Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

A striker who plays with a smile

dave clarkeThere have been some great players gracing the English Premier League this year, Samir Nasri at Arsenal, Carlos Tevez at Manchester City, Andy Carroll at Newcastle United and players like Yaya Toure, Michael Essien and Scott Parker, strong ball winners.

But the player who has stood out to me more than anyone is Florent Malouda at Chelsea where he has had an excellent first half of the season scoring 9 goals and creating lots of others. Go to his website and you will see the work he does for the people caught out in the earthquake in Haiti and his visits to local hospitals.

He is beginning to look like a role model both on and off the pitch.

And yet at the end of 2010 Samir Nasri was named French footballer of the year ahead of Malouda, confirming what strength in depth there is in the Premier League.

Watch out for Malouda in the coming weeks I reckon he’s got a lot more to offer this season.

See his goals in this clip below:

You don’t need to kick people to be a good player

One of my players got hit by a two-footed challenge and went down in great pain. Luckily nothing was broken and he was able to walk after a long rest. I was furious but the opposition manager and his player were unrepentant, the boy even chuckled to his team mates.

The problem is young players are watching these kinds of tackles on the TV and replicating them on the pitch. And some coaches are seeing it as a way to make their team stronger.

Earlier this season in the Premier League, Newcastle United’s Hatem Ben Arfa suffered a broken leg in a tackle by Nigel de Jong of Manchester City and Wolves’ Karl Henry was sent off for a wild challenge on Jordi Gomez of Wigan.

Harry Redknapp thinks managers should drop players who commit reckless tackles. The Tottenham Hotspur manager is worried that someone will have a career threatening injury unless there is a crackdown on bad challenges.

“You don’t need to kick people to be a good player. The only way to calm them down is by leaving them out of the team and by saying to them: ‘I don’t need you being sent off every week and making reckless tackles. We need 11 men and until you can time your tackles and make good tackles then you’re not going to play’.”

It’s not just the Premier League managers that should take a firm hand with bad tackles it should be coaches right through all levels of soccer that should make sure their players don’t do them.

Watch this horror tackle in a non-league game:

The importance of formations and covering players

dave clarkeManchester City in the English Premier League have bought some good players for a lot of money. But they haven’t really been much more successful than a lot of the teams that have spent less. One of the reasons is the use of players in the formations Roberto Mancini puts out.

His latest tactic of using a midfield trio of Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Yaya Touré, I found it strange that Toure had the task of linking with the forwards.

At Barcelona Toure was known as a holding player.

Barcelona use tactics very well. Manager Pep Guardiola often plays with both full-backs pushed high, a risky strategy necessitated by how frequently they come up against sides who sit deep against them. With width on both sides they can switch the play quickly from one flank to the other, and turn defences.

In this formation they need cover in case the opponent breaks, which is where Toure excelled and now Sergio Busquets sits in, becoming in effect a third centre-back.

This is very similar to the diamond formation used at Chelsea when Mikel John Obi would sit back as a third centre-back.

When using formations in youth matches it is often the coaches that think about how to cover when employing an attacking formation that are the most successful. Cover by getting a midfielder to drop into the space left by attacking defenders can be the key to winning matches.

Of course they are not a third centre-back often they will have to hold up counter-attacks on their own but a well positioned player will make a huge difference in these matches.

Mentioning Barcelona and wing play with covering defenders cannot pass without a word about Theo Walcott and the Barcelona-Arsenal game in the Champions League last season. With Arsenal 2-0 down Arsene Wenger changed tactics and sent on his wing commander Walcott. Watch the clip below of how Walcott changed the game by stealing the wings from Barcelona. Great tactics.

Even Carlos Tevez misses sometimes

dave clarkeWhen Yaya Toure sprinted half the length of the pitch for Manchester City, 15 minutes into their English Premier League match at Sunderland, few expected what would happen next.

Toure’s outstanding pass presented Carlos Tevez with a goal as wide as the mouth of the river Tyne. Tevez scooped it over.

Okay so every week we all see players miss, even those as good as Tevez. The amazing thing about it, though, was the time and space Tevez gave himself.

In youth games we have all witnessed the miscued shot that goes out for a throw in or an airkick as the player takes their eye off with the defender bearing down on them. But Tevez had all the time in the world to score and it was probably that miss which put the team off and left them 1-0 down at the end.

So next time your young striker is in tears at missing a chance tell him the tale of Carlos Tevez and the amazing miss at Sunderland.

The diamond united

dave clarkeIt is interesting to speculate how Roberto Mancini will galvanise the galactico-style squad he is assembling at Manchester City.

Reports suggest he is going to copy the formation used by Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea which helped them win the Premier League last season. And what a diamond formation it could be.

This is how I would play the diamond formation at City…

World Cup winner David Silva will be the tip of the diamond, the outstanding Yaya Toure at the base, with Gareth Barry and latest recruit James Milner left and right.

Now that looks a strong set up to me and a great use of the diamond midfield.

Although Silva made his name at Valencia on the left, I’ve seen enough of him to know he can operate just behind an attacking pair – with lots to choose from lets say Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor.

Study this clip of a goal by David Silva for Spain against Poland. Watch how the support is in front and at the sides of the player on the ball and watch how Silva at the tip of the move continues his run and scores the goal.

Is Yaya Toure the best midfielder in the world?

Manchester City are paying a lot of money to have Yaya Toure in their team, but is he worth it? A player that has played for Barcelona and been courted by Chelsea and Arsenal must have something.

He’s been kept out of the Barcelona side a few times as Sergio Busquets has come into the reckoning. But apart from being a very strong midfielder who wins the ball and closes all the midfield gaps, when he does get the ball he can surge into space and beat players on his way to goal.

He’s an exciting prospect for Manchester City fans and I for one am looking forward to seeing him in the English Premiership. How Barcelona will cope without his surging pace will also be interesting to see.

To me he’s the real deal, let me know what you think. Check out the video below and tell me he’s not going to bring an added dimension to Manchester City’s game…

Local rec frozen? Go train in Dubai…

It’s been a frustrating time in England trying to play matches and take training session with deep snow all around the place. It was interesting to hear how difficult lots of professional teams have found it to train this last couple of weeks because most outside pitches have been frozen solid.

It’s not just problems with pitches though it’s also a problem getting to the grounds.

I got my U9s up to training to clear the astro turf pitch we can use. Six turned up. I slipped on ice and could barely walk. The parents faced a gruelling drive home. They won’t do that again in a hurry.

Wycombe Wanderers have found the same problem. Because they were playing Leeds United who have undersoil heating and an army of people to clear snow off the pitch, they had to travel all the way up north to their match.

They haven’t trained all week, whereas Leeds have a plastic training pitch which they can use in conditions like this.

Most clubs have to train indoors if they can find somewhere open.

When you hear that a big club like Manchester United with all their facilities are finding it difficult to train even though they have undersoil heated training pitches you know there is a problem. Your local rec isn’t going to be much use.

Manchester Utd have penciled in a trip to Dubai to train – now there’s a thought. Wonder if my local club would stump up the cash for a little trip like that.

But there are things you can do if you can sort out a flat bit of snow to pass the ball around on. Get everyone to bring flasks of hot drinks and do half an hour of simple passing. As long as its daylight your players should be okay.

I’ve been asking around to see what players have been up to and thought I’d put up a couple of clips for you to see:

And remember in the 70s when games went ahead with an orange ball?

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Soccer stars and their cars: no room for muddy boots

David ClarkewWho says money can’t buy you taste? Imagine turning up to the next Clackton boys U9s match driving the car that English Premier League star Stephen Ireland drove home. You might get one or two comments from the opposition manager.

The 23-year old Irish midfielder wanted his girlfriend Jessica’s 24th birthday to be special and now that the Manchester City players are rolling in cash he decided to splash £264,000 on a nice little runner for her.

You’ll be able to spot her a mile off in the red and white Bentley GTC as she zooms around the lanes of Cheshire..

It has customised red leather seats with a romantic message stitched into them surrounded by a heart. At least £1,000 was spent to change the Bentley’s B winged insignia to Jessica’s initals JL.

The car boasts a 6-litre, 552bhp engine with a top speed of 198mph and can go from 0-60 in just 4.8 seconds. Ireland has a certain ‘taste’ when it comes to cars. He drives a £97,000 Audi R8 which he had resprayed in Manchester City blue and white colours.

His car has blue petrol cap shaped into the logo of Superman and number sevens on all his alloy wheels to match with his shirt number.

But where do they put all the muddy boots after a match in the pouring rain?


dave clarke

Why Michael Owen’s last minute goal was so good

David Clarke
Michael Owen’s goal for Manchester Utd against Manchester City was an excellent goal for a number of reasons. I’m always going on about control and passing, receiving and knowing where players are. Well this goal was a great pass and finish.

With the clock showing time was indeed up a desperate ball into the box from Manchester Utd was easily cleared by the City defence. A big up and under with no real hope of a goal scoring chance. It relies on the luck of the bounce, not skill.

The next ball is played with fabulous vision and the right weight to thread it through the City defence to Owen. That was an outstanding pass under pressure by Ryan Giggs. That wasn’t relying on luck, it was a well-timed pass aimed at splitting the City defence open – and it did.

Then there is the finish. Owen controls and with the outside of his boot shoots past the goalkeeper into the net. A cool finish. And yet Owen could see a defender coming quickly at him and the goalkeeper coming towards him. Not the easy chance he makes it look.

In injury time in the first half ex Manchester Utd forward Carlos Tevez has a similar chance. He hit the post.

Here’s the goal so you judge it yourself:

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Strikers are only as good as their coach

Sitting on the bench is not the way to give a striker confidence. So what will happen at Manchester City who have now got – at the last count – nine strikers? Carlos Tevez is one of them and he moaned about being on the bench at Manchester United. A striker needs confidence and needs to feel part of a team. At Arsenal, Emanuel Adebayor had the confidence of one of the best managers in the game, Arsene Wenger.

It was Wenger who made Adebeyor into the striker he is today – even a troubled season like the last one saw him create and score some great goals. He seems to be quite a handful for any manager. Make no mistake, under the wrong manager, the young aggressive Adebeyor would have developed into a much different striker, one more suited to Wigan than Arsenal.

dcAs a coach and manager of young players we must all look at managers like Arsene Wenger and how he nurtures his players, makes them play soccer with a passing and receiving game and makes their ball holding technique so much better.

Now he has gone to Manchester City he will be under a much different coach, and maybe he will look back and wonder how great he could have been had he stayed under the watchful eye of Arsene Wenger.

Here’s Adebayor in his last season at Arsenal…

 Soccer Skills and Drills


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