INDIVIDUALISM – A Playing Priority

By John Cartwright

Throughout the history of Association Football, great teams have possessed great individual players.

Within the space of a few weeks we have witnessed four interesting results regarding our international squads; u/18 to senior international. The results from these games along with the performances have displayed in my opinion, the serious fault in our development methodology that I have been alluding to for many years – the lack of individual skills and poor game understanding.

Mexico v England - FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017

Our development process from the beginning places too much emphasis on physical aspects and not enough on skill acquisition and game understanding. There is a serious lack of transference from practice to playing at all levels and a winning mentality throughout the development years prioritises physicality and not panache.

In the recent competitions at u/18 and u/20 levels in which our young international players were involved, we produced winning performances. In these games we displayed power and organisation in the main, but there was little in terms of individualism on show. In fact, in both of these groups a stubborn approach rather than a sophisticated playing quality saw us through. However, it must be said, had the Venezuela youngsters, who had shown outstanding individual playing ability throughout the tournament, scored from a penalty in the game against us, things might very well have turned in their favour.

The weakness in the development of our players becomes alarmingly apparent as we move up into the senior levels of the game at international levels. Our foreign opponents, who have followed a more skilful route throughout their development and have acquired the physical qualities as they have matured, outmatch us at the highest playing levels. The game in Paris, even with 10 men for almost half of the game, saw the French team both win the game and dominate the match overall. It was a similar situation in the u/21 semi-final against an average German team, they won because they were not only able to withstand the physical demands of the game but they had the playing skills to dominate it.


Our mis-applied approach to development is causing the continuous failures at senior levels. We are not balancing the issue of learning with winning during the ‘golden years of skill learning’. I have been a long-time critic of our development structure and unless we take a different approach to the development years we will continue to suffer failure at senior levels.

A lack of individualism and skill quality in our game reflects two major problems we must eradicate;- a lack of cultural belief in the necessity for skilful players; an inadequate coaching and development system unable to produce individualism.

The aspects of; strength – speed – bravery – and organisation, are important playing ingredients, but they should not supersede the importance of skill and game learning during the early development years. ‘The lone Wolf’ character has too often been regarded as a tactical weakness for our game and not a playing strength. Poor development methods, both in practical and playing terms, have failed to supply the information nor a progressive ‘pathway’ for individualism to prosper— ‘the lone Wolf’ succeeds or fails on his/her interpretations of the chances to influence and exploit situations – little in terms of teaching the correct use of individualism seems to qualify for attention in our ‘structured obsession’ with mediocracy. The terms ‘selfish’ when on the ball and ‘lazy’ when not on the ball are often made as descriptions of ‘different’ or ‘awkward’ players by coaches and because of these so-called playing irregularities, many youngsters are side-lined and preference is given to more ‘straight-lined’, basic players.


I will continue to criticise our development methods for producing boredom and not brilliance. By brilliance I mean players who are capable of fulfilling general playing requirements both on and off the ball, yet can produce game-changing skills. Players of this type must be developed through a system that provides a progressive, realistic and skilled-based learning atmosphere, not a system in which ‘winning’ pervades learning. Negativity has enveloped development in English football. The ‘don’t dribble, play it simple’ coaching brigade that dominates so much of development throughout the important early years, has nurtured ‘Robotics’ and not  ‘Excitement’.

Our young players must develop in a system that has a more expansive playing objective that reaches beyond the simplistic and qualities deemed as pinnacles playing principles today. All of the necessary aspects associated with individualism must be realistically and regularly practiced and then followed up by a playing structure that enables learned skills to be used in a correct and positive way. Such teaching should provide players at all age levels to be involved in a progressive structure that covers both skill acquisition along with game understanding of how-when–where to use them successfully.

For example; – quick awareness and recognition of opportunity to use individualism –  fast decisions on skill(s) type to use – space appreciation (angular or direct) – screening – running with the ball (speeds) – turns – end products (singular or combined) – success – recognition and reason of failure – confidence to ‘go-it alone’ when next opportunity occurs.

Throughout the Premier Skills Development Programs 1-5 each level begins with the topic of Individualism (Staying with the ball) I have never encountered any other development work that has provided such an individual skills ‘pathway’.

Coaching Academia along with football’s Media moguls, take note — mediocracy is not greatness! There needs to be a full and open discussion on how the ‘robotic boredom’ of today can be overcome and our game become a skilful, exciting game to watch and play.


23 thoughts on “INDIVIDUALISM – A Playing Priority

  1. Hi John,

    Pogba: who from England is capable of playing like Pogba?
    The France v England senior game was instructive on a number of levels: Pogba’s performance was outstanding and showed why his transfer fee deserved to be amongst the highest ever (although the whole market is massively overheated, of course). His domination of the game was a sharp reminder that England have no players who can get anywhere near that level of performance. That Pogba can play that well for his national team yet seems to be diminished when playing in the Premier League might say something about the way in which fans expect football in England to be played as well as Mourinho’s tactics, perhaps. More worryingly – again – was England’s lack of penetration and game management when having the extra man. This suggests that Russia 2018 will play out yet again with the ghosts of the Iceland (Uefa2016) and Algeria (WC2010) games haunting the players and their ‘collective unconscious’ embarrassment at their wages when caught with their pants down by more skilful players. The dread I have come to feel when facing in to tournament football is building already (3 wins in 8 games?).

    England U21 playing Style: were they bypassing midfield to ‘get it forward’ quick?
    Aidy Boothroyd was getting some positive press for a short period prior to the Germany game. I can’t comment on this because I won’t shell out for Murdoch and was too busy to divert to the pub to watch the latter stages. When the U21s went through to the semis v Germany I was desperate to to see this game, but had family commitments that I couldn’t shake off (same with the final). I listened to the radio commentary and was actually surprised that England didn’t win this shoot-out. I suppose I had succumbed to the recent hype about the development teams and alleged progress being made at SGP. Online comments following the Germany semi suggested viewing figures were in the millions over there where football is taken more seriously (rather than the bottom line, eh Mr Scudamore/ Murdoch?). This says to me that it must have been screened on terrestrial TV. I wish it would have been on terrestrial TV here so that I could have watched/ recorded it.

    England U17s – who from England at this level can match Soteldo?
    Soteldo showed more individual skill in his short 2nd half performance than any of our players to suggest that our development squads need a different approach if they want to play exciting, intelligent football that can be admired and respected. As you say, if Venezuela had scored that pen in the 2nd half they may have gone on to get 2 or 3 because they were dominating the match at that stage. The suspicion about Mavericks still holds. For example, check this from a leading broadsheet following the game:
    60 mins
    England under some pressure at the moment. Penaranda, who is talented but as yet SELFISH [my capitalisation], shoots at the near post when there were colleague better placed.

    Any aspiring footballer or someone looking to add a bit of flair in to their own field might want to check this out:

    Similarly, Having read No Hunger in Paradise recently (Mike Calvin, ‘What’s your dream, son?’) I think the FA should be hot-footing it to Brixton to see what inspiration looks like. It seems that Steadman Scott understands your central message about getting on/ staying with the ball to give each individual the chance to shine when the spotlight falls on them. For the few minutes in a match when we get to hold on to and protect the beautiful football we need the skill set and game intelligence to do something remarkable.

    Currently, our football is predicated on pass, pass, pass but without the tika-taka game understanding/ intelligence/ skill level demonstrated by Iniesta et al. In summary, our game here stinks (in my opinion… rant over)!

    John/ all – I would welcome any news about upcoming Premier Skills courses in England/ Britain next season so I can plan in my periodisation (holidays)…

  2. Hi John, if anyone doubts the wisdom and truth of the post above, they need only look at You Tube videos of the dribblers (Ronaldo, Brazil as an example) and see the surrounding opposition as he beats one player and another – defensive cover is destroyed and thrown into chaos thus proving opportunities for the ball carrier or his/ her team mates.

  3. I agree that in individual skill Venezuela were superior to England in the Under 20 Final. These qualities, acquired by their environment, mean that the South Americans are still light years ahead of us. But there is an inability with many European players to run with the ball and go past opponents by skill and trickery. When Barcelona charmed everyone a few years ago with their so-called tiki taka, they were copied by many teams but the result was largely a negative one, because many teams became good at possession but weak at penetration. I thought that even the Spanish national team started to use possession as a negative tactic, to kill a game once they were ahead, rather than a means to open up and destroy the opposition as the great Barca had done.
    Earlier this evening Eurosport showed Germany-Holland in the UEFA Under 19 Championship. The first half was very poor, with neither side displaying either the skill or bravery to control and win the match. The game was an endless stream of ‘easy’, negative passes with barely a sign of individualism. If something was said at half time then it certainly had an effect. Germany went ahead when a forward in possession slowed down as he was challenged from the side, but then accelerated away to lose him and set up a team mate to score. Ironically, it was the Dutch who took inspiration from this and their very impressive forward, Dilroson, (on the books of Man City), gave the Germans a roasting. He did not score himself but was mainly instrumental in Holland’s 4 – 1 win, especially when he set up one goal with a back heel pass which split Germany’s defence wide open.
    The players who display the individualism to give us this ‘fantasy’ seem to me to be mainly from either a South American or African background, hence the conclusion that it was acquired in childhood from ‘rough’ play. I think that here in the UK, and also in Europe as a whole, when coaching young players to beat an opponent in a one against one, the scenario must be presented where a team mate helps to create that situation by intelligent movement by taking away the cover in order to isolate the opponent. If these situations are transferred from the training pitch into match play, then we can reintroduce dribbling and the ability to beat an opponent, back into our game.
    I often see a player with the ball approach an opponent with the intention of attempting to dribble round him, but then a team mate runs into that space behind the opponent, bringing another defender with him, and the opportunity for a piece of individualism from the player in possession is ruined. Instead of isolating the defender, the thoughtless run of the other forward has actually bought along his reinforcements.
    So, as John says, we have to improve game understanding as well as individual skill.

  4. Hi Steve,

    Yes – the final win V Venezuela was U20 level, not U17 as I had stated above. Thanks for the correction. I missed the U19s game yesterday, but hope to catch (record) the remaining group games if not watch them live. Did you see the game yesterday (anyone) and if yes what was notable about it?

    [I’d welcome responses from anyone who watched it….]

  5. Hi all. The intention of my writing the blog was to focus on our success at junior levels where we have a more physical approach to the game than our foreign opponents and the difference at higher levels when our opponents have acquired the physical aspects but have also developed the skills and game understanding during their development years as a priority learning stage. Winning too early is causing us to fail at higher levels of the game. We are not following an intelligent pathway through junior and senior levels of development. We must provide our players with a methodology that combines realistic practices with integrated games. PRACTICE WHAT YOU ARE PLAYING AND PLAY WHAT YOU HAVE PRACTICE THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE DEVELOPMENT PERIOD. Whilst physical maturity of young players is in the distance, the immediate development issues MUST be skill learning and game understanding.
    We must teach and learn to win by practising and playing the work introduced at the various stages throughout the whole development period. Copycatting senior football at junior levels has become our pathway to failure.

  6. Steve says
    “I often see a player with the ball approach an opponent with the intention of attempting to dribble round him, but then a team mate runs into that space behind the opponent, bringing another defender with him, and the opportunity for a piece of individualism from the player in possession is ruined. Instead of isolating the defender, the thoughtless run of the other forward has actually bought along his reinforcements.
    So, as John says, we have to improve game understanding as well as individual skill.”

    My Father was a winger by trade and this really grates me when i see Full backs pass to their winger and run past them on the inside completely blocking the wingers space / chance to get at their opponent 1 on 1 …
    They have no idea / education of where they should run …they just have it in their heads….i’ve released the ball / i NEED to run somewhere now !!!
    Criminal !!

    • PW – I agree.

      Not only that, wingers have been phased out in recent times, anyway, because possession-style play dictates that beating a man and crossing the ball from the goal line is too risky because possession might be lost, a swift counter-attack ensues and the risk of conceding is too great. Imagine!

      I know England were guilty of losing possession in the last 3rd v Germany in Bloemfontein, but, if we play like we are terrified of doing something risky the end result is always going to be a performance like Iceland!

      Lacazette looks an exciting addition to the Premier League. When are we going to be able to say the same about the English boys trying to break through. And is it the system denying the English players opportunities or the players themselves who are not at the level of their overseas opponents?


  7. “Our development process from the beginning places too much emphasis on physical aspects and not enough on skill acquisition and game understanding.”

    Exhibit 1 = Easah Suliman in the first minute of the U19 game v Netherlands today. You can imagine Keith Downing saying something like, ‘Win your first challenge, lads… let Joël Piroe [hat-trick hero v Germany] know you’re there…’

    Almost from the kick off, Suliman absolutely flattened Piro by jumping in to him rather than seeking to win the ball and the ref didn’t even award a free kick: remarkable!

    Before England’s goal scrappy goal – can we say Brereton took it well as he didn’t have much time to adjust his feet – luck or skill? – it was interesting to watch the amount of times that the U19s looked to break at speed and invariably lost the ball in the last 3rd because everything was being done at break-neck speed leading to a mis-control or interception.

    There were flashes of skilful running from the full backs/ wing backs, but almost always with the expectation that the ball might be lost because the speed at which players rocket forward suggests not much thought or game intelligence.

    To provide a bit of balance, it was a bad challenge on Chalobah at the end of the game, too. The Dutch have proved themselves over physical at times, too, perhaps (i.e. WC2010 final?)

    Not a lot of quality play from the U19s today, imo

  8. Hi Peter…..Only Suliman knows if there was the intention to hurt and injure Piroe in the first minute of this afternoon’s England – Holland UEFA Under 19 Championship match. I think that he was over committed but the Manager had no doubt emphasised the importance of the first challenge on the player who had scored a hat trick against Germany in the previous match. The referee was totally negligent in taking no action and it should have been a red card which would have served as a sharp lesson to Suliman because the challenge was totally out of control. Let’s hope that Keith Downing had very stern words with the player after the match and also reflects on how he phrases his own pre-match instructions to individual players.
    I like Marcus Edwards who came on in the second half and he has the skill and jinking movement to take on and beat opponents. He was instrumental in England’s goal by beating an opponent and picking out Sessegnon with a pulled back pass from the byline. Sessegnon’s shot was blocked but Brereton was on hand to score from close range. Sessegnon is also capable of beating players in one v one situations down the left and the right back and right winger on the other side showed some flashes of individualism.
    So there is some potential in the Under 19 squad and according to the commentator Tottenham Manager Pochettino involves Edwards in the first team training. But will he get his first team chance?

    • Hi Dave. The Liverpool squad of the late 80s/90s period should have been the football style we followed at national levels — it contained English grit combined with foreign guile.

  9. Hi Dave….. Sorry to cut in on your question for John, but if you look at the 1960 European Cup Final – Real Madrid 7 Eintracht Frankfurt 3 – then you won’t go far wrong. There were people up and down the country walking around in a daze the next day. They could have declared World War 3 and nobody would have noticed. The most common question – “If that was football, then what have we been playing for all these years?”

  10. Hi PW….I was interested to read about your father, a winger, who was prevented from taking on the opposing full back by his own team mates who blocked his space by poor off the ball running.
    A few years ago, David Pleat gave a talk to members of the London Football Coaches Association and explained how he exploited the skill and pace of his left wingers at two clubs he managed – Luton Town and Tottenham Hotspur. In that era, the most popular way to come out from a defensive situation was for a full back to receive a ball out wide and then look for the big target man which many teams played up front. There were plenty of knock downs created and some of the big strikers were also good at retaining the ball until support arrived.
    David Pleat, however, had an alternative game plan. At Luton, the right back looked inside where a central midfield player like Ricky Hill was making himself available. The right back passed the ball to him and then it was quickly switched to the left where David Moss was positioned out wide. Because the ball had been moved quickly and the opponents had been drawn over to the opposite side of the pitch, Moss often found himself one on one with the opposing right back, who had been isolated and Moss invariably had the beating of him. It was the same at Tottenham with David Ginola on the left wing and Glenn Hoddle in midfield.
    Intelligently isolating opponents in this way and creating situations for one v one should be constantly worked on with young players, if we are going to give them the skill and confidence necessary for taking on and beating opposition defenders.

    • Hi Steve
      No Steve my Dad was a winger back in the 50’s / 60’s so i was brought up on having skill taking players on myself …..the issue of Full backs running forwards and blocking a wingers space / opportunity is more of a latter day thing that gets my back up
      And as you said players have very little idea about the importance of isolating players who want to take opponents on
      I guess with the death of wingers and players dribbling the knowledge of what these players need in terms of support is almost history

  11. Hi John,

    Like Dave [Williams], I would welcome you citing a match/ passage of play that we/ English football ought to be aspiring to. I note that Steve H has cited the 1960 cup final and I’m sure that’s a good example, but what about contemporary matches, too?

    I find it striking that when I watch England on TV there are rarely more than 2 or 3 players in the frame. When the camera pans out the whole team looks static. Contrast that with Barca a few years ago with Xavi, Iniesta et al, and there always seemed to be 4 or 5 players captured by the same TV shot and there is lots of movement by those players and others, too.

    I know we don’t have the calibre of players to match that great Barcelona team, but it seems the tactical input is no where near the level either. I would like to get involved in coaching at the local Charter Mark football club where my kids are involved, but I don’t want to accept the current coaching framework that I would have to work under. I want something better that I can believe in, but I’m not clear how to produce the ‘play-rounds’ and penetration to coach/ play exciting, controlled football.

    After being a decent (if limited) schoolboy player I find that having 30 years away from the game is not the best preparation. The bizarre thing is that if I had been coaching for 30 years in this current system I’m not confident that I would be any better equipped.


    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks. I started watching football in ’77/78 so Liverpool are the obvious template for anyone of my generation looking for a an exciting and intelligent football style to follow. Right through my school years they were a joy to at the very top table of European football.

      Liverpool had everything at the time: steel in midfield to take control of the centre of the pitch, but these same players were also skilled in playing short – in triangles – or mixing up the game-style by picking out someone ‘in space’. The players in space had the flair to isolate defenders and take them on to create goal scoring opportunities for themselves or play in clinical finishers up front. And to start it all off Liverpool had elegant defenders who could initiate attacks from the back.

      When my kids decided to join a local football team in W Yorks last year and I thought I might like to join in it was Liverpool I turned to when thinking about what game style I would like to be associated with. Namely:

      1 Look froward: play forward (when you can)
      2 Play in triangles (but if there is a better option – ‘be brave’)
      3 Play as a team: with Style and confidence

      The problem for me was that when I suggested that I did not agree with and/ or endorse the current FA syllabus and coaching/ player pathway they seemed to think I didn’t know what I was talking about. In short, a maverick!

      I am no maverick, but I don’t want to carry on doing the same things that I see other coaches doing because I don’t want to be responsible for contributing to this continuing mediocrity. I want something better for my kids and local football up here.

  12. Hi Peter…..Being influenced, learning and developing as a coach is a lifelong journey. As a player, even as a mediocre and failed one, you can be fortunate enough to have been coached by an outstanding teacher of the game who has a profound influence on you. If your years as a player failed to bring you into contact with such a person, then you can still be influenced as an observer of the game by the performances in a particular era of a team, its quality and the methodology of the coach.
    I consider myself to have been very lucky because my teenage years were in the sixties and during this period there was a huge groundswell of interest in coaching in England due to the innovative methods of a number of outstanding coaches. But even more importantly, these people had a great desire to share and spread their knowledge into the entire coaching fraternity, and they gave up their knowledge and time to both the grassroots amateur, like myself, and the professional at the top of the game. So it was that, after moving from one end of the country to the other to gain an education in coaching, that I found myself in the enviable position of being allowed to observe the training at a particular club in east London whenever work commitments made it possible.
    My advice would be to take every opportunity to watch coaches at work. You just can’t see enough sessions and I would honestly say that with the very best coaches,I find there is something to take from every session I see. Unfortunately, the days when you could gain admittance to a club’s training ground following a written request to the Manager, now seem to be gone. However, there are still regional coaching associations in existence, although limited in number compared to the past. We have the Surrey Coaches Association and London Football Coaches Association down here and I think the Sussex Coaches Association still puts on sessions. Up in your area, the West Riding Coaches Association used to be very active when I lived there,but I’m not sure if it is still in existence. If there is nothing doing, then perhaps you could get some of the other coaches in your club to try and startup a coaching association and invite a local non-league manager or coach to give a talk or conduct a question and answer session. This could then be followed up on a later occasion with a coaching session put on by a senior coach at a local club.
    The vital thing to remember, as I said at the beginning, is that coaching is a lifelong journey and you are always learning. Sometimes you can see a session and at first you think that there was nothing new that you learnt from it. But then you remember a little tweak to a practice that you had not thought of before, or perhaps the coach came out with a phrase or way of explaining something to the players which was new to you. These little things put into your memory box add to your development as a coach.

  13. Hi Steve. First of all — a late ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’ to you.
    In the past, as you will remember, Lilleshall NSC was the annual meeting place for so many coaches. The work and discussions went on for hours on the field to Lecture Theatre to Canteen to Bar. I was fortunate to also experience similar situations during my time at West Ham Utd. There was a tremendous atmosphere in which discussions brought out ideas and beliefs from players and coaches of all types. With anything at hand, football situations were set out and moved around as a topic under discussion developed and cup after cup of tea was drunk In Cassetari’s cafe.
    These days open discussions no longer seem to be available to coaches or players and I believe this is a shame. I certainly gained a great deal of information and also was able to transfer that information to players I worked with. I was also able to modify more easily coaching dogma that became part of national development methods over the following years and I produced the PREMIER SKILLS COACHING METHOD as an alternative development ‘pathway’.
    As you mention, the loss of county coaching associations has reduced the opportunities for coaches to meet and work on a multitude of football topics. Coaching has become overcome with ‘statistical mania’ and playing issues seem too structured leading to the game becoming ‘robotic’ . Ordinary has become the standard to achieve and individualism has been suppressed making our game the ‘boring game’ and not ‘the beautiful game’ as described by PELE.

  14. Hi John…Thanks for your birthday wishes.
    There was a moment in the England Under 19’s semi final win over the Czech Republic last night, when an England central defender had the ball in his own half. Midfield player, Marcus Edwards, came within a few yards of his team mate, but all he succeeded in doing was blocking the path that the defender could have used if he had been trying to make things happen by bringing the ball forward into midfield. Stewart Robson, in commentary, drew attention to the situation, pointing out that Edwards should have got at least another ten yards up the field, freeing up the space for the England centre half to advance with the ball. Instead we had the all too familiar sight of an easy square pass, followed by several more, keeping negative possession with no penetration.
    Edwards, in my opinion, is a talented player and I feel that in the various age group tournaments this summer we have seen a number of players with ability wearing the England shirt. Unfortunately, it is those vital ingredients of game understanding and creativity which are missing and which make the really outstanding player. Without that quality of player we are destined to fail at senior international level for many more years.
    Recently, comments have been made on this blog concerning players who take up space that could be used by a team mate’s individualism who is in possession of the ball. When to enter space is a critical factor in the decision making of our players and many of them seem unaware of how best to use this space.

  15. Hi all. Because of our ‘copy-cat’ history of following the playing methods of successful football nations, we are at present trying to impose a ‘possession style’ game on players , especially our rear defenders, who are extremely uncomfortable when on the ball. Foreign players are being ‘imported’ to deliver the type of individual skills necessary for this ‘elaborate’ game-style to be played effectively here.
    Playing purposely from back positions requires players to be developed through a system that cultivates skills and encourages the use of them throughout the development years. I don’t see either the practical work or playing of the game providing the Information required to produce high skills for our game.
    The recent success at junior international levels MAY be a significant indicator of change for the better, but we have seen victories at most of these levels before. Player importation and an over-reliance on physical attributes makes the step-up to senior levels for our players as questionable for the future as in the past.

  16. Hi John….Yes, even though England achieved some welcome success in this summer’s Youth Tournaments, we had a number of examples in which a combination of bad decision making and poor skill on the ball by England’s defenders when trying to play out from the back, almost gave away unnecessary goals. The impression is that the players are being enthusiastically encouraged to make short passes out of defence to develop a more constructive game style, rather than ‘launching’ every clearance down field with a hopeful long kick. This is to be commended but the players must be aware of where the pressure is and if it is in the area around the ball then the situation calls for the ball to be played beyond the pressure, unless an overload can be created and the ball played around the pressurising opponents.
    Some may remember the fourth clinching goal in the last minute of the 1966 World Cup Final. Bobby Moore controlled the ball from a high cross on his chest in the England penalty area. Other England players and most of the crowd were screaming at him to put the ball in Row Z, but Moore had already .seen the acres of space in the West German half and Geoff Hurst starting to make his run in the direction of that space. Moore’s hit a pass of unerring accuracy which sent Hurst on his way to score and make England’s win certain. Moore’s skill, decision making and ‘picture’, which he already had in his head, were the crucial factors. We have to develop central defenders with the same qualities as the former England captain.

  17. Hi Steve. It’s interesting that you mention Bobby Moore and his ability on the ball —- he entered football as a mid-field player and was encouraged to move into a central defensive role by Malcolm Allison who was very influential at West ham at the time. Bobby was an OK mid-field performer, but he lacked pace. He already had a terrific ability to ‘read’ situations and this is what Malcolm noticed. We should be looking at moving players around more as often they are playing in positions that they have grown up playing in but which are not necessarily best suited to their playing qualities. I have often mentioned this in previous ‘blogs’ and it is an issue that sees many potentially top rate players not being used correctly and failing to achieve a high playing status. The best coaches use their eyes to recognise ‘hidden’ potential and must have an ability to ‘sell’ (encourage) player(s) to make the move into a different role. It’s a coaching quality that few understand or use properly throughout all levels of the game………so an ordinary mid-fielder like Bobby, would have probably remained just an ordinary player instead of becoming a football legend……… Geoff. Hurst, was another player who was prompted to move position by Ron. Greenwood……..look what he achieved in the game.

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