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.


In all occupations, the ‘hands-on’ approach to learning has been a major part of skill acquisition. In the past, on the job Apprenticeships were common in industry, commerce and sport and students learned their future occupations from the ‘ground/upwards’. In football the street provided the apprenticeship,… was the footballers’ classroom; it was here that space and playing numbers provided the learning and examination of the  skills for the game. Mis-applied teaching and learning theories applied to football here since the demise of the natural street-learning period have produced a ‘sameness’ of playing ability and a loss of individualism.

I have watched most of the world’s great players during my lifetime; all had/have immediate skills and were/are beneficiaries of repetitive, realistic football practice. A first-class example of a present day, TRULY great player is…… LIONEL MESSI— who, like other greats of the game, has compiled a mental database of football situations from childhood upwards. Realistic practice time has provided an ability to ‘play(see) in the future’ stimulating early recognition of situations for the appropriate use of the ‘immediate football skills’ required.  These ‘situation signals’ have become second nature to him and they allow him to select the correct ploy to use —either to play simply or to deliver skills to exit or exploit some seemingly impossible situation he sees but others miss.


I have ‘championed’ the use of REALISTIC PRACTICE methods for many decades and Messi, like so many other great players are wonderful examples of —PRACTICE WHAT YOU PLAY.  Realistic practice involves the ‘chaos’ aspects of the game and encourages individual flair and exciting team-play; the over-structured coaching methods adopted for decades by our academic football overseers has prioritised organization and practical ‘tidiness’; this has produced a game of ‘robotic sameness’ in the football we see here today.

Through continually ‘practicing what you play’,  players can acquire a ‘sixth sense’- a ‘playing in the future’ quality that can lift them from the ordinary to the great. The seeming instantaneous ability to react quickly and decisively to situations occurs because players are prepared early to react to situations — because they have been in these situations many, many times before and are pre-prepared to utilize the necessary skills for the job.

I believe over the years we have had a very large number of talented players capable of providing our game with excitement and success. Virtually all of them have fallen by the wayside through their involvement with poor development methods– -and I see no light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to player development. Unless we restructure our thinking on player development and the standards required for player and team improvement we will continue to fall further behind in world football status.


28 thoughts on “Immediate Skills

  1. Thanks John for another fantastic piece. It’s a shame however that so many can’t see the importance of game realistic practice.

    You hit it on the nail with “great players able to recognize, assess and quickly respond successfully with the correct decision in difficult situations “. There are so many manuals, YouTube clips etc.. out there drilling players to develop technique but no focus on when to execute the technique. When I have seen guidance on when to execute technique from the drill – it is done so in a limited fashion, thus resulting in the robots and players unable to THINK, CREATE and JUDGE.

    Football is a game of such variables with various people taking part so therefore the element of variables must be present in the practice.

    When learning how to drive does the instructor teach the driver to drive the car on fake roads where others drivers, pedestrians , junctions are absent?

    The method of coaching in an unrealistic environment reminds of me of when I see a father play the role of driving instructor with their adolescent child in an empty car park in the evening. Can the skills, knowledge and judgment required to drive be learnt there?

    Placing players/children in game realistic practices (interference or opposed) forces them to judge and gives them the freedom to express their decisions, develop their decisions and develop their technique. A slender, agile, small child may learn to dribble, shimmy, run with the ball and develop brilliant awareness due to their size and physique? A less nimble child, lacking physical speed may develop the skills to turn, protect the ball and pass with precision?

    Fact is, game realistic practices produce NATURAL PLAYERS, CREATIVE PLAYERS and THINKERS!

    • Hi Dhillon. Our ‘suffocation’ of football coaching methods has produced a sameness of standards in individual and team performance. We play football like it’s a ‘war’ and not a sophisticated game and we produce ‘soldiers’ to destroy and not football artists to glamourize it. Pele. called it the ‘Beautiful Game’, we have turned it into something more recognizable as, ‘The Ugly Battle’.

  2. Spot on again John. Enjoyed your session for London FA Coaches last month…interested to hear your opinion of Greg Dyke’s latest initiative.

  3. We have become over-obsessed with the need for improved facilities for young players to play in, without considering that this will not necessarily result in them actually improving. This can only come about with an improved quality of coaching/teaching. The highly acclaimed book, ‘The Goldmine Effect’ by Rasmus Ankersen, provides many examples across a number of sports, in various parts of the world, where top level performance has been achieved by excellent coaching provided by dedicated people who understand what is required, but often in limited, sometimes primitive, facilities.
    We must remember that John has defined skill acquisition as being “the action of a technique with interference.” But there is still a lot of coaching being done at various levels where this interference is not present and so if the technique is not turned into a skill, then there can be little chance of producing a footballer at the end of it.

    • Hi Steve. There has been an attempt to introduce some aspects of Premier Skills Coaching ideas into the development scene here. The big problem with the attempts to include fragments merely displays the lack of understanding of the need to have a ‘visual picture. towards which all the work extends to.

  4. Its unbelievable that the coaching greats like,Cartwright,Greenwood,Venables and Michels have, for over 20 years ,been advocating the need for sessions that are realistic to the game and develop players with the outstanding skill and understanding that enables them to “play in the future”. At Premier Skills we are so fortunate to have the John Cartwright “Practice Play” methodology as the foundation of our coach education.

    • Hi Roger. You mention20 years, it’s more like 40 years of frustration and disappointment in which football here has not listened and accepted what i believe is the way forward for the coaching of game here.

  5. Having attended all 3 FA youth module courses and only use Practice Play, it may be a surprise for some on here to hear me say that the thinking of the new courses has many similarities to PRACTICE PLAY.
    They want coaches to be able to put sessions together that link from one to another, not randomly picked out of thin air. Their is an emphasis on playing, game realistic sessions, random and variable sessions over static drills. Coaching is not just about the Practice, dealing with players who may struggle to compete, bad behaviour, those who find it easy etc, the youth modules are great at that.
    When I started coaching in 1997, it was all about the practical and so like thousands before me I had no clue how to deal with kids and back then it was more drill related, so kids in lines getting bored. The new courses would have been very useful as a new coach. The courses are a step forward in the right direction.

    There is always a but and the but is the picture of the jigsaw is missing. The FA are asking volunteer coaches to work it out yourself. At the the top I said there thinking is similar to Practice Play. However the practical work leaves a lot to desire. Practice Play says this is what we are trying to achieve and this is the work we are going to use to make it happen. Brilliant, because now we have the right ingredients to make the cake, we just the need to practice making it a few times before we get it right.
    Youth modules ask you to build a jigsaw with no picture to guide you, so most coaches take the easy option and go around the edges, unable to fill in the rest of the jigsaw, so what you get is a thousand unfinished jigsaws.
    The FA are expecting volunteer coaches to have the knowledge to design a coaching programme, based on a few days coaching. I would have more respect for them if they said do it this way, here are some alternative ways of getting the same results here’s the work, stick to it once they are ready move on to this. Kids and coaches need to be shown by our National Governing body, they are meant to be the experts. Let the game be the teacher is an easy way out and a farce. The best youth teams are coached properly, not just asked a few questions and expected to work it out themselves.
    Practice Play has been the best investment I have made in coaching, all 3 so far at a price considerably Lower than just the FA level 2.

  6. Hi Dave. I’m glad you are able to ‘see the picture’ of how a PROGRESSIVELY taught coaching program can lead towards a playing ‘VISION’. You have only completed the early sessions of PRACTICE/PLAY and the final two programs complete the ‘pathway’ towards an ADAPTABLE/VARIABLE PLAYING VISION. Barcelona, have worked consistently for over 25 years on a game-style that lacked flexibilty and needed to include more playing variations; — they are now in the process of adding those variations to their previous ‘Ticki-tacki playing style. I included game-style variations into the final programs of Premier Skills when i wrote them almost 15 years ago. The final stages (4-5) are introduced at an appropriate stage in development when young players reach an age and playing levels where alternative playing variations must be taught and applied for them to have a full playing repertoire.. Nothing in life stays the same; Football is no different and we should prepare our players with the ‘total tools’ for the ‘total game’ to provide them with ——- high, individual skills — along with the ability to combine with colleagues when necessary in both close or distant situations. Our ‘Piecemeal’ approach to coaching is not about realistic, progressive teaching it is merely disorganized ‘time consumption’ leading to playing failure. Over the years we have followed ‘wrong routes’ and partaken numerous ‘mistaken methodologies’ that have brought us disappointment for over half a century. I wonder if the latest ‘waffle’ from the FA — THE DNA OF PERFORMANCE PHILOSOPHY (i think it really means Game-style) will be yet another short-term failure?

  7. Whether they Like it or not the vast majority of coaches need to be told what content they should be using. The overll standard of coaching is woeful.
    Having returned from overseas I am glad mine didn’t have the English football education served to them by English coaches in their primary school years.

    • Actually that hits the nail on the head!!…Is your kid likely to develop as an excellent individual if coached the FA way? I think not.

  8. The Euro 2016 Qualifier last Saturday, screened by Sky, Holland 1 – Turkey1, was rather an eye-opener for those of us who have held the Dutch game in high esteem for many years. Turkey went ahead in the first half, and the longer the game went on, the more likely their defensive, counter-attacking game looked likely to bring them three valuable points. Only a stoppage time deflected equaliser brought partial redemption for Holland.
    It was the Dutch limitations in their approach to try and solve the problems set by the Turks, however, which caused the greatest surprise. In the second half, as Holland battered away unimaginatively at the obdurate Turkish defence, coach Guus Hiddink put the giant striker, Bas Dost, on to partner Huntelaar in attack. He clearly went for an aerial bombardent, something that we saw 30+ years ago in England. I never thought that I would see such tactics employed by a nation which gave us ‘total football’ back in the seventies.
    The Dutch central defenders never made any attempt to bring the ball out of defence into midfield and progress the play up the pitch, as Tony Gale commentated on in commentary. Instead they gave ineffectual short passes to de Jong, stationed just a few yards ahead of them, who was quite superfluous to his team’s requirements and should have been substituted much earlier than he was.
    For a team who claimed third place in the World Cup only a matter of months ago, this was a poor approach. When you come to analyse their World Cup performances, however, you recall their only really golden display was the 5 – 1 thrashing of Spain, and that was mainly due to a second half collapse by the Spanish. They needed penalties to beat Costa Rica after again failing to open up a massed defence, and their victories over Australia and Mexico were unimpressive.
    I have seen enough of the Dutch junior teams to know that they still have an abundance of talent coming through and so it is to be hoped that the senior team can quickly regain its style and panache, which has made it a favourite of so many football followers for so long.

    • Hi.Steve. I have watched several games from the Dutch League and I have not been impressed at all. I was impressed however with England’s second half performance after the the replacement of the mid-field three. We looked to be learning how to combine patience with penetration…… It’s about time. But congratulations to Roy Hodgson, for recognising that his first-half system needed changing…….. That shows bravery and good management !

  9. Hi John…Yes, I agree that England’s second half performance against Italy was a big improvement on the first half. But it is indicative of how players who “combine patience with penetration” are viewed in this country, that Michael Carrick has relatively few international caps, bearing in mind the many years he has been involved in and around the England squad. Even though he has had several fairly lengthy spells out injured during his career, which has partly been the reason for a low number of caps, he has nevertheless seemed to divide opinion amongst those who admire his thoughtful, patient passing game, and those who favour a more aggressive, fast paced, all-action appoach.
    Let’s hope that Roy Hodgson can follow up that second half performance into England’s next game with it now becoming our ‘game style’ (DNA?).

  10. Hi all. I was impressed with the ‘first touch’ ability of the Italian players in the recent game against England. They were able to control and use the ball well from passes to them that were often ‘overcooked’ in my opinion. It was also impressive to see their skills in tight/pressured situations,rarely did they fail to create some combination play.

  11. Hi John…i agree that the ability to play in “tight/pressured” situations, as displayed recently by Italy against England, is a vital quality in playing the game at a high level. I think that the simple procedure which you explained to members of the LFCA last Monday, where the pitch size is gradually decreased,and naming the sizes relevant to the playing level required, from ‘Dog & Duck’ to ‘Champions League’, created a lot of interest and is easily attempted by all coaches at whatever level at which they work.
    From what I have observed, insufficient attention is being given in this country to gradually decreasing area size in coaching practices, as the players’ understanding and confidence increases, and I think that it has been a major reason for our inability to beat the leading countries in international competition for many years now.

    • Hi Steve. The gradual decrease of space and the gradual increase of opposition from junior to senior levels is the hallmark of intelligent development.

  12. Hi John and Steve… Totally agree with the comments about the Italians’ ability to play in tight pressure situations…always apparent amongst the very bests’ defenders…something that the British are ‘poor’ at in the international game… a key aspect though that Premier Skills addresses.

  13. I thought that Man City showed some imagination and skill down their left side last night in the FA Youth Cup Semi Final 2nd leg against Leicester. The left back is Spanish and the left winger is English. The left back was a constant threat with his over-lapping runs and got into many dangerous goalscoring and goal-assisting positions. Apparently, he has scored a number of goals during the season and in one match scored a hat trick. The left winger relished 1 v 1 situations, although Leicester took some time to provide double cover to their right back to counter the threat. Early in the game the Leicester right back was given a torrid time by the winger, but when his team gave him some cover and support then the Man City winger combined well with his left back to get round the back of the Leicester defence.
    So I think we can conclude that Man City are utilising some good development methods in their youth squad, although i do not know how long the left back has been at the club and maybe the greater part of his development has been in Spain.
    John says in his article that “over the years we have had a very large number of talented players capable of providing our game with excitement and success”. Unfortunately, as he points out, “virtually all of them have fallen by the wayside through their involvement with poor development methods – and I see no light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to player development.”
    Over the years, there seems to come a time at so many of our clubs when the promising young player, on being introduced to the group comprising senior professionals, is moulded into the “sameness” that John speaks of and he loses his individualism. Even in the older years of youth football it is rare to spot any signs of real individualism, and introduction to the senior ranks seems to principally require hard running, physical commitment and adherence to the disciplined team structure. These requirements are necessary in a highly competitive team game like football, but so many young player are missing out in their development of individualism, or having it knocked out of them when they break into the 1st team squad.

  14. “the over-structured coaching methods…. has produced a game of ‘robotic sameness’ in the football we see here today.”
    I think that this can also be applied to the involvement of many coaches during the course of a match. I refer particularly to the use of substitutes and tactical switching during a match when a team has fallen behind. So often we just see a coach switch from one standard team formation to another, say 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2, with little noticeable overloading in goal-scoring areas of the pitch, without the sacrifice of a player in a defensive position, or, more often than not, simply making a ‘like-for-like’ change, such as a fresh striker from the bench to replace one who has played from the start and is, alledgedly, tired.
    This unimagintive use of of substitutes and weak attempt to turn round a losing position, is all too common in England, I fear. However, contrast this with a televised match from Holland yesterday, Willem – Feyenoord. Midway through the second half, Feyenoord were 1 — 2 behind and so withdrew a central defender and replaced him with a midfield player. Each team was playing 4-3-3 and so the Feyenoord coach instructed his remaining three defenders to play man for man on the three Willem forwards, without a covering defender, (except the keeper). The coach was rewarded for his bravery by Feyenoord gaining control of the midfield and their defenders proving capable of combining in a dual marking and covering game. They made it 2-2 and kept up the momentum in search of a winner which just failed to come. It is also worth noting that the Willem coach responded very positively also to Feyenoord’s equaliser with tactical/positional switches of his own to try and regain the lead, and so we had the excellent situation of both teams going all out in search of a winner because of the positive actions of both coaches.
    The game finished at 2-2 and we need to follow this example of imaginative pro-active work of the coaches and the players with the skill-set to fulfil the increased defensive responsibiltiy.

  15. Hi Steve – you make an excellent point regarding the robotic management at the top pro level. Often when Jose Mourinho is asked about his favourite league he will always heap praise on the English Premier League and give the media and fans what they want to hear – it’s almost like he knows the low football intellect over here. In Italy and Spain he was often quizzed about his tactics during a bad result or challenged for his cautious functional attacking play. Jose also said that Italy was the harder league to manage in during games in terms of affecting the result tactically. He said that when a game is not going the way you want it you make a change and the opposition manager in England wouldn’t have an answer. However in Italy you’d make a tactical change, the opposition manager would respond to cancel it out, then you make another change and once again the opponent coach responds – hence why Italians get the chess label.

    Coming back to the origins of this blog by John and realistic practice, yesterday’s warm-up by Manchester United was interesting. Rather than just doing the norm of stretching, 1 touch possession games and taking shots, Utd worked on horizontal balls from wide with overlaps and runners running from central positions to finish. Not a normal warm-up routine but maybe a case of “practice what you play.” Utd then equalised and took the lead from wide play and crosses (or be it a little fortunate for the equaliser).

    The Utd warm up Reminded me of David Pleat at the LFCA when he spoke about realistic practice and pre match warm ups with being alien from the match. He used pre match GK warm ups as an example where the GK coaches serve balls up from low and from close range with no pace on the ball to GK’s to jump up and catch. “How’s that the real game” he said.

    Clearly during the pre match warm up players dont want to get injured, they want to feel tight and need to prepare their mental state. But why not practice the tactics/rehearsed moves/team tactical meeting routines etc… lightly in the warm up? Van Gaal it seems knows the trick and appears a genius or is it just proof of how many poor coaches there are out there even at pro-level and what the likes of Guardiola, Mourinho, Biesla and Van Gaal do is just COMMEN SENSE!

  16. Hi Dav…I also admire the tactical nous of Jose Mourinho in making tactical switches/substituions during a match when his team is being set problems by the opponent.It is not uncommon for him to substitute a player after just 20 minutes in an attempt to turn round a losing position. This contrasts with the vast majority of coaches, especially in England, many of whom do not make a substitution until at least an hour has elapsed, except in the case of injury, and how often it is just a ‘like for like’ change.
    I did not know about the unusual pre-match warm-up routine that Man Utd performed on Sunday but it is interesting to hear that it appeared closely related to something that they had been working on in training and van Gaal obviously wanted to see it happening during the match. However, when you say “…why not practice the tactics/rehearsed moves/team tactical meeting routines etc lightly in the warm up?….” I think there is a danger of pre-match ‘secrets’ being put on public view. When Fabio Cappelo was England manager/coach it was always noticeable that with both teams out on the pitch doing their warm up, his back was to the England players being put through their work with an assistant and he was carefully scutinising the opposition performing their warm up, presumably looking for even the slightest hint of tactical tweaks that could have been visible in what they were doing.
    Warm ups are a relatively new introduction in England but foreign teams have always done them before playing a match. However, what used to happen in those days was that the foreign teams used to do their warm up on a training pitch just outside the stadium, where most of them were situated at clubs abroad. They could then, of course, run through any number of tactical plays without being exposed to the danger of ‘prying eyes’.

    • Hi Steve
      In reflection yes you are right about prying eyes. As so many warm ups at the moment are so similar – maybe Van Gaal knew that his struggling stubborn opponent Pelligrini wouldn’t have the nous to pry?

  17. Hi all

    Luis Suarez’s first goal tonight (gorgeous goal) was the product of hours of street football. The crafty sly nutmeg, then the quick feet, then the bullishness to fend of the third defender rounded off with a pushed finish while losing balance.

    Earlier in the game when Suarez found Messi with a wonderful whipped pass to the edge of the box where Messi hit the post was the kind of pass you associate with a creative midfield playmaker with wonderful vision and kicking variations.

    His intelligent running of the ball for the team creates space for Messi to drive with the ball and opens up the angle for Messi to play the diagonal defence splitting pass to Neymar (a feature of Enrique’s Barca since the defeat to Sociedad). His movement is stretching opponents or allowing Barca to play more vertical balls. When the opposition have the ball at the back Suarez is often the first to press or take up a position to become the first line of defence and while doing so he waves his arms and points to the egos of Messi and Neymar of where they need to be. When Messi drifts in off the right wing without the ball into his old central position – Suarez is quick to adapt and move quickly across to the right wing.

    Barca were in need of variation and new dynamism. Suarez’s individual skills with the ball, skills without the ball and his attitude for the collective is a joy to watch. Suarez’s vast array of skills May not result in 50-60 goal season stats (which has become the obsession for many to measure players) but he produces many wow moments and is only bettered by Messi in terms of variety of skills and wow moments.

    A truly World Class footballer and proof that realistic practices in opposed situations are a must to produce natural players.

  18. Hi Dav. You are correct about Suarez and the change he has brought to Barca’s game-style. About 18 months ago I wrote a blog called ‘Variations ‘ and it was concerned with the need for Barca. to add more penetration and crossing to their game. Since that time they have certainly improved their all-round playing style to great effect.
    Just something to think about………could Pedro, do a similar job I from a central position, he has skill, speed, scoring ability and a Barca. upbringing?

  19. Hi All…I think that Luis Enrique’s coaching has been reponsible for Barcelona’s change in game style. They play more longer passes now into the space behind the opponents’ defence which exploits Suarez’s pace and anticipation, but I thought that previously Villa and Sanchis were often looking for these passes although they were not always getting them. I think therefore that Enrique has worked harder on this in training and it is reaping rewards.
    I also think that Pedro could do a similar job from a central position. I think this because it seems to me that all forwards brought up in Barcelona’s youth academy have the vital quality which has been discussed on this blog before, namely that they shift the ball to shift opponents and create space for themselves and others in the final third and this helps to make Barca’s attacking play so devastating. Watching the Chelsea – Shaktar Donetsk UEFA Youth Final earlier this week, although there were some highly promising young players on view, I did not see this quality of running across the front of opponents to attack the space to the side of them and create dangerous situations for the opposition. Considering how much chaos Messi has caused opposition defences for about ten years now with this approach, you would have thought that more teams would have paid more attention to copying it.

    • Hi all

      Yes Luis Enrique deserves credit for somehow galvanising the squad following the fall out with Messiand others after the Sociedad defeat. I think Messi’s uncharacteristic rant on Barca TV also galvansied the team.

      I agree that David Villa in particular had the movement qualities in a no.9 role but not so much Sanchez who has always been happier to have the ball in wide areas and outside the box. There where times under Tata Martino when Sanchez ran vertically in behind to be put through with a ball played inside the opponent left back and over the top. But I don’t think he has the nous or willingness to make runs to drag defenders away for Messi the way Suarez does. On the hole I think Suarez has a wider variety of skills than Villa and Sanchez, notably the ability to wriggle past 2-3 defenders, the craft to use his body to turn defenders and win free kicks in dangerous positions and his tenacious personality on the pitch.

      But at the same time when Eto’o, Henry, Ibrahimovic and Villa where at Barca – the playing style at the time with Messi in the central role which prevented Barca from using a no.9 wasn’t holding Barca back, it was successful and teams hadn’t solved the carousel of passing from Busquets, Iniesta and Xavi into Messi. At the time Pep and then Tito wanted selfless running from the wide players to help Messi which resulted in rumours of unrest by forwards towards Messi even though Eto’o, Henry, Villa, Pedro and Sanchez all got 15-25 goals and were able in wide positions. The one suffered was Ibrahimovic. Enrique has solved the problem and it appears not to have caused any clash of ego like with Villa and Messi, Eto’o and Messi etc…. Enrique has given the Suarez a central role while Messi has shown a willingness to move wide which prevents any clashes of egos. Neymar would prefer a free main man role like for his country but he recognises Messi is the boss and the Brazilian has a histyof playing from the left. Enrique has almost disconnected the superstar front 3. In October after Suarez’s ban Enrique had Messi playing centrally behind very tucked in Neymar and Suarez which worked in spits and spats in attempt to let the three constantly combine with flicks, tricks and off the cuff skills which allowed opponents to congest the area and sacrifice space wide. Messi’s willingness to play in his early Barca career position is also a sign of his thinking for the collective and his intelligence. When teams do block the line to Messi outwide like Real did last month both Enrique and Messi know that the magician can drop in centrally again like he did against Real in the second half resulting in Cassilas’ goal being peppered.

      The situation looks bleak however for Pedro. He will no doubt leave and could be a brilliant addition to Arsenals pacey counter attacks or Liverpool’s pressing style. Pedro offers a directness with the ball, a change of pace, very good 1v1 skills and a willing runner while defending or to make runs for others. Don’t think he can offer the Suarez back to goal skills but his energy and lightness of feet would surely allow him to get across defenders when horizontal balls are played in from wide and his one touch skills might be worth testing as Suarez sometimes kills quick combinations with heavy one touch layoffs. I’d like to see Pedro given a run in the team on the left in place if an out of form Neymar. If Barca win another treble or at least the CL maybe Messi will seek a new challenge elsewhere opening the door for Pedro to stay?

  20. Hi Dav….
    Any discussion about Barcelona has to take into consideration how the club is run. It is not just about football, brilliant though much of it has been since about 2008.
    The hierarchy and structure at Barcleona is riddled with politics. When Guardiola left in 2012 it was generally believed that it was due to having to constantly outplay and out-think opponents who were trying to solve the problems he set them through Barca’s tiki taka and that it had taken a deep physical and mental toll on him. However, in the book ‘Pep Confidential’, we learn that Guadiola was even more worn down by the politics at the club. It did not matter how great the football was, the ‘men in suits’ could always find faults in other areas. When Guardiola went to Bayern Munich it was a breath of fresh air for him to find a club where the people at the top were real football men – Rumminege, Hoeness,Brietner – who were purely motivated by football and the pursuit of excellence which they knew Guardiola would give them. During their playing careers, these former German stars had played under some of the finest coaches in the history of European football. But they look forward to watching Guardiola’s training sessions at Bayern with the enthusiasm of wide-eyed, aspiring young coaches.
    There seems a strong possibility that Enrique will not be in charge at Barca at the start of next season, whatever prizes his team may collect before then. It is also worth noting that the two men at the top of the Manchester City structure, Soriano and Beguiristan, were at Barca during the Guardiola era and have failed to strengthen the City squad and structure during the last couple of years. There is therefore a strong possibility that they will be out of the door with Pellegrini this summer.

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