Sunday, April 01, 2007

How I like my football...

In short, it's how I like my coffee. I like a long macchiato - no messing about (the long black is my morning coffee) but nice to watch (the foamed milk takes a bit of the edge off the coffee, what I order when I buy my coffee - too much of a fuss to make at home really.)

Over at SBS's The World Game website, Craig Foster has written an excellent article about football culture in this country, why we need to change it and how to go about changing it.

Foster's an interesting fellow from the point of view of a football fan. Some of us hate him and some of us love him. I definitely feel the latter. Not that I worship the ground that he walks on, but he brings some valid points and ideas about football in Australia. In his most recent TWG Opinion article, Fozzie discusses a “new” philosophy for football where possession is the key. Not all that 'new' to me, which I attribute to having parents from South American countries.

I have a particular style of play, which I will adapt to the situation and the opposition as necessary. If you've read (and paid attention) to past posts, how I like to see football played comes through, and perhaps you've figured me out entirely, which would make this summarisation post redundant!

I am a massive fan of 'fluid' football – where a team keeps possession of the ball, passing it around all the players. This fluidity is why I fell in love with Bleiberg's Queensland Roar, and later fell in love with the Newcastle Jets (I think everyone did this, they were great to watch). By playing a possession based game, the opposition will find it more difficult to win the ball (compared with a traditional English long ball style), you can control the game and choose when you want to up the tempo of the game.

Football is a team game, so it's everyone's job to defend. Do you hear me Archie? Likewise, I am keen to see a ball won by the defence to be played out to the rest of the team and thus begin the attack. It's far more enjoyable to watch than the ball simply being thumped up the field. Having said that, sometimes the long ball is the best option – it just needs to be known the the long ball is not the only option. And if the team's in trouble defensively, sometimes the ball needs to be walloped up the field or kicked out to buy the defensive team time to get themselves organised.

The final third is the one area of the pitch you do not muck about in. Ideally you shouldn't fall asleep on (or off) the ball anywhere, but doing so in the final third can prove fatal. It's vital that each player knows what to do with the ball before they get the ball. You simply will not have the time to think about the options once you have the ball – the opposition will be after you! When considering what your role in a game is you cannot assume that everything will pan out according to the plan. What if your goalkeeper parries or spills a ball instead of holding onto it? You need to be ready to be there. Similarly, you cannot assume the other team will complete all its passes. Putting pressure on a player can sometimes be enough to cause them to mis-time a pass or have trouble controlling it – and again you need to be ready for that opportunity to win the ball.

Finally, I like players to have heart. If I had to choose between the technically talented player who doesn't put any effort in (be it to win the ball for themselves, or to push their tired legs for another few steps, etc.) and the kind of player who wants to play and puts in a lot of effort, I'd take the latter - even if they're lacking in skills and ability.

Nothing new there really, but it's a quick summary of how I like football to be played and now that I'm coaching, what I expect or want from my players.

However, now that we've had our first coaching session I can see that this is not going to be easy...

Cue impending doom music.


Anonymous said...

Very very interesting.

Cannot wait to hear your coaching experiences.

Two quick questions:

In the first few games do you intend to play your most confident players in defense? or midfield? or attack? or spread them around?

What formation you are planning to start with? will you play a sweeper? (handy if the other team plays long ball and has fast strikers, no?)

Hamish Alcorn said...

I'm extremely new to all this as you know and my parents are not from South America. However, my first real team in the emotional sense was indeed Bleiburg's Roar, and it lends to agreeing with your analysis of good play. It also lends to liking Fozzie, even if he sometimes comes across as a bit flamey.

That all however has nothing to do with why I'm moved to comment...

I love your new photo. You're a spunk.