“I`m a Striker”

BY John Cartwright

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for our lack of success at development level was demostrated to me by a very young player (6years old) who had just finished practising with the junior section of a professional club and was lining up with his mother waiting to be served with a drink from a Snack-van. Interested in asking him how he had enjoyed the session he had just attended. I said to him, “what have you been doing this morning?” His reply didn’t shock me but saddened me.

“I’m a Striker” he quickly replied.

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Here, at the very heart of the foundation period of the game, the ‘illness’ that is destroying playing quality here was brutally exposed — from 6 he was positioned for a ‘singular role’ and  unaware of the importance of developing as a ‘total player’ at this time.

The period of development from 6-9 years of age is an immensely important period for young players and yet we do not provide sufficient care over the teaching of the game during this period.  Vital playing qualities can be introduced to young players during these introductory years that provide solid foundations for the future.

I have seen the lack of all-round football appreciation from players who have reached more senior levels; their game is little more than physical effort allied to simplicity with the ball. Lack of playing quality and game understanding is too frequently ‘camouflaged’ by excessive physical commitment that players find difficult to contain even when under no immediate pressure in games. Players must be taught the whole game from a young age in gradual stages not simply unconnected aspects of it. Unless they are brought up to be intelligent footballers not just bit-part players their opportunities to thrive and succeed at higher levels will be limited.

It is quite noticeable that ‘lost learning’ at the junior end of the game is extremely difficult to re-introduce later. Habits—good and bad, tend to stick and continue into adult football. Unfortunately, too many of our senior players are performing with a history of poor development behind them and consequently they play the game with neither skill nor understanding. This lack of individual ability creates the need for teams to play simple football with lots of emphasis on effort and constrained tactical methods.

We are bringing more and more players to this country from abroad. This is becoming an ever-increasing problem as it reduces the playing opportunities of  ‘home-grown’ talent — where are our future international players coming from?

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If this situation is allowed to continue we will find ourselves without an international team able to compete amongst the best in world football. We have become transfixed by the import of overseas players that is fuelled by a ‘club before country’ fanaticism that exists here. This selfish approach is destroying the future of our national game — by neglecting the importance of producing domestic talent and displaying a disinterest in the future of our international teams.

Unless we wake up and admit the extent of the problems existing in our game at all levels – on and off the field, we will very soon find ourselves without the playing talent to reach the qualifying stages of international competitions. ……but who cares? Our interest is fixed on our ‘multi-national clubs’ gaining three points in the next ‘fightball’ match.

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30 thoughts on ““I`m a Striker”

  1. Very worrying indeed. However i’m pleased to advise this certainly isn’t the case at some academies. The professional academy my son is signed to have told all parents that players will play in every position until they’re at least u15. Their philosophy is that boys should be able to play football no matter what position they play. Adaptability is a key lesson thats being taught to the boys since they began their academy experience at u9. This is something i’m very pleased about as you can see the boys confidence grow

  2. Hi Bazza. This boy had not reached Academy age level, he was 6 years old! Who has control over the important development period 6-9? This three year gap is probably the most important period in the develpment journey….get it wrong here and bye bye to another youngster.

  3. I have always thought that a big problem in this country is that many dedicated and enthusiastic coaches and managers in junior football believe that the way they were taught the game is how they should now tutor those young players they have under their care.
    This, I believe, leads to early positionalising, similar to the 6 year old mentioned in John’s article. His father/coach looked at him and believed that he saw qualities in his play, even at 6 years of age, that would be best developed as a striker. So the boy already views that as his position.
    We need a radical re-think on how we present the game to the earliest age groups, i.e. the 6 – 9 year old children that John rightly points out as neglected at this present time.
    John has mentioned before that the goals, whatever their size, are a major stumbling block in the development of young players, so REMOVE THE GOALS FROM THE PITCH IN THE YOUNGEST AGE GROUPS. The pitch would be set up just like the coaching area in Level 1 of Premier Skills and points (goals) would be scored by running with the ball through open gates arranged around the area as outlined in Premier Skills. So from day 1 we would be teaching young players to look for and recognise space. Smaller, less physically developed kids would find themselves on a level footing as their physically stronger team mates when this vital aspect of the game, ignored in many quarters, is presented first and continues for several years.
    The FA has introduced small sided games football of various numbers for some years now, but it still comes down to the physically stongest, fastest and most powerful child having the advantage of slamming shots at goal from all distances and angles. The tragedy is that under the present arrangement, from day 1 football is presented as a physical confrontation and, consequently, the mind boggles at the amount of real talent that, as a result, could have been lost to the game in England. Take the goals away and that will not happen.
    I realise that taking the goals away from the pitch will result in storms of protest and it must be done at that vital 6 – 9 age group. But at all levels of football in England I see the damage done to our young players when vital work was not introduced correctly in the early years. In so many cases, when you get these players for the first time at under 14 and under 15 age groups and they have not done this work, then it is already too late.
    The legislation must come from the FA because they are the only ones with the power to impose such sanctions on a nation-wide basis. They have imposed the playing numbers per team; now they must impose the playing area arrangement.

    • How do we produce young goalkeepers with no goals??

      Before I jumped on back I coach a couple of teams and the kids do get rotated in all positions and encouraged to play and learn from their mistakes, my son wants to be a goalkeeper but I make sure he learns all positons and practices with both feet

  4. Hi all. We must not forget the importance of gradual progression in developmental practice. Patience is definately a virtue when dealing with the learning rrequirements of all players and especially those at the the very youngest levels.

  5. The impact from father’s, coaches are an influence. But I also think focusing on the result ahead of the 6 – 9 year olds development is also the problem. Far too many coaches and parents want the win, therefore:
    – the quick physical child with a powerful shot plays up top
    – the big physical child who is unafraid of a tackle and can clear the ball affectively plays at the back
    – if there is a left footer, they are stereo typed and forced to play on the left only

    As we all know this then forms a fight football long ball style and can effectively win trophies, thus keeping everyone happy! But the children, coaches and even parents develop nothing. This is CRIMINAL!

    On Sunday after our group finished their practice play session, 2 local under 17 teams attended to play a match. One of the coaches tried to sweeten me and encourage our children to join their club to play in a under 8/9 league. I was not impressed. The conversation continued just before kick off. I asked him “what is your clubs playing style/ethos” he side stepped the question and replied “we develop them in the right way”. I asked “what is the right way?” I got a cufufle of a response. Anyway the game kicked off, in the first 14 seconds the ball was wacked/cleared/booted forward 3 times. The pattern continued (not a pattern, criminal). It was physical, lots of swearing, a couple of heated exchanges etc…. The coach told me that the level of the league they were playing was the highest before academy level. I left after 10 mins as my neck started to ache.

    But thd biggest factor I noticed in my standards and expectations was, there was no
    – striker
    – full back
    – centre back
    – winger
    – midfielder

    This game just backs up John’s point!

  6. I applaud Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, for his reaction in the press to the mistake by his central defender, Kolo Toure, on Sunday which gave away the equaliser against West Brom. Instead of joining in the clamour of castigating Toure for committing the ‘cardinal football sin’ of passing across his own goal, Rodgers pointed out:
    (a) Toure should not have been given the ball in the first place due to the position in which he was in.
    (b) A coach who encourages his players to play with “bravery”, (using John’s word again when referring to his team’s game style, as Rodgers has done before), then he must expect that now and again goals will be conceded due to human error. The coach must stand his ground and let the player know that bravey and belief is everything to ensure that the game style is not compromised and the player in question, Toure, continues along the road on which the coach wishes the team to travel.
    There was a similar situation a few years ago when Valdes, the Barcelona keeper, gave Real Madrid a soft goal in the first minute with a weak clearance which went straight to Benzema inside the area, when the Barca keeper was trying to find a a team mate with a short pass. In the dressing room at half time, Guardiola made it quite clear to Valdes that he wanted him to forget all about the mistake and continue to play passes to feet from his ‘sweeper keeper’ position, which he did and helped Baca to recover and win 3-1.
    This is the kind of bravery we have lacked for so long in English football. We think that bravery is high-octane, 100 mph fighting football. But we lack the real bravery of adopting a game style centred on skill, intelligence and imagination and sticking with it, whatever the cost.

  7. Hi all. PRACTICE THE RIGHT WAY AND CONTINUE PLAYING THE RIGHT WAY = VICTORY IN DEVELOPING REAL QUALITY FOOTBALLERS. We must all be BRAVE coaches and allow our youngsters the very best opportunity to achieve GREATNESS.

  8. I agree with John’s comment that the vital development period for a young player is between the ages of 6 and 9. As he says, if you get it wrong here then another potentially outstanding player is lost to the game.
    In days gone by, a child between the ages of 6 and 9 would have been playing street football, gaining mastery, familiarity and comfort with the ball, in demandingly tight areas and conditions. Essential motor skills would have been developed naturally by the type of childhood play that was commonplace for generations.
    The conditions and environment have changed radically in recent years. The coaching methodology has not. Time after time, I see young players in grassroots football in that vital age group being prematurely introduced to a team-orientated game, before any attention has been paid to individualism.

  9. Completely agree with John’s comments. We need to breed courage and bravery in our young players. Unfortunately many coaches and parents punish mistakes and install fear into players that is very hard to train out of them. The amount of times I’ve heard dismay and negativity from the sidelines when the boys play it back to the keeper or god forbid passes it short in defense rather than hoof it forward 50 yards. It’s going to be a long time until attitudes change!!

    • Hi Bazza. It’s the coaches who must display courage — the courage to teach the game properly and then to allow their youngsters to play the game you’re teaching. At the same time it is vitally important to educate their parents so that they watch and understand the game and what you are trying to achieve with their children.

  10. Hi Bazza…
    You hit the nail on the head with your comments. I believe that this is exactly why the goals should be taken out of games at the youngest age groups. By substituting gates in order to help the young players to recognise, find and understand the value, of space, then we will take the ‘defence of the Alamo’ mindset out of early years football. Big-kicking, safety-first football will become obsolete because only by working the ball, and turning into space, will it be possible to make progress.
    I think that this is the only way to change attitudes.

  11. I am currently reading the recently published biography of Sir Walter Winterbottom: “The Father of Modern English Football”.
    It is incredible that in the 1940s and 1950s he was trying to influence minds on how we should coach and prepare players and teams, in much the same way as John Cartwright has been doing for many years and is still doing in the 21st century. Like John, Sir Walter Winterbottom had a vision of what he was aiming for. It is a massive disappointment that much of his work was undone for so many years when the National Coaching Scheme was hijacked by the Physical Education establishment which has produced an inferior teaching methodology.
    Winterbottom’s years of dedicated work can be resurrected by the Premier Skills approach gradually gaining a foothold among an increasing number of coaches.

  12. For years we have been told that we need pristine pitches in this country to stroke the ball around as the Brazilians always have done. So millions have been spent at the elite level to produce manicured lawns, a far cry from the past when pitches became almost devoid of grass, through the season, from Novermber onwards. But has this seen an increase in playing standards in our leagues from English born players? I think not.
    Last night Barcelona produced some of the best football i have seen from them since the Guardiola days, on a pitch covered in surface water. After torrential rain, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and co made light of the conditions. They produced their tiki taki passing with constant movement to beat Sevilla 4-1, playing the early long ball in behind the defence when the opening had been created. Barca maintained their playing style, but played their passes with more firmness when they had to. But the essential playing style remained the same. In England, we say that under such conditions the ball must be hit high and long at all times. Barca stayed true to their game style; they did not abandon it, but tweaked and adapted it when necessary.

  13. Hi Steve. IO watched the game as well— it was amazing how the game was even played considering the amount of water on the field and the continuous rain throughout the game. It just goes to show how. you correctlt state, the players were good enough to produce high quality football in a ‘swimming pool’!

  14. Barcelona’s performance last night against Real Sociedad in the Copa Del Rey semi final, confirmed the impressions from their match against Sevilla last weekend. They are now back to the brand of football which won them countless admirers around the world under Pep Guardiola.
    I think that the recognition that they needed to get the ball into space behind the opponents’ defence with earlier, longer passes led to a change of game style that was at odds with their in-bred game style. Barcelona are not a counter-attacking team; their style is to dominate possession of the ball. It is based on passing triangles with many passing options being created by great movement.
    I just wonder if the present coach, Martino, instigated this reverting back to type, or did influential senior players persuade him to think again? As Henk Ten Cate said at half time in last night’s match, Barcelona have started pressing high up the pitch again, which also suits their game style, rather than dropping deep and winning the ball near to their own goal, which is better suited to a counter attacking team. Barca still do have lapses of defensive slackness, as with Sociedad’s equaliser, but that was also the case in the Guardiola years.
    The quick, triangular passing combined with constant movement is the unmistakeable Barca style.

  15. I too saw the superb Barca performance at Sevilla. Lionel Messi’s first goal reminded me of the great goal Eder scored against USSR for the brilliant attacking Brasil team from the 1982 World Cup. I also agree the Pep Barca style returned in the Sevilla and Real Sociedad game. This style gets the best out the of the best player on the planet and also reunited his fantastic link up with Dani Alves. A link up which has been unable to function while Alexis Sanchez has been playing on the right.

    I am not completely convinced though that the Pep Barca style is back for good. There have been other games this season (very few) where Barca have pressed the opposition and played their patient tiki-taka style which relies heavily on the underrated Sergio Busquets, game controller Xavi Hernandez, the creative Andres Iniesta and the unstoppable Lionel Messi. But Tata Martino has rotated quite a bit and the midfield trio of Busquests, Xavi and Iniesta has been broken this season by Tata and I feel this is one of the main reasons as to why Barca are not what they used to be. Andres Iniesta has hardly played all season and then he plays against Sevilla and Sociedad and all of a sudden there is more penetration and more entertainment making the possession worthwhile.

    For me, to not play Andres Iniesta is CRIMINAL! He truly is a skilled player of the highest level. He is the exact kind of midfielder we here in the UK cant produce because of the obsession with pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, hoof, hoof, hoof, hoof…… Andres Iniesta can play one two touch football yes but he can also dribble like no other midfielder, opening the pitch up in the final third and thus creating space for the lethal Lionel Messi. Andres Iniesta can also thread passes that either dissect the opposition midfield or the defense. He can combine with others with one-twos, triangular moves and he will hold onto the ball, draw 2 -3 players onto him, reduce HIS OWN space but for the sake of creating space elsewhere his courage and skill enable him to wriggle out or play the ball out. On the edge of the box he will at times produce spontaneous moments such as flicks or back heels that unlock what is a packed defensive unit that most teams don’t have to face.

    I really do hope Barca do go back to consistently playing the style that made them so famous and inspired me so much as a coach.

    But with what’s happening at Barca this season, this season’s decline with Manchester United, the rise of an entertaining Liverpool and the possession based Everton for me proves that the coach is the most important person at a football organisation at all levels.

    There are so many problems in our game here at all levels! John has mentioned on more than one occasion that in the 1980’s the FA failed to take advantage of the success and playing style/s of Liverpool and how they could have used that great team at the time to reshape British football. Is history going to repeat itself?

    The current Liverpool team are well short of domestic and European domination, but its so refreshing to see a manager from the UK (Rodgers) get his team playing wonderful attacking football from the back through possession into penetration or wonderful football via explosive counter attacks. I personally feel that if the game is played in certain way (creative/possession/penetration/individualism) then a team is certain to have success. Liverpool and Everton prove this point as do so many teams from the past! If Liverpool can get back to champions league football, keep their Uruguayan street footballer and then buy wisely they could go places, all because their coach has the courage to think for himself and play a certain style.

  16. Hi all. Liverpool under the management of Brendan Rodgers, are re-establishing themselfs as the ‘Template’ example for an improved playing style in this country. They are playing with a combination of ‘British strengths’ allied with ‘foreign fantasy’. This combination cannot fail as i have said for many years.

  17. Liverpool are undoubtedy the most exciting English team to have emerged during the last few years and they reflect great credit on the coaching and management abilities of Brendan Rodgers.
    He has done great work in developing the English contingent of Sturridge, Sterling, Flanagan and Henderson and, of course, England benefit from this as well. But i can’t help but fear that if Liverpool miss out on fourth place this season then Suarez and, maybe, Coutinho, will seek a move because playing in the Premier league is only the first stage that the top players want when they come to England to further their careers. The next step is the Champions’ League.
    So the challenge is just as great as at national team level – creating an all-English team to play and compete at the highest level.
    So everything hinges of the development of young English talent, which is where we really have to improve.

  18. I run an u10s team. Me and my fellow coach recently had an email from a parent complaining that we’d played his son at left back. He stated his son is “an attacking player”. This despite the lad actually having a pretty decent game in the defensive position, pushing up down the flank. This isn’t the 1st complaint along those lines we’ve had, and no doubt won’t be the last either.
    I personally don’t mind watching a team playing the direct game in professional football. I grow tired of hearing people saying Barca play the ‘right way’. They play ‘a way’ who is to say its the right way? Bayern certainly taught them a lesson in the champions league final a couple of seasons back with a far more robust and direct ( not hoof ball) style of play. As did Chelsea that same season when Terry and co ‘parked the bus’. Barca refused to change their style, and kept trying to pass through the Chelsea defence and failed. The game was screaming out for them to go down the wings and maybe put the od cross into e box…. But that isn’t the beautiful game so they didn’t do it.
    However.. When coaching/teaching kids football my ethos is always to make them pass the ball. Play short goal kicks, retain possession. What’s the point in asking a 9 year old to just smash a ball up the pitch when his team mate doesn’t have the skill and technical ability to control the ball as it drops from the sky?

  19. I thought that Michael Owen made a good point in his ‘Daily Telegraph’ column last Saturday. He said that some people just notice the obvious, spectacular actions of a player: the thunderball shot from 30 yards; the long, raking crossfield pass over the full width of the pitch.
    Owen said that to him and his fellow professionals it is the little subtleties which are important. In my opinion, that would be qualities such as turning away from a congested area with the ball into space or, having checked his shoulder, an aware player playing a little pass backwards to a support player dropping off into space to receive the ball and keep possession in order to ‘start again’.
    It’s difficult, when working with older players who have missed out on the important work in their development years, to both coach them and get them to appreciate these little subtleties which are vital components of the game style. Many players in this category think that every time they have the ball they must do something spectacular, like hitting a net-bursting shot or a defence splitting ‘glory ball’. Their game becomes predictable and one-dimensional and provides further evidence of the need for good coaching in the early years.
    Unfortunately, many of these ‘predictable, one-dimensional players’ actually become sought after by other clubs because they often have obvious physical attributes. I have even known pro clubs scout these players, due to their physicality, rather than their more subtle, though physically smaller team mates, and this makes me despair.

  20. Hi Steve. I am listening to so-called radio presenters criticise barcelona’s game-style v Man. City ;;; “it’s boring” so they say. Well Barca. still do lack penetration but i would much prefer to be in their playing position and ‘tweak’ the necessary changes than be in the position we are at present where instead of ‘tweakings we require a complete overhaul of our playing method.

  21. Hi John…..
    The FA, in my opinion, is still not giving us a game style. They appear to be advocating a passing style, but many people are interpretting this as a “tippy tappy” style. So this is taken to be passing for passing’s sake. This is why it is not universally popular and you hear comments like “boring” from media experts and fans.
    As you have said many times before on this blog and elsewhere, passing and possession are no good without movement and penetration. The movement leads to penetration because it creates space. We still do too many practices which do not involve movement and so the players do not understand how to recognise space, find it and create it. This is particularly the case, in my experience, in grass roots football and should have been the cornerstone of the Modules in the FA Youth Award. It wasn’t and so, in my opinion, those Modules have failed in what should have been their objective.

  22. Steve, I totally agree with what Michael Owen was saying about the less obvious skills but arguably the more important skills. At grassroots level many of the kids are obsessed with tricks and hollywood moments, as are our pundits. In fact too many of the children don’t understand what a skill is due to poor coaching or poor coaching language. Children think that doing step-overs and other moves are skills but the rest of the game is unimportant and non skilled based. Too many coaches don’t explain to children what a skill is and the importance of it. At the football school I run we have drummed it into the children that football is a game that requires you to use a wide variety of skills, whether it be a feint while dribbling, receiving on the half turn or striking passes with care,

    When Barcelona or Bayern receive praise from the pundits about their dominant possession they never ever hand pick the skills used that helps them achieve the possession. For me football is a very very complex game that requires a knowledgeable person to deliver sessions to our youngsters rather than the mass average joe’s out there who only teach a small percentage of the game, which allows the physical quick players to stand out.

    As for possession teaching, I agree there is too much focus on keeping the ball, but not enough of teaching how keeping the ball should lead to creating an opportunity. There needs to be more focus on movement which will allow penetration. When teaching players, especially older players they must be taught the VARIOUS tactical options available that lead to penetration. Looking at Liverpool again, they don’t dominate the ball as much as Swansea or Everton and yet they are very pleasing to watch due to their creativity in attack. I think part of the reason they score so much and create so many chances is due to the movement they display. This movement allows their midfielders, especially Coutinho to thread wonderful defense splitting passes and therefore penetrate. I think for all the brilliance of Xavi, Fabregas, Iniesta, Kroos, Alonso, Ozil, Mata, Silva Carzorla etc… Coutinho appears to play more penetrative passes. So Liverpool are not holding onto the ball for long periods, they are always looking to penetrate and can due to the constant movement they have in attacking areas.

    John, as for Barcelona, I agree they need more penetration. They don’t have the movement of Suarez and Sturridge in central areas as Messi prefers to receive the ball to feet and the movement in behind tends to come from the flanks via Pedro, Sanchez and Neymar. Bayern also keep the ball forever, but they cross the ball and play aerial balls into the box, but I don’t think this is an option for Barca due to their lack of height compared to Bayern. I also feel that when Pep’s Barca broke onto the scene and swept every opponent away, more and more teams have become defensively resolute to stop Barca and this has forced both Barca and Spain to patiently over probe perhaps! as they only believe in creating the clear cut controlled opportunity. Under Pep they strung together more quick combinations 18-25 yards from goal, for example with Messi running or dribbling towards the box and using Eto’o as a wall to receive a lay off and shoot or continue a run through. Dani Alves also combined a lot with Xavi and Messi and the Brazilian full back used the cut back pass effectively. I think there are many penetrative features of Pep’s Barca that are lacking now. The injuries to Messi and Neymar plus the omission of Iniesta has stopped the possibility of a wonderful trio emerging, creating penetrative moments. But as you say John, I would also rather the Barca style over the limited play so many teams offer due to the less obvious skills they lack which is a cause of coaches who clearly don’t teach the whole repertoire of skills to youngsters!

  23. Hi Dav….
    I understand that when Guardiola left Barcelona, he knew that the time had come when their tiki taki style needed adapting and refining, because opponents were beginning to find methods to counteract their style. But due to mental and physical fatigue, brought on by several years huge work load required in developing Barca to their great achievements, Guardioa needed a rest and then a change of club to develop the game style.
    Martino, the present Barca coach,has taken on this new approach but until a few weeks ago it seemed to me, judging from televised matches, that Barca had strayed too far from their possession-based style to a more direct approach, and the quality of their football had suffered accordingly. But recent matches have shown a return to their true brand of football, together with the awareness of when to play passes earlier into the back of opponent’ defences.
    Whether this improvement is entirely due to Martino or, perhaps, certain senior players approaching him with misgvings about the direction their ‘new style’ was leading, i do not know, but I believe that their football has returned to being pleasing on the eye again.
    In my opinion, the Premier Skills methodology is superior to other coaching schemes because it teaches young players how to play the game with a more logical approach. Instead of launching into a host of skills, taken from DVDs of Messi, Ronaldo etc, it introduces players in the first place into recognising and using the vital element of space, which would be inherent in any team game of fluid movement and, in fact, in life in general. Everything builds from this base. It leads into individualism and shows that football, as a team game, is actually individuals conjoining as a team. I believe that Premier Skills is unique in this approach.

    • Hi Steve
      Yes recent games have shown Barca return to the creative entertaining level of 2 seasons ago. Rumour has it that after the shock home 2-3 defeat to Valencia the players spoke honestly to Tata Martino and due to his apparent listening nature we have seen a change. But like I said previously, under Tata Messi has been injured and there are glimpses he and Neymar could shine to unlock those negative teams that park the bus.

      I totally agree that practice play is the way forward. Children must be taught with the real game elements of time, space and in opposed situations. Im a big believer that the real game elements practice produces CREATIVE INTELLIGENT players!

  24. Totally agree that young players should not have a set position. my son has played at every position left and right. I was brought up playing street football and have created enjoyable learning games based on that without even realising it and without doubt that has helped. My son also has had good coaches, his current coach is the best
    club coach he has had, excellent, however,
    the John Cartwright influence is timeless, I
    was put onto the brilliant “Football for the
    brave” by a man who has coached my boy
    since he could walk, at 18 months he was
    kicking a ball of
    socks consistently with his right foot, his
    grandad tapped his foot, said a
    gentle no and got him to use his left foot. He
    had him controlling hundreds of balls kicked
    high, spent hours on passing and heading,
    tackling you can’t
    teach, but he tackles superbly. he installed a
    passion for the game, hopefully I did too. He
    took him to games, expert analysis passed on
    to the young player, intelligent, always playing
    the right ball, looking for space, shielding
    when necessary, always looking forward for a
    route to goal before receiving the ball,
    fantastic corners, free kicks, a goalscorer,
    either foot, a great defender. The John
    Cartwright influence? My father-in-law’s boy Billy was with John at Crystal
    Palace in 1979, he went on to play SemI-pro.
    His father a genius in my eyes,
    He has no doubt that John is the best coach he
    has ever seen and the influence
    has been passed on. My boy has had spells at premier and championship clubs, exceptionally praised for his technical ability but deemed too short. well guess what he’s getting better and better and the strength and height are now coming, an obsession in
    England over Holland and Spain but having
    this and technical ability and intelligence and
    hundreds of games to have put it all in place
    priceless. Hopefully you remember Bill
    Partridge the cab driver who used
    to give you a lift to your pub in Old Ford road.
    he certainly remembers you, thank you for a fantastic website and vision, there are plenty of people at grass roots who care and thoroughly respect what you are about. will my boy make it, I’ve no doubt but we may have to go abroad to do it. A big thanks to you John for your influence and vision.

  25. Hi john
    I worked. With you at Chalton I had the under 15 s you the then southeastern. Countries. John I remember. Your coaching and have. Never seen any one with the passion the imagination and the ability to develop young footballers. For out of both teams no fewer than around ten eleven played. First Team football. I have worked for many clubs and have a few players. To my name but looking at the standard. Of coaching. At these academy ‘s is in my opinion is a joke just because. Someone as a coaching qualifications. Dose not make them coaches you have from u 7s up being coached by 19 20 year olds who have never played at a high level or to a good standard . The EPPP and money given to these clubs are a joke. I was head of talent at AFC wimbledon none of the staff apart from the management had played or been involved. In the game kids at the academy paid to attend the talent. Was poor when I reported. This to the academy manager who had come from grass roots and had been in the game for five minutes. Tells me trust me I know what I am doing I told him trust me you don’t I left after 28days. John start a coaching academy I am starting an academy in South London soon. Hope your well and what are you doing.

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