DEFENDING – THE FOUNDATION OF COMPETITIVE SUCCESS

By John Cartwright

Quote:  “Winning does not really matter as long as you win.”  Vinnie Jones

Coach  (A)  “ We played some really great football today.”

Coach  (B)  “Oh, how did you get on?”

Coach  (A)  “We lost 3-4.”

Coach  (B)  “Oh you lost!”

Let’s not beat about the bush and be honest; competitive football at all levels is about winning! It may not mean so much at junior levels to lose but it still should hurt.

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Sideways

By John Cartwright

I am often asked, “Did you go to University; and which one was it?” My reply, not facetiously given, is, “ yes — the University of the Street.” Like thousands of players I grew up with the street and congested school playgrounds as my football ‘classroom’. In both of these playing areas lack of space was the overriding aspect with high numbers of players in  numerous games in all directions being played at the same time. But the lack of space was something that had to be overcome and a simple but important playing phenomenon displayed itself —- movement sideways provided more space and playing options than a direct approach through more congested areas.  The space gained and the increased playing options was like unlocking a route through a difficult maze and finding the exit. I have always attempted to re-create the limited space situations of the past into my coaching methods for I believe that ‘street learning’ was special and only PREMIER SKILLS COACHING METHODS have been able to replicate its qualities despite 60 plus years of futile attempts by our National Association.

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WORLD CUP 2014

By John Cartwright

Firstly my overall impression of the 2014 World Cup was ; teams’ needed large numbers of players back to defend and there was little attacking quality to break down these defensive high numbers — so lots of negative passing and ineffective effort in the vast majority of games. Sorry, I can’t accept the ‘pundits’ reasoning that this was the best World Cup ever. Did they have their eyes shut before, or were they in their nappies when greatness was truly displayed in previous World Cup competitions? ‘Hype’ not honesty ‘ruled the roost’ in commentaries as money and greed deflected Media opinions from actual to hypothetical.

England and Italy in action at Euro 2012

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Tackling

By John Cartwright

All competitive team sports’ have two fundamental parts; ball retention (attacking) and ball regaining (defending). A great deal of interest regarding attacking aspects of the game can be found in coaching books, magazines, DVD’s as well as on TV and radio etc. that covers both individual and team situations; less interest seems to be given to defending and to the skill of Tackling in particular. This disregard of a vital part of defensive play has meant generations of young players developing without having acquired the skills of such an important aspect of the game.

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Heading

By John Cartwright

In my book, ‘FOOTBALL FOR THE BRAVE’, I have stated that Heading is — the football perfectionists ‘blind spot’. There is considerable interest and practises regarding other aspects of the game, but Heading seems, along with Tackling, the forgotten skills of the game. It was obvious in the latest Euro Club Championship final between Real Madrid and Athletico Madrid, that both teams were leaders in aerial domination in both attacking and defending situations.  Barcelona, with their high possession playing style have been deficient in developing variations and Heading has been a serious weakness for them in all areas of the field.

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Overloading Through the Field

By John Cartwright

Throughout football here we accept ‘fight’ situations in all areas of the field either because of the use of systems of play that cancel each other out or because of poor game understanding; games are played with scant awareness or appreciation of overloading in attacking/defending situations.

Our game stands on a pre-set playing structure in which movement beyond their normal area of involvement by players is not used enough. Yes, there is movement down flank areas by ‘wing-backs’ but little else of note beyond an occasional individual offering.

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THE SPACE IN THE SKY

By John Cartwright

My father took me to see my second pro. football match …….it was Leyton Orient v Notts. County in about 1947. He had taken me to watch a famous player of those days… TOMMY LAWTON, an English international centre forward. “Watch him son, he’ll score with his head today,” my father said. Sure enough I can remember him scoring a majestic headed goal to win a game that was fiercely contested on a muddy surface.

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