Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


How do you cope with losing your best player?

DCThe loss of Cesc Fabregas and Carlos Tevez will be a big blow to Arsenal and Manchester City but they need to send out a message that the teams are moving on not looking back.

I think the history books will show that although a Fabregas driven Arsenal could compete with Barcelona and give them a good game, in the English Premier League Arsenal lost too many games because teams could soak up the pressure and hit them on the break – their style of play won’t win Arsenal the League.

Arsene Wenger can now revert to play 4-4-2 bringing back their own counter attacking prowess. 75% of their passes in the final third of the pitch were successful last season, yet they could not translate possession into goals. A fast breaking Arsenal will give them more space to take advantage.

At Manchester City losing the 25-goal a season Tevez is also seen as a blow. But City can buy in a replacement that will more than make up for the loss. Much as Liverpool did when they lost Fernando Torres and replaced him with Andy Carroll.

City have never lost when Tevez scores, but throughout last season he was constantly in the news for his arguments with the club – something they will be better off without. And there are good replacements out there like Sergio Aguero another Argentine playing at Atletico Madrid. He is a younger version of Tevez without the histrionics.

So don’t despair if you lose one of your best players – as we speak I am talking with parents who want to take their son out of the team because they are being wooed by another club. I’m not losing sleep over it, I’ve been looking at the squad to see who can be promoted from one of our other teams. Of course that causes problems for that team!

And so it goes…

Watch Fabregas give the ball away with a suicidal backheel against Barcelona, and Tevez having his penalty saved in the Copa America for Argentina



A top tactic to open defences – the fake striker

DCIn the English Premier League this season there are two tactics I want to take from it and give to my team next season.

First the use of a fake centre forward, a player that drops off from a normal attacking role to drop into midfield dragging the defenders out of their comfort zone creating space behind them.

Think Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez. Messi continually drags defenders out of the area to create space for players like Pedro to work in. Tevez not only plays as a striker but also links the whole of the team together making up for any lack of team play by always being available for the ball before breaking away with it to attack the goal.

Messi creates space for a new kind of winger, a player that cuts inside and attacks the heart of the defence where once a centre forward stood. The fake centre forward creates the space for the winger to cut into rather than take the ball wide and cross it they can cut into the danger zone and shoot.

Sounds simple enough so I’m going to try it.

Watch Carlos Tevez work on a drill you can set up for your players in the clip below



Why a simple through ball is better than a long pass

dave clarkeCharlie Adam’s name was among an elite set of players at the PFA player of the year award. Samir Nasri, Scott Parker, Carlos Tevez, Rafael van der Vaart, Nemanja Vidic and the winner Gareth Bale. Adam has had a fantastic season but has felt the pressure of being one of the main reasons Blackpool did so well in the early games.

Adam is central to the way Blackpool play with his passing that sets his attackers free and as he struggled to find his form so too have Blackpool.In the recent loss to Wigan Athletic Adam lost the ball in a move that resulted in a Wigan goal for Charles N’Zogbia.

Adam needs to look at his game and whereas early on in the season he was setting Blackpool’s attackers free with long raking passes now the passes are getting sloppy. He needs to pass shorter to get his accuracy back and go for more simple moves to set attackers free.

The simple through ball to his attackers would work just as well as one of his long passes – and they are a much easier route to goal. This is how young players should be aiming to build their attacks, using short accurate passes with the occassional long one into space behind the defence.

Defenders won’t be happy if your creative midfielder keeps giving the ball away… and neither will you.
Check him out below:



Shutting down a team’s options

I picked up a good defending tip from an English Premier League in November when Birmingham City took on the might of Manchester City.

When I get my teams to defend an opposition goal kick I get them to leave one of the full backs ‘open’ so the goalkeeper has an easy option to pass to them. In that way my team can control the play better by closing down that player’s options forcing them into speculative kicks down the pitch.

If the kicks come from the goalkeeper they usually have more height and power and are harder to defend against.

However in the Premier League the opposite occurred. Manchester City’s goalkeeper JOe Hart likes to pass to the full backs or centrebacks and the team builds up from there. The Birmingham City manager Alex McCleish got his team to cut off the routes to the defenders meaning Hart had to launch the ball to the forwards.

But with a forward line of Carlos Tevez, David Silva, James Milner and Adam Johnson the Birmingham players easily won the headers and Manchester City were very unsuccessful from goalkicks.

So as a coach you often have to size up the opposition to see your options when launching balls forward.



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.



Get your players to move to the next level

Giving players targets is a great way to get them to move to the next level, and if individuals in your team move to the next level then so does the team. You don’t have to spend hours on each player, just give them simple targets to work towards during matches.

You can set targets for the team and for individuals.

Set teams targets like:

  • We let in five goals in the last match lets let less in this time.

  • Win the first half/win the second half.

Or set individual targets:

  • Make five successful passes.

  • Make five tackles to win the ball.

  • Have five shots at goal.

Simple targets can help your team and individual players see that they are advancing even when the team loses.

Even the professionals give themselves targets. If you go to my blog you can watch a clip showing some of the best professionals in the world challenging players to take their game to the next level, including William Gallas, Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta.

Take your players to the next level by pushing them using targets.




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