Once again, before Friday’s session I framed the work carefully, telling them exactly what I wanted: good passing. I repeated the last passing practice we had, with a few players outside a big square and 4-5 inside, with 4-5 balls. I like this exercise because, as much as you don’t have a goal, there’s decision make to be done, due to the amount of action going on at the same time. The session has to be driven thoroughly by the coach. I paid extra attention to the players I consider to have the worst passing skills, correcting their technique. Another good coaching point is the weight of the pass. In general my team still underweights the touch, disrupting the tempo of play as a whole.
After that I had a quick review of the team tasks in corner kicks and created a set play. I want the corner kicks on the right to be taken by left footed players and vice-versa. The taker will pass and overlap the receiver creating a good angle for an inswing shot.
Then we had a game against the U14 NPLs. We started completely unfocused. The pressure up the field wasn’t good and the opponent’s accurate positional play had us outnumbered in the wide areas several times. In possession they step up to a 3-4-3 formation. The combo with center-mid, wide mid and winger caught us off guard. If our wingers and offensive mids don’t track back to help, the full back is in severe danger. My right back was completely confused by this approach, as was I and in a matter of 11 minutes we were down 3-0. I think the score was a little exaggerated though. The first goal was in from a Corner Kick. In the second our centerback got beaten in the 1v1 but the cover system worked. And the last one was a long shot that our GK couldn’t cope with.
Below is a video of two goals we conceeded and the first we scored:
I was watching it from inside and I could see my teams reaction from a privileged point of view. We started pressing more aggressively and slowly began to win more individual clashes, gaining confidence. I can’t blame our attackers for the poor performance in the front third, as I didn’t work on that. But even with poor attacking patterns we managed to step up and tie the game. It’s the second time we play against the NPL team for a draw (in the first I wasn’t present).
This game drew my attention to our poor wing play. Our wingers are always too high up the field (in line with the center forward). This forces them to get the ball with the back to the goal or makes the rest of our team look for low-percentage through balls. I’ll pay particular attention to that in the next few sessions. Also the number of turnovers caused by bad passing is ridiculous. The core of my work has to address this problem. Everything else is poor if the passing is poor.