June 25, 2018

IMAGINE WHAT POPOVICH OR BELICHICK WOULD DO WITH THEM:

16 Conclusions: England 6-1 Panama (Daniel Storey, 24th June 2018, Football 365)

Writing a column in the Nottingham Post before the game, broadcaster Darren Fletcher recalled speaking to Southgate on a train on the way to watch an NBA basketball game about being influenced by other sports in his preparation for the World Cup. If that sounds a little odd, given that football is so different to other sports, the answers were illuminating.

Southgate explained that the nature of basketball was interesting to him, because of the way it was five-on-five and yet players always managed to find space around the basket. He spoke to coaches about the timings of their runs and the way they could legally screen opposition players to create pockets of space, and studied footage to see if he could transpose that to football.

In particular, Southgate believed he could use similar theories with free-kicks from out wide and from corners. Players would offer dummy runs and feint in one direction before moving, each player having strict instructions and so too the set-piece taker. Watching England's fourth goal on Sunday, you could see that theoretical plan in wonderful practicality.

Southgate is not the perfect manager, but it is a long time since England have played in a style and system where the team's coaching so apparent. Much of the credit for that lies with Mauricio Pochettino, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho et al, but Southgate has sprinkled his own gold dust. These little things matter.



Posted by at June 25, 2018 3:53 AM

  

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