By John Cartwright
There’s a famous quotation;
You must stir it and stump it.
And blow your own trumpet,
Or trust me, you haven’t a chance.
So, I’m about to ‘blow my own trumpet’!
Leicester City FC, have just become Champions of the English Premier League. This, seemingly impossible 5000/1 against achievement, has brought joy and celebration to many followers of the game. Why is their success so important for the game in this country and in particular for me? Well, because Leicester City FC became champions because they played the game by combining British strengths with foreign ‘Trimmings’……in the way that I have been championing for decades!
Some 16 years ago I devised a coaching methodology called PREMIER SKILLS. I did this because football in England had created a playing style called Direct Play that, had in my opinion as well as in the opinion of most lovers of the game here, ‘overcooked’ the British passion for the game and had developed a ‘Fightball’ playing style. Liverpool Football club, in my opinion, were the club who had established a playing style contrary to the coaching dogma prioritised during this time and had outstanding success throughout this period…….they played a physical, British game combined with individual skills with effective, variable tactics. The Premier Skills Coaching and Development method was established around the Liverpool formula with three important factors: (1) I visualised a suitable national playing style. (2) I created 5 Programs from junior to senior levels that were the ‘pathway’ towards the pre-visualised, variable playing style. (3) I introduced realism into all the practice/playing levels of development.
Due to the failure of England at all international levels since 1966, our football hierarchy continued to tinker with our game by introducing the game-styles of those nations who have been successful. Their latest attempt to find a suitable national playing style has been our copy-catting of the ‘Ticki-Tacki’ possession football of Spain – that seems more designed to satisfy statisticians than football lovers!
From the demise of the ‘Universities of the Street’ where the game was once played and learned, our national coaching and development methods have failed miserably to find a way to teach the game successfully. Unrealistic practice aligned with impractical playing stages have created an atmosphere that overlooks the importance of individualism and ‘camouflages’ mediocrity with boring simplicity. Leicester City, have it seems, shaken our football world by winning our major sporting competition by playing in a way that contained attacking variations combined with solidity in defence and spirit in the club……a British winning formula!
For those of you who have read the ‘Blogs’ I have written over several years will probably remember my criticism of Barcelona’s ‘Ticki-Tacki’ playing style even though at the time they were very successful. My opinion was founded on the belief that … nothing stays the same in life … including football, and that Barcelona, would have increasing problems unless they put more emphasis on a penetrative input in their game. I was proved right, and since then they have added more variations into their playing style making them an even better all-round team.
Leicester City’s, success must be scrutinised and not just accepted as a one-off occurrence; they have played the game in a British fashion with a combination of foreign qualities added to it. What they have achieved is so important for the future of the game here. Past and present coaching and development methods along with competitive playing levels have failed to produce high playing standards and more thought must be given to improving this problem by our coaching hierarchy in order to eradicate the boring sameness that has engulfed so much of our game. By forging a playing style that produces a continuous winning formula for the future we would become a powerful force in world football.
Well done Leicester City……..And well done John Cartwright….I was correct !!