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The truth about tactics

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Post by Engel Harlequin Tue 21 Feb 2012, 11:35 pm

Let me firstly state this article is in no way an attack against any football coach. It is almost a warning to budding coaches and footballers.

The media love a bit of spin, as do most of the general public. The problem is that spin often leads to real facts being left by the wayside.

Over the last month England have suffered the loss of a great tactician and coach in Fabio Capello. He wasn't a favourite to many, his discipline (which you all asked for) was too strict, his man management was not great (but looking back now how much of this was Capello really? the FA played no part in the coach not having respect? Really?) and some even think his tactics were poor...this is a coach who stat wise was one of the best of all time, who failed at a world cup just like every other manager of recent times (yes the performance was poor but name me a good performance with this "golden generation" in a world or European cup, you will be hard pressed). So Capello, the one touted by media, players and general public as Englands saviour, a real world class manager leaves the post and the media are onto there next lamb to the slaughter in Harry Redknapp.

Now Harry Redknapp has said in the past that its not about tactics and that playing your best players in there favoured position will get you more success than tactics. So the media jump on this and produce articles saying that this continental idea of tactics is dead Harry Redknapp says it how it should be done media run with it and the public believe.

Wait just a minute, Roy Hodgson says similar things in his interviews yet he gets called to UEFA tactic and formation meetings because of his extensive knowledge. Its tongue in cheek from these managers, that is all.

You don't go out to war without a plan, neither do footballers go into a league or cup match without knowing how to play against another team.

What has changed is the idea of formations. In modern day football formations are defunct of any obvious choice. Gone are the days where your saying "4-4-2 against barca? Suicide!" That 4-4-2 can be a 4-5-1 with a deep lying striker. or a 4-6-0 counter attacking menace or a 4-2-4 all out attack. No longer do players have to fit a formation, a formation can fit round types of player and change accordingly.

The ideology and use of that has been around for years but unfortunatly has never been translated to the fans.

This is just my opinion but tactics are not dead, long live the tactics.

Engel Harlequin

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Post by Crimey Wed 22 Feb 2012, 6:59 am

I do think that sometimes the media and fans try too hard to fit teams into a formation that doesn't really exist, mainly because of ideas such as total football etc. The defence and goalkeeper is usually obvious, but from then the midfield and strikers tend to move about so much that there isn't always a natural formation, at least not for the bigger sides. For example, in the recent Brighton game, Liverpool seemed to play with two strikers, four midfielders, one of whom was a left midfielder, but the other three were all playing centrally, not one was on the right, players just took it in turns to go on the right. Yet, for half the game the commentator was desperately trying to work out what 'formation' Liverpool were playing.

However, I do think at the most recent World Cup we really did stick too closely to a formation. This meant that Rooney was isolated completely. He wasn't playing well by any means, but because nobody joined up with him, he came deep to the get the ball which meant we didn't really have enough of an attacking threat. Gerrard got stuck in the middle rather than making his trademark runs into the box (bar a few times). I think sticking too closely to a strict formation was one of the problems in South Africa.


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Post by Engel Harlequin Wed 22 Feb 2012, 9:04 am

I agree entirely, but then some managers tend to stick strictly to formations and player roles that must fit, but in that case the manager needs to be able to manage the team very well.

A good case in point would be Martin O'Neil, he does nothing fancy, plays basic versions of any formation he uses but he gets the best out of a team with his man management and abiltiy to read a game and change things.

Then you have a team like Barcelona who line up 4-3-3 but the way they pull a team around that formation becomes nothing more than a shape they line up for the media.

My personal opinion of Capello's tactics was that along with all the hassle from the media, and his mismanagement (due to inexperience at the level) of the training they were doing (they are premiership footballers, just give them tactical training, they should be as fit as they are gonna be anyway, if spain can grasp it, then we should), but there was no plan B, people always talk about this plan B, Capello's idea was that International football was about keeping posession and doing what you could with that posession, but it was slow in the vein of lower spanish sides (Barca and Real play slow but England were pedestrian) and it doesn't work unless you have a team of truly magical players. English players are use to fast paced games and if they were to impose that pace into international games they would be much more successful (though against spain it would be backs to wall launch the ball over to pacy wingers or strikers which brings me to another point).

We played Spain in our last international friendly and this is the pathetic media Capello had to deal with.

Before the match, newspapers were saying how this match to Spain is like a big match not a friendly, players said it and the pundits said it on the night. Fast forward to the result and you have: Spain weren't at there best, England were boring, blah blah blah. Watching the match live, as a trained coach what I saw out there was an England team set out to stop Spain playing at there best, to put pressure in the right areas, Spain were the top team before and after the goal but England parked the bus and anything that got through was scrappy at best. Capello showed how to beat Spain, and any that think Spain were not trying have obviously not seen how they struggle against teams that park the bus (a similar thing happened to Spain against Switzerland in Euros and Switzerland won...Spain weren't at there best Wink )

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Post by liverbnz Wed 22 Feb 2012, 9:24 am

The problem with tactics is that for most people - media and fans - they are boring. People want stories. Something that will get people to but papers, click on links and pay for subscriptions. As it as most people's grasp of tactics is "1 or 2 up front" or "442/4231". If that's all it was, we'd all be football coaches.


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Post by dyrewolfe Tue 28 Feb 2012, 3:06 pm

Valid (and probably correct) opinions all round so far.

I think Crimey and Engel have more or less summed up England's problems over the last couple of decades, if not longer.

For some time now there has been this idea that English style football is too crude and predictable to succeed at international level. To an extent I agree. The way most English players play bears little resemblance to the flair and style of say Spanish or South American players.

Consequently this theory has emerged, that English / British football is decades behind the rest of the world and that to have any chance at success, we needed to start playing like Europeans / South Americans.

Unfortunately, as we've found out, its impossible to coach players that spent the vast majority of their careers playing EPL football, to play continental-style football for a few weeks every couple of years.

I think we need to face facts. Flicks, tricks and dazzling skills aren't our forte and as Engel said, try using the pace and power our players are used to.

We don't have any Ronaldinhos or Messis, so we need to play to our strengths.

Coaching football. Its not rocket science...its more difficult than that. Wink Laugh

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Post by sportform Wed 29 Feb 2012, 1:28 am

Formations are really just a bunch of nonsense in the paper.

The pitch has three basic areas defence - midfield - attack so any formations such as 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 are really just a variation of 4-5-1 or 4-4-2 respectively.

Formations and tactics are not the same thing. Tactics are the instructions the coach gives to the players in any certain game such as if you play two in midfield, when attacking one player holds and the other goes forward. The formation is the general shape of the team.

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