Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Fitness, Soccer News, Soccer Refereeing, Soccer Skills, Soccer Team Management, Soccer Training | Tags: Birmingham, centre-backs, counter attack, defending, elmohamady, lee bowyer, sunderland
Faced with entertaining the team that has scored the most goals in our league last week I decided to play three defenders for the first time this season, bring my wingers into midfield with a lone striker up front.
It meant my team was sitting deep allowing the opposition to come on to us. It was a tactic we used to great effect last season hitting teams on the break after they lost the ball to us. It relies on us keeping a clean sheet up to half time then adjusting the team accordingly to try and get a goal. We have been much more attack minded this season and are the second highest goal scorers in the league so I was expecting a lot of shots on goal.
Unfortunately the plan was never tested properly because we let in two early goals and then struggled to change our tactics to get ourselves back into the game. Such was the intensity of the match I was finding it hard to get my views across to the players – not helped by the squeeling parents around me.
We found it hard to take the initiative back and all our hard work in training where we practice compact defending had gone to waste.
In the same week Steve Bruce the manager of English Premier League team Sunderland also decided to play three centre-backs to deal with Stoke City’s threat from set pieces, but the plan did not work for him either as the home side scored all three of their goals this way. The final two Stoke goals were similar – coming from excellent Jermaine Pennant free-kicks, and converted by Robert Huth, who is ironically enough a centre-back.
It is disappointing when your tactics don’t work, but it doesn’t mean you were wrong to try it. As a coach using tactics in matches should be part of your game. It’s not just the players that need to experiment – getting things wrong is part of your learning curve as a manager.
Watch these highlights of Sunderland playing Birmingham in which both teams use three centre-backs and both get caught out.