one more thing in terms of player development…as much as Cruyff and Barca as done for the rise of the “small player”, Mou has had no trouble to use (abuse for some people’s taste) and maximize the qualities of big, powerful, athletic players…and that is fine at that level, but can be quite dangerous when replicated at the youth level by “ignorant” (for the lack of a better term) coaches
NOVA Mike says
With the exception of the April ’11 Clasicos, Mourinho’s RM has played for the most part beautiful attacking, free-flowing football. A possession style that is different from Barca’s (esp. when dictated by Xavi’s extremely patient personality), less risk-adverse and more direct, but still possession-based nonetheless. They don’t waste the ball. They create chances, and if it’s not on, they’ll recycle and attack again. It’s relentless, dominating, and awesome to watch, especially with Ozil on his game.
How much of that style is due to Mourinho’s preferences though is an interesting question for me. With players like Maicon, Sneider, Milito, Eto, … he certainly could have played a different style than he chose to at Inter, but the tactics he chose (1) got results; and (2) were not an anathema to Italian fans. At the Santiago Bernabeau, on the other hand, the ulta-defensive tactics he used last year not only failed to topple Barcelona (thanks largely to Messi’s brace at the end of CL 1st leg), maybe more importantly they were reviled by the fans and players alike. Di Stefano’s comments last April: “The lion was Barcelona and Real Madrid was the mouse,” seemed to capture the overall mood of the public at the time. It simply isn’t in the culture of RM to play that way and I think the only way a coach could get away with it for long is with a string of CL titles. This year ends w/ the League and again a solitary victory over Barcelona (in 6 tries), but no Copa Del Rey and more significantly, another failure in the CL. Yet Mourinho’s future seems quite secure and the fans are very happy (with even De Stefanon now describing him as “exciting”). I’m sure the fans’ satisfaction also has a lot to do w/ Barca being out of the CL too, but it also seems to matter that Real Madrid look like Real Madrid again.
C. Kenny — Yes, absolutely agree about player swap from Madrid to Barca. I personally love Barca’s style. I also love the fact that Barca has mostly homegrown players. Many of whom aren’t physical specimens (e.g., Madrid). Ronaldo can’t fit in Barca’s system. Would totally disrupt it. Part of being a coach is right fit for team. But pro football is a business and sometimes selling shirts is more important. Part of reason I hate Madrid is becasue they don’t develop. Just splash cash. Just like Man City. Yes, money can buy club owners happiness! Sad but true.
As I said in my post, posession is fundamental. However, as Chelsea proved to Bayern, there’s more to it than that. Exactly what I said few weeks ago in above post, well before CL final.
Going on to Gary’s point about subjectivity: I don’t where he’s going with that (hope he expands), but what influences a victory cand and does change game to game IMHO. Poor finishing and lack of movement in box to create chances hurt Bayern in CL final (IMHO).
Agree with a lot of what you said CK, but Mou did win Europa Cup and Champions League titles with FC Porto, taking down along the way giants like Real Madrid and Man U, with budgetgs many times Porto’s size…the man is a freakish top level results machine…and yes he built the three teams that have managed to somehow frustrate the very possible best soccer team ever (that being Chelsea and Inter CL, RM La Liga)
You don’t need to love him or the way his teams play, but the results are what they are…
In any case this blog is about player development , and on that front Mou hasn’t broght much to the table. I would agree with that.
Gary Kleiban says
This blog is about soccer education / development. 🙂
Stand corrected Gary 🙂
Waiting for more of your insight here man.
I hope people are right, and that you are taking you time preparing something “special” 🙂
Mourinho is above all pragmatic. I really didn’t like what he did to Chelsea but they won the league. It was a 4-5-1 and win 1-0 with a goal by Drogba. I think he crushed the creativity right out of Joe Cole, at the time one of the more exciting young English players. However, it seems everywhere he has coached the players LOVE him for the most part. There has been that youth soccer program on Goltv that shows him running youth sessions and you get to see a bit of his personality in that show. He is quite positive and warm with the players. I play with a Portuguese guy and he doesn’t view Mourhinho’s teams as really playing at Portuguese stye of football (which I always joke with him is pretty, possession ball without ever scoring). 🙂 Of course RM plays possession against weaker opponents but there weren’t able to do it for long spells against Bayern. My overall impression of RM is they do attack very quickly, similar to Manchester United. If a longer penetrating ball is on they hit it and are off.
“Las estadísticas son como los tangas: lo enseñan casi todo, menos lo más importante”.
Juan Manuel Lillo
Gary Kleiban says
When the soccer community in this country understand that (really understand it), we’ll be a heavyweight.
Yup…it will be one of the toughest battles to win, it implies a deep understanding of the game, a clear idea of what you expect it to be about, and very high expectations (yes results, but much, much more than that)
Worth the fight though (actually the fight part, as frustrating as it can be, is kind of part of the fun too, isn’t it?)
Sorry for posting here but didn’t know where it should go.