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Michel Kane

ViP2's Coaches' Corner

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Extremely short notice (closing date is Sunday)...but a good opportunity for those who have the experience


The Qatar Stars League (QSL) wishes to recruit a number of 1st team match analysts.

Each successful candidate will be based with one of the top tier clubs in Qatar and be responsible for the delivery of pre and post-match analysis to the coaching staff of their assigned team.
The positions will be under the responsibility of Professor Valter Di Salvo, Director of Football Performance & Science at Aspire Academy. The candidate will be expected to start work in July 2013.
The contract is full-time and will include a competitive salary, shared accommodation and an annual flight to the candidate’s home country.
Key Responsibilities:
• Prepare and deliver post-match analysis (video and statistical) using PROZONE3 software.
• Prepare and deliver pre-match scouting analysis to the coaching team (video and statistical) using Prozone MATCHVIEWER software.
• Record and monitor player performance information: Prozone TREND data, GPS data, Polar heart rate data etc.
• Liaise with Qatar national team analyst regarding information on national team players.
Candidate Specification:
• Must have at least three years’ club analysis experience working with the Prozone analysis systems: PROZONE3, MATCHVIEWER and TREND.
• Excellent experience with video capture, editing and analysis.
• Good presentation skills.
• Good working knowledge of Microsoft Office Excel.
• Ability to adapt and be innovative in a growing industry.
• Second language desirable (particularly Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese)
All interested applicants should send their CV and short covering letter to kimberley.stafford@aspire.qa by Sunday 24th March. Please include a Skype contact on your CV. Selected candidates will be invited for a Skype interview.

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Forget Messi and Ronaldo, it's Premier League defender Baines who creates more chances than anyone in Europe


The goal getters make the headlines but where would the strikers be without the supply line? 

The Barclays Premier League may not be the most technically proficient division in Europe, but when it comes to goalmouth action, La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga cannot hold a candle to our top-flight football. 

Of the top 10 opportunity forgers in Europe, four ply their trade on these shores with Everton's Leighton Baines sitting proudly top of the chance charts with a staggering 97 goalscoring opportunities created.



But perhaps even more remarkable is the record of Liverpool's Luis Suarez. The stats would certainly seem to enhance the Uruguayan's claims to being crowned player of the year. 

Not only has Suarez banged in 22 goals in the league, he has also provided a stunning 85 scoring chances for his Anfield team-mates. Indeed, had Liverpool another player who knew where the net was then surely they would be top four contenders this season given Steven Gerrard has carved out 82 occasions on goals for his side.

And if Roberto Mancini is wondering why Manchester City will not be retaining their title then he might like to start with his side's conversion rate.

David Silva has been doing the business, laying on 89 opportunities for the strike force. But City have been out-scored by Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool this season meaning Mancini's men are only playing for pride at Old Trafford tonight.

PLAYER   TEAM   CHANCES CREATED (including assists)


Impressive stats with baines him being a left back especially. Also surprised by the lack of Alonso,Barca players and other bait players from the top teams.


Just proves Suarez is the man. 


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What did you do for your technical practice kane?

Got my skill game and 4v4 sorted. Dont know what to do for an unopposed practice on this topic though. how do i do it unopposed when my topic is defending when outnumbered?? Am i just meant to be coaching the technical points ie pressing, jockeying etc and the 4 D's?

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Player Focus: Adem Ljajić's Revenge

by James Horncastle at Thursday, May 2 2013 13:51


It's as though Adem Ljajić were in a dark room, processing the film taken from a camera, which had been used to capture a series of snapshots of his time at Fiorentina. As the pictures begin to develop it's clear he doesn't like what he sees. "It was like a photograph that had come out bad," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I wanted another one."

Ljajić's reaction was understandable, for the photo people had of him was ugly. It was taken exactly a year ago today.

Relegation threatened Fiorentina were away at fellow strugglers Novara. Two goals down after half an hour and in dire straits, coach Delio Rossi substituted Ljajić. Tensions were high, and on seeing the player sarcastically applaud the decision, Rossi lost it. To the shock of everyone watching, he grabbed and began to punch Ljajić as he entered the dug out.

The incident made headlines across the world. It brought shame on Fiorentina, a club that under the Della Valle family's ownership had constructed an identity around the promotion of fair-play initiatives like the Terzo Tempo and Cartellino Viola. As such, they had no option but to sack Rossi for violent conduct. He was also banned by the FIGC for a period of three months.

Many felt sympathy for him. It was out of character, they said, although after seeing him give Roma defender Nicolas Burdisso the middle finger while in charge of Sampdoria this season, it can certainly be argued that it wasn't. Ljajić must have done more to provoke him than clap, people thought. He had to have said something. It was reported that he'd gravely insulted Rossi's family.

Ljajić denied and still denies the claim, telling journalists to ask his teammates and that they'll confirm that all he did was clap mockingly. The issue he had, though, was that many had already made up their minds about him. He was, in their opinion, a bad apple. But how had they arrived at this conclusion?

When Fiorentina signed Ljajić from Partizan Belgrade for €6.5m in the spring of 2010, he was welcomed by the media as the latest 'Corvinata', another coup of intuition from their then director of sport Pantaleo Corvino, the man who had discovered Mirko Vučinić and Stevan Jovetić.

There was great curiosity because Ljajić had been supposed to join Manchester United. An option to buy him had been in place with Partizan for a year during which time Ljajić had travelled to Carrington on several occasions, posing for photographs with Sir Alex Ferguson and training with his future teammates.

Why then did they decide to pass on him?

Partizan claimed it was because United were in a "financial crisis" on account of the Glazers' debt-laden ownership. That was dismissed. United cited work permit issues instead. There were also indications that Ljajić hadn't progressed as much as they would have liked in the interim.

The question some asked in retrospect was as follows: had United seen something to discourage their interest in Ljajić that would only become apparent to Fiorentina later on? Having been beaten by them to the signing of Nemanja Vidić four years earlier, though, they perhaps were only too happy to get one over them this time.

The success of Jovetić following his move to Fiorentina from Partizan 18 months earlier meant expectations were great. As did the billing Ljajić received as the Kaká of the East. He joined the club, though, at a delicate moment.

Unjustly knocked out of the Champions League in the Round of 16 by Bayern Munich and with the team in midtable in Serie A, coach Cesare Prandelli, a wonderful nurturer of talent, who'd waste no time in handing Ljajić his debut, was wondering whether he'd taken this team as far as he could and began considering his future.

He left that summer to take the Italy job and Fiorentina couldn't have chosen anyone more different to replace him in Siniša Mihajlović. If in coaching terms Prandelli was paternal in an arm-around-the-shoulder kind of way, Mihajlović was the father who was hard on his kids.

Though he was smiling when he told reporters that Ljajić should cut his hair because he's always running his hands through it, and that he should eat less chocolate and spend less time on the computer if he wants to improve as a footballer, their relationship wasn't and still isn't an easy one. Those comments also gave Florence the impression that Ljajić was spoilt, that he didn't take his profession seriously enough.

Stepping back for a moment, the atmosphere around Fiorentina at the time was unpleasant. The owners were disillusioned that Prandelli had 'abandoned' their project and the fans were critical of their management, so they withdrew. Corvino lost his touch in the transfer market. Mihajlović never had the supporters’ backing. Jovetić suffered a serious knee injury in pre-season and was out for the campaign. The team struggled and appeared not to care which was taken as a lack of respect for the city.


They finished ninth and when things deteriorated further the following season and didn't change even after Mihajlović was dismissed in November 2011, aim was taken at the players who were under performing and perceived to be uncommitted. It's within this context that many fans turned on Ljajić. To them, he was a symbol of everything that was wrong with Fiorentina.

"At one point," he said, "it felt like whatever happened was Ljajić's fault. The city was against me. Everyone pointed fingers at me." Made ineligible for selection for what remained of the campaign after the Rossi incident, it was thought he'd played his last game for them.

The player admits he considered leaving and that "the club thought about selling me." When he appeared in a pre-season friendly against Hellas Verona in Moena last summer, he was booed, hissed, whistled and treated to so many insults, so much abuse that reconciliation appeared impossible.

That day, however, he resolved to turn things around. He wanted another photograph taken, a better one. "Psychologically, it was crazy. I got it into my head that the only thing I had to concentrate on was working well, training and winning everyone over with hard work and sweat." He began to put in the graft.

When a journalist from Il Corriere dello Sport observed earlier this season that he was nearly always the first player into training, Ljajić asked: "Who's been spying? Anyway, yes, it's true."

After two years in Serie A, he seems to have understood what it takes to be a success there. "I arrived in Italy at 18 after playing only two seasons at Partizan in a league which isn't as demanding as the Italian one. Here there are many champions and every player knows what to do on the pitch. In Serbia there are [only] three or four strong players and great tactical discipline doesn't exist.

"Now I know Italian football better and coach [Vincenzo] Montella has given me peace of mind. He believes in me. My attitude has changed too. Before, when I didn't play, I'd train poorly without motivation. I've come to understand that I always have to work at 100% and even more so if I don't play."

That renewed sense of focus allied to the experience he has gained has brought Ljajić, who, lest we forget is still only 21, closer to realising his considerable potential. Rather than flashes of his talent, he's caught fire and is displaying a hitherto never seen before level of consistency as Fiorentina mount a final surge to qualify for the Champions League.

Ljajić has scored eight goals this season. Seven have come in 2013, the pick of the punch being a free-kick in a thrilling 4-3 win against Torino, a skill "I want to start exploiting more. I have [the] power. I only have to adjust my aim." In fact, only Andrea Pirlo and Francesco Lodi (5 each) have scored more direct free-kicks in Serie A this season. He's got eight assists too, averaging 184 minutes between each one, a rate that only Cagliari's Andrea Cossu can top.

From a disposable commodity last summer, he has, to his great credit and Montella's, become indispensable. Fiorentina have won 12 of their 19 games with Ljajić in the starting XI - a ratio of 63% - and only six of 15 without him - a ratio of 40%.

April was a very good month for him, arguably his best to date in a Fiorentina shirt. He was Serie A's fourth top scorer behind Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, Arturo Vidal and Josip Ilicic, with three goals. He set up another two and was only bettered in assists by Fabrizio Miccoli. His average WhoScored.com rating [8.37 in his last two games] was 7.83 over the entire month, the seventh highest in Serie A.

On Sunday Ljajić came full circle. Fiorentina travelled to Sampdoria: Delio Rossi's Sampdoria. It was to be their first meeting since that disgraceful night a year ago. While there was disappointment that they didn't shake hands - Rossi had indicated he would be prepared to but that he wouldn't be the one to make the first move - another narrative soon took precedence: Ljajić's revenge.

A few minutes before half-time, he scored, shifting across the penalty area before whipping a right-footed shot beyond goalkeeper Sergio Romero. Late in the second half, he got to the byline, laid it back for Alberto Aquilani and watched as his teammate sealed a 3-0 victory. Ljajić was named Man of the Match by WhoScored and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

It must have been sweet, even if Montella told Mediaset afterwards: "It wasn't easy for him. He has shown maturity and the desire only to play and think on the pitch. He's a completely recovered player."

His rehabilitation has been remarkable. And were he to have a photograph taken now, well, one imagines Ljajić would like what he saw.


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Player Focus: Matthew Lowton - Future England International?

by Martin Laurence at Wednesday, May 1 2013 10:00





There was a familiar tense atmosphere at Villa Park when Sunderland came to visit, and few were expecting Aston Villa to run riot in the manner that they did in what was an undeniably crucial match in the fight against relegation. A second half Christian Benteke hat-trick again saw the Belgian, who came second in the PFA Young Player of the Year voting to Gareth Bale the night before, again grab the headlines.

The striker became the first Villa player to score 20 goals in a season in nine years since iconic frontman Juan Pablo Angel, and the first Villa player to net a Premier League treble in five. His overall performance was excellent on Monday, plucking balls from the sky and bringing others into play, but the display of another home player on the night should not be overlooked.

A summer signing from Sheffield United, full-back Matthew Lowton had shown promise in the lower leagues, filling the right-back position in the League One Team of the Season for 2011/12. That spot in Paul Lambert's side was wide open, with Alan Hutton failing to make the position his own last season, and the money spent was enough to suggest that Lowton would go straight into the side.

The fact that he has gone on to play every single minute of the current campaign (3150) - one of just two outfielders, along with England international Leighton Baines, to do so - is a marvellous achievement for a player embarking on his first season in the top-flight. When factoring in Villa's Capital One Cup run, of which Lowton again played a full part, the 23 year old has played more domestic football than any other Premier League player this season (3810 minutes).

His consistency over that time has been commendable, only really having a notable dip in form when the side went through a dire Christmas period. Incidentally it coincided with a spell when Lambert was forced, due to injuries, to play three at the back, with Lowton deployed out of position on the wing and at centre-back in that time.

In the 29 (of 35) starts that he has made in his usual right-back role, the defender has only picked up a WhoScored.com rating below 6.5 twice, with his average rating in those games up at 7.28 (compared to a season average of 7.12). In terms of ratings from games started at right-back, only Manchester United's Rafael has a better figure in the Premier League (7.35).

It was the performance against Sunderland this week that saw him pick up his best figures of the season, however, registering an outstanding 9.27 rating from WhoScored.com in a fantastic all round display. Indeed, of all outfielders in the Premier League it is the third best match rating this season from a player that didn't score.





Lowton picked up an assist for Villa's crucial second, intercepting a loose cross field ball - one of 6 interceptions in the game to help him become only the second Premier League player to make over 100 in the season (103). His chest control has become something of a trademark, teeing him up for both of his volleyed goals from distance this season, and it allowed him to take the ball in his stride. Running toward the vacated centre circle, he waited for Christian Benteke to draw Sunderland's right back out of position before providing an inch perfect lofted ball for Weimann, and the Austrian did the rest.

His contribution on the night didn't end there, however. The full-back had 113 touches - a full 27 more than any other player on the pitch - keeping possession with a near-immaculate 96% pass accuracy. With 4 key passes he again led the way for either side, and a superb 5 successful dribbles was almost twice as many as any other player. Defensively he also made 2 tackles, taking his tally to 102 for the season, which is enough to rank among the Premier League's top 10.

To suggest that Lowton is the finished article would be very premature. At times his positioning has been called into question, while his willingness to get involved in the physical battle that comes with being in a side near the bottom has seen the defender pick up 9 yellow cards over the season. There is, however, enough to his game to suggest that an international call-up shouldn't be out of the question, despite the right-back spot being very hotly contested in the England camp.

Former Villa loanee Kyle Walker is still nipping at the heels of Glen Johnson and would be the obvious replacement for the Liverpool full-back were he to miss out for any reason. While Lowton may not offer the pace and power of the two his reading of the game, highlighted by his interception figures, is exceptional, and like those ahead of him, he's confident in possession. His showing on Monday proved that he is certainly one of the most gifted footballers from a technical aspect at Lambert's disposal, and the player did hint towards a desire to move into a central midfield position upon his arrival at Villa Park.

Lowton's tallies for tackles (102), interceptions (103) and clearances (189) are all understandably in advance of both Johnson (82, 54 and 112) and Walker (70, 79 and 168), having to get through considerably more work due to the club's poor standing in the league, while his key pass and shot averages are consequently lower. The fact, then, that he has contributed to as many goals (2 goals, 3 assists) as Johnson and two more than Walker alludes towards an impressive end product, and his form has led to apparent interest from Arsenal.

While versatility will certainly add weight to his claims for a place in Roy Hodgson's plans, Lowton's ability to link up play and get out of tight situations along the touchline is invaluable to Villa right now. If he can work on his concentration, as well as a tendency to sell himself short at times, there's no reason why the Chesterfield born defender shouldn't strengthen his case as an outsider for England’s 2014 World Cup squad.






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It has not been the greatest of summers for English football. Embarrassment in the Under 20 and 21 tournament highlighted some serious issues that are plaguing the English game. We all know the problems, which is a lack of opportunity for young English players in the Premier League. This is single most important factor which is holding England back. Yet why is this? Is it simply that clubs don’t want to use these players or is it just the truth that these players aren’t good enough? I think we know the answer.


When a talented English player comes around it is like we can’t believe our luck. Rooney, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain are the best products to come out of English academies this past decade, yet is this good enough? We see Spain and Germany producing top talent every season and their success, significantly Spain at youth level has proven their ability to develop talent.

So what is to be done? Well, in my upcoming book The Way Forward I propose many solutions to improve the standard of players coming through the English youth system. Frankly speaking there are issues at all levels which need addressing and the journey will take much effort and cohesion to achieve success and produce more players.

The book looks at the role of schools, academies, clubs and of course the FA. Ah, the FA. One of England’s most precious institutions and one we should be proud of. Yet the truth is we are not.

The FA's priorities

It has been argued that a major problem with the FA is that it has not been run by football people but by businessmen who value commercial interests over their role as developers of the game.

The decision to invest in a new Wembley over the development of England’s national training centre in the early 2000’s was proof enough where the focus and interests lie. £900m which could have been spent on investing in the future of players and coaches was instead put into a stadium which in all honesty was not needed. A waste of money, time and resources which could have gone elsewhere. Such a shame for England’s future.

Did we really need to build a new national stadium? We could have followed the Germans, where there is no national stadium; games of the national team are always in different cities. This allows more people to see their team and allows more money to be put into key areas.

Imagine where that £900 million spent on Wembley could have gone? If The FA were serious about improving the standards of youth development we could have seen 80-100 ‘development centres’ run by the FA Skills programme, right across the country, which would have meant more youth coaches and players being developed.

That money could also have gone to subsidising coaching courses which could have meant cheaper courses, especially the 'A' and Pro licence which would have meant the development of a greater number of ‘quality’ coaches.

The FA cannot say they do not have the money, what they do not have is the desire to make significant changes at the foundation level. Too much money at the top trying to fix problems that need addressing at the bottom.

Why did they decide to do this? The truth is that the FA are ran by men whose primary interests are not about football. Those men who run the FA are businessmen whose interests are in the commercial part of football. Having the wrong men in charge of our Football Association has been the reason for the continuing issues and problems of English football.

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The FA's failed philosophies

Between the 1970’s and 1980’s English football was savaged by two men; Allen Wade and Charles Hughes. They believed in direct football and had the crazy notion that sides like Holland, Germany and Brasil were playing football the ‘wrong way’. Their methods believed that the less passes it took to attack meant the more chance to score, yet this was not a Jurgen Klopp inspired Dortmund counter attack. No.

What is was was a horror show of giants lumping a football high in the air. It was trench warfare and any idea of skill was not only ignored, it was forbidden. This was English football and the development of coaches, teams and future players was built on this idea.

Incredibly Hughes did not think to learn from Liverpool or Forest, European Cup winning sides and coaches, no he believed his methods were The Winning Formula. England has paid for these men’s beliefs since. It is only now, in the past decade that gradual change has occurred, thanks in most part to those ‘pesky’ foreigners who keep teaching us the way to play, train and coach. If only they had come sooner.

The truth is English football and culture was damaged back then and has never properly recovered.

The need for reform and change was required long before Howard Wilkinson’s Charter for Quality in 1997 yet even key elements to that were dismissed. Yes the academy system was set up yet it was unmonitored and effectively for most players they still experienced old school methods and coaches teaching the Hughes style of football.

Is it really any surprise therefore that we have failed to produce enough quality of players through the system? Wilshere is the first real product of Wenger’s Dutch/Barca philosophy and Southampton’s academy philosophy was built on the methods of Wenger too. No surprise therefore that these two academies are producing players who possess the attributes and ability befitting the modern game. Compare their approach to player and team development to the FA's and we see the issue.

Unfortunately there appears to be too many people afraid of change at the FA and this has held English football back.

A need to modernise

Howard Wilkinson and Trevor Brooking have both been loud proponents for change, for over a decade, yet their calls for change have largely been ignored. The emergence of Nick Levett has brought positive change for the grassroots game, yet it will not make a quick or significant impact for many years. Yes the changes in pitches are a good step forward, so too the youth modules, yet there are still issues with coaching and quality. Not to mention a lack of a philosophy to educate these coaches.

The English FA needs to put down a philosophy that grassroots coaches can implement and use with their players. Admittedly, in 2009, the FA produced “The Future Game” – a book/document which pointed to what the modern game would involve for players and teams. However, it was put forward as a guideline, not a requirement.

The English FA should have been more forthright in their approach to improving the national style and making sure more coaches and teams across the country played and developed in a modern style.

In the 7-11 age groups the courses should be educating coaches about the FA skills programme and what this entails and how you can coach it. Considering this is supposed to be a major factor for developing better players the absence of advice and information regarding skill development is startling.

As for the 12-16 age bracket, this is where the FA need to be educating coaches about themes, formations and roles of players. It is like they just expect coaches to know these things, yet they don’t. Because of the limited support and guidance which the FA courses offer many of these coaches revert back to type and implement the safe and rigid 4-4-2 of which they were brought up.

Effectively we see Charles Hughes football remaining because the current FA are failing to re-educate coaches. Why is this? I believe there is a concern that the FA don’t want to be seen as ‘telling’ coaches what to do for fear of getting it wrong again or being too commanding of what coaches should be doing. Yet their role is to manage the grassroots game and so they must manage and educate the coaches much better.

The FA should say that at 5v5, 7v7, 9v9 and 11v11 this is what you should be looking to play, this is what the players roles are and this is the emphasis you are looking to focus on. If coaches will only do as much as Level’s 1 and 2 plus the youth modules (which is an extensive education and outlay of money) then these courses better educate the coaches on what the FA want to do in terms of developing better players. These 'concepts' cannot be left to the 'A' licence course which fails to hit almost any of the coaches which the foundation level requires.

More emphasis on individual skill, combination play, creativity and flexible and fluid movements in attack allied with more focus on counter attacks and transition are key for coaches to go away and understand the game. And let us not forget the most neglected aspect of football, defending. I’m not talking about lunging tackles but the understanding of defending, as an individual and team. This is what England’s coaching courses need to promote more of.

Yet will we see these kind of changes, at both the grassroots and senior level of English football if the same people are running the organisation?

If the foundations aren't right what do you expect?

For well over a century the English FA has been responsible for coaching and development standards. Yet, one could argue convincingly, their methods have failed to produce the necessary quality in home grown coaching and playing talent: a lack of vision, a disastrous philosophy, and poor planning illustrate how the FA has failed the country for decades.

The concern now is that many coaches feel they cannot ‘trust’ the English FA to put in place a philosophy and style which is conducive for English football to develop players and teams for the modern game. This is worrying.

Much hope is being put on Dan Ashworth to make the required changes and improvements yet is this not an underwhelming appointment to the biggest role in English football? I believe so. We need world class coaching and player development experts to guide and lay the foundation for England's future. Yet many will not take a role within an organisation which will not allow 'new ideas'.

What is needed is a change in the FA; the introduction of ‘football’ people leading the nations football institution is what is required if we wish to see the introduction of a national game style and philosophy as well as the coming together of the Premier League and Football League which for too long has been fragmented and opposed. A radical change at the FA may be the necessary change which English football needs if it wishes to make significant change across the English game.

A need for a 'fundamental overhaul'

There was recent criticism of The FA by the Sports Minister, Hugh Robertson, who believes that “Football is the worst governed sport in this country, without a doubt.” The report by the culture, media and sport select committee wanted the FA to “restructure its main board to assert its independence, overhaul the FA Council to make it more representative, introduce tough new rules on financial regulation, and increase the influence of supporters on how their clubs were run.”

The select committee importantly made a strong case to the FA to ‘reform its structure’. As the committee says, “We urge the authorities to be more radical and more urgent in addressing the problems faced by the game because of the weaknesses in its governance structure, both at FA and club level,"

They believe that a ‘fundamental overhaul of the FA council’ is needed to help the FA improve standards and modernise the English game. In their opinion the council lacks ‘diversity’, which is not hard to understand when you consider that council has 118 members, many of whom have served for more than 20 years and two-thirds of them are aged 64 or over.

More 'radical', an 'overhaul'? Clearly they see the need like many do to revamp and re-energise England's senior football organisation which has grown old and afraid of change and modernisation.

For too long the same men have represented their county and yet for too long the FA has failed to make the significant changes needed for the country to improve. At this time the professional clubs have little respect for the FA and its methods because there have been too many mistakes in the past. Wilkinson knew that the clubs needed to take the power away from the FA because he did not believe they could impose the necessary changes.

It is clear that the FA is in need of a change, performances and comparisons with other nations highlight this. It is the same people who have continued to control our national game, they were there during the 'dark years' are still there now. This is not progress.

Quite simply English football in the hands of the wrong people. The FA needs a radical shakeup in order to improve standards and the future of the English game. It is clear that the organisation, which is such an important part of English culture, needs to be renovated. The FA council needs to be brought into the 21st century and new members need to be introduced.

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Greg Ramos, variations of Barcelona's use of 'Rondo' training.


If you have time, have a watch, it's long but VERY informative.



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The Pirlo, Macherano & Makelele: An insight into the role of Number 6




The holding midfielder, or defensive midfielder, or number 6 as we can also call it, is a thankless task that often gets overlooked in today’s football of marauding fullbacks, twinkle-toed playmakers and dead-eye strikers. However what is most underappreciated about the number 6 (as we will refer to it from henceforth) are its complexities that most fail to recognize. In fact, the failure to do so can be key to why some sides may struggle to find the right balance. Indeed, the defensive number 6 sits – on a tactical sense – at the heart of the game and at the center of the pitch where everything goes through him. It is for this reason that it is important to recognize the many intricacies of that position and its numerous roles in order to better appreciate it.
It is important difference – albeit just a seemingly semantic one – between a holding midfielder and defensive midfielder. But these are just types of the number 6, which can be broken down in three different roles: the destroyer, the deep-lying playmaker (regista), and the volante. The destroyer is exclusively a defensive midfielder, while the regista is a holding midfielder. The volante, however, has the particularity of belonging to both types of the number 6. Being such a special case, we will touch on the role of the volante last.  The defensive midfielder type can perform the role of the destroyer or the volante as aforementioned. I differentiate the defensive midfielder to the holding midfielder only in terms of physical attributes and/or physicality they employ in their game. To put it more plainly, the defensive midfielder is the archetypical 6’2”, 190 lbs behemoth in the center of the pitch, such as Gilberto Silva. However, the defensive midfielder does not have to strictly follow that description either, he could be a smaller but particularly combative midfielder like Javier Mascherano or Edgar David. In effect, the terms ‘defensive midfielder’ and ‘destroyer’, along the lines of this definition, are very much interchangeable.
The destroyer is a plain defensive midfielder without any particular technical or passing ability to speak of. The destroyer’s main attributes would be speed, anticipation, and tackling ability. That being said anticipation would not be critical on that list as athleticism could help cover for poor reading of the game. His function on the pitch is to use these attributes to break up opposition attacks.
Let us now discuss the holding midfielder. We said above that the regista is a holding midfielder. The regista is an Italian football term that means ‘deep-lying playmaker’. He is a highly technical defensive midfielder, unlike the destroyer, whose primary attributes are offensive one, i.e. Luka Modric. Unlike the defensive midfielder however, the holding midfielder has the luxury and willingness to roam a little farther up the pitch. This of course sounds contradictory to the function of the position, where protecting the defense is the first priority. But the regista is capable of fulfilling this function too, albeit not through physicality and athleticism like the destroyer. As his role’s type might imply, the regista mainly ‘holds’ his position in front of the defense and opportunistically makes key interceptions to cut out opposition threats.
In other words the holding midfielder unlike the defensive midfielder, or by extension the regista unlike the destroyer, is far less reliant on physicality and athleticism and puts more of a premium on anticipation and his ability to read the game without even necessarily needing to be a good tackler.
Now we move on to the more interesting of the different types of the number 6: the volante. The term ‘volante’ is Brazilian football terminology to describe the player who not only protects the defence but also acts as the team’s metronome. In fact the word ‘volante’ literally translates as ‘steering wheel’, because the number conducts the flow of the team. The volante receives the ball from the defence and sprays it to the players ahead of him to set up the play. The volante marries the physical and the technical, but does not necessarily possess the physical attributes. This is why the volante can both be categorized as a defensive midfielder or a holding midfielder.






Sergio Busquets is a player who marries both the athletic and the technical and is a prime example of this role. Claude Makalele was less technical than the Barcelona midfielder but was just as adept at setting up and orienting the play. Whereas Michael Carrick is much less physical but possesses the technique and passing ability to fulfill the volante role. Out of those, Makalele would be the defensive midfielder-type volante and Carrick would be the holding midfielder-type volante due to their differences in athletic and technical abilities. The aforementioned Busquets would be more of a hybrid type, who can be stricter in his defensive duties but can also roam a little higher up the pitch when the opportunity arises.

Now we might probably ask what is the difference between a volante and a regista? The difference is in technical ability and forward impetus. The regista is more prone to moving forward while the volante’s priority is still protecting the defense. The regista is much more capable of influencing the game in the final third whilst the volante confines himself more to the center circle and takes advantage of late surging runs when space ahead of him opens up.
 Thus, recognizing the type of number 6 a player can be very important to how a side sets up. Of course it is not because a player is a certain type, or best at a certain role, that he cannot step outside of his comfort zone and fulfil the job assigned well. Mikel Arteta for example, assuming the role of regista at Everton whilst Arsene Wenger deploys him as a volante today. Fernando was a defensive midfielder (destroyer) in his early years at Porto, but it was Andre Villas-Boas who pushed him to participate more in the play and moulded him more into a holding midfielder (volante).
There also exist special cases such as Andrea Pirlo and Bastian Schweinsteiger who are able to assume both types and all roles of the number 6 within a game, such is the breadth of their talent. Therefore we see that the number 6 is much more than just a shield for the defense. He can contribute much more and it takes a keen manager to recognize what type of no6 and what role he can fulfill for the benefit of the team. 

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Where do i start on my road to being the first black manager to win the CL?


1. Get your FA Level 1 & 2 badges. Level 1 & 2 Youth Awards too.


2. Coach a team. 2 preferably. One adult, one youth.


3. Watch as much football as possible, at all levels, across all ages. This is in person & on TV of course.

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