It’s a team game…

We have a fascination currently in the country within player development that seems to be growing, at the expense of the team and other key components – and that’s the desire to produce a flair, attacking, creative dribbler. A Number 10. 

However, it is essential that we don’t lose sight of the bigger picture of what constitutes a team. This is made up of a number of essential parts that allow the whole thing to function effectively, like an well-oiled machine. Even a team of 11 Lionel Messi’s wouldn’t be very functional!
I saw a statistic today that was somewhat alarming and runs parallel to the matter of our eternal quest for the next Number 10. Since the Premier League season in 2000, there is a 15% decrease in the number of English centre halves. This is a hugely important matter and should influence our shaping of player development.
So, what does the team at the elite level consist of:
– Leaders of others
– Workers like soldier ants
– Ones with a tall stature that protect the goal
– Physically dominant players that ‘allow’ others to play
– Skillful players in possession
– Jokers that keep the team together
– Sensible people that keep the team together
– Technical players that can manipulate the ball
– Selfish ones with a desire to score goals
– Older heads that support the youthful exuberance
– Younger and enthusiastic players to push boundaries
– Attack minded by nature
– Defence minded by nature
– Tactical thinkers that understand the game
I’m sure there are more essential roles and you can add to the list within the comments section but we cannot lose sight of the bigger picture. Yes, it’s essential we allow the players to experiment through free play and within an environment that expresses creativity and the ability to try new things. 
But also don’t forget you need players that are going to throw their head in the way to block a goal-bound shot and do all the ugly stuff when we don’t have possession to get the ball back. It’s the fully functioning team unit that ultimately allows our creative, game winning players to do their stuff. 
The question for you as coaches is how do we set up our sessions to ensure we: 
a) allow all of these skills to develop? 
b) value the importance of these?
c) recognise these in players?
Just a thought…

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3 thoughts on “It’s a team game…

  • April 10, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    You make some great points above Nick, a very interesting read indeed! I'd be interested to know your opinion on England's options at centre half say in the next 10 years or so? Especially with strong players like Rio and John Terry having left the international fold. Cahill and Phil Jags are also ageing. Any players you see potentially filling this void in years to come?

  • April 10, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Great question. I think the fascination with creating number 10's has meant we have forgotten the next generation of players to stop teams scoring! There are some good players such as John Stones and Ben Gibson coming through, then younger down players such as Ben Chilwell at Leicester City but not a mass quantity it seems.

  • January 26, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Interesting article. I think it is important to develop players who can play in various positions i.e. Dutch Total football. When we do that, we will have players who can apprefunction in all phases of the game and more improtantly, work with their teammates for a common objective through a greater appreciation of each other's roles having played in various positions.


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