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Michel Kane

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After reading the book about him, what and why he's doing it makes a lot of sense.

What did you think of the book?


I recommend this highly.


The Modern Soccer Coach: A Four Dimensional Approach

Covers the general skillset of what is needed in the modern day coach in 2014, using the 4 corners of player development, technical, tactical, mental & physical as a guideline. Very good stuff.

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After reading the book about him, what and why he's doing it makes a lot of sense.

What did you think of the book?


I recommend this highly.


The Modern Soccer Coach: A Four Dimensional Approach

Covers the general skillset of what is needed in the modern day coach in 2014, using the 4 corners of player development, technical, tactical, mental & physical as a guideline. Very good stuff.

Thought it was a pretty good read, would have liked it to go deeper with regards to philosophy/tactics though.


I will check that out, thanks.

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Don't think I've seen a team as compact as Atleti were yesterday


Hodgson/Prem should take note of how the 442 can be implemented in the modern era

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exactly the way i try replicate that tactic on fm too difficult


the strikers are the widest players its like 









something like that


some fucked 4222/442 


and it changes depending on phases of play

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Athletico don't actually play wingers though, Koke & Turan play moreso as wide midfielders.

Costa & Villa work very, very hard too.


That's the point though. 442 doesn't have to = wide men stay wide and whip it into the box. While the STs stay forward regardless of the phase of play. Plenty of times yesterday you'd see one or both forwards drop back onto Iniesta or Busquets and force play out wide. The forwards were a lot more fluid in transitions as well.


Saying 442 was probs a crude way of describing it on my part since things are rarely that simple any more.


As for Costa and Villa, I dunno which players in the England team would be willing and or capable of replicating their workrate and intelligence? Maybe Welbeck but who else? We've seen how poorly Rooney handles that role already.

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TBH, that's why I really want heads to stop focusing on formations so much.

Reality is, teams have a minimum of 4 different formations dependent on phase of play like Ice said.

Even Hodgson said (& he was right), that Borussia Dortmund (of last season) used a 4-4-2 at certain phases of play (defending when organised), I've noticed Arsenal using it too.

Teams like Barcelona use a formation closer to a 2-3-1-3 when constructing attacks, etc.

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Thats because 4-4-2 in this Country is literally 4-4-2 though lol






You think That Athlei system could work with us? Under the right tactics etc








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I think what you've put up is closer to what City use, which is a 4-2-2-2 would garner more success given your personnel.

yeah city have a interesting set up they accomodate 2 strikers and two creative wide midfielders. They are only able to do this due to the power of their midfield duo Fernandinho and Yaya. Don Pellegrini showing these fuckboys how to do it from the start
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Our Biggest Mistake: Talent Selection Instead of Talent Identification



Many youth sports coaches claim to be great talent identifiers, and point to the results of their 11 year all star team as proof. Yet they are not talent identifiers. They are talent selectors. The difference could not be more striking, or more damaging to our country’s future talent pool in many sports.


Talent selection is the culling of players with the current ability to participate and be successful in events taking place in the near future. Talent identification, on the other hand, is the prediction of future performance based upon an evaluation of current physical, technical, tactical and psychological qualities. Talent selection is pretty simple; talent identification is an art. One yields great results today; the other builds elite athletes and winning teams for the future.


Our current win at all costs youth sports culture promotes talent selection. When a coach is pressured to win by parents or a club, or when he or she feels the need to win to serve their own ego, that coach becomes a talent selector. When you are focused on talent selection, you are picking athletes to help you win now, and cutting ones that will not. You are looking at current athleticism, technical ability, and traits to help achieve short term success. You naturally select the biggest, strongest and fastest young athletes, and play them extensive minutes. You limit playing time for the kids who are not up to snuff, and tell them they need to work harder, get tougher, etc., if they want to play more. You yell at them because they cannot get to the ball quick enough, or cannot shoot well enough to score. You tell them that this type of pressure is what they will face when they are older, so they better get used to it now.


Then, according to the latest statistics, 70% of them quit organized sports by the age of 13!


On the other hand, talent identifiers are searching for young players who may not be elite athletes yet, but possess the physical and psychological attributes to eventually become one. Perhaps they have not yet grown, or been exposed to high level coaching. Perhaps they are not as skillful yet, but show a high level of coachability, sensitivity to training, and the motivation to learn. Identifying talent requires the skill to weigh all the physical, physiological, psychological, and technical components of an athlete, as well as a measure of “gut instinct” of which kid has what it takes to become elite, and which kid does not.


Talent identification also takes a long term approach to player selection and development, and focuses on training large numbers of players, instead of cutting all but the elite ones. It recognizes that many factors affect whether a kid will make it or not, but rarely are childhood results the main factor...



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Talent identification also takes a long term approach to player selection and development, and focuses on training large numbers of players, instead of cutting all but the elite ones. It recognizes that many factors affect whether a kid will make it or not, but rarely are childhood results the main factor.


In a fascinating study on junior tennis players from 1994 through 2002, Piotr Unierzyski evaluated 1000 players age 12-13 in 50 different countries, a pool that included future stars Roger Federer, Kim Clisters, and others. His study found that of all these players, the ones who eventually made it into the Top 100 Professional Rakings were:

  • 3-4 months younger than the mean age for their group
  • Slimmer and less powerful than their age group
  • Usually faster and more agile than average
  • They played less than the average number of matches that the top players did
  • Their average practice hours per week were 2-4 hours less than the elite players in their age group
  • Their parents were supportive, but not overly involved

Let’s extrapolate this data onto the current elite youth athlete in the United States. Does a player who is young for his or her age, thinner and weaker, practices and plays less than their peers, and has parents who are not overly involved sound like today’s  U11 All Star? Not that I have seen. Now, I know that is quite an over simplification, but do you get my point here?


American youth sports are far too often focused on talent selection, and not talent identification. We are committed to winning now, to getting on ESPN, or achieving some hypothetical pre-pubescent national ranking. Yes, some team sport clubs have B and C teams and develop large numbers of players. Others have those same B and C teams, and players are often jettisoned there with less experienced coaches, less committed teammates, and an overall lesser experience. We say we are developing them for the future, but all too often we are using them to balance the budget. We select the current talent that will help us win now, because if we do not, the club down the road will grab them and win, and our best players will leave. We are not identifying and developing the kids who are most likely to become elite competitors after puberty. We are selecting the ones who already are elite, but often do not have the characteristics needed for long term elite performance.


This is why the emphasis on winning prior to high school is destroying youth sports. This is why nations with 1/100th of our population can compete with us on a world stage in many sports. They actually identify and develop future talent, instead of selection based upon current results. Our wealth and sheer numbers allow us to succeed internationally, but other nations are slowly but surely closing the gap in nearly every sport because quite frankly, they identify and develop talent far better than we do.


How do we fix this? Here are a few simple thoughts for youth sports that to be honest, should not be that hard to implement:

  1. Stop cutting players at young ages, and develop large numbers of players instead of just the elite ones. I recently read that Sweden, for example, produces more NHL players per capita than any other country, and they do not cut players till age 17. Hmmm.
  2. Focus on developing all players at the youngest ages, with particular attention given to helping the less skilled ones catch up technically to the stronger ones. Thus, when they finish their growth spurt, we have a much larger pool of adequately skilled individuals to choose from, instead of just the kids who happened to have facial hair at 12 but stopped growing at 13.
  3. Put an end to the win at all costs nature of pre-pubescent sports, especially things like state and national championships prior to middle or high school, and televising events like the Little League World Series (which has run since 1946 and produced a whopping 27 Major League Players in that time). Ok, admittedly, this one might be tough to implement!
  4. Better educate our coaches to understand the difference between selecting and identifying talent, and then teach and encourage them to develop it rather than try and win with it immediately.

This is just a start, but unless we start making some drastic changes to our youth sports system, we will see smaller nations continuing to close the gap, and eventually surpass the United States in many sports. We are not elite in soccer yet because of the culture. We are falling behind in baseball because of it. Even in basketball, the gap has been significantly reduced. Why? Because our competitors are not relying on a player development system that is often based upon a large population and dumb luck.


The best part about making all these changes? Our clubs and schools will have larger numbers of skilled athletes to choose from, as well as additional healthier and well rounded kids. We will have families who are less stressed both financially and anxiety wise, because their kids can just be kids again, and they don’t feel pressured to have their 10 year olds travel 2000 miles to play a game. We will allow coaches to actually coach, and develop both better people and better athletes.


Abundant skilled players? Lower costs? Less time devoted to youth sports and more to family and school? More success for our national teams and elite individual athletes?


These are changes worth making.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Tactical analysis: How Manuel Pellegrini will bring South American flair to Manchester City

By Lee Roden | Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Manuel Pellegrini's appointment as Manchester City boss has all but been confirmed officially, and the Engineer as he's known will be looking to impose a distinctive, half South American, half European style on his new team. talkSPORT look at the Chilean's favoured, attack-minded system that he will likely attempt to implement at City...

Pellegrini has been known to adapt his system according to the opposition on occasion, but in the end he tends to return to his favoured 4-2-2-2 (see the diagram below). Sometimes mistakenly labelled as a 4-4-2, the system is more commonly used in Brazil, in particular, than in Europe, which perhaps explains some of the confusion. Many British football fans will be happy to note that the system uses two strikers, and indeed, Pellegrini is particularly fond of strike partnerships, making use of them at Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga, so that is likely to continue at City, and will bring a touch of the familiar for observers in the UK.

The most important role in the 4-2-2-2 is that of the 'interiores', or rather, the two central players playing behind the strikers. It is in this role that Pellegrini's main playmaker tends to appear. At Villarreal it was Juan Roman Riquelme, at Madrid, initially it was Kaka, and at Malaga, Santi Cazorla and more recently, Isco. As most of the width in this system comes from attacking fullbacks, the interiores tend to play centrally, but if the full-backs are asked to hold their positions in more defensive roles, the interiores will drift out wide to create width. It is perhaps for this reason that Santi Cazorla has been mistakenly labelled as a 'winger' in the past, as at Villarreal, and indeed, Malaga, he would often drift out wide from his central position.


At City, Pellegrini has an ideal player to occupy one of those positions in David Silva. The midfielder's technical ability, movement, eye for a pass and goal threat makes him a perfect player for what the Chilean demands. If City can pull off the signing of Isco, a transfer they are expected to pursue, then Silva and the younger Spaniard will likely complete the central pairing behind the strikers.

Adaptability is key to Pellegrini's system. Rather than altering his formation according to the rival, the Chilean prefers his players to adapt according to their opponents within the 4-2-2-2. He has summed that up well in the past by explaining that "tactics aren't just about theory, but about the intelligence you show on the pitch". Just as, when attacking, the two interiores will drift out wide if the full-backs hold their positions, when defending, the two deep lying midfielders will drop back into defence to create a solid back four if the full-backs are pushing up the pitch. The deep midfield pair have to be mobile, disciplined and tidy in their passing. At Villarreal, Pellegrini was lucky to have one of the finest deep lying midfielders in the world in the form of Marcos Senna. At Malaga, he has been blessed with the talents of Jeremy Toulalan, Manuel Iturra and youngster Nacho Camacho. It wouldn't be too much of a shock to see City move for one of Malaga's current deep midfielders in the summer along with Isco, and in Spain, Camacho's name has been sounded out as a City target. In reality, Jeremy Toulalan is the more polished of the trio, but his age and recent injury troubles may be enough to put City off, with the Frenchman turning 30 at the start of next season.

Ultimately, there are some occasions when Pellegrini will alter his starting shape if he feels it is necessary. During his time at Villarreal, the coach admitted that on the rare occasions that he expects the opposition to have more possession, like when playing Barcelona, he tends to adopt a more traditional 4-2-3-1, a formation Premier League followers will be familiar with by now. At Malaga, Pellegrini did this successfully against Real Madrid in 2012, earning a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu. Pellegrini himself has commented that this system demands much more of the central players, who need to get in to the opposition area as often as possible to assist the lone striker.


Until Pellegrini first leads City out, we can only take an educated guess at how they will line-up, but based on his past three jobs in Europe, it is almost certain that his favoured 4-2-2-2 will make an appearance at some point. Ultimately, the most important thing about Pellegrini's teams is their intelligence, and ability to adapt to opponents within a game. The coach himself has said that "there's no such thing as a perfect system, and telephone numbers like 4-4-2, 4-2-2-2 aren't of importance". Expect Pellegrini's City to dominate possession, to be fluid, dynamic and, above all, exciting to watch.


City fans can check out more information on Pellegrini's style from the man himself, below..

Read more at http://talksport.com/magazine/features/130514/tactical-analysis-how-manuel-pellegrini-will-bring-south-american-flair-197550#XGVmYAwuY1Vfl890.99

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  • 2 weeks later...

A month before taking the managerial hot seat at Ajax, on a warm autumn day, a fresh-faced Frank de Boer travelled to Barcelona – still a youth team coach and part of the Dutch national team set-up as Bert van Marwijk's assistant – this wasn't a personal visit but one he'd hope would further shape his footballing vision. It did.


De Boer was a guest of former teammate Pep Guardiola, after sharing old memories, it quickly transpired to the reason for his visit. Reminiscent of Guardiola's now famous meeting with Marcelo Bielsa, there was no barbeque, and it didn't last eleven hours. However there was the same passionate discussion of the game, every subject under the sun was touched upon from Barcelona's training methods, Dutch football theorem (and its future) to their unique style of play. Phillip Cocu since commented how that meeting changed De Boer. It proved to be enlightening, showcased by the contrast in football displayed at Ajax from De Boer's first few months in charge.


There was also an underlying reason: Guardiola's conviction De Boer would be an outstanding manager. His feeling was anything picked up in his young (and successful) managerial career to date could be invaluable to the Dutchman, who shared a similar belief in how football should be played. De Boer was an admirer and Guardiola was more than happy to help with his fact-finding mission remembering not so long ago he was in a similar position, inspired by those who've tasted management and shared his outlook, Juanma Lillo springs to mind.


As teammates both often enjoyed lengthy conversations, De Boer noted how Guardiola back then was effectively a coach. Guardiola equally saw the same in the former Oranje skipper even if De Boer doubted himself. A decade ago Bielsa advised Guardiola to go into management. Guardiola was now doing the same. In fact once De Boer eventually went into coaching, after retiring in 2006, Guardiola approached him to be his assistant – once learning he'd be taking over from Frank Rijkaard – an invitation De Boer turned down, in order to strike out his own path. One trait both have in common is their steadfast belief in the 'Ajax model'. Ronald – Frank's twin – once said Guardiola is borderline obsessed, describing him as 'half-Dutch', after discovering and learning under Johan Cruyff and then Louis van Gaal. It was the latter whose distinct brand Guardiola revealed shaped much of his Barcelona side. "My jaw dropped when I saw Van Gaal's Ajax play," Guardiola wrote in his autobiography 'My People, My Football'. "They perfectly did everything a football team should do in my eyes."


De Boer's own philosophy, started to unfold after the meeting with Guardiola in late 2010 – since then they've regularly kept in touch – an amalgamation of the Cruijffianen and Van Gaalisten School: individual and collectivism intertwined, each individual's strength combines to make a strong eleven, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. "We are now more of a unit," Toby Alderweireld stated when comparing to the approach under Martin Jol, when there was a large dependency on "one or two" players (notably Luis Suárez). Though a disciple of Cruyff and Van Gaal, evident in rekindling their ideas, and Cruyff being an advisor (top-to-bottom Ajax now following his vision in running a club, shades of Barcelona in the last decade) it's Guardiola's Barça he's used as his reference on the basis the Catalan side in the last four years shown the 'Ajax way' has a place in the 21st century.


De Boer doesn't claim to be innovate, instead appreciates his many influences, often describing himself as a 'student of the game'. Guardiola stood for everything Barça. De Boer is the same with Ajax. He lived and breathed the club as a player. "Frank de Boer is een echte Ajacied" is commonly sung by supporters. More than most he understands their traditions and what it stands for. If a club in Catalunya can adopt their values, especially if it's proven to be successful, then there's no shame in taking certain parts of their game to improve his team. They're not a carbon copy, still worlds apart, but can be put in the same side of the spectrum.


What does set De Boer apart is his acumen, a sharp thinker but also a meticulous planner, every opposition analysed (with the aid of Tonny Bruins Slot and Dennis Bergkamp) in the greatest of details. It's speculative, but watching Ajax today you get the impression De Boer put those theories discussed with Guardiola, the same ones Barça adhere to, into practice. It's been a gradual process, still is, which only serves as proof of De Boer's unyielding character and desire to restore Ajax back in Europe's conscious. Guardiola and Van Gaal were among the many including predecessor Marco van Basten to congratulate De Boer on his appointment, after Martin Jol's unexpected (but anticipated) resignation forty eight hours before a Champions League away tie against AC Milan. The youngster (along with his brother) spotted by Cruyff all those years ago was now at the helm of his boyhood club. He would win his first match in charge, a historic one, never before have the Amsterdammers tasted victory at the San Siro.


It would prove to be bittersweet as they had already been eliminated from the competition. However it would be used as an example of what can be possible. He doesn't have a seasoned squad at his disposal and it's ever-changing nevertheless he's a manager in the perfect environment – a former youth team coach working with familiar faces – what De Boer has done and continues to do so is further evidence, clear and concise instructions coupled with the right training – following the Michels model (individual based training) – attaining a high level of football isn't beyond Ajax. His players towards the end of last season were fitter than they were at the start, covering more ground, circulating the ball at a rapid rate. There was a comfortable equilibrium in transition between attack and defence which you'd expect from a club renowned for its mastery of intelligent football. The same is expected in the second half of this current campaign.


From day one De Boer has been unequivocal when it comes to the style of football Ajax would play under him, despite his analytical obsession, doesn't believe in adapting to the opponent but rather playing their own game. "I'd rather go down fighting," he once boasted. "I share Louis van Gaal's desire to make continuous progress, to demand that your team constantly push things to the limit," he added. "When it comes to playing football, movement on the field and attacking, I am close to Johan Cruyff's philosophy. Simple football is the most beautiful. But playing simple football is the hardest thing." His contempt for the football displayed under Jol couldn't have been any more louder, labelling it unrecognisable, in some quarters unworthy of Ajax. "It did have some success but clashed with the traditional approach, which I know like the back of my hand. This is my club."


It was back to basics: traditional 4-3-3 with orthodox wingers. Even that has slightly changed; today the norm would be wide forwards, on occasions even using a deep-lying forward (false nine). The turning point was last spring, after their humiliating defeat to FC Utrecht, everything changed from that moment. The Ajax you see today started to emerge. All it took was putting emphasis on one position. Sergio Busquets has long fascinated De Boer. A third centre-back. This particular type of footballer has long existed in Dutch football, the 'controller' (number six), but Busquets – under Guardiola – has added a modern interpretation. One that has since been pivotal to De Boer realising his objectives; which is to dominant games through possession: circulation football as a means to not only create goal scoring opportunities but also a defensive weapon. The role was assigned to Vurnon Anita, instantly adapting – made easier by Ajax's system (likewise same for Christian Poulsen and Lasse Schöne since) – instructions couldn't be any clearer: retain and recycle possession.


In some parts keeping the ball is often looked down upon, but for De Boer this is the only way, without the ball the opposition can't harm you. Also it conserves energy, you can see how they seldom pass more than ten metres during a build-up phase, this goes back to Cruyff's ideal to let the ball do the running, taken a while but under De Boer they've got the hang of it.


'Pressure play' is a term De Boer often talks about. It centres on winning the ball back, as soon as it's lost (by pressing), another tenet of the Van Gaal philosophy incorporated in De Boer's approach. Guardiola famously took it to extreme levels and De Boer is following suit. It's a process that predominantly happens on instinct (playing a high defensive line helps). Ajax press the moment they lose possession. That is the perfect time because the opposing player who has just won the ball is vulnerable. He's wasted energy, winning the ball, meaning he's probably tired. De Boer's aim is for his side to dispossess the player before he can give to a better positioned teammate. If the ball isn't won as quickly as expected the players retreat to form a compact ten-man wall, the distance between the last defender and attacking focal point is roughly around 30 metres  A switch made easy due to how close they play to each other (makes it easier to play their triangles as well). As you expect this should pose, in theory at least, a challenge for the opposition to get through.


Frank de Boer and Pep Guardiola played two seasons together at FC Barcelona winning one championship. It was there both started to consider life as coaches. 

Ajax's near fanatical version of circulation football hasn't gone without criticism. In their recent win over VVV Venlo, where they had 81% possession of the ball, some labelled it "boring". De Boer, taken aback, defended his team's philosophy, stating they weren't keeping possession for the sake of it, adding an exciting game of football needs two participants. VVV were more than happy to let Ajax keep the ball and wait to counter (which they found difficult to execute). Nonetheless, the instillation of a 'third centre-back' has played a significant part in the Amsterdammers possession-based game increasing tenfold, so far this season they're averaging 600 passes per game (481 completed) and 80% possession (tikkie-takkie voetbal as one commentator put it).


As a former defender par-excellence this is the one area of the pitch De Boer has focused a great deal on. For obvious reasons, his tenets – much of which adopted from his mentors – dictated that Ajax must build from the back. "Cruyff told us that the players with the best ball handling skills should be the defenders," said Guardiola. "As they need to bring you out of trouble and set up the forwards with their play." De Boer agrees. Niklas Moisander has the highest pass completion rate followed by Toby Alderweireld. The skilled 'sweeper-keeper' Kenneth Vermeer, in essence acts like an extra outfield player, is integral to their system: recycling possession, keeping circulation of the ball flowing, and re-launching attacks. If an error is made, which is always a possibility, the instruction from De Boer is to always continue and never turn back. Jan Vertonghen, who played a key role last season – in his own words "effectively as a playmaker" – described De Boer as the best coach he's played under, adding how returning much of the clubs former principles was his biggest success. The next step will be for the 'third centre-back', and two midfielders in front, to take a greater lead in initiating attacks in tandem with the mobile central defenders (reliance gradually diminished).


However the most interesting facet regarding the defence, in last few months, is the actual defending. Notably if De Boer has implemented Barcelona's '3-1' rule (adopted from the Italian game). You see more and more examples proving it to be the case, take their last game against Groningen, after Alderweireld carelessly gave the ball away, Moisander approached the attacker and the other three – Ricardo van Rhijn, Alderweireld and Daley Blind – formed a wall behind him. If the hunch is correct – De Boer not spoken in detail – all signs suggest it is; then it's a ploy they're clearly working on, not quite at the level of Tito Vilanova's side, but one De Boer feels can benefit his team.


The role of the full-backs is the one of the most fascinating aspect of watching Ajax today, Van Rhijn and Blind are essentially auxiliary wingers, in turn leads to the side adopting various formations/shapes most of the time in reaction to the opposition. The most common is their 3-1-4-2, but they've shown the wherewithal to even adopt a 1-3-3-3, this of course is during a game as De Boer lines his team out in their usual 4-3-3. The changing of formation now comes naturally, all it takes is one or two to move out of their space, once an area is vacated a teammate would drop in – maintaining the shape – before you ask, no this isn't 'total football', just a modernised version of Ajax's positional interchange game, which De Boer thrived under during his playing days. De Boer's goal is 'universality': players comfortable in multiple positions and roles. Example: Christian Eriksen playing in front of the defence and controller moving into central midfield. The number nine zone especially when De Boer plays with a deep-lying forward is always left vacant. Not quite in the spirit of Rinus Michels but encapsulates a newfound joie de vivre.


De Boer, like Van Gaal, is a passing fetishist. If you can "pass at speed" there's a good chance of selection. Every single one is important, once winning possession the job is to keep the ball, everyone back into position – even corners are occasionally played short – until a gap appears, subsequently each attack is built patiently with the desire to finish with a sweeping move. The one exception is if possession is regained inside the penalty area, or just outside, then they attempt on goal. There's no secret to De Boer's approach. Jim Collins, wrote the secret of long-term success lies in cultivating a distinctive set of values, this usually means promoting from within and putting down deep local roots. One of the secrets to Ajax's success is how much of their players were moulded within the system in their academy. Daley Blind, often criticised – though undergoing a breakout season – might not be the best left-back around but how many know the 'Ajax way' inside-out? Especially the version De Boer professes.


With his second anniversary in charge just celebrated: sixth coach to reach the milestone since Michels left office in 1971. De Boer continues to improve as a manager as well as tactician. The most notable is enhancement of their 'positional interchange' game (as explained above). His players now, more than at the beginning, think correctly under pressure having the mental acumen and foresight to adjust tactics and formation if it's not working. It's still a work in progress, but they're heading in the direction De Boer wants to go, ultimate goal is to dominate the middle third of the pitch making it the norm. The next phase in their evolution most onlookers believe will be – if feasible – a return to their fabled '3-7' system, under Cruyff they played a 3-3-1-3; it was more of a flexible 3-1-2-3-1 during Van Gaal's era. Already De Boer has commented how a three-man defence intrigues him calling the 3-4-3 (diamond) formation his personal favourite.


No longer a force on the continent they still remain one of the most admired, Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus told Voetbal International how much he loves their brand of football (suggesting they reminded him of Barcelona who we mustn't forget attribute much of their ethos to the side from Amsterdam), his manager Jürgen Klopp, a fan of the 'Ajax school', enthusiastically praised De Boer for returning their celebrated model. Another big admirer recently met up with Cruyff, and the two discussed the strides made by Ajax in the last ten months under De Boer, both equally content with his transformation of the clubs playing style. The other man of course was Guardiola.





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