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The ups and downs of the beautiful game

dc1It was refreshing to see that Celtic has chosen a manager not on the latest results his team produced but on the way they play the game.

Relegated from the Premiership at the first attempt, Tony Mowbray’s West Brom have been praised for the way they play. When they won promotion in 2007 from the Championship against teams who played with one up front and nine men behind the ball – Mowbray remained true to his ideals. Much as he has this last season only to see his team fail. But Celtic have recognized in his team the core of something special, something that will excite the fans and bring more trophys.

The words he spoke at the time reminded me of my own experience a couple of seasons ago when I took over an U14s team that hadn’t won a single game for two seasons. Eventually the team was turned around and I can look back on the first 5 or 6 games when we played well but lost every one in the same way that Mowbray does:

“It hasn’t always been easy. There have been times I have been sitting in other managers’ offices having a beer after games and they have been drooling about our style, telling me how great it is and what good footballers I have almost to a sycophantic extent… on the back of them beating us 2-0. That is hard to accept, but you don’t change what you do, you just try to become better at it,” said Mowbray.

I remember well after losing 2-1 the manager and his coaches coming over and expressing surprise we had lost considering how well we had played. We hadn’t won a game all season and their words made us even more determined to play the way I was coaching them, and if you cannot retain possession, master the football, attack on the flanks and in expansive fashion, your team will never progress.

At West Brom Tony Mobray has introduced a culture right through the club that is based on skills, technique and the ability to hold onto the ball. Here is the Academy team at the Soccer AM Skills School:

 Soccer Skills and Drills


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