Articles Links Research & Papers on player development


Articles Links Research & Papers on player development

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dirk vanadidas
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see how fritz does academies , too long to paste .

http://static.bundesliga.de/media/native/autosync/dfl_leistungszentren2011_gb.pdf
Arthur
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dirkvanadidas wrote:



That's amazing Dirk. We can only dream here and it looks like the Germans have set the new benchmark in junior development.
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Keep the articles coming guys.:)

Some good reads there.
Arthur
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Arthur wrote:
dirkvanadidas wrote:



That's amazing Dirk. We can only dream here and it looks like the Germans have set the new benchmark in junior development.


Interesting quote from this presentation;

Quote:
"the 36 academies run by the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs currently accomadate 5,445 young people, ensuring they benefit from top training conditions and get a decent education.


[size=8]5,445[/size]

In a comparable situation we must have maybe 500 odd players in state based academies and some of our HAL youth teams.

Is player development a numbers game?

Judy Free
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Arthur wrote:
Conclusion? The first coach in the career of a player is the most important.


Which is more often than not a kid's parent, brother, relative or family friend.

This group can be the most consistently influential person in a player's development.

Kids with sockah savvy close family mentors have a distinct advantage over the pack.


Judy Free
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A lot of nostalgia in this thread.

Terms, phrases and ideas that people were writing about 20+ years ago.
General Ashnak
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And like then are still relevent today, you should feel good about that mate - it is just a shame that what would have been seen as quite revolutionairy back then is not today, even though it is not being widely practised.

The thing about football - the important thing about football - is its not just about football.
- Sir Terry Pratchett in Unseen Academicals
For pro/rel in Australia across the entire pyramid, the removal of artificial impediments to the development of the game and its players.
On sabbatical Youth Coach and formerly part of The Cove FC

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General Ashnak wrote:
And like then are still relevent today, you should feel good about that mate - it is just a shame that what would have been seen as quite revolutionairy back then is not today, even though it is not being widely practised.


Main diff is that there are now many more ppl 'talking a good game' than yesteryear.

I put that down to the Internet and the proliferation of console games.



Edited by judy free: 9/11/2011 03:28:31 PM
General Ashnak
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Judy Free wrote:
General Ashnak wrote:
And like then are still relevent today, you should feel good about that mate - it is just a shame that what would have been seen as quite revolutionairy back then is not today, even though it is not being widely practised.


Main diff is that there are many more ppl 'talking a good game' than yesteryear.

I put that down to the Internet and console games.


Good thing I don't play console games ;)

The thing about football - the important thing about football - is its not just about football.
- Sir Terry Pratchett in Unseen Academicals
For pro/rel in Australia across the entire pyramid, the removal of artificial impediments to the development of the game and its players.
On sabbatical Youth Coach and formerly part of The Cove FC

Decentric
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Arthur wrote:

[[size=7]b]A key element in driving the junior programmes into success programmes – which produce great future hockey players, is to have the best, most experienced coaches in the system working with the beginners.[/size][/b]

In spite of being aware of this powerful reality, we do quite the contrary and appoint under-qualified coaches to do the important role of nurturing and developing our juniors.


This same concept is applied to sound early childhood teaching practice.

Good teaching of fundamentals usually provides improved learning at an older age.

In terms of what some constantly denigrate as park football, with connotations of being insignificant, ideally all footballers should be provided with the tools to be the best player they can be. This should enhance enjoyment of the game. If children , or adults, enjoy football, they will keep playing. ATM we have too much coaching going into elite players, some who don't appreciate it.

I know of a state league club where senior players are contemplating changing clubs, because they have failed to improve under one coach's tutelage. Yet they have even won state titles. Importantly they feel they have not grown individually, or collectively as a team. Since the club reappoints the coach season after season, they will probably leave. The attitude of the coach is coaching by personnel - constantly looking to recruit better players, and having better players than the opposition - not developing the ones he has into a better team.
The players the coach has like playing with each other. They will probably soon be playing without the coach!

Cognitively, footballers, like children when learning, develop differently at different ages.
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Decentric wrote:
Arthur wrote:

[[size=7]b]A key element in driving the junior programmes into success programmes – which produce great future hockey players, is to have the best, most experienced coaches in the system working with the beginners.[/size][/b]

In spite of being aware of this powerful reality, we do quite the contrary and appoint under-qualified coaches to do the important role of nurturing and developing our juniors.


This same concept is applied to sound early childhood teaching practice.

Good teaching of fundamentals usually provides improved learning at an older age.

In terms of what some constantly denigrate as park football, with connotations of being insignificant, ideally all footballers should be provided with the tools to be the best player they can be. This should enhance enjoyment of the game. If children , or adults, enjoy football, they will keep playing. ATM we have too much coaching going into elite players, some who don't appreciate it.

I know of a state league club where senior players are contemplating changing clubs, because they have failed to improve under one coach's tutelage. Yet they have even won state titles. Importantly they feel they have not grown individually, or collectively as a team. Since the club reappoints the coach season after season, they will probably leave. The attitude of the coach is coaching by personnel - constantly looking to recruit better players, and having better players than the opposition - not developing the ones he has into a better team.
The players the coach has like playing with each other. They will probably soon be playing without the coach!

Cognitively, footballers, like children when learning, develop differently at different ages.

100%
I have watched a team of players under perform not be selected and never play to their full potential because of a poor coach.
The coach unfortunately has everyone convinced he has power to influence selection and so the parents are afraid to say anything that may harm their childes perceived football future.

Arthur
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Quote:


[size=6]South-eastern soccer clubs struggle with fines[/size]

BY CATHERINE WATSON14 Nov, 2011 04:00 AM
JUNIOR soccer clubs in the south-eastern suburbs are struggling to pay thousands of dollars in fines imposed by the Football Federation of Victoria.
The junior president of the Cranbourne-based Casey Comets, Robyn Murphy, said her club had been fined thousands of dollars for minor matters in the past year under the FFV's zero-tolerance approach.

"On one occasion we were fined for not having the match balls available to the referee in the change rooms. No discussion - a $250 fine."

Murphy said the problem was that smaller clubs such as Casey and Cardinia were fined on the same scale as major clubs such as Dandenong Thunder, which had much greater capacity to raise revenue.

Murphy said she had no problem with fines for abusing or contact with a referee but many of the fines were questionable.

"The team manager of one of our teams said 'Oh come on!' to the referee and he was told that if he did it again he would be asked to leave the technical area, which means a $1500 fine."

This season Doveton Soccer Club was fined a total of $18,000, including $6000 and $5500 for two under-12 boys' games.

Doveton vice-president David Stutchbury said he supported FFV's zero-tolerance approach but believed it had misjudged the effect of large fines on small community clubs.

"We don't have a lot of sponsors. Every dollar we earn comes down to a sausage we sell. We have to earn an awful lot of sausages to cover the fines."

Doveton's junior vice-president, Julien Costin, and his wife Samantha have resigned from the junior committee in frustration at the fines.

"It's very demoralising, especially for a junior club. We've been putting in about 30 hours a week at the club. All our hard work goes out the window. It's very frustrating."

The club celebrated a rare victory when it took the fines relating to the two under-12 games to an appeal last week. The appeals cost the club $2200, but the gamble paid off with the club allowed to present evidence, including photographs, in its defence.

The FFV tribunal, which heard the case at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, overturned all but one of the findings relating to the two cases.

One parent was suspended from attending matches for 12 weeks for abusing a referee, but the other charges and the $12,000 in fines were dumped. Stutchbury described it as "a just and fair result".

The Casey Kings, hit with a $5500 fine from one game, voted last week to dump their senior teams to reduce the impact of the fines.

The club had to seek an extension from the FFV to pay the fine, imposed after a match referee claimed he was hit on the head by a coin as he left the ground following a match in September.

Senior players also received 15 red cards, each costing $125, during the season.

At its annual general meeting last week, the Doveton-based club voted to pull the plug on its senior teams and to concentrate on its junior players.

"I blame the fine system," club secretary Milos Sekulovski said. "We thought the only way out is not to have senior players next year."

The FFV received $475,846 for fines and appeals last year, up from $446,727 in 2009.

An FFV spokesman said fees went back into running the sport

dirk vanadidas
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unstructured football in nigeria
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15257141
Arthur
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Quote:


http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/feb/16/arsene-wenger-arsenal-youngsters-comfort

Arsène Wenger has allowed Arsenal youngsters too much of a comfort zoneTheo Walcott's and Aaron Ramsey's poor performances in Milan symbolise the failure of Wenger's entire development philosophy

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Richard Williams guardian.co.uk, Thursday 16 February 2012 15.31 GMT Article history About this articleClose Arsène Wenger has allowed Arsenal youngsters too much comfort | Richard Williams
This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 15.31 GMT on Thursday 16 February 2012. A version appeared on p41 of the Main section section of the Guardian on Friday 17 February 2012. It was last modified at 00.07 GMT on Friday 17 February 2012.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, left, played only 25 minutes against Milan as Arsenal slipped to an emphatic 4-0 defeat. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Thierry Henry left the pitch on Wednesday night with his arm around the shoulders of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and in possession of the shirt of the man whose performance for Milan had been as decisive as those the Frenchman used to produce on Arsenal's behalf. In what will almost certainly prove to have been his final appearance in the colours of the north London club, Henry had spent 45 minutes trying desperately to help his team-mates out of the hole in which they found themselves at San Siro. It was sad to see a player of such class unable to avert the catastrophe of the club's worst defeat in 222 European matches.

Sadder still was the sight of the 18-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, thrust into the fray with 25 minutes to go, also striving to rescue a semblance of respectability from a performance of such dismal incompetence that Arsène Wenger's critics will have been sharpening their knives long before the final whistle.

Oxlade-Chamberlain left the stadium clutching the shirt of another prodigy, Alexandre Pato. In his short time on the pitch the £12m forward had proved himself capable of dominating Luca Antonini, Milan's left-back, and produced two excellent crosses, one of which forced Christian Abbiati into a scrambled save. He will be uncomfortably aware, however, that he is part of a team whose performance has fallen far below their own standards. Until a year ago, Wenger's sides won 58% and lost 18% of their 831 matches. Of 56 games over the past 12 months, they have won 47% and lost 30%.

It would be wearying to repeat all the familiar charges levelled against the manager since Arsenal's last trophy was captured in 2005, but there can be little doubt that Oxlade-Chamberlain should have been on from the start against Milan. This was his third appearance in the Champions League, following the home and away matches against Olympiakos earlier in the season, and his first on one of Europe's really big stages. Nothing in his recent displays gave evidence that he would be overawed by San Siro, or anywhere else. He is fast, he is powerful, he has a wonderful technique – thanks no doubt to the tutelage of his father, the fondly remembered former Stoke and England winger Mark Chamberlain – and he seems to do the right thing whenever possession comes his way. Like Jack Wilshere, whose presence has been so sorely missed, he makes his decisions before the ball arrives: a sign of an exceptional football talent.

In one other way he resembles Wilshere while differing from many of the other young men deployed by Wenger in recent seasons: every gesture, every movement betrays a competitive hardness. His physical strength appears to be matched by the mental toughness that prompted him to complain, earlier in the season and after only a handful of months after his transfer from Southampton, about the lack of first-team opportunities. Behind the polite eloquence of his interviews, there is the hint of the very obduracy and abrasiveness that Arsenal need so badly. These are not qualities readily associated with – to name only two of Wednesday's culprits – Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey.

Six years into his career as a first‑team player at Arsenal, Walcott ought by now to have shed the boyishness that so often makes him seem easy prey for experienced defenders. Youthful zest is one thing, ingenuousness is another, and at 22 he should be showing a greater maturity. The same is true of Ramsey, who is a year younger. After an extended recuperation from a double fracture of his right leg, the Welshman has been back in the side long enough for his contribution to be assessed without making allowances, and he is showing little of the inventiveness and dynamism that he brought to the team before his dreadful injury in February 2010.

He, too, betrays clear signs of that fatal boyishness: when he misplaces a pass or scuffs a shot, he dramatises his despair by putting his hands to his head and striking a pose, wasting the seconds in which he should be getting on with trying to rectify his error. An infuriating habit, thrust into even higher relief when the team are performing badly, it is surprising from one whose leadership qualities persuaded the late Gary Speed to make him Wales's youngest ever captain.

It may seem unfair to single out Walcott and Ramsey after a night when virtually the entire team failed to do themselves justice. But by symbolising the dominant thrust of Wenger's player-development philosophy since the end of the era of the Invincibles and the dispersal of such battle-hardened figures as Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Tony Adams, they embody the failure of an entire project.

Although both are capable of sporadic excellence, one wonders what sort of progress Ramsey, for instance, might have made under Sir Alex Ferguson or David Moyes, both of whom were keen to sign him in 2008. He chose Arsenal after Wenger flew him and his family to Switzerland for talks during which he became convinced that north London offered the right sort of opportunity for his development. Many others, including Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, have come to similar conclusions. Perhaps, however, an indulgent Wenger has provided too much of a comfort zone for his young prodigies, creating an environment in which they can hone their delicate skills but not their core resilience, and in which naivety is too easily forgiven, with consequences that were laid bare in Wednesday's chastening defeat.

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Arthur wrote:

Like Jack Wilshere, whose presence has been so sorely missed, he makes his decisions before the ball arrives: a sign of an exceptional football talent.



Most players of A League quality or above should be making decisions before the ball arrives - not just exceptional players.

Kevin Muscat certainly had this quality.

Another interesting article, Arthur. Thanks.
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Quote:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/swansea-city/9013702/Swansea-manager-Brendan-Rodgers-aims-to-convert-long-ball-believers.html#.T1s3Tli4cC0.email
Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers aims to convert long-ball believers
“This is the crusade,” says Brendan Rodgers. He is out to convert you — yes, you — to the enlightened path, preaching the gospel of tiki-taka in the South Wales valleys.

My way: Brendan Rodgers is an advocate of the beautiful game Photo: DIMITRIS LEGAKIS
By Duncan White
10:00PM GMT 13 Jan 2012
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His pulpit is a training ground by a health club with one AstroTurf pitch, his church the Liberty Stadium, his flock Swansea City Football Club. Rodgers is the evangelist for the beautiful game. Or, more correctly, the beautiful British game. And his congregation is growing.

On Sunday, Arsenal come to Swansea. Arsène Wenger’s side have long held a monopoly on doing things stylishly in the Premier League. Yet this technical game was thought the preserve of an imported elite.

The lack of British players in the Arsenal side for the past decade was evidence, it was claimed, that these foreign ways were beyond the ken of our honest boys.

Now smaller teams have played good football in the Premier League in the past, but none have done it like Swansea. Despite a modest wage bill, Rodgers has built a side who have impudently dominated possession against their supposed superiors.

“This is our philosophy,” Rodgers said. “I like to control games. I like to be responsible for our own destiny. If you are better than your opponent with the ball you have a 79 per cent chance of winning the game.

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"For me it is quite logical. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, if you don’t have the ball you can’t score.”

Rodgers says he comes “from a different bottle” to the majority of British coaches. Growing up in a village in Antrim, he grew to share his father’s enthusiasm for the great Brazilian and Dutch teams of the Seventies.

When he played for the Northern Ireland youth sides he barely got a touch of the ball — it was always being punted back to the opposition over his head. He had trials with various clubs, including Manchester United shortly after Sir Alex Ferguson took over, but ended up at Reading.

At 20 he quit the game, realising he was not good enough to play at the top level. He did, though, think he could coach there.

“I wanted to make a difference. I went to Spain. I was a big lover of Spanish football and spoke the language. I spent a lot of time at Barcelona, talking and working with coaches, finding out about the model and the philosophy of the club. I’d been to Sevilla, Valencia and Betis.

I also spent time in Holland. It was a sacrifice because I had a young family at the time but I had a real thirst for knowledge. I wanted to be the best I possibly could.”

After coaching in the Reading academy he got his big break in 2004 when Jose Mourinho took him on in his backroom staff at Chelsea.

“I always say that working with Jose was like going to Harvard University,” he said.

While Mourinho’s integrated approach to management was a great influence, Rodgers has his distinctive methods. Pep Guardiola is another who has inspired him and his Swansea team are modelled, in their tactical system, on Barcelona. He even sketches out the tactical system on my notepad.

“My template for everything is organisation. With the ball you have to know the movement patterns, the rotation, the fluidity and positioning of the team. Then there’s our defensive organisation.

"So if it is not going well we have a default mechanism which makes us hard to beat and we can pass our way into the game again. Rest with the ball. Then we’ll build again.

“When we have the football everybody’s a player. The difference with us is that when we have the ball we play with 11 men, other teams play with 10 and a goalkeeper.”

Rodgers was cut up to lose his sweeper-keeper, Dorus de Vries, to Wolves in the summer and he realised he was going to need a very specific replacement. He found Michel Vorm.

“British people had said to me he was too small, which was good for me because it probably meant he was good with his feet. When we got the chance to see him I realised he was perfect. He was 27, humble, and makes saves that a 6ft 5in keeper won’t make because he’s so fast. But, importantly, he can build a game from behind. He understands the lines of pass.”

Rodgers’s claims are supported by the statistics.

Swansea’s passing percentages are behind only Arsenal and Manchester City. They do play a greater percentage of passes in their own half than any other side in the Premier League but it is all about being patient. To those raised on the orthodoxy of direct football this is baffling stuff.

“People will jump on us whenever we make a mistake. We had it against Manchester United. Angel Rangel had the ball at his feet and the commentary after the game is that he’s got to kick it into row Z.

"He had time on the ball, why would he smash it up the pitch? He just made a mistake. We need to give our players confidence in their ability. To play this way you can have no fear. The players respect that if there are any goals conceded through playing football I take the blame.

“Here’s another example. We were 2-0 up away at Wolves with six minutes to go but we failed to manage the pressure. We stopped playing it out from the back. We kicked the ball long and they got it and just smashed straight back into our box. Eventually we drew 2-2 and the players were devastated.

"I told them we needed to learn the six-minute game.

“The following week we worked on managing the pressure. But with the ball. Low and behold the next game we are at Bolton. We are 2-0 up. With 17 minutes to go they go 2-1. You could sense the nerves in the crowd.

"How were we going to deal with it? For 10 minutes Bolton did not get a kick of the ball and, eventually, we got the goal to win 3-1.

"Afterwards in the dressing room it was fantastic — that was how to manage pressure. When they had the momentum we sucked the life out of them.

“Our idea is to pass teams to a standstill so they can no longer come after you. Eventually you wear them down. We did that against one of the greatest teams in Tottenham. We did it against Manchester United in the second half. In the first half we were playing the history.

"What I said to them is 'now that you know what shirt you are getting, now can you play our game my friends?’ And they did.”

Yet for all the focus on Swansea’s passing, Rodgers is keen to stress that there is a lot more going on.

“People don’t notice it with us because they always talk about our possession but the intensity of our pressure off the ball is great. If we have one moment of not pressing in the right way at the right time we are dead because we don’t have the best players. What we have is one of the best teams.

“The strength of us is the team. Leo Messi has made it very difficult for players who think they are good players. He’s a real team player. He is ultimately the best player in the world and may go on to become the best ever. But he’s also a team player.

"If you have someone like Messi doing it then I’m sure my friend Nathan Dyer can do it. It is an easy sell.”

Sold? You can make your own mind up on Sunday afternoon whether you want to join the flock

Arthur
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One the best articles I have read, while it is about England, the words ring true about football in Australia at so many levels of the game.

Quote:


http://keeptheball.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/the-ugly-game/


By John Cartwright

Recently, I was unfortunate to see a football match; I think it was a football match, they used a round ball and there were two different groups of 11 players on the field, beyond that there was little else that resembled the ‘Beautiful Game’ as described by Pele. How we tolerate such awful standards and blindly accept the rubbish on view amazes me.

This was a game played by professional players in the NPower league 2, so I did not expect a Barcelona standard, but I should be able to see some playing quality during the 90 minutes. The ball, or should I say the ‘canonball’ was ‘hit’ and headed with vigour but without subtlety and care.

From goalkeeper to forward strikers, the game was ‘stuttered’ from team to team; ball possession was something seemingly unheard of in the frantic ‘fightball’ contest that was played out in front of me. This ‘ugly’, fear-induced playing style is not only visible in the lower echelons of the professional game here but is rife throughout all levels and all age groups. Our players of the future are unable to produce a game in which individual artistry and combined team play is obvious. Speed and power exert more influence on playing style than quality and intellect.

A direct playing style is still the outstanding tactical method used in games in this country. Oh, yes we have seen the ball passed AT the back more in recent years, but we have not seen a significant improvement in playing FROM the back; the long ball forward is still the most used ‘weapon’ in our game’s ‘armoury’. A lack of individual skill allied to a reliance on simplistic tactics has reduced our game to a sad ‘ping-pong’ version of a more sophisticated game played by our foreign adversaries.

In an attempt to remedy the urge to play long, some coaches have decided that the ball must be passed around between their players more; we are now in the ‘pass, pass, pass’ playing period. Over-passing in preparation for attacking play but lacking penetrative awareness, intention or ability has become the model for many teams’. So, from the banality of ‘Route One’ football, we now find ourselves languishing, lost amongst the ‘Side Streets’and unable to find a suitable way ahead.

Generation after generation of talented players have been lost because of the ‘ugly’ type of game employed here. The inability to work the ball through the field of play has denied skilful individuals an opportunity to exploit their playing qualities. Chase and fight have been the prerequisites of selection rather than subtle playing skills and game intellect. Now, with our continued inability to design a suitable game-style that combines preparation playYes, we do have some talented individuals at all levels, but the meretricious game-style that dominates our game is based on mediocrity not magic. Amongst the heaving mass of ‘sweat and bloodied’ participants in the struggle we call football, there is usually a glimmer of a real player trying to exert some poise and quality on the mess that surrounds him/her. Oh yes, those players are there, but the playing style fails to exploit the talent they have. Some might say that talented players should force themselves into the action more, but this is not as easy as it might seem ……. when back players are expected to be merely ‘stoppers’ and not cultured ‘starters’ of offensive play;…….. when there is a tendency to miss out mid-field and expect ‘second ball scramblers’ to dominate mid-field playing tactics;……. whilst up front, players are simply seen as targets to ‘hit’ rather than to ‘service’ the ball to.

No, the ‘ugly’ game-style that we seem unable to dislodge from our football psyche is responsible for so much of our failure over the years. Not until we construct a playing method that utilizes our strengths and embraces and introduces the playing sophistication of others into our game will we find the correct way forward;….. a route to satisfy all who want attractive football and the success that goes with it for our national game.
with penetrative play, we remain the ‘floundering failures of football’.


From the A-league to the VPL to local football to junior football around Victoria this article best explais whats happening around the grounds. I think it will take a generation to change.

I keep using the example of the Brazilian players here in Australia like Fred, Terra, Cassio and Henrique are really so far down the Brazilian ladder that we could class them as fifth or sixth raters yet we don'tproduce players here as technically gifted as them.

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JOHAN CRUIJFF SAGA CONTINUES
Simon Kuper
February 14, 2012

Continuing the evolution of Total Football. Catch the Dutch Eredivisie only on Goal TV. (Mio TV Ch 112 & 113)
“This isn’t Ajax any more,” wrote Johan Cruijff in his column in the Netherlands’ bestselling newspaper, De Telegraaf, on September 20, 2010. The father of Dutch football, who first wandered into the Amsterdam club sixty years ago as a toddler from down the road, said he was willing to come back and take charge. “We need to put a big broom through it,” he wrote.
He has now got his broom, and it is big indeed. Last week a Dutch judge appeared to give Cruijff control of Ajax, but only after a bloody, year-long coup that included episodes of racism, sexism, email problems and court cases. All these conflicts will be familiar to any follower of Holland’s football these last 40 years. No wonder, because Cruijff invented the Dutch game in his own image: he is arguably the most creative thinker on football, but he is also very quarrelsome. “The neurotic genius of Dutch football”, as David Winner subtitled his book Brilliant Orange, derives from this 64-year-old Barcelona mansion-dweller.
“Jopie” - Cruijff’s childhood nickname, still used by Ajax’s older members - has been hanging around the club’s changing-rooms since he was four. His father Manus, a local grocer, supplied the club with fruit. After Manus died, when Cruijff was twelve, Cruijff’s mother earned money cleaning the changing-rooms. When little Jopie began training with the first team fifty years ago, the senior players already knew him well, yet still he surprised them. It wasn’t just his brilliance. It was also the fact that he never stopped talking. Even while on the ball, the teenage waif would be telling senior internationals where to run. Maddeningly, he generally turned out to be right. In January 1965 a gym teacher for deaf children named Rinus Michels pulled up at Ajax’s little stadium in his second-hand Skoda to start work as a coach. Michels and Cruijff turned the neighbourhood side into world-beaters.
Their Ajax won three European Cups from 1971 to 1973, and their Holland lit up the World Cup of 1974 before losing the final to Franz Beckenbauer’s West Germany. However, Cruijff became more than merely a great footballer. He became the most interesting of the great footballers. Pele is a performing doll for big companies, Bobby Charlton a dullard, Beckenbauer a diplomat, and Diego Maradona an off-the-rails rock star. Cruijff alone is a great thinker about football. It’s as if he were the lightbulb and Edison in one. Nobody “invented” British football, or Brazilian football. They just accreted over time. However, Cruijff – with Michels – invented Dutch football. The game played now by Holland and Barcelona is an updated version of what the two men came up with in Amsterdam in the mid-1960s.
The style is known as “total football”, though Cruijff never called it anything at all. It’s a game of rapid one-touch passing, a cerebral dance in space, where every player endlessly swaps position with the others. Cruijff could go where he liked, conducting the orchestra with constant improvisation. He had great speed for a chain-smoker – “If they time normally with me, they’re always just too late”, was one of his early bon mots – but he preferred to emphasise his speed of thought. He called football “a game you play with your head”.
The legendary Dutch team of 1974 sprouted in large part from Cruijff’s brain. It was Cruijff, for instance, who told the midfielder Arie Haan to play the World Cup as libero. (“Are you crazy?” Haan replied. But the idea worked.) However, in a prefiguring of today’s mess at Ajax, Cruijff’s love of conflict also fatally flawed the side. Holland’s best goalkeeper, Jan van Beveren, quarreled with Cruijff and boycotted the World Cup. Van Beveren’s substandard replacement, Jan Jongbloed, arguably cost the Dutch the World Cup finals of both 1974 and 1978.
Cruijff drove the people he worked with mad. He never stopped talking, in that outdated working-class Amsterdam accent, with his very own grammar, his penchant for apparently random words (“them on the right is goat’s cheese”), and the shrugs of shoulders to emphasise his points. “That’s logical”– the phrase he used to clinch arguments – has become a Dutch cliché. He once said about his playing career, talking about himself in the second person as usual: “The worst thing is that you always knew everything better. It meant that you were always talking, always correcting.”
His penchant for conflict wasn’t simply a character trait. It was also generational, and very Dutch. Like his contemporary Beckenbauer, or the Paris students of 1968, Cruijff was a postwar babyboomer impatient to seize power. The boomers wanted to reinvent the world. They didn’t do deference. Before Cruijff, Dutch footballers had knocked on the chairman’s door to hear what they would be paid. Cruijff shocked Ajax by bringing his father-in-law in to do his pay talks. This uneducated young man loved taking on club directors. However, he himself eventually fell victim to the player power he unleashed. In 1973 Ajax’s players, meeting in a countryside hotel to choose their captain, voted out the incumbent Cruijff. He fled to Barcelona, whereupon Ajax collapsed.
Cruijff never learned Beckenbauer’s gift for rubbing along. In part, this is because Beckenbauer is from Catholic southern Germany while Cruijff is from the Netherlands. The great historic influence on Dutchness was the Calvinist version of Protestantism. Calvin taught that you must be true to yourself, follow your own heart. As Cruijff put it: “You must die with your own ideas.” Beckenbauer – never on a quest for authenticity – knew how to work with other people. Cruijff couldn’t. Beckenbauer is a politician, Cruijff a revolutionary, and it’s politicians who tend to end up with power. Beckenbauer became a World Cup-winning manager of Germany, and then organiser of a World Cup, while Cruijff never managed Holland because the job negotiations ended in quarrels after a misunderstanding over a fax.
Cruijff thought quarrels were essential. The “conflictmodel”, he called it. The notion was that conflicts were a motor of creativity, because they got everyone thinking and gave them something to prove. Certainly Dutch football seems to thrive on intellectual ferment. When a country of 16 million people reaches three of the last ten World Cup finals, something is working.
But you can have too much ferment. With Cruijff, almost everything ended in quarrels. In 1981, he returned to Ajax with a broken 34-year-old body and won the club two more titles, but then departed for Ajax’s archrival Feyenoord after quarrels. He returned to Ajax again as a coach in 1985, but left after quarrels in 1988. He went off to coach his other love, Barcelona, where he left after quarrels in 1996. He hasn’t worked in football since.
Still, nobody can deny his genius. Cruijff cracked the secret of turning youngsters into great players. The key to football, for him, was the pass. He could (and often did) spend hours talking about the pass. You never passed into a teammate’s feet, he lectured, but always a metre in front of him, to keep the pace in the game. While the first man was passing to the second man, the third man already had to be in motion ready to receive the second man’s pass. Cruijff talked people silly about the pass.
Under him, the academies of both Ajax and Barcelona became universities of the pass. Both still are. It seems to work. The World Cup final of 2010, Holland versus Spain, was the “Cruijff versus Cruijff” final. Holland’s team featured seven graduates of Ajax’s academy; Spain’s, seven from Barcelona’s. The brilliant passing game of today’s Barcelona is an updated version of Seventies Ajax. Barça’s coach, Josep Guardiola, who played under Cruijff, remarked recently: “Johan Cruijff taught me the most. I worked six years with him and learned a terrific amount.”
Cruijff’s early retirement was partly by choice (one made by many Dutch babyboomers) but partly by necessity. The man was impossible to work with. He commuted between his mansion in Barcelona and his pad in Amsterdam, tried to procure coaching jobs for old mates (inevitably people he had quarreled with during his career) and had fun.
Eventually he grew restless. One evening in February 2008, he staged his Fourth Coming at Ajax. He showed up unexpectedly at a meeting of Ajax’s members’ council, began to speak, and was installed by acclamation as the club’s new dictator. But seventeen days later he drove out of the stadium, and flew home to Barcelona. He explained that he had wanted to revolutionise Ajax’s youth academy, sack loads of people, but that the club’s coach-elect Marco van Basten (Cruijff’s own footballing son, with whom he had quarreled in the past) had said no. “And then I’ve got no more business at Ajax. I’ve taken my hands off it,” concluded Cruijff.
In 2010 he put his hands back on. He’d hit on a classic Sixties idea: the talent should run the business. Instead of those old directors in suits with whom he’d always quarrelled, he dreamed of “a club run by athletes”. In fact, there is nothing very new about this. Most football clubs are in practice run by athletes: the coach and technical director are almost always ex-players. At some clubs, like Beckenbauer’s Bayern Munich or Daniel Passarella’s River Plate or Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats in basketball, the ex-athletes even run the board. It’s not clear why this should be a great advantage, yet the notion was the core of Cruijff’s coup.
The coup began brilliantly, as if he’d mugged up on revolutionary manuals. He’d long since seized control of the Dutch airwaves: both De Telegraaf newspaper and the mighty football magazine-cum-TV programme Voetbal International are his mouthpieces. His initial arrival from Barcelona was a coup de théatre that recalled the Ayatollah Khomeini’s flight from Paris to Teheran in 1979, or Lenin’s journey from Zurich to Russia in his sealed train.
Cruijff’s mistake was then to return to retirement. He flew home to Barcelona, and let his surrogates – ex-players like Dennis Bergkamp and Wim Jonk - run the revolution. It was as if Khomeini had returned to Paris to sit in a sidewalk café drinking wine and watching the girls go by. A management consultant and professor named Steven ten Have was appointed Ajax’s new chairman, presumably because Cruijff thought he’d be good at filling in forms. The new board included only two ex-Ajax footballers, Cruijff and Edgar Davids. Cruijff’s fellow directors could rarely reach him anyway, because he was usually in Barcelona and doesn’t have an email address. But he still wanted his own way. He demanded that the board appoint the former Ajax winger Tscheu la Ling (with whom Cruijff had quarreled as a player) as technical director. The board, concerned about Ling’s murky business past, refused.
The smouldering row blew up at a board meeting this summer, when Cruijff told Davids, “You’re only here because you’re black”, and explained to another director, Marjan Olfers, that she was on the board strictly because she was a woman. After the remarks leaked, Cruijff shrugged them off in a Voetbal International broadcast: “’The baldie, that squinter, that redhead,’ what does it matter? That’s spoken language in football.”
Meanwhile his fellow board members had gone behind his back and appointed his archenemy Louis van Gaal as Ajax’s general director. Van Gaal is actually Cruijff’s lost twin: a contemporary, from the same neighbourhood in Amsterdam-East, also fatherless since childhood, also a Seventies Ajax player (albeit in the reserves) who became a great obstinate coach with Cruijffian ideas about football. Yet the two men hate each other. Van Gaal’s appointment enraged Cruijff. The other board members explained that they hadn’t been able to email Cruijff the news, and anyway, he’d only have leaked it to his loyal media.
In December he and the other ex-footballers took the board to court. This month the judge ruled that Cruijff was right: the other directors had had no right to appoint Van Gaal without asking Cruijff first. The directors then said they would step down, albeit not at once as Cruijff wants them to. Ajax’s shareholders – mostly a bunch of lifelong Ajax members – are backing Cruijff. The man still retains some magic.
Yet this is probably the final act of the long psychodrama. Given Cruijff’s history, it’s not hard to predict that this will end in quarrels. After that, one struggles to envision a successful Sixth Coming. Dutch football is slowly escaping the grip of its maker. Cruijff himself is impossible. Only his ideas will live on.

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EX-PROS OR TEACHERS: WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Simon Kuper
August 04, 2011

In spring 2005, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea met Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona in the Champions League. It was a bad-tempered affair. Chelsea accused Rijkaard of cheating, Barcelona fans jeered Mourinho as “The Translator” (his initial job during his years at the Nou Camp), and things deteriorated from there. Mourinho admitted that if you compared himself and Rijkaard as footballers, “His history is fantastic, mine is zero.” But as managers, added Mourinho, “He has zero titles and I have a lot of them. He just can’t be compared to me.”
Indeed, over the two legs Mourinho outthought Rijkaard, and Chelsea knocked out Barça. After victory was sealed at Stamford Bridge, a member of Mourinho’s staff, another Portuguese non-footballer, at 27 years old even younger than his boss, swaggered up to Barcelona’s bench and taunted Rijkaard. The young man – whose name, though hardly anyone knew it, was Andre Villas Boas – ended up squabbling with Barcelona’s striker Samuel Eto’o.
There are two types of manager: ex-players like Rijkaard, who learned football mostly on the field, and schoolteachers like Mourinho, who learned it on coaching courses. As the Premier League approaches kickoff, the schoolteachers are on the rise. Today Villas Boas manages Chelsea. Another non-player on Mourinho’s staff that night in 2005, Chelsea’s then youth team coach Brendan Rodgers, now coaches newly promoted Swansea. The schoolteachers’ revolution is the latest sign that the Premier League is becoming clever.
For decades, it was an article of faith that only someone who had played professional football himself knew how to manage a team. Players who had been leaders on the field were particularly favoured. When the great England captain Bryan Robson turned manager in the mid-1990s, Middlesbrough immediately handed him a fortune to spend on transfers. Roy Keane was similarly fast-tracked, and after Glenn Hoddle got off to a good start as manager, he was appointed England manager aged only 38. Abroad, the same principle applied: the untried coaches Marco van Basten, Steve Staunton, Jürgen Klinsmann and Diego Maradona were put in charge of their national teams.
The idea was that there was something mystical about managing a team, something that “schoolteachers” and the rest of us mortals could not grasp. The great former players liked to make that point. Once in the 1980s, when Kenny Dalglish was in his first spell managing Liverpool, a journalist at a press conference questioned one of his tactical decisions. Dalglish deadpanned, in his almost impenetrable Scots accent: “Who did you play for, then?” The whole room laughed. Dalglish had come up with the killer retort: if you didn’t play, you can’t know.
A former chairman of a Premier League club told me that the managers he employed would often make that argument. Sometimes the chairman –a rich businessman who hadn’t played – would think a manager’s decision looked a bit odd. But his managers (one of whom had played many times for England) would just reply that you could only understand if you had played. The chairman never knew what to say to that. He hadn’t played, so if there really was some kind of mystical knowledge you gained from playing, he wouldn’t know. Usually, he’d back down.
“Who did you play for then?” is best understood as an old-fashioned job protection scheme. Ex-players used it to corner the market in managerial jobs. Their main rivals, of course, were the “schoolteachers” and anyone else who had studied anything. The typical manager had left school at sixteen to become a player.[size=6] He himself had almost no education, and so, in order to protect his job, he had to argue that education was no use in understanding football.[/size]
We’ve seen that in the recent nerds versus jocks battle over the use of statistics in football. In the last decade or so, most Premier League clubs have acquired data departments to analyse “match data” - stats like tackles, sprints, or completed passes. A few managers, like Arsene Wenger and Sam Allardyce, take these stats very seriously. Most managers don’t. The data department at one big English club recently went to the club’s manager and said it had analysed over 400 corners in different leagues. The conclusion: the most dangerous corner, the one most likely to produce goals, was the inswinger to the near post. The manager (a famous ex-player) listened. Then he said, “I played football for many years, and I know that the most dangerous corner is the outswinger.” He was arguing that his gut knew more than their brains. That was how football had always worked.
But in truth, that argument had never made sense. It seems that ex-players really don’t know more about football than we do; they just played it better. Way back in 1995 the British sports economist Stefan Szymanski studied 209 managers of English clubs from 1974 to 1994. He reported: I looked at each manager’s football career, first as a player (including number of games played, goals scored, position on the field, international appearances, number of clubs played for) and then as a manager (years of experience, number of clubs worked for and age while in management). Playing history provides almost no guide, except that defenders and goalkeepers in particular do not do well (forwards are slightly more successful than average).
Dalglish was the most overachieving manager on Szymanski’s list back then, edging out John Duncan, Bob Paisley and George Curtis. Dalglish was a great footballer. But so was Bobby Moore, who finished 193rd on the managers’ list. Playing success had nothing to do with managerial success. As Arrigo Sacchi, a terrible player turned great manager of Milan, phrased it: “You don’t need to have been a horse to be a jockey.”
A horse’s knowledge doesn’t help a jockey. Sue Bridgewater, a professor at Warwick Business School in the UK, recently published the excellent book Football Management. It contains this telling testimony from one anonymous manager: I got the job and on the first day I showed up and the secretary let me into my office, the manager’s office with a phone in and I didn’t know where I was supposed to start. I knew about football, I could do the on-pitch things, but I had never worked in an office and I just sat there and I waited for something to happen but no one came in so after a while I picked up the phone and rang my Mum.
Even this man’s claim that “I knew about football, I could do the on-pitch things” is dubious. Does Rijkaard, or Diego Maradona, know more about football than Jose Mourinho, whose total experience as a player was a few minutes in Belenenses reserves? Did Keane’s knack for geeing up teammates on the field translate once he had become a jockey?
True, there was a time in some bits of northern Europe when leading players doubled as managers on the pitch. In the 1970s, Johan Cruijff and Franz Beckenbauer pretty much ran their teams. They would kick players out of the team, and rewrite the lineup. It’s no surprise that both later became great managers. But in British football, players were always expected just to shut up and listen to the almighty manager. That didn’t prepare them for becoming managers themselves.
There is only one advantage the ex-player has when he becomes a manager: for a while, fans, media and his players give him the benefit of the doubt. Frank Rijkaard just looks like he’d be a better manager than some little bloke who never even made it in Belenenses reserves. But this benefit of the doubt doesn’t last long. As one ex-player-turned-manager told Bridgewater: “The benefits of who I am lasted about six weeks. At first you get some credit from players because they know that you can do the things you are asking them to do, but that soon wears off. Then you’re judged on whether you can manage and if you can’t then your reputation won’t be enough.”
In fact, there’s reason to believe that ex-players are less well equipped than schoolteachers to become good managers. Asked once why failed footballers often became great coaches, Mourinho replied: “More time to study.” Just look at his own career. He was barely in his teens when his father, coaching a Portuguese third-division team, began sending him to write analyses of future opponents. Later, at second-division Setubal, Felix put his son in charge of the ballboys so that he could send messages to players during match. Mourinho peaked as a player in Belenenses reserves, then studied sports science at university in Lisbon. He read about the physiology, psychology and philosophy of sport in several languages, before teaching physical education in schools for three years. Villas Boas and Rodgers have taken similar career paths.
Clubs are starting to see the uses of “schoolteachers”. In 2007, Burnley were looking for a new manager. The club received dozens of expressions of interest from some of the most glittering names in football. They called some of these names in for interview. Often, the name would walk in, make it obvious that he knew almost nothing of Burnley’s setup, and express no clear plans for improving it. Asked in the job interview for his vision, one famous former international said: “Well, hopefully get promotion.” Aha, but how? “Hopefully buy some good players.” None of the names bothered giving anything as nerdy as a powerpoint presentation.
Burnley didn’t see anyone they liked. Eventually they were given the name of a bright young manager named Owen Coyle. He’d played football, but not very well. They called Coyle for interview. He arrived perfectly prepared. He got the job, helped Burnley win promotion, and is now with Bolton in the Premier League.
If you study this season’s 20 starting Premier League managers, you see the schoolteachers’ ascent. Bridgewater says that from 1992 onwards, only 5.6 per cent of managers in the Premier League had never played professionally. Normally, then, one out of 20 managers would be a non-player. This year, three are: the newcomers Villas Boas and Rodgers, plus Roy Hodgson at West Bromwich Albion. Another trend: if you are going to get hired as a British manager in the Premier League, it helps to have continental experience. That applies to three of the recent arrivals (Hodgson, Blackburn’s Steve Kean, and Norwich’s Paul Lambert), while Rodgers learned his trade under a Portuguese boss, speaks Spanish and is learning Italian.
Meanwhile there are few former star players among our sample of 20. Only three of this year’s managers fall into that category: Dalglish, Roberto Mancini and Steve Bruce. But Dalglish and Mancini had won titles as managers long before they got their current jobs. They were hired as expert managers, not chiefly as ex-players. Only Bruce – a leader on the pitch with an indifferent career as a manager – is a throwback to the old method of choosing managers. Other former great players (Keane, Bryan Robson, Hoddle) aren’t wanted by anyone. Maradona publicly begged for an English club to take him last year, but none did. Here is what Anuradha Desai, chairwoman of Blackburn’s Indian owners Venky’s, said about the greatest ever player: “He is not being considered, not now and forever in the future. I can assure you there is nothing we are having to do with Diego Maradona."
Rijkaard, the schoolteachers’ nemesis in 2005, is now in lucrative exile in Saudi Arabia. Alan Shearer, touted for years as the coming Newcastle manager, after briefly presiding over their relegation in 2009 has stuck with TV. Tony Adams, another former leader on the field, now coaches the Azerbaijani club Gabala. They finished seventh in Azerbaijan last year. One of Adams’s former teammates with England, while affirming to me what an inspirational figure Adams had been on the pitch, added that he didn’t expect him to emulate that as a manager. Adams, he was suggesting, is a horse not a jockey. English clubs are finally realising that there’s a difference between the two.

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BARCELONA'S SECRET TO SOCCER SUCCESS
Simon Kuper
March 22, 2012

We all see that Barcelona are brilliant. The only problem is understanding just how they do it. That’s where my friend Albert Capellas comes in. Whenever he and I run into each other somewhere in Europe, we talk about Barça. Not many people know the subject better. Capellas is now assistant manager at Vitesse Arnhem in Holland, but before that he was coordinator of Barcelona’s great youth academy, the Masia. He helped bring a boy named Sergio Busquets from a rough local neighbourhood to Barça. He trained Andres Iniesta and Victor Valdes in their youth teams. In all, Capellas worked nine years for his hometown club.

During our last conversation, over espressos in an Arnhem hotel, I had several “Aha” moments. I have watched Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona umpteen times, but only now am I finally beginningto see. Guardiola’s Barcelona are great not merely because they have great players. They also have great tactics – different not just from any other team today, but also different from Barcelona teams pre-Guardiola. Barça are now so drilled on the field that in some ways they are more like an American gridiron football team than a soccer one.
Before getting into the detail of their game, it’s crucial to understand just how much of it comes from Guardiola. When a Barcelona vice president mused to me four years ago that she’d like to see the then 37-year-old Pep be made head coach, I never imagined it would happen. Guardiola was practically a novice. The only side he had ever coached was Barça’s second team. However, people in the club who had worked with him – men like the club’s then president Joan Laporta, and the then director of football Txiki Beguiristain - had already clocked him as special. Not only did Guardiola know Barcelona’s house style inside out. He also knew how it could be improved.

Guardiola once compared Barcelona’s style to a cathedral. Johan Cruijff, he said, as Barça’s supreme player in the 1970s and later as coach, had built the cathedral. The task of those who came afterwards was to renovate and update it. Guardiola is always looking for updates. If a random person in the street says something interesting about the game, Guardiola listens. He thinks about football all the time. He took ideas from another Dutch Barcelona manager, Louis van Gaal, but also from his years playing for Brescia and Roma in Italy, the home of defence. Yet because Guardiola has little desire to explain his ideas to the media, you end up watching Barça without a codebook.

Cruijff was perhaps the most original thinker in football’s history, but most of his thinking was about attack. He liked to say that he didn’t mind conceding three goals, as long as Barça scored five. Well, Guardiola also wanted to score five, but he minded conceding even one. If Barcelona is a cathedral, Guardiola has added the buttresses. In Barça’s first 28 league games this season, they have let in only 22 goals. Here are some of “Pep”’s innovations, or the secrets of FC Barcelona:

1. Pressure on the ball

Before Barcelona played Manchester United in the Champions League final at Wembley last May, Alex Ferguson said that the way Barça pressured their opponents to win the ball back was “breathtaking”. That, he said, was Guardiola’s innovation. Ferguson admitted that United hadn’t known how to cope with it in the Champions League final in Rome in 2009. He thought it would be different at Wembley. It wasn’t.

Barcelona start pressing (hunting for the ball) the instant they lose possession. That is the perfect time to press because the opposing player who has just won the ball is vulnerable. He has had to take his eyes off the game to make his tackle or interception, and he has expended energy. That means he is unsighted, and probably tired. He usually needs two or three seconds to regain his vision of the field. So Barcelona try to dispossess him before he can give the ball to a better-placed teammate.

Furthermore, if the guy won the ball back in his own defence, and Barcelona can instantly win it back again, then the way to goal is often clear. This is where Lionel Messi’s genius for tackling comes in. The little man has such quick reflexes that he sometimes wins a tackle a split-second after losing one.

The Barcelona player who lost the ball leads the hunt to regain it. But he never hunts alone. His teammates near the ball join him. If only one or two Barça players are pressing, it’s too easy for the opponent to pass around them.

2. The “five-second rule”

If Barça haven’t won the ball back within five seconds of losing it, they then retreat and build a compact ten-man wall. The distance between the front man in the wall (typically Messi) and their last defender (say, Carles Puyol) is only 25 to 30 metres. It’s hard for any opponent to pass their way through such a small space. The Rome final was a perfect demonstration of Barcelona’s wall: whenever United won the ball and kept it, they faced eleven precisely positioned opponents, who stood there and said, in effect: “Try and get through this.”

It’s easy for Barcelona to be compact, both when pressing and when drawing up their wall, because their players spend most of the game very near each other. Xavi and Iniesta in particular seldom stray far from the ball. Cruijff recently told the former England manager Steve McClaren, now with FC Twente in Holland: "Do you know how Barcelona win the ball back so quickly? It's because they don't have to run back more than 10 metres as they never pass the ball more than 10 metres."

3. More rules of pressing


Once Barcelona have built their compact wall, they wait for the right moment to start pressing again. They don’t choose the moment on instinct. Rather, there are very precise prompts that tell them when to press. One is if an opponent controls the ball badly. If the ball bounces off his foot, he will need to look downwards to locate it, and at that moment he loses his overview of the pitch. That’s when the nearest Barcelona players start hounding him.
There’s another set prompt for Barça to press: when the opposing player on the ball turns back towards his own goal. When he does that, he narrows his options: he can no longer pass forward, unless Barcelona give him time to turn around again. Barcelona don’t give him time. Their players instantly hound the man, forcing him to pass back, and so they gain territory.

4. The “3-1 rule”

If an opposing player gets the ball anywhere near Barcelona’s penalty area, then Barça go Italian. They apply what they call the “3-1 rule”: one of Barcelona’s four defenders will advance to tackle the man with the ball, and the other three defenders will assemble in a ring about two or three metres behind the tackler. That provides a double layer of protection. Guardiola picked this rule up in Italy. It’s such a simple yet effective idea that you wonder why all top teams don’t use it.

5. No surprise

When Barcelona win the ball, they do something unusual. Most leading teams treat the moment the ball changes hands – “turnover”, as it’s called in basketball – as decisive. At that moment, the opponents are usually out of position, and so if you can counterattack quickly, you have an excellent chance of scoring. Teams like Manchester United and Arsenal often try to score in the first three seconds after winning possession. So their player who wins the ball often tries to hit an instant splitting pass. Holland – Barcelona’s historic role models – do this too.

But when a Barcelona player wins the ball, he doesn’t try for a splitting pass. The club’s attitude is: he has won the ball, that’s a wonderful achievement, and he doesn’t need to do anything else special. All he should do is slot the ball simply to the nearest teammate. Barcelona’s logic is that in winning the ball, the guy has typically forfeited his vision of the field. So he is the worst-placed player to hit a telling ball.

This means that Barcelona don’t rely on the element of surprise. They take a few moments to get into formation, and then pretty much tell their opponents, “OK, here we come.” The opposition knows exactly what Barça are going to do. The difficulty is stopping it.
The only exception to this rule is if the Barça player wins the ball near the opposition’s penalty area. Then he goes straight for goal.

6. Possession is nine-tenths of the game

Keeping the ball has been Barcelona’s key tactic since Cruijff’s day. Most teams don’t worry about possession. They know you can have oodles of possession and lose. But Barcelona aim to have 65 or 70 per cent of possession in a game. Last season in Spain, they averaged more than 72 per cent; so far this year, they are at about 70 per cent.
The logic of possession is twofold. Firstly, while you have the ball, the other team can’t score. A team like Barcelona, short on good tacklers, needs to defend by keeping possession. As Guardiola has remarked, they are a “horrible” team without the ball.
Secondly, if Barça have the ball, the other team has to chase it, and that is exhausting. When the opponents win it back, they are often so tired that they surrender it again immediately. Possession gets Barcelona into a virtuous cycle.

Barça are so fanatical about possession that a defender like Gerald Pique will weave the most intricate passes inside his own penalty area rather than boot the ball away. In almost all other teams, the keeper at least is free to boot. In the England side, for instance, it’s typically Joe Hart who gives the ball away with a blind punt. This is a weakness of England’s game, but the English attitude seems to be that there is nothing to be done about it: keepers can’t pass. Barcelona think differently.

Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid’s coach and Barcelona’s nemesis, has tried to exploit their devotion to passing. In the Bernabeu in December, Madrid’s forwards chased down Valdes from the game’s first kickoff, knowing he wouldn’t boot clear. The keeper miscued a pass, and Karim Benzema scored after 23 seconds. Yet Valdes kept passing, and Barcelona won 1-3. The trademark of Barcelona-raised goalkeepers – one shared only by Ajax-raised goalkeepers, like Edwin van der Sar – is that they can all play football like outfield players.

7. The “one-second rule”

No other football team plays the Barcelona way. That’s a strength, but it’s also a weakness. It makes it very hard for Barça to integrate outsiders into the team, because the outsiders struggle to learn the system. Barcelona had a policy of buying only “Top Ten” players – men who arguably rank among the ten best footballers on earth – yet many of them have failed in the Nou Camp. Thierry Henry and Zlatan Ibrahimovic did, while even David Villa, who knew Barcelona’s game from playing it with Spain, ended up on the bench before breaking his leg.

Joan Oliver, Barcelona’s previous chief executive, explained the risk of transfers by what he called the “one-second rule”. The success of a move on the pitch is decided in less than a second. If a player needs a few extra fractions of a second to work out where his teammate is going, because he doesn’t know the other guy’s game well, the move will usually break down. A new player can therefore lose you a match in under a second.

Pedro isn’t a great footballer, but because he was raised in the Masia he can play Barcelona’s game better than stars from outside. The boys in the Masia spend much of their childhood playing passing games, especially Cruijff’s favorite, six against three. Football, Cruijff once said, is choreography.

Nobody else thinks like that. That’s why most of the Barcelona side is homegrown. It’s more a necessity than a choice. Still, most of the time it works pretty well.


Have to admit not really junior development articles but interesting none the less. This last article is a fantastic insight into Barca playing philosophy. Simon Kuper provides some insightful articles.
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But when a Barcelona player wins the ball, he doesn’t try for a splitting pass. The club’s attitude is: he has won the ball, that’s a wonderful achievement, and he doesn’t need to do anything else special. All he should do is slot the ball simply to the nearest teammate. Barcelona’s logic is that in winning the ball, the guy has typically forfeited his vision of the field. So he is the worst-placed player to hit a telling ball.


This is the very rule i mentioned would be lost in translation by teams saying they play like barca.
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Cruijff recently told the former England manager Steve McClaren, now with FC Twente in Holland: "Do you know how Barcelona win the ball back so quickly? It's because they don't have to run back more than 10 metres as they never pass the ball more than 10 metres."


ANd this, it always a challenge to keep the team compact, especially at senior level.
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Great stuff, Arthur.

Some really good reads there.:)

Thanks.
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While about Basketball in the USA I have seen similar issues arise here and found it interesting to bring in another sport to compare problems and possible solutions

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Maximizing Player Development Opportunities for the Elite High School Athlete
Beyond High School Sports
http://voices.yahoo.com/maximizing-player-development-opportunities-the-5124.html
Brian McCormick, CSCS, Yahoo! Contributor Network
Aug 11, 2005

Complaints litter prep Internet message boards, as parents, players and coaches rant about incompetent high school coaches, illegal recruiting, persistent transfers, the AAU battle, and illegal off-season practices. Just a cursory glance at the typical board leads one to believe the entire system needs cataclysmic changes, yet none occur, except minor modifications of the current, out-dated system.

The 21st Century presents new high school athletic challenges and opportunities. With the sacred college scholarship, not the state championship, as the common goal, players constantly shop for the best opportunity, best training, and the most exposure. Increasingly, this combination requires a year-round commitment; not just to the sport, but to teams. High school teams, or their pseudo-club impersonators, play year-round, competing in the "off-season" with competitive club teams that play regional or national schedules. High school athletes, therefore, commit to two teams through much of the year, playing a pre-professional schedule. Rare is the athlete who excels in multiple sports, as the commitment level to participate at the elite level in multiple sports is daunting, not to mention the typical academic-load of a college hopeful.

"Jen," a player I train in the off-season, traveled constantly this summer, seeking exposure up and down the West Coast, chasing the elusive "Free Ride." She fulfilled commitments to her high school team-a team with nobody close to her ability-wise-as well as her AAU Team, a constantly shuffling menagerie of coaches and players, depending upon the weekend and everyone's other basketball commitments. Her games with her high school were largely a waste, playing with inferior players against mostly inferior players, while her AAU games offered little consistency or coaching, despite the more talented teammates and competition.

This, unfortunately, is the state of 21st Century basketball for the elite player. Many play on high school teams where each player's goal is not a "Free Ride," but a good athletic experience; there is nothing wrong with that goal. Athletics, especially high school athletics, should provide this opportunity, as sports can mean a myriad of things to different people, from simple exercise to team camaraderie to a reason to stay in school to the opportunity to provide a college education. However, what happens to the elite athlete when his goals exceed his teammates to a tremendous degree?

Coaches must organize a practice to improve their team, and this often means trying to elevate the level of the average players, with little time to really elevate the level of the elite player. Coaches teach and instruct to the bottom half of the group, leaving an elite player on his own to find ways to improve his game. He must search elsewhere to find a competitive experience in training and in games. This requires the second-season, or the AAU circuit.

Unfortunately, this opportune time for player development is lost as teams travel constantly to games to seek exposure, almost completely neglecting practices. Jen's adventures up and down the coast helped her get noticed by a few schools who have written letters, but did little to make her a better player. She played against some better competition, but her team was rarely prepared for these games, as the practice time was scarce. Her team was lucky to have the same ten players from one week to the next. But, this is the current system, where student-athletes spend their entire summer in search of exposure, traveling nearly every weekend from the spring until fall to play in front of college coaches or recruiting services in order to get a look or a little interest from a scout/coach who might offer a free college education.

But, does this system do anything to develop the elite player's skills? After all, a college-bound player must possess the ability to play at the next level. Players show incremental improvement because they spend the entire year in a gym, playing in some capacity almost every day, so they develop in some ways just from their comfort-level on the court and through hours of practice, regardless of how disorganized or ineffective it may be. Those who do play for good AAU or high school coaches are very fortunate and also develop new and advanced skills.

However, is incremental improvement the goal? In school, when a student is an exceptional student, does he remain with peers, some needing remedial work, or is he accelerated into a different program in order to facilitate better learning and development opportunities? Why stand for a system designed to try and catch-up average players to the exceptional? Why not seek a solution to sustain development for the average player as well as the elite athlete? School spirit aside, elite players deserve a better player development system.

Soccer players often forsake uncompetitive high school teams and leagues to compete year-round with competitive clubs who offer more talented, committed teammates, superior training and competitive matches. If soccer, a secondary sport, can offer its athletes greater opportunities beyond that which the high schools offer, why not basketball?

The current AAU/club system fails to capitalize on its potential to create a competitive environment and enhance the elite player's development. Instead, many clubs focus on exposure, not development, and coaches act like agents, not teachers, procuring the most talented players, not instructing and developing players. Players hop from team to team to find the best deal and playing time, and games amount to individual showcases and pick-up affairs, with little structure, coaching and/or resemblance to organized basketball.

Instead of congesting a club "season" into three spring and summer months and focusing entirely on exposure, elite players should have the option to forsake their high school teams and play meaningful games against equal competition with good coaching in a year-round environment.

Many complain about kids and their lost youth, or not being able to play two sports, but it is a result of a system where players must play two seasons in order to attract recruiting attention. Why not promote a system where the competitive basketball is played during the basketball season, allowing players the opportunity to pursue a second sport if they choose, playing football in the fall or baseball in the spring, while not worrying about exposure events they may miss by playing a second sport?

A new system would allow more students to participate in athletics; recreational or average players who play sports for fun, camaraderie, school spirit and exercise would have a competitive playing experience competing for their high school teams, while the elite, gifted, driven and committed players who desire a more intense atmosphere and higher level training would challenge themselves with and against like-minded, skilled teammates and opponents, better preparing these players for the next level. And, it would force Internet pundits to complain about something else.


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More good articles, Arthur. Keep them coming.

You and Dirk are top internet researchers in football.
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Horst Wein interview
http://www.childrensfootballalliance.com/FUNino_Horst_Wein_Interview.html

FUNino.
Horst Wein Interview
Horst Wein (HW), a German university lecturer with coaching assignments in 51 countries, has always been convinced that one way of promoting the game of football and persuading more youngsters to take up the sport is, to make the practise of football more enjoyable, attractive and from the learning point of view more effective! NCFA's Paul Cooper (PC) talks to the man that operates on the cusp of football's ever dividing legions.

PC. Your book Developing Youth Soccer Players was a revelation in both grass roots and the professional game, what was your inspiration for writing the book?

HW. In most parts of the world, as still happens today in the majority of FIFA ,member countries, young children are exposed to the adult game what obstructs their natural development. My idea was introducing and diffusing in the late 70's age-orientated football competitions and training methods to help young people to unlock and develop their full potential to the most introducing them first to 3vs3 on 4 goals , then with 10 years to 5-a-side football , from 11 and 12 years to 7-a-side football and finally for one year with 13 years of age to 8-a-side football in between the penalty areas of the full pitch on 7-a-side football goals placed on thee 16.50m. Once a proved it with tremendous success in field hockey, I applied the same philosophy for football.

PC. How much do we miss street football, the breeding ground for so many talented players in the past?

HW. FUNino is considered the renaissance of street football. It's even more attractive and effective from the learning point of view than street football. Today the kids are lacking the ability to create their own games and mainly play more or less the same game without any variation. FUNino played on 4 goals allows young football player to receive much more stimuli than in the traditional street football, considering that there are 26 different games which have another 30 different variations.

PC. In your view was Rinus Michels correct when he said that the best coaches take the core values of street football as their coaching philosophy for children.

HW. I agree with Rinus Michel who asked the best youth coaches to rely on the values of street football in which the game has been the teacher and not the coach. The coach only guides the young player and help the kids to discover the real magic of the game through questioning from time to time to make them aware of things they have not been aware without him.

PC. The Spanish FA have used your book as their coaching manual for children, have other FA's followed suit?

HW. Since more than 20 years the Royal Spanish Football Federation is diffusing my methods through the three books and also the Australian Football Federation use it since 7 years. Also the Mexican Federation published the first volume of "Futbol a la medida del nino"

PC. Children have very little say when it comes to organised football - is this a problem for their social and football development?

HW. This depends completely on the coaches. Once they change their coaching style and employ guided discovery with open and closed questions to make the young players aware of the many problems in the game our training becomes player-centred and game-orientated

PC. You champion a 3v3 format for children's football - what are the benefits over other formats such as 4v4, 5v5 and 7v7?

HW

*The two wide goals at each end encourage young players to use the wings in attack and open up the play.

*Playing with 2 goals stimulates greater reading and understanding of the game, including peripheral vision, perception and decision making skills before executing any actions.

*Stimulates, more than any other traditional football game, intelligence, perception, imagination and creativity.

*Sufficient space and time allows children to read the game and play constructive football and to develop basic comunication skills.

*More time and space, better reading of the game and better decision-making and skill execution means less mistakes.

*Due to the fact that the same basic game situations appear again and again (i.e. the 2v1situation) the young players learn very quickly.

*In FUNino, 8 and 9 year olds enjoy more touches on the ball, treating it as their best friend. No long clearances or wild and dangerous kicks can be seen in which players "violate the ball".

*Players attack and defend in a triangular formation for better comunication and collaboration. Positioning in the field is easy.

*Allows an allround development of all participants as there are no fixed positions in a team which would avoid too early specialization. Everybody has to attack as well as to defend, using the whole pitch.

*Usually there are lots of goals and goalmouth action.

*Each player scores more than one goal per game.

*All the players get to experience a starring role in this dynamic game.

*All 3 players, including the weaker ones, play a critical role in this game and are involved mentally and physically throughout the game. Nobody can hide!

PC. At what age do you think children should be playing the full 11v11 game?

HW. Only after having enjoyed playing competitions up to their mental and physical capacities like Funino, 5-a-side,7-a-side and 8-a-side Football young players can be approached to the difficulty and complexity of the full side football game. At his stage they have the communication and cooperation skills together with the technical ability and the football knowledge to play the 11 versus 11.

PC. In your experience how territorial is the professional football fraternity when sharing children's best coaching practice?

HW. Obviously the professional football fraternity invests a lot of time and money in their youth development programmes and are thus unlikely to share their expertise openly in a competitive environment.

We, at The Beautiful Game, believe that our proven youth development model can achieve a number of important goals at the same time:

a. All children get to enjoy the game of football as children (and not as mini-adults) as the game(s) are tailored to their needs.

b. Children have the opportunity to reach their full potential, whatever that is, through an optimal development model, including a player-centred approach, that is games-oriented (rather than drills) and a guided discovery coaching style (rather than the traditional instruction style).

c. As the model is more inclusive and fair than the traditional elitist model, there are many social and character/lifestyle benefits emanating from this approach.

For more information about FUNino and the Beautiful Game: blog.thebeautifulgame.ie

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[quote=dirkvanadidas]
PC. You champion a 3v3 format for children's football - what are the benefits over other formats such as 4v4, 5v5 and 7v7?





The KNVB certainly disagrees with HW. They maintain that 4v4 is needed to gain width and depth.

Having said that, Norm Boardman took a 3v3 SSG in the FFA prototype road shoe for the Skills Acquisition Program. There were three lanes with defending players being restricted to one of the three lanes. When they gained possession of the ball and attacked they could overlap and change lanes.


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Laureano Ruiz – the man behind Barça’s playing philosophy
Posted at: 18:00 on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Category: History Written by: Alexandra
Laureano Ruiz – the man behind Barça’s playing philosophy

Hugo Benitez/El Flaco wrote an excellent piece on the Swedish football site SvenskaFans describing the story of how our Club came to play in its characteristic way. From the very start, the style was thanks to a man named Laureano Ruiz. With the author’s permission, totalBarça has translated his great piece, which can be found below. The original article, in Swedish, can be found here.

Laureano Ruiz – the man behind Barça’s playing philosophy

With all due respect to Johan Cruyff and Oriol Tort, the man who laid the foundation for the philosophy and the ideas about football that symbolize the Club today was Laureano Ruiz, a man from Cantabria who believed the players’ technique was more important than their physical attributes.

A Juvenil game revolutionized the club

The 15th of April 1972. Barcelona’s Juvenil A were playing the final of the Copa Catalunya against CF Damm, a team that had gotten their name from a beer brand. In the stands 15,000 spectators sat down and in the honor stand you could find the Catalan football federation president, the Spanish Juvenil national team coach, and several directors from FC Barcelona, among them president Agusti Montal and first team coach Rinus Michels.

The Juvenil team was coached by Josep Maria Minguella, who would later become a powerful agent and who, through his contacts, came to hear about a certain Lionel Messi. The expectations were high as Barça’s Juvenil A team hadn’t won a title for years. But they were defeated by Damm 3-2 and the loss was seen as a huge disaster. Right after the final whistle Montal left his seat and went down the stairs, running into a journalist to whom he said, “Something has to be done. This is unacceptable. I can accept a loss against a football team, but not to a beer company!”

Soon thereafter, during the summer of 1972, the club contacted Laureano Ruiz, who at the time was working as youth team coach at Racing Santander. He was given the job as coach for the Juvenil A team and coordinator for the other three Juvenil teams. During the next five years, the team would be crowned both Catalan and Spanish champions every year. Before that spell, they had only won the Spanish trophy twice in their history, in 1951 and 1959. Ruiz had a clear vision when he took over and from day one he would imprint his training methods and his playing style on the youth teams. Under his leadership, his footballers started to play with a 3-4-3 formation and one year after he had gotten the job, he convinced the Club that every youth team should play in the same way.

In 1974 he was named the main coordinator for the whole academy. Thereafter, he quickly became aware of the huge responsibility he now had for all of the youngsters he was in charge of. When he asked his players what they did when they didn’t have practice, they all answered the same way: “Míster, I play football”. Ruiz became horrified knowing that most of them wouldn’t become professionals and he choose to talk to the board about it. Together they made the decision to force all the players to choose between two alternatives: to work or study. Ruiz understood that at their young age it was just as important, or even more so, to develop and raise them as people.

The founder and visionary

To understand the importance and the impact Laureano Ruiz had, you first have to understand the situation the Club was in at that time. Barça supporters weren’t used to success at that time, unlike today. When they won the League title in 1974, it was the first time they had been Spanish champions since 1960. The mentality that prevailed at the Club was very different from today. They were much more interested in big, strong players and devalued short players, no matter how good they were with the ball. At the Club’s main office there were a sign on the wall that said “turn around if you are here to offer a Juvenil player that is shorter than 1.80m”. One of the first things Ruiz did when he got hired was to take that sign down. The ‘Rondo’, the now legendary exercise that you can see the first team players do at training sessions every day, was first practiced thanks to Ruiz, a man who was convinced that touch, technique, and playing intelligence were a player’s most important skills.

Ruiz may have won titles with Juvenil A, but the real battle was to come internally inside the Club. There was an idea from many years back that you had to go for the tall and strong players. So when Ruiz started to sign short but talented players, he had to fight to have his will and vision accepted. In an interview with journalist Martí Perarnau in the beginning of his time at the club, Ruiz said: “The first thing I did was to organise games so that I could see them play, and I got a file with their strengths and which players the Club was counting on and which ones they weren’t. Some of them I directly saw weren’t good enough to make it, but when I looked in the file it said they were good and were going to continue at the Club. And it was the reverse with the ones I liked. Among them were Fortes and Corominas, but they were short. During the coming three weeks I fought a personal war with myself because I liked the two players, but they had been in the Club since they were 8 years old and I said to myself: ‘Laureano, they have known them since they were kids and maybe they are right’. But the more I saw them play, the more I liked them and in two years they were both in the first team. None of the other players that were a lot more physically strong, but whom I didn’t believe in, made it to a professional level. Those were the ideas at the Club then.”

There were many who had been at the Club for years who were skeptical of Ruiz’s ideas. One day a group of youth coaches came to him and said: “Your players never run, what are they doing? They have to run to get resilient and strong!” Ruiz answered: “When are we then going to teach them to play football if we use all the time teaching them to run?”. During the 70s coaches were convinced that you first should build up the player’s physiques and then, when they were about 17 years old, you would teach them to play football. Ruiz turned everything upside-down with his idea that it was more important to teach the youngsters how to treat the ball.

In a conversation with Albert Puiga, an ex-youth coach at Barcelona and today Guillermo Amor’s right hand as manager of La Masia, Ruiz explained his football philosophy: “Let us say that you and I coach two teams with kids that are 10, 11, and 12 years old and all are about equally good. You try to teach them to play good football, a passing game and with tactical basics while I tell mine to only play long balls and try to shoot. I can assure you that [at first] I will always win against you, by using your mistakes. Break a bad pass and goal. If we however continue with the same training methods during a three year period, you will most likely win every game against us. Your players will have learned how to play while mine haven’t. That’s how easy it is.”

In 1976 Barcelona fired its first team coach Hennes Weisweller and Ruiz took over. During his short time as manager of the first team, he promoted defender ‘Tente’ Sánchez, which wasn’t a popular decision in Can Barça considering that he had been sitting on the bench in the B team and to add to that he was short. Sánchez would years later take his place in the first team and even become captain. Other players Ruiz helped to develop were Lobo Carrasco, Calderé, Rojo, Padraza, Mortalla, and Estella. Every single one earning a place in the first team.

But it wasn’t only talent that was important for a player’s development according to Ruiz, it was also a lot of will and hard work. Some years later, as the coach for Catalan school Escolapios de Sarrí, he held trials together with some colleagues. After they were done Ruiz drew attention to a boy who stood by himself kicking a ball against the wall. He walked up to him and asked him what he was doing and the boy answered that he was waiting for his dad to come and pick him up. Ruiz turned to the other coaches and wanted to know more about the young kid and they told him that he wasn’t bad, but that he didn’t have any future as a professional. Ruiz told them that he thought they were wrong. He had seen a boy with so much hope and will that he knew he would eventually make it. The boy’s name was Albert Ferrer and he saw his dream come true when he earned a place in Cruyff’s dream team.

The legacy

Laureano Ruiz left FC Barcelona in 1978. During his six years in the Catalan capital he had revolutionized the youth academy, making the Club go for small and technically skilled players, and planting the seed for what would come to be the Barça style on the pitch. But despite his influence, it would take many more years before the Club could reap the rewards from his hard and invaluable work. After he had left, the club fell into a long identity crisis in which the first team changed playing styles as often as they changed coaches. Tito Vilanova remembers this time clearly. According to the current assistant coach, there was a clear playing model when he and Pep arrived at La Masia as kids with coaches like Charly Rexach, Quique, Costas, Olmo, De la Cruz, and Artola. Under Rexach’s leadership, Vilanova and the others learned to play exactly in the same way as the first team does today. The problem was, according to Tito Vilanova, that this playing style was only used in the academy and not in the first team, where under the leadership of Englishman Terry Venables at that time, they used a more direct game, and it made it harder for the B team players to adapt when they were promoted.

The teams lacked continuity and to top it off, the players themselves started to believe that without strong physiques, it would be impossible to have a future as a football player. There is an anecdote about Josep Guardiola when he was 15 years old. The doctors were going to do tests on him to estimate how tall he would be when he got older. Pep was told that he would be taller than 1.80m and he had an outburst of joy, convinced that that was all it took to become a professional football player. Today Guardiola has shown that he no longer attaches any significance at all to such a test.

Talking about Pep, during his time at La Masia he got to go up against Ruiz. It was in 1984 and Ruiz was coaching Escolapios. To celebrate a special occasion at the school, FC Barcelona was invited to play a game. The Infantil team went there and defeated the home side. Afterwards, Laureano Ruiz went to talk to the Barça Infantil coach Roca. They had earlier worked together at Barcelona and during the conversation Ruiz mentioned that Roca’s team had scored two goals on corner kicks with a corner variant that Ruiz had taught. Roca answered that his kids had only trained together for four days and that it was impossible that they had learned that variation in such a short time. Ruiz didn’t believe him and turned to the Barça players. He asked who had taken the corners and two boys raised their hands. Ruiz asked where they had learned it, and they answered that they had seen the older kids do the same exercises. One of the young boys was Josep Guardiola.

It would take until 1988 and the arrival of Johan Cruyff as first team coach before all the teams in the academy started to play in the same way, with the same model and philosophy. The circle was closed and even if Cruyff’s role was fundamental, one should not forget the importance of Laureano Ruiz, who was the person who first started to believe in a 3-4-3 formation with talented small players and the importance of playing beautiful football.

The problem was that Ruiz didn’t have the Dutch charisma and personality to be able to convince people inside the Club from the start, something that Ruiz himself acknowledges. In 1991 when Ruiz was coaching Racing de Santander’s youth teams, he received a visit from Oriol Tort, one of the most symbolic people in Barça’s history (the new La Masia even carries his name). Tort had come to take a look on De la Peña and when Ruiz asked him what he thought about the youngster, Tort answered that he looked very promising. Ruiz also asked what he thought about Munitis and Ivan Helguera and Tort answered that they all were very good, but that they weren’t the Club’s priorities at the moment. “So sad that they are short, right?” said Ruiz with a smile. Tort jumped and replied: “Laureano, talent is the only thing that matters!”. Ruiz then started to laugh. “Don’t you remember that that was what I said during all my years at Barcelona and you all just discouraged me?”. “Yes, yes I remember, but el Flaco (Cruyff) has changed the way we see football.”

The eternal wisdom

Laureano Ruiz was the grandfather who planted the seed, Cruyff was the father who nurtured the idea and helped it grow, and Guardiola is the heir who is reaping the rewards. That was what Martí Perarnau wrote in his book about the origins of Barcelona’s playing style and how the Club is working to continue delivering future cracks from La Masia. And everything started with that loss against CF Damm in the Copa Catalunya that made the Club hire Ruiz as coach for Juvenil A. He laid the foundation for what we are seeing and experiencing today. A football romantic who believed that it isn’t about choosing between winning or playing beautifully, but that by playing well the chances of winning increase.

Laureano Ruiz is today working as the director for a communal football school in Santander. Every year he becomes responsible for 700 kids. To make them understand what is expected of them, Ruiz will repeat this phrase: “The better you play, the more you will enjoy it. If you succeed in playing well or score a great goal you will achieve happiness. That should be your main goal, not to win the game!”

Some years ago the school played a game against Racing, the region’s biggest team and a superior opponent. They kept their positions, showed a great attitude, but lost in the final minutes. Ruiz had as a habit never entered the dressing room, but he did it this time to congratulate his players. He found them in tears and with sunken heads and he said: “You haven’t lost. When you play with such a will and give your all, then you never lose.”

Sources
La fuerza de un sueño – los caminos del exito (2010) – Albert Puig
Senda de campeones – de La Masia al Camp Nou (2011) – Martí Perarnau

Written by Hugo Benitez/El Flaco (SvenskaFans); Translated by Alexandra

Read more: http://www.totalbarca.com/2012/history/laureano-ruiz-the-man-behind-barcas-playing-philosophy/#ixzz24dLuI265


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Another good article there, Arthur.=d>
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It's an article I really like and my favourite paragraph and quote is below. I think it is one that for all those coaching juniors can use.

Quote:
In a conversation with Albert Puiga, an ex-youth coach at Barcelona and today Guillermo Amor’s right hand as manager of La Masia, Ruiz explained his football philosophy:

[size=6]“Let us say that you and I coach two teams with kids that are 10, 11, and 12 years old and all are about equally good. You try to teach them to play good football, a passing game and with tactical basics while I tell mine to only play long balls and try to shoot. I can assure you that [at first] I will always win against you, by using your mistakes. Break a bad pass and goal. If we however continue with the same training methods during a three year period, you will most likely win every game against us. Your players will have learned how to play while mine haven’t. That’s how easy it is.”[/size]

GO


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