Passing the Ball

By John Cartwright

We all enthuse over the playing quality of Barcelona FC and of the ability of the individuals within the team. Throughout they have produced or purchased players who possess high individual skills and have moulded individualism with the team-play requirements of the club. The skill(s) of passing the ball provides the ‘cement’ for team possession; the ability to move the ball accurately, purposefully and effectively between players provides the core for success.

When I watch our coaches working it is passing that is usually the topic that takes priority in their coaching schedules. Whether in the form of technique practices or against opponents, a great deal of time is spent practising passing of the ball; why then, is it recognized as a weak part in our game?  The information given to players needs investigating, for it is coaching that provides the work for our players.

We are ‘hung-up’ in this country with an over-emphasis on speed; from game-style to individual skill performance, speed is the all-important feature that dominates our concept of the game. In combination with speed we also admire physical ruggedness whilst ‘softer’ creativity and guile is often disparaged.  Quick and strong are the ‘colours’ we use on our ‘football canvas’ when we practice and play the game.

This over-indulgence in ‘force and not feel’ is demonstrated quite distinctly when we attempt to pass the ball to each other both in practice and playing situations; we don’t ‘feel’ the ball to a team-mate, we ‘hit’ the ball at him/her! The concept of ‘controlled possession’ comes second to ‘accuracy without accountability’ (the ball went in the general direction it was directed). Beyond accuracy, there is little consideration of the other important ingredients that constitute passing the ball with careful quality.

If one watches the truly best players in world football, one will appreciate the subtle differences between their quality passing of the ball and our version of it. This difference in passing quality becomes painfully obvious when players are involved in tight situations; players with class are able to deliver the ball over short distances with a soft and caring touch that allows the recipient the chance to control the ball easily and use it effectively; here ball delivery speeds up as situations tighten and usually possession is lost when a receiving player is unable to control the ‘missile’ that has been ‘fired’ at him/her.

We have very little time for gentility in our game; touch and feel when passing are largely unused whether the ball is delivered over long or short distances. Words obtaining to a boxing ring and not a football field have infiltrated coaching; ‘hit him/her with the ball’ – ‘stick it up to him/her’ – ‘hit his/her feet’, force pervades our coaching scene and quality goes out the window. Words that express a ‘love’ for the game are absent from our coaching vocabulary, this is particularly noticeable when passing the ball is the subject of attention. We don’t use words like – feel the pass – roll the ball to him/her – float it up to him/her – clip it over the top etc.

When it comes to the question of determining real accuracy we are too easily satisfied. Passing accuracy is vital if good ball possession is to be achieved. We allow passes to be played that are not suitable for most situations; not only are most too heavily weighted as already mentioned, but most are made with no consideration regarding the placement of the ball that denies an opponent an opportunity to tackle for it. Passing the ball to the screening side of a receiving player is a skill that is in very short supply in the game here. As long as the ball goes in the general direction required seems to be the standard set for our game. Defenders don’t have to be particularly good at defending because the ball is mostly delivered to players who they mark so poorly that winning the ball from them is easy.

Barcelona, have ‘raised the football bar’ in so many aspects of the game, but it is their quality to pass the ball with care and quality in all areas of the field in all situations, be they tight and short or longer, that forms the ‘bedrock’ for their success. Their fans applaud the stringing of passes together whereas we lose patience both on the field as do the fans off it.  Not until the art of passing the ball with care is fully understood by all will we be able to produce a suitable game-style to play, the coaches to teach it, the players to play it and fans who enjoy watching it.

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23 thoughts on “Passing the Ball

  1. Are we blind ? Do we really believe that the football on view here —at all levels, represents anywhere near the true qualities of the game ? Passing the ball, the ‘core’ of team performance, is so poor here that our game is more concerned with– winning the ball back from opponents after giving the ball away to them, than keeping possession of it ! Regaining the ball quickly is a feature of Barcelona’s playing style, but this only occurs after they have combined so effectively and so comfortably. Barcelona, ‘rest’ when in possession and work when out of possession. In comparison, we work all the time flat out, giving 100% or is this number now expected to be 120% ?
    What is the reason for all this ‘rush and dash’ football ? well, it’s all about ‘camouflaging’ poor playing ability at both individual and team levels. I’ve never known anything that becomes easier the quicker one does something. Mistakes are more likely to occur as speed increases. Our game is littered with mistakes because poor skills are being performed at unachievable speed.
    There is a famous quotation, “give me the child and i will give you back the man/woman”. How true, but until our young players are properly taught we will continue to ask CHILDREN TO DO A MANS’/WOMANS’ JOB !!

  2. Totally agree with your points.

    Regarding the obsession in some quarters with playing at speed – my theory is that a lot of it comes from watching the Premier League which seems to be played at breakneck speed at times. A focus more on effort than efficiency perhaps. This type of football then gets seems to copied by some coaches at the younger age groups – who still haven’t even learned the basic techniques or developed the levels of the fitness required to play it.

    I recall a while back when I got first married learning to ballroom dance! It started off slowly, step by step, lots of practice and correction, then gradually speeding up as your confidence developed. Trying to rush thing too early resulted in major frustration as I recall – but when you cracked it (not at the Strictly Come Dancing level – LOL) it was absolutely brilliant – I can do it!

    In my view there are a lot of similarities between the two i.e. learning to play football and ballroom dancing. But then like growing up, I always thought you have to learn to walk before you can run – so why should football be any different!

  3. This is an interesting post; and i will add more.

    I look forward to Mr Haslam’s comments on this one.

    Incidentally look at the following youtube links:

    I have been watching recently Roberto Rivelino – so watch how he rolls/floats/ clips it

    The first is with an Eastern bloc commentary of the first half of England Brazil 1978 prior to the World Cup in Argentina.. I am still to watch the second and my second link relates to the 3rd place match in Argentina when the sub Rivelino!!! comes on and is heavily involved in Dirceu’s winner.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFR_58mSPoY&feature=related The Gil goal is around 10;30 ish seconds

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_O62ESSUAg&feature=related around 2:28 as Rivelino makes (space step over) just a beautifully floated ball.

    But you can see John’s points and of course many games are in full length on youtube…Brazil 1970 for example, Brazil 1982, etc

  4. The other day Sky TV showed a ‘live’ Premier League match – West Brom v. Everton. By general consent this was a very poor match. Sky usually hype up every match they show but even they seemed to give up on this one. Their cameras even zoomed in at times on people in the crowd stifling yawns.
    My own take on the game was that it was played at a slower pace than the average Premier League match.Consequently the passing was better, the ball was given away less often than usual, and there were fewer defensive mistakes. This all resulted in less goalmouth action than the average game when the ball often flies around like pin-ball.
    The game must be played in bursts of speed, following from slower passages of play when the ball is manoevred between players at a pace in which it can be controlled and patient possession established.We are told that the fans don’t like it but I think that it is more true to say that the players, (English players that is), can’t play it effectively. Whenever the World Cup or European Championship comes round we see the results of our failings.
    Our obsession with speed and power has been around for a long time. After the humbling 6-3 defeat against Hungary at Wembley in 1953, and all the soul-searching this provoked, a cartoon appeared in a
    national newspaper at the time showing a man looking over a wall at a football match being played. A passer-by asked him: “Is it a good match?” to which the man replied: “I don’t know, but it’s fast!”

  5. John wrote:
    ” What is the reason for all this ‘rush and dash’ football ? well, it’s all about ‘camouflaging’ poor playing ability at both individual and team levels”

    Having read quite a few books on the history / evolution of English football and having watched it with increasing levels of understanding since the mid-sixties I don’t think that the rush and dash fotball is to deliberately camouflage poor playing ability.

    Rather, from my research and from watching the game, I feel that it is the “bigger, stronger, qucker” mentality that does or game the disservice.

    As a nation of fighters (island races have to be resilient to invading armies) I think the approach has always been like that. European observers from the past to the modern day have noted our over-reliance on the physical aspects of the game. I know that the FA have recognised that the national traits fall over into our football and hence they are (and have been for a few years) trying to educate coaches that there is ‘another way’ (Several coaches on courses I have attended have openly stated this).
    However, I think Gary above has nailed it – it manifests itself at young age group because there are still a ton of coaches out there with no qualifications / little or no experience of coaching young players and so just perpetuate what they were told / shown ass an adult.

    There is a groundswell of opinion amonst coaches that says we have to change what we are doing with the kids IF we are to develop better than just ‘competent’ adults (and that’s open to interpretation!).

    So I don’t think its a startegy to cover up a lack of ability or understanding of the game, I think it is BECAUSE we play the game that way, we have never taken the time to undretsand the game as well as continental opponents because we feel that each 90 minute “war of attrition” is the way the game should be played.

    Not that I’m an expert, but you can even look at English Rugby to see how we try to make a vitue of power and organistion over flair and creativity, whilst others, typically the southern hemisphere teams, approach the game in a more expansive way and value creativity.

    So I think our national traits lead us in this direction and I am hoping now that with more imaginative approaches we can be more thoughtful about how we teach, learn and play the game.
    I think that John and Gary are both right – continual reliance on power and speed will just lead to mistakes – even Formula 1 drivers employ varying speeds and tactics to win races!

  6. Hello. I’ve been following these blogs for many months and pretty much agree with everything that highlights the problems with the English game at all levels, especially Grass Roots (as I have a football mad 8 year old son!). From what I can see the majority of English coaching methods centre around learning the basics and then spend the rest of our playing careers trying to do them as fast as we can. Unfortunately it seems the European coaching community take a different approach and it results in our National XI spending all the game chasing shadows. It reminds me of when you watch a boxing match between a true boxer and a one punch fighter, where the true boxer takes his time, uses his brain and skill and 9 times out of 10 wins the fight in the latter stages.

    I am by no means an experienced coach, but I understand what is good and bad when it comes to training our stars of tomorrow. I recently changed my son’s Sunday team as the coach decided the best way to play was for the defence to kick the ball as far as they could so the quick kids up front could chase it. And any defender or midfielder who decided to do a trick or play a short pass would be shouted at from the side line and told – DON’T MESS ABOUT WITH IT or KICK IT OUT.

    I also hold little hope in the new proposals that have been banded around by the FA. The FA is an old boys club who give jobs to ex players, but only those who behaved themselves during their career. In my opinion one of the biggest mistakes the FA made in the last 20 years was not giving Gazza a youth coaching role – I don’t mean he should have been in charge (could you imagine!!) but I think he would’ve been someone who wouldn’t have stuck to the norm and would have encouraged a fearless, skillful and exciting way to play. I remember reading an article describing Gazza playing for his club teams U21’s when he was recovering from injury and he was passing advice and encouraging players from both sides during the game!

    The win at all costs mentality and constant need to play the big and strong players over smaller tactitions runs through the core of our youth game, and it’s our youth today that will soon make up the next national XI.

    The Premier League now call the shots in this country, as they are the ones who control the purse strings and the FA and Football League dance to their tune. I’ve read posts on here advising that English football needs a playing style/philosophy that starts from the top and works it’s way down and we need to change the way we coach our player to match.

    In my opinion the only way this will happen is if the Premier League bigwigs make it happen.

    So now we just need to work out how we can get John Cartwright employed by the Premier League!

  7. Hi Steve. Hope you had an enjoyable Christmas and may i wish you and your family all the best in 2012.
    We react on what we see. Correct practice (realistic practice) provides these important viewing opportunities. The decisions (thoughts) then made, whether correct or incorrect, are what makes a player or not. The quicker a player sees a situation and is aware of the possibilities, the quicker will be the response.
    Great players, Xavi etc., ‘ PLAY IN THE FUTURE’. From childhood they have ‘visited’ similar situauations during practice that are exact replications of those encountered in the competitive game and therefore can react early and positively to them (THOUGHT CAN VERY OFTEN BE INSTINCT). Street football provided those competitive ‘PRACTICE WHILST PLAYING’ situations and, in my opinion, since the introduction of formal coaching methods, nothing has replaced the natural learning process of the street game…..oh! except when players experience PREMIER SKILLS coaching methods.

  8. There used to be many skillfull, intelligent and imaginative English footballers but that was when there were many skillfull,intelligent and imaginative coaches. But those coaches were actually the older players who passed on their knowledge to the young players during the game. It was Ron Greenwood who said that as the game became faster and pace became all-important, then coaching became an activity away from the game because the game became too fast for the old players to do their coaching work during the match. Unfortunately, much of that coaching in England was prosaic and functional and so speed and power became the principle features of English football.
    When the foreign teams at club and international level began to beat, and hand out football lessons, at regular intervals to English teams then they were simply putting into practice the coaching which they had received at the hands of old English players/coaches who had gone abroad on football ‘missionary’ work around the world. Unfortunately, we had cut ourselves away from our own history. If you read any football history of the way that the game encircled the globe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries then the name Jimmy Hogan always crops up. He had a profound influence over much of European football, especially in Austria and Hungary, but was not held in the same high regard by the football rulers in this country.
    It is staggering that in the 21st century we can draw a parallel to Jimmy Hogan, when we consider the work done by John Cartwright, at a time when the English game cries out for reform and new thinking.

  9. This is a marvellous posting about inherently one of the great pillars of the game; namely combining – when necessary as a team/group. IT WAS NEEDED.

    Let me say that John’s believe that using a ‘soft and caring touch’ is absolutely vital and so often not on show in the British type game; which was ruined so insidiously by Charlie Hughes and his henchmen!

    Having read earlier this week, I have a few points reverberating around in my head. Firstly, many of the current players in the Premiership are foreigners who will have grown up in another system; one such player is Yaya Toure, who we know was good enough to play in the Barcelona team (74 starts) with Xavi, Iniesta and Messi etc ; he will know about ‘under weighting’ the pass making it receivable, as will Silva his Spanish teammate. So many others will have been brought up with ‘street football’ or coached differently. And when they go back to play for their own country they are able to play this ‘caring game,’ just that the British players struggle a bit when they play for the home nations!!!

    Furthermore, the Man Ciity team that started against Arsenal recently contained 8 (not including the keeper) who learnt the game at their GRASSROOTS level outside of Britain, ie Northern Europe, Africa, Argentina, France, Italy and Spain – so presumably they can combine with cleverness, softness, care, vigilence and so.

    Whilst we know the Arsenal do play beautifully.

    Furthermore, many of the Premiership managers are not FA clones. And is just not believable that most of them do not know about the points John makes here. Yet, the execution of their teams suggests another story.

    Here goes:

    Continental Europeans Mancini, Wenger, Jol, Villas-Boas,

    South American: Martinez,

    British:Ferguson, Redknapp ( from Greenwood at West Ham), Dalglish ( obviously bright and brought up the Liverpool way that John has in the past praised), Hodgson
    ( FA but learnt mainly on the continent so shouldn’t be tarred with that brush!), Lambert
    (learnt on the continent and played himself with soft passes presumably), O’Neill (learnt from Clough who had an intense disregard for Hughes and wanted the ball on the floor), Moyes likes the ball passed, Rodgers (Mr Haslam has praised his side)

    Pullis – ummm !!!! ????

    There are others; however, I suspect that from this list anyway they will have got their badges for convenience sake and then coached as they wish to do so! Some will have accreditation from Larnes (formerly Mourinho), as apparently the the Scots do a much better job than the FA.

    On that thought perhaps, and leading on from Mr Haslam’s comments that John is a throw-back to Jimmy Hogan, perhaps John could do some work for the Scots?

    On the contrary, this is not to say that I enjoy Premiership football!!!

  10. Management of a team at senior levels is firstly about winning. The Man./Coach must know how he/she wants his/her team to play but they must be realistic in terms of the playing ability of those he/she has taken charge of. Knowing where you want to go and working patiently and purposely towards that playing style whilst ‘keeping one’s head above water’, is what top management is all about.
    There seems to be a reluctance in all areas of the game to accept a change in the way we play it. The ‘we invented it’ culture maintains a strong hold over changes and even with the introduction of foreign players, many have had to produce an ‘up and at ’em’ part to their game to make an impact here. Some have made the transition into ‘the Lion’s Den’ easier than others, but even with foreign players and Managers the difference in playing style generally is little different than in the past.
    There are many problems here at clubs are; some of the most important are.. 1. There is rarely long-term planning on playing style at clubs’. 2. New management may only have a limited foresight on how they want to play or desire to make changes. 3. The playing ability of many of those at clubs’ here is manufactured and players, developed to conform to a way of playing, are often opposed(frightened) to changes to an established playing style. 4. New ideas, new staff and new players must be carefully sought, introduced and patiently nurtured towards the playing vision — too often stop-gap appointments and purchases are brought in to cover immediate weaknesses. 5. Fans do not have patience and demand quick improvement in performances. 6. Whilst ‘the battle for survival’ goes on at the top, the future playing vision and quality of a club must be passionately developed throughout the junior levels — too often it isn’t. 7. Unless results at the top are favourable, time to steer a club forward is unlikely — guts to ‘stay the course’ is often missing from, Boardroom to Dressing Room ! 8. etc.
    Management ‘aint easy’ so in the majority of cases of those taking up the ‘hot seat’ prefer to keep to basics and hope ‘Lady Luck’ shines on them. The tradgedy of the whole sorry mess within the game is the lack of opportunity for young players to learn and progress because the whole structure lacks vision, planning and time. With money awash in the game, its influence has increased and not reduced the ‘circle’ of fear’ that exists; — win, and the fear of losing — short-term planning — the need to ‘hype’ mediocre playing standards — intrusion of media and public on decision-making — and back to fear. The ‘roller-coaster’ ride continues unabated.

  11. Terminology is important, the majority of coaches will just say “pass the ball” or zip it about. Phrases such as stroke it in or caress the ball relay a calm relaxed attitude. Take this a step further and ask players to rate how the contact of the ball felt as they passed thr ball or even making a sound as they go to kick the ball such as woosh. Sounds a little crazy but it does work. Example was a mother who never played football was given the task of chipping a rolling ball back into my chest. I used the FA way at first telling her to put her non kicking foot by the side of the ball and connecting with the bottom of the ball, leaning barck etc, three goes none went to my chest. Secondly I asked her to say whoosh as she brought her leg back to kick it, the ball went straight to my chest 3 times. Third one I asked her to count how many times the ball went round before she kicked it, this time she got 1 out of 3. I repeated this 3 times with 5 goes each time, but moved back a bit further each time, the use of the word whoosh was theost successful for her.

    • I play a bit of golf when I can and it reminds me of listening for that swoooosh on the downswing – that’s what I tell my two young boys (9 and 11) to try when I take them occasionally to the local driving range – the club will automatically speed up at impact but they don’t know that! But the look of their facxe when the ball flies long and high is priceless.

      When I first got involved in coaching at min-soccer it was to help out and I was given the goalkeepers. Being from Ireland, I had grown up playing Gaelic football (and hurling) and kicking a ball out of my hands was easy – this was my first task – but trying to break it down into understandable steps for a young lad was challenging at the start but was great learning for both of us.

      One thing I used to emphasize was “lazy and slow” to ensure it was easier to promote good timing, contact etc. They didn’t teach this on Level 1 so I went with what I had read and what I thought might work – simple communication and mental imagery – and amazingly it turned out ok!

  12. I have read that a visit to Barcelona’s famous training ground at La Masia provides clear evidence of the different sounds which you get in football when applying different foot pressure to the ball when caressing and stroking it. The harsh,dull whack you get at those clubs which play a grim,primitive game is replaced by a clearer and softer sound in keeping with the style and philosophy of Barcelona’s play.
    I recall how Ron Greenwood used to describe Bobby Moore’s passing as making the ball ‘talk’ to the receiver. If Moore was playing the ball up to Geoff Hurst, then a fading pass, slowing down as it travelled towards Hurst’s feet, told him that he had space and could turn or allow the ball to travel across his open body without touching it. If the ball was played towards him with a little more pace then it was saying to Hurst that he was being closed down and the pace on the ball allowed him to ‘bounce’ the ball away to a supporting team mate. Of course, Hurst also developed the ability to come off on the half turn to open his field of vision to take in his surroundings, but the quality of Moore’s passing was an added feature.
    Playing the ball to a team mate’s ‘safe side’ ,(on the side of him away from a challenging opponent), so that he has no problem placing his body between the ball and opponent to protect and govern the ball, is a further quality which is all too often absent from the play of our allegedly, so-called “super stars”.
    We have struggled for years and years against foreign teams which possess these qualities within a possession-based game. It isn’t rocket science and just requires the dedicated hard work which Barcelona put into their training and the belief in both the quality of their players

  13. Hi Steve. As i’ve said time and time again over the years, ” it’s all about coaching quality”! The best teachers, produce the best students.

    • So how do you go about “producing” the best teachers in the current environment?

      And especially what would work for the thousands of grassroots coaches, a huge number of which are volunteers? What one change would have the maximum impact?

      To me learning is a life-long experience, and it’s your passion for what you do that keeps you wanting to learn more, to learn from others, etc.

  14. I heard David Pleat discussing various football issues on the radio a couple of days ago and the subject came up on the development of young players. I thought that he made a very good point when he said that when a young player breaks into the first team at a lower division club and shows real promise then he should stay with that club for a minimum of 3 years.
    What keeps happening at the moment is that you get a young player who breaks into the first team as happened a few years ago at Crystal Palace when John Bostock showed considerable potential. But instead of staying with Palace and establishing himself in the first team, he was snapped up by Tottenham. At Tottenham during the last few years, the number of 1st team appearances he has made, I am sure, could be counted on the fingers of one hand. He has gone out on loan to various lower division clubs to get 1st team experience but why could he not have stayed at Palace and got that 1st team experience there in the Championship? After a minimum period of 3 years, as David Pleat suggests, he could then have gone to a premier League club like Tottenham and Palace could also have demanded a bigger transfer fee, of course, for his 3 years of 1st team experience. Palace deserve that extra cash because they are the ones who brought up and developed Bostock since the age of 9 or 10 or whatever. The Palace supporters also deserve to see the benefits of their club’s development showing fruition in the 1st team and thereby improving results. It also develops a greater sense of loyalty among the playing staff, the youth section particularly, and rewards the supporters for their loyalty.
    Palace could be facing a similar dilemma again with their League Cup run and improved position in the Championship. This is due, in no small measure, to a number of young players who have forced their way into the Palace 1st team and are showing a lot of promise. But how long will it be before they are swooped on by Premier League vultures and will it be for reserve team football and loan moves?
    I recall at the end of the 2007/08 season Jonjo Shelvey forced his way into the Charlton Athletic 1st team. The following season he was playing regular 1st team football in the Championship but was then snapped up by Liverpool. But he only gets the odd 1st team game for them, occasionally coming off the bench, and sometimes League Cup appearnces. If Shelvey had stayed at Charlton, then at the end of last season he would have completed three years and then could have moved on with all the benefits mentioned in relation to Bostock.
    There are many examples of this failure to properly develop talent, too many to list here. Nathan Redmond at Birmingham City is another who comes to mind, especially after displaying his potential on a ‘live’ TV match in the Europa League. There have already been snippets in the papers since that match of certain big clubs being interested in him.
    I think that David Pleat’s

  15. (continuation of previous post)……
    suggestion of a 3 year minimum term at a club for a young player, when he breaks into the 1st team, should be given very careful consideration.

  16. Hi Steve. I think we should not get distracted with discussions about retension or release of young players by smaller to bigger clubs. Yes there is a problem that is recognizable with the Bostock situation( BUT NONE OF THE PLAYERS MENTIONED ARE SO SPECIAL) but alternatively going to a bigger club MAY give the player time to work with better coaches and players. I say MAY, because the quality of both coaches and players is poor at all levels and this is where our attention must be focused, for until the teaching is good enough the players in receipt of it will suffer accordingly. IT’S THE COACHING THAT’S CAUSED AND CONTINUES TO CAUSE THE POOR STANDARDS IN OUR GAME. GET THAT RIGHT AND SUDDENLY THE SUN BEGINS TO SHINE!!!

  17. I agree with John that the players who I mentioned in my last posted comment are not special, but I feel that Swansea at the moment are showing how good coaching can develop an exceptional playing style with players who are in no way out of the top drawer. A number of their players have played in all four divisions of the League and of the rest, few would have found employment, before the start of this season, with a club in the Premier League. But yesterday they often outplayed Arsenal at the Gunners’ own game of controlled possession.
    Clearly, considerable credit is due to Brendan Rogers for moulding this side together and producing such an exceptional brand of football. Players like Britton and Sinclair were unlucky not to be retained by clubs they were previously with in the Premier League, but I think that many of the others had little top level expectations.
    So if the coaching is right then a very passable imitation of Barcelona can be achieved, even if the individual raw material does not compare to that of the Spanish maestros.

  18. Do we now detect, with Swansea, Arsenal, City, Wigan, Brighton & Hove Albion to mention just 5 teams, that there is, finally, a swing towards deliberate build up play as a recognition that, at the top levels, percentage football doesn’t win you too much – trophies, friends or supporters?

    Not everyone can win playing an expansive style but, as an England fan of nearly 50 years, I’d be satisfied with a performance to be proud of, let alone actually winning a trophy.

    If teams play an attractive, exciting, adventurous game, isn’t that better for all? Even teams such as Blackpool who got relegated last season are at least recognised for trying to add value to our game in general.

    Certainly at the U12 age group, I am sure I detect more teams trying to get the kids to keep the ball and play through the field rather than just up the field – not all of them, but enough to make me think that this” movement” is gaining momentum and recognition.

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