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A change of heart over the Carling Cup – how do you beat a top team?

DavidClarkeFunny how a lot of teams in the top division in England have had a change of heart and decided that the Carling Cup is now worth winning.

For years it’s been the stage for trying out players and letting the reserves have the spotlight. Now teams outside the top four in the Premier League fancy their chances of winning it.

This is sadly the realization that only a handful of teams have a chance and only two or three a realistic chance of winning the Premier League.

Watching the scores as the matches were being played in round two this week there seems to be a time during the game when the big teams suddenly wake up and score goals.

Teams from the top divisions can be losing 1-0 for most of the game but the last 10 minutes usually ends with the ‘better’ teams scoring enough goals to win. This is due to a number of reasons.

1. The lower league teams have been playing in top gear for most of the match and mistakes begin to show and tiredness comes in so the higher league teams find the last 10 minutes a lot easier.
2. The lower league teams begin to sit back and try to protect the league by playing deep allowing the higher league teams to attack from much higher up the pitch.
3. The higher league teams bring out the big guns if they are losing for the last 10 minutes – the attackers they have been saving for the league games.

For youth teams I see a very similar trend. During cup games I have taken teams to play matches against opposition from leagues higher than our team. Often we will surprise them by how well we play and pass the ball, and will score a couple of early goals. As the match wears on usually you find yourself pegged back and finally lose the game.

How do you prevent this?

I find substitutions in the last 10 minutes help your team, especially tired players who are finding it hard going. You can also make sure you continue to play the way you have been playing for the rest of the game. Try and get the ball into the opposition half and keep it there. Get your team to put the ball into touch to give them more time to organize themselves. Win the ball back – it sounds simple but if your team has the ball the opposition cannot score.

All these things are fine in theory but you’re going to have to use all your coaching instincts when it happens to you!


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Nice job you’ve done on your site – are you having fun with it? It’s interesting and well worth the time to visit.

Comment by Mark R

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