Statistics – Wrong Priorities!

Bu John Cartwright

Since the ‘explosion’ of Possession Football onto the game – so brilliantly displayed by Barcelona FC over recent years but who found that they needed to include more penetrative passing and on/off the ball movement to their ‘Ticki-Tacki’ playing style – statistics relating solely to ball possession has become an over-obsessive feature in our game. Fascination with stats figures has become such a dominant aspect in the game that players are bought on their stats figures. These calculations display the physical and technical qualities of players but are less effective in providing a level of game understanding. It is game understanding that takes precedence over decision-making in the game – what is to be attempted and how it is accomplished must be ‘recognized’ by players first before appropriate action takes place.

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Wasted Years!

For over 50 years I have attempted to bring attention on the lack of playing qualities of Central Defensive players. From the days of poor playing surfaces to the pristine pitches of today the playing standards displayed by central defensive players has been little more than abysmal.

It seems that these positions only relate to defensive requirements and anything beyond this is of limited importance. The main ‘weapons in the armoury’ of central back players seems to be headed and kicked clearances —– usually straight back to the opposition. I am not suggesting that domination in the air or clearing dangerous situations isn’t important, but there are so many times when more playing qualities are possible and not produced.


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Immediate Skills

By John Cartwright

When watching TRULY great players in any sport have you wondered how they seem to be able to recognize, assess and quickly respond successfully with the correct decision in difficult situations ? This immediacy of judgement is neither luck nor a divine gift, it has been acquired from learning their sport in a practical, realistic way.

The development of TECHNIQUE is important in sport but it should be introduced and developed in such a way from childhood onwards to include realistic practical situations to develop SKILLS. In football, subtle use of space(area sizes) and player numbers (suitable overloading for age and ability) in practice provides a time/space factor. A transformation from unrealistic, non-interference Technical (drill) practises into controlled realistic, interference (skill) playing situations is, in my opinion, how the ingredients of playing greatness are acquired.


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By John Cartwright

Our Coaching and Development Programs, past and present, have set learning targets far too low throughout the development years. Consequently, by the age of 16+ our young players are only capable of producing mediocre standards –excellence and ‘greatness’ are unattainable.

The ‘Golden Years of Game Learning’, have not been a time in which our young players have received a sound football education and on reaching senior levels of the game they are forced to rely largely on physical qualities to ‘camouflage’ their serious lack of skill and game understanding.


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By John Cartwright

Without carefully constructed foundations anything developed — be it with bricks and mortar, a business project or a football vision etc. will buckle, crack and eventually fall. It could be said that the final phase of the process of disintegration – ‘the fall’ is fast approaching the game of football in this country.

The glittering, greedy façade of English football; The Premier League, stands astride the minnows of our game; in so doing the historic foundations on which the game in this country was created is gradually eroding — the street player has gone and money from senior clubs to those in lower leagues for players has virtually disappeared as foreign ‘stars’ have infiltrated our game at all senior levels.


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By John Cartwright

No better use of the lottery analogy can be found than in the context of finishing in football; if one doesn’t buy a Lottery ticket one will not win ; accordingly, if one doesn’t take the chance(s) that present themselves in football – you wont score goals! However, there is a clear distinction between the ‘gamble’ of buying a winning Lottery ticket and the more predictable and recognizable opportunities from which goals can be scored.

Arsenal v Wigan

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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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